The Way of the Warrior
By Harry R. Jackson Jr., Chosen Books,
softcover, 192 pages, $13.99.
Longtime pastor Harry R. Jackson Jr. sets a new standard for motivational material with this excellent review of principles that apply to everyone's life. Reading The Way of the Warrior: How to Fulfill Life's Most Difficult Assignments will give readers a renewed sense of purpose and belief that God has an assignment for them, no matter how lofty or humble their positions in life. The word “warrior” is used as an acrostic to communicate key concepts, such as wealth, achievement and righteousness. Particularly noteworthy is Jackson's focus on gaining wealth as a means of spreading the gospel, not of lavishing “stuff” on oneself. This is a refreshing book, as Jackson reveals some of his own shortcomings as well as reviews numerous common-sense ways to develop your spiritual life to better answer God's call.
A Place for Skeptics
By Scott Larson and Chris Mitchell, Regal, hardcover,
144 pages, $14.99
If you've ever questioned, doubted or quietly wrestled with issues related to faith, you are not alone. In A Place for Skeptics: A Spiritual Journey for Those Who Have Given Up on Church but Not on God, Scott Larson, founder of a faith-based program for troubled youth, and Chris Mitchell, a pastor in New England, take a fresh look at the fundamentals of the Christian faith. They apply an innovative format, using the Apostles' Creed as the backdrop of this 30-day devotional. Each short chapter addresses honest questions about faith, including “Where is God when I feel lonely?”; “Is heaven as boring as it sounds?”; and “Will life ever be the way it's supposed to be?” The answers are filled with personal stories and core biblical truths presented in a conversational tone. This book is simple without being shallow and provides a great launching pad for further discussion with anyone exploring the Christian faith.
When God Speaks
By Chuck D. Pierce and Rebecca Wagner
Sytsema, Regal, softcover, 128 pages, $9.99.
Chuck Pierce's life calling has been to mobilize people to pray, but he's also a teacher and author. His new book tackles the many facets of personal prophecy. It makes for good Bible study material, with its dissection of Hebrew and Greek words, stipulations for what a prophecy from God should be, and guidelines on how to maximize one's response to a prophetic word. Most of the illustrations are from Scripture, but Pierce has created a fun read by interspersing not only personal experiences but also stories of life-changing prophecies. Pierce is president of Glory of Zion International Ministries and vice president of Peter Wagner's Global Harvest Ministries. He also coordinates prayer for major spiritual events and gatherings around the world.
The 7 Love Agreements
By Douglas Weiss, Ph.D.; Siloam; hardcover;
224 pages; $15.99.
Counselor Douglas Weiss, Ph.D., reveals a strategy that has the potential to change marriages for newlyweds or mature couples. He encourages spouses to make individual “love agreements,” meant to promote good behaviors and-with consistency over time-improve the marriage. Subtitled Decisions You Can Make on Your Own to Strengthen Your Marriage, the book offers general areas to consider when making love agreements-faithfulness, patience, forgiveness, service, respect, kindness and celebration. Rather than taking on every problem at once, Weiss asks the spouse to choose one issue to tackle and keep track of the results. Weiss' clear, practical advice will not seem out of reach even for spouses in troubled marriages, especially considering that one spouse can get started even if the other is uncooperative. Designed to encourage interaction, The 7 Love Agreements includes prayers, spoken agreements and goal-setting exercises.
CHRISTINE D. JOHNSON
All I Really Want for Christmas
By Steven Curtis Chapman, Sparrow Records.
Adoption is a theme on this second Christmas offering of his career from Steven Curtis Chapman. The Chapmans' first adopted daughter, Shaohannah Hope, opens the album, reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke. The title song paints a tale of an orphan boy who asks Santa for a Christmas wish: “All I really want for Christmas is someone to tuck me in.” The album also introduces several other originals, such as the ballad “The Night Before Christmas,” contemporary “The Miracle of Christmas” and revamped “Angels From the Realms of Glory.” Chapman delivers another enjoyable and fun holiday listen.
By Sandi Patty, INO Records.
Yuletide Joy showcases Sandi Patty's immense vocal range and grand personality. She sets the tone for the holiday season with an opening medley: “Sing a Song of Gladness” and hit song “Worship the King.” The Christmas worship continues with “O Magnify the Lord/Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Worthy/Hallelujah.” “Jingle Bells à la Sandra” runs the gamut of Patty's vocal talent and sense of humor. Chuckles will occur as Patty interjects comments, sings opera-style with a German accent, and offers a tribute to the Miami Sound Machine's “Conga.” This lighthearted moment only adds to the album's overall message of celebrating and worshiping Jesus.
God He Reigns
By Hillsong Church, Integrity Music.
Recorded live at the Sydney Entertainment Centre with more than 10,000 in attendance, this new album offers a fresh round of worship cuts from some of Australia's best songwriters, including Darlene Zschech, Joel Houston and Reuben Morgan. The album opens with the soft, inspirational “Let Creation Sing,” a reminder that as part of God's creation we were designed to worship Him. Other standout songs on the album include the slow, tender “Saviour” and the punchier, chorus-driven “Wonderful God,” as well as the powerhouse title song, “God He Reigns.” A 96-minute DVD is also available and features the full worship event as well as behind-the scenes commentary, guitar workshops and lots of extras. Whether you choose the CD or DVD, you'll find God He Reigns to be a solid new offering from some of Hillsong's finest.
Nothing Is Sound
By Switchfoot, EMI CMG.
San Diego alt-rockers Switchfoot are back with a fifth record, and it's riding a wave of appeal similar to the one started by the band's 2003 multi-hit CD, The Beautiful Letdown. It sold 2.5 million and broke these surfing-loving guys out of the Christian genre pack. Nothing Is Sound debuted in September at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. Frontman and guitarist Jon Foreman continues to drive the vocal end for the five members, who include brother Tim Foreman (bass), Chad Butler (drums), Jerome Fontamillas (guitar, keys) and Andrew Shirley (guitar). The band returns with its signature sound-a framework of melodic yet stick-to-your bones rock welded to a wall of monster sound with emotive chorus hooks. While Nothing Is Sound is meant in part to echo the cry of Ecclesiastes that everything in life is “unsound” except God, it nonetheless offers plenty of sound music. If you liked Letdown you won't be let down by this one.
By Jeff Deyo, Gotee Records.
Since his departure from Sonicflood, Jeff Deyo has become one of the leading voices in modern praise and worship music. His latest release, Surrender, was recorded live in New Zealand during this year's Parachute Conference and is a
collection of new and previously recorded songs. Deyo's penchant for creating fresh arrangements of popular worship songs continues with his rocked-out version of “We Are Hungry”-recorded on Passion's 2000 release The Road to OneDay-and Paul Oakley's “Be Lifted Up.” Favorites such as “You Are Good” and “Let It Flow” have been added as well, bringing some familiarity to the album. As Deyo's anthems of devotion continue to draw listeners, it will only be a matter of time before we're all singing “Jesus, I Surrender.”
By David Crowder Band, Sixsteps Records.
Collision is David Crowder's second CD release of this year. But that's a good thing. It means more songs by this eclectic and original singer-songwriter-musician. Crowder has gained a following as a worship artist (and solid live performer). His current single, “Here Is Our King,” previously released in a live version, exemplifies his strong inspirational side, known for igniting Passion festivals with song. Yet, in reaching beyond “worship music,” Crowder has sown Collision with an element of surprise. You never know what's coming next-rootsy Americana, scatchy rock 'n' worship, or something else altogether. Crowder transitions easily between moods, being quirky-campy at one moment (“The Conversation” or “I Saw the Light,” recorded with Marty Stuart) or vulnerably heart-moving the next (“Come and Listen”). As he likes to say: “When our depravity meets His divinity it is a beautiful collision.” It's a hook-up that also makes for some cool music.
Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia
By various artists, EMI CMG.
The Roar of Love
By The 2nd Chapter of Acts, Sparrow.
Each artist on EMI CMG's Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia offers an original song. Included are Jars of Clay, Rebecca St. James, Delirious, TobyMac, Nichole Nordeman and others. Also on CD from Sparrow is The Roar of Love. This 1980 album of 14 original songs by The 2nd Chapter of Acts features Phil Keaggy on guitar and Michael Omartian on keyboards.
Beyond the Wardrobe
E.J. Kirk, HarperCollins, softcover,
128 pages, $19.99.
This beautiful book is the official guide to Narnia. Readers will discover C.S. Lewis, Narnia's historical and mythical origins, its important locations and their significance, and more. The photos from Lewis' life and the live-action film are sure to make the tale come alive.
The World According to Narnia
By Jonathan Rogers, Warner Faith,
softcover, 208 pages, $14.99.
Jonathan Rogers, who has a Ph.D. in 17th century British literature, writes that one of the “delicious ironies of Narnia is the fact that Lewis so carefully constructs a world of metaphor in order to insist that the God of the Bible is not a mere metaphor.” Rogers guides readers into deciphering the Christian meaning in this classic allegory.
NEW ON DVD
Ben-Hur Collector's Edition
Get ready for an astounding 768 minutes of all things Ben-Hur. This four-disc collector's edition includes the original 65mm film remastered with Dolby Digital audio, commentaries, documentaries, the 1925 silent version, outtakes, Bible study guide and more. Experience again this award-winning epic film demonstrating the redemption of Jesus Christ.
The Sound of Music
40th Anniversary Edition
Embrace the Austrian von Trapp family in a new way with this two-disc set. Many surprises are included in this anniversary collection, including several “fireside” chats with stars Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and all seven von Trapp “children.” Forty years later the hills are still alive with The Sound of Music.
Highway to Heaven
Fans of this 1980s hit TV show can now enjoy the second season on DVD. The six-disc set includes all 24 episodes, plus commentary from Michael Landon's widow, Cindy. Highway to Heaven paved the way for current spiritual favorites such as 7th Heaven and Touched by an Angel. Enjoy again this inspiring series.