The Everyday Visionary
By Jesse Duplantis, Touchstone Faith, hardcover, 240 pages, $22.
In The Everyday Visionary: Focus Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, television minister and pastor Jesse Duplantis challenges readers to take control of their thought lives and develop "the mind of Christ," as the apostle Paul urges in 1 Corinthians. The thrust of the book is "mental maps," which are purposeful and determined thoughts. These, in turn, lead to ideas, which generate actions. In short, Duplantis shows readers the path and the process to "align with the divine." He also warns believers of three "destiny killers"--which include placing one’s security in earthly things, lack of trust and the love of money. Most importantly the author stresses the originality and uniqueness of the individual. Duplantis writes in a personal, conversational style, weaving together biblical illustrations and his own life stories with his teaching. Fans of Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale and Robert H. Schuller, as well as those who follow the author’s ministry, will welcome The Everyday Visionary.
C. Brian Smith
When Your Life Has Been Tampered With
By Brenda Kunneman, Charisma House, softcover, 240 pages, $14.99.
Brenda Kunneman, co-pastor with husband Hank of Lord of Hosts Church in Omaha, Nebraska, says "God expects you to build something with your life!" But in order to do this you have to break out of the captivity that has robbed you of your purpose. In her book, When Your Life Has Been Tampered With, Kunneman gives practical, spiritual steps for how to "move beyond your broken dreams to new purpose and victory." She first explains that whether captivity is the result of our own choices or the choices of others (Satan’s tampering), we sometimes live as captives so long we get used to it. Kunneman encourages people to recognize that they have been paralyzed by their pasts, and she shows them how to start moving out of bondage. The first step is prayer, she says, and God will respond when we pray "pivotal and accurate prayers." She uses Nehemiah as an example of how to pray: Don’t blame God; expect God to listen; repent; believe in forgiveness; and expect supernatural power. Kunneman also challenges readers to believe that God doesn’t give us the faith just to "muddle through the trials." He gives us the faith to believe that He makes the impossible possible. Using numerous biblical and personal examples, Kunneman offers this guide to help us overcome obstacles and build our faith to be able to claim our breakthrough and embrace the plans God has for our lives.
Shadow of Colossus
By T.L. Higley, B&H Publishing Group, softcover, 400 pages, $14.99.
It is 227 B.C. on the island of Rhodes, and Tessa of Delos has been held captive for 10 years. Her captor's accidental death could be Tessa's chance to escape. But she will have to hide the truth to fight for her freedom and for those she has grown to love.
By Patricia Hickman, WaterBrook Press, softcover, 352 pages, $13.99.
Gaylen Syler-Boatwright escapes her disappointing life by retreating to her late aunt's cottage. There she finds paintings of dresses, each symbolizing special family occasions. Her aunt also left a journal that hints of hidden meaning in each dress. Gaylen and her sister seek out relatives in order to solve mysteries in their family history.
By Jerry B. Jenkins, Tyndale, hardcover, 544 pages, $24.99.
Brady Wayne Darby and Thomas Carey could not be more different. Brady is a bitter man driven to murder. Thomas, an unsuccessful church pastor, becomes chaplain at the penitentiary where Brady is on death row. Brady doesn't want to appeal his fate--he wants to die as soon as possible. But Thomas is determined that he come to know Jesus and experience forgiveness and redemption.
By Klaus, Integrity Music.
Klaus Kuehn, or simply "Klaus," is a German-born worship artist who relocated to Canada as a child and later moved to Texas. None of that comes into play here, however, as Klaus has no detectable accent, and his music shows few if any signs of European influence. In fact, this live worship album is pretty standard American praise and worship fare with lots of repetitive choruses, plaintive piano-driven ballads and peppy pop-rock songs. But Glory: An Evening of Worship With Klaus has some really special moments, too. Is it the sincerity? The intimacy of the vocals? The source is difficult to pinpoint, but "I’m Listening" is typical for this album--a quiet piano ballad with average vocals and standard lyrics ("The Lord says you’re beautiful, so beautiful") that still manages to be poignant and emotive. In fact, most of these songs are quiet piano ballads, many featuring a clear, complementary female vocal, songs that start as lullabies and end as Neil Diamond-like power ballads. At times Klaus sounds vaguely like Diamond, particularly on "Abba Father" and "Breath of Your Spirit." This album won’t be for everyone, but for fans of live praise and worship, Glory is a decent album that will occasionally surprise with how moving its simple songs can be.
My Paper Heart
By Francesca Battistelli, Fervent Records.
In her first nationally distributed solo album, 22-year-old Francesca Battistelli shows off a bluesy, soulful voice that is mature beyond its years. My Paper Heart gets off to a great start with "Free to Be Me," a pop-country tune on which the big-voiced Battistelli sings, "I am so clumsy, but on Your shoulders I can see that I’m free to be me." The song is followed by "I’m Letting Go," a bouncy pop number with a rock edge that celebrates freedom in Christ ("I’m letting go of the life I planned for me"). At this point, listeners should know that they’re in for a good album, and they are. Title track "My Paper Heart" sounds like Maroon 5--pianos and funky guitars--while "Blue Sky" is an uplifting pop number that could be a Stevie Wonder song. Unfortunately, the second half of the album is too ballad heavy, with six of the last seven songs falling into that category. Although there are a couple power ballads here, the album still gets away from the pop-R&B-soul groove it was building. But the second half isn’t a wash. "Someday Soon" is interesting, and "Time in Between" will remind some listeners of the John Lennon quote, "Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans." Whatever one’s preference--Stevie Wonder and Maroon 5 or the more standard-sounding Christian ballads--music fans should make plans to buy this album.
Over and underneath
By Tenth Avenue North, Reunion Records.
Mike Donehey, Jeff Owen, Jason Jamison and Scott Sanders are Tenth Avenue North, named for their address at the Florida college where they met. These guys have been leading worship together for several years, but now they’re increasing the reach of their message with debut CD, Over and Underneath. Opener "Love Is Here" is an encouragement to those who are tired and broken: "Love is here / Love is now / Love is pouring from His hands / From His brow / Love is near it satisfies / Streams of mercy flowing from His side / Cause love is here." "By Your Side" is a track in which Jesus asks why we are striving, trying and looking for love. This lovely ballad reiterates that He is always by our sides: "I’ll be by your side wherever you fall / In the dead of night whenever you call / Please don’t fight these hands that are holding you / My hands are holding you." Listeners should repeat this track a few times and let the message of Christ’s love wash over them. The upbeat "Break Me Down" is a cry of surrender for God to break through with His mercy. Closing track "Hallelujah" offers praise and adoration to the Lord for being our refuge. Tenth Avenue North’s contemporary, acoustic songs are certainly catchy and singable. But it’s their vulnerability and the truths presented in their lyrics that will make this band stand the test of time and help make a difference in people’s lives along the way. leigh devore
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: For concert information, song samples and more on the artists featured in this month’s Vibes, visit vibesmusic.charismamag.com.