By Andy Reese, Chosen, softcover, 240 pages, $13.99.
A book that ought to be part of every church’s resource library, Freedom Tools for Overcoming Life’s Tough Problems is also excellent small-group material. Not only does it encourage lay members to minister to others’ emotional and spiritual needs, it spells out a pattern for doing so. Author Andy Reese is the president of Freedom Resource, a ministry providing training and information about the Sozo—a Greek word meaning “to save, heal and deliver”—ministry method. Although Reese compares it to Alcoholics Anonymous, his descriptions of counseling encounters sound more complex than a 12-step meeting. Still, although few are likely to feel confident about implementing it without further guidance or oversight, the book’s basic concepts are easy to understand. It also explores valuable concepts about God, the devil and humans. Hopefully, it will lead to more lay involvement in ministry—and fewer situations such as one described early in the book about a Sunday school member who deserts his spouse for another woman.
By Bill Wiese, Charisma House, hardcover, 336 pages, $21.99.
You never know when your time is up, so although Bill Wiese seems to be obsessed with hell, he’s done the research that may keep you from ending up there. Wiese is famous for his nightmarish experience laid out in 23 Minutes in Hell. His new book, Hell: Separate Truth From Fiction and Get Your Toughest Questions Answered, examines hell from every angle to dislodge long-held beliefs and popular theories about God’s tolerance. Wiese mentions a surprising amount of Scripture explaining hell and sorts the material to answer oft-debated questions such as “Does the devil rule over hell?” and “Is the fire real or metaphorical?” and even the questions Hollywood takes a stab at such as “What is the significance of the number 23?” Perhaps his main point is the most penetrating, whether you’re flipping through for personal or evangelistic purposes. He points out that because we have free will, God isn’t responsible for sending people to hell. Going there is our own choice.
The Dark Side of the Supernatural
By Bill Myers and Dave Wimbish, Zondervan, softcover, 192 pages, $12.99.
Just mentioning “the supernatural” usually brings to mind scary images full of mystery and unknown danger. In The Dark Side of the Supernatural: What Is of God and What Isn’t, Bill Myers and Dave Wimbish discuss topics such as ghosts, demons, UFOs, angels and witchcraft. They present solid biblical explanations and examples of each phenomenon, but they do not sensationalize them. Sometimes they conclude that there just is not enough evidence to completely determine the origin of certain supernatural events, but they strongly caution their readers to avoid them and not risk opening a door for satanic influences to enter their lives. Myers and Wimbish offer a balanced, straightforward resource for teenagers and adults to use—individually or in small groups—so they can be better prepared and protected from evil forces that are using these supernatural avenues to gain acceptance in today’s culture.
By Billy Joe Daugherty, Destiny Image, softcover, 195 pages, $15.99.
Billy Joe Daugherty tackles an emotion that can cripple the strongest faith in No Fear: Praying the Promises of Protection. He explains that even though fear comes in response to the global news, the declining economy and personal difficulties, you’re less vulnerable if you understand the origin and patterns of fear. Focusing on your godly identity is the key. His stories from overseas evangelistic meetings underline how deliverance from fear can make a dramatic difference. He’s experienced peace amid brutal situations. During a crusade in West Africa, some villagers were slaughtered. By speaking Scriptures about God’s protection, other villagers overcame fear and witnessed one local man forgive and even lead to the Lord those who maimed him and murdered his family. Daugherty covers the basics of faith for a new believer but he’s also offering a message for our time.
Love Like This
By Ayiesha Woods, Gotee Records.
Ayiesha Woods’ sophomore release delivers the soulful, uplifting style for which she has become known. Love Like This spans a broad spectrum of genres. The title song is contemplative and mellow. While the powerful lyrics in the song “Alive” speak of God’s love: “I am the evidence of what your love can do/Your love is alive,” the unforgettable guitar sound in “One Day” makes it standout. “Never” is upbeat, hopeful and outreach-focused; it will become a favorite. “Fight” is a fun rebound song about getting up again. The war cry chant in this song will encourage listeners to get up, fight on and rebound from tough situations. Woods’ storytelling is revealed in “Love Can’t Wait,” a song that encourages a woman being left by a man, “Love can pray/We’ve got to see the urgency/Love is all it takes/To light a flame in you and me.” If you want mellow, authentic worship and melodious encouragement, Ayiesha Woods creatively delivers.
—TRACEE N. MASON
By Chris Tomlin, Sixstepsrecords.
Worship leader Chris Tomlin aims to introduce people “to love again.” He says, “Worship is a relationship of love. It’s our love of God and our love of people.” To help accomplish this, Tomlin released Hello Love, his fifth studio album. “Sing, Sing, Sing” is a high-energy track that speaks simply yet profoundly of Jesus: “What’s not to love about You?/You are the love that frees us/You are the light that leads us/You are the One we’re living for.” The lovely ballad “Jesus Messiah” concisely describes what Jesus did for us as our Savior and speaks of His amazing love. “You Lifted Me Out” will get the “head-banging” listeners roused and worshiping the Lord for the freedom He gives us. “God of This City,” written by Bluetree, is a sure standout. This prayerful song is a declaration of faith that God is the light in the darkness, hope to the hopeless and peace to the restless. This is an appropriate song for any service but will be especially fitting for meetings specifically geared to praying for a city. Tomlin takes seriously his responsibility to use his musical talent writing songs for the church. The songs on Hello Love are surely applicable for corporate worship, but the melodies and message will stay with worshipers long after they have left the building.
My Better Half
By Debra B. Morton, Light Records.
Debra Morton is senior pastor of Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans, and she’s also the wife of Bishop Paul S. Morton, a renowned singer who ministers alongside his wife in New Orleans. My Better Half was recorded live at a women’s conference and features Debra Morton’s vocals backed by the Women of Excellence Mass Choir. The album is a solid effort that will particularly appeal to female gospel music fans, but it’s enjoyable for any listener. This album is a church-service-to-go—14 songs with several brief sermon interludes. But Debra Morton does plenty of preaching with her music, especially on “Don’t Tell a Sinner,” when she sings, “Don’t tell a sinner Jesus loves him unless you can love him too,” a great line that produces spontaneous applause from the audience. Another highlight is when Debra Morton, on “By Faith I Touched Jesus,” spontaneously says, “People are trying to tell you Jesus is not real—but you know He touched you!” The line is delivered with authority, and most listeners will want to join the audience in applauding. Most of these songs are standard gospel numbers, but a few stand out musically, including “Too Far to Turn Around,” a light jazz number, and “Sinners Can Be Winners,” which has an urban, R&B feel. Overall, this is a solid album and will be appreciated for its passion, which comes through loud and clear.
By Bart Millard, INO Records.
On his second solo hymn album, Hymned Again, MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard refashions classic songs with touches of folk, country, blues and other musical styles. The familiar and beloved lyrics will immediately resonate with listeners as they hear new twists on old melodies. The album gets started with the banjo-backed “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” followed by the catchy “What a Day That Will Be.” Other hymns getting the Millard treatment include “I Saw the Light,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “Victory in Jesus.” Millard is joined by special guests Vince Gill on “Jesus Cares for Me” and Christy Nockels, formerly of Watermark, on “I Stand Amazed.” A ukulele provides the gentle melody for the perfect closer “Grace That Is Greater,” which again features Nockels. The musical styles on this collection may not appeal to everyone, but those who have a fondness for church classics or folk, country or blues music will surely enjoy this album. Warning: Spontaneous swaying, toe-tapping or head-bobbing likely to occur while being Hymned Again.
By Travis Thrasher, FaithWords, softcover, 304 pages, $13.99.
The Millers are back from the mission field. But their new house isn’t a haven. James’ wife, Stephanie, has visions and feelings about tragedies happening. And the secret passages and rooms—fun discoveries for most kids—frighten their son. The supernatural dangers test their faith, especially when a winter storm has them trapped and alone.
By Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson, hardcover, 400 pages, $24.99.
America has become a place of hatred toward Christians, and violence threatens to tear the country apart. Darcy Lange and Billy Rediger go to Washington to demand a law classifying racial and religious speech as hate speech that would carry harsh punishment. But Johnny Drake will not remain silent and deny his faith in Christ.
By Jason F. Wright, Shadow Mountain, hardcover, 288 pages, $21.95.
A phone call interrupts Luke Millard’s comfortable life. His alcoholic father, whom he hasn’t talked to in years, is missing after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. While looking for his dad, Luke discovers who his father has become and realizes that everyone deserves a second chance.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: For concert information, song samples and more on the artists featured in this month’s Vibes, visit charismamag.com/vibesmusic.
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