By Dawn Meehan, GuidepostsBooks, softcover, 240 pages, $14.99
When a stay-at-home mom posted a baseball for sale on eBay along with a hilarious essay about its adventures in her home, she struck gold. The ball sold for more than $1,000, and Meehan had an instant audience. Readers flocked to the blog she started about her chaotic life, mainly because it made theirs seem less so. Because I Said So ... and Other Tales From a Less-Than-Perfect Parent is Dawn Meehan's book of humorous essays about parenting, which stresses that it's OK not to have it all together. Laugh-out-loud antics are balanced with poignant insights on the joys of rearing children—and Meehan and her husband have six.
By Bill Myers, FaithWords, softcover, 336 pages, $13.99
Bill Myers crafts a gripping supernatural thriller in Angel of Wrath, touching on the themes of worship, judgment and mercy. The follow-up to The Voice, the book gives a refresher course for newcomers to the Voice of God series, providing profiles of the characters in its preface.
Seattle-area megachurch pastor Thomas Harmon recruits his sister-dismissed FBI agent Lisa Harmon-and ex-Special Ops agent Charlie Madison to help police catch Kristof, a serial murderer targeting Thomas' congregation. Kristof, also ex-Special Ops, chooses victims whom he considers hypocrites.
As Charlie closes in on Kristof, Lisa realizes her father is next—unless she forgives his past sexual abuse. Meanwhile, Kristof offers his victims as sacrifices in demonic Wiccan rituals conducted by his teenage followers, who summon a bizarre trans-dimensional beast.
The action in the story is sometimes used to reveal deeper themes, such as the concept that all passions, even good ones, can become vices, with even Thomas realizing his own selfish ambition. The book's fast pace will draw in readers not put off by moments of gruesome imagery.
Universal Pictures | Starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels | Rated PG-13
U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is a rising star and chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending. His party has high hopes for him that he will become a national leader. But these political hopes are dashed when his beautiful staff assistant dies tragically and secrets are exposed.
Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), a D.C. reporter, is a longtime friend of Collins' but his editor, Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren) assigns him to the story. As McAffrey and newbie reporter Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) investigate, McAffrey discovers a cover-up that will rock the power structures in the nation. In the city where money, power and politics rule, everyone is subject to suspense and scrutiny.
This film is rated PG-13 for language, sexual references and drug content.
Time flies when you're having fun—and writing hit songs, climbing the music charts, winning awards, selling millions of CDs and DVDs and, most important, ministering to people. It's hard to realize that it's been 10 years since MercyMe frontman Bart Millard wrote the now classic "I Can Only Imagine." The band surely couldn't have imagined then that Millard's personal song, written in response to his father's untimely death, would become a great hit and set the band on its current path. But God does what we cannot imagine or comprehend, and He has used this band to minister to millions over the last decade.
Christian rock band Third Day decided to give fans a close-up glimpse of their lives on the road. Tai Anderson, the band's bass player, calls this DVD-CD release an "all access" pass. "When we say, ‘all access,' we really went to the extreme with it," Anderson notes. "You'll see Mac, Mark, David, me living day-to-day with the people we call our ‘family on the road' and just being ourselves; sometimes intense, sometimes funny-but always real." Hear the guys' discussions before and after performances. Watch as they balance the demands of life on the road and their relationships.
Travel thousands of miles to Israel without even leaving your home. Exploration Films and Christians for Israel, Canada, offer a six-DVD series on Israel from a biblical perspective. This documentary set was filmed entirely in Israel. Join host John Tweedie as he explores the rich history of the land from Abraham to Jesus; discusses Jesus in-depth and His influence on the world; examines the origins of anti-Semitism and its impact on the Jewish people; and so much more.
The dramatization of an unlikely South African evangelist's remarkable ministry, which became a hit general release movie in his homeland, released on DVD April 7.
Faith Like Potatoes tells the story of farmer Angus Buchan—described by South African media as "a folksy version of Billy Graham"—who overcame major losses to see a physical and spiritual harvest, spreading a message of racial reconciliation and hope in Christ. (Read more about Angus Buchan.)
The 113-minute drama is based on the similarly titled book published by Monarch Books. Released in theaters in South Africa in 2006, the film became one of the top five grossing domestic movies of all time there and won several film festival awards.
By Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman, FaithWords, hardcover, 176 pages, $14.99.
Being a mom is not always easy. And unfortunately mothers feel inadequate to meet all their children's needs. Some are afraid they could actually harm their children because they are not perfect. In her new book, Mommy Grace, Sheila Schuller Coleman, a mother of four grown sons, offers advice that will help relieve these fears and erase feelings of guilt. She assures women that no mother is perfect and it's God who makes up for our weaknesses.
John Waller's sophomore album, While I'm Waiting, combines vertical songs to God as well as worship that will build up the body of Christ. His name might seem familiar to fans of the blockbuster film Fireproof. The title track of While I'm Waiting was the only song played in its entirety on the movie. Film fans will find that song as well as additional clips from the movie soundtrack on Waller's new CD.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
—John 3:16, NKJV
This week there is only one person appropriate to spotlight: Jesus.
His Name Is Jesus, compiled from various writings by Max Lucado, is a profound look at Christ's birth, mission, death, resurrection and legacy. This compilation is not merely a book; it's a visual experience with breath-taking pictures showcasing truths that offer a new perspective on God's love and the gift of His Son. Set aside a few moments this Easter weekend to reflect anew on what Jesus Christ did for you. He loves you. And He gave His life for you.
Christmas in April? Not ... wait for it ... egg-xactly. Only the creators of VeggieTales can take Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, adapt it to Easter and make it work. Since 2004 An Easter Carol has sold more than 1 million copies, and the DVD has been relaunched just in time for Easter 2009. Parents can appreciate the wholesome message, and their children will enjoy being entertained while learning the meaning behind this special celebration.
Some people might think that fitness trainers are born with a proclivity for being healthy and fit. But Ron Kardashian dispels this myth because he didn't grow up with a passion for health and fitness or a desire to help others become healthy and productive. He discovered, however, that this was exactly God's destiny for him. In his new book, Getting in Shape God's Way, he writes about his experience and the keys he learned to becoming fit in mind, body and soul.
Kardashian's discovery of God's plan for him came after years of struggle. He grew up chronically ill, and suffered from allergies, infections and a learning disability-all of which created deep feelings of insecurity and inferiority. He turned to food and eventually to drugs and alcohol for comfort. After high school Kardashian's life spiraled even more out of control. But one night he cried out to God. "From that night on my life was never the same-on the inside. However, the outside had a long way to catch up," he writes.
It took several more years for Kardashian to realize that drugs, women, modeling and money couldn't fix him-and that only God could. As Kardashian studied the Bible, God revealed His plan for him, and he pursued a more productive lifestyle. He got his education in fitness training and eventually received his certification with the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Don't you love it when a kid's movie is clean enough for kids to enjoy and smart enough for adults to be entertained? It's a delicate balance that doesn't always occur. I'll never forget taking some friends' children to see the live-action Casper film and one of them gasping every time an expletive was uttered. I felt horrible for the movie selection, but it really wasn't my fault—I'd been duped.
Thankfully, the new animated movie Monsters Vs. Aliens doesn't follow the trend of relying on adult language over witty dialogue. The story, which centers on a group of B-movie style monsters who are recruited by the government to fight an alien invasion, delivers plenty of clever moments and keeps the action going full-speed ahead. It's similar in style to The Incredibles mixed with old-fashioned monsters and Independence Day.
Tristar Pictures Starring Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Hart Rated PG-13
Not Easily Broken (based on T.D. Jakes' novel by the same title) presents a realistic view of marriage and the struggles many couples face. When David and Clarice Johnson (Morris Chestnut, Tarji P. Henson) got married, they had high hopes and dreams for their life. But David's career in baseball came to a sudden stop with an injury. This couple's dreams of success were shattered.
He owns a small but successful construction business, but Clarice is the true breadwinner as a top real estate agent. They are both caught up in their own lives—Clarice with her career, and David as a little league baseball coach. But an accident proves just how large the holes in their relationship are. Clarice is bitter and blames David. And he is trying to figure out what it really means to be a man, to be a provider and protector to a woman who can provide and protect herself.
By Andy Stanley, Thomas Nelson, hardcover, 176 pages, $19.99.
In The Principle of the Path: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, pastor and author Andy Stanley explores a seemingly simple truth that's often easily missed: Each path leads to the same destination for everyone. Stanley explains with a personal story. One night while driving he ignored a detour sign and, had he not been warned a second time, would have driven off a bridge into a swamp. Upon taking the detour, he realized that every person who had followed his same path would have driven off the same bridge into the same swamp.
Througout The Principle of the Path, the Georgia pastor applies the same truth to life. It's not enough to merely intend to have a certain life—a great marriage, a wonderful family, a good job, healthy finances. You have to choose the path that leads you to where you want to be and what you want to have. Stanley believes you achieve this by making the right choices and decisions that keep you moving down the path you want to travel. And he is quick to point out that, as Christians, we are to choose the path God has set before us and trust in His widsom to guide us. Despite being based upon a relatively simple concept, The Principle of the Path not only holds your attention with intriguing ideas, it also challenges you to take inventory of your life—especially if you're veering of your intended path. Click here to purchase this book, which includes an interactive study guide.
My Soul Sings is Delirious' first wave in a yearlong goodbye. Though the band is scheduled to play a few more concerts, it will officially bid farewell at the end of 2009. As a tribute to the industry-changing five-piece, this parting CD/DVD takes a musical walk down memory lane as Delirious hopscotches through chart-topping hits from their 15-year career. Recorded live in Bogota, Colombia, in front of 12,000 lively fans, My Soul Sings features early year favorites such as "History Maker," "Deeper" and "Bliss" combined with songs from the band's middle years such as "Rain Down" and congregational favorite "Majesty." Although newer songs on this 14-track album were previously covered on Kingdom of Comfort and include "Kingdom of Comfort," "Break the Silence" and title track, "My Soul Sings," their inclusion highlights the group's dedication to social justice and ministry. Longtime fans might need to have a tissue handy as they spin this pioneering band's farewell recording. But listeners of all ages will enjoy hearing again these greatest hits while reminiscing over what this band has done in both worship music and ministry circles. Click here to purchase this CD/DVD.
Looking at Todd Starnes, a network reporter and anchor for Fox News Radio, today, it's hard to imagine that just three years ago he was on the brink of death. In May 2005 Starnes was a news reporter for talk radio station KFBK in Sacramento, Calif., and weighed 300 pounds. While covering a story, he developed a slight cough but thought nothing of it. A few days later he could barely get out of bed. His doctor said he needed a new aortic valve.
But Starnes didn't realize at that moment how serious his condition was and thought he could plan the surgery after the summer, when his schedule was less hectic. His doctor explained how replacing his aortic valve was a life-or-death matter. Starnes had two weeks to get his affairs in order.
This was the start of a life-changing journey. Over the last three years, Starnes has had open-heart surgery, lost 150 pounds, grieved the death of his parents and run his first marathon. He shares his experiences in his new book, They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick. Starnes acknowledges that others have had open-heart surgery, lost loved ones and shed pounds—his story is not unique. But this is his story.
Based on an audio journal he kept during his surgery and recovery, Starnes' memoir is about more than weight loss. While describing his health journey, Starnes weaves in tales from his childhood (some admittedly embellished) and chronicles his career. Throughout the book he offers the lessons he's learned and relays how God has sustained him, taught him and directed him.
Starnes says he wants people to laugh when they read his book, and he'll likely get his wish. His thoughts and stories are deep-fried, smothered, covered, slathered and buttered with Southern charm and humor. As he told The Buzz in our interview he wants people to feel good about themselves and "know that some average Joe can make it through an obstacle and difficulty in life."
More than anything the core message of Starnes' book is one celebrating God's saving nature. "God's grace is sufficient to get us through those difficult times," he says. "Not only can He get us through those times—and He will sustain us—but we're going to be able to look back and we're going to be able to laugh and smile and understand why we had to go through what we had to go through."
For almost 40 years Arthur Blessitt has walked around the world carrying a cross and sharing the love of Christ. Matt Crouch, CEO of Gener8Xion Entertainment, has known Blessitt for many years and realized last year that it was time to tell his story. The result is the documentary The Cross: The Arthur Blessitt Story, which opens March 27 in theaters nationwide.
With footage from years of traveling, including images of him and Billy Graham together in Ireland, the film chronicles Blessitt's journey around the world. The Mississippi-born evangelist has traveled to 315 countries and walked more than 38,000 miles. He began his ministry on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and became known as the "Sunset Strip Minister." Because he loved the people he met on the Strip, he was reluctant to leave when he sensed God calling him to walk around the world carrying a wooden cross. But God reminded him that Sunset Strip stretches around the world.
Blessitt was ready to obey. Two weeks before he was to leave Los Angeles, however, doctors discovered he had a brain aneurysm. He explains in the film that circumstances don't change the call of God. Facing possible death, Blessitt decided he would rather die while in God's will than to live out of it. He left on schedule—Christmas Day 1969.
Moviegoers will be inspired by Blessitt's passion and commitment to not only answer God's call but also to persevere even in the midst of incredible danger. Blessitt says he learned along the way to see hardships and difficulties not as stumbling blocks but as stepping stones. "The safest place to be is in the will of God," he says onscreen.
Blessitt has traveled through 52 war zones, been beaten and also arrested 24 times. His first arrest was in Jackson, Miss., for holding a black man's hand while witnessing to him. Blessitt remained undeterred and has seen many miracles as God protected him, kept him alive and brought him through. Throughout his lengthy mission, he's had the opportunity to minister to countless people. That now includes millions more who, in watching The Cross, will undoubtedly be inspired by the lessons he's learned and the relationship he developed with the Lord-both conveyed powerfully onscreen in this 90-minute documentary. Ultimately, Blessitt says, it's all about loving God and people.
It was Crouch, as the movie's director and narrator, who best summed up this film: "It's not about the cross carrier; it's about what the cross did to the cross carrier."
To read more about The Cross: The Arthur Blessit Story, click here.
Arthur Blessitt's autobiography released earlier this year. Click here to purchase The Cross (Authentic Publishing).
By Brian Zahnd, Christian Life, hardcover, 160 pages, $14.99.
Brian Zahnd, senior pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Mo., uses David as an example for how we should respond on our worst day. On David's worst day, he and his men returned home to find their city burned, their houses looted and their families kidnapped. Their first response was to weep. Zahnd affirms that God does not expect us to deny our sorrow but also explains there is a time to stop crying and start rejoicing. Holding on to grief, he writes, will turn it into self-pity and keep us from victory. He discusses other steps that must be taken: resist bitterness, find encouragement in God, receive a word from God, reorient vision, regain passion, attack, recover all, celebrate recovery, give. Zahnd doesn't deny that tragedies and difficult events create heartbreak. But he balances empathy with challenge. He states that emotions and the reality of situations must be acknowledged but that we must also keep moving forward, believing God will fulfill His promises. Click here to purchase What to Do on the Word Day of Your Life.
Kudos to Israel Houghton for not staying in his comfort zone and giving listeners another standard, albeit solid, praise and worship album with those funky guitars that he and his band mates play so well. On his latest album, The Power of One, Houghton finds inspiration from pop stars past and present, including Gnarls Barkley ("Just Want to Say" is similar to Barkley's mega-hit "Crazy"). He also incorporates some New Orleans jazz music ("UR Loved"), a ballad with restrained keyboards that sounds like Phil Collins ("I Receive"), a reggae tune on which he shouts "Jamaica" ("Surely Goodness") and finally, "You Found Me," a song that Houghton does, somewhat curiously, as an alternative-rock number. In between all that, there's a fairly straightforward gospel song ("Every Prayer") and an innocuous title track that sounds like the distant cousin of Eric Clapton's "Change the World." It all makes for an interesting album that will probably be well-received by Houghton's fans. But from a critical perspective, this album is something akin to a five-course dessert after Thanksgiving dinner. Now that Houghton knows he can pull off just about anything, perhaps next time listeners will be treated to lighter fare with fewer trimmings. Click here to purchase The Power of One, which released March 24.