By Joyce Meyer, FaithWords, hardcover, 272 pages, $21.99.
Sick of soft, comfortable Christianity? You know, the kind that revolves around how you can have the greatest life (for God’s glory, of course) complete with the best relationships, the best career, and the best of, well, everything? Then get ready to join the revolution in Joyce Meyer’s latest book, The Love Revolution—ironically and arguably her best self-help book yet—precisely because it’s not about self. Declaring war on selfishness, Meyer advocates the overthrow of self-centered living with a revolution of love-in-action. From encouraging the smallest acts of kindness to alleviating some of the world’s greatest heartaches such as starvation, poverty and sex trafficking, Meyer shows readers how to radically put love into action through chapters such as “Make People Feel Valuable,” “Overcome Evil With Good” and “Find Out What People Need and Be Part of the Solution.” Several chapters are beautifully accentuated by personal testimonies penned by such “Love Revolutionaries” as worship leader Darlene Zschech, musician Martin Smith, pastor Paul Scanlon, author John C. Maxwell and pastor Tommy Barnett. Meyer’s “Love Creed” at the end of the book succinctly summarizes the book’s premise: “I take up compassion and surrender my excuses. I stand against injustice and commit to live out simple acts of God’s love. I refuse to do nothing. This is my resolve. I AM THE LOVE REVOLUTION.”
Angels on Assignment
By Perry Stone, Charisma House, hardcover, 176 pages, $15.99.
In Angels on Assignment: God’s Relentless Protection of You and Your Loved Ones, author and evangelist Perry Stone places the spotlight on the issue of divine protection. He begins by discussing prayer and intercession before digging into questions about why bad things happen to good people and what can be done to prevent them. Known for his Old Testament studies, Stone draws principles from the life of Jacob, particularly regarding what is known as the Mizpah Covenant between Jacob and his father-in-law, Laban. The author stresses that biblical covenants can release the power of God’s protection, which, in turn, brings the aid of angels. He also documents angelic visitations in other biblical stories—expressing a belief that the pre-incarnate Jesus appeared in angelic form—and his own personal experiences. Stone also gives warnings about things believers can do to offend angels. Angels on Assignment is an easy read with many bits of wisdom for life application. It will be especially helpful for readers facing doubts about God’s power and compassion.
Scouting the Divine
By Margaret Feinberg, Zondervan, hardcover, 224 pages, $16.99.
Margaret Feinberg believes that the Bible isn’t a dusty, ancient book; it is a passageway to living encounters with a personal God. In Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey, she traces her exploration of some of Scripture’s more nuanced stories. A decade-long pilgrimage led her to encounter a shepherd in Oregon, a Nebraskan farmer, a beekeeper in Colorado and a vintner in Napa Valley, Calif. Feinberg discovers amazing facts at each stop that sheds light on biblical stories about sheep and shepherds, harvesting and honey. Scouting the Divine is an eloquent travelogue of spiritual seeking that both entertains and instructs. Feinberg is a captivating storyteller and a luminous Bible teacher. Her use of language and metaphor is masterful, and each carefully chosen word seems custom-crafted for her sentences. Embedded into these beautiful images, however, are great spiritual truths. Scouting the Divine strikes a balance between personal narrative and deep insights that beckons readers to stop reading the Bible and start living it. If you want a book that will challenge you to engage God’s Word in a novel way, this book is definitely worth the read.
When Heaven Comes Down
By Ché Ahn, Chosen, softcover, 176 pages, $13.99.
Sometimes the topic of God’s glory and presence can cause confusion and even fear. But Ché Ahn, senior pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif., helps believers understand more clearly through his new book, When Heaven Comes Down. Ahn defines God’s glory as “His manifest presence, by which He reveals His character of goodness and displays His power through signs and wonders.” The author explores His manifest presence, manifest nature and character, and manifest power and its effect on our lives. He also uses examples from the Bible, church history and the present day to help readers understand that God demonstrates His glory in a variety of ways, including visions of angelic beings, “glory fog,” shaking and laughter. Ahn also teaches the purpose for God’s glory and what we need to do in order to experience a continual flow in our lives. For those who already have an understanding, this book will deepen and refresh a desire for more of God’s presence. And for those who are unsure, confused or afraid, this book will help clear up myths and misconceptions that keep them from asking God to reveal His glory in their lives.
By Anne Graham Lotz, Zondervan, hardcover, 288 pages, $19.99.
Anne Graham Lotz’s The Magnificent Obsession: Embracing the God-Filled Life, with a foreword by Rick Warren, provides lessons from the story of Abraham that will enhance readers’ lives. Not only is Abraham the progenitor of three faith traditions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—but he is also known in Genesis as a “friend of God.” Lotz emphasizes that Abraham serves as a model for the faith-filled life and a reminder that God can be known and trusted. Lotz incorporates illustrations from her own life and tells how the “magnificent obsession”—or craving for God—is passed down through the ages. Readers will be inspired and encouraged to pursue a God who guides them through the peaks and valleys of life.
—C. Brian Smith
By John Bevere, WaterBrook Press, hardcover, 240 pages, $22.99.
In Extraordinary: The Life You’re Meant to Live, John Bevere gives grace back its full biblical meaning and power. Not only does salvation come through grace, but so does that power to live a dynamic godly life. Grace cannot be earned, and love comes unconditionally, but God is pleased with faith. True believers will desire to please God, not just want to escape hell, Bevere asserts. The author believes that Christians need to stop seeing themselves as poor sinners saved by grace who will barely make it into heaven. Instead, they ought to see themselves as full citizens of God’s kingdom with access to His power to overcome sin and make positive changes. An effective discipleship resource for a small group or one-on-one mentoring, Extraordinary is an inoculation against unbelief for those who have never understood the overcoming power of faith and a booster shot for those who have.
—Deborah l. Delk
By Hillsong, Integrity Music.
Recorded live at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, Faith+Hope+Love fuses lively praise music and simple worship. Songs such as “First and the Last,” “For Your Name” and “Glow” give listeners a bit of rock ‘n’ roll, while the tender cuts of “I Will Exalt You,” “Yahweh” and “No Reason to Hide” inspire reverence to God. Other songs include “We the Redeemed,” “We Will See Him” and “You Hold Me Now.” This is the church’s 19th album and includes well-known Hillsong band members Darlene Zschech, Joel Houston, Brooke Ligert- wood and Dove Award-winner Reuben Morgan. And in addition to the disc, the project comes with a companion DVD and worship resources, including CD trax and digital songbook. Faith+Hope+Love is designed to draw listeners into an authentic relationship with the Father through praise and worship, while also compelling them to bring others into the kingdom.
—Faith L. Lowe
By Aaron Shust, Brash Music.
Known for the ubiquitous hit song “My Savior, My God,” Aaron Shust is back with Take Over, his latest album, featuring the radio singles “To God Alone,” which could easily become a church anthem, and the feisty rock track, “Come And Save Us.” Shust, a worship leader who lives in Georgia with his wife and two young sons, wrote or co-wrote each of the 12 songs on Take Over, thematically focusing on the issue of submission to the Lord. Mid-tempo songs such as the catchy chorused “Rest in the Arms” and the easy-going “Ever After” allow Shust’s deep, breathy voice to shine, but it’s the slower songs such as “Breathe in Me” and the simple, guitar-and-voice “Carry Me Home” disc-ender that will
make listeners feel as if Shust is right there in the room singing in front of them. With a nice mix of country, pop and rock, Shust’s Take Over will please his already established fan base and attract newcomers who love his lyrical focus and intimate voice.
Light Up the World
By Desperation Band, Integrity Music.
Jon Egan, youth pastor and leader of Desperation Band, believes the band’s newest album, Light Up the World, is simply a harvest of the prayers the youth ministry has sown for many years. In less than two years, the youth ministry at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., raised more than $200,000 to build orphanages in Uganda and Kenya. Egan says, “God did something ... that was so amazing and so compelling. ... This project is committed to tell that story and raise awareness of the initiative that happened here.” The songs, he explains, are not necessarily missions songs, but prayer songs rooted in intimacy with Christ that are “colliding with all this talk and songs about action, being the hands and feet of Christ.” Light Up the World certainly features music worth listening to. But it’s the story behind—or before—the project that makes it so compelling and meaningful.
Stop & Listen
By Bethany Dillon, Sparrow Records.
Bethany Dillon was only 14 when she released her first album. Today the 21-year-old is using her life experiences to sing about the goodness of God on her latest CD, Stop & Listen. Married to Shane Barnard of the group Shane & Shane, Dillon reflects on God and her growth over the years. “This record is probably the most confessional record I’ve ever made,” she says. Woven throughout the project are themes that speak of God’s grace, intimacy, forgiveness, restoration, refuge and more. And behind every cut is a story rooted in Scripture or real-life experiences. “Get Up and Walk” challenges listeners to embrace the hope offered to every believer through Christ. “The Way I Come to You” reflects Dillon’s relationship with Jesus and what marriage has taught her about God. The outcast woman written about in Mark 5 inspired the track “Reach Out.” Though some of the songs share similar acoustic sounds, each carries a unique message. Dillon says of this project, “Most of the songs are about not-so-simple ideas of stopping, listening and waiting.”
—Valerie G. Lowe