Days of Fire and Glory
By Julia Duin, Crossland Press, hardcover, 346 pages, $24.95.
Few books are deserving of the label “masterpiece,” but this one qualifies. Twenty years in the making, Days of Fire and Glory is worth the wait. Religion writer Julia Duin has crafted an eminently readable account of Houston’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and other leading charismatic congregations that propelled the wave of the 1960s and 1970s. However, be prepared to ride a roller coaster of emotions—reading this book is like waiting for a train wreck you know will happen. First come thrills with the way the book validates the reality of the spiritual explosion that planted communities worldwide, led to miraculous healings and swept millions into God’s kingdom. Yet sadness follows as Duin reveals the horrendous sin and abuses that occurred among key leaders and many of their followers. She writes from an insider’s perspective, as a key participant in several charismatic communities. One can easily envision this book becoming required reading at colleges and seminaries for the instructive way in which it examines the rewards and potential pitfalls of Spirit-filled living. —Ken Walker
By Jentezen Franklin, Charisma House, hardcover, 224 pages, $21.99.
“Do you worry too much?” is the question posed on the cover of Jentezen Franklin’s new book, Fear Fighters. Inside the cover Franklin discusses every basic fear known to mankind and the scriptural truths needed to fight them. Just revealing the commonality of fear seems to diffuse it. These basic fears are shared by most people at some time or another and include worries about health, finances, family members’ well-being, relationships and death. Many are unfounded, based on events that are statistically rare, such as airplane crashes. But Franklin reassures readers that even in the face of situations that are a possibility, or when the worst happens, God is with them and provides promises in the Word for them to stand on. This book does not come across as academic; rather, some of the illustrations will make the reader feel as if he is sitting in church, listening to a hometown preacher’s folksy and sometimes quirky style. This author’s transparency makes the reader feel as if he’s talked to someone just like himself who has had fears, faced them and is now able to pass on what he’s learned for the benefit of others. —Deborah L. Delk
By Rebecca St. James, FaithWords, softcover, 256 pages, $16.99.
Singer Rebecca St. James offers a collection of stories about women, prodigal daughters, who hit rock bottom. Some suffered from eating disorders, emotional problems and feelings of unworthiness; others struggled with drugs and promiscuity; and some simply rejected God. But all of them eventually understood and embraced the truth that nothing they had done could make God love them any less. St. James writes: “This is a message of hope that our generation needs to hear. No matter where you’ve been and what you’ve done ... you are loved.” These testimonies demonstrate God’s ever-flowing, never-ending grace, mercy and love. They serve as reminders that He is always poised with open arms waiting for us to return to His embrace. These stories prove that love never fails, never quits, never ends. —Leigh DeVore
Glory in the Highest
By Chris Tomlin, sixstepsrecords.
Worship leader Chris Tomlin creates a true worship experience with his first Christmas record. Glory in the Highest features many favorite holiday tunes such as “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Special guests Matt Redman, Audrey Assad and Christy Nockels join Tomlin on this festive album. Tomlin added a new refrain to “Joy to the World,” giving it a new message without changing its classic sound. “Winter Snow” is a sure to be a favorite with Assad’s breezy voice, the beautiful lyrics and easy melody. Tomlin gathered friends and family to record this in a studio that was a former church. The crowd interaction gives Glory in the Highest an invigorating yet intimate feel. Tomlin has created an album that will have listeners celebrating the season, but even more importantly focusing on the gift of Jesus. —Leigh DeVore
Worship and Adore
By various artists, Integrity Music.
Worship and Adore: A Christmas Offering can help bring clarity to a season filled with busyness and sometimes even worry. Ten leading artists and worship leaders collaborate on this CD. The entire ensemble—Kari Jobe, Glenn Packiam, Christy Johnson, Lincoln Brewster, Kathryn Scott, Vicky Beeching, Joel Augé, Don Poythress, Paul Baloche, Jared Anderson—opens with “Offering.” This song of adoration and worship was written by Baloche and sets the perfect tone not only for the album but also for the Christmas season. On “Adore Him,” Jobe beautifully sings the story of the Magi finding and worshiping the infant Christ. The verses blend perfectly with the familiar chorus of “Come Let Us Adore Him.” Brewster picks up the pace with the energetic praise of “Glory to God.” “He Is Wonderful,” “The Beautiful Body and Blood” and “He Made a Way in a Manger” express why Jesus was born: to bring salvation; to die. Worship and Adore will help listeners reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, and therefore truly celebrate the season. —Leigh DeVore
Beauty Will Rise
By Steven Curtis Chapman, Sparrow Records.
On his hit song “Cinderella,” Steven Curtis Chapman sings about a dad dancing with his daughter through the various stages of life, from prom to marriage. After he wrote it, one of his own daughters, 5-year-old Maria, tragically died. This loss resulted in Beauty Will Rise, the singer-songwriter’s most personal release to date. With 12 songs that could best be described as modern-day psalms and laments, Beauty Will Rise takes listeners on Chapman’s own journey of grieving with hope. “February 20th” talks about the day his daughter accepted Jesus as her Savior, while “Just Have to Wait” finds the singer thinking about reuniting with his little girl in heaven. “Heaven Is the Face,” the first radio single, has already caused listeners to tear up. Indeed, the entire CD might require tissues at hand, as these sad-yet-hopeful songs connect straight to the hearts of all of those grieving the loss of a loved one. —Mark Weber
By Fee, INO Records.
Fee is a worship band from North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga. Known for their 2007 release, We Shine, and the hit song “All Because of Jesus,” Fee have played several Christian conferences in recent times. With anthemic songs, the kind that could get a crowd of thousands pumping their fists in the air and shouting the lyrics, Fee builds their repertoire of original worship tunes with their sophomore release, Hope Rising. From the radio single “Glory to God Forever” to the upbeat “Your Love Is Better Than Life,” Fee’s songs are meant to be sung at the top of your lungs while driving in the car, or with your friends at church—or ideally at a giant outdoor music festival. Fans of U2 and Newsboys will love Fee. —Mark Weber
The Christmas Secret
By Donna VanLiere, St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 304 pages, $14.95.
Christine, a single mother, had no idea that a good deed would change her life. Christine saves an elderly woman’s life and the woman’s boss, Marshall Wilson, wants to thank Christine. When Marshall can’t locate her, he gives his grandson, Jason, the job of finding her. Begrudgingly, Jason takes on the task. But soon his and Christine’s lives intertwine in interesting ways.
The Christmas Lamp
By Lori Copeland, Zondervan, hardcover, 144 pages, $14.99.
Christmas celebrations might not be the same in Nativity, Mo., where consultant Jake Brisco plans to eliminate festive activities due to budget constraints. Resident Roni Elliot understands but isn’t willing to simply do away with time-honored holiday traditions. The two clash, but as they get to know each other, they realize what is truly important.
The Unfinished Gift
By Dan Walsh, Revell, hardcover, 256 pages, $14.99.
The simplest gifts mean the most. Ian and Patrick Collins are grandfather and grandson struggling to cope with loss. Young Patrick wants only three things for Christmas: the Army to find his dad; to leave his granddad’s house; the wooden soldier in Ian’s attic. A boy’s prayers, some letters and an unfinished carved soldier help bring forgiveness and reconciliation to a family desperately in need of both.