By J. Lee Grady, Chosen, softcover, 224 pages, $14.99.
Longtime readers of Charisma will recognize some of the past stories and material from J. Lee Grady’s “Fire in my Bones” columns that appear in his latest book. Echoing calls already made in this magazine, he urges charismatics to develop discernment and turn away from heresies that have given the movement a bad name. Whether taking prosperity theology to extremes, engaging in adultery or demanding huge honorariums, many leaders have disgraced Christ’s name. It isn’t just these charlatans—some of whom he names—that Grady rebukes; it’s those with “itching ears” who give them platforms. He also offers guidance with succinct teachings on such topics as protecting oneself from imposters, recovering moral character and reclaiming relational Christianity. Readers will draw inspiration from his first-person accounts of witnessing in the inner city and observing humble servants helping the desperately poor in Mumbai and other Third World outposts. In some corners of the church Grady won’t be too popular for urging that we embrace God’s ways instead of popular, man-centered methods. But then, neither was Jeremiah.
An Eyewitness Remembers the Century of the Holy Spirit
By Vinson Synan, Chosen, hardcover, 208 pages, $17.99.
Author and historian Vinson Synan always produces interesting and informative materials for understanding the modern-day church. He takes a more personal approach in this book, adding observations and reactions to these events, making the material come alive. Anyone who has been involved in the Pentecostal-charismatic movement in the last century will feel as if they must have crossed paths with Synan at some point. Faithful to cover the wide spectrum and diversity of this century, he covers events leading up to Azusa Street and the birth of modern-day Pentecostalism; the Latter Rain and Healing Revivals; charismatic mainline denominations, both Protestant and Catholic; the controversies surrounding the prosperity gospel; racial reconciliation; and the more recent revivals of the 1990s and the new millennium. Synan summarizes brilliantly so the reader understands where the church has been and sets the stage for understanding its future.
—Deborah L. Delk
Should We Fire God?
By Jim Pace, FaithWords, hardcover, 272 pages, $19.99.
Pastor Jim Pace sat in a coffee shop just a few blocks from the Virginia Tech campus in 2007 when a gunman went on a shooting rampage and killed 32 people. In the following weeks and months, he and many others would ask the same questions: Where was God and why did He allow this to happen? They are questions often pondered when people see the evil and horror that seem to run unchecked around the world. In his new book, Should We Fire God? Finding Hope in God When We Don’t Understand, Pace examines the question that if God is so loving and good, why doesn’t He stop these things? He digs deeper and examines the possible reasons for God’s seeming inaction. Giving solid biblical answers and real-life examples that help reveal God’s responses in times of turmoil and distress, Pace explains why God should most definitely never hear the words: “You’re fired!”
Green Like God
By Jonathan Merritt, FaithWords, hardcover, 192 pages, $16.99.
The founder of the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative is on a mission to depolarize and depoliticize environmentalism. Instead of wrangling over left-right issues, Jonathan Merritt approaches the topic from a theological perspective, exploring Scriptures that demonstrate God’s concern for His creation. He will make some squirm with his adept observations of how America’s materialistic lifestyle is a leading cause of environmental damage. Writing in an approachable, persuasive style, he also argues that Christians are captive to faulty biblical interpretations. Among the errors he cites are turning the Genesis “dominion” mandate into an exercise in human-centric behavior, and using end-times theology as an excuse to shrug off Earth stewardship. Merritt has a sense of humor, too, exploring how trendy environmentalism often stems from a self-centered, boasting frame of mind. Christians should wince over his retelling of the vitriolic attacks he faced from fellow believers when he raised the idea of caring for the environment. The fact that Merritt bases his approach on Scripture should lay to rest the idea that only liberal tree-huggers can be active in this arena.
The Day That Changed Forever
By Tim Roehl, Regal, softcover, 224 pages, $14.99.
The day Jesus was crucified undoubtedly was the most important day in history, and mankind was forever impacted. But Jim Roehl focuses on the mark that day left on specific people who became witnesses and participants as events unfolded. Roehl considers the possible thoughts of Pontius Pilate, the centurion, Barabbas, Annas, Peter and several others. Whether a minor character or a main figure, each had a different but revealing perspective that combined to give unique insights into the significance of Jesus’ death. Roehl also discusses the words Jesus spoke from the cross and how they have changed lives from that day to the present. Although each chapter highlights a particular individual or phrase, the overall focus throughout the book never strays from the most important character who is at the center of each of the life-changing experiences: Jesus Christ.
For Those Who Wait
By Fireflight, Flicker Records.
Fireflight’s third album, For Those Who Wait, continues to offer their signature rocking, lyrically compelling songs. Lead singer Dawn Michele says this album was influenced by personal stories: “It’s our lives, our hearts and our pain just poured out.” The title track is a rousing reminder that in those times when God might seem distant there is a purpose. “Desperate” is an emotional cry to God for help. It’s a refreshing admission for those tired of cliché answers and empty promises that things will be OK, yet it’s also a song of faith that God is our hope and we can trust Him despite how things seem. Michele flawlessly delivers the rousing rock songs with passion, while her vocal diversity is highlighted on the ballads “Recovery Begins” and the tender and soft “Name,” which will capture audiences’ hearts with the chorus: “He sees you / He’s near you / He knows your face / He knows your pain / He sees you / And He loves you / He knows your name.” Fireflight’s transparency will assure listeners that they are not alone and will encourage them to keep trusting and waiting. For Those Who Wait is an album of personal music that is sure to appeal to believers and unbelievers alike.
The Golden Rule
By Above the Golden State, Sparrow Records.
Above the Golden State’s sophomore release, The Golden Rule, is a collection of songs by the pop-rock band that explores the fundamental truths of Christianity. “The Golden Rule, to love God and your neighbor as yourself, is a commandment we’ve all been given,” frontman Michael Watson says. “We want to encourage the church to return to that fundamental truth. We are constantly pursuing God upward, serving God within our community and going into the world to share His message.” The title track and its catchy melody remind listeners of this principle. Many will be encouraged with “I Am Loved,” which declares that even when it doesn’t seem like it, God is with us. This album also addresses the hard realities of life. “Tragedy” reminds us that in the midst of loss and heartache we can find our strength and hope in Jesus. Although this CD has a short song list, the music and truth-packed lyrics are better than some albums twice as long. Listeners will focus again on what Christianity is truly about, and they will be encouraged to put their faith into action.
By Deluge, Integrity Music.
Deluge’s sophomore release, Unshakable, was inspired by a season of profound joy and loss. Jonathan Stockstill, frontman and worship pastor at Bethany World Prayer Center, had his first child. Yet within months his young sister-in-law died from cancer, while his brother, youth pastor Joel, continued to fight a lifelong battle with kidney disease. “The songs speak of where we’ve been and how we’re pressing through,” Jonathan Stockstill says. The title track especially connects with the church, he says. Deluge rocks out this request for God to solidify our faith. “Power” declares our need for Him to help us live like Jesus and move in the supernatural. “Refuge” is a statement of faith that when we experience trials, God won’t allow us to be overtaken. “Come Into My Courts” was inspired by a divine vision Joel had when his wife, Amy, died: “Come in My courts / Won’t you run to Me? / Won’t you come to Me?” Album highlight “Let’s Worship,” with guest vocalist Kari Jobe, will lead listeners to reflect on Christ and who He is in their lives. Unshakable rejoices in the power, safety and strength we have in God. And believers in all seasons of life will be encouraged as they worship with the band.
By Vanessa Miller, Whitaker House, softcover, 400 pages, $9.99.
Melinda Johnson always felt called to the ministry and naturally thought she would replace her father as pastor when he retired. But instead he appoints Steven Marks, who is against female pastors and is Melinda’s ex-fiancé. She is discouraged but continues to work at the church. Eventually their working together reignites feelings. Can they set aside their differences and love again?
Wildflowers of Terezin
By Robert Elmer, Abingdon Press, softcover, 352 pages, $13.99.
When Steffen Petersen helps young Jewish nurse Hanne Abrahamsen rescue Denmark’s Jews from a Nazi prison camp, the pastor discovers the meaning of true faith. As his conviction strengthens and his affection for Hanne grows, he becomes more directly involved, never anticipating the danger or the cost.
By Candace Calvert, Tyndale, softcover, 352 pages, $12.99.
A rush of ER patients with life-threatening symptoms brings charge nurse Erin Quinn to work on her day off. The staff soon realizes this is a mass poisoning. When the media learns of the possible health hazard, the fire department helps bring order. Instantly, Erin and fire chief Scott McKenna feel a connection. But will they let their troubled pasts keep them apart?
Have the latest reviews sent to your inbox. Sign up for The Buzz at: charismamag.com/newsletters