Achieving God’s Best for Your Life
The Gospel of Good Success
By Kirbyjon H. Caldwell with Mark Seal,
Simon & Schuster,
255 pages, $12, paperback.
Living up to its title, The Gospel of Good Success has the making of a literary
Oscar. It serves as a catalyst to achieving God-centered abundant life.
Pastor of 12,000-member Windsor Village United Methodist Church, Kirbyjon Caldwell espouses a “holistic salvation,” which involves “knowing that God wants you to be successful in all areas of your life and, armed with that knowledge and inspiration, to build a life that is the epitome of good success.”
Readers will get a dose of the same faith-plus-works message he used to impact his own community. Caldwell encourages readers to push beyond their limitations to experience spiritual, emotional and financial freedom. Laced with real-life stories, the book gives practical advice and a clear plan of action for reaching one’s potential.
With attention-grabbing titles such as “Staging a Comeback” and “Creating Wealth God’s Way,” each chapter flows as a natural progression to victory. Built on a biblical foundation, this good-news book is informative and refreshing.
With years of pastoring, coupled with the success of his community-based ministries, Caldwell brings to this project a wealth of experience–gained by unwavering faith, undying sacrifice and prayers that avail much. The Gospel of Good Success is a must-read for anyone determined to attain God’s best.
–Vanessa Lowe Robinson
Beauty for Ashes
More Than I Could Ever Ask
By Lori Graham Bakker,
Thomas Nelson Publishers,
256 pages, $19.99, hardcover.
Had Lori Graham never married evangelist Jim Bakker, she would likely have remained mostly anonymous. But Bakker’s second wife does an admirable job with her new platform.
Because Bakker represents “everywoman,” readers scarred by divorce, drug abuse and other dysfunctionality will relate to much of what she shares. This is a very frank and moving story–particularly her vivid descriptions of overcoming the pain of her five abortions.
Even those who don’t care for the book’s romantic aspects will be moved by “Joy Came in the Morning.” This chapter’s description of coming to grips with the loss of her children will touch deep emotions and soften hearts.
Likewise, the account of the damage inflicted by an abortionist stirs anger–at the pro-abortion lobby and others who suppress the truth. Reading of her physical and emotional trauma makes it difficult to envision abortion as a “compassionate” choice. Still, the book has flaws. The first third moves slowly and goes into overly long details of her whirlwind courtship. And it is easy to get lost in the continuing flashbacks. But in the end, Bakker’s restoration brings hope to those who struggle to believe that God uses people with a battered and bruised past.
Beyond the Shadow of Doubt
By Mark Chironna,
211 pages, $14.99, paperback.
Everyone has doubts. Doubts from our pasts, from deep within ourselves and from the world around us can plague and sabotage our destinies. In his new book, Beyond the Shadow of Doubt, Mark Chironna takes the reader on a deeply analytical and spiritual jaunt through the snags in life that can plant doubt in a believer’s mind.
The book starts out a little slowly and without a clear outline of the path the author will take. But the personal anecdotes, filled with valuable points Chironna later elaborates on, urge the reader through. Chironna then outlines skills that will help readers visualize their doubts, examine the roots, and deal with them on both spiritual and psychological levels.
The book employs these tools like no other self-help book out there. With concrete steps to follow and exercises to use, Chironna validates feelings often ignored and offers tangible solutions to the debilitating doubt that those emotions can foster.
Beyond the Shadow of Doubt has the perfect mixture of introspection and spiritual guidance blended with logic and encouragement from a professional. Taking doubt and fear by the reigns, Chironna’s Beyond the Shadow of Doubt can retrieve anyone from any depths of doubt they have fallen into.
The Mind of Christ
Let This Mind Be in You
By Frances Hunter,
186 pages, $10.99, paperback.
No one can doubt or cast aspersions against Frances Hunter’s zeal and love for Jesus Christ and the gospel. The pages of Let This Mind Be in You are filled with anecdotes and assertions that chronicle this saint’s adventures with the Holy Spirit across a lifetime and tell of the lives that have been touched through her ministry with her husband, Charles Hunter.
Hunter rightly points out from the start that as Christians, we too easily overlook or disregard the “invaluable possession of the actual mind of Christ.” She equates this to the oft-repeated tragedy of owning a valuable possession but failing to ever use it or enjoy it.
However, the book’s layout and organization is frustrating to the reader who naturally seeks to discern the “big picture” of the author’s message concerning the mind of Christ.
Another concern is the author’s occasional statements that do not fully square with biblical theology. For example, Hunter states that as one grows deeper spiritually, “the problems get smaller, smaller, and smaller, until suddenly they are so little you cannot see them anymore”–an assertion contradictory to the lives of numerous Christians who face very real problems.
A more bizarre claim is Hunter’s take that God places angels around her car, and that the angels “get off when you drive over the speed limit.” Claims of various visions, including one of the risen and glorified Christ, also may make some readers uncomfortable.
The Hunters are passionate for Christ and His message. Readers would be better served if the couple’s own message was further refined and better edited for theological integrity.
–John M. DeMarco
Out of the Overflow
By Everybodyduck, Audio X (Diamante).
Everybodyduck praises God with an unfettered modern rock bent that combines a rootsy, electric-acoustic sound and an obvious passion for the Redeemer. The Arizona-based band kicks off its latest effort, Out of the Overflow, with the no-holds-barred worship number, “Redeemer,” which has an infectious melody line and lyrics that don’t get much past “I’ve Been Redeemed… / Sing hallelujah, Christ is Lord.”
In a modern music world where bands are often ambiguous lyrically, Everybodyduck immediately lets you know where they stand. The five-piece group is fronted by lead singer Darrin McWatters, who is often joined on harmonies by Molly Jensen, creating a winning vocal combination that captures the same sonic feel of Caedmon’s Call and the now disbanded Clear.
There are a lot of great new praise songs here, including Watters’ originals “Sustained” and “You Are There,” plus remakes of the adequate “Arms of Love” and a rock ‘n’ roll rendition of Darlene Zschech’s “Shout to the Lord.”
Out of the Overflow is a welcome addition to the crowded praise and worship scene, yet Everybodyduck is best when they make their own joyful noise.
–Natalie Nichols Gillespie
A Joyful Noise
Joe Pace Presents Let There Be Praise
By Joe Pace, Integrity Music.
Joe Pace has been known for his work as a producer, songwriter and director
of the Stellar award-winning Colorado Mass Choir. As part of his production deal with Integrity Music, Pace embarks on a new endeavor that brings worship to center stage on his release, Let There Be Praise.
The recording serves a twofold purpose. On one hand, it’s designed to be an enjoyable and inspiring praise and worship experience that ministers to the heart. But the album also can be used as a ministry resource for church praise teams and choirs. The songs have simple hooks and choruses that can be taught quickly and sung in church services.
Let There Be Praise kicks off to a great start with such joyous tracks as “Let Everything That Hath Breath” and the title cut, featuring worship leader Alvin Slaughter.
Pace puts his unique touch to such standards as the Spirit-charged “Jesus, I’ll Never Forget” and the soulful “I Worship You Medley,” featuring renowned jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum. Let There Be Praise also has moving worship. “We Offer Praise to You” and “Lord We Bless Your Name” encourage the listener to enter the presence of the Lord.
Pace’s Let There Be Praise is a great musical contribution that serves both spiritual and practical means.
Pastors Who Praise
Let My Words Be Few
By Phillips, Craig & Dean, Sparrow.
Pastors Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean make their first foray into praise and worship with this familiar-sounding project filled with some of the most popular modern worship songs in the church today. The trio doesn’t stray much from the tried-and-true, but they don’t need to here. Their popular brand of tight harmonies set to new favorites such as “Come, Now Is the Time,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord” and “The Heart of Worship” works well, especially on “Heart of Worship.”
Dean gets the writing credit on two tracks–“Lord, I’ll Pour My Love on You” and the beautiful closing number “How Great You Are,” while Nathan Nockels, who produced Passion and OneDay Live and is half of the popular duo Watermark, takes the helm as producer of this pleasant collection.
Praise and worship fans will find this one smoothly palatable. Phillips, Craig & Dean fans will no doubt want to add this one to their collection, too.
–Natalie Nichols Gillespie
Praying as Jabez Prayed
Walk Thru the Bible founder Bruce Wilkinson dreams big, but he never realized the stir that his 92-page book, The Prayer of Jabez, would create in the publishing world, as well as in churches around the world.
At the book’s one-year anniversary on May 1, an estimated 4 million copies will be in print. The book released just in time for the National Day of Prayer in 2000, and within four months Wilkinson’s publisher, Multnomah, had sold out of its initial 20,000 copies. Since then, Jabez has gone back to press 30 times to keep up with demand.
In the best-selling book, Wilkinson describes the prayer of a little-known Bible hero who asked for God’s blessing and protection (see 1 Chr. 4:10). He says he first heard about the prayer while attending seminary and was challenged to look more closely at the text.
“As I studied it,” Wilkinson notes, “I began to wonder what made God point out Jabez and say, ‘You are more honorable than your brethren.'”
Wilkinson realized he had been praying exactly the opposite of what Jabez prayed. He says this man’s simple prayer revolutionized his own prayer life, and he wanted to share it with others.
Readers inspired by The Prayer of Jabez can now purchase Secrets of the Vine, which discusses God’s plan for a breakthrough to abundance.
–Carol Chapman Stertzer