By Ron Luce, Regal, hardcover, 224 pages, $19.99.
In Re-create, Ron Luce, president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries, writes: “Our job as parents is not just to fight the culture but also to teach our kids to see through its shallowness and the motives of those who shape it. Our real defense is to build a culture in our family that is so strong and defining that it pulls the hearts of our kids toward us and keeps them looking to us to shape their values.” Luce offers parents and churches hope and practical guidance on how to accomplish this. He shares the harsh realities of our culture and explains that culture enters our homes through video games, computers, cell phones, even friends and other means-Luce is not against these but says “no freedoms are ever given without responsibility and accountability.” Luce says it’s not just about protecting kids from culture; it’s about creating a culture “so that our kids can clearly discern the difference and be wise enough to avoid being lured in.” Luce holds nothing back and some will not like what he has to say. Others will have to make tough, sacrificial choices and do a 180-degree turn with their own lives and thinking. But those who are willing to do the work will be blessed with an atmosphere that is wooing their children and offering them something this culture never can.
By Larry Stockstill, Charisma House, softcover, 192 pages, $14.99.
The church of Jesus Christ has been battered by scandal, lack of integrity and loss of focus. In The Remnant, Larry Stockstill calls both ministers and laity to heal the church and restore its integrity and power. He examines the current state of “the dysfunctional church” and uncovers five main problem areas-it is unfathered, uncorrected, unfruitful, unhealed, and untaught. He also emphasizes the need to return to the fivefold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers all working in unison. But Stockstill then gives his “Ten Commandments of Ministry,” giving hope, reassurance and guidance to strengthen the church. He does not write with a tone of condemnation or accusation, but his concern for getting pastors, and all Christians, to confront the issues and deal with them is genuine. Personal integrity is indeed the first step.
Embracing Life, Spirit, Faith and Adversity
By Greg Rice, Destiny Image, softcover, 316 pages, $15.99.
This book is meant to be studied rather than read, since it includes numerous Scriptures and foundational concepts for new Christians, as well as a study guide. To help users reflect further on lessons, each chapter includes action steps. The author wrote the book-first in a trio known as the Gifts of Freedom Series-to help his son and others in prison by setting them free in their hearts despite their circumstances. However, as he notes, the largest “jails” are full of law-abiding citizens, namely people trapped in loneliness, guilt, sorrow, poverty or other afflictions. Thus, this material is also useful for new believers’ classes and small-group discussions. Because charismatics are sometimes accused of being long on the Spirit and short on biblical grounding this book will be a healthy addition to resource libraries. And, because it includes instruction on receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit it will be welcome in charismatic and Pentecostal congregations.
You Were Made for More
By Jim Cymbala, Zondervan, hardcover, 224 pages, $19.99.
Architect Mark Hill gave up a six-figure salary to follow his special assignment from the Lord and couldn’t be happier. He and his wife have a bookstore and use the proceeds to fuel their dream of a camp for abused children in New York. Bonnie Affriany, a registered nurse, was nearing 60 when she accepted Christ as her Savior and soon quit her job, applied for early Social Security, and used her savings to buy land in Haiti for a relief ministry for children. Some 200 children now depend on her for a meal each day, and Bonnie regularly preaches the gospel to inmates at a putrid smelling Haitian prison. These are but a few examples Jim Cymbala lays out in You Were Made for More. He says that God has very specific plans in mind for you. Every single Christian has been mandated “to do something special, something mighty, something unique.” If you’re ready to step up, Cymbala outlines the necessities of that lifestyle and gives plenty of biblical and recent examples of people who experience abiding joy in the face of life’s setbacks, enjoy a new freedom from “issues” and have a confidence they are walking in their calling.
This Glorious Christmas
By Annie Moses Band, Reunion Records.
The Annie Moses Band’s new release, This Glorious Christmas, is the perfect album to set the tone for the holiday season. The band members, who are siblings-some Juilliard trained-offer a beautiful collection of songs with their unmistakable talent and innovative arrangements. The group comes together cohesively on their instrumental performances; yet even more amazing are the harmonies that only families can produce. Annie Wolaver takes the lead on vocals, and her beautiful, soprano voice blends perfectly with the voices of sisters Camille and Gretchen and their mother, Robin, on such songs as “Bethlehem, House of Bread” and “When the Christmas Baby Cries.” “What Child Is This” begins with a dreamy melody and flows into a regal, rich arrangement. “Little Baby” speaks of the baby Jesus and the world that needs His healing touch, love and forgiveness. People who enjoy classical music will want to add This Glorious Christmas to their music collection. But even those who don’t listen to classical music regularly will recognize and appreciate the undeniable skill and artistry of the Annie Moses Band.
Peace on Earth
By Casting Crowns, Reunion Records.
Casting Crowns lead singer Mark Hall said, “A lot of times, when we sing carols, we sort of shift into Christmas carol mode-singing songs that we’ve been singing for so long, we might not be hearing what they’re really saying.” So this group has offered a chance to change that with its new Christmas CD, Peace on Earth. From the opening song, a truly inspirational arrangement that brings new life to Longfellow’s lyrics in “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” to the last notes of the beautiful instrumental version of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” Peace on Earth brings hope to a new generation. This album breathes fresh musical life into nine classics, including “Silent Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Joy to the World,” “Away in a Manger” and “Sweet Little Jesus Boy.” Listeners will instantly be singing along. And Casting Crown fans will also be singing with the additional track, “While You Were Sleeping,” in its original form as a Christmas song. This talented group once again finds a new way to remind us that, as Longfellow learned in his despair years ago, “God is not dead / Nor does He sleep / The wrong shall fail / The right prevail / With peace on earth!”
Glory in the Highest
By Shane and Shane, Inpop Records.
Shane and Shane’s first Christmas album offers eight Christmas carols and three original tracks in their signature acoustic style. Their harmony is especially impeccable on the classics, including “O Holy Night,” “Away in a Manger,” “Silent Night” and “White Christmas.” For “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas,” Bethany Dillon joins the duo and her lovely voice blends perfectly on this fun track. The three originals showcase this duo’s thoughtful songwriting skills. “Born to Die” describes the reality of why Christ came to earth and explains that His life wasn’t taken-He laid it down. “Holiday” has a bit of a jazzy flare and declares that Jesus is our “holiday,” “hideaway” and “home” and the “favorite part of me.” “Glory in the Highest” sings of how Jesus “became the lowest to show us glory in the highest.” Shane and Shane fans will not be disappointed with this group’s holiday music debut.
Hail to the King
By Hillsong, Integrity Music.
Hillsong’s Hail to the King offers 13 brand-new worship songs. The CD presents energetic and fast-paced songs at the beginning and end with ballads “sandwiched” in between. The opening four tracks will get listeners revved with a focus of praise and challenge. “Now” declares that God’s church will be His answer of hope to the world. “Hail to the King” is straight-up praise to Jesus the King. The gears soon switch into transparent worship with several ballads. “You are Here (the Same Power)” carries a sense of gratitude. “You Brought Me Home,” with a simple melody, declares: “My Redeemer Jesus Christ / You sacrificed Yourself on the cross / To bring me home / You brought me home.” “At Your Feet” is a song of complete surrender. On “Rise” His church promises to “shine God” and be “the hands that reach the lost and meet the unmet need.” The fast-paced closers “All to Show” and “The Call” sing of reaching the world. There is lots of praise on this album, but Hillsong also challenges the church and this generation to declare Him to the world. Listeners will be encouraged as they reflect on the attributes of God, and they will be moved to again carry Christ to a hurting world.
All I Have to Give
By Melody Carlson, Revell Books, softcover, 176 pages, $14.99.
Michael and Anna have tried to have a child for years with no success. In the spirit of Christmas the two sacrifice something they personally cherish to get each other a special gift. But what neither of them expects is the Christmas miracle that awaits them.
Engaging Father Christmas
By Robin Jones Gunn, FaithWords, softcover, 176 pages, $13.99.
Miranda Carlson is hoping for a Christmas proposal when she visits her boyfriend, Ian, at his family home in England. But when his ill father doesn’t give his blessing, Miranda loses hope that she will get engaged. But she might still get a Christmas surprise.
The Paper Bag Christmas
By Kevin Alan Milne, Center Street, hardcover, 160 pages, $14.99.
Aaron and Molar Alan are asked to play Santa at a hospital. Aaron befriends a young boy who doesn’t celebrate Christmas but is interested. Molar meets Katrina, a girl so embarrassed by the scars on her face she hides her head in a paper bag. The children discover the true meaning of Christmas, and Katrina realizes she is beautiful beyond description.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: For concert information, song samples and more on the artists featured in this month’s Vibes, click here.