Jim Cymbala, Author, Stephen Sorenson, Joint Author, Stephen Sorenson, W

Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle and author of previous Christian blockbusters such as Fresh Faith and Fresh Power, and Sorenson, editor and head of Sorenson Communications, offer a refreshing return to some fundamental values of Christianity. Church leaders are reminded to "put on" the clothes of righteousness from Colossians 3:12–14 (compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience) and wear them outwardly. Cymbala examines the message, method and motivation of the Apostle Paul, as an early church leader obviously blessed by God. However, Cymbala provides no clear definition of the term "blessing" that would place it in a context for the modern church. References to Satan as a "ceaseless adversary" and to spiritual attack are frequent. Not only is the terminology evangelical, but so is the general tone, including judgmentalism about "the extreme sexuality common in much of the fashion industry" and the "self-centered, comfort-zone lifestyle." The text is comprised mainly of examination of Scripture passages and exhortation, but lacks significant interpretation and uses some clichés of the pastoral trade (e.g., "fleshly" instincts and "breakout" power). Intermixed with this are memorable personal stories from Cymbala's experience, including demon-possessed squatters, an addict who was sexually victimized at a boarding school and an African missionary whose blood led to the conversion of a resistant tribe. Although this is not up to the standard of his earlier works, Cymbala's message is encouraging and uplifting, including answers for spiritual hunger and demand for honest Christian examination. (Mar.)

Forecast:While this is clearly not on par with Cymbala's Gold Medallion–winning books such as Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, it should still sell well in the Christian market; the first book in the series, The Life God Blesses, has been holding steady on the CBA bestseller list since November.