Have a Little Faith: A True Story by Mitch Albom (Hyperion)
My wife rarely insists I must read a book, but Have a Little Faith was the exception. Before that, I heard hear laughing and occasionally sniffing as she occupied her typical-evening spot on the loveseat, reading. When she finished, she passed it on to me. I’m glad she did.
Mitch Albom tells the story of two very different clergymen—Albert Lewis, his childhood rabbi, and Henry Covington, the African-American pastor of a barely-hanging-on church in inner-city Detroit. It’s a story about resilience and perseverance and faith. It’s a story about abiding love.
The story takes eight years to tell, but it begins with a simple, yet daunting, request: “Will you do my eulogy?” the aging, ailing rabbi asks the young sportswriter. As the tale is told, Albom walks alongside his old friend, the rabbi, and his new friend, the preacher. Before it’s ended, he writes that eulogy and very nearly pens a requiem for the Detroit congregation.
Albom, best known for his prior book, Tuesdays with Morrie, polishes the tiny details of his friends’ lives until they glow—which is what you’ll be doing when you close this lovely book.
Marv Knox, editor
Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola (Thomas Nelson)
The church should be more than purpose-driven or cause-driven; it should be person-driven—the person of Jesus Christ, according to popular authors Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. The subtitle of their latest book spells out its lofty goal—“Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ.” To see Jesus Christ as a social activist or moral philosopher is to shortchange him. Instead, Christians should recognize him as all-sufficient Lord of the universe.
Too many churches today suffer from “Jesus deficit disorder,” the authors assert. Social justice, moral behavior and orthodox doctrine all have value, but they should not be at the center of the church’s identity. Christianity is all about Christ—nothing more and nothing less. The life of the church should be the life of Christ.
Furthermore, the individual Christian’s life should be more than aspiring to imitate Christ, Sweet and Viola insist. The believer should not wear a veneer of Christ-likeness; Christ should indwell the believer and exercise lordship over every aspect of life. Sweet and Viola write in an approachable, easy-to-read style, but resist the temptation to breeze through this book. Instead, take the time to let its insights soak in.
Ken Camp, managing editor
Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand (Bethany House)
In Back on Murder, J. Mark Bertrand pens a gripping mystery within a mystery. Unexplained to the reader, veteran detective Roland March has been moved from homicide to mundane, on-the-way-out tasks within the Houston Police Department while his relationship with his wife crumbles. His boss temporarily puts him “back on murder” when March discovers overlooked evidence at a shoot-out.
About the same time, Donna Mayhew reports her teenaged daughter missing. Her father, a prominent Houston megachurch pastor, died several years earlier in a plane crash, but her mother continued his ministry at Cypress Community Church. The more Roland March investigates, the more his experience tells him the incidents are connected. Together with Cypress Church member Theresa Cavallo, March attempts to connect the dots. But those efforts lead them into danger and a scandal that shakes the upper echelon of the Houston Police Department. Along the way, the detective learns the power of forgiveness as he observes people who live their faith under difficult circumstances.
Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president
Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas