The Monitor Guide to The Religion Bestsellers

1. APOLLYON, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Tyndale House, $19.97 As the Apocalypse lengthens, our friends from the Tribulation Force continue to battle the Antichrist to bring souls to Jesus. The woes that John prophesied in Revelation continue to afflict the world, and things worsen before they get better. Unfortunately, the more I read this series, the more disappointed I get. The authors attempt too much by providing more background than is necessary. The writing is choppy, and as the plot leaps from location to location, the reader is often left behind. (403 pp.) By Jan Moller

2. THE VISITATION, by Frank Peretti, Word Publishing, $24.99 The latest from the top-selling author of Christian fiction is a riveting story of how a town in Washington state is thrown into turmoil by a stranger whose actions and startling healings raise questions of the Second Coming. At the novels heart is the human struggle of a local former Pentecostal pastor. He rediscovers his faith in the process of solving the mystery of the stranger and leading the confrontation between forces of good and evil. Peretti, a former pastor, weaves in a critique of religious excess and the contemporary Christian church. (519 pp.) By Jane Lampman

3. ASSASSINS, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House, $22.99 Assassins takes us past the midpoint of the Apocalypse, and we see more prophecies of the book of Revelation come to pass. The continuation of the story of the Tribulation Force, those left behind after Jesus rapture, gives plenty of background on each character as they pray to be chosen by God to assassinate the New World Order leader, Nicolae Carpathia. Fortunately, the Lord has provided the underground Trib Force with better techies to override the Antichrists technology. (384 pp.) By Jan Moller

4. THE ART OF HAPPINESS, by the Dalai Lama & H. Cutler, Riverhead, $22.95 The purpose of life, says the Dalai Lama, is to seek happiness. This seemingly elementary statement requires strict adherence and mental discipline toward a benevolent, rather than self-centered, happiness. There is great value in reading about the basic spiritual values of this unique world figure and Tibetan spiritual leader: human qualities of goodness, compassion, and caring. This book is based on a series of conversations the Dalai Lama had with Howard Cutler, a Phoenix-based psychiatrist. (322 pp.) By Leigh Montgomery

5. TURNING HURTS INTO HALOS, by Robert Schuller, Thomas Nelson, $22.99 The Rev. Schuller commits his newest book to what he considers the inevitable pain and hurt of human experience. Host of the popular Hour of Power televised church service, Schuller uses stories from his own experience and others lives to illustrate that when lifes unavoidable pain is handed over to God, it can be transformed into a halo. While sometimes enlightening and encouraging, the book falls just short of delivering the tangible truths necessary to make these transitions possible. (256 pp.) By Anne Toevs

6. ONE DAY MY SOUL JUST OPENED UP, by Iyanla Vanzant, Fireside, $13 Vanzant admonishes us in the opening page to remain open. There is something bigger than you know going on here. And thats her underlying point throughout let go and let God work in your life. Shes structured her ideas into a 40- day spiritual regeneration plan, with a daily principle to mull over, starting with truth and ending with unconditional love. But many of the principles in between veer away from the spiritual toward simple suggestions on changing your outlook. (303 pp.) By Kristina Lanier

7. THE LADY, HER LOVER, AND HER LORD, by T.D. Jakes, Putnam, $19.99 Jakes tries valiantly here to provide women with a navigational atlas for todays world. He perceptively assesses some typical pitfalls of relationships and self-perception. Using the Scriptures as the foundation, he hammers home three basic points: (1) Be happy with yourself, (2) have confidence in your relationship with God, and (3) trust that everything else will follow. But thats where the book loses its punch. These ideas could have easily fit into a brief pamphlet. Instead, his concepts get lost in 208 pages of belabored writing and fluffy analogies. By Kristina Lanier

8. GOD IS IN THE SMALL STUFF..., by Bruce Bickel, Barbour, $12.99 The makers of the W(hat) W(ould) J(esus) D(o) bracelets have come out with a book based on the same principle: Realize that all the details of your life matter and that you will find peace and happiness only if you find your way through Jesus Christ. The framework and even some of the content of this book are similar to those quotation books that encourage readers to simplify their lives, listen to their mothers, and even grab wisdom from their pets. If youre looking for a Christian gift book, this could be a sweet choice. (249 pp.) By Christy Ellington

9. AWAKENING TO THE SACRED, by Lama Surya Das, Broadway Books, $26 The author is convinced that everyone has a grain of spirituality inside and that spirituality can lead to a more meaningful life. Surya Das, an American raised in a Jewish family who later was initiated into Tibetan Buddhism and studied with the Dalai Lama, offers tools for people of all religious backgrounds. This book examines qualities that lead to a more meaningful life, including patience, love, faith, and honesty, and then explores Buddhist rituals of yoga, controlled breathing, meditation, and others as means to becoming more enlightened. This sincere and readable book has something to offer people of many faiths. (288 pp.) By Julie Finnin Day

10. JUST LIKE JESUS, by Max Lucado, Word, $19.99 The Rev. Max Lucados book encourages readers to make changes in their lives by following Jesus example. Lucado infuses his chapters with examples of common challenges, many from his own familys experience. While this book would be of great value to someone exploring faith anew, its also for any reader wishing to improve by considering the statement, In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Included is a study guide, correlative Bible passages, and questions corresponding to the chapters. (223 pp.) By Leigh Montgomery

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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