Religion Bestsellers ; the Monitor's Quarterly Review of Bestselling Religion Books Offers a One- Stop Opportunity to Survey the Resurgent Interest in Religion and Spirituality

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THE PRAYER OF JABEZ, by Bruce Wilkinson, Multnomah, $10.99

Bruce Wilkinson, founder of the Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, is convinced that the prayer of a man named Jabez could change your life, if you're a Christian, that is. Found in I Chronicles, the prayer of Jabez is brief. Wilkinson believes that when this prayer is used daily, it opens the doors to God's blessings. Although it glimmers with moments of inspiration and even aspiration for human life, by packaging those ideas as a strictly Christian ministry, Wilkinson will leave many seekers of faith on the sidewalks of the road he claims to have found. (144 pp.) By Christy Ellington

BUDDHA, by Karen Armstrong, Viking/Lipper, $19.95

"Buddha" is an elegant work that seems destined to become the classic source for anyone delving for the first time into the life and teachings of the religious icon. In a blend of history, philosophy, mythology, and biography, Armstrong not only portrays the tumultuous cultural landscape that helped spawn one of the world's most influential faiths, but she also plumbs the motivations of the man - Siddhatta Gotama - and vividly depicts his quest for transformative enlightenment. (205 pp.) (Full review Feb. 22) By Jane Lampman

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FRESH POWER, by Jim Cymbala with Dean Merrill, Zondervan, $18.99

The latest in a series by Brooklyn Tabernacle pastor Jim Cymbala, this installment turns to the third element of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. With oratory prose, Cymbala incorporates Biblical passages and testimonials from his own rejuvenated and growing congregation, but unlike his previous works, this book is less about affirmation and more an evaluation of contemporary Christianity. Cymbala has some pointed remarks on the modern church, with its increasingly grand edifices and entertainments. Written with inspiring honesty and vigor. (204 pp.) By Leigh Montgomery

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THE MARK, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House, $22.99

Another in the long line of the Apocalypse series by LaHaye and Jenkins. This time believers and unbelievers in Christ are made to choose "the mark" so they can continue to trade goods in the New World economy. Our friends from the underground rebellion, Tribulation Force, lose members but gain others, one of whom is a computer wizard who can continue to be their mole in enemy headquarters. This book, like previous ones, continues to interpret biblical prophecy for a modern era and pitches the acceptance of Jesus as Saviour at every chance. (400 pp.) By Jan Moller

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HE CHOSE THE NAILS, by Max Lucado, Word, $21.99

Lucado portrays the Crucifixion as an invitation to enter a relationship with Christ. He says the "coolest" thing about Jesus' sacrifice is that "He did it for you." Lucado personalizes the Crucifixion through simple stories drawn mostly from his own experiences. Each story opens into questions in the text and a study-guide postscript. Chapters follow familiar but little-noticed details of the Crucifixion story like the wine-soaked sponge, the temple curtain, and Jesus' burial clothing. Each chapter explains their significance in nontheological terms. (240 pp.) By Ben Arnoldy

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