LIFE@WORK: Marketplace Success for People of Faith
John C. Maxwell, Stephen R. Graves, Thomas G. Addington
Nelson Business, 240 pp., $22.99

Taking God to Work

Is work a four-letter word? We are created to live seamlessly in both the world of faith and the world of work, the authors say. But the church and the office talk different languages, and both demand allegiance. How do the two mesh?

The authors set out to help Christians be comfortable and intentional in using information that will feel familiar to readers of similar books. They focus on four fundamentals: skill, calling, serving, and character.

Our divine job assignment is our calling, "God's personal invitation for me to work on his agenda, using the talents I have been given in ways that are eternally significant." Although difficult to pin down, they suggest finding our calling by assessing our desires, a longstanding sense of urgency, or our skill sets (the unique abilities we have been gifted with). Serving is our expression of work to others, and character (integrity and consistency) binds it all together.

Motivational anecdotes rub shoulders with stories of biblical characters. The authors also call for the church to restructure so that it might better integrate faith and career, although they offer few specifics on accomplishing this.

Wonder, awe, and amazement are on every page.

THE POWER OF HOSPITALITY: An open heart, open hand, and open home will change your world
Chuck and Kathie Crismier
Elijah Books, 348 pp., $15.99

Entertaining Angels

Hospitality is not something Christians should practice because they have a gift for it—it is a spiritual imperative, say national radio host Chuck Crismier and his wife, Kathie. In this motivational, sometimes preachy, and always upbeat treatise on hospitality, they urge readers to open their hearts and homes.

The Crismiers heavily mine the KJV for passages on hospitality, and have an obvious admiration for hospitality's role in Puritan life. When we practice hospitality, they say, we can practice racial reconciliation, love our children, welcome immigrants, embrace singles, and strengthen our marriages.

For the hospitality-challenged, there are diagrams of how to set a table or fold a napkin, as well as ideas for entertaining in small spaces.

Unfortunately, the solid, practical information is often obscured by the problems of many self-published books: poor endnotes, repetitious passages, format changes, and author-friendly testimonials.

However, for those uneasy with practicing hospitality, the core message of the book—that a return to the ministry of hospitality will bring about positive changes in our church and our communities—should offer inspiration and motivation.

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SEX, LIES, AND THE MEDIA: What Your Kids Know and Aren't Telling You
Eva Marie Everson, Jessica Everson
Life Journey (Cook Communications Ministries), 144 pp., $12.99

Parent Alert

"Blessed Assurance." "Rescue the Perishing." "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross."

The average American adolescent will see approximately 14,000 sexual images this year, and out of that number, only 165 will reference birth control, self-control, abstinence, pregnancy, or stds, the authors say. What's a parent to do?

Here, a mother and her 23-year-old daughter offer practical tips for engaging children and teens about everything from music to the internet. The goal, they write, is to teach kids to make good choices. The book has a nice balance of empathy ("Go back and study some of the lyrics on your dusty albums"), common sense, practical tips, and discussion starters. Ideas for parents include monitoring their kids' music, reading the magazines their kids are reading, and learning the instant-messaging chat language (PA=Parent Alert, POS=Parent Over Shoulder). They also offer short synopses of popular media as well as updates on new trouble spots (cell-phone porn).

WHEN YOU'RE FACING THE EMPTY NEST: Avoiding Midlife Meltdown When Your Child Leaves Home
Mary Ann Froehlich
Bethany House, 288 pp., $15.99

Navigating Midlife

For women whose family is the axis around which their lives revolve, adjusting to the empty nest can be wrenching. Mary Ann Froehlich offers this too-short book of inspiration for those looking to strengthen their marriages, establish relationships with newly adult children, and chart a different course after the kids are gone.

In one of the best chapters, Froehlich looks at the common pitfalls of marriage in midlife. Wives are often more ready to explore new dreams or professions than their husbands, whose careers may be winding down. And they are longing for more relationship time. The temptation to have an affair may become particularly attractive. Midlife impulses to travel or make extravagant purchases further strain finances already stretched by steep college tuition. Spouses may develop surprising interests and passions, requiring negotiation.

Froehlich's points, while well taken, are not always adequately fleshed out. More helpful are the personal glimpses of how midlife can take many different shapes and directions. The pithy quotes are an unexpected bonus, drawing from authors as diverse as Anne Lamott, Paul Tournier, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Umberto Eco.

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The book's greatest value is in the questions provided for group study.

Cindy Crosby is the author of By Willoway Brook (Paraclete).

Related Elsewhere:

Life@Work is available from and other book retailers.

More about author John Maxwell is available from the INJOY Group.
More information is available from Thomas Nelson.

The Power of Hospitality is available from and other book retailers.

Sex, Lies, and the Media is available from and other book retailers.

More information is available from Cook Communications.

When You're Facing the Empty Nest is available from and other book retailers.

More information is available from Bethany House Publishers.

For book lovers, our 2005 CT book awards are available online, along with our book awards for 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, and 1997, as well as our Books of the Twentieth Century. For other coverage or reviews, see our Books archive and the weekly Books & Culture Corner.

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