By Pat Boone, Oak Records.
"Thank You, Billy Graham," co-written by Pat Boone, is the title cut of the famous crooner's new CD, Glory Train, and is bound for a lot of airplay. But the included DVD of the song is the highlight of this package. It's a moving tribute to the evangelist, a universally celebrated hero of our faith.
Clips of Graham over the years, showing him preaching and making an impact on huge audiences as well as heads of state, are intermixed with studio shots of a who's who list of artists and entertainers who contributed their voices to this recording—Bono, LeAnne Rimes, Michael McDonald, Kenny Rogers, dcTalk and others. The film has a patriotic, country beat with a "We Are the World" edge.
The rest of the CD doesn't sound anything like the title track. The other 12 cuts all sound much the same. They are gospel tunes recorded in the 1970s and sung solo by Boone with simple accompaniments added. The old recordings were found in dusty boxes, repaired and digitized.
World Through Your Eyes
By Reuben Morgan, Rocketown Records.
Reuben Morgan, with Darlene Zschech, has been central to the Hillsong Music invasion from Australia for several years, penning widely known "Lord, I Give You My Heart," "My Redeemer Lives" and "Hear Our Praises." His explosive worship anthems are reshaped into modern-rock and pop gems on this solo debut with Morgan offering pop versions of his worship hits. Morgan is well-known in worship circles, but pop and rock music lovers should not overlook this impressive release.
By CeCe Winans, PureSprings.
CeCe Winans is one gospel artist whose songs have been transcendent. If Purified, the Grammy winner's new CD, follows that path, new listeners will hear about topics ranging from holiness to diversity. "You Will," about healing and reconciliation, pairs her with the dynamic Born Again Choir. Siblings Angie and Debbie join her on "Always Sisters," a reminder of the need for family. The lyrics of "Colorful World" address diversity, while the title track beckons God to flow through and purify.
Day By Day
By Yolanda Adams, Atlantic Records.
With the beat-banging lead track, "Victory" (on the soundtrack for The Gospel), Yolanda Adams opens her first CD in four years with a dose of funk and hip-hop. She's joined by gospel superstars Mary Mary and Donnie McClurkin on the powerful "Lift Him Up" and Kirk Franklin on "Tonight." Making up for lost time since Believe, Adams hits hard on Day By Day, delivering superb, unapologetic spiritual songs.
All to You
By Lincoln Brewster, Vertical Music.
Lincoln Brewster carries the torch for guitar players and shows that new and old songs have their place in "modern worship" on this live CD recorded at his church in Sacramento, Calif., where he serves as worship leader. Musical highlights fill the entire album, from explosive guitar solos on "Surrender" to the two-minute dynamic instrumental break on "All to You." Enough memorable musical and "God" moments fill the CD to make it worth the buy, especially for youth and young adults. All to You: Live showcases Brewster's fun ability to put a new spin on well-known worship songs.
By Nicky Cruz with Frank Martin,
WaterBrook Press, softcover,
240 pages, $13.99.
Nicky Cruz, the angry son of a witch and warlock in Puerto Rico, was a dangerous hood-warlord of the Mau Maus gang in New York City in the late 1950s and early 1960s when David Wilkerson's bold street evangelism became the catalyst to his conversion. He now writes after 40 years of ministry about the passion, mercy and vision it takes to change humanity and stand up to the devil.
In Soul Obsession: When God's Primary Pursuit Becomes Your Life's Driving Passion, Cruz gives us a perspective from his platform as an international evangelist. He shows us what it's like to live amid the crowded inner-city apartments in the Bronx, to be taunted in Norway by Muslim teens—a surprising majority among minorities in Europe—and to come face to face with a hardened, tattooed Houston gang leader.
The story of his mother's deathbed experience is worth the price of the book. Cruz includes illustrations of other brave crusaders of the gospel who have inspired him.
Advocating an outwardly focused Christian life, he writes: "Instead of striving to be comfortable and wealthy and well-fed, pray that God will use you to help others find comfort and shelter and food."
By Catherine Edwards Sanders,
Shaw Books (WaterBrook Press), softcover,
256 pages, $13.99.
Pagan spirituality is on the rise, and Catherine Edwards Sanders has found out why. Her quest started when she was given a routine magazine assignment and it grew into a yearlong, cross-country venture of interviews with pagans and witches. In the process, Sanders' eyes were opened to several truths: Many TV shows include witchcraft; paganism commands a large market in chain bookstores; witch-promoted political activism and events for children are common. She also found the church has gaps paganism is filling, such as a concern for the earth, the empowerment of women, the need for ritualism in the practice of faith and others.
Her conversations with Wicca followers—which ranged from interviews with a mother of five who worked at Dairy Queen to a pair of teens who hung out in Starbucks—gives Christians an inside look into this growing spiritual trend, dispelling preconceived stereotypes and showing ways the church can improve.
Sanders' findings expose the blatant need, especially among women, for holistic and authentic worship experiences.
Foolish No More!
By Ted Haggard, WaterBrook, hardcover,
224 pages, $16.99.
Don't let the light-hearted tone of this amusing book fool you. Ted Haggard—pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., and current president of the National Association of Evangelicals—delivers a serious message that's meant to help Christians shed the legalism that blunts their effectiveness.
Using references to both the apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians and modern-day anecdotes, Haggard illustrates that the same problems Paul addressed still afflict the church. He points out that too many believers, instead of growing toward maturity, are still caught up in maintaining appearances and rule-keeping.
A must-read chapter is the next-to-last, "Pick Your Fruit," in which Haggard reviews how we can be equipped to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Haggard writes that no amount of striving for perfection will ever produce the kind of Spirit-empowered living people need to break free of the sin nature and chains of human indulgence. He prescribes regular prayer, fasting and surrendering to the Spirit.
Comes a Horseman
By Robert Liparulo, WestBow Press,
hardcover, 498 pages, $21.99.
This international thriller finds FBI agents Brandy Moore and Alicia Wagner investigating a series of brutal murders. The two uncover a conspiracy a thousand years in the making that reaches from the mountains of Colorado to the caves of Jerusalem-and puts their lives in danger.
By Deborah Bedford, Warner Faith,
softcover, 304 pages, $12.99.
During summers at Piddock Beach, Sam and Aubrey became childhood friends and eventually fell in love. But Aubrey and her family move away. Now a pastor, Sam is still single and questioning God's call on his life. He returns to Piddock Beach and discovers Aubrey has done the same. With so many hurts and unanswered questions, can these two face their pasts without crossing their personal boundaries?
The Door Within
By Wayne Thomas Batson, Tommy Nelson,
hardcover, 320 pages, $16.99.
The Door Within introduces a new fantasy trilogy. Aidan Thomas finds an ancient scroll that invites him into the medieval kingdom Alleble. He encounters kings, knights and warriors, and his journey develops into a fight between good and evil. Will Aidan risk everything and trust the one true king?
'Prince' Among Preachers
'Prince' Among Preachers
The biography of Derek Prince, a charismatic pioneer, includes new details about his life.
Best-selling author Stephen Mansfield has uncovered new revelations from the life of Bible teacher Derek Prince—who helped shape the charismatic movement in the 20th century—in the new book Derek Prince, A Biography: Father, Statesman, Teacher, and Leader (Charisma House).
Many who have observed the Cambridge-educated, staid British personality who became a famous preacher might conclude that "he never had a wild side, that he was never human. … But in fact it's just the opposite," Mansfield says.
During the research process, the New York Times best-selling biographer unearthed details even Prince's family weren't aware of, but which they chose to retain in the book. Among the surprises was the revelation that Prince had an affair before his conversion that resulted in a child being born out of wedlock.
The author explained that the story was included not for its shock value but to help people see that "no matter what your flaws, no matter what your failures, greatness can be accomplished if you live for a great cause."
Mansfield, who has authored many biographies, including The Faith of George W. Bush, took on the project when Prince's family members asked him to write a substantial work on the academic scholar turned Bible teacher.
He had the full cooperation for the project from his subject until Prince died of heart failure in 2003 at age 88. Mansfield agreed to write about Prince's life with the understanding that he would not write a "preacher puff piece."
The book chronicles Prince's birth in India in 1915, his years as an atheist and philosopher at Cambridge University, his conversion to Christ while serving in the British army during World War II and his worldwide teaching ministry. He lived in Israel off and on beginning in the 1940s and had a teaching and healing ministry that spanned some six decades. He became known for helping to launch the Discipleship, or "Shepherding," Movement in the 1970s, though a decade afterward he renounced what the movement had become.
Prince's almost nine decades were marked by great change in the world. He served as soldier in North Africa during World War II and was in the Holy Land when the state of Israel was born. His ministry influence expanded exponentially through the advent of the cassette tape.
He taught on such themes as the breaking of generational curses, praying for nations, discarding replacement theology in favor of an appreciation of God's chosen people, and deliverance from demons, a teaching that led to a parting of ways with the Assemblies of God.
"Almost every major doctrine that you think of as being uniquely charismatic, Derek either helped give a quantum leap to or was a pioneer of," Mansfield says. "When you think about the charismatic movement as distinct from the Pentecostal movement, Derek was the innovator."
Christine D. Johnson
Gospel Artist Gets Kids Rapping God's Praise
When Grammy and Dove-winning gospel recording artist Kirk Franklin stepped away from the microphone to write a children's book, he didn't realize the significance the message of his Scripture-based How do Alligators Praise the Lord? would have in the months to come.
He couldn't have known the swamp and bayou setting for his book would soon be rocked and torn apart by a forceful hurricane named Katrina.
Franklin's first children's book, published by CharismaKids, stars alligators and boasts colorful swamp creatures splashed magically across the pages in vivid greens, reds, oranges, blues and purples, care of graphic designer Jason Carrier. Each book includes a rhythmic reading of the book on an accompanying CD with enough sound effects to make the story truly come alive.
The book and CD portray "greasy green gators," "big fat carp," otter, dragonfly, crayfish, snails, water bugs, lizards, snakes and other "swamp critters" as they march, jump, shout, dance, sing and praise the Lord in every way they know how.
Children of all ages will be captivated with the lively, haunting chorus and bright children's voices of the CD, as well as the unforgettable swirl of swamp animals that preen and peer from the pages of the book. Do Alligators Praise the Lord? concludes with the Scripture on which it is based, Psalm 150:6: "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (NIV).
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the bayous and swamps of Louisiana and Mississippi became the focus of the world. TV reports showed water rising around individuals and entire families trapped in their neighborhoods or sheltered in churches, motels or public buildings.
Franklin rushed to help, trekking to the shelters at the Reunion Arena in Dallas and the Astrodome in Houston. He visited with survivors and offered them his help. He described in his Web diary the accounts of the disaster as the "worst picture of people suffering that I've ever seen."
The gifted music artist knows what its like to lose loved ones and to feel homeless. He never knew his father, and his mother abandoned him when he was just a baby. He was raised by his Aunt Gertrude in Fort Worth, Texas.
Fortunately for Franklin and the music world, his aunt collected and sold enough aluminum cans to pay for his piano lessons. Franklin started taking lessons when he was 4. By the time he was 11, he was leading the adult choir for the Mount Rose Baptist Church in Fort Worth.
Barring a few years of rebellion as a teenager, curbed by the sight of his best friend being shot to death, Franklin walked a sometimes slow, often laborious, but for the most part fairly straight path from the choir loft of the Baptist church of his boyhood to the gospel stage. Grammy and Dove awards have marked the past few years as well as the most recent, a Gospel Recording Artist of the Year award.
When he penned his first kid's book, Franklin may have thought that God was giving him a simple child's tale that he could set to music. The gospel star didn't know that the setting and the Scripture would end up meaning more to the children and their families who made it through Hurricane Katrina, some of whom received the book as a gift in aftermath of the storm.
Now, after Hurricane Katrina, Franklin's swamp critters are "still praising"—though perhaps they're a little paler, a little more disheveled, a little more bleary-eyed than before the storm. But they're still dancing and singing and thanking God for the blessings found even in this tragedy—as perhaps, we all should be. Marcia Davis-Seale
Book Line Helps Kids Build a Spiritual Foundation
In an effort to provide parents with books written for kids from a charismatic perspective, Strang Communications has launched a children's book imprint, CharismaKids, with works by popular authors.
In her first children's book, A Heart for Jesus, Juanita Bynum explains to youngsters what it means to receive Christ. Bynum's engaging story line and strong evangelistic content draw kids into a compassionate yet thought-provoking presentation of the gospel. A Prayerful Heart, the author's second children's project, releases fall 2006.
Well-known pastor Jack Hayford takes kids on a journey in The Acts Bible Storybook by retelling many of the stories of Acts while revealing who the Holy Spirit is. Hayford's storytelling encourages young readers to welcome the Spirit into their hearts.
CharismaKids books communicate spiritual truths to help children develop a strong Christian foundation. "A Christian parent's greatest joy is knowing their children have received salvation through Jesus Christ," says Maureen Haner, marketing manager at Strang.
David and Tessie DeVore's Happy Birthday to Me encourages adults and kids to embrace cultural differences. My 100 Best-Loved Bible Stories, by best-selling author Bruce Wilkinson (The Prayer of Jabez), focuses on God's providence and the believer's relationship with Jesus. Other releases include Big Bad Bible Bullies by pastor Scott Hagan and Tell Me About God by speaker Karyn Henley.
Valerie G. Lowe