By Tommy Walker, Regal Books,
hardcover, 144 pages, $12.99.
Worship leader Tommy Walker writes that a surrendered heart of worship positions us for a "breakthrough" encounter with God. Breakthroughs happen, he writes, when we advance through obstacles of doubt, fear, pain or guilt. He learned this when he underwent the emotional blow of singing at the funerals of four loved ones in a single year. The sorrow he felt caused him to cry out in desperation to God. In his breakthrough the strength of God overcame his weakness. Walker stresses that even though a breakthrough will not always answer a problem, with the breakthrough come the presence of God and the strength to endure the situation. When a believer blesses the Lord aloud without a distracted mind, a breakthrough often will occur, he explains. Walker has led worship at Christian Assembly in Los Angeles since 1990 and has written more than 100 worship songs. If you have reached a point of desperation and need a breakthrough in any area of your life, you will find encouragement in this book.
Tracee N. Mason
By R.T. Kendall, Charisma House,
hardcover, 256 pages, $19.99.
R.T. Kendall instructs believers on the difference between happiness, which is dependent on outward circumstances, and joy, which is reflective of one's relationship with God. The author pokes fun at himself, saying he's a "photographer's nightmare" because he doesn't smile much, but he affirms that he has found the joy of the Lord. A best-selling author and longtime pastor of London's Westminster Chapel, Kendall shares four levels of joy: joy by faith, trusting God even when enduring trials; joy that comes from the immediate witness of the Holy Spirit; the joy of knowing that one's life brings pleasure to the Lord; and the ultimate joy that will come in heaven. Revealing his personal trials, Kendall demonstrates that he can relate well to readers who are learning to experience joy in their Christian walk. His practical teaching holds a few surprises and will be useful to new as well as seasoned believers who want to learn this often-overlooked lesson.
CHRISTINE D. JOHNSON
The Power of Your Words
By Robert Morris, Regal Books, hardcover,
192 pages, $17.99.
Author and pastor Robert Morris says he grew up with "a loaded gun for a mouth" and paid the price for it. Having learned a few lessons along the way, Morris sets out to show his readers just how powerful the tongue is and the ways words can be used to connect with God and with others—or not. Morris calls the right of free speech a lie and urges spouses to "stop speaking death" to each other. He teaches against abuse of the phrase "God told me" when used in a self-serving way. On the positive side, he gently teaches from the Scriptures why he believes the Holy Spirit can not only change a person's communication pattern but also supply the gift of tongues for devotional use. Morris, the senior pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, offers an honest inventory of the sinful ways believers can use their words, but he also clearly teaches how the Holy Spirit desires to partner with believers who wish to use their tongues as instruments of life.
CHRISTINE D. JOHNSON
Religiously Transmitted Diseases
By Ed Gungor, Nelson Ignite, softcover,
192 pages, $13.99.
Ed Gungor, author and senior pastor of People's Church in Tulsa, Okla., offers a spiritual health diagnosis for the body of Christ in Religiously Transmitted Diseases: Finding the Cure When Faith Doesn't Feel Right. Like a dose of good medicine, his keen discernment provides an antidote to many of the "ills" he describes, and Gungor mixes wisdom with wit to help the medicine go down. Each chapter of the book is titled with an ailment, often cleverly named. For instance, in the chapter on "Inferiorphobia," readers learn why bigger isn't always better, and the chapter on "Individualitus" explains why people were made for community. As an experienced physician treats a patient with care, Gungor, who has been in ministry more than 20 years, seems to have a seasoned perspective on these "diseases," and in the process of diagnosis, he treats the reader with respect. In spite of its unusual title, Religiously Transmitted Diseases is an enriching and enjoyable read.
Deborah L. Delk
MUSIC Introducing Ayiesha Woods
By Ayiesha Woods, Gotee Records.
Introducing Ayiesha Woods
Newcomer Ayiesha Woods has a far-reaching, diverse sound that touches on rock, soul and jazz. From the rock sound of "Big Enough," songwriter Woods segues to the mellow pop of "The Remedy," a standout song about gaining the peace of God. "Days" encourages believers to keep pressing through rough days, and the "Greatest Artist" is a tribute to God and His creativity. In 2004, the New York native became the first female artist to win the Caribbean Gospel Music's Marlin Award for Producer of the Year. Woods attributes her sound to the musical influences of Fred Hammond, India Arie, Ella Fitzgerald and Dancehall, as well as Caribbean music. Her rich vocals and thought-provoking lyrics should ensure that we will hear more from Woods in the future.
TRACEE N. MASON
Who You Are
By Desperation Band, Vertical Music.
Who You Are is the latest release from Desperation Band, which also serves as the youth worship band for Colorado Springs, Colo.'s New Life Church, where Ted Haggard serves as senior pastor. Led by Jared Anderson, Jon Egan and Glenn Packiam, Desperation revels in a power-packed musical worship experience, recreated live on this disc. Though the sound stays mostly in a modern pop-rock vein, the group also mixes in vinyl scratches from a DJ and makes use of a worshipful congregation during songs such as "Promises." The title song begins as a mellow prayer and builds into an epic, rock-worship tune proclaiming the greatness of God. The disc seems geared for younger listeners, leaning a little more to pop than other comparable releases, such as Hillsong United's or Delirious' worship projects. Still, Desperation Band will engage listeners with its earnest worship tunes.
Mighty Long Way
By Joe Pace, Integrity Gospel.
Joe Pace has delivered dynamic and energetic church projects to the gospel music genre. The leader of the Colorado Mass Choir and author of the recent From Performance to Praise now turns his attention back to recording with Mighty Long Way: The Vision Comes Alive. He celebrates a decade of music ministry, revisiting favorites such as the lively "We've Come to Praise Him" and the riveting "Stir Up the Gift." Other cuts include the memorable "Speak Life," the high-octane "High and Lifted Up" and the breathtaking "Worship Medley," a collection of some of gospel's most moving tracks. The two-disc set is exactly what you would expect from this Grammy, Stellar and Dove Award-nominated choir director and songwriter—infectious praise anthems and reflective worship tunes.
By Brett Rush, Creative Soul Records.
Invitation showcases Brett Rush, a singer-songwriter and the pastor of Shiloh Tabernacle in Quarryville, Pa. His creative range includes a mellow rock 'n' roll sound with heavy emphasis on praise and worship. The fun "Yahweh La De Da" has a singsong feel, while "Not Just Stones" is a fast guitar-driven song about having the faith to move mountains. Another standout song is "Wash Me Away." This guitar-flavored rock song practically incites worship as Rush exhorts God to wash him anew in His river. Rush's acoustic melodies and rocking flavors merge successfully into a modern-day worship sound.
TRACEE N. MASON
DVD An Unconventional War
The Sentinel Group, 105 minutes, $24.95.
An Unconventional War
The creators of the popular Transformations film series are again chronicling the remarkable power of prayer through their latest documentary, An Unconventional War. Produced by George Otis Jr. of The Sentinel Group, the 105-minute video documents the impact prayer has had in northern Uganda, where a sorceress known as Alice Lakwena and her successor, Joseph Kony, waged war on the government through a cult now called the Lord's Resistance Army. The 20-year conflict has led to thousands of deaths and seemed unstoppable until a band of intercessors prayed and renounced idolatry at the altars where Kony made sacrifices to demonic spirits. Today Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for "crimes against humanity" and is on the run in the Congo. Some of the children who were kidnapped to serve as soldiers or sex slaves have been returned to their parents, and a wave of forgiveness is helping to bring healing. Through interviews with parents of kidnapped children, Christian ministers, government leaders and relief workers, An Unconventional War can inspire the global church to realize the tremendous power of prayer to change nations.
ADRIENNE S. GAINES
FICTION SUSPENSE Night Light
By Terri Blackstock, Zondervan,
softcover, 352 pages, $14.99.
Modern-day characters have to learn how to live without high-tech conveniences and electricity. Survival becomes paramount. Jeff Branning tracks down the youngsters who broke into his family's home. He discovers five children living alone. His search for truth unveils evidence of desperation and murder.
CONTEMPORARY Something That Lasts
By James David Jordan, Integrity
Publishers, softcover, 324 pages, $13.99.
Something That Lasts
James David Jordan tackles the devastating subject of adultery in his debut novel, Something That Lasts. The Rev. David Parst's admission to his moral failure throws his church, community, wife and son into turmoil. The Parst family now has the difficult task of deciding to forgive, overcome, and grow in their faith and as a family.
GENERAL Rachel's Prayer
By Leisha Kelly, Revell, softcover,
288 pages, $12.99.
The Wortham and Hammond families have sons serving their country during World War II. These families live day to day knowing their loved ones are in danger. Robert Wortham's girlfriend, Rachel, says a special prayer that gives both families hope and courage—something they will need when they receive some unexpected news.
New on DVD Hiding Place
Fox Faith, $19.98
Billy Graham presents the beautifully restored Hiding Place, starring Tony Award-winning actress Julie Harris (as Betsie ten Boom). Witness the ten Boom family's courage while they join the underground efforts to help persecuted Jewish families in Holland during the Holocaust. Watch the family's faith grow even when they are arrested and condemned to concentration camps.
The Second Chance
Sony Pictures Home
Michael W. Smith portrays Ethan Jenkins, an associate pastor of an affluent suburban church. When Jenkins' unconventional ways upset some of the church leaders, he is reassigned to a sister church in the poorest neighborhood, pastored by Jake Sanders (Jeff Obafemi Carr) a street-savvy African-American. These two men must face their differences and combine their strengths to help those they are called to serve. The DVD includes commentaries, deleted scenes, a music video and more.
Woman Thou Art Loosed
Fox Faith, $26.98
Michelle Jordan grew up in a home where abuse and molestation went unchecked. After being incarcerated, Jordan writes to pastor T.D. Jakes, requesting a visit from him. When Jakes meets with Jordan, her story unfolds and she begins to experience restoration and healing. The film is rated R for violence, sexual context and drug use. This Special Edition version includes deleted footage and related sermon material.
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