Having His Say
Son of a Preacher Man
By Jay Bakker with Linden Gross, Harper San Francisco, 224 pages, hardcover, $24.
It's Jay's turn. We've heard Jim's story. We've heard Tammy Faye's tale. Now
it's time to listen to their son. At first glance, it might be easy to dismiss the title as PTL recollections from a child's perspective. But Jay Bakker isn't a kid anymore. And his testimony suggests it's been a rough path growing up as the famed televangelists' son.
Bakker describes his rebellious years with vulnerability, uncovering a battle with drugs and alcohol. But the more tear-tugging passages are those that recount the way the church and its leaders treated the Bakkers.
Walking through the religious trenches of hypocrisy and rejection, it's amazing that Jay is still a believer at all. And it explains why he so openly dispenses grace and unconditional love in his Atlanta-based ministry.
Those who have been following the Bakker saga will find that Jay provides a new perspective on the events of Heritage USA. Jay offers a compassionate look at his father and makes one empathize with being on the receiving end of yet another Bakker joke.
He holds nothing back and often names those who were cold to his family in their darkest hour. Select passages will make readers hang their head in shame as the accusation shifts from, "How could they?" to, "How could I?"
Overall, Son of a Preacher Man is an extremely well-written autobiography. It will not only comfort those who have felt rejected by the church, but also challenge those who have stood in judgment. --Margaret Feinberg
By Jim Cymbala, Zondervan, 192 pages, hardcover, $18.99.
Holding on to both spirit and truth has long been a challenge and a
calling of the Christian faith. In Fresh Power, Jim Cymbala, pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City and author of Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and Fresh Faith, along with Dean Merrill, vice president of the International Bible Society, dive head first into the issue. The pair remind readers that the two go hand in hand and that amazing power is released when believers allow them to work together.
Citing the New Testament church as a gauge for the church today, Cymbala and Merrill encourage and admonish Christians not walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. States Cymbala: "If a church is only methodology and organizational technique and clever advertising, it is departing from what God planned it to be. There should always be the element of supernatural assistance."
The truth of this statement is highlighted through scriptural references and in examples from Cymbala's own life and congregation. Taking precautions to paint an accurate picture, Cymbala and Merrill carefully examine what is required in living a Spirit-filled life, what the Holy Spirit longs to do, and what hinders that work.
Written out of Cymbala and Merrill's desire to see the church established in the power outlined in Scripture, Fresh Power promises a true understanding of the Holy Spirit and ignites a hunger for seeing the Spirit at work and active in today's church, the lives of its members and those whose lives they touch.
Discovering the Power of the Towel
God's Secret to Greatness
By David Cape and Tommy Tenney, Regal, 182 pages, paperback, $11.99.
This is a book of profound simplicity, apparently centered on a key
premise: Serve people as Jesus served them, and their resistance to the work of the Holy Spirit will be permeated and withered down.
David Cape, founder of Footwasher Ministries, and The God Chasers author Tommy Tenney have compiled a user-friendly blueprint for how servanthood can compose the essence of our character DNA. Cape's segments of the manuscript are particularly captivating, as he chronicles journey after journey of scrubbing the feet of thousands of people across numerous countries and continents. Armed only with a cross, towel and basin, Cape asserts that these are the most potent weapons for claiming humankind for Jesus Christ.
The book delineates key principles to grasp onto as one seeks to embody a life of servanthood that mirrors the earthly ministry of Christ. These include a humble outlook being at the core of one's being, as well as a refusal to view other people as our enemies. "This is the catalytic balance," Tenney writes, "the dynamic of the Cross: to die with dignity while living in humility...Servanthood forces us to continuously die to our flesh, to our pride and to our own wishes and agendas."
Spending time in the presence of God, and experiencing ongoing transformation as a result, is paramount to the life of a servant. These quality moments with the Lord, the authors assert, can help Christians gradually see servanthood as a "celebration" and a "delight."
Dovetailing with this concept is the idea, Cape states, that servanthood "should not be something that we do; it should be something that we are." Ultimately, God is more interested in the purity of our hearts than what we do in public. Tenney and Cape have this concept down. --John M. De Marco
Gospel for a New Millennium
By Tonex, Verity/Jive Records.
Tonex offers a taste of the new in urban gospel on his long-awaited
album, Pronounced Toe-Nay. In 1997, the album was released independently. The project, coupled with a critically acclaimed performance at the 1998 Stellar Awards, caused Tonex (or Anthony Williams II) to be touted as the man who may revolutionize gospel music.
A minister at his parents' San Diego-based Truth Apostolic Community Church, Tonex uses his unique mix of R&B and hip-hop to create the tapestry behind the 21-song set. He takes listeners on a musical journey from the past, through the present and into the future, using diverse styles ranging from retro funk to rap to jazz.
"The Good Song" is a funky groove with a message of racial unity. On the mellow side, Tonex ministers from the soul on heart-touching ballads such as "Cry No More" and "Restoration."
Those who listen to Pronounced Toe-Nay will appreciate Tonex's versatile talent and honesty. --Twanna Powell
Passion: OneDay Live
By Passion Worship Band, Sparrow.
Imagine thousands of college students gathered together in one place for one reason: to worship and pray. More than 40,000 college students did just that May 20 when they descended upon Shelby Farms in Memphis, Tenn., for an event called OneDay. Attendees later
said the event ignited a holy fire in their hearts.
Passion: OneDay Live captures this flame in a live recording featuring the nation's top collegiate worship leaders, who present songs that are indicative of the Passion movement.
Serving as the "soundtrack" for all previous Passion conferences, its song list includes the powerful "The Noise We Make" and "Salvation," the beloved "Better Is One Day," and new songs such as "America" and Matt Redman's "Let My Words Be Few."
In addition to Redman, the release features worship leaders Charlie Hall, Chris Tomlin, Nathan and Christie Nockels of Watermark, David Crowder, Shelley Nirider and Steve Fee. Passionate prayers and powerful bite-sized messages are heard from OneDay's guest speakers and Passion's founder, Louie Giglio.
This latest recording from the Passion movement will not only take listeners to a new level of worship and praise, but also will help to enhance their relationships with God and place a vision in their hearts for the lost. --Luke Thomas
In His Presence , Volume 2
By Clint Brown, Tribe Music Group.
Pastor Clint Brown offers a new collection of praise and worship to
usher people into the presence of the Lord with his latest release In His Presence, Volume 2.
The recording is the first album recorded after his church, Orlando, Fla.-based FaithWorld, merged with Benny Hinn's former congregation. Backed by his culturally diverse choir and orchestra, Brown, former worship leader at pastor Rod Parsley's World Harvest Church in Ohio, showcases his creative style of praise and worship and offers a unique mix of soulful worship tunes fashioned to minister to an audience of one: God. Heartfelt songs such as "You Are" and "I Will Bless You Lord" tell of His goodness.
Worship leader Ron Kenoly, a FaithWorld member, makes a stellar appearance on "You Alone." But the standout cut is the short testimonial "If Not for Grace," in which Brown tells listeners how God works on their behalf even when they're unaware that He's moving.
Released simultaneously on video and DVD, In His Presence, Volume 2 is a stellar offering destined to usher listeners into God's presence.
By Damita Haddon, Atlantic Records.
Damita Haddon is no newcomer to the gospel music industry. As one
of Detroit's best-noted soloists, she blazes on the scene with her self-titled debut Damita.
The album showcases Damita's versatility. She lays her unique voice on tracks ranging from soulful urban rhythms to hard-hitting rock. The album kicks off to a powerful start with the soul-searching track "Why?" Rock flavor is added to the mix on "Truth," which features a guest appearance by dc Talk's Toby McKeehan.
Damita ministers to the heart on ballads such as "Calvary" and "Day Go By," and even addresses domestic abuse on the poignant "Won't Be Afraid." However, the musical gem on this project is "The Wedding Song," a duet featuring Damita with her husband and noted gospel artist Deitrick Haddon, who wrote the piece. In fact, the couple performed the song for their own nuptials.
Damita is anything but typical. It breaks new ground with a variety of musical flavors and sets Haddon apart from the rest. --Twanna Powell
'Lord, Teach Us to Pray'
African Americans have long been known as a praying people. But in his recent release, It's Prayer Time (Regal), Mark Pollard, head of the National Common Ground Coalition in Atlanta, seeks to empower the black church to engage in more targeted spiritual warfare--and show nonblacks a new perspective on prayer.
In five years Pollard hopes prayer groups will be as common a fixture among black churches as gospel choirs. He also hopes the larger church community will come to appreciate the kind of incognito spiritual warfare the black church has long been doing. For example, Pollard describes Civil Rights marches as a form of prayer walking--"because you are claiming authority; you are announcing Jericho."
Though African American Christians aren't very visible in the prayer movement, Pollard believes they have much to teach the larger body of Christ. He says black Christians are uniquely equipped to help the church: (1) overcome suffering through prayer; (2) equip bridge-builders to challenge personal and social manifestations of evil; and (3) restore spirituality to the culture.
He hopes Christians of all cultures will one day unite in prayer to challenge not only immorality but also social injustice. "We must deal with the evil in our hearts and the evil in our communities," he says. "We hope this new [piety] would bring about an increased spirituality...that tears down the institutions of evil."
--Adrienne S. Gaines