Getting Through Life's Obstacles
The Only Way Out Is Through
By Marte Tilton, Creation House,
paperback, 204 pages, $12.99.
The Only Way Out Is Through by Marte Tilton is a bold and brave account of one family's ministry and one woman's ensuing personal struggles. Documenting how the ministry unraveled from the inside, The Only Way Out Is Through is a compelling story with grand lessons from which both laity and ministry leaders can glean.
Tilton, ex-wife of televangelist Robert Tilton, relays a commanding account of the traps that can pervert even the godliest of intentions. Rising from traveling fence-builders in the 1970s to satellite and TV ministers in the 1980s, the Tiltons fashioned one of the first megachurches in the country.
Their success, however, was short-lived. In 1991 PrimeTime Live aired an investigative report that blasted Robert Tilton's fund-raising strategies. Two years later Tilton suddenly divorced Marte and married a ministry associate. Since then, Tilton's Word of Faith World Outreach Center has crumbled.
The Only Way Out Is Through offers this humbling account of the ministry's demise, and gives Marte's commentary on everything from church administration and child rearing to the company we keep and the material things that keep us. With experienced authority, Tilton shows how simple compromises can be seeds of death sown in our hearts.
Filled with sound advice, outstanding teaching and encouragement to those in the midst of trials, Tilton's book reminds readers that "the only way out is through faith in Jesus Christ; the way of escape is open to all who believe Him." --Mary Sailors
Experiencing the Holy Spirit
By Larry Keefauver, Thomas Nelson, paperback, 192 pages, $15.99.
Keefauver, a pastor, writer and editor of Ministries Today magazine, has compiled a work that hinges on several key truths about the person and activity of the Holy Spirit. Keefauver's new book invites readers along a 12-week journey through Scripture, through which they can discover the unceasing Spirit who pursues relationship, convicts and comforts us, provides spiritual gifts, and empowers believers to witness, serve, and minister in Jesus' name.
The workbook is structured along four areas of encountering the Holy Spirit: meeting Him, experiencing His presence, becoming empowered by Him and walking in Him. Daily exercises found in each chapter are designed to help the reader explore God's Word, examine his or her own spiritual condition and experience the Spirit at work.
Readers are encouraged to interact with Scripture and reflect on its interpretation, connecting its timeless meaning to its relevance for their current situations in life. It is through these applications that the reader's eyes are gradually opened to see the reality of the Holy Spirit at work. The book is a valuable tool for the Christian who hungers for a deeper understanding of the Spirit's role but has been unable to organize his or her own approach for comprehensively encountering the third person of the Trinity.
--John M. De Marco
Jews and Gentiles
Your People Shall Be My People
By Don Finto, Regal Books, paperback, 168 pages, $9.99.
Using the story of Ruth and Boaz as a starting point, pastor Don Finto invites Gentile believers into the spiritual realm of abundance that comes when they embrace the Jewish community. He tackles a wide range of topics, including the importance of Jewish feasts, the "Gentilizing" of the church, the birth of Israel and the need to improve relations between Jews and Gentiles.
Finto also makes an interesting observation about links between various revivals and the events in Israel and among Jews. The book closes by challenging believers to look for ways to be a blessing to the Jewish community through prayer, support for aliyah (immigration to Israel), financial gifts and acts of kindness. An appendix offers a prayer of repentance to the Jewish people.
Overall, the book challenges believers to embrace their Jewish roots and offers a fresh look at God's purposes for Israel in the last days. This book is recommended for anyone with a heart for Israel and its people.
Mr. Smith Goes Instrumental
By Michael W. Smith, Reunion Records.
The often anticipated Michael W. Smith instrumental album takes listeners on a sonic journey and samples a variety of stylistic flavors. Featuring the Irish Film Orchestra and Nashville String Machine, the recording begins with a cinematic, larger-than-life sound, tainted by a Gaelic flair and inspired by scenes from the Civil War. It moves to a more contemporary, almost startling, European groove and rounds off with the familiar "Thy Word."
Smith fans will find the music vaguely familiar as certain melodies are reminiscent of cuts from Christmastime, This Is Your Time, Go West Young Man and even early albums such as i 2 Eye. The piano-laden "The Offering" is a standout with its violin solo.
Overall, Freedom is a strong recording but will likely disappoint those who have been waiting years to hear Smith's instrumental best. Radical tempo shifts and varied musical styles give the album a smorgasbord feel rather than an enjoyable listening experience. Still, it reveals Smith's composing talents and will leave fans who have been asking, "When are you going to do an instrumental album?" wondering, "When are you going to do a movie sound track?"
By Tree63, Inpop Records.
Radical. That's the word listeners are using to describe South Africa's praise-band sensation, Tree63. The group's radical musical style, reminiscent of British rock band U2's early albums, and radical Christian message make this group one of the youth worship movement's newest champions.
Described as "The Police for the '90s" because of their raw power and passionate Sting-like vocals, Tree63 keeps its focus fixed on Christ. Their lyrics unabashedly encourage a worship-filled life. "Sacrifice" is a blatant cry of commitment. "Darkness Between the Stars" is a reflective psalm, daring to question God amid devotion. "Treasure" is a powerful declaration of love for God, while the closing "Anthem" is a beautifully sensitive worship song.
Tree63 recently scooped the top slot on South Africa's biggest national radio station with their song "Stumbling Stone," topping Madonna and Britney Spears. This time, worship was No. 1.
When I Think About You
By Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise, EMI Gospel.
Lamar Campbell has been known for his creative style of praise and worship music. To follow up the 1999 hit album I Need Your Spirit, he took his signature sound and refined it. Along with his vocal ensemble Spirit of Praise, Campbell delivers a unique mix of hip-hop, R&B, and traditional gospel music with his latest release, When I Think About You.
The release features the production talent of artists such as Fred Hammond, who wrote and produced the title cut and the soulful praise jam "Use Me." The biggest ear-catcher on the album is the testifying hip-hop groove "Can't Nobody Tell It," showcasing the innovative production and lyrical skills of J. Moss.
When I Think of You also shines on its live-recorded tracks. It has such soul-stirring songs as the smooth praise track "So Good to Know" and "More Than Anything," a passionate worship ballad that ministers heartfelt love for the Lord. The first single "Closer" has already garnered the album attention and acclaim.
Lamar Campbell and Spirit of Praise's When I Think of You take their musical artistry and ministry to another level of excellence. --Twanna Powell
Yolanda Adams Sweeps Stellars
Yolanda Adams was the big winner at this year's 16th Annual Stellar Awards held in Atlanta Jan. 13, winning five awards including Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, and CD of the Year.
Other big winners included Fred Hammond and Mary Mary, who each took home three awards, and Donald Lawrence, who won Song of the Year for "Never Seen the Righteous." A complete list of winners can be viewed at www.gospelcity.com.
In what seemed more akin to the NAACP Image Awards than the Stellars, R&B artist Brandy won a Most Notable Achievement Award for her work among youth. The awards show was hosted by Bobby Jones, Vickie Winans, MTV's Ananda Lewis and Bishop T.D. Jakes, who recently launched a record label with EMI Gospel that will debut its first recording in March.
Meanwhile in Atlanta, gospel rap and hip-hop artists convened for the Holy Hip Hop Showcase and Music Awards, which honored 13 music "ministers" and saw 2,000 attendees through the weekend. The recipients included Cross Movement, the Ambassador, Jah Word, Pettidee, Easop, Prime Minister, T-Bone, Tragedy, Scribe, Jaz of the Unity Klan and D Hunter. Mark J. Knolly Williams, president of Grapetree Records, received the Ambassador Award for his service to the Christian hip-hop community.
Danny Wilson, CEO and chairman of Holy Hip Hop Holdings, said the awards were not scheduled on the same night as the Stellar Awards to compete against the show, but to recognize the unique ministries of those whose lien is "strictly street gospel." --Adrienne S. Gaines
For Gary Oliver, the last few years have been filled with swift transition. Recently, he left his post as worship leader with New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, pastored by Bishop Eddie Long, to launch his own church in Fort Worth, Texas.
Though he's better known as a musician, Oliver says the call to pastor has been there all along. "I was actually trying to run from it," he says. "But I knew God was calling me to do it."
With Long's blessing, Oliver returned to his native Texas. Though a rookie to pastoring, he secured a 2,500-seat auditorium to serve as the temporary facility for Tabernacle of Praise of Fort Worth. More than 1,500 people attended the first service held Oct. 15.
But the road to his current success hasn't been easy. In 1998 his 17-year-old son Brandon was killed in a car accident. Oliver found solace in his music, penning several songs that served as the sound track for his healing. Many are featured on his latest release, More Than Enough (Integrity), which he says is his most personal album yet.
"I wrote 'I Will Trust in You' three weeks before Brandon died," he says. Today he still leans on the message contained within.
Through his roles as pastor and psalmist, Oliver hopes to help others find strength through trying circumstances and discover that God indeed is more than enough.
A Sound Track for Healing
A musical pastor:
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