Let Freedom Ring
Make Me Your Voice
By various artists, Spring Hill Music.
When Ken Tamplin, a former contemporary Christian music rocker, heard about the slavery, rape and forced starvation perpetrated against Christians and animists in southern Sudan, he was compelled to act. His passion led him to unite 14 diverse worship leaders from Andraé Crouch to Charlie Peacock to record Make Me Your Voice. All of the artist royalties will benefit Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Safe Harbor and Samaritan's Purse, humanitarian groups working to relieve the suffering in Sudan.
Among the participants in the project are Bobette Harrison of South Bay Church of God in Torrence, Calif.; Clint Brown, pastor of FaithWorld Outreach Center in Orlando, Fla.; Matt Shepardson of Willowcreek Community Church in Chicago; and Rick Muchow of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
Habib Bardowell of Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, Calif., wrote and sang the poignant title cut, and Erica Dymakkis of Inglewood (Calif.) Assembly of God contributed a rendition of "Amazing Grace" that has a Jackson 5-"ABC" feel, perhaps the most energetic version of the classic hymn you'll ever hear.
All 14 artists joined together for "Let Freedom Ring," a call to believers to be their brothers' keepers. "Raise your voice and let freedom ring / Lift your hands for all the world to see / This shot's heard round the world / It's time to make a move / If we don't act now / To this demon we'll bow / And he'll be coming for me and you."
Make Me Your Voice, made with 100 percent passion, unites believers in a spirit of giving. Those who buy this recording will not only receive a collection of contemporary worship songs that represent the best of the best, but will also help relieve the suffering of the Sudanese.
Worship for Postmodern Seekers
By Ten Shekel Shirt, Vertical Music (Integrity).
Joining the likes of worship leaders Darrel Evans, Jami Smith and Lincoln Brewster on Integrity's Vertical Music label, Ten Shekel Shirt debuts with a bang with their acoustic modern rock release, Much. Influenced by the mainstream sounds of Dave Matthews and Counting Crows, the album's heart and soul is found in the lyrics, which circle around the biblical account of a woman breaking her alabaster jar to anoint Jesus.
Vertical Music's first band--made up of Lamont Heibert (songwriter/acoustic guitarist), Tommy Lee (bass) and Austin Morrison (drums)--has a contemporary style that developed out of Heibert's longing to minister to postmodern seekers. As a result, the lyrics are vulnerable and passionate without being churchy or lame.
The upbeat "Meet With Me" is a prayerful calling to draw closer to God. While the vocals are a bit rough around the edges, the honesty and hopeful nature of "Peace With You" is refreshing.
The tempered, electric guitar-laden "Healer" is a soft reflection that recognizes the strengths of God in human weaknesses and demands repeat play. In a market flooded with worship albums, Much is an absolute standout and is highly recommended to modern-worship listeners.
Music of the Heart
Sandi Patty, Word.
Grammy Award-winner Sandi Patty has been regarded as one of the most remarkable voices in Christian music. Her first studio recording after a three-year hiatus, These Days, offers an intimate look at the various facets of God's love.
Showcasing a full range of musical styles and emotions, the release includes such upbeat tracks as the energetic praise anthem "Wouldn't Trade It for the World" and the youthful "Shine," featuring the songwriting talents of Kathy Troccoli.
These Days also continues Patty's signature inspirational style. "Solo El Amor" is a lovely bilingual track featuring Latin singer Miguel Guerra. The release also has such soulful ballads as the Celtic-inspired "Go Without Knowing" and the soothing sacred love song "These Are the Days."
The standout track is the breathtaking "All This Time," a tribute to Patty's 16-year-old daughter, Anna. For the sweet ballad, Patty drew on the co-writing talents of Cindy Morgan to create a beautiful tapestry of Patty's passionate vocals and intricate musical orchestration.
These Days has universal appeal yet is intimately autobiographical. Listeners will be touched by Patty's encouraging lyrics and the ministry of God's love through her intimate musical portrait.
Becoming a Third Day Christian
Are You a Third Day Christian?
By Sammy Rodriguez Jr., Creation House, paperback, 272 pages, $12.99.
Ever wonder what would follow the phenomenal success of W.W.J.D.? It's R.U.3.D? (Are You Third Day?). In Are You a Third Day Christian? author Sammy Rodriguez writes that the most powerful events in Scripture happened on the third day: Abraham offered Isaac, Jonah was kicked out of the whale, Joshua crossed the Jordan, Jesus was resurrected.
According to Rodriguez, pastor of Third Day Worship Center in Staten Island, N.Y., the third "day," or thousand years (see 2 Pet. 3:8), of Christianity will usher in the mightiest move of God yet. He writes that the third day church will not only be a revived church, but also a resurrected one: "'After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight' (Hosea 6 :2). The third day church is a revived, resurrected, living church."
He describes the third day worshiper as one who writes songs out of his brokenness and is bold and passionate. He adds that third day Christians will be agents of change, part of a Jacob generation that lives in the presence of God, and sinners who have been resurrected as kings, functioning confidently in the fivefold ministry.
Rodriguez encourages readers to stop crawling in sin and start climbing to glory--to be revived, raised up to live in God's sight, and subsequently experience His third day, which is the ultimate move of God--a mighty demonstration of His life-changing power and blessings. Are You a Third Day Christian? is a prophetic call to the church in the new millennium that will empower believers to move beyond revival and into the fullness of God.
The Future Church
Shadows of Things to Come
By Rick Joyner, Thomas Nelson, 228 pages, paperback, $14.99.
In his latest offering, Shadows of Things to Come: A Prophetic Look at God's Unfolding Plan, Rick Joyner tackles a variety of topics facing the church--from apostolic leadership to the legacy of revival.
Examining both the good and bad seasons in church history, Joyner garners insight from historic leaders such as Constantine, Napoleon and Evan Roberts to discern where the modern-day church is and where it is going.
As a result, the book provides a deeper understanding of God's overall plan for His bride. Specific chapters examine the apostolic and Messianic movements. Unlike some of his previous works, this is not a recount of personal visitations from the Lord.
Because Shadows of Things to Come covers a wide range of topics, readers will have to mine each chapter for various nuggets of truth and understanding. But it's well worth the read.
Living Your Dream
Free to Dream
By Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. Albury Publishing, 214 pages, paperback, $13.99.
Free to Dream is a book that lights a match to set aflame the dreams, visions and goals burning within you. With the same passion and purpose that Bishop Charles Blake used to make West Angeles Church of God in Christ the largest African American church in the Western United States, he drives home point after point to challenge readers to fan the flames of their God-given visions.
Using the story of Joseph as a road map, Blake guides readers through the process of determining what their dreams are to developing the strategy to make them a reality. He addresses the believer's need to seek God's heart; go against the flow; listen to God's direction; have character built through wilderness experiences; break free of hidden weights; and endure through discomfort.
The strength of Free to Dream lies in its ability to feed the God-given desires of the heart and to nurture visions that have yet to come to pass. Free to Dream is a good read for those who want to feed their faith as they reach for their dreams.
--Tracee N. Mason
Finding True Love
Falling in Love With Jesus
By Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli, Word Publishing, 192 pages, hardcover, $16.99.
Popular Bible teacher Dee Brestin and contemporary Christian singer Kathy Troccoli have combined forces to help readers abandon themselves to Christ in their release, Falling in Love With Jesus.
The title examines three different stages of love--first love, wilderness love and invincible love--which reflect both the marital relationship and relationship with Jesus. The book is filled with Scripture references, personal testimonies and several mentions of films and love stories. Women readers in particular will be able to identify with Troccoli's intimate journal entries and Brestin's observations on life.
Because the book is written by two women, the text jumps back and forth between the authors. Readers may get distracted by the constant clarifications of who is talking. The moving forward then jumping back makes the overall read bumpy and disjointed.
While the authors express that they would also like to reach a male audience, women will clearly identify with their insights more easily. Even those unfamiliar with Brestin and Troccoli's ministries will enjoy their transparency and insight.
Calling All Radical Disciples
Melissa Tawlks, a worship leader for youth missions organization Teen Mania, never expected to travel the world singing or to have released her first album, Mystery Revealed (Pamplin Music), by age 21. But she sees the increased prominence as a grand opportunity to do what she loves: mobilize youth to engage in missions.
"In order for Jesus to come back, all the nations have to know about Him...God calls us to take up our cross and follow Him and lose our life and be totally abandoned to Him...If we're followers of Christ, we'll be fishers of men."
Tawlks, who had been on eight missions trips by age 20, says she never planned to be a music minister. "A musical career was nothing I aspired to. I just filled in the need when the need was there."
Today she leads Below the Noise worship events that allow her to "really minister," she says, instead of forcing her to rush through concert performances. This summer she will travel with Teen Mania to New Zealand.
Though some are perplexed about how to reach Generations X, Y and now Z, Tawlks says youth are just looking for authenticity. "I think [pastors and preachers should] just give them the gospel how it is relevant to them...being very straight-up, not trying to make them feel comfortable, but just be real with them," she says. "I see great hope for this generation, great hope."
--Adrienne S. Gaines