Praising God With a Shout
By Bishop Clarence McClendon and the Harvest Fire Mass Choir, Integrity Music.
Shout Hallelujah is the debut release of Bishop Clarence McClendon and the Harvest Fire Mass Choir. McClendon, pastor of Church of the Harvest (COTH) in Los Angeles, leads the energetic live worship service in a rich urban style that is indicative of his multicultural congregation.
Comparisons already are being made between Shout Hallelujah and Bishop T. D. Jakes' Live From the Potter's House. But besides the fact that Jakes and McClendon are renowned ministers and both projects were released through Integrity Music, there are none.
Produced by COTH members Buster and Shavoni--who have produced projects for Kirk Franklin and God's Property, Boyz II Men and CeCe Winans--Shout Hallelujah initially gives listeners a brief glimpse of the charismatic ministry of McClendon, then takes a sharp turn toward a combination of high-octane urban praise and a serious jam session.
The set, which was recorded live at COTH's annual Harvest Fire conference, starts off with the title cut "Shout Hallelujah," which has a reggae feel, and ends with "Great and Mighty Is He," an energetic praise song that features a few bars from Eddie Van Halen's "Jump." Other standout cuts include "There Is a Fountain," "All Hail the Power" and "Hour of Visitation."
With a total of 14 songs, Shout Hallelujah would make a welcome addition to anyone's music library.
--Michael L. Webb
Passion: The Road to OneDay
By Various Artists, Sparrow Records.
This is not just another worship CD for the younger generation. Passion: The Road to OneDay is a vast improvement over the first release in this series, Passion: Better Is One Day. This new recording has a refreshing mix of tunes, accompanied by electric guitar, piano and even an accordion.
Passion's vision is to bring college students together from across the country to bring spiritual awakening and revival to their generation. Sparrow executives say the current success of Passion releases, with The Road to OneDay debuting at No. 1 on the Christian Music SoundScan charts in March, is evidence that God is raising up a generation of worshipers who want to live for God. Roughly 50,000 such youth convened near Memphis, Tenn., May 19-21 for OneDay, featuring 24-hour prayer and praise.
Artists on the compilation include Charlie Hall, David Crowder, Christy Nockels and the hugely popular British worship leader Matt Redman. They capture the fresh energy that is flowing today in so many churches where intimacy with God has become a primary theme.
"Shout to the North," "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?" and "Sing Like the Saved" are among the disc's standout tracks. Believers young and old will experiences new depths in worship through this unique collection of songs.
Time and Seasons
By Commissioned, Verity.
Commissioned, the group that produced recording artists Fred Hammond, Marvin Sapp and Montrel Darrett, marks a new chapter in its musical history with Time and Seasons. The group's new lineup includes original members Karl Reid and Mitchell Jones, as well as newcomers Marcus Cole and Chris Poole.
Time and Seasons, Commissioned's first release after a four-year hiatus, is reflective of the old and new. "Glorious Praise" and "Testify" are infectious grooves destined to be hit gospel jams. But the release also features Commissioned's signature harmony on the worship song "Psalm 84" and provides strong ministry in the moving ballad "You Are Forgiven."
Newest member Marcus Cole showcases his songwriting skills on several tracks, including the breakthrough composition, "Walk Right, Talk Right," which is an example of how Commissioned stays on the cutting edge.
With Time and Seasons, Commissioned proves that they have staying power. --Twanna Powell
The First Fruits of Christafari
By Christafari, Lion of Zion.
Reggae Worship: The First Fruits of Christafari is a refreshing mix of worship, reggae and dance-hall grooves, combining songs from the group's first worship release and new material. Along with the band's original music there are two fantastic renditions of the classic worship tunes, "Majesty," which is splashed with steel drums, and "Lord I Lift Your Name on High." The disc also features great instrumental worship jams that will have your toes tapping and your spirit soaring.
With their strong reggae rhythms interwoven with solid Christian messages, Christafari provides a unique and refreshing way to enter into God's presence. --Doug King
Becoming a Woman After God's Heart
A Woman After God's Own Heart
Taffi L. Dollar, Thomas Nelson, 184 pages, $12.99, paperback.
In her book A Woman After God's Own Heart, Taffi Dollar teaches women how to have a closer walk with God and display the qualities of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31. This book, written in an informal, workbook style, calls Christian women everywhere to wholeness. Among other topics, Dollar addresses the characteristics of the virtuous woman, how to live a strife-free life, and the power of agreement.
At each chapter's end there are positive confessions, probing questions and challenging activities to drive home that chapter's point. Dollar also shares her own life struggles, which let readers know the wife of pastor Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International has been there too.
This book promises a time of reflection and introspection, and helps the seeking woman find motivation to work on the weak areas in her life. Much like the biblical Esther's beauty adviser, Hegai, who taught her how to conduct herself before the king, Dollar advises women on how to be pure and transparent before the King of kings.
--Tracee N. Mason
Intimacy With the Beloved
By Pat Chen, Creation House, 182 pages, $12.99, paperback.
In Intimacy With the Beloved, author Pat Chen establishes three corner- stones for cultivating intimacy with the Lord, helping readers rekindle their spiritual passion when it seems to have been extinguished.
She begins by portraying the presence of God as a catalyst for intimacy, but an ineffectual one without the willingness and obedience of believers. She describes the attributes of God in relation to His hands and how they heal us, mold us and guide us toward the place where we can be receptive to Him.
Written in a spirited teaching style, Chen's book is brimming with sound theology and illustrations from her own walk. Like a teacher instructing her students, Chen lifts the veil of highbrow thought to reveal the treasure of God's presence. --Mary Sailors
The Music of Angels: A Listener's Guide to Sacred Music From Chant to Christian Rock
By Patrick Kavanaugh, Loyola Press, 332 pages, $16.95, paperback.
Patrick Kavanaugh, executive director of the Christian Artists' Fellowship, manages to tidy up the sweeping chronicle of sacred music over several thousand years into an engaging and thoughtful read for any music lover.
Going as far back as Plato, Kavanaugh catalogues the major influences of Christian music, including the Greeks, who, Kavanaugh writes, "recognized music's mystical powers many years before the Christian era [and]...focused on the acoustical and mathematical aspects of music."
Kavanaugh punctuates chapters with recommendations for listening, along with brief biographical snapshots of some of the artists included. He suggests that perhaps the last 2,000 years were only "a prelude, a preparation for the greatest of true Christian music and worship" and emphasizes the need for better technical and artistic training for musicians in the future. --Liz Kelly
Veggie Film Warns
Veggie Tales: King George and the Ducky
By Big Idea Productions, $14.99, 30 minutes, VHS.
Big Idea does it again with another great Veggie Tales movie. King George and the Ducky subtly mirrors the story of David and Bathsheba and gives children a lesson on selfishness.
King George, played by Larry the Cucumber, loves to bathe with his rubber ducky. But when he sees another little boy bathing with a rubber ducky, he suddenly decides he wants all the duckies in the kingdom. In the end, King George learns a valuable lesson about how selfishness can hurt others.
Though the video conveys an excellent message, it does not have the same punch as earlier releases, such as Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed and doesn't feature as wide an array of characters.
Yet kids are likely to love King George, which introduces a new silly song, "Endangered Love," featuring Larry dancing with Barbara Manatee. Larry-Boy: The Soundtrack won a Dove Award in April for Children's Music Album of the Year.
King George and the Ducky continues Big Idea's tradition of providing creative ways of teaching children important values. --Leigh DeVore
Danny Chambers, a musician, songwriter, pastor and evangelist, left Oklahoma in 1997 bound for "Music City U.S.A."--but not to become a country or Christian-music star. God had confirmed that he and his wife, Jillian, and their four children were to plant a church in the Tennessee city strategic for influencing culture with music.
"Nashville is critically important to both God and Satan," Chambers says. "Musicians and singers are really the conductors of culture--a conduit of the spirit that influences them most."
Nashville also has the highest number of musicians per capita in the world, many of whom need God.
"Because of the vacuum of real spiritual leadership in the field of music, many of these gifted people have become misdirected minstrels, musicians with high calling reduced to low living."
In 1997, he started The Oasis Church in suburban Bellevue. He has founded a monthly accountability and discussion group for musicians, and this month he will hold his fourth annual national youth conference, called Vertical Nation 00.
Chambers has recorded almost 20 albums, including Carry the Call on Integrity's Hosanna! label. His new CD, Sing Over Me Again, releases this month on Judah Alliance Music. A companion CD to the popular God Chasers book by Tommy Tenney was recorded live at The Oasis Church in March and is expected to release later this year. --Jimmy Stewart