Rocker Returns With New Message
Collector's Sedition, Vol. I
By Kerry Livgren, Numavox Records.
Kerry Livgren's commitment to fans' requests to sort through incomplete or unreleased material--some of which dates back decades into his chart-topping years with the mainstream band Kansas--has launched this virtuoso of progressive rock music into the 21st century riding atop a tidal wave of prolific achievement that includes two new releases.
Kansas' Somewhere to Elsewhere released in July. And though Livgren wrote most of the songs on the disc, it's his new solo effort that bears testimony of his Christian faith. This guitarist-keyboardist-songwriter, who accepted Christ in the late 1970s, is best known for penning the Kansas hits "Dust in the Wind" and "Carry on Wayward Son."
Though not overtly Christian, his recent release, Collector's Sedition, Vol. I, features a wide variety of Livgren's musical explorations, from the hard-rocking "On the Air," a song about clinging to faith while watching the world unravel, to the warm acoustic grace of "The Navigator," Livgren's ode of gratitude for the Lord's salvation and protection.
Jake Livgren, Kerry's Topeka-born nephew who resides in Nashville, Tenn., provides rich lead vocals on several of Vol. I's songs, including "The Navigator."
Kerry Livgren continues to amaze his contemporaries with the same uncanny musical abilities and gifts that heaved him to the top of secular charts in the 1970s and 1980s. Fans of this humble genius won't be disappointed by Vol. I, but they will be clamoring for Vol. II.
By Mary Mary, Columbia Records.
Urban gospel newcomers Mary Mary break new ground with their debut album, Thankful. Sisters Erica and Tina Atkins, who drew their group name from Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdelene, showcase their creative songwriting skills and sisterly harmonies to deliver strong inspirational messages. "It's all about Jesus and telling people who He is and of His love," Erica says.
Thankful incorporates Mary Mary's talents along with the hard-hitting production of hit-maker Warryn Campbell, who has worked with such secular artists as Brandy and Boyz II Men, to produce an awesome musical journey from beginning to end.
Thankful includes such spirited tracks as the title song, "Thankful" and "Somebody." The funky dance cut "Shackles (Praise You)" has already garnered much commercial success, rising to the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks in early June.
Thankful also features the talents of gospel rapper B.B. Jay on "I Sings" and R&B sensations Destiny's Child on "Good 2 Me."
Mary Mary also put their unique touch to such classics as "What a Friend," "Wade in the Water" and the revamped James Cleveland favorite "Noways Tired," renamed "Can't Give Up Now."
The most memorable track on Thankful is "Still My Child." It showcases the group's storytelling lyricism and features superb string orchestration.
Mary Mary's Thankful raises urban gospel to another level. Simply put, Mary Mary is the "real deal."
As Incense: Symphonic Expressions of Faith
By Paul Terracini and the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Integrity Music.
As Incense blends worship and symphony together with flawless mastery into one powerful album. Recorded with the Emmy Award-winning Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, each of the 10 songs are arranged and conducted by Paul Terracini.
The music is rich, almost thick at times, in its expression. Songs such as "The Lord Reigns," "Jesus, Name Above All Names" and "How Lovely Are Thy Dwelling Places" are brought to life with dense textures and a full-bodied sound. Some listeners will find the album sounds more like a movie soundtrack than a worship recording, but that's because the quality is so good.
This is an album you can take anywhere and share with unsaved friends without apology. It's ideal for times of personal prayer and study or as a backdrop to a nice dinner.
No music collection is complete without a handful of great instrumental albums, and this is a superb offering.
Lessons From German Renewal
By Friedrich Zuendel, Plough Publishing House, 147 pages, $10, paperback.
This inaugural English translation giving the account of a German church's journey of spiritual warfare and renewal is a riveting testimony to the power of prayer and repentance. Author Friedrich Zuendel tells the story of Johann Christoph Blumhardt, a 19th-century pastor in the Black Forest who, along with a team of others, ministered to a demon-plagued young woman and waged spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness.
When the dark forces were finally expelled, a wave of confession and repentance hit Blumhardt's congregation that set forth a manifestation of spiritual and physical healing.
The book's weaknesses are theological in nature, and center on two short implications embraced by Blumhardt and matter-of-factly expressed by Zuendel: one, that demons are dead human beings, as opposed to the biblical portrayal of them as fallen angels; and two, that surgery is only for those without faith, rather than seen as one of God's available instruments provided for potential healing.
Fortunately, these aspects do not taint the full testimony of what was a powerful move of God in response to a faithful and persevering pastor, who relied on prayer and refused to yield his territory to the grasp of Satan. Zuendel articulates that the power of the Spirit expressed by Jesus 2,000 years ago is very much available today, and encourages readers of all generations and geographical settings to take hold of the victory that is at hand and seek freedom from bondage. --John M. DeMarco
Free in Christ
By Pablo Bottari, Creation House,
177 pages, $12.99, paperback.
Author Pablo Bottari is well known for his partnership with Carlos Annacondia in the Argentine revival that has seen an estimated 4 million people come to Christ in the last decade. Since 1985, Bottari, who was once Annacondia's barber, has been in charge of deliverance ministry at Annacondia's crusades, which are marked by manifestations of demons in a region known for its spiritism.
In Free in Christ, Bottari shares practical insight on deliverance, and discusses some of the strongholds influencing South America and the North American Hispanic community.
Unlike other experts on deliverance ministry, Bottari repeatedly emphasizes the need for gentleness. In taking authority over demons, some Christians shout at the demons and even handle the person in a rough manner.
People receiving deliverance ministry may be frightened by such strong-arm tactics, Bottari warns, making it difficult for them to receive their freedom. This book provides important correction for this type of erroneous thinking and other valuable advice for those desiring to be involved in deliverance ministry.
--Deborah L. Delk
The Future Church
Into the Future
By Elmer Towns and Warren Bird, Revell, 256 pages, $14.99, paperback.
Elmer Towns and Warren Bird join forces to call the church to effective future ministry, noting 14 trends the church is experiencing and profiling churches that exemplify those trends.
Underlying this book are two crucial issues: calling churches from program-centered agendas to Spirit-driven ministry and helping the church regain a clear vision of the essentials of the faith.
Towns and Bird seek to move churches toward such goals as church health and quality, targeted outreach and empowerment of lay leadership. This book is written for pastors and lay leaders who are willing to do what it takes to move the church toward an excellent future. --Chris Johnson
Praying for the
Worldwide Prayer Guide
By Gospel Light, $16.99.
In partnership with the A.D. 2000 & Beyond Movement and the Praying Through the Window campaign, Gospel Light has released a comprehensive CD-ROM chock full of information about the world's 1,632 unreached people groups.
With this easy-to-navigate resource, aptly titled Worldwide Prayer Guide, users can click on a profile of one of 124 countries in the 10/40 Window, the world's most unevangelized region, between the 10th and 40th parallels north from North Africa to East Asia. Each country profile includes a link to more background from the U.S. State Department.
From the country profile, users can click on profiles of the various people groups within that nation. Each profile gives a history of the people, a description of their lifestyle and religious practices and a map showing exactly where in the country the people reside.
Each profile ends with prayer points highlighting the needs of the region. Most, however, are more general than specific, such as: "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers" or "Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature and the Jesus film will be made available."
The CD-ROM also includes video clips and additional articles giving more detail about the religions that dominate the region, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Worldwide Prayer Guide is an excellent and comprehensive resource invaluable to anyone dedicated to praying for the unreached peoples of the world. --Adrienne S. Gaines
24/7 'Intercessory Worship' Craig Smith has a confession to make: "When someone used to say, 'Let's pray all night,'" he confides, "my response was, 'What are we going to do after the first 10 minutes?'" All that changed, Smith says, when he developed a more intimate relationship with the Lord. Now, prayer is " wonderful."
Smith, senior pastor and worship leader of City Christian Fellowship in Fort Smith, Ark., practices what he preaches as he leads worship on Your Kingdom Come (Hosanna! Music), which releases this month.
The album, which mixes prayer with worship, was recorded at Metro Christian Fellowship (MCF) in Kansas City, Mo., which in September launched a round-the-clock intercessory worship meeting that's still going on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Smith wrote all the songs on the CD, many of which began as spontaneous songs that the Lord gave during times of intercessory worship at his own church.
The disc follows the outline of the Lord's prayer, with six sections of songs and prayers mirroring six verses from the passage. "That's a prayer we tend to fly through," Smith says, "but it's really an incredible outline that Jesus gave us to pray with."
In September, a book by the same title, written by MCF minister Michael Sullivant, will be released through Creation House in conjunction with the worship recording.