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Surrender All

Surrender All

By Joni Lamb, WaterBrook Press, hardcover, 224 pages, $19.99.

Marcus and Joni Lamb launched Daystar Television Network in 1982, but it didn't happen overnight. It took a lot of faith, a lot of trust and total surrender. In her book Surrender All, Joni Lamb chronicles her choice to surrender, first in her early 20s and still to this day. Through personal stories,she shows readers that when we give up control to God—in our health, finances, relationships, every area—our lives change, "not overnight, but over time—and forever," she writes. He has a plan for each of us, and He uses our gifts to fulfill our destinies, but we must trust Him with all that we are. Lamb understands how it feels to not know what the future holds, but she also knows she can trust the God who does know the future. She writes, "Life will not be perfect, nor will it be painless ... but the path of surrender is a place of peace within a place of rest." Because she knows what it takes to give up complete control, it is easy to glean from her wisdom. Lamb's writing style is personable and approachable, and readers will be encouraged to trust God and give all that they are to Him. Lamb is living proof that only when we truly surrender our lives to God will we live with peace, power and purpose. Click here to purchase this inspiring book. read more

The God of This City

The God of This City

By Bluetree, Lucid Artist.

Many people have heard and even sung the anthem "The God of This City," which has been recorded by Chris Tomlin and was the theme for the Passion World Tour. But now we can hear it from Bluetree, the band that wrote it. Hailing from Belfast, Ireland, the members of Bluetree—Aaron Boyd (lead vocalist and guitarist), Andy McCann (bassist), Johnny Hobson (drummer) and Pete Kernoghan (deejay)—write worship songs that inspire change in everyday life. They desire to encourage people with hope but also remind them to live with others in mind. They practice what they believe. They were on a missions trip to Pattaya, Thailand, a city known for sex tourism, when God gave them "The God of This City." Bluetree realized that this was a "prophetic shout" not only for Pattaya but also for the entire world. The energetic debut opener "Life's Noise" reminds us that God is in the quiet of life and praising Him clears away distractions. "Burn Me Up" cries for God to refine us so that the world sees more of Him. Boyd wrote "Each Day" after getting the news that his newborn daughter had cystic fibrosis. This upbeat song declares that in spite of difficult circumstances, we can trust the God that never leaves us alone. This album combines a diverse mix of songs and styles, yet the sense of worship throughout makes it cohesive. If this debut is any indication of what is ahead for Bluetree, believers are going to be encouraged by their ministry for many years to come. Click here to order The God of This City. read more

Angel Wars: The Messengers

Angel Wars: The Messengers

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Backyard Digital Studios

When evil abounds, young warriors must rise to the challenge and overcome. In Angel Wars: The Messengers, the Guardian Force, a group of angel warriors who are sworn to protect the world from evil, has two new recruits. Kira and Eli aren't full guardians yet and have a lot to learn. But when evil threatens the city, there is no more time for training. Kira and Eli have to deliver hope to the city and learn to cooperate with each other to combat the soldiers of darkness. In the midst of their greatest challenge, the two become the warriors they are destined to become. For the last five years, families have enjoyed the values-based stories and cutting-edge animation this series has delivered. This fourth installment features an exclusive sneak peak at upcoming adventures as well as character profiles. This 89-minute episode will capture the attention of all ages, but will be especially appealing for the 8- to 12-year-old crowd. To purchase a copy of Angel Wars: The Messengers, click here. read more

Mandisa: Radiating Jesus

Mandisa: Radiating Jesus

American Idol alum Mandisa Hundley expresses a newfound freedom on her new album, aptly titled Freedom. She says that when she started working on this new CD, she was drawn to songs that dealt with the issue of freedom. "I knew that's where God was directing me and that's what He wanted me to talk about. ... And then I realized that I could not do an album called Freedom and proclaim that God was able to set people free and still be held captive by a lifelong food addiction. ... I didn't want to be a hypocrite; I didn't want to tell other people that He could set them free and not believe it for myself."

She hired a personal trainer and changed the way she thought about food. She has already lost 70 pounds and is still pressing forward. She says her new album is "very encouraging to me and I know it will be encouraging to people that are fighting, feeling like they are bound by something. I feel like this is an album that will convince them that we serve a very powerful God who's able to set us free." read more

Take Everything

Take Everything

By Seventh Day Slumber, BEC Recordings.

Seventh Day Slumber play alternative rock with melodic vocals, orchestral sounds and big guitars, but much of the guitar work is scaled back on Take Everything, a collection of praise and worship standards. In its place, the band offers sincerity and restrained arrangements. Well-known songs such as "Famous One," "Everlasting God" and "Nothing But the Blood" are featured and notable for their lack of busyness. In other words, the band doesn't try to do too much with these tunes, but there's something about lead singer Joseph Rojas' vulnerable vocals that makes this record worth hearing. The biggest surprise comes on the well-known MercyMe song "I Can Only Imagine," which the band transforms from a pop-country tune to an interesting alternative-rock song. It's one of the few big risks they take, but it really pays off, and is one of several things that make this mostly quiet album not only a good choice for Seventh Day Slumber fans, but for fans of pop-rock praise and worship, too. Click here to purchase this album. read more

Chorus of the Saints

Chorus of the Saints

By Revive, Reunion Records.

Revive have been together for more than four years and released three albums in their native Australia. In 2007 Third Day heard them perform and the music veterans became mentors to this young band. Last year Dave Hanbury (lead vocals), Tyler Hall (guitar), Mike Tenkate (drums) and Rich Thompson (bass) brought their music and ministry stateside. Musically, Revive fit in the pop-rock genre, but their lyrics also put them in the worship category. The title song and opener remind listeners of God's faithfulness. "The Truth Is" turns down the volume a bit but not the energy, as the group declares that "there is none like You." "You Know" is a standout with Third Day's Mac Powell joining in. Worship ballad "Power" sings of the awe we'll feel in heaven as we can only cry, "Power, glory, honor to you our King." At times it seems as if they are trying too hard (pushing vocals), but their talent and passion mixed with experience will have them ministering in music for years to come. Click here to purchase this CD. read more

Norman Hutchins: Seeing God in Difficult Times

Norman Hutchins: Seeing God in Difficult Times

When recording artist Norman Hutchins sensed God calling him to pray every day at 5 a.m. in early 2006, he didn't know why. But when complications from a delicate eye surgery left him completely blind that same year, he soon discovered the answer.

"The Lord said, ‘Norman, no matter how gifted and talented and anointed you may be, you are no good to Me if you don't take care of you.'"

Hutchins, 46, is referring to his battle with diabetes, a disease he was diagnosed with years ago. The singer said for six months he depended on his wife, Karen, and others to escort him to his pulpit where he preached every Sunday during the ordeal. He says loosing his sight forced him to repent for not taking care of the body God gave him. read more

The Robe Special Edition

The Robe Special Edition

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Jay Robinson and Richard Boone

Now a new generation can enjoy this classic coming-to-faith story. Academy Award-winning actor Richard Burton stars as Marcellus Gallio, a Roman centurion who was sent to Jerusalem to oversee Christ's crucifixion. Gambling with other soldiers, Gallio wins the robe Jesus wore. But he starts having hallucinations and believes he is cursed because of the robe, which his escaped slaved has. So he sets out to find the robe to destroy it and break the curse over his life. But on his journey he finds faith and converts to Christianity. This film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Burton) and Best Cinematography and won for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Bonus features include an introduction by Martin Scorsese, commentary, several featurettes, vintage celebrity intros and much more. This newly restored film, which took almost two years to complete, releases on March 17. This story of faith is the perfect way for young and old to celebrate the Easter season. Click here to preorder The Robe. read more

Lord, Help Me Break This Habit

Lord, Help Me Break This Habit

 

By Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock, Chosen, softcover, 192 pages, $13.99.

It's a relief when someone speaks plainly about a touchy subject. Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock do just that. Worry, fear, criticism, anger, pride--they're so common we hardly recognize how these "household sins" are crippling us. They're tough, too. Bad habits don't just drop away the minute you become a Christian; and repenting doesn't always break the pattern. As Sherrer writes, "First, we make our habits. Then our habits make or break us." These authors take it all on: manipulation, sexual temptations, prejudices, even religious activities are exposed as coping mechanisms that remove people from their true feelings of sadness, rejection, inadequacy or pain. Sherrer and Garlock advocate the safeguard of discernment. They challenge you to be blatantly honest, even when it seems as if it's a habit that's deeply ingrained. You can have a richer life, they explain, by tapping into God's power and bringing your daily activities into a better balance. They share memorable stories of how people broke bad habits, such as the disgruntled relocated family who had to put a dollar in their "Complaining Cup," or the congregation that switched a wristband to the other wrist each time they gossiped or made a sarcastic comment. This book will leave you feeling encouraged to use strategy and persistence to get free from bad habits. Click here to purchase Lord, Help Me Break This Habit.

 

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Newboys Appoint New Lead Singer

Newboys Appoint New Lead Singer

Michael Tait, formerly with dcTalk and Tait, will replace longtime Newsboys' lead singer and founder Peter Furler as touring lead singer, although Furler will make special appearances throughout the year. The band's newest project, In the Hands of God, releases May 5 and features lead vocals from Furler, who will continue to work on the band's studio recordings.

"While the decision to replace Peter on the road was a painstaking one, when the idea of dcTalk vocalist Michael Tait was presented it was a no-brainer to all of us," said Newsboys manager Wes Campbell. "No one can replace Peter, but we know Michael will bring a new attitude, energy and vocal style that will thrill our audience. To be able to continue a world-class show and still have Peter behind the scenes guiding the career and making of Newsboys music is a huge opportunity for all of us."

Tait said he was "speechless" upon receiving the offer to join the Newsboys: "This is a definite highlight of my career and for my 20-plus years of walking with Jesus, and I am humbled, proud and privileged to call myself a Newsboy."

In a statement, Furler said he is looking forward to focusing on the studio work and spending more time at home and added that he will go into more detail about the announcement on the band's Web site in the coming days. Recently, the band also welcomed guitarist Jody Davis back into the tribe after the departure of Paul Colman. read more

DVD Resources

DVD Resources

Isaiah 61, a new media company and division of the American Association of Christian Counselors, aims to equip, educate and encourage people biblically and help them grow spiritually. In order to do this, the company offers an array of DVD studies from leading authorities on topics such as marriage, spirituality, finances and prayer. Gain insights from Beth Moore, John Ortberg, Angela Thomas, Tommy Nelson, Beverly LaHaye, Dr. Catherine Hart Weber and many others. Last month the company launched with the first teaching in its Your Spiritual Life Series and the eight-disc Extraordinary Women's Series, which includes the teachings A Woman's Prayer Life by Beth Moore, A Marriage Without Regret by Kay Arthur and A Woman's Finances by Mary Hart. More recently Isaiah 61 released the first in the Hot Topics! Series, Sexuality: A Biblical Perspective, in which pastor Tommy Nelson teaches God's perspective on sex and romance. Recently released are Forgiveness: Understanding and Getting Beyond Our Pain & Past with insights from Dr. David Stoop, and the Financial Rescue teaching from Scott and Bethany Palmer. These products can be purchased at www.isa61.com or in Christian bookstores. Also available are free study guides for each DVD . These teachings are appropriate for individual or group study. read more

The Wealthiest Christians in History

Excerpts from The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

It is important to put the American Church in perspective. Simply stated, it is the wealthiest community of Christians in the history of Christendom. How wealthy? The total income of American churchgoers is $5.2 trillion. (That's more than five thousand billion dollars.) It would take just a little over 1 percent of the income of American Christians to lift the poorest one billion people in the world out of extreme poverty. Said another way, American Christians, who make up about 5 percent of the Church worldwide, control about half of global Christian wealth; a lack of money is not our problem.


A few years back I had the opportunity to spend some time with former president Jimmy Carter. World Vision was collaborating with Habitat for Humanity on one of their massive "blitz build" projects in the Philippines, and I was assigned to work on the same house as President Carter. As we worked, he shared that he had just been asked to prepare a speech that would answer the question, what is the greatest challenge facing humankind in the twenty-first century? It was 1999, and the world was focused on the beginning of the new millennium. I was quite surprised at the former president's conclusion. He believed that the greatest problem of our time was the growing gap between the richest and poorest people on earth.Let me start with the good news. You're rich, we're rich, and the Church in America is rich. And now I am sure you are thinking that I am wrong, that you're not rich, and neither is your church. But bear with me, because wealth is always measured in relative terms. Brace yourselves for this good news! If your income is $25,000 per year, you are wealthier than approximately 90 percent of the world's population! If you make $50,000 per year, you are wealthier than 99 percent of the world! Does this shock you? Remember, of the 6.7 billion people on earth, almost half of them live on less than two dollars a day.


If you earn $50,000 per year in America and you don't feel rich, it's because you are comparing yourself to people who have more than you do-those living above even the 99th percentile of global wealth. It's also because we tend to gauge whether or not we are wealthy based on the things we don't have. If we think we need a bigger house or apartment, a nicer car, more clothes, or the ability to go out for dinner more often, we don't feel "rich." Again, it's all relative to our expectations. When you realize that 93 percent of the world's people don't own a car, your old clunker starts to look pretty good. Our difficulty is that we see our American lifestyles as normative, when in fact they are grossly distorted compared to the rest of the world. We don't believe we are wealthy, so we don't see it as our responsibility to help the poor. We are deceived.


There is much at stake. The world we live in is under siege-3 billion are desperately poor, 1 billion hungry, millions are trafficked in human slavery, 10 million children die needlessly each year, wars and conflicts are wreaking havoc, pandemic diseases are spreading, ethnic hatred is flaming, and terrorism is growing. Most of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the developing world live in grinding poverty. And in the midst of this stands the Church of Jesus Christ in America, with resources, knowledge, and tools unequaled in the history of Christendom. I believe that we stand on the brink of a defining moment. We have a choice to make.

When historians look back in one hundred years, what will they write about this nation of 340,000 churches? What will they say of the Church's response to the great challenges of our time-AIDS, poverty, hunger, terrorism, war? Will they say that these authentic Christians rose up courageously and responded to the tide of human suffering, that they rushed to the front lines to comfort the afflicted and to douse the flames of hatred? Will they write of an unprecedented outpouring of generosity to meet the urgent needs of the world's poor? Will they speak of the moral leadership and compelling vision of our leaders? Will they write that this, the beginning of the twenty-first century, was the Church's finest hour?

Or will they look back and see a Church too comfortable, insulated from the pain of the rest of the world, empty of compassion, and devoid of deeds? Will they write about a people who stood by and watched while a hundred million died of AIDS and fifty million children were orphaned, of Christians who lived in luxury and self-indulgence while millions died for lack of food and water? Will schoolchildren read in disgust about a Church that had the wealth to build great sanctuaries but lacked the will to build schools, hospitals, and clinics? In short, will we be remembered as the Church with a gaping hole in its gospel? read more

I Believe There Is More

I Believe There Is More

By Don Moen, Integrity Music.

As enjoyable as high-energy, fast-paced praise and worship music is, there is something refreshing about the simple, easy-listening music Don Moen offers on his latest release. His collection of 14 songs, including nine tracks he wrote or co-wrote, are more mellow than most of the worship music offered today. But that certainly doesn't diminish the power his music will have to help listeners enter into the presence of the Lord. Moen goes a little country on "Thank God I'm Free," an energetic song of praise. Title track "I Believe There Is More" is a song of faith declaring that even though God has done great things so far, He is going to do still more. "O God of Abraham," with a Celtic touch, declares that God can do anything. "I'll Say Yes" is a song of complete surrender "casting aside any fear and price" to obey. Although this album isn't the rousing music that some might be used to, there is a sense of peace that comes through in Moen's straightforward yet more mellow approach. Listeners will be encouraged and renewed as they allow the music and lyrics to wash over them. Click here to purchase this CD. read more

Free Yourself to Love

Free Yourself to Love

By Jackie Kendall, FaithWords, softcover, 256 pages, $13.99.

It's not a matter of if you're going to be greatly wronged; it's a matter of when. And when it happens forgiveness can be one our greatest challenges. Jackie Kendall, president of Power to Grow Ministries, tackles the nitty-gritty of handling damage done to us and exposes the subtle but common ways people exercise pseudo-forgiveness. Some minimize the offense, others rush to forgive without feeling the pain and trauma, and the seemingly big-hearted explain away the behavior, while others cover up or keep emotions in check by being highly driven. It may all be "natural" behavior, but Kendall points out that no matter how you dress it up, you'll still be enlisted in the Victim Entitlement Society. The person most affected is you. Kendall says, "Unforgiveness is a form of self-abuse." In fact, for a Christian, she says, "it's an oxymoron." "Love is one of the key characteristics a follower of Jesus should display, and forgiveness is a synonym for love." Kendall's dramatic personal history and the many other stories she shares underline "forgiveness tools" and biblical principles that will help you to be a person who authentically forgives. Click here to purchase this book. read more

Richard Stearns: Living the Whole Gospel

Richard Stearns: Living the Whole Gospel

In 1998 Richard Stearns left his position as CEO of Lenox to become the president of World Vision, a Christian relief organization. This decision changed his life, and he shares his journey in his new book, The Hole in Our Gospel. He has traveled more than 1 million miles and shares stories of how the gospel has revolutionized lives, but it's the whole gospel in action. He says, "Christianity is a faith that was meant to be spread. ... Our charge is to both proclaim and embody the gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God's love in tangible ways. ... The gospel means much more than personal salvation of individuals. It means a social revolution." Stearns discovered a hole in his own Christian faith and now challenges American Christians and the church to examine their gospel and determine to live the whole gospel, one that gives us a vision for transforming the world today. Here Stearns shares thoughts about his book. read more

Bluetree: Worship From Ireland

Bluetree: Worship From Ireland

Although Bluetree has been together for about five years, their song "God of This City" is likely to be more familiar than the band itself. But with their new CD release on March 3, people have the chance to hear more from this worship band. Aaron Boyd (lead vocals/guitar), Andy McCann (bass), Pete Kernoghan (deejay) and Johnny Hobson (drums), all hailing from Belfast, Ireland, feel that they are called to lead worship, "to be creating songs and music that help people," Boyd says.

But what kind of a name is Bluetree? Boyd explains that when the group was deciding on a name, they were thinking about how Christians are to be salt and light, they are called to be different. "The simple concept of having a blue tree in a forest would stand out. A blue tree would be different; a blue tree would not be the run of the mill green tree, brown bark. ... And if you've seen a blue tree, you'd look at it, it would be a bit different than the rest and you would take a bit more notice of that tree." read more

The Now and Not Yet

The Now and Not Yet

By Jeremy Riddle, Varietal Records.

Jeremy Riddle's latest CD opens with "Christ Is Risen," a song celebrating the resurrection and challenging believers to go tell the world. "Bless His Name," an album standout, is a clarion call to believers: "Come, let us sing for joy / And let us shout aloud to our King / Come, let us worship God / Lifting holy hands / Bless His name" The heartfelt ballad "As Above, So Below" examines what we struggle with on earth then pleads directly to the Father in Heaven to come and to let His kingdom come. "Among the Poor" was inspired by the revelation that worship is more about ministering to others. "To Be Like You" carries a lighthearted melody but with a cry to be changed to "reflect the God I know." "Prayer for the Church" is a timely and much-needed song for the church today: "We're praying no more compromises / No more moral crisis / Tonight may she move and act as You / No more small divisions / No more lack of wisdom / Tonight may she move and act as You." Believers individually and collectively with their churches should sing this prayer. Riddle's melodies and thoughtful lyrics will ushers listeners into the presence of God, but they will also gain fresh understanding and insight as they worship. Click here to preorder this CD. read more

Small Sacrifice

Small Sacrifice

By Twila Paris, Koch Records.

Music veteran Twila Paris is back with an album that until recently was only available at LifeWay Christian Stores. Paris, whose career has spanned three decades and produced dozens of hit singles, offers a solid collection of gentle pop that's in keeping with her past work. Though far from edgy or innovative, this clean-sounding album is quite good at points, particularly with "You Lead Me," which has a jazz piano motif that reminds one of Ginny Owens, and "Alleluia," a pretty ballad that channels Amy Grant. It's probably the best song here, though "We Know Love" and "You Are a Great God" are good and occasionally offer just the right touch. The biggest criticism here is that this album can at times seem cloying, or at least too mild-mannered. But much of this quiet music is tailor-made for a Christian women's conference-especially the snappy, "Live to Praise You"-and that's undoubtedly the target audience for this pleasant collection of biblically based songs. Click here to purchase this CD. read more

The Coming Israel Awakening

The Coming Israel Awakening

By James W. Goll, Chosen, softcover, 272 pages, $14.99.

This book starts with a bang, detailing a 2006 vision of an angel appearing before James Goll, clothed in a glowing robe and gold sash emblazoned with the words: "Israel Awakening." And, it never lets up, delivering a combination of history lesson, prophetic revelation and a stirring call to action. Many are likely to feel embarrassed reading the author's recap of the Church's shameful history, which ultimately helped fuel Adolph Hitler's murderous elimination of six million Jews. Echoing the cries of "never again!" heard in Israel, Goll urges Christians to let this be their watchword in standing against the anti-Semitism that is rising again across the world. The Coming Israel Awakening is also excellent resource material, including an overview of Israel's history, a recap of revivals and Holy Spirit movements, and a list of referral ministries. It will also inspire readers with such details as Christianity being the world's leading faith (twice the growth rate of Islam), the mushrooming of Christianity in Africa and the explosion of conversions since Israel's rebirth in 1948. Click here to purchase this book. read more

Hollywood on Fire

Hollywood on Fire

Pisces Productions

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an actress. But I decided that I couldn't be one because I didn't want to have to take roles that compromised my Christian values. But after watching the new documentary Hollywood on Fire, I realized that I could have gone to Hollywood without compromising my faith. There are many Christians who have done just that, and this film features interviews with a variety of people who have worked in front of and behind the cameras while maintaining their faith and integrity.

It can be said that as movies go, there goes society. I saw how this could be true when I learned the history of Hollywood. It originally began as a Christian community, and churches were the first theaters. But eventually the church lost, or gave up, its involvement and influence. Ted Baher, who shares an impressive amount of history throughout the film, says when the church was involved the films didn't include immoral and violent content, and the crime rate was lower; but when the church retreated, the films were filled with violent and sexual content, and the crime rate increased. I understood more than ever how important it is for Christians to be involved in every aspect of storytelling, whether on the big screen or on television. read more

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