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
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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
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
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
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
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
Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel and Kevin are back in 3-2-1 Penguins!: Blast in Space! Big Idea's loveable space cadets return for three new episodes. The quartet and brother and sister Jason and Michelle have to face giant ants, dancing tikis and a volcano on the verge of eruption. There is always a lot of fun with this group around. But the stories also teach kids lessons from the book of Proverbs about patience, diligence and compassion. This 66-minute DVD, available in stores Feb. 28, also offers commentary, preview, how-to-draw segments and so much more. Click here to preorder Blast in Space! And earlier this month, Big Idea also released the latest VeggieTales DVD Abe and the Amazing Promise. Bob the Tomato is trying to direct the story about Abraham and Sarah and how they waited on God to fulfill His promise. But Bob has to contend with the wacky French peas film crew and spitting camels, and everyone's patience is running out. This Bible story with the VeggieTales touch will teach kids that even though it isn't easy to be patient, it is always worth the wait. Also included on this DVD is "Blunders in the Boo-Boo-Ville" (guess who stars in this segment? Yep, Larry the Cucumber). Click here to purchase this DVD. read more
Christian recording artist, author, conference speaker and now actress Rebecca St. James has only a few more scenes to film to wrap Sarah's Choice. In her film debut St. James plays the lead character, Sarah--who doesn't exactly have the same life values St. James has. Sarah is a career-minded, single woman who gets pregnant and is faced with a life-changing choice. St. James, a long-time advocate of abstinence, said this movie appealed to her because it allowed her to share the pro-life message. "We live in a very real world where scores of young women every day are being impacted by the heart-wrenching issues and life-changing choices that my character is suddenly forced to come face to face with. I feel it's an important film with a godly message that I am praying will profoundly touch lives" she said. This film is scheduled to release this fall. For more information on Rebecca St. James, visit www.rsjames.com. read more
To help and encourage his congregation, Brian Zahnd, founder and senior pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, developed a sermon series based on the story of David at Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30. When David and his men returned to Ziklag, they found that the Amalekites had invaded the city, burned their homes, ransacked their possessions, and kidnapped their wives, sons and daughters. This was surely the worst day of their lives. But David did 10 things when faced with this horrible reality. In his new book, What to Do on the Worst Day of Your Life, Zahnd discusses David's 10 responses and how we can follow his example. Here is an excerpt from the book, Step No. 3: "Encourage Yourself in God."
David could sink into the black hole of depression and give up and quit. Or he could ?ght back. But before David could ?ght, he would have to get his strength and courage back. As David looked around him, he saw nothing but discouraged and downcast men. David had no one to encourage him, so he had only one recourse: He "encouraged himself in the Lord his God" (1 Sam. 30:6, KJV). read more
By Hillsong Kids, Integrity Music.
By Hillsong Kids, Integrity Music.
Follow You is a rousing collection of songs wrapped in melodies that will immediately captures kids' attention and spirits. From the get-go children will sing and praise-and bounce and head-bob. Even the most reserved child (or parent) will get into the groove hearing the young audience sing along. The title track is a fun, energetic, rocking song about prayer and declares that "nothing will ever stop me from living for You." "Spinning Around" reminds us that God is everywhere and His love is deep and wide. The slower ballad "Trust and Obey" is a song of commitment to doing what God says. A highlight is "I'm So Glad/You Are Here (The Same Power)." Hearing the younger lead vocalists leading the crowd in declaring their need for Jesus is particularly moving. The music on this CD is certainly geared to a young audience, but there is nothing childish about the lyrics and truths presented. Children will be continually encouraged to devote themselves to the all-powerful, all-loving, ever present God. The fun energy on this live recording will remind kids that God is not boring-a reminder "big church" needs from time to time. Kids can also join in the action with the DVD, which features music, memory verses, teachings, funny moments and more. Click here to order the CD.
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By R. Loren Sandford, Chosen, softcover, 224 pages, $14.99.
In a world of increasing spiritual darkness, Christians are crying out for a great revival to sweep the land. But according to R. Loren Sandford, senior pastor of New Song Fellowship in Denver, real culture-changing revival must come through the emergence of prophetic lighthouse churches. These communities are characterized by focusing on God's presence, allowing the freedom for God to move, cultivating a culture of honor and providing a healing atmosphere. Sandford provides many biblical and personal examples of the functioning of a prophetic lighthouse church, and shows the impact it can have on the culture when passion for God and the unity of the believers replaces formality and indifference. His message is not one of condemnation, but of encouragement and hope that lighthouse churches will rise up and be beacons of God's love and grace in a dark land. read more
I wasn't sure what to expect when I sat down to watch the DVD Finger of God. I immediately noticed the quality cinematography and the filmmaker and director Darren Wilson's easygoing commentary and humor. It was off to a great start, but this film just got better and better. Wilson says in the beginning that to him "God was kind of an invisible friend whose greatest hits had happened a long time ago." He wondered why God still did the miraculous, so he set out to capture miracles on film.
He films people receiving gold teeth, and jewels, gold dust and even manna, people being healed. He travels across the United States and to Africa, to China, to Eastern Europe witnessing and documenting the miraculous power of God at work today. read more
In his new book, You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can't Make Him Think, Ray Comfort writes: "Some atheists are nasty. Some are nice. One thing I do know: all atheists are lost, and they desperately need a Savior." He also explains that the issue of atheism isn't the existence of God but that "the real gamble is that there's no hell."
Says Comfort: "If it were just a matter of God's existence and the evolutionists and atheists die and say : ‘Oh, God, You are here. Sorry about that.' No big deal. They just say, ‘I was wrong.' But if it's the God of the Bible they have to face, the God who is perfect in holiness, who says every idle word a man speaks he will give an account thereof on the day of judgment. The God who says hatred is the same as murder, lust is the same as adultery, the God who says all liars will have their part in the lake of fire, then they have to face a holy God, they're morally responsible, and they will end up in hell without the Savior. read more
By John Loren and Paula Sandford, Charisma House, softcover, 320 pages, $14.99.
Books on parenting tips and marriage advice abound on bookstore shelves. But John Loren and Paula Sandfords' approach examines the entire structure and interaction of the Christian family. They emphasize that Christian values must be the basis of every aspect of the family, from marriage to discipline to nurturing and everything in between. The Sandfords stress that Christian families develop and thrive when each member first focuses on his relationship to God, and that parents should not try to be perfect, depending instead upon allowing Christ to lead and work within the family. But they don't limit their teaching to just the traditional family. They also discuss such topics as divorce, remarriage and grown children returning to live at home. The Sandfords provide wise insights into biblical principles from which all Christian families can benefit. Click here to purchase this book. read more
By Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, Regal Books, hardcover, 224 pages, $22.99.
With Easter approaching and modern skeptics still questioning Christ's resurrection, this volume by a leading apologist (and his son) provides reassurance of the truth of those accounts. Released simultaneously in editions for teens (Jesus: Dead or Alive?) and children (Jesus is Alive!), this heavily researched book is divided into three parts. They explore the need for the resurrection, its personal meaning and the evidence of this event. Mature believers may want to skim the first two sections to delve into the last half concerning the evidence. Of note is the chapter where the authors review facts that must be reckoned with in any discussion of the resurrection. They also address various attempts to explain it away, documenting ways in which critics have relied on fancy or personal opinion to attack its veracity. Ultimately, the McDowells show how historical accounts and scriptural testimony line up at the same place--the resurrection is for real. No other explanation can account for a church that survives 2,000 years after Jesus rose from the grave. Click here to purchase this book. read more
By Kari Jobe, Integrity Music.
Kari Jobe's voice is smooth and airy but there is no fluff to her music. The rich lyrics are enveloped by easy melodies that will replay in people's heads and hearts long after the CD has stopped spinning. Jobe knew since she was 10 years old that she would be a worship leader, and her calling and gift are clearly evident on her debut CD. She kicks off the album with the upbeat "I'm Singing," with the chorus: "I'm singing to the God who brings redemption to the nations / Kings and oceans bow to Him in praise / And I'm singing to the God who wrote the book on our salvation / To the One who covers me in grace / I'm singing / Praise, Praise to the Savior / Praise to the Lamb of God / Praise in all of His splendor / Praise for saving my life." With the ballad "Beautiful" it's as if we are sharing a devotional moment between Jobe and God as she surrenders "everything that's of myself" and simply worships. "Everyone Needs a Little" is a lighthearted song that reminds us that in the midst of our needs He is there. This worshiper exudes joy--even in surrender and vulnerability. She offers a collection of upbeat praise songs and worship ballads that first and foremost honor the Lord, but also encourage and renew believers. Jobe is surely an example of what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. Click here to purchase this CD. read more
By Jack Hayford, Charisma House, softcover, 240 pages, $14.99.
As Nehemiah looked at the ruined walls of Jerusalem, he was overwhelmed at the devastation of the great city, but he realized he could not leave it in such a defeated state. In Rebuilding the Real You, Jack Hayford parallels Nehemiah's construction efforts with the Holy Spirit's work in rebuilding and strengthening the believer's life. Nehemiah had to develop a plan, furnish supplies, encourage the people, defend against attacks, and see the project through to completion. Likewise, the Holy Spirit provides everything needed to rebuild and restore a ruined life. Hayford gives insightful, interesting analysis of the history and importance of Jerusalem and its fallen walls and Nehemiah's divinely appointed role in the restoration. By studying Nehemiah, Christians gain a practical, eye-opening example of the Holy Spirit's desire and ability to transform a broken life into a powerful testimony of renewal. Click here to purchase this book. read more
By Freddy Rodriguez, Integrity Music.
This live album from Freddy Rodriguez was recorded at the Champions Center in Las Vegas where he is worship leader, and it begs the question, "Can really predictable worship music still be really good?" If this doesn't sound like an Israel Houghton album, nothing does. But Rodriguez--who has a wonderful voice that at points sounds strikingly similar to Houghton's--is very talented, and this album is remarkably clean-sounding, vaulting Rodriguez into the top tier of this subset of praise and worship. Light in the Darkness opens with a glitzy gospel tune and ends with one, and in between listeners are treated to a straightforward set of songs that range from brassy, upbeat praise to mid-tempo, pop-infused tunes to slower ballads. The album is most interesting when the songs offer, in a nod to Rodriguez's heritage, Latino flourishes. It's especially enjoyable, for instance, when he switches to Spanish halfway through "Lord You Are Amazing." Rodriguez is pretty amazing here, too.
Lionsgate and Golden Circle Films
Starring Renée Zellweger, Harry Connick Jr., Siobhan Fallon, J.K. Simmons and Frances Conroy
Rated PG for brief language
Finally! A romantic comedy I can recommend. New in Town is certainly a chick flick but it's not so sugary sweet that guys will gag. It's cute, fun ... and it's actually funny.
Lucy Hill (Renée Zellweger) is the ultimate power woman. She's into fashion, fitness and her career. When her company decides to restructure one of their manufacturing plants, Lucy volunteers to oversee the process on site. She knows that her success in this temporary assignment will guarantee her a big promotion. read more
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
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