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Kari Jobe

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

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

New in Town

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

Rebuilding the Real You

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

CompassionArt: Creating Freedom From Poverty

By various artists, Sparrow Records.

A trip to India inspired Martin Smith (Delirious frontman) and wife Anna to help the poor, and CompassionArt was born. Smith invited 12 well-known musicians and songwriters to create songs with the condition that all proceeds generated from them would permanently be donated to the poor worldwide. Half the revenue will be distributed to four projects: Hand of Hope, Ray of Hope, Stop the Traffic and Watoto. The other half will be given to support ministries chosen by the individual artists. Paul Baloche, Israel Houghton, Steven Curtis Chapman, Matt Redman, Michael W. Smith and Darlene Zschech were among the songwriters involved. Additional artists were invited to participate on the CD. Some standouts: Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant sing together again on “Highly Favoured.” The Watoto Children’s choir adds the perfect touch to this and other songs. “Friend of the Poor” is a heartfelt cry, performed by Andy Park and Leeland Mooring. Tim Hughes and Chapman lead the declarative “We Won’t Stay Silent.” “Fill My Cup” is sure to build believers’ faith. Included is a bonus 50-minute DVD documentary with artist interviews and more. An accompaniment book, The Art of Compassion, features the songwriters’ thoughts on compassion and justice. The artist lineup alone makes this album a must-have; but the story behind these songs makes it a collection like no other. read more

Light in the Darkness

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.

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Heather Headley: From Trinidad to Broadway

Heather Headley grew up in Trinidad as a preacher’s kid. “I literally was born into the church. ... My bedroom was the wall to the sanctuary,” she says. She lived with an understanding of Christ but as she got older she started to understand why her parents were so happy in church. “You start figuring it out because it now becomes a part of your life,” Headley says. It wasn’t easy being a preacher’s kid, but she adds: “I’m glad I grew up with the morals we had. I’m glad I grew up under that kind of regimen and instruction. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Headley and her family moved in 1989 from Trinidad to Indiana, where she participated in high school theater before going to Northeastern University to major in communications and musical theater. In her junior year she left to be an understudy on the Broadway show Ragtime. The following year she won the role of Nala in The Lion King. That performance led to her landing the title role in Aida, for which she won a Tony for Best Actress. She recorded two albums for the Broadway shows as well as two solo albums and won a Grammy for her debut R&B album. read more

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Slumdog Millionaire

Charisma editor picks best movie of the year! Slumdog Millionaire, which was nominated in 10 categories, won eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Below is J. Lee Grady's review of this rags-to-riches story.

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Danny Boyle
Rated R for some language and scenes of violence

It’s not a Christian film, but Slumdog Millionaire gets my vote for the best movie of 2008 because it deals so honestly with the issue of exploited children.

Set in modern India, it is the story of Jamal (Dev Patel), a low-caste boy raised in the slums of Mumbai amid religious violence and cruel poverty. Orphaned and with little schooling, Jamal and his brother eke out an existence by begging in the streets, riding on top of trains and giving bogus tours of the Taj Mahal to naive tourists.

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Fireproof: No. 1 Independent Film of 2008 Now on DVD

Fireproof is the story of a couple on the verge of divorce. Caleb and Katherine Holt (Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea) have each allowed stress and temptation to dampen their love and respect for the other, and neither seems to know what to do or is even willing to change. Any chance of saving their marriage seems slim. In a last-ditch effort, Caleb turns to his dad for advice. His dad offers him a 40-day challenge—the “Love Dare”—which comprises daily actions Caleb can do to restore his wife’s heart and hopefully save their marriage. Caleb reluctantly accepts the challenge and at first only half-heartedly follows the steps. Eventually he is truly transformed, but it may be too late to save the relationship. Fireproof has grossed more than $33 million since its theatrical release in September. The DVD bonus features include deleted scenes, jokes and pranks, a discussion guide, commentary, and more. Other resources based on this film, including The Love Dare study, are also available. read more

22 Weeks: Docudrama Delivers Powerful Message

22 Weeks (Empyrean Films) packs more punch in 38 minutes than some films three times as long. This is not a feel-good movie. It’s based on real-life abortion experiences. It chronicles primarily the story of a young woman who decides to have an abortion. When her baby is born alive in the abortion clinic restroom, she realizes she has made a terrible mistake and begs the clinic workers for help. They do nothing. Ultimately, her 22-week-old son, whom she named Rowan, dies in her arms. At a recent screening, Ángel Manuel Soto, who wrote and directed the film, said that as soon as he heard this woman’s story he knew he had to make the film. Plans for the film include expanding it to feature length. 22 Weeks is not easy to watch, but it could be a valuable resource for churches or anyone with a call to crisis-pregnancy ministry. Click here to purchase 22 Weeks. read more

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