Discover the Book God Wrote
By Bill Bright, Tyndale House
hardcover, 256 pages, $19.99.
Campus Crusade for Christ founder and president, the late Bill Bright, hands readers a map to discover the treasure of the Bible. Discover the Book God Wrote is Bright’s magnum opus. In it, he leaves no doubt that he cherished every verse in the Bible as a rare gem.
New and old converts will appreciate the clarity and passion with which Bright wrote. Although the book could be adapted for group study, it is meant for private devotional time. The 18 chapters are divided into four parts: Why Should I Believe the Bible? How Can I Understand the Bible? What Is the Bible About? How Does the Bible Change My Life?
As the reader and completes the “Discover the Treasure” section at the end of each chapter, an intimacy with the Bible bonds him to God on a deeply personal level. He truly develops a right relationship with God as He reveals Himself in His Word. Even the four appendices coach him in developing intimate friendship with God, offering summaries of the books of the Bible, a one-year Bible-reading plan and two methods of Bible study.
Those looking for an informal companion to the Bible will find Bright’s book extremely useful. The book should be on every bedside table, along with a well-thumbed Bible.
By John Bevere, Thomas Nelson
Publishers, hardcover, 224 pages, $19.99.
Three years removed from the success of his last book, Under Cover, the question for John Bevere has been “What’s next?”
What’s next is Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy With God, an explosive inspection of Scripture, leading to the very center of the “heart of God.” New and longtime believers will find this message instrumental in helping them develop a close relationship with the One who is “passionate” for us.
Early on we discover that God sent Moses to deliver His people so that they could come to Himself and “worship in the desert”–outside the routine of Egypt–a step that is not only before, but also above entrance into the promised land.
As we delve deeper, so does Bevere, describing three distinct levels in both communication and relationship. Ultimately, we come away knowing what is essential for reaching and remaining in a place of intimacy with Him.
J. James Estrada
By C. Peter Wagner, Regal Books,
softcover, 248 pages, $14.99.
Wow! This is a book that will blow readers’ minds. C. Peter Wagner is known as an authority on spiritual warfare and church growth and movements within the body of Christ.
In Changing Church: How God Is Leading His Church Into the Future, a follow-up to Churchquake, Wagner takes a look at the diminishing old wineskins of denominational Christianity and the vibrant uprising of the new wineskins of nondenominational, independent charismatic and/or evangelical churches.
Wagner cites the impetus for this movement as the resurgence of the office of apostle in what he is naming the Second Apostolic Age. It is proving to be extremely timely considering the crises that are occurring in some denominations today. Some readers will no doubt be going through the transitions of wineskins while others may be angered by Wagner’s conclusions about denominational structures.
This author does not pull any punches and is not afraid to tackle controversial topics within the body of Christ. In fact, there is enough controversy to almost ensure the reader may question or take exception to one point or another. Yet, Wagner’s remarkable ability to bring perspective to these momentous changes makes this a must-read for all leaders–old wineskin and new wineskin alike.
Deborah L. Delk
By Matt Redman, Sixstepsrecords.
Singer-songwriter Matt Redman, known for his Passion conferences worship duties and penning new classic worship tunes (“The Heart of Worship,” “Let My Words Be Few” and “Better Is One Day”), is regarded as a pioneer in the modern worship movement. For his Sixstepsrecords debut, he delivers 13 new songs recorded live at the Facedown songwriters conference in Atlanta.
Standout tracks include the celebration of “Praise Awaits You,” the solemn piano praise of “Pure Light,” the worship ballad “Breathing the Breath” and the challenging prayer of “If I Have Not Love.” With “Nothing But the Blood,” Redman takes an opportunity to rework the classic hymn with fresh verses, which blends
perfectly with the newer songs.
With the continued popularity of the modern worship movement, Facedown should certainly generate interest from the masses enjoying the rock-flavored praise of Delirious, Passion and Redman’s labelmates Chris Tomlin and David Crowder Band.
Natalie Nichols Gillespie
By Shane & Shane, Inpop.
Shane Bernard and Shane Everett are two guys in the Christian music business that are almost impossible not to like. Their songs are quiet masterpieces, and the talented duo demonstrates their musical prowess once again on the unadorned Upstairs, a collection of six new songs and four old favorites.
Even better, the disc is actually a CD-ROM, with 20 minutes of video footage and chord charts for a few songs. Shane and Shane do it all here (with production, percussion, and piano help from Will Hunt).
Barnard wrote the songs, sings and plays acoustic guitar, mandolin and accordion; Everett sings and adds banjo and acoustic guitar. Both also get production credit.
The result is a collection of Scripture-based worship songs filled with pleading, longing and pure desire to draw closer to the Creator. “I Miss You” is a perfect example, stating: “Oh, I miss you so / The feel of forever / Oh, that taste I know / It hurts to remember. … ” The upbeat “May the Few” exalts the Lord, and “Yearn” begs for more of Him. “Still at Shore” is the only departure from a heavenly focus, a delicate love song that somehow still fits.
Natalie Nichols Gillespie
Hold You High
By By the Tree, Fervent.
With its fourth album in four years, Hold You High, By the Tree returns firmly to its roots in the arena of modern worship, leaving rock ‘n’ roll to some of the band’s other albums. After several departures from the band, rumors at the beginning of the year were that By the Tree was breaking up. Instead, the group is back with a new project that is atmospheric, sometimes ethereal (the remake of the classic hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” is a good example) and definitely vertical.
Produced by band frontman Chuck Dennie, Hold You High remains planted in the middle of the modern worship sound, breaking little new ground but covering familiar territory adequately. One misstep is the cover of “God of Wonders.” When the original of a song is nearly perfect (as is the Caedmon’s Call/Mac Powell version), it’s best to leave it alone.
By the Tree is at its best on its own turf, with highlights including the rhythmic, poetic “Jesus Washed” and the new version of the band’s hit “Reveal” from its 2001 Dove Award-winning debut album.
Natalie Nichols Gillespie
By Anthony Evans,
Anthony Evans’ debut release, Even More, is a rarity. He manages to do what few have done before him: strike that delicate balance between adult and urban contemporary styles without seeming overzealous or alienating committed fans of those genres.
Son of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church pastor Tony Evans, Anthony pulls from his own varied experience. He got his start singing in church, then in college as part of Liberty University’s Sounds of Liberty. Later, he did a two-year stint with the group Truth.
Today, at the ripe old age of 25, Evans has toured with Kirk Franklin, Evans’ mentor and an Oak Cliff member, and has performed with Franklin at such high-profile venues as The Tonight Show.
Franklin makes appearances on two tracks, “Incredible” and “Unity (We Stand),” which features the soulful vocals of Crystal Lewis. But Evans also will win fans of Christian Top 40 artists such as Ginny Owens and MercyMe. Though “I Love You” has a smooth, urban feel, the opener, “You Know My Name,” and “Here’s My Life” are clearly pop.
Evans has production assistance from the likes of Pete Kipley (MercyMe), Dan Muckala (Aaron Neville, Mandy Moore), Shaun Shankel (Point of Grace, Kimberley Locke) and Greg Bieck (Joey McIntyre). But what makes Even More stand out is Evans’ gentle, sincere vocals. He shines on the soft, mellow ballads, namely “The One” and “Come Home.”
Lyrically, Evans pulls from personal experience, telling his own story between the lines. He honors his dad on “Just Like You,” on which he sings, “All that I desire is to follow your footsteps for the rest of my life / So one day when I have a son of my own / I pray that he will see in me all I see in you.”
And on “Restore Me,” he sings of those times when he’d like God to let him just start over: “Restore me / I need Your mercy / Take me to the place I used to be / Use all the pain and the hurt to do a greater work / And restore me.”
This is not one of those CDs a person buys for just one or two standout songs. It’s the sort of release that can be played from start to finish, over and over, simply because Evans makes it so pleasant to listen to.
Adrienne S. Gaines
Jeremy Camp: He Knows God Is Faithful
For Jeremy Camp, the 26-year-old musician with two CDs and a new DVD, worship has become a way to share with others that God remains faithful.
He started playing guitar after he went to college in 1997. Soon he was writing songs and leading others in worship in Southern California venues.
In the midst of this, tragedy struck. In February of 2000, his wife of two months died of cancer. Camp then remembered a pastor at a youth camp who shared about the death of his own wife. After that sermon, Camp, then 16, decided to become a Christian.
When Michelle died, Camp contacted this man. He says: “This pastor prayed for me. He began to share how God had been faithful in his life, despite losing his wife. He said: ‘Go out and minister. Even if you don’t understand. Know that you will reach many people. Know that you will see their lives changed for eternity.'”
Camp took his advice and continues to proclaim God’s faithfulness. He also enjoys spending time with his new wife, Adrienne. They were married in December of 2003.
Camp’s music is often overshadowed by his testimony but that doesn’t bother him. As a result of last year’s shows, more than 500 people made commitments to Christ.
Camp has responded to tragedy in his life by forging new songs of worship, expressions of his faith in God’s bigger plan. He next recording, Restored (BEC Recordings), will release in November.
CHARISMATIC TOP SELLERS
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Mary K. Baxter (Whitaker House)
2. Pigs in the Parlor
Frank and Ida Mae Hammond
(Impact Christian Books)
3. Total Forgiveness
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4. Matters of the Heart
Juanita Bynum (Charisma House)
5. The Three Battlegrounds
Francis Frangipane (Arrow Publications)
6. The Tongue
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7. Prison to Praise
Merlin R. Carothers (Merlin R. Carothers)
8. Pathways to Spiritual Understanding
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9. A Divine Revelation of the Spirit Realm
Mary K. Baxter with T.L. Lowery
10. The Believer’s Authority
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(Faith Library Publications)