Made Me Glad
By Michael Neale, Integrity Music.
Serving as worship leader for Christ Fellowship in West Palm Beach, Florida, places Michael Neale in front of a fast-growing congregation of 18,000 every week. Though he has released independent recordings, Made Me Glad is an Integrity Music debut. Recorded live at Dayspring Church in Mobile, Alabama, the disc begins with a rousing celebration of God’s goodness and moves into a passionate time of dedication.
“Only a God Like You” is high-energy worship, featuring infectious music and the inspiring message that “Only a God like You deserves my praise.” Neale breathes new life into the classic “Blessed Be the Lord God Almighty.”
The title cut is a popular modern worship tune, but Neale does a great job of making it his own. “All That I Am” is a touching new track of dedication: “I am broken at Your feet, O God / Father, take everything in me.”
Neale ably leads the worship team and congregation through the praise journey and projects an excitement about the material he’s using. The upbeat spirit of Made Me Glad, along with a great collection of songs, will give listeners plenty to smile about.
Out the Box
By Tonéx, Verity Records.
Tonéx, one of gospel’s most talented, versatile and eccentric characters, recently released the two-disc, 36-track CD set Out the Box. Although he now presents a toned-down image, he still pushes the musical envelope with a diverse collection of inspirational and groundbreaking music.
His flexibility is highlighted on such cuts as the rock-oriented, guitar-driven “The Trust Theory” and the catchy “Doesn’t Really Matter.” Tonéx incorporates mainstream sampling such as The Jackson 5’s “Dance Machine” on “Alive,” the theme to Family Feud on the track “Games,” and the theme to the sitcom Taxi on the song “Taxi.”
Other standout tracks include the ragtime-colored “Work on Me,” the rock-driven “The Children’s Bread,” the smooth jazz-tinged “Why?” and the horn-textured “Believer.” The Latin festive “Todos Juntos,” the worshipful tracks “God Is Love” and “Your Word” are just a few of the strong cuts included in this set.
Not afraid to tackle real-life issues, Tonéx touches on financial woes, religious freedom and homosexuality. Not only does this set include music, but throughout the collection the artist also includes his own sermonic selections.
Fans will appreciate the artist’s live renditions of hits such as “Personal Jesus,” “God Has Not 4Got” and “Real With U.” He also brings in Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin and Sheila E. as featured guests. Tonéx is undoubtedly one of gospel’s most exciting players, and this project seals him as more than a fly-by-night sensation.
For All You’ve Done
By Hillsong Music, Integrity Music.
With millions of units sold in the United States as well as the songs’ integration into worship in churches around the country, the Hillsong worship series has become known for original and engaging worship tunes. The newest release, For All You’ve Done, is a double-disc set that features more of their polished praise in a live setting.
Fifteen tracks are spread out on the double discs, which allows the songs a little more breathing room. While worship leader Darlene Zschech and others are featured on the release, the sound of a 500-voice choir joining in conveys a more congregational worship feel for the listener.
As in previous releases, the group mixes traditional praise with rock and pop leanings on songs such as the upbeat “One Way,” the celebration of the title track and the infectious “Forever and a Day.” More melodic tunes such as “Hallelujah,” “Glorify Your Name” and “With All That I Am” round out the experience.
If Hillsong’s 13th live album is any indication, the worship team shows no signs of slowing down in delivering the best in modern worship music.
My Spiritual Inheritance
By Juanita Bynum, Charisma House,
Hardcover, 256 pages, $19.99.
Best-selling author of Matters of the Heart and No More Sheets, Juanita Bynum delivers a strong call to walk in obedience to God and submit to spiritual authority in her latest release, My Spiritual Inheritance.
Her language is personal and specific in pointing out the tangible sides by which we come to know our spiritual authority. Readers will appreciate the detail of coverage and close scriptural support for realizing our spiritual destiny through walking obediently with God. As a result, Bynum helps us see that the moral and spiritual decline of the church and society will be counteracted.
She writes boldly, “God wants us to walk us through the process of inheriting morality, stability, integrity, and right standing with God and man from our spiritual parents.” She witnesses that too many babies in Christ are missing out on the portions that God has set aside for them by failing to find their spiritual authority. Her intention in this book is to map out the means for recognizing and submitting to one’s spiritual parents.
One thing that sets this book apart is that Bynum addresses her remarks specifically to a charismatic audience of believers. A gifted prophetess, she leads the reader on the journey to spiritual inheritance with wisdom, and Bynum herself becomes a spiritual parent. It is a must-have for those seeking a right relationship with God in the here and now–thus enjoying heaven’s abundance right here on Earth.
Muslims Next Door
By Shirin Taber, Zondervan,
Softcover, 144 pages, $9.99.
This is a vitally important book for Christians. Zeal without wisdom is detrimental and this book will impart the necessary wisdom to help Christians have a more fruitful outreach to Muslim friends, neighbors and co-workers.
Author Shirin Taber has a unique perspective because her father is an Iranian Muslim and her mother was an American Catholic. Her mother died during Taber’s teens, and her mother’s Christian friend and neighbor reached out to help during the time of crisis. Needless to say the neighbor made an eternal impact on Taber’s life and was instrumental in introducing her to Christ.
Taber understands firsthand what it means to grow up in America with a Middle Eastern heritage in the shadow of September 11. She gives helpful insight into matters of hospitality, dress, courtship, education and conversation.
She also warns against stereotypes and paints a broader picture of what it means to be a Muslim in Western counties. She states that books pointing out the differences between Islam and Christianity are important. But she reminds us that it’s vital to know what we have in common and how we can relate respectfully to the Muslim next door.
Deborah L. Delk
By Toby Mac and Michael Tait
Bethany House Publishers, softcover,
384 pages, $16.99.
Did you know that Benjamin Franklin petitioned the first U.S. Congress to abolish slavery? Or that Thomas Jefferson’s similar proposal fell one vote short of passage and left slavery to wreak its venom another 63 years? Did you know that the “under God” phrase was first introduced by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg in 1863?
Maybe you did know these things, but a new, easy-to-read volume contains fascinating accounts of heroes and heroines who aren’t so well-known.
Under God, by dc Talk’s Toby Mac and Michael Tait, is the Book of Virtues for “His-story” enthusiasts desiring a deeper understanding of America’s enduring faith and triumphal liberty. The 60 stories compiled (each can be read in less than five minutes) reveal that the story of America is the story of Americans who reached heights and shined the light and, at other times, ceded to darkness and stumbled.
J. James Estrada
T.D. Jakes Releases
Bishop T.D. Jakes, best-selling author, pastor and the force behind the recent Mega Fest conference in Atlanta, adapted his popular book Woman, Thou Art Loosed! to a stage play, conference and, most recently, for the big screen.
In October, Woman, Thou Art Loosed: The Movie was scheduled to open on more than 500 screens.
The film (www.wtalthemovie.com) centers on Michelle Jordan (Kimberly Elise, The Manchurian Candidate). Bad decisions, addiction, poverty and an apathetic mother land Jordan on death row. While incarcerated, Jordan asks Jakes (played by himself) to visit her. Through their conversation Jordan’s real story unfolds–one of sexual abuse, pain, healing and forgiveness.
Recognizable actors such as Loretta Devine (The Preacher’s Wife), Debbi Morgan (All My Children), Clifton Powell (Rush Hour) and others make the story realistic and riveting. The message of Christ is woven throughout, yet it is a movie unchurched people would feel comfortable viewing.
Though the film is rated R, the language and violence are not vulgar or overbearing. Jakes defends the film’s rating. “The Bible is violent when Amnon rapes his sister Tamar,” he says.
“The woman caught in the very act of adultery and dragged before Jesus is R-rated. … Too often, Christian films fail in the court of the world’s opinion because they fall short of what the world knows to be true, and audiences reject them as idealistic and preachy.”
Jakes says the church is the perfect place to promote such a film because “abuse statistics don’t stop or even drop at the church door. This movie has a mission to and through the church. When we turn the light on things that happen in the dark, we must also be ready to face the heinous realities among us and minister to both victims and perpetrators.”
John Tesh’s Everyday Worship
Since his days as co-host of Entertainment Tonight John Tesh has been hosting his radio show, leading worship at the church he and his wife, actress Connie Selleca, attend and making Christian music. Tesh returned to Red Rocks in Denver to record his latest release, Worship at Red Rocks. He calls his debut Red Rocks album “his first true intimate worship experience with the Holy Spirit.”
“We never should have been able to get it taped [because of rain], and it never should have become a PBS special. … But it did all those things. When God has His hand on something, it just jumps through hoops. … I wanted to go back and be even more honest by doing worship music there.”
Growing up Methodist, it wasn’t until Tesh met Selleca, who invited him to her church, that he got to know Jesus personally. He realized life isn’t about being popular but “about having an afterlife; and it’s only going to happen with your faith in Jesus.”
Tesh wants his music to encourage people to live a worshipful life all the time, not just on Sundays, so they can reach others. He says: “Christians have to be careful not to get trapped in their churches. … We’re hiding in these megachurches, and people from the outside world are seeing Christians meeting together and closing everybody out.
“Church is a training ground for you to go out into the world. … Take what you learn in that church, go out and be wisdom, salt and light in the areas where you’re needed.”