Why Drown When You Can
Walk on Water?
By David D. Ireland, Ph.D.,
Baker Books, softcover, 192 pages, $12.99.
If a repairman arrived and his first question was, “Do you have a screwdriver?” you’d think to yourself, How can you call yourself a repairman and not have the necessary tools?
David D. Ireland’s Why Drown When You Can Walk on Water? asks a similar question, “How can you call yourself a Christian if you don’t have active faith?” Ireland is a pastor and a scientist, so expect a unique perspective on the subject of faith, including a number of equations (knowledge + belief + assent = faith). The author thoroughly dismantles “mystical faith” in favor of “authentic faith” for real-life applications.
Why Drown is penetrated with furnace-fired wisdom and concrete building blocks leading to “higher” knowledge. Ireland notes that “in a spiritual sense, your faith is proof that you are the owner of and heir to God’s promise.”
J. James Estrada
Focus on the Family Women’s Series Group Starter Kit
Gospel Light, $69.99.
Everything Focus on the Family produces is well thought out, well prayed over and well put together. The Women’s Series Bible study curriculum is no exception.
The Group Starter Kit includes an in-depth guide to women’s ministry (this alone is worth more than the cost of the entire package), four Bible studies, and a crafts and activities guide.
The Women’s Ministry Guide prepares the leader, helping her discover her gifts and passions and further establish her relationship with the Lord. It is jam-packed with samples, surveys, resources and training lessons. It also offers tips on everything from icebreakers to childcare to dealing with conflicts. It’s a must-have for seasoned or first-time leaders.
This curriculum is applicable to any woman and easily lends itself to deeper study, discussion and ministry. Yet, the studies are easy to follow, even for a new believer. Women of Worth helps women discover who they are in Jesus as opposed to who the world says they are. Healing the Heart studies restoration and covers such topics as forgiving and letting go of the past.
Balanced Living offers tools to help women balance life demands while nurturing a vital relationship with God. The Blessings of Friendship explores developing and maintaining real relationships–not relationships that are 500-miles wide but only 1-inch deep.
Each study covers eight topics. The leader’s discussion guide included for each session allows the facilitator to do just that–facilitate.
The crafts and activities guide is a bit deceiving at first glance with its black-and-white pages and illustrations. However, it offers a wealth of ideas for crafts just for pleasure or activities with goals, all designed to build fun and unity. Also included are suggestions for icebreakers and small- and large-group events.
What a great way to start 2005! These studies and activities can be catalysts for personal growth and can open doors for ministry–and that’s what it’s all about!
The Worship Project
By Jonathan Butler, Maranatha Music.
Jonathan Butler gained much of his popularity with mainstream hits such as Grammy-nominated “Lies” and “Sarah, Sarah.” The Cape Town, South African native, a guitarist and smooth jazz artist, found fame in the secular arena in the ’80s, easily making him a household name.
Although few knew it, it was also in the ’80s that he gave his life to Jesus Christ. The singer-songwriter recently saw a rebirth in his career with his recording of “Falling in Love With Jesus” on saxophonist Kirk Whalum’s project The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter 2. Now Butler releases his first all-gospel CD with The Worship Project.
Butler showcases his uplifting vocals on the 12-track CD with such cuts as the festive, exotic-sounding “You’re Worthy of Praise,” the reverent “You Are So Beautiful” and an acoustic rendition of his hit “Falling in Love With Jesus.” He reinvents the memorable worship anthem “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High,” with a relaxing, mellow texture.
His special touch is also added to the Lenny Leblanc-penned track “No Higher Calling.” The song highlights the humility of one standing in the presence of God.
Worship is certainly the theme on the pensive “Lord, I’m Ready” and the pop-flavored “No Matter What.”
Providing praise-filled tunes as well, cuts such as the urban-inspired “Don’t You Worry” and two powerful cuts, the destined-to-be-sung-by-praise-teams songs “That’s Why We Praise Him” and “He Is the Lord,” beg to be favorites. Producer and principal songwriter on this project, Butler indeed has just found a new audience.
By Andy Chrisman, Word.
For well over a decade, Andy Chrisman has lent his voice to the best-selling group 4Him, singing lead on many of the group’s popular songs, including “For Future Generations,” “Where There Is Faith” and “Measure of a Man.” Now, Chrisman takes a break to do his first solo project, One.
The songs stay in the adult contemporary-pop realm, including the opening statement of faith “Believe,” the ballad “Atmosphere,” the infectious praise of “Adore You,” the piano praise of “Love Remains” and the soothing title track. Chrisman varies it a little with the moody “Debt of Gratitude” and a vocal verse variation on “Complete.”
Many times when singers break away from a group to stretch their musical wings, they delve into other genres and sounds. But Chrisman seems to stick with the sound he’s already known for. That’s a good thing for fans of the group who already love Chrisman’s voice.
I Owe You
By Kierra Kiki Sheard, EMI Gospel.
Rarely has there been such anticipation for the debut recording of a 17-year-old artist. But Kierra “Kiki” Sheard is not an average teenager. After already gaining a huge following from guest appearances on projects with mom, Clark Sister member Karen Clark Sheard, and aunt Dorinda Clark-Cole, Kiki Sheard now steps into her own limelight.
Dropping an impressive project, I Owe You, which already debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Chart, Sheard will gain even more fans with this urban-gospel offering. Hitting you from the first note, the granddaughter of the late gospel legend Mattie Moss Clark delivers the head-bopping “You Don’t Know.” Alluding to the illness her mother suffered a few years ago, the younger Sheard sings about God bringing her through.
Other strong cuts include the danceable “Let Go,” the soulful “All I Am,” the down-home quartet-sounding “Done Did It” and the rhythmic “Closer.” Spanning the musical gamut, Sheard flows seamlessly from the hip-hop grooves of “War” to worship-filled, solemn “Praise Offering.” Filled with a strong contemporary repertoire, the project showcases Sheard’s impeccable vocals and inspiring message-driven collection of tunes.
Teens and adults will relate to the relevant topics Sheard addresses–a lost friendship, godly priorities and growing closer to God.
Caedmon’s Call Focuses On India’s Oppressed
The contemporary Christian folk-rock band Caedmon’s Call has long helped raise funds for relief organization Compassion International. Yet an unexpected encounter with a man from India led the band to deepen its involvement in missions and become advocates for India’s oppressed Dalit people.
Known as “untouchables,” the Dalits are at the bottom of India’s caste system, which divides the bulk of the population into four primary social groups. But beneath these classes is a fifth group. The population of Dalits–which literally means “downtrodden” or “broken”–is estimated to be 160 million. Though India’s constitution forbids “untouchability,” discrimination is widely practiced toward the Dalits and sometimes includes acts of violence.
Caedmon’s Call lead vocalist Cliff Young said his band was compelled to help the Dalits after a man named Timothy Kasbe sought Young out after a concert in North Carolina in the fall of 2003. Kasbe told Young about the plight of his people and asked the band to help. Young said he knew this was God’s plan.
Joseph D’Souza, international president of Dalit Freedom Network, said, “Caedmon’s Call heard the challenge from the Lord and have taken up the cause of what Dalits call the ‘socio-spiritual freedom’ of the Dalits.”
To raise awareness and funds for the Dalits, Caedmon’s Call released Share the Well. Drawing its title from one of the many indignities Dalits face–they cannot share wells with those outside their caste–the recording includes multicultural sounds and stories from India, Ecuador and Brazil. Working with Peace Gospel Ministries, Dalit Freedom Network and Compassion International, the band traveled and saw firsthand the deplorable conditions many people suffer.
The album title also reminds Christians that they have a well of “living water” to share. Young says giving is an important part of worship and believes many American Christians are self-centered. He sees India as a perfect place to start changing a self-centered worldview.
D’Souza agreed: “It is time for the Christian audience in [the United States] to wake up to this epic struggle for Dalit emancipation and participate in every way in what God is doing in the nation–in the areas of justice, in the areas of educating Dalit children, in the areas of bringing the good news, in discipleship.”
People can get involved immediately by giving money and starting advocacy groups to help raise awareness. And Christians can pray, Young said. But his main challenge is still to spread the gospel.
In an effort to encourage college students to consider the mission field, Caedmon’s Call’s Share the Well Foundation offers sponsorships to students to go on missions trips to India. And through the Share the Well tour, which will feature seven international musicians, the band hopes to raise enough money to fund the construction of two Dalit schools.
The band also will be working with Living Water International, a ministry that builds wells in areas where there is no clean water. Living Water plans to build 30 wells, a well for each Dalit school.
Young has hope: “As dark as India seems … it is on the brink of revival. And what are we going to do?” he asks. “The only answer is the gospel. … [If] we step up, [the Dalits are] going to see Christians all over the world … loving them and taking the gospel to them and turning this all around. I really, truly think we’re talking about worldwide revival. And it could all start with the Dalits.”
Miller Addresses Islamic Challenge
Prophet Glenn Miller says we must understand what God is doing and align our lives with His plan. Once we step into the revelation, we will step into destiny, success and spiritual dimensions and dynamics that will unveil the kingdom of God.
His book, The Prophetic Fall of the Islamic Regime (Creation House Press), explores God’s strategies against His enemies. God is attacking the false god of Islam, Miller claims. He says: “The war was not about terrorism; it’s about Allah. … Muslims are deceived. We don’t hate the Muslims, but we hate the spirit behind them. And if we don’t do what we’re called to do, we can’t set them free.”
Miller says of the church and Islam: “We have a snake on the doorstep and we don’t know it. … [The church is] not raising up warriors. They’re not raising up illuminated men and women. They’ve not allowed them to be birthed in their purpose and their destiny. They’re just still trying to be nice, sweet people. … That’s not going to get the job done.
God wants us to not just be saved from something but for something, and that’s divine purpose.
“Once I know what God’s doing I can become a weapon in His hand to accomplish His purpose. If I’m blind to what He’s doing and I’m just being a sweet Christian going to church, I’m missing my destiny. … And the result will be I will have a basically very fruitless life.”