Gotta Serve Somebody:
The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan
By Various Artists, Word.
This collection of black gospel-style music must have been what was in Bob Dylan’s head back when he was recording his pivotal Slow Train Coming and Saved albums. But because Dylan is a white folk singer from Minnesota, his particular spin on church music took on a unique flavor all its own.
This new release offers a distinct contrast to Dylan’s original recordings, and may be why Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan is so much fun. It gives listeners the chance to hear Shirley Caesar testifying with the title track, the Fairfield Four giving “Are You Ready” a traditional quartet treatment and Aaron Neville injecting soulful sweetness into the track “Saving Grace.”
In the late ’70s, when Dylan shocked the music world by revealing his conversion to Christianity, these songs were subjects of much controversy and debate. But in the hands of these A-level gospel and soul artists, they clearly stand the test of time as sincere testimonies of faith. Not everything works here, however. Sounds of Blackness, for example, give “Solid Rock” the full choir treatment, but it sounded much more powerful in its original rocking version. Overall, Dylan fans should get a kick out of this compilation of finely written songs, sung particularly well.
You and You Alone
By Various Artists,
You and You Alone, the latest offering in the Vineyard Worship series, embodies a collection of worship songs especially geared to today’s modern church. The album features well-known Vineyard worship leaders Dan Wilt and Kathryn Scott, who focus on helping listeners get in tune with God and the very essence of who He really is through these 13 contemporary praise songs.
From the opening, upbeat title track to the catchy “Your Amazing Love,” the project is packed with refreshing songs that will appeal to anyone who has a heart prepared to worship. The music is simple and melodic, allowing the compelling messages of the lyrics to be this project’s primary strength.
As a bonus, the CD is enhanced with chord charts and overhead song masters that will serve soloists, worship bands, praise teams and congregation members alike.
You and You Alone follows in the footsteps of Vineyard’s long-standing heritage of bringing fresh songs to the church body, yet is diverse enough to stand on its own merits.
By Karen Davis,
Galilee of the Nations.
While we fear terrorism, the newest worship album from the Names of God series, Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace), was created and recorded amid the daily real-life dangers of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks happening in Israel. Worship leader Karen Davis says: “These are songs the Lord has given us the last few years during some of the most difficult times we’ve had in Israel. Days when we have needed to see the Lord, seated on His throne, high and lifted up, and to know the peace of God that passes all understanding.”
Davis works alongside her husband, David, the senior pastor at Kehilat HaCarmel (Carmel Assembly). They came to Israel as Messianic Jews and began ministering to drug addicts in Haifa, where they founded “Beit Nitzachon” (House of Victory), a residential rehabilitation center for Jews and Arabs.
“For over a decade now we have witnessed the miracle of the transforming power of God’s love as He works in the hearts of afflicted men to be reconciled to Him through the blood of Yeshua and then toward each other,” Karen Davis says. Their church congregation, which rose alongside the center, is built on Mount Carmel, where Elisha called down fire from heaven.
The soothing melodies of Sar Shalom, sung in English and Hebrew, embellish the message of peace and yet a strong resolution resounds throughout the CD to give praise to God, no matter what.
Preceded by worship albums Adonai, Elohim and Yeshua, Sar Shalom is a message of peace to a worried world, making the subtitle–Breakthrough From the Land of Israel–especially appropriate.
Islam and the Jews: The Unfinished Battle
By Mark A. Gabriel, Ph.D.;
softcover; 230 pages; $13.99.
Mark A. Gabriel, in Islam and the Jews, has captured the essence of why conflict rages in the Middle East. He sets the record straight by dispelling false information and revealing how and why Islam teaches Muslims to hate Jews. However, Gabriel is quick to add that Muslims are not the enemy. The enemy is a religion that trains people to hate and encourages violence.
As a former Muslim and scholar of Islam, Gabriel brings a non-Western point of view to the teachings of Islam found in the Quran–the Islamic holy book–and Hadith, the reported sayings and actions of Muhammad. He shows how the Quran handles seemingly conflicting revelations given to Muhammad and how later
revelations replace the earlier. This answers how early revelations of peaceful co-existence received in Mecca were annulled by later commands for jihad against the Jews given in Medina.
Through his own story,Gabriel shows that the only avenue of peace is through Jesus. Islam and the Jews: The Unfinished Battle issues a call to understand what’s behind the hatred and violence, and to subdue it through love.
I strongly recommend this book to everyone, leaders and laity alike. Read it and discover the important role you have in praying for the peace of Jerusalem.
Gods and Generals
By Warner Bros. Pictures.
If you’re not a movie buff who reveled in last winter’s Gods and Generals, check out the video that releases July 14. This Civil War film deserves the “epic” label, although it raises disturbing spiritual questions.
Be warned that the prequel to 1993’s Gettysburg won’t seem as majestic as in theaters, which are best suited for its picturesque scenery and poetic movements. Parents who haven’t seen it should be aware that violent battle scenes earned it a PG-13 rating.
Yet, if you long ago tired of movies that either mock Christianity or dump it into a grab bag of spiritual alternatives, here’s one you will find refreshing. Ron Maxwell’s stellar production views faith with respect and provides an intimate picture of the beliefs that sustained people during this bloody war.
Seldom can a movie keep its pace for nearly four hours while stirring emotions and forcing viewers to contemplate life’s larger issues. Yet those who use the video as a basis for family or small-group Bible-study discussions will find it prompting some unnerving reflection.
For one, it is easy to second-guess 1860s Southerners who simultaneously embraced faith and slavery. But human weakness and self-deception haven’t disappeared. One is left to contemplate whether eagerness to proclaim our righteousness is a root of present-day global conflicts.
Christians should also consider modern-day racial tensions. To what extent do they derive from our inability to come to terms with the Civil War? It is tough to escape such a question amid the movie’s pro-Southern tilt, one that paints Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee in most sympathetic, God-fearing lights.
Yet, one can’t help but ask, “Are we supposed to feel good that people could quote Scripture and offer heartfelt prayers while fighting tooth and nail to preserve slavery?”
In another scene, Jackson–played by Stephen Lang in dominating fashion–prays with the slave who serves as his battalion’s cook. After Jackson’s fervent intercession, the slave asks God to reveal why those who profess Christ can still hold His people in bondage.
Glossing over the seriousness of the man’s inquiry, Jackson echoes his plea, then promises that one day he will be free. The comment leaves the impression that after it triumphed over the evil North, the South planned to free its slaves so everyone could live in peace and harmony.
That is a tough proposition to swallow, considering the South’s eagerness to separate from the United States after Abraham Lincoln’s election.
But those on the other side must acknowledge the North’s willingness to fight stemmed more from its desire to preserve the Union–and the attendant economic implications–than a motivation to end slavery.
And, if no pure motives existed then, who among the nations can claim them today? Given that scenario, what is the Christian’s role as an advocate for peace? Such questions are as fresh now as in 1861.
The hip-hop trio Souljahz began making waves after a performance in 2002, before their Warner Bros. debut, The Fault Is History, even hit the streets. Fusing Latin, soul, hip-hop and folk, siblings Joshu’a, J’ekob, and Rachael Washington formed a sound unique to the genre. Their first single, “All Around the World,” propelled to No. 1 on the Christian Hit Radio Charts last summer. Since then they have shared platforms with such mainstream artists as Ashanti, Nelly and Brian McKnight, and garnered two Dove Awards in April.
But even with these accomplishments, the siblings have not lost sight of their goal. “We’re spreading the Word,” J’ekob told Breakaway magazine. “Seeing God use the music and giving us [our] lyrics, that’s untouchable.” Since they began traveling internationally, the group has witnessed the increased need to get the Word out to other countries. “We just saw this desperate need internationally to explain what the Bible is to kids. … Everyone over there reads it, and they are very open to hearing your message,” Joshu’a said.
With this mission in hand and focusing on world issues and their love for Christ, Souljahz provide a message to complement their top-notch production. Every song is written from real-life situations that they or those around them have experienced. They aim to minister to others going through similar situations.
When asked by The Gospel Zone about how they would categorize their music, they replied: “We don’t want to pigeon-hole our album. It is rooted in hip-hop, but we are Christians, and God is in our hearts. This comes out in our songs.” This is an album with thoughtful lyrics and big-label sound, giving the gospel music industry something to cheer about.
Eric J. Olson
CHARISMATIC TOP SELLERS
1. Total Forgiveness
R.T. Kendall (Charisma House)
2. Matters of the Heart
Juanita Bynum (Charisma House)
3. A Divine Revelation of Hell
Mary K. Baxter (Whitaker House)
4. Pigs in the Parlor
Frank and Ida Mae Hammond
(Impact Christian Books)
5. A Divine Revelation of Heaven
Mary K. Baxter (Whitaker House)
6. The Three Battlegrounds
Francis Frangipane (Arrow Publications)
7. The Tongue: A Creative Force
Charles Capps (Harrison House)
8. The Final Quest
Rick Joyner (Whitaker House)
9. A Divine Revelation of the Spirit Realm
Mary K. Baxter (Whitaker House)
10. No More Sheets
Juanita Bynum (Pneuma Life Publishing)
Sharpening Your Leading Edge
By Jack Hayford, Charisma House,
193 pages, hardcover, $15.99.
This is not a how-to book about being a leader. Jack Hayford teaches that leadership is not about methods. “Whatever your skill set, mind-set is the starting place.” In this effort to prevent others from experiencing the same problems he has faced, Hayford gives personal examples not only of what did work, but also of what did not work in his life. Hayford has more than 40 years of leadership experience.
Ruling in the Gates
By Joseph Mattera,
Creation House Press,
96 pages, softcover, $9.99.
Joseph Mattera issues a new call for the body of Christ. It is time for us to take our God-given place on Earth to bring about the kingdom of God. Only the gospel has the blueprint for a healthy society, so the body of Christ must lead the way for reform. Believers must discover their divine purpose and learn how to pray for the next move of God.
At the Cross: Where Healing Begins
By Rod Parsley,
Creation House Press,
102 pages, hardcover, $9.99.
Sadly, many believers miss their healings and agonize, wondering if it’s God’s will for them to be healed. Rod Parsley solves the mystery with simple biblical truths. He shows the reasons behind God’s purpose in healing and that the power of faith will grow as His
eternal plan is understood. God does want to heal us, and it took only one moment in time to wipe away the bondage of sickness. We can still experience the healing Jesus died to give us at the cross.
Come Unto Me: God’s Call to Intimacy
By James P. Gills, M.D.;
Creation House Press;
96 pages; softcover; $8.99.
During a divine appointment with God on the summit of Mount Sinai, James Gills discovered a revelation that changed his life: God’s deepest desire is intimacy with us.
Gills teaches that a committed spiritual life is not something that can be obtained–it’s learned. God wants us to open our lives to Him so He can fill us with His very own life.
Cuando gente de Dios hace cosas que no son de Dios
(When Godly People Do Ungodly Things)
By Beth Moore, Casa Creación,
217 pages, softcover, $9.99.
Bible teacher Beth Moore warns that the devil is out to seduce God’s children and trap them in sin. She shows Christians how we can be prepared to fight temptations and that we can stand against the devil’s attacks. For those who have given in to temptation, Moore lovingly gets them on the road to total repentance and restoration with the Lord.