• $10 DVDs

Monthly Archives: October 2011

  • Book Review: Every Day a Friday

    Posted on October 31, 2011 by Family Christian

    Joel Osteen has been accused of presenting a “Gospel Lite” message.  He actually takes that as a compliment.  Pastor Osteen says that his full intent is to present the Gospel in as attractive a package as possible and to appeal to as wide an audience as possible in order to present Jesus to as many people as possible.  Joel’s newest book, Every Day a Friday, is right down the center of Joel’s audience base.  In this book Pastor Osteen points out that surveys show that the happiest day of the week is Friday because people are anticipating the weekend.  With the right frame of mind, he says, every day can be a Friday happiness-wise for the follower of God. 

    Every Day a Friday

    Every Day a Friday is a quick and approachable read.  It is filled with advice on how to live a more fulfilled and happier life by simply applying the principles found in God’s Word and using the common sense that your mama taught you about how to get along with others.  None of what Joel talks about in this book is profound, yet he presents principles that seem to get lost in the very day crunch of life.  This book is a good reminder for us to live closer to what God intends for us, rather than living under the oppression of our modern lifestyle.  From Scripture and his life experience, Pastor Osteen shares seven principles for happiness in this book. "Jesus talked about everyday life, not just doctrine but how do we live, how do we forgive. How do we keep a good attitude when the economy is down.  Joel says that, “The basic premise of the book is that, in the end, happiness is a choice.”

    In one chapter, Joel talks about happiness being a choice that we make every day.  Here he tells the story of John, a 92-year-old man, who is blind and a widower.  John decided that it was time for him to move into the seniors’ home.  On the morning of the move, a cab came to pick him up.  He was waiting, dressed impeccably, his hair neatly combed and cleanly shaved.  Upon arrival at the home, he waited for more than an hour before Miranda, an aide, came to show him to his new room.  As he maneuvered his walker down the hallway, Miranda told him about the room, describing how the sunshine came through the window, and about the nice desk area.  He kept saying, “I love it. I love it.  I love it.”  Miranda laughed and said, “Sir, you aren’t there yet.  You haven’t seen it.  Hold on a few moments and I will show it to you.”  John replied, “No, you don’t have to show it to me.  Whether I like my room or not does not depend on how the furniture is arranged. It depends on how my mind is arranged.  Happiness is something you decide ahead of time.”         

    This and many other stories help illustrate Pastor Osteen’s points in Every Day a Friday.  He says that when Monday morning comes, decide ahead of time that there are no Monday morning blues.  Instead, chose the Monday morning dos by saying, “I do have a smile.  I do have joy.  I do have God’s favor.  I do have victory.”  Good advice for us all to follow regardless of our particular doctrinal stance.

  • Book Review: Erasing Hell

    Posted on October 31, 2011 by Family Christian

    In Erasing Hell, Francis Chan’s and Preston Sprinkle’s dive into the pool of controversy surrounding the discussion on the Theology of Hell is an approachable yet thorough exploration of the subject.  The two primary questions, among others, are, “How could a loving God send people to hell?”  And, “Will people have a chance after they die to believe in Jesus and go to Heaven?” 

    I have to admire the authors’ approach to the subject.  It is forthright, yet humble.  They freely admit that they do not have all the answers.  They also freely admit that they do not always like the image of God presented in the Bible – particularly in the Old Testament.  For example: Why would a loving God tell the Levites to strap on their swords and go through the Israelite camp, killing friends and brothers because of the “Golden Calf” incident?  Where is the grace?  Where is the love?  Yet we cannot avoid this and other troubling passages in the Old Testament.  And, to bring the examples more up to date, what about in the New Testament where God strikes a couple dead simply for telling a “little white lie” about how much they received for the sale of a piece of property.  Not exactly the best way to attract people to your church.

    Erasing Hell

    These are some of the questions that Chan and Sprinkle tackle in Erasing Hell.  Where the authors have a strong opinion and scripture to back that opinion, they are not timid to share their conclusions.  The reader is not left wondering where they stand.  Where, however, there is room for ongoing discussion and falling on both sides of an issue, they present the argument for both sides and leave plenty of room for the reader to explore and think for themselves.  For example, they do not give a clear answer on the issue of Hell as a place of eternal punishment, or as a place of punishment followed by annihilation, stating that you could make an argument either way and then back both arguments with Scripture. 

    With extensive use of Scripture throughout, and comprehensive notes at the end of each chapter, Erasing Hell is scholarly enough for the student wanting a thorough examination of the subject of Hell, yet still highly approachable by even the most basic reader.  Overall, it is a quick read.  And while Erasing Hell does mention and references the Love Wins book by Rob Bell, it is not intended as a “response book” to Rob’s work.  Any mention of the Love Wins book is done in a respectful manner that the most ardent supporters of Rob’s book will appreciate, even while perhaps disagreeing.

  • Built by God

    Posted on October 31, 2011 by Family Christian

    “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain”. Psalm 127:1

     

    The Lord does not build shabby structures. What He touches becomes a testimony to His greatness. Relationships built on Jesus Christ flourish because He becomes the reference point for love. A business or ministry with the values of Jesus woven throughout creates a cultural fabric of excellence. And a life structured by its Savior is able to withstand the trials, tribulations and successes of society.

    Is the Almighty the architect of your endeavors? If not it is a vain business model. Without the Lord’s blessing you will lose your way, and eventually the will to continue. Sometimes working harder only drives you further from heaven’s help. This is especially true during difficult days. So take an extended time to fast and pray for the Lord’s leading.

    Make sure your efforts are united under God to execute excellent outcomes. Adversity exposes inefficiencies, like light reveals termite-infested damage to the dark places in a house. It may be the foundation of your finances crumbling under the weight of debt. If so, avoid further debt and ask your creditor to work with you to resolve your obligations. Honesty and humility are twins of trust during troubled times.

    “My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger—if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said—follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased. Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do” (Proverbs 6:1-4).

    Moreover, make sure money is not your master, but the servant of your Master builder, Jesus. Do not let fiscal pressure force you to take short cuts and compromise quality. Instead, become more excellent and you will stand out among other average enterprises. Spend your strength for your Savior, labor for the Lord and vanity will vanquish. The Holy Spirit replaces futility with fulfillment, faith and freshness. So, by God’s grace, build a ministry, business or home that lasts through economic upturns and downturns.

    Let go of people who brought you to this point, but who will not take you to the next level. The Lord can handle providing their next assignment and your next new team member. Cut costs, increase margins and prayerfully improve your product and services. Hard times are preparation to become better for the good times. Therefore, replace vanity with a compelling vision, and any confusion with a clear mission. Above all else, build on the foundation of faith in God, by praying for the Lord’s plan to be preeminent.

    Jesus says, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:25).

    How does God want me to adjust my life and work so that He is the Master builder?

    Related Readings: Amos 9:6; Haggai 1:8; Luke 6:46-49; Ephesians 2:21

    Give the gift of wisdom and receive a gift of wisdom: Sign up five friends, click: http://bit.ly/q4217i for the free daily devotional. Then email rita@wisdomhunters.com to let her know and she will send you a link to download a complimentary copy of the new 90-day day devotional eBook Seeking God in the Psalms.

    Additional Resource: eBooks- Wisdom for Fathers, Wisdom For Mothers, Wisdom for Graduates, Infusion, Seeking Daily the Heart of God and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/jHlNX0  All titles also available from the iBook store for iPad

    Additional Resource: Printed copy of the 365 day devotional: Seeking Daily the Heart of God and the 90-day devotional books Infusion and Seeking God in the Psalms… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Support Wisdom Hunters: Learn how you can help us reach other Wisdom Hunters with your monthly donation… click here: http://wisdomhunters.com/support-wh/

  • Effective Accountability

    Posted on October 30, 2011 by Family Christian

    “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
    Proverbs 27:17

     

    Accountability is essential for the follower of Jesus Christ. We are accountable to God and man. Accountability comes in many forms, but the results are the same. The outcomes of accountability are integrity to our commitments and follow through in God’s will for our lives. We all do better when others are watching.

    The details of your life may be blurry to most. But, when you surround yourself with trusted advisers, by faith you give them the reading glasses to your heart and soul. They see and understand your motives—the good and the bad reasons why you do what you do. Unencumbered, you share with them your struggles, sins, and fears.

    Accountability is a safe and trusting environment. Through it you slow down and take the time to allow the hard questions—questions that deal with your time in God’s Word, your thought life, your financial health, your marriage, your work, and your time, to name a few. Nothing is off limits or sacred to the truly accountable. Accountability is most effective when you sincerely submit to others. It’s no good if you limit your accountability to individual silos, because you can hide behind these linear relationships.

    It is when you invite collaboration and a small group perspective that you open yourself up to a 360-degree evaluation. It is easier to fool the one than the whole. Find a small group of four or five with whom you can grow old together—people who can smell you blowing smoke miles away when it is only a small cloud on the horizon. They can read you because they really know you.

    They know your tendency to drink too much, to blow up in a fit of rage, or to take your wife for granted. They know how your unguarded strength can become your greatest weakness. They help you keep these pitfalls in check, but they also affirm your progress and success. Accountability is as much a positive reinforcement as it is a negative warning or rebuke. Ultimately, true accountability partners point you to God.

    God is the standard. His Word holds the rules of the game. When an issue is under debate, biblical principles veto anything that smells of foolishness. Submission and obedience to God is the foundation and the goal of accountability. He is still there when no one is watching. He understands the motives of our hearts when we ourselves are confused.

    Fear of God is good and effective accountability. What you say and do does matter. It matters for today and it matters for eternity. Your respect and love for God becomes so strong that you want to do His will no matter what. Your desire to grow in His character is what drives your life. This type of God-conscious living grows your accountability over time. You discover God’s expectations on your life that you never knew existed.

    And, you become freed up to know that in some areas you have imposed limits on your life that God never intended. You have limited yourself with self-imposed restraints that are not a part of God’s accountability. Effective accountability with God requires time and transparency. Seek His face and ask what needs to change in your life. Let others know what God is teaching you and ask for their mutual accountability. Submit to God, caring friends and your spouse. Accountability leads to freedom. Be set free!

    Taken from Dose 72 in the 90-day devotional book, Infusion.

    Give the gift of wisdom and receive a gift of wisdom: Sign up five friends, click: http://bit.ly/q4217i for the free daily devotional. Then email rita@wisdomhunters.com to let her know and she will send you a link to download a complimentary copy of the new 90-day day devotional eBook Seeking God in the Psalms.

    Additional Resource: eBooks- Wisdom for Fathers, Wisdom For Mothers, Wisdom for Graduates, Infusion, Seeking Daily the Heart of God and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/jHlNX0  All titles also available from the iBook store for iPad?

    Additional Resource: Printed copy of the 365 day devotional: Seeking Daily the Heart of God and the 90-day devotional books Infusion and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Support Wisdom Hunters: Learn how you can help us reach other Wisdom Hunters with your monthly donation… click here: http://wisdomhunters.com/support-wh/

  • Prince of this World

    Posted on October 29, 2011 by Family Christian

    “I will not speak to you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:30-31

     

    The prince of this world is alive and well. His methods are fear, intimidation, and deception. He flaunts his pretentious power over a decaying world. He maneuvers around in a spiritual disguise. He wants you to have just enough of Jesus to disappoint you but not too much that you depend on Him. His desire is for partial obedience to the commands of Christ, so that your love for Him is sentimental and shallow. Then when pain and suffering grow in intensity, you will lose confidence in the Lord.

    He wants your love for the Lord to be conditional on everything being okay not unconditional regardless of the outcome. Adversity is the adversary’s most intense weapon of distrust. Satan desires to sift your faith through the sands of suffering. He tries to extract your joy in Jesus with jealousy over the good fortune of others and a jaded belief that God is distant and disinterested. He demands you to believe that death is the end and that no good can come out of your grief and loss.

    But followers of Jesus do not have to believe his half-truths. You are free to instantly, willingly, and completely obey God’s commands. This is the evidence of your love for the Lord. Love is where joy gestates. Hate is where anger incubates. Obedience to God makes you an overcomer. There is nothing the devil can demand of you without first going through God. He tries to make you think you are eternally exposed, but you are safely strapped in by eternal security. Christ is in His Father, you are in Christ, and Christ is in you (John 14:20). The prince of this world is powerless to pry you from the Prince of Peace.

    The Prince of Peace is large and in charge. He has taken the temptations of the tempter and turned them into His purposes. Jesus uses allurement for power, and converts it into servant leadership. Christ stands greed on its head, and transforms it into generosity. The Lord arrests lust, and rehabilitates it into unconditional love. The Holy Spirit harbors discernment and direction during the dregs of distractions and distrust.

    The temptation for resentment and bitterness is trumped by everlasting forgiveness. Jesus is all about calm in the middle of confusion; He is light in the middle of darkness; He is peace in the middle of war; He is joy in the middle of sadness; He is acceptance in the middle of rejection; He is love in the middle of hate.

    The Prince of Peace has formed an army of the faithful. Hear His voice, learn of Him, and obey His commands. The enemy is no match for the Master. The enemy tries in vain to recruit those gone AWOL or who have drifted behind enemy lines. Nevertheless, fight the good fight. Rescue the perishing and care for the dying. The battle is not yours, but the Lord’s. You cannot sustain yourself in your own strength; instead, rely on your Savior's. Do not fall for the tempter’s tactics, for his tricks are no treat.

    Faithful followers of Jesus trust wholeheartedly, love unconditionally, and obey instantly. Surrender is what we signed up for. The enemy shudders when you surrender to your Savior, and not to him. The unseen war was fought and finished at the cross. The Prince of Peace rules eternally. He is the winner for now and for evermore.

    The Bible says, “He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:2).

    Taken from the October 31st reading in the 365-day devotional book, Seeking Daily the Heart of God.

    Give the gift of wisdom and receive a gift of wisdom: Sign up five friends, click: http://bit.ly/q4217i for the free daily devotional. Then email rita@wisdomhunters.com to let her know and she will send you a link to download a complimentary copy of the new 90-day day devotional eBook Seeking God in the Psalms.

    Additional Resource: eBooks- Wisdom for Fathers, Wisdom For Mothers, Wisdom for Graduates, Infusion, Seeking Daily the Heart of God and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/jHlNX0  All titles also available from the iBook store for iPad?

    Additional Resource: Printed copy of the 365 day devotional: Seeking Daily the Heart of God and the 90-day devotional books Infusion and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Support Wisdom Hunters: Learn how you can help us reach other Wisdom Hunters with your monthly donation… click here: http://wisdomhunters.com/support-wh/?

  • Distress Call

    Posted on October 28, 2011 by Family Christian

    “ I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me”. Psalm 120:1

     

    Some people die a thousand deaths of distress, as it highjacks their hope. It may be the material distress of overwhelming financial pressures. It may be physical distress of a body that is accelerating down a path of pain and disease. Relational distress can be traumatic and dramatic, as couples feel confined to a crazy cycle of confusing cynicism. The rough edge of a cruel tongue can sting and sabotage your quiet confidence.

    So what are the next steps when you, or someone you love is drowning in distress? Some people want to discuss their distress and accept help willingly. Others struggle to preserve their independence and behave, at least outwardly, as if nothing is wrong. Distress can define you with a humble dependency on God, or it can drive you into a shell of self-pity, that ignores Him and others. It is a facilitation of faith that provides the best benefits.

    “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).

    Therefore, learn to lean on the Lord during lean times. Go to God first when you are unfairly treated and abused. Wisdom appeals to the Almighty in prayer for insulters, instead of insulting back in prayerless reactions. Critical cries to people undermine your character, while compassionate cries to Christ embolden your soul. A child flees first to their father or mother when they are in need of comfort, love and forgiveness.

    So, your heavenly Father is poised and prepared for your passionate petitions. Prayer to Him is rewarding and profitable, as He will not hear the lie against you, but He will hear your prayer against the lie. His Holy Spirit assures you that He hears, and He cares. He is attentive to every detail of your distress, so rest in His reassurance and your soul will settle down. Above all else, use distress to enjoy your dependency on God.

    “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat…” (Isaiah 25:4a).

    How does distress define me? How do the Lord’s answers reassure me?

    Related Readings: 2 Samuel 22:7; 2 Chronicles 15:4; Psalm 4:1; Mark 14:33;
    2 Corinthians 2:4

    Give the gift of wisdom and receive a gift of wisdom: Sign up five friends, click: http://bit.ly/q4217i for the free daily devotional. Then email rita@wisdomhunters.com to let her know and she will send you a link to download a complimentary copy of the new 90-day day devotional eBook Seeking God in the Psalms.

    Additional Resource: eBooks- Wisdom for Fathers, Wisdom For Mothers, Wisdom for Graduates, Infusion, Seeking Daily the Heart of God and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/jHlNX0  All titles also available from the iBook store for iPad?

    Additional Resource: Printed copy of the 365 day devotional: Seeking Daily the Heart of God and the 90-day devotional books Infusion and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Support Wisdom Hunters: Learn how you can help us reach other Wisdom Hunters with your monthly donation… click here: http://wisdomhunters.com/support-wh/

  • Mother, Artist, Activist. Meet Sara Groves again for the first time.

    Posted on October 27, 2011 by John van der Veen

    Sara

    Sara is a kaleidoscope of colors. With every record she creates we, the listeners, climb a little closer to her heart and discover something new about her character. Her honesty, vulnerability and artistry are what make us feel so connected and keep us so inspired. We recently caught up with Sara to hear about what big, new things are happening around the Groves home and discover the backbone of her new record, Invisible Empires.

    Family Christian: What does Invisible Empires mean and how did the name come about?

    Sara Groves: Well, I never fully know what I’m working on [when I start writing] – such as a theme, but inevitably the songs will start to overlap, and I’ll start realizing ‘oh this is all kind of about the same thing.’ It’s always a mystery for me when I’m working on a record, figuring out what the hub of the wheel is. And I feel with this record the hub ended up being a lot of what I was reading from Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. He talks about Psalm 127 which says “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builder builds in vain.” He says the work of man is frenetic. We chase after things, it’s futile. He says literally, man works like the devil, and then he compares that to the work of God. He says the work of God is a lot like pregnancy, you’re making a human being. You’re doing quite possibly the most important work you’ll ever do, but you’re not really doing anything. You’re just getting out of bed, and walking around and eating. As a mom, having carried three children I can appreciate that metaphor. So this whole record is really wresting with the fact that a lot of times I feel like I’m working like the devil. ‘How on earth do I get to that place where His yoke is light, where He’s making my paths straight?’ So this record is looking at the flawed areas of my life where I’m really worrying a lot [and asking], am I seeking stuff on my own and how do I work with God, letting Him work through me?

    FC: And so the Empires are Sara’s empires?

    Sara: Yeah, Invisible Empires to me talks about what Eugene talks about, and what’s in 2 Corinthians: the unseen world – the work that God does – is eternal and real. The Kingdom that He’s building is real but invisible, and then here we are building what we think is real but it’s actually virtual. I look at technology a lot because I feel like it’s something we’ve got to stop and question, ya know? Right now it’s sort of running ahead unabated and I feel like we’ve got to look at it and say ‘Ok, I’ve gained all of these conveniences, but what did I lose?’ And that to me is all part of the same idea of man-made work. We literally worship the things that we’ve made with our own hands. That’s as old as mankind, that problem. I just want to ask the questions about the stuff that falls in with man-made struggle and that frenetic life.

    FC: So the cover kind of also tells that story, right?

    Sara: Well, you’ve got the dark city which might be like man-made cities and behind is this ethereal Kingdom of God. Again, the invisible things of God are more real than the visible things of earth. And then you see a sound wave and that’s actually me singing the words ‘invisible empires’ from the song “Obsolete.” So it’s sort of an embedded message inside the cover. When people get the actual record there are midi files which look like flowers. When you play the piano in a midi file, it looks like flowers with stems and those are also decorating the artwork throughout. So we kind of merged this idea of technology and the spiritual world. We were trying to capture all of those ideas.

    FC: You’ve talked about technology and how at times it could be a big hindrance to our lives, not necessarily a convenience. How does the Groves family ‘unplug’?

    Sara: I have a friend Miranda Harris who says ‘technology is a great servant and is a horrible master.’ I feel like my job as a parent is to get technology into that place where it is under our feet, not mastering us. My husband and I really struggled with watching TV too much and our kids basically had a video game addiction. So as a family, about 2 years ago we did a media fast for the entire summer. We thought, in Minnesota you gotta get outside in the summer! So it was really hard, but we drew a deep line in the sand. [We decided] for the next 3 months we’re going to abstain from everything; we did a whole media fast. And then we talked about what we would add back in.  It was really neat. The conversations were really healthy. I think having been detoxified, my kids were able to talk about it reasonably – in the past they couldn’t even talk about it, like it was their obsession. We were able to decide that 30 minutes a day with video games was enough for us and that we didn’t want to let the TV back in because it was definitely eating into all of these things we discovered. We still to this day don’t have cable, but we do have a physical TV that we watch a movie occasionally on, but those are some steps we’ve taken. Troy and I try to keep our online life really to our business or the music, connecting with fans and stuff.  I’m not on Facebook at all. As soon as Facebook came out it was a divine moment for me because I knew it would feed into all of my vices so it was something I wouldn’t be able to participate in.  I basically heard God say, other people get to do this but you don’t (laughs). So we do other stuff that will feed into our Facebook page, like I write a blog occasionally and Troy does Twitter a lot. I just really felt that it was going to keep me away from my family, from my kids and the people that I really want to be physically there for. So anyway, that might seem radical to some people and I’m not saying that this is in anyway a judgment or a law, but those are some of the parameters we’ve drawn.

    FC: So that’s how the Groves family operates…

    Sara: Yeah, that’s how we roll.

    FC: When you look at the overall record, you do talk about busyness, technology, all these sorts of outside influences coming into us – but there are a few other themes in the record as well. What else is there?

    Sara: In ‘Finite,’ the first line of the song says, I’m not every woman, it’s not all in me. I was sitting across the table from Jill Phillips and we were both feeling absolutely exhausted, pulled in a million different directions and she said the word ‘finite.’ I latched onto that and said ‘there’s a song in that word.’ So we sat for the next two hours and worked on that. In ‘Mystery,’ I talk about trying to bring God to earth somehow as if I could specifically do that. In ‘I Will Wait for You’ I say, I’m going to wait for You now more than ever. I can work like the devil, but that can’t really be my way, I have to wait for You. So it is my weariness at trying to do all of this work by myself and trying to make the Kingdom come. You’ve (FC) followed us as we were embarking with International Justice Mission, and we still work with IJM, (we have the song ‘Eyes on the Prize’ on this record that’s about their work). But I think I jumped in with two feet and started taking off, maybe getting a little ahead of God a little bit. And I had to realize and say, Ok, I can’t change the world, God will change things through me and He can change me. I have to wait on the Lord, and say I’m waiting for whatever You’ve got for me, and I don’t want to get ahead of You anymore. And then tying that in with the idea that I want to be about Your work, not my own work, not my own kingdom but Your empire. So that’s definitely, I would say, the river that runs through the whole record. Honestly, it’s a tired mom trying to figure it all out saying ‘I think You have more rest for me than this and I don’t think that all these things I feel obligated to are You. I think I’m obligating myself to things that aren’t necessarily God-centered.’ So how do I purge my life of all the distractions to really listen for the things that God wants me to do?

    FC: Through your art you’ve certainly opened up – whether it is marital issues, strengths, weaknesses, parenting, you’ve shared a lot that maybe other artists are uncomfortable doing. It has certainly made an impact on people. When you look at Invisible Empires, do you feel that you’re following along that same path, opening up that heart again to the public and saying ‘here we are, this is our life?’

    Sara: Yeah, ya know Fireflies and Songs was a very personal record and almost every song was me lying on the operating table. With this record I did pick up again kinda like with Tell Me What you Know and Add to the Beauty where I looked at some other things that were happening in the world. ‘Scientists in Japan’ is about bioethics (laughs), that’s not necessarily where you find me at home opening up own personal heart. So I did return to some other broader, cultural themes in this record, but there definitely are some. ‘Mystery’ would be a deeply personal song about my last couple years’ struggle with anxiety and walking through fears. I couldn’t feel God in the traditional ways I had felt Him. I’ve always had very emotional connection to God. So basically in dealing with the anxiety and panic attacks I was having I had to tell myself, my emotions are not my reality. The way I feel is not real right now! I feel like I’m going to die, and I’m actually not going to die, I’m going to be okay. But I had to deny my emotions. For a good year and a half I just rehearsed that. My emotions are tricking me, they’re not reliable. And so having had an emotional connectivity to God, it impacted the way I would feel when I would pray, everything, how I sensed God. But in the place of this emotional sort of thing I’ve always had of God, this other sense of His presence has come, that I’m really grateful for. I don’t think I would have gotten there without this whole experience, but He has been so faithful to me, and so present. Not in this emotional way where I’m “Oooh! I feel Him! I feel these emotional goosebumps!” It’s just been this solidness, I can’t even describe it. It’s literally just been a season of manna. So ‘Mystery’ is definitely a song where I’m confessing that I’ve just been working at this, trying to pull God down, I’m physically tired from trying to bring ‘Your kingdom come on earth’ And saying ‘I must not be doing it right because I need a rest. But You will meet me again. You will show up, it’s not about me, it’s about what you’re doing.’ ‘Miracle’ is a very personal song about marriage and relationships. Feeling things I can’t feel, saying things that are hard to say, not just in my marriage but in friendships. So yeah, I definitely have moments where I’m writing from that very deep personal place, and then I have other things where I’m revisiting things like I have in the past, cultural movements and events. Things that I feel like I want to ask a question about before we run full force ahead (laughs).

    FC: So yeah, tell us about ‘Scientists in Japan?’ Where’d that come from?

    Sara: Well, so in the very beginning of that chapter in Long Obedience… there’s a quote that Eugene Peterson pulls out from a French philosopher and says [something like] The marker of this day is that we set great machines in motion without any idea of where they are headed – I’m butchering thisbut he says, how tremendous the means with no concept of the end. We set machines in motion without any concept of where we’re headed. We just set things in motion, set things in motion. So I was at this think tank with Christian leaders and this bioethicist look the stage. He said literally there are only a handful of us who are Evangelical in the field of bioethics, and he had spent a year of his own time going around to all of the Christian colleges asking them, begging them to start carrying at least a minor in bioethics. There’s not a single Christian college, university of liberal arts or otherwise that is carrying a minor in bioethics. And the response was the same, well, students aren’t coming here for that, they go to the universities for that. Well exactly! We’re giving the entire field over, he said, we can’t talk about these things in churches. If I were to stand up on a Sunday morning and say “Scientists in Japan are building a robot to take your job,” I would be booed off the stage. So ya know, the little feisty part of me said, I’m gonna write a song, hopefully a whimsical one, that starts with that line (Laughs). It was compelling what he said, ‘you will face ethical challenges as you care for your aging parents, unless you think about it, you will be caught off guard.’ And that spoke to me. I will one day be caring for my aging parents, and I need to know what I think about life and death and all of the things between those.

    FC: So you and Troy are working alongside Charlie Peacock on an ‘Art House north’?

    Sara: We are. We are hoping to get an offer on our house this week. We’ve purchased a 100 year old church, and the Art House in Nashville is a 100 year old church, that is also the studio and home of Charlie and Andrea Peacock. So we asked him about four years ago, ‘would it be possible for us to partner with you in this way?’ and they were excited, so we’ve been looking for properties. The byline of the Art House is ‘creative community for the common good.’ So basically the goal in the simplest form is, artists often work in isolation but we want to give them a reason to gather whether formally or informally, and we believe that sparks will fly when they get connected. So we’re hoping that people will respond to the different artist forums and things that we hold at the Art House. I really believe something creative and new that our city has never seen will be born out of artists connecting with other artists. So that’s our dream. We’re going to live in the church, we’re building out a parsonage in the basement, and then the whole building will be used for hospitality and events. So that’s where we’re headed!

    FC: Ok, so last question. We know you started homeschooling this year. Can you briefly tell us about your experience? And are you homeschooling all three kids?

    Sara: I am sending Ruby to preschool, that gives me time with the boys that I need, they’re 5th and 3rd grade. [It was] a little bit out of necessity but it was also [a result of] a neat experience with a missionary family that put us squarely in the homeschooling camp this year. A friend of ours from IJM called and said my hero in the faith is coming to the United States and he wants to meet you. He’s a missionary in Burma doing incredible, incredible things. So we cleared our calendar and they came, and they were a team, Team Eubank. And in talking with Karen Eubank (the matriarch), I just caught a vision for us that I haven’t had before. We’ve always been Team Groves but we were doing a lot of things by putting the kids in school, a lot of gymnastics and things to keep them in the sort of ‘normalcy’ of public school, whatever that is, and we just all of a sudden felt really free and called to homeschool. We really call it ‘world school,’ we like the term. It’s been surprisingly joyful; I thought it would be more stressful than it’s been. I actually feel like we’ve simplified in a lot of ways, and the boys are thriving. And I’m having fun, the teacher in me is waking up and it’s really been joyful! That’s the only word I have for it. So I don’t know how long we’re going to do this, I don’t know what God has in mind for us, but it has been a huge blessing.

    FC: Ok, we said that was the last question, but one more. Candy corn or the fake pumpkin candy corn things?

    Sara: The real deal, that’s so funny. I just went on a trip where I wasn’t with my husband or my kids and I got a glimpse of myself without any checks and balances (laughs). I didn’t mean to do this, but I went to the grocery store and before I knew it, I had a bag of candy corn and like, all kinds of terrible snacks. So over the weekend I ate an entire bag of candy corn! If my kids were there, or if Troy was, I never would have done that… but I got a little freedom and I just went nuts and ate a whole bag of candy corn. So yeah it’s definitely a favorite (laughs).

    FC: Sara, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today. We love your music and message – and wish all the very best to you and your family.

    To learn more about the International Justice Mission or the Art House North that the Groves are busy creating, visit www.saragroves.com.

    Bonus video - Sara singing Eyes on the Prize

    Further insights into Invisible Empires

  • Blameless Behavior

    Posted on October 27, 2011 by Family Christian

    “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Psalm 119:1

     

    Christians aspire to a higher standard of behavior, as scripted in Holy Scripture. There is an eternal expectation woven into their earthly activities. It is not a cold and dry decision to live a lifeless life; on the contrary it is an adventurous commitment to Christ’s life transforming their life from the inside out. Blameless does not mean sinless, but it does mean heaven does not blush because of our behavior.

    Indeed, in our struggles people see us cling to Christ our Savior. It is a pattern of living that is quick to confess sin, and by God’s grace produces fruit that remains. Blameless behavior is accountable to clear and conservative boundaries around its blind spots of pride and self-destructive proclivities. There is a heightened awareness of the Almighty’s attributes of holiness and love. It is a relentless resolve to righteousness that leads to reward on earth and in heaven.

    “This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:9).

    Furthermore, the Lord promises to bless behavior that walks according to His law. Your obedience qualifies you for benefits that cannot be bought with money, or manufactured by man’s manipulation. Peace of mind is produced when your conscience is clear, and your commitments are complete. Joy runs deep in your soul when see Christ at the core of your child’s being, and in those whom you love most.

    You are humbled and blessed when you are given public trust to privately administer the truth, love, and wisdom of God. Your moral authority is a stewardship worthy of quiet and prayerful attention. Indeed, these liberal blessings of the Lord invite humility, gratitude and generosity. Invest His blessings in others, and experience the proliferation of pure and passionate living. Above all, blameless behavior begins and ends with walking according to the law of the Lord.

    “I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin” (2 Samuel 22:24).

    By God’s grace what standard of behavior do I aspire to? Which blind spot of mine needs focused accountability?

    Related Readings: Job 1:8; Psalm 37:18; Proverbs 2:7; 28:6; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 14:5

    Give the gift of wisdom and receive a gift of wisdom: Sign up five friends, click: http://bit.ly/q4217i for the free daily devotional. Then email rita@wisdomhunters.com to let her know and she will send you a link to download a complimentary copy of the new 90-day day devotional eBook Seeking God in the Psalms.

    Additional Resource: eBooks- Wisdom for Fathers, Wisdom For Mothers, Wisdom for Graduates, Infusion, Seeking Daily the Heart of God and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/jHlNX0  All titles also available from the iBook store for iPad?

    Additional Resource: Printed copy of the 365 day devotional: Seeking Daily the Heart of God and the 90-day devotional books Infusion and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Support Wisdom Hunters: Learn how you can help us reach other Wisdom Hunters with your monthly donation… click here: http://wisdomhunters.com/support-wh/

  • Culture of Faith

    Posted on October 26, 2011 by Family Christian

    Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

     

    Is there enough evidence in your home for you to be convicted of following Jesus Christ? This is a choice that God gives us, a choice to center our home around faith or a facade. What happens behind the doors of your home? Is your home an incubator for faith? Indeed, your ministry begins at home. When your faith works at home, you have the credibility to export it to other environments. It is your laboratory for living.

    This does not mean you are without problems, conflicts, and challenges at home. On the contrary, it is when your faith sustains you through family difficulties that it becomes a compelling reason for others to follow Christ. The question for the head of the home is, are you the spiritual leader? As a single parent or the father or mother in the home, do you model prayer and Bible study? Does the fruit of the Spirit flow from your character? Are you involved with a community of believers in a local church?

    Belief in God is a choice, so what are some wise choices you can make to build your household of faith? Begin by developing an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Once you are born again, you have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to grow in your faith. Learn the Bible, apply it to your life, and let God change you from the inside out.

    Next, challenge your family to do the same. Create a culture of prayer that becomes a catalyst for their time with Christ. Family devotions, small groups with other believers, and journaling are a few ways to feed the faith appetite of your loved ones. Take your family to church. This sets the stage for a week of faith and obedience.

    Perhaps you read a chapter in Proverbs over dinner. Pray with your spouse. Turn off the television one night a week for 30 minutes, then discuss God’s word or act out a Bible story in a play and then pray for one another. Teach your children to pray for the sick, the lost, and the hurting. Model for them the joy of generous giving and serving.

    Show them how to serve the homeless, orphans, and the elderly. Allow your kids to experience summer camps. This will galvanize their faith. It is a financial sacrifice but it is an investment that will keep throwing off dividends throughout their lives.

    Talk with your family about your own struggles and failures and God’s faithfulness to answer prayer and take care of you in spite of your mistakes. Your family needs to see you as much vulnerable as they do confident. Indeed, facilitating faith in your home is a daily choice; this is one reason Jesus prayed…

    “Give us each day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3).

    Am I a catalyst for Christ in my home? Do I serve the Lord with my family?

    Related Readings: Genesis 18:19; 2 Kings 23:24; John 4:53; Acts 18:18

    Give the gift of wisdom and receive a gift of wisdom: Sign up five friends, click: http://bit.ly/q4217i for the free daily devotional. Then email rita@wisdomhunters.com to let her know and she will send you a link to download a complimentary copy of the new 90-day day devotional eBook Seeking God in the Psalms.

    Additional Resource: eBooks- Wisdom for Fathers, Wisdom For Mothers, Wisdom for Graduates, Infusion, Seeking Daily the Heart of God and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/jHlNX0  All titles also available from the iBook store for iPad?

    Additional Resource: Printed copy of the 365 day devotional: Seeking Daily the Heart of God and the 90-day devotional books Infusion and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Support Wisdom Hunters: Learn how you can help us reach other Wisdom Hunters with your monthly donation… click here: http://wisdomhunters.com/support-wh/

  • Respect Him

    Posted on October 25, 2011 by Family Christian

    “The wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33b

     

    Respect for a husband is like love is for a wife. It is a catalyst for his confidence and encouragement that he can fulfill his role as provider and leader. Most men question their ability to be everything they need to be for their family. But insecurities become insignificant in a home where a husband feels respect. A wife’s support energizes her man like jet fuel to a booster rocket.

    Husbands need the respect and support of their wives. It of course works both ways, as the wife needs to feel the support of her husband. But, respect is huge for a man. A God-fearing husband knows the Lord has placed him in a position of leadership. It is overwhelming sometimes, feeling squeezed by the pressures of life. The last thing a husband needs to feel is distance or distrust from his wife. Her spousal support may be the only thing that is preventing him from giving up.

    “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect” (1 Timothy 3:4).

    Wives: Do not underestimate how your support sustains your husband. Your affirmation is valuable and powerful for the ongoing success of your husband. Men are not as self-sufficient as they might seem. On the outside we may seem invincible, but on the inside we are needy and desperate for recognition and validation. A man needs to know his wife trusts his decision making and his ability to provide for his family.

    Your confidence in him propels his confidence in himself to higher levels. Your belief in your husband builds him up to believe in himself. It is difficult for a man to rise any higher than the opinion of his helpmate. Men long to be built up by their brides. Brag on him in public and affirm him in private. Look to your husband as the leader God has placed in your life.

    Pray for him to lead lovingly and wisely. Be patient and don’t usurp his authority when things are not getting done. Trust him to God, for He can handle him much better than your creative consequences. Give him over to God and trust in the accountability of the Almighty. Embrace your husband in the light of eternity. God wants him to grow up and give spiritual leadership. Let him lead—even when it means he fails. Your respect can grow the heart of your husband to love well.

    “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7).

    How can I respect my husband in a way that encourages him and also honors the Lord?

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 1:15; Proverbs 31:23; Luke 11:43; 1 Timothy 3:2-4

    Give the gift of wisdom and receive a gift of wisdom: Sign up five friends, click: http://bit.ly/q4217i for the free daily devotional. Then email rita@wisdomhunters.com to let her know and she will send you a link to download a complimentary copy of the new 90-day day devotional eBook Seeking God in the Psalms.

    Additional Resource: eBooks- Wisdom for Fathers, Wisdom For Mothers, Wisdom for Graduates, Infusion, Seeking Daily the Heart of God and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/jHlNX0  All titles also available from the iBook store for iPad?

    Additional Resource: Printed copy of the 365 day devotional: Seeking Daily the Heart of God and the 90-day devotional books Infusion and Seeking God in the Psalms… click here: http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Support Wisdom Hunters: Learn how you can help us reach other Wisdom Hunters with your monthly donation… click here: http://wisdomhunters.com/support-wh/

Items 1 to 10 of 17 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2

WHAT WE'RE ABOUT

“to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” James 1:27 NIV

Our heartbeat is to help orphans and widows in need, as our Father calls us to do.
And with every purchase you make, you’re making an amazing difference in their lives.

Loading... Loading...