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Monthly Archives: April 2012

  • Taking the Road Less Traveled

    Posted on April 13, 2012 by John van der Veen

    If the mark of authentic faith is being a light in the darkness, filmmakers Will Bakke, Michael Allen and Alex Carroll have flipped on a searchlight. When these twenty-something friends decided that what they “knew” about Jesus just wasn’t enough anymore, they set out to find answers to some tough questions, documenting the journey as they went. We caught up with Beware of Christians director Will Bakke to discuss their two illuminating films, how Riot Studios came to be, and what he believes is the hope for America…

    Family Christian: To start us out, could you give us a brief synopsis about (your production company) Riot Studios?

    Will Bakke: We actually formed Riot Studios shortly after completion of our film Beware of Christians. Once we finished the film we didn’t really know where it was going to take us – we [had actually] made it just for our friends and families, the community we’d grown up in and the colleges we were at, not having [realized] that there was such a unique voice in the movie – something that we were kind of gaining ground with. So we decided to start a production company called Riot Studios to basically funnel all of our projects through and to have a brand name behind it all. Riot was kinda the brainchild of Alex Carroll, Michael Allen and myself. We really wanted to create a platform where all different types of media could be showcased and people could see what Jesus was doing in our hearts; what He was bringing out of that passion for Him, whether it be in film making or music or whatever it was that we were doing. That all kind of came out of our relationship with Christ.

    Beware of Christians trailer:

    FC: That’s fantastic. So now, what led to your decision to make this film?

    Will: It all started the summer before that actually with our first film that we made called One Nation Under God. So [that movie] was really the launch point for us to realize, “hey, OK, Will has the skill set to actually be able to make a film” and “I think we have an interesting enough topic to discuss” and really, we’d never seen a film like the one we wanted to make. We’d never seen a movie that didn’t try to paint the way life should be but rather painted life the way that it is. And so that’s kind of what we wanted to do, just put all of these topics that we struggled with in college and [in] following Christ out on the table and say, “what can we learn? How can we get past our own justifications to the way we want to live, and really look at Biblically how Jesus is calling us to live?”

    FC: So how did you decide to take this journey in Europe?

    Will: It all kind of came about when we were first talking about doing this movie (I forget which one of us said), “ya know, it’s hard to solve a problem when you’re sitting right in the middle of it.” And so that was kind of the idea: getting out of our comfort zone, getting out of our Christian routines, taking a step outside of that in order to look back and really see it from a new perspective. The movie was about the study of Christian habit and the way that we might have been saying one thing and then acting out a way that was completely contrary to the Gospel we were claiming. So Europe just happened to be our choice because (as the director) there was that journey aspect – we were going to be traveling from country to country. It really could have been anywhere in the world but Europe stuck out to us because they have a great train system. It’s very accessible to get through multiple countries, and that’s something that we wanted for the film, to experience a lot of different cultures and different perspectives. So Europe was the obvious choice in that sense.

    FC: Some would say that the sort of post-modern Christian culture in Europe is kind of the parent of Christian culture in the U.S. As followers of Jesus, how did you adjust to the differences in the way they approach or live out faith?

    Will: I think the word that sticks out to me (to be very honest) is refreshing. I had grown up in a Christian culture where everyone tends to stay comfortable on the surface-level of conversation when it comes to Jesus. No one likes to have the tough issues put in their face for them to deal with. So going to Europe, I mean, it’s like you said – it’s very post-Christian. People are much more willing to tell you flat-out that you’re an idiot for believing in Jesus if that’s what they believe. So we didn’t have try so hard to get past the layers down to what someone believed, they were very up-front about it from the beginning. Yeah, it’s scary how many people are not following Christ over there – a lot of them do not believe Jesus. But at the same time, the people we met who were claiming to follow Christ, you could see it in all parts of their lives because there was nothing in it for them to say that unless they truly meant it. So it’s scary at one point and then at the other it’s just very refreshing to see people be very honest about what they believe. I think it’s just easy for us in America to say one thing and maybe convince ourselves that that’s enough and totally live the opposite of the Gospel that we’re claiming. Then at the end of our lives we die and then, ya know, we never really got it. We’ve got this empty shell of a faith that doesn’t really cut it… isn’t very substantial.

    FC: In the trailer for Beware of Christians there is a phrase that flashes across the screen that says “we are churched out.” What did you mean with that statement?

    Will: I think church for us at that point in our lives had become almost another source of entertainment, or just an event. And I think especially in this culture with so many amazing speakers and authors, it’s like we go in order to be entertained or just to be fed information. For a lot of us, it all [just] stays up in our heads. We can think one thing, but the biggest problem in America is that we aren’t doing anything about it. We’re simply going to hear a nice sermon, agree with it, maybe feel some sort of conviction that day but we don’t ever put it into practice. So when we made this movie that’s how we felt, like we were being poured into mentally and had all these great questions, but our lives and our actions didn’t reflect that. And so I think that was the moment that we said we need to do something about that, we don’t want to just hear about Jesus but let it have zero effect on the way that we live out our lives.

    FC: As a result of making this film you guys are now traveling around the U.S. to churches and universities playing this documentary for people. How are they responding to it?

    Will: I think one of the coolest quotes is by a writer/activist named Ann Lamont who said “the most powerful sermon in the world is two words: me too.” And what’s cool about that is I feel like we share this movie with a lot of people who have never heard about it, what it’s about. They come in, they watch the film and it’s almost like this deep-exhale-breath-of-fresh-air at the very end where a lot of times they say, thank you so much, you put on film what I feel like I’ve been thinking for such a long time – as if it was frowned upon to ask these tough questions and to admit that we don’t have all the answers. And so with college students especially, we meet others just like us who were raised with the answers without ever really asking the questions themselves. So what’s cool is we begin a discussion with them to say, these are the most important questions you’ll ask yourself in your lifetime. We should be willing to seek after those answers and be willing to figure out what we truly believe about Jesus. So I think the words real, raw and refreshing all come to mind because they’re just seeing honesty and truth in a way that hasn’t been presented before. It’s somewhat because of the unique medium. Ya know, documentaries tend to not do so well at the box office or on DVD, but I feel like because the subject matter is so crucial, so serious, [and it’s] taken in sort of a light-hearted comedic way, I think people just love grabbing on to that because they realize that it is a discussion. It is tough, but there’s so much grace that’s extended when you’re willing to ask those questions. So the response has been overwhelming and incredible.

    FC: When you guys are at a secular college or university, what would you say is the percentage of believers versus unbelievers in the audience?

    Will: I would say probably somewhere around 75-85% are believers. I mean, obviously I can’t have any idea, but just from the amount of conversations that I’ve been able to have it seems about like that. I think most Christians are drawn to [the film] because of the subject matter whereas maybe a lot of non-Christians may be drawn to it by the title alone (laughs) or by the discussion they see coming afterward. We have plenty of atheist groups that come out to our screenings who want to debate with us and it’s actually kind of fun because I think they all have this perception of what we’re going to be like, then they see the movie and realize that we’re probably not the people they’re most mad at. We’re just willing to have a conversation; we don’t want to have an argument. We refuse to be enemies with anybody. Our calling is just to love other people and I think they see that through this film. That’s our agenda. Not to win an argument or force any sort of doctrine down anyone’s throats. We’re just simply here to talk about Jesus.

    FC: So as Riot Studios, what is your end goal? What do you hope to accomplish through this?

    Will: I think for us we want to begin the discussion and the thought-process that maybe the way Jesus called us to live our lives does not look like the American Christianity that we’ve been raised to know and maybe even love. I think that’s the biggest point that we can get out there, that Jesus calls us to something that’s so much bigger and so much better. And to be willing to ask those questions. I think that would probably be the second thing we would say is that we really, really just encourage kids to ask the tough questions and make those decisions for themselves. Don’t let this faith be your mom’s or your dad’s or pastor’s or anybody else’s other than your own because it’s just not going to mean as much (if anything at all) if you’re just believing it for any other reason than to truly yearn for that.

    FC: Will, do you personally think that the church here in the West is in trouble?

    Will: (sigh) Man that’s a good question. I… I think if I were to look at the trends of what has happened in Europe and then what happens in the United States… Well, I’ll say this, because the United States has seemed to take a similar path to Europe we’re just some years behind it, decades behind it, I’d say based on the evidence, yes – we’re in trouble. But I think especially from this generation with the amount of communication and connectivity there’s a different path that America’s churches are going to take. I think the word is going to get out fast enough that says, hey we’re not about a religion, we’re simply not about routine, we’re about a relationship with Jesus – and that’s what is going to turn the tide. I think in Europe it became so much about religion and routines that when life didn’t work out at times people were just giving up on religion because it didn’t follow through on what it promised – happiness or security or comfort or whatever. I think this generation and churches today, especially in America, are starting to learn how to push that it’s about Jesus and not about our own level of comfort. I hope that’s not too vague of an answer, but it’s a tough question so… (laughs).

    FC: That’s what we’re here to do Will, make you cry and sweat. Kidding. So based on that (and maybe this question will help you summarize your last thought), in your estimation, what is the hope for our churches in the West?

    Will: The hope is Jesus. In summing up that last question I’m not as worried about it because I believe that based on this generation and the new level of communication and connectivity, I think there’s so much hope – the name of Jesus and the grace of Jesus is spreading at a much faster rate than in generations before…

    FC: That’s a great answer – actually both of them. So we’d like to talk a little about your other film, One Nation Under God. But let’s back up a second, just for reference, when did you create these films?

    Will: We shot One Nation Under God in the summer of 2008 and premiered it just in Texas (just a couple showings) in the spring of 2009. And then we immediately left to film Beware of Christians in the summer of 2009 and premiered/released it in 2010.

    FC: OK that helps. So, One Nation Under God sounds like it could be a political film. Is it?

    Will: I don’t think it’s a political film. The idea was to say we’re one nation under God, but which “god” are we talking about here? Let’s go see what other people believe, and see which god they would say it was. In that film, four of us (Michael Allen and myself from Beware of Christians are in it and actually two other buddies of ours) road trip around the United States in order to ask people just two basic questions: “What do you think happens when you die?” And, “who do you think Jesus Christ was?” And so those questions ultimately lead to more questions… but a lot of it was about trying to figure out what do people believe in, (because everyone puts their faith in something) and that’s what we really wanted to get to. Is it the Christian God that we’ve been told is the God of America? And so the movie is pretty funny (laughs), we’re obviously more immature at this point (I think only 20 at the time we made this movie) and we end up crashing on peoples’ couches all over the country, which is amazing because it lends us to staying with Mormons, with Muslims, atheists, some hippies out in Portland, plenty of different religions and plenty of different people that put their faith in something other than what we have put our faith in. And so it debunks some stereotypes and gets the conversation rolling about why we believe the things we believe.

    FC: So who is the god of the United States, or do we need to watch the film to find out?

    Will: (laughs) I think by the end of the film you begin to realize the importance of asking the questions. Because as you see the movie go on, there are plenty of people that say that they believe in Jesus and then when we ask “how do you get to Heaven?” they say “I don’t really know, just be a good person and you get there.” So the movie kind of turns into this open discussion about the importance of asking those tough questions. If I had to answer your question about the god of America, I honestly couldn’t tell you (laugh). The interesting thing about the movie is, there wasn’t one person that we interviewed around the United States that didn’t know who Jesus claimed to have been – which is pretty cool. The bummer part about that is when asked how we get to Heaven, about 95% of those people said “just be a good person.” So there’s this disconnect about what people claim to believe, and then at the core what they actually believe and live out. So, not sure who the “god” is actually.

    FC: OK, three part question: In either one of these adventures, did you ever feel like you were in a risky situation – physically, spiritually or potentially embarrassing?

    Will: Wow, great question. OK, physical harm – ya know, we were driving my buddy’s Tahoe across the country and crossed 100,000 miles in it (laughs), so there was always an element of harm to our safety. Also, we used this website to basically find the place we were going to stay at every night. Real quick story, the first night we ended up staying with a stranger – this guy out of Huntington Beach who was Mormon. He gave us surfboards to go surfing that day, bought us pizza that night and that whole experience was amazing. The next night in Long Beach (and this is all in the movie) we ended up finding this lady who let us stay at her house. Turns out she was a sadomasochist and also a lesbian, so when we got into her house there was pornography all over the walls and it was like all this inappropriate stuff that freaked us out – so we really did fear for our safety at that point, what we just walked into. So that is probably the only moment we feared for our physical safety.

    Spiritually, I think for me the night that sticks out (and it might be different for the guys) was this one night in North Carolina were we stayed with a family that was Muslim. When we got there (this is in the film as well), they ended up cooking us dinner and then we sat around their living room for about 4-5 hours just talking about the differences of what they believed and the Christian faith. At this point all I really knew about Jesus was what was told me growing up in the church so I had all these “ready-to-fire answers to some of life’s tough questions” but when I was actually put on the spot about how I knew they were true, I really didn’t have a response for them. It was great because they just totally debunked what the Muslims believe and what they stand for. At that point in my life (laughs sheepishly) the only exposure I had to them were the events of 9/11. So [in the film you see] their compassion as they walk us through what their beliefs are, just so kind and hospitable that I couldn’t help but honestly be shaken a little bit in what I believed. They seemed to have so much more knowledge about what they believed and seemed to have asked those tough questions for themselves, whereas I was at a point in my life where I hadn’t. So that was a moment for me. I don’t think that it really shook my faith enough to be able to leave God, but it definitely encouraged me to ask those tough questions for myself and really take my faith more seriously.

    So embarrassing moment… I guess that it was that same time. When they asked me why I believed Jesus did all those things He said He did and I didn’t have any evidence for them other than the Bible – that was somewhat embarrassing – because I hadn’t really studied Scripture or what other religions even believed.

    FC: Will, we really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us… one last question for you… How much coffee did it take for you to pull these adventures off? Didn’t you have a train ride in the movie that was like 17 days or something…?

    Will: Oh, well none of us were really obsessed with coffee at that point but we really did consider calling up Red Bull to tell them how thankful we were that they existed. We’re the biggest Red Bull supporters solely because they got us through Europe (laughs). Even in the studio footage in Beware of Christians, when we’re sitting there with coffee mugs I’m pretty sure we’re drinking either Red Bull or Dr. Pepper, just to keep ourselves awake.

    FC: Will, thank you again for your time, we really appreciate it a lot. We’re looking forward to seeing how Beware of Christians continues to do at Family Christian and obviously One Nation Under God as well.

    Will: Thank you so much, we love you guys, what you’re doing. Anytime we can connect we really do appreciate it - it means a lot to us.

    You can check out the team’s films here and here.


    This post was posted in Movies, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Beware of Christians, Will Bakke, Movies

  • Gift of Wisdom

    Posted on April 13, 2012 by Family Christian

     

    Dear Fellow Wisdom Hunter,

    We are extremely grateful to God for your faithful readership of the daily devotional, your prayers, and your financial support. Wisdom Hunters is a non-profit, Christ-centered, 501 c 3 ministry, blessed with a prayerful Board of Directors, who steward well this—the Lord’s work. After much prayer and planning with our 19-member Advisory Board, we believe the Lord is leading us in the following ways in 2012 and beyond:

    Vision
    Connect people to Christ through God’s Word.

    Mission
    Applying unchanging truth to a changing world.

    Goal
    By the end of 2012 trusting God for 200,000 daily devotional readers (currently-75,547) globally and in the U.S.

    Testimony (click here for more: http://bit.ly/ggJzWk)
    Thank you for writing this wonderful inspiration. I don’t know how I ever lived one day without reading this. This is changing my thought process and I just love reading it daily. Drawing me closer to the One and Only Jesus. Thank you again for sharing, Memory… “He Cares” devo- http://bit.ly/AuTq6j

    Needs for 2012

    By God’s Grace Wisdom Hunters 2012 Objectives
    • Increase countries that read the daily email devotional from 73 to 125
    • Continue to reduce costs per reader to just over $1.00 per reader.
    • Chinese and Spanish translations of the daily email devotional posted on web site
    • Write and publish eBooks Wisdom for Life, Wisdom for Marriage, Wisdom for Work
    • Write and publish 90-day devotional book Seeking God in the Proverbs
    • Write and publish 365-day devotional book Seeking Daily the Heart of God, vol. 2
    • Begin “Wisdom Minute” radio spots and video blogs
    • Update the Wisdom Hunters web site for an ease of searching by topics and Scripture
    • Create and distribute Wisdom Hunters app for iPhone, iPad and Android
    • Increase eBook and book sales to 25,000 units

    Total financial costs for 2012- $225,000 / given year-to-date: $65,846

    Prayer
    If you have been a regular reader for six months or longer, please prayerfully join us in how the Lord might lead you to participate financially. If you are being blessed by the daily writings and could help us reach others for Jesus Christ then you can give online (monthly’s help most, start at $2) by clicking http://bit.ly/fPxiWr or mail your check to:

    Wisdom Hunters
    PO Box 800062
    Roswell, GA 30075

    Thanks so much for your prayerful consideration.

    In Christ,

    Boyd Bailey
    President, Wisdom Hunters

    “I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ” (Philemon 1:6).


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Never Leaves You

    Posted on April 12, 2012 by Family Christian

    “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

     

    God the Father never lets go of His child—God the Son saves a lost soul once and for all—God the Spirit seals a believer with eternal security. There is a completeness that accompanies faith in Christ. He is stable in the middle of instability. He is a rock in the center of swirling circumstances. He is a light that disturbs the darkest darkness. The Lord does not let go of what’s His. Yes, once a child of God, always a child of God!

    But we may ask, “What about past indiscretions that brought shame and embarrassment?” “Can’t foolish living disqualify me from being a Christian?” Eternal salvation and acceptance is not based on our fickle behavior, but on Christ’s unchanging character. We can stray, but He is there. We can doubt, but He is there. We can mess up, but He is there. The Lord is always there to lift us up, give us hope, offer us wisdom and fully restore us.

    “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

    Fulfillment, contentment, and rest do not come from striving to gain God’s acceptance or somehow earn His good graces—peace of mind and a courageous heart come from accepting the fact that you are already accepted by His beloved son Jesus. The idol of money is cruel and causes consternation when your net worth becomes the measure of your worth. Lasting security comes from abiding in the faith fortress of your Savior Jesus.

    Fear takes a back seat when your faith in Christ travels in the front seat of your life. Like an impatient and immature child yells from the back of the car, “How long before we get there”, so fear screams doubts and worries about the Lord’s timing in your transition. But by faith, you dismiss those distracting voices and you look forward, as the co-pilot with Christ. Jesus already has the wheel of your life, so you can confidently trust His will. You have no fear, because He is already here to steer you clear of confusion. He never leaves you!

    “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

    Prayer: Lord, thank you for your all-consuming presence, teach me to abide in You.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 31:8; Matthew 28:19-20; John 10:28-30; 1 John 5:11-15

    Post/Tweet this today: Fear takes a back seat when your faith in Christ travels in the front seat of your life. #fear #faith


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • We Not Me

    Posted on April 11, 2012 by Family Christian

    “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27

     

    There is a larger context to life than just living for self. A self-focused life is chronically frustrated and is unable to reach its full potential. Its demanding demur marginalizes wise counsel and only attracts insecure individuals. However, those who pray for what’s best for the whole, become whole. Everyone is honored in an environment where individual contributions are valued. “We not me” is the vocabulary of those who honor each other. 

    Every disciple is stronger when they are connected to other Christ followers. Isolation contributes to spiritual impotence, but community gives spiritual life. Encouragement and accountability are exalted in relationships that serve what’s best for the group. A leader who serves the team, sees other team members serve well. A man who serves his family, experiences a family that serves each other. “We overcomes me” with unselfish service.

    “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

    Our spiritual birth engrafted us as a member of Christ’s body. We cannot detach an appendage of the Lord’s, anymore than a member of our physical body can be disassociated from the other body parts. So, we pray for those around us who know Christ and we get to know each other. Oh the joy of being known and knowing others who love Him! Life that is truly life is lived in the margins with those submitted to our Savior Jesus.

    Are you motivated first by “He”, second by “we” and lastly by “me”? If so, you are set up for relational fulfillment. The sequence for successful thinking is Him, them and you. “Me” will try to squeeze in and monopolize relationships, cannibalize conversations and hijack heaven’s agenda. Thus, by God’s grace, put to death the “me monster” and replace it with love for the Lord and people. “We not me” is the motto of mature Jesus followers.

    “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

    Prayer: Lord, whose needs can I put ahead of mine through my prayers and service?

    Related Readings: Romans 12:10-16; 14:13; 15:7; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Galatians 5:13

    Post/Tweet this today: Isolation contributes to spiritual impotence, but community gives spiritual life. #community #spiritual life


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Deadly Adultery

    Posted on April 10, 2012 by Family Christian

    “Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” Proverbs 5:5

     

    Adultery is deadly, because it kills relationships and destroys reputations. Children of a parent caught in adultery become confused, dismayed and angry. A child is innocent of a parent’s infidelity, but they still suffer the consequences of ongoing conflict, pain, and resentment. Without trust in the Lord, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit’s healing and forgiveness, suffering children are set on a similar path of destruction.

    Indeed, the ripple affect of adultery’s actions can be felt for generations, so run from this raw deal. It is not worth breaking the heart of God, and breaking the hearts of those who love you the most. Do not allow instant gratification to numb you from the devastating affect of selfish whims. What’s done in the darkness will come to light, and it is as detrimental as the insidious work of termites, causing integrity’s foundation to crumble.

    “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts” (I Corinthians 4:5) Therefore, stay faithful to your bride or groom, and you will reap the rewards of relational life, and respect from your children.

    How can you be on guard against adultery’s allure? One way is to avoid websites that offer virtual temptation. We mock God when we pray, ‘lead me not into temptation’ (Matthew 6:13), and then expose ourselves to escapades that lead to adultery. So, ask for accountability, and install software that blocks bad sites. Secondly, save emotional intimacy and alone time for your spouse only. Heart connection need only occur between a husband and a wife. Friendly flirtation is the first step into adultery’s intoxicating control, so inoculate your life from adultery’s infection with a healthy marriage.

    Husbands and wives who have emotional and physical fulfillment at home, are not easily led astray. Moreover, make loving the Lord and obeying His commands your compelling commitment, because God’s discipline is sure for those who select the sinful action of adultery. Yes, He forgives, but He also disciplines those He loves. Therefore, remain on the high road of faith and fidelity. Avoid the death of adultery with a life giving marriage.

    “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4

    Prayer: Whom can I ask for accountability, specifically regarding wisdom of my time and freedom?

    Related Readings: Genesis 39: 7-9; Judges 16:5-15; Matthew 5:27-30; I Tim. 1:9-11

    Post/Tweet this today: Relationally, remain on the high road of faith and fidelity. #faith #fidelity


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Strength and Peace

    Posted on April 9, 2012 by Family Christian

    “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

     

    God gives strength and peace to those surrendered to Him. The benefits of being a dedicated believer in Jesus Christ include heaven’s infinite resources. Sin sucks life from the soul and replaces it with fear, while faith compounds calm and offers energy. Man’s methods may manipulate a false feeling of security, but God gives eternal security. Strength in the Lord replaces worry with hope—it’s what gets us through demanding days.

    How can we access Christ’s calm and mighty power? What is the wisest route to experience the Almighty’s assets on an ongoing process?  When we daily die to self and come alive to Christ we position ourselves to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. So, strength and peace come from giving in to God, not giving up on God. As we surrender to our Savior Jesus, we win—indeed it's where we confess our weaknesses that we become strong.

    "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief." 1 Timothy 1:12-13

    For example, unresolved anger loses its control when you admit its influence and exile its occupation of your heart. Shame from past experiences dissolves in the face of your heavenly Father's love and forgiveness. You are freed up to flourish in faithful living when you embrace God's ownership of your life. The Lord provides for His own. He stewards well His servants. Because God possesses you, He gives you exactly what you need.

    Your ongoing strength and peace is a by-product of  belonging to Christ. Resilience grows as your mind marinates on your Master Jesus' principles for living. Resolve is a rock of refuge when heaven is your hope. Peace is a significant allocation in your portfolio of faith that is generously given by your heavenly Father. Thus, thank Him for His help. And prayerfully look around you for others you can help find strength and peace in God.

    “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” I Samuel 23:16

    Prayer: Lord I surrender to your ownership of my life, I trust you for strength and peace.

    Related Readings: 2 Samuel 22:30; 1 Chronicles 12:18; Luke 7:16; Hebrews 6:10

    Post/Tweet this today: Strength comes from giving in to God, not giving up on God. #strength #surrender


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Alive and Well

    Posted on April 8, 2012 by Family Christian

    “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen”. Mark 16:14

     

    Jesus Christ is alive and well. His earlier followers, taken aback by His death, initially denied His resurrection. They rejected reliable testimonies and refused to receive the truth of Christ’s rising from the dead. However, when they encountered the risen Lord He rebuked them and then loved them. Unbelievers can loathe the Lord. Deists can deny Christ’s deity. Agnostics can be apathetic over His resurrection, but He is alive and well.

    Contemporary Christ-less cultures could care less about Christ’s resurrection, but it does not lessen His Lordship over them. Everyone will one day confront Christ, “…at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11a). Easter is an excuse for Jesus followers to celebrate His resurrection, and His relevance.

    The Lord is alive and well in your heart. His resurrection resulted in Christ taking up residence in your soul and transforming your life. By faith you believed and God gave you grace upon grace. Because He has risen from the grave, He has given all who confess Him as Lord, abundant grace on earth and the promise of heaven with Him. “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” Romans 5:7. He is all you need.

    Lastly you can live large for the Lord, because He has triumphed over sin, sorrow, death, and hell. Easter is your eternal encouragement that He is alive and well. There will always be doubters, but don’t dwell there. Focus on the undeniable force of faith that has captured you and millions before you. Because He has risen, you can rise above your circumstances, your hurt, and your fears.

    “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

    Am I a disciple that ignores His power, or one that proclaims His power?

    Related Readings: Numbers 14:11; Matthew 28:17; Acts 10:41; 1 Corinthians 15:1-58

    Post/Tweet this today: Christ’s resurrection resulted in Him taking up residence in your soul. #resurrection #soul


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • He Is Alive

    Posted on April 7, 2012 by Family Christian

    "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' ". Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:5b-8.

     

    He's alive and I'm forgiven and my soul has been set free. He's alive and I'm forgiven and my joy I can't contain. He's alive and I'm forgiven and my faith is here to stay He's alive and I'm forgiven and my love flows deep and wide. He’s alive and I’m forgiven, because He did what He promised, He arose after three days. He's alive! He's alive! He's alive!

    What emotions did the friends and disciples of Jesus feel when they realized He was real? Certainly they were surprised by the joy of knowing Jesus was back, even more larger than life. Even though they had watched Him raise Lazarus after three days of death, their faith had forgotten. But now they were glad again, because God raised up His son to life.

    If you look for Jesus among the dead you will not find Him. He has left the cold cemetery and risen to be with the warm love of His Father. Dead churches cannot claim the calming presence of Christ, because they have forsaken the faith required to recognize Him. Look for the Lord among the living, those who live out their faith with bold grace.

    Remember the words of Jesus and your faith will resound with reassurance. “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18). You serve a risen Savior who lives in your life by faith. Take Him at His word, and joy will fill your innermost being as you celebrate His appearing almost 2,000 years later. Enjoy Jesus, and anticipate your Lord’s second return.

    “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).

    How can I reassure my faith with the reality of a risen Savior? Where are the places I can find Christ among the living? What words of Jesus do I need to constantly remember?

    Related Readings: Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Peter 3:18

    Post/Tweet this today: He's alive, I'm forgiven and my soul has been set free. #cross #resurrection


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Deaths Fruit

    Posted on April 6, 2012 by Family Christian

    “And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”   John 12:23-24 (NASB)

     

    There must be a death before there can be fruit. A seed is buried in the ground before it returns to life and bears fruit. This is why Jesus Christ is still fruitful after nearly 2,000 years. His death was meant to bear fruit, and it has. The fruit of His life-change is represented in billions of lives that have been altered for eternity. Transformation took place because of death, for it is the soil for life.

    The death of Jesus Christ advanced God’s plan. No one close to Jesus wanted Him to leave. How could anything come from losing the One who had given life, healed the sick, and taught with riveting truth? It didn’t make sense that He had to die. He was just getting started. Why put the brakes on the momentum that was occurring in that part of the world? Yet still today, there are those who mock the death of Jesus and say that He was just another prophet martyred for His faith. However, death was God’s plan to give life.
       
    But Jesus was much, much more than just a martyr. He was the Son of Man, but He was also the Son of God, who died as the payment for all past, present, and future sins of mankind. This is where the fruit of faith begins. When you believe that the death of Jesus was predestined by God as a good thing, then you have a foundation for fruit-bearing. Yes, all things do work together for good (Romans 8:28).

    The cross of Christ is one of God’s good things, so make sure you thank Him for the sacrifice of His only Son. He gave life so we could receive life. When you believe in His death for your sins, you receive His life. Christ in you has put to death your old life, so now that you have been crucified with Him, you are positioned to bear much fruit.
       
    This is why you die daily. You die to yourself so you and others can live for God. Fruit results when you deny yourself and remain in Him. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4). What is something to which you have not died that may be holding back your fruitful living?

    If you do not die, you remain alone. To not die to self and sin is to separate yourself from fruit, friends, and faith. But you do not have to remain alone. On the contrary, daily death by faith frees you to experience fruitful living. The fruit of your other-centered living becomes abundant and ubiquitous. You pollinate other lives that, in turn, bear fruit. However, death is not always easy. The road to crucifixion with Christ may be wrought with criticism from those who think you are too religious or a little weird.

    However, the fruit from your life will speak for itself. Your children’s love for God will resonate for eternity. Your generosity will silence even the most outspoken critics. Your teaching will transform lives in the here and now. Fruit is God’s eternal evidence that motivates you to remain faithful with Christ. Therefore, stay dead to yourself, and watch Him live through fruit-bearing.  Death’s fruit is rooted in the cross.

    Taken from April 18th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Post/Tweet this today: Jesus gave His life, so we could receive His life. #cross #life


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

  • Wise Hire

    Posted on April 5, 2012 by Family Christian

    “Like an archer who wounds at random is he who hires a fool or any passer-by.” Proverbs 26:10

     

    It is hard to hire just the right person, for the right role, at the right time. Most of the time it is better to leave a position vacant than to fill it prematurely with the wrong person. Your hiring process needs to be rigorous, so the probability of success is high. For example, be extremely cautious in hiring someone just because you are comfortable with them; or they are a friend. Relationships are at risk when work is in the mix.

    Familiarity can push against accountability, and, if necessary, the ability to fire a friend. So take your time to hire someone. Engage them only after prayerful, thorough due diligence, and team consent. Otherwise the opportunity for foolish behavior and wounded relationships increases. Staff suffers under the chronic failures of fools who flail away in unfocused activity.

    “Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.” Deuteronomy 24:14

    This is why time, talent and testing are necessary to determine if there is alignment between the prospective employee and the organization. Temperament, skills, and emotional intelligence assessment are objective tools that give a three-dimensional perspective of the prospective team member. Someone may be a genius with spreadsheets and numbers, but lacks the emotional maturity to handle conflict, and/or the ability to communicate well.

    Training can shore up some skills, and experience can educate, but raw talent and integrity is necessary for outstanding outcomes. Make sure you hire for results, but results that rise from the right reasons. Wise hires come with time, and have the character and track record of success to exceed employer expectations. Pray for people who will make their peers more productive, and who will elevate excellence within the enterprise. Pray for God’s hand in your hiring, and validate your intuition with a proven process of checks and balances.

    “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.” Proverbs 20:18

    Prayer: What role do I need to fill next, and who can help me define the best hiring process?

    Related Readings: Exodus 18:13-27, Matthew 20:1-16; Luke 15:15-17

    Post/Tweet this today: Relationships are at risk when work is in the mix. #work #friends


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion

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