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Monthly Archives: August 2012

  • Fanning the Flame - An interview with Hayley and Michael DiMarco

    Sitting down with the DiMarcos feels a little like staring at a lit match: they’ve been struck by something that’s ignited them, they’re passionate about speaking truth and they’re full of potential. We recently sat down with Hayley, Michael (and their sweet little daughter) to discuss the journey that brought them together and to where they’re headed…


    Family Christian: We like to begin our interviews with a little background. Where are the two of you from and how did you meet?

    Hayley DiMarco: We’re both actually from Oregon, but we met when I was living in Nashville and he was living in Washington state. We met on the internet.

    FC: Through a service?

    Michael DiMarco: Yes, hotchristianwives.com (laughs).

    Hayley: Christianmingle.com

    Michael: Yes, but don’t give them free advertising—until they write us a check (laughing).

    Hayley: Yes, so we both grew up there and then he started working and moved to Bellingham. And I went to work for Thomas Nelson in Nashville. I started there just as a lowly sales person, helping in the sales department, and then started working on their teen brand. That’s when the Extreme Teen Bible and all of that stuff was just starting. This is kind of an interesting story because it started selling really well. Ya’ll up here really liked it. And the buyers up here were like “What else do you have for teens?” So all of the publishers at Nelson, seven of them, started to get together around a table, and I was there, and they started talking. And I said, “We should create a brand.” And they said, “Oh that’s interesting.” And then I said, “I want to be the brand manager.” And they said, “What’s that?” because they had literally never heard of it.

    Michael: Which is subtext for “you’re hired.” Before Hayley got to Nelson, she was with Nike in Portland, helping them create sales tools and stuff like that, so they listened to her.

    Hayley: Yes, so that is what I came from, it was what I was trained in. So I wrote up a job description and showed it to them. They said “That sounds good. Why don’t you do it?” So then I became the brand manager for the Teen Extreme for Jesus brand. And we did pretty well. After two years, we sold $9 million worth of product (just in that brand). So that was pretty successful and it let people know who I was a little bit. So then I was looking at a lot of the content and thought some of the products that were coming through could use a little help. So I started rewriting some of this stuff and pretty soon started writing it and it started selling better than the other product that we had for teens. And so I thought maybe I should start doing this on my own; maybe I should go out and write exclusively.

    Hayley: So I left and I shopped eight titles, which was kind of shocking to go out and say “I want to write eight books.” And so every published looked at me like “What? We’ll do one of them.” But Baker said, “We’ll take them all.” So I said, “Let’s go!” And that stared with Dateable, and it just kind of took off. And so right when Dateable was launching, we met on the internet. I always joke to everybody, but I did a kind of “executive” search.  And some people look at me like I’m a dangerous woman, and some people admire me. I wanted someone that would work with me. I didn’t want to see him in the morning and at night, I wanted him all day.

    Michael: This is a cold, calculated love (laughing). She couldn’t pay well; the salary was affection and a promise to grow in her cooking skills.

    Hayley: So I saw his profile and he was working for Logos Bibles Software, he was speaking, he was traveling. I was like “Oh, he could travel with me.” He was writing. He had an active blog. And so that was kind of how it all came to be and how we met online.

    FC: So Michael, you were in Bellingham at this time?

    Michael: Yes, I was working for Logos Bible Software – traveling around, making presentations at seminaries and pastors’ conferences and churches, training ministry leaders like Kay Arthur at Precept and her crew [on] how to use the Bible study tools for their research and writing as a time saver and things like that. So, I was traveling 10-15,000 air miles per year and Nashville was one of my ports of call. So I actually signed up for the whole Christian dating service as just kind of a joke—a joke between me and God because I felt like I had lived a pretty wild life in my twenties and into my early thirties. I was finally good with not dating anyone and living for Christ through my job, but felt convicted. I didn’t want to, but I felt God was leading me to look for someone that was a believer and was living out their faith for the first time in my life. So, I thought as a joke, I would joke with God and I signed up for a free 7 day trial for the service. And I was amazed that I didn’t do anything and all these nice Christian women started emailing me. I was like, “Whoa!” I wasn’t ready for that. But I got all these matches and they were all like 50, 60% match. And on the eighth day of my seven-day trial, I get an email with an 83% match, and that was Hayley. And so God’s sense of humor returned to me, and I had to pay to contact [her].

    Hayley: But I was [still] in my free trial. I never had to pay!

    Michael: Yes, she was still in her free trial, so we overlapped within fourteen days at least. Because I did a lot of work with Precept, that’s how we got to meet. Had a horrible first date—it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t good. I decided to dump all of my past on our first date just as a big disclaimer.

    Hayley: Which didn’t bother me... I didn’t care about any of his sordid past. But I just cared that he didn’t let me talk. He talked the whole time! (laughing)

    Michael: Well, I had a lot to get out and a short amount of time. Our second date was actually at ICRS (Internation Christian Retailing Show) when she was promoting Dateable in Orlando in 2003. That’s why we’ve been back to ICRS every year. Not so much to have meetings, but just as an anniversary. (There’s something about Kerusso t-shirts...) We got married New Year’s Day 2004. I was still working for Logos, but now I was commuting from Nashville. She was very sneaky. I was like a frog in a frying pan. I was keeping Hungry Planet stuff separate. That was hers. I had my deal. And she would bring me book cover comps from the publisher and say, “I don’t think I like this,” or would just play the damsel in distress thing with writing, editorial, branding.

    Hayley: I wasn’t playing. I just needed your help.

    Michael: What? You weren’t playing me? Miss Executive Search? (laughing) So, I ended up quitting my job with Logos and tackling the branding, marketing and design side of things, and then she drew me into the writing side.

    FC: So, do you either of you have Christian upbringing?

    Hayley: We were Lutheran, if we were anything. We went [to church] for Christmas and Easter. I always loved Jesus. I think I went to VBS and stuff like that, so I always loved Jesus and believed he was the Son of God and all that. But I went to a Catholic high school and they taught me a lot what you had to do to be saved, and I couldn’t do it. I had to be too perfect. So by the time I was in college, I was sad because I didn’t think I was saved.

    Michael: Immersed in moralism.

    Hayley: Right. So I was driving limousines in Portland…

    Michael: Oh wait, wait, wait. Before you get to that, you have to tell them about the weekly evangelist…

    Hayley: Yes, okay, so literally every weekend I would watch Jimmy Swaggart… all through high school and college and [I would] accept Christ every weekend. I thought I had to do it every weekend, because during the week I would mess up. I wasn’t a bad kid. I wasn’t doing drugs. I just wasn’t perfect. And I wanted to be perfect, so I just kept accepting Christ. By the end of college, I was like, “Ugh, I’ve been doing this for like eight years and I still don’t fell like anything has changed.” So I was driving limousines and I decided I was going to get a little more wild, which to me was cussing and stuff. I was thinking of drinking, but I had one drink. So this boy I liked that was a limo driver said to me—because I told him I was a Christian—he said, “If you’re a Christian why do you cuss like a sailor?” And I said, “I just figure if I’m going to hell I might as well have fun on the way.” And he was like, “What? What are you talking about?” And he said a weird statement which probably doesn’t relate to what I was thinking, but he said, “Don’t you know that once you’re saved, you’re always saved?” I must have told him about Jimmy Swaggart. And I was like, “What?” And he had an old Bible that had writing all over it, and he opened it up and showed me Romans 10:9, “If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth, you will be saved.” I stood up and I put my hands on my hips and I screamed, “What? You’ve got to be kidding me! I am 27 years old and no one has told me this?” I’d been begging people to tell me this. If I had just known that, my life would have been different. And that was it. That was my conversion. That was my acceptance. That was it. So he gave me the Bible and said, “Here, you need this,” and he laughed. I read it from cover to cover in three months. I lost my job at the limo place because I was leading Bible studies and converting everyone. And the owner was a Jew. He used to come and talk to me and say, “What are you doing?” and I’d say, “The Bible says this, this, and this.” I’m telling everyone. And he’d say, “Just a minute,” and he’d call his rabbi. He’d come back and tell me and I’d say, “No, no. The rabbi’s wrong,” and I’d show him in scripture. And he’d go back and talk to the rabbi and pretty soon he just said, “I’ve got to lay you off,” and he got rid of me. That was the point where I decided I’m going to tell the world this because they need to know. I shouldn’t have had to wait so long. I’ve got to tell them. And that was the fire behind having a teen brand because that was around the age where I was lost. I have to tell these guys. They want to know. I know they want to know. Who doesn’t want to know? They all do whether they know it or not.

    Michael: I was raised in an old school religious home too—Catholic. For me, it was all about being a good boy. My mom wanted me to be Pope and I liked girls too much so that wasn’t going to happen… (With a side-eye toward his daughter) and someday we’ll have a child that I will truly love (laughs). I’m just dreaming. But it could happen.

    Daughter: It already did happen. (Punches Michael in the stomach)

    Michael: Obviously, we home school because we’re so good with kids. Aren’t we!? (laughs) So, that’s how I was raised. I was raised to be a good boy. I was the youngest of six kids in an Italian-Irish family. No passion, no temper. I grew up trying to be a good boy. Instead of watching Jimmy Swaggart every weekend, I went to a Young Life group just because all the cute girls went to Young Life. (Daughter laughs) So uh, not many filters in our house. So there was a brief gospel presentation with crazy singing and a skit. It was probably the worst gospel presentation ever, but it made sense. And I said, “Oh, personal relationship with Jesus, that’s something I haven’t heard at church,” and I thought, “Oh yeah, that makes sense.” And literally in like ten seconds, bow your head and everybody pray. And it was just kind of a quick prayer to get to the snacks. I prayed the “magic prayer,” and then I went and had snacks. I really didn’t tell anybody, but then started attending a Baptist church in Eugene—a great church. The college pastor there at the time is still there after like twenty-five years. Unfortunately, kind of like Hayley going to college and not processing the gospel right, I just saw it as [just changing from] a Catholic to a protestant moralism, “Well now I’ve gotta practice this, do everything right while I had a personal relationship. And living that kind of moralism leads to destruction and weakness. So in college I basically lived a double life. I said one thing but lived another until right after I turned thirty-two. It was in my early thirties that my life had devolved into a secret life. Part of the secret private life was gambling. It was where I went to escape the life that I had come to hate in public. It involved me getting arrested from work for stealing. And it was in a jail cell where there was an old, tattered—it was so cliché… I love God’s sense of humor because just like the dating story, I looked at this old, tattered Bible sitting there, and I’m just like, “Really, God? Really? I don’t want to have one of these cliché moments. I don’t want to have a Chuck Colson moment.” So I pulled it out, opened the Bible and it opened up right to 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is past away. Behold, the new has come.” So the cool thing was, from right there, I knew I was a new creation. I wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t striving to be perfect. So, for me, that was totally new. And so within six months, I basically said, “I want a job where I can learn more about God and His Word. So within four months, I had an entry level job. I went from making really good money in my prior career to getting an entry level, hourly customer service job at Logos Bible Software answering phones and technical questions because I got a free copy of their scholarly library that was worth like six hundred bucks for their Greek and Hebrew tools. I did that during the day, and then I studied at night and they moved me up to doing what I did when I met Hayley. It’s been incredible.

    FC: Let’s talk about Hungry Planet. What is it? Hayley, you started it first, right?

    Hayley: Yes. It started with me when I was at Nelson as I kind of “assessed” the state of youth publishing. I felt like it was a little bit anemic. I thought, I can either stay here at Nelson and build this brand or if I left, yeah I want to write, but maybe I can get out and help other authors, publishers and stores even. So I came up with this idea of Hungry Planet that would be just kind of a—I don’t know what I was calling it at the time—but, I started contracting to help ministries and publishers and anyone who wanted help reaching that audience that we had started to reach so well. I was looking for authors that might not get a voice because they wrote for teens, which wasn’t a huge market at the time. And so that was the beginning of it and at the time I worked a few initial titles like Dateable. Since then, when Michael has come on, everything was in the beginning of changing and it’s kind of just morphed. He can tell you a little about that.

    FC: So the premise behind it was basically to help build awareness, or it was more of a gathering place for those authors?

    Hayley: No, I wanted to build an awareness. I wanted to build a category. I felt that when you walked into a store, there were so few titles to choose from. And a lot of them were adult titles with “for kids” stamped on there.

    Michael: Or stuff that looked like it was designed in 1992. There are other quality titles that come out in the youth category, but they tend to gravitate toward either the student/teen edition. Like Not a Fan Teen Edition. Great book and it’s selling really well, but once again it wasn’t created specifically for teens from its genesis. And that’s what we’ve wanted to do. The other titles that have been good and have succeeded in the marketplace are generally personality driven or amazing story driven. Not amazing story-telling, but for instance an amazing testimony like Bethany Hamilton. Great content. Great story. Very touching story of God at work in her life through tragedy. But that’s pretty much what you have there, and you don’t really have any authors or content creators that are dedicating their lives to creating content just for that market. Well, there are a few. But to answer your question about Hungry Planet, I think that I would explain it as there’s the content creation side and then there’s the B to B side, which is consulting with churches, businesses, publishers, retailers or ministries about connecting to youth through the written word and visual stuff. Like, I consulted as a marketing consultant for Teen Mania for six months for their Acquire the Fire tours and things like that, so even teen ministries that seem to have it figured out, if they hit kind of a rough patch, we’ll come in and do that. Even titling and branding, David Kinnaman’s latest book You Lost Me, I titled that book for him. He has a pretty funny blog post about going through the titling with the publisher and me calling him and saying, “Hey, I have a title for your book.” He hated it, and he was like, “then I loved it.” So it’s kind of two-fold. We want to do more on the consulting side and helping ministries and retailers and publishers, but the funny thing is we found that it’s a chicken and egg sort of thing. There’s not a lot of market for it. Or it’s a smaller category. But on the content side, we’re proving that it can be profitable, it can be successful. We had five of the top ten on the July CBA bestseller’s list. We’ve got the top three, and five of the top ten, and two in the top fifty of all Christian titles with Devotions for the God Girl and Devotions for the God Guy. So, we’re doing it, but the thing is we don’t want to have all of that success to ourselves. It’s an important category. At times we feel like we’re Don Quixote, charging at the windmill—literary reference—but it’s a worthy pursuit, and all the while our readers are aging out of the teen years. Not emotionally, but physically (laughing). So, we are doing more and more adult titles now.

    FC: Great segue. So now that your original core age-group has begun to grow up, how has that transition gone? Are you strategically writing for those aging into adulthood, or are you just feeling like God is moving you in that direction?

    Michael: Strategically we made the decision a couple of years ago to start writing all of our youth books so that adults could read them. So, number one, we did that. There are men’s groups and women’s groups at churches that are going through God Guy and God Girl because they bought it for their son or daughter and started to read it as a good parent will, to look at the content. And they’re like, “Oh, this is good.” So, like, Hayley’s going to speak at a church where their women have been going through Devotions for The God Girl as their daily devotion. We intentionally did that because we dipped into the waters of the adult market a few years back and what we kind of already suspected is true, it’s way more competitive there. The funny thing is in the adult market, it’s all based on platform. Like whom you’ve heard of. There’s good storytelling, there’s good writing there, but most of it is “Who has a big church? “Who has a radio ministry?” And we don’t have that. Even through social media, if you remove all of the duplicates between all of our Facebook and Twitter followers, we’re probably looking at a reach of 500. Literally! (Laughing) If we were coming out with a book right now with no backlist and go to a publisher they’d say, “Well, it’s a really good idea and yeah, it’s a needed topic, but you’ve got no platform.” It’d be like, “Are you a youth pastor anywhere?” “No.” “Okay, well how many Twitter followers do you have?” “Well, I’ve got about 400 or so and I think some of them are just spam that follow me, or they confuse me with some psychologist in New York named Michael DiMarco.” So, literally, our success has been based on—and this is why we’re huge fans of Christian retail is because you all get us, we think, and put our books on the shelves and a lot of times they’re face-out. We try and create books that sell themselves, but in the Christian Living section, that’s a huge area to not have a platform. So what we decided was, “Okay, in order to keep doing books that we believe in and the topics we believe in, we’re going to start our youth books so that adults can read them.” So that way we can reach adults through the books that we sell in the youth department. Now we’re starting to see some movement and Die Young has been a good indicator of that because, it isn’t selling at the same rate as God Girl and God Guy, it had a really good launch. So we’ll see if it has legs, but that’s the intentionality that we’ve gone through.

    FC: So let’s talk a little bit about Die Young. What’s the premise behind it, the thought process?

    Michael: (To Hayley) Do you want to talk about the human laboratory?

    FC: To preface this, we should say that the videos that you guys did…

    Michael: They’re bad, aren’t they?

    FC: No, ha! There are moments where you guys share some rather vulnerable things.

    Hayley: There’s a lot that goes into our books, but that’s kind of where our books come from. We allow our life to be a petri dish for God. Our life explodes a lot. We have a lot of explosions, and in each one of those we’ll talk it out as far as, “What is God trying to teach us in this individually?” So Die Young came from that concept that we are two human beings who are going to clash, and what God wants us to do is die to ourselves. Not to keep the argument going. Not be comforted. Maybe sometimes we don’t even work it out, but the impetus behind the book was just this notion that if you can die to yourself, there’s no longer anything that can harm you, nothing can attack you, nothing can destroy you—because you’re just living for Him, and He cannot be destroyed or stopped. We’ve just had to work that out in our marriage because when we were first married, as we say in the book, I bought plates at the dollar store and threw them against the wall to get rid of my anger, and he got a punching bag. We didn’t know what to do. We were living for ourselves. That’s the average American, we live for ourselves.

    Michael: The whole thing of ‘deny yourself and pick up your cross daily and follow Me.’ Picking up the cross is not a triumphant visualization. It’s not a ‘pick up your overnight bag because we’re going on an adventure.’ It’s a death march. And that’s what we’re called to do. We’re asked to joyfully do that as well, that it’s a joyful act to die to ourselves. A three-letter version of the word self is sin—that self is steeped with sin. One of the confirming books that I have to give a shout out to, that didn’t breathe into this book but was confirming that we were onto something when we were conceptualizing and started to write was when David Platt’s Radical came out. I had met David when he was still at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in their homiletics department when I was traveling with Logos Bible Software. When I saw that book come out and that it actually resonated with people, I was like, “Okay, so there is hope for this” because we really feel like the concept of dying to self, dying young, which means dying to yourself anytime before your actual physical death, is young. So if you’re 77 and you’ve decided then to die to self, that’s young enough. We felt like this was the underpinning, the foundational principle underneath everything that David was writing about in that book. Without dying to self, why would you go? Why would you care about unreached people groups? Why would you care about that instead of the American dream? It’s a death to ourselves and our self interests that really gives life to the Great Commission.

    FC: As you guys write books, are you writing them as a result of change in your own life or are you writing them because you are seeking change?

    Michael: Both/And.

    Hayley: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. I think it’s because we’ve seen something. It’s like, you can see through the ice. I can see a little light and so we start to research and study the topic because we’ve experienced it, even momentarily perhaps.

    Michael: I think it’s a three-stage thing. We’ve discovered some need for it; we’ve exercised some mastery of the topic. And then once we exercise that mastery and we’ve done the biblical research on the topic and also the internal, spiritual research, we realize we don’t have this mastered at all. We’re so far away from it. It’s like, “Oh there’s this problem, here’s the solution.” And it really is a solution, but then in finding the solution, we realize we’re nowhere near close enough to dying to ourselves, nowhere near close to unstuffing our life of the idols in our life and things like that. So it’s like that progression that Paul takes in the New Testament in his epistles—chronologically he calls himself the least of all apostles, and then the least of all brothers or believers, and his last reference that’s similar to that is when he calls himself the worst of all sinners. And so, did he backslide through all of this? No, he just has a greater realization of his sin and a greater realization of his need for Christ and the gospel. So I think that breathes into how we write our books. Like, the worst part is doing interviews on Die Young. We already did that. We already wrote that. Now we have to dig this up again. (laughs)


    FC: So in your process of going through life right now, whether it’s at a conference or Hungry Planet or writing a book or seeing a book launched, you guys have the ability to not only speak to the church, at least here in the west, maybe outside the U.S. as well. What do you guys think about the church right now?

    Michael: I don’t know if I have a public answer for this. That’s an interesting question. Platt wrote a lot about the American dream. I think his observations regarding our love and pursuit of the American dream are spot on. But I would go from that sniper position to maybe more of an atomic bomb position. I think it’s not just the dream, but specifically for the U.S., it’s our feelings of entitlement to the pursuit of happiness which is etched in our founding documents that is wholly un-Biblical. I think every Christian should have a declaration of dependence, not independence. I think the church would be smart – and I’m giving this out for the public domain, some pastor, some other author can write it, I don’t have any problem with that – I think we need a declaration of dependence on Christ. We should not be entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I think we all should declare our dependence of death of self, servant hood, not liberty, a bond servant to Christ, who bought and purchased us with His blood. So we belong to Him. We don’t belong to ourselves. And the pursuit of holiness, instead of the pursuit of happiness. That’s our underpinning as far as all of us as Christians should be pursuing. The most common thing we see within churches is muscle memory to the contrary, but a heart that resonates with this idea. I think when people hear these ideas, they’re like, “Yes, that resonates.” We have a culture that has created muscle memory to the contrary. We visit a lot of churches. With the disclaimer that this might not be the right heart, we might be at fault here, but one of the first things I personally, I think Hayley does as well, is when we walk into a church, we say, “Where are the prostitutes and tax collectors?” And if we see those in a church, that encourages us. And I’m saying figuratively, not like they have a section cordoned off with signage, near the narthex. I think we have slipped into “church as country club” mentality or social club. I think the church is doing a really good job of taking care of our own and a lousy job at defining who “our own” is. Lousy is probably too strong of a word for print—a less than stellar job.

    FC: Ok, one last question. What artists do you listen to? What kind of music, Hayley, are you listening to?

    Hayley: I prefer worship music. I like Kari Jobe, she’s my favorite.

    Michael: An unknown band out of Buna, Texas, (like tuna spelled with a B), called the Micah Tyler Band. I think local radio is giving them some play down there. They’re really good. They’re working on their first studio album right now up in Nashville where we’re at. Great guys.

    FC: And you? (Speaking to Michael) Who are you listening to?

    Hayley: He’s eclectic.

    Michael: I tend to listen to artists that come up in the news for whatever reason. I tend to listen to people that I know personally, like the Micah Tyler band because I know the guys and I know their hearts, so there’s a connection there. I listen to a lot of old stuff from when I was growing up like when Robin Gibb died, I had Pandora on and had the Bee Gees channel streaming. In living in Nashville, I listen to a lot of country music. We were listening to 70s and 80s music on XM driving up from Nashville.

    FC: Well, we can’t say enough good about what you are doing for your genre and the Kingdom. We really appreciate the time you’ve taken to sit down with us today. Here’s to many great books and years to come!

  • Support Your Husband

    "The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2:18


    Husbands have a God given support system in their sweet spouse. Heaven has provided just the right wife for a husband to receive help.  This divine strategy is a blessing, because left to himself, a husband is incomplete—he maintains at best. The Lord's plan gives a wife the opportunity to make her man feel confident and in control. Most of all her love for Jesus is the fuel that fuels her faith in her husband. She is his best helper.

    What if your husband is ungrateful and hard to please? Your model of unselfish support is a testimony to your trust in God. If your husband takes you for granted, pray the Holy Sprit will convict him of his need for appreciation. A supportive attitude attracts your husband to your heart. Trust the Lord will grow him in grace and gratitude. A woman of prayer wisely waits on God to work, without rushing ahead with sincere solutions.

    "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened..." Ephesians 1:18a 

    Support him when he is mad and your patient smile will make him glad. Support him when he is sick and your compassionate heart will bring quicker healing. Support him when he is successful and your unselfish celebration will cause mutual joy. Support him in his work and your loyalty to his labor will grow his feelings of significance. Above all, support him as your spiritual leader, as your validation gives him courage to continue.

    As a husband you may seem self-sufficient, but you are really not a lone ranger. You are one flesh with your bride and you need her help. So, acknowledge your dependence on God and your need for your wife's support. Invite her into your hopes and fears. Be vulnerable with your emotions that are hard to express and receive her comfort and counsel. It's bad to be alone at home with your wife, but it is very, very good to have her selfless support.

    "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD." Proverbs 18:22

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks for loving me so that I can love and support my husband.

    Related Readings: Job 42:5; Proverbs 31:11; 1 Corinthians 11:9; 2 Corinthians 4:6

    Post/Tweet this today: A supportive wife gives life to her husband. #life #husband

    Click on the free download “How to Have a Quiet Time”… http://bit.ly/KWDrkJ

  • Protect Your Wife

    “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Ephesians 5:23


    A wife is vulnerable to emotional exploitation. She needs her husband’s loving care and protection. Insensitive friends and family can take advantage of her sweet and sensitive spirit. So, a husband who takes seriously his role of protector is ever vigilant to shield his bride from bad behavior. What was once a blossoming flower of faith can wither under the assault of rejection and disrespect. Thus, you guard her heart with your strong stand.

    Every woman of faith prays for a godly knight in shining armor who will bear the sword of the Spirit on her behalf. She longs for a godly man who by faith walks in the fullness of the Spirit: courageous and confident in Christ. Are you that husband? Are you active in safeguarding your wife’s mind, will and emotions? Is her spirit in safekeeping with you? Wife, your husband is God’s buffer against bad people. So rest, his role is to defend you.

    “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.” Psalm 25:11

    Men, don’t shrink back from stepping up for your woman. Just like Jesus is the head of the church and gave Himself up for His bride, so you do the same for yours. Yes, it is daunting at times and we are sometimes defeated, but we do not despair for the Lord is our ultimate defender. Our battle is with His weapons of prayer, faith and hope. He saved you to save her from being crushed by criticism and deceived by lies. You are her guard.

    Ultimately, it is your heavenly Father who spreads His protective coat of character over His children. Your integrity gives you the moral authority to speak the truth in love. Courage follows commitment. Like a calf, caught in a hailstorm, moves for cover, so you get under Christ’s calming cleft. All hell can break loose around you, but you stay put in prayer at the feet of Jesus. He will protect you from the evil elements that swirl about. Therefore, trust in God’s protection first and protect your wife second. She needs you! “For he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” Proverbs 2:8 

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks for being my protector, so I am able to protect my wife.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 2:11; Malachi 2:16; John 17:11-15; 1 Corinthians 13:7

    Post/Tweet this today: Courage follows commitment to Christ. #commitment #courage

    Click on the free download “How to Have a Quiet Time”… http://bit.ly/KWDrkJ

  • Tempered Talk

    “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).


    Tempered talk is evidence of wise conversation. When our words are many we run the risk of soliciting sin. Increased words increase the probability of improper speech. For example, respectful conversation does not repeat the same words and phrases in a confined period of time. This impatient cadence frustrates.

    Perhaps a look of misunderstanding requires questioning for clarification or definitions for comprehension. Proud conversationalists can hijack a listener’s understanding with a hoard of words with no meaning. If your goal is to communicate, then take the time to listen to the needs of your audience. People who feel cared for and understood have a keener sense of hearing and understanding. “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:28).

    Wise people weigh their words before they speak. They allow their minds to catch up with their hearts. Furthermore, in the face of wrong behavior, emotions sometimes need to express themselves. Let the other person know if you feel mistreated or misinformed. Concealed anger leads to living a lie (see Proverbs 10:18), but tempered talk is truthful and to the point.

    Lastly, you reserve your words out of respect for the other person. If you do all the talking, you are the center of attention.  Conversation becomes condescending when the other individual does not feel important enough to speak up. So, honor others by speaking less, listening more intently to how you can love them. Wisdom can be found in the words of each person you meet. Therefore, intentionally talk less and be wise.

    “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

    Prayer: Dear Jesus, whom do I need to listen to more while speaking less? 

    Related Readings: Job 2:3; Amos 5:13; Titus 1:10; James 3:2

    Post/Tweet this today: Wise people weigh their words before they speak; their minds catch up with their hearts. #wise #speech

    Click on the free download “How to Have a Quiet Time”… http://bit.ly/KWDrkJ

  • Between Heaven and Earth - an interview with Heather Burch

    We’ve learned from the book of Esther that God’s timing is perfect – and that He allows character and a wealth of experiences to grow in us for an ordained season. In the case of Heather Burch, the journey toward becoming an author started the day she was born into a family of publishers. But it hasn’t been until recently that God has chosen to open the doors for her. And isn’t it interesting that just as society’s fascination with the supernatural is peaking, we get Halflings? It’s clear to us that Heather has been called to write “…for such a time as this.”


    Family Christian: Where do you currently live?

    Heather Burch: We live in Southern Florida, maybe going on six years now. Branson, Missouri is where I grew up and we lived in Branson and Springfield. That’s where all of our family is. We felt like we wanted to move down here and like that was what God had for us. When we came down my husband said, “You really need to just stay home and write. Write full-time and really put everything into it because forever you’ve sort of put that on hold to do other things.” We’ve been in full-time ministry in different times of our lives, and we love that. He said, “This is really your dream and we should just do it.” So, I wrote four books before I started Halflings. It was sort of a learning process really. Halflings was, of course, the book that sold to Zondervan and that I got an agent with. My agent offered it as a three-book deal, which was little bit scary because at that time publishing companies were buying more single books. I think they didn’t necessarily know the climate and what was around the corner, so for her to offer it that way was kind of scary. But it was a leap of faith. And, of course, Zondervan grabbed it up. I have such a fabulous team there. Of course Jonathan (who works in some areas) and my editor are just amazing. She really has a big vision for Zondervan and where it’s headed in the next few years. I just feel very blessed to be part of the team there.

    FC: Now the four books you had written previously, did you publish those?

    Heather: No, they are still hidden on hard drives here and there on different computers. There are a couple of them that I might go back and revisit and clean up. But at this point, my writing has changed and grown so much that any of the four would mean major rewrites. Right now I’m so busy writing Halfling books, I’m not really even thinking too much about them, but, you know, maybe one day.

    FC: You grew up in an environment where writing was certainly talked about and discussed. Do you want to talk a little about that?

    Heather: When I started dating my husband, his mom and his sister wrote romances for Harlequin and Silhouette. At that time Harlequin or Silhouette didn’t have a specific line for inspirational books. But [his mom and sister] were Christians, and so they wrote what they called the sweeter romances, which are ones that are a lot cleaner. That was the first time I noticed that real, normal people write books. I’d always done a lot of writing. I grew up in a house [where] we were in publishing. We did school yearbooks as my family’s business. So I’d always been around publishing. Print shops are kind of hard to find anymore, but I love that smell because it reminds me of home. So I was kind of all over that already, then married into a family of authors. When they found [that] out it was like, “Write a book! Write a book! You need to write a book!” So I dabbled with that off and on for years. Five years ago [is] when I really got serious about my writing and was able to set aside time to invest in learning how to construct a great story—there are so many nuances of fiction...


    FC: So Halflings is your first published book with Zondervan, and you have two more coming out. What is the series actually called?

    Heather: It’s called the Halflings Trilogy. On each book it will say “A Halflings Novel,” and they’re each numbered. I actually do have more storylines beyond the three, so there’s a lot that can be played out. But the three are definitely a complete story arc for Nikki Youngblood, who’s the main character.

    FC: In the process of writing this, how much of your friends and family or personal experiences were part of the story?

    Heather: The two halfling boys, Raven and Mace – the two main male characters – are carbon copies of my boys. One of them is a very much a by-the-book person, a strong leader [like Mace]. The other one is my musician. He’s very much a free spirit, more like Raven. So anytime I have trouble with Mace or Raven, thinking “what would this character do at this point?” I would think “okay, what would my son do?” So there is a lot of it. And I’ve probably borrowed a lot more from my teenage sons’ friends, as far as teen lingo and language, and just how they communicate with each other. It really honors me when people say, especially teenagers, “Wow, you definitely know teenagers. You know how we talk and how we interact.” That’s one of the biggest compliments I can get.

    FC: It doesn’t appear that this book is specifically for teens, although the main characters certainly are within that age-group. Since it’s not confined to just that group, what is your goal with the book?

    Heather: Really the deepest internal goal that I would have is for us to realize that we’re sort of all halflings. Halflings are creatures that are caught between heaven and earth. When you get saved that’s sort of what you are: kind of caught between heaven and earth. You have the same address, but a new place in the world. I wanted people to really stop and think about the fact that there is a supernatural realm. Of course all that happens [in the book] is fictional, completely fictional. Not to be confused with anything biblical or theological, but there are nuances to it that I think can really ring true for people. And really understanding that there is a much bigger picture for each one of us. And understanding that we can walk out what we have on this earth, but making sure that we’re doing it to glorify God. One of the things about the Halflings is that they are serving God and they don’t know what their fate is, but God is so good they are still going to serve Him because they have a revelation of Who He is. If you have that revelation you’re going to serve Him. If you don’t have that revelation, you may or may not. Another thing that was close to my heart was that salvation is such a gift. My thought was that if you have beings that aren’t offered salvation, they’re very aware of what they don’t have a privilege to experience. I thought that was a neat way to show that. Beings, all people, should be thinking about the next step. I did say I had a purpose, and my purpose in writing Halflings was to tell a great story that teenagers and anyone couldn’t put down. I wanted to tell a story that they couldn’t walk away from. I’m a teacher by nature (my husband and I are youth pastors), and actually as I was writing it I would get in a groove and say “Oh this is good stuff!” And it felt like God was saying, “Wait a minute. Back up here. You’re getting into preach mode.” And that’s not what I think He intended to do in this book and series. I think it’s a great thing to lay questions out there and let people start to question and find out for themselves.

    FC: Do you think that the series would be good to give to an unbeliever?

    Heather: Very much so. I get a lot of feedback. One sad thing that has happened is if people think that a book has been put in their hand to preach or to teach them something, they’ll set it aside, even if they like it. I have at least as many reviews from people who are not in the Christian community as I do from people who are. It is a book that is crossing barriers—that is a crossover. I think that’s a delicate thing to be able to do. I think that if you can, it’s phenomenal because you’re reaching out to a wider market, you’re reaching more people and more young people. By the grace of God we’re doing that with this book. This book was actually birthed about fifteen years ago when we were youth pastors at a church that experienced a really fabulous revival up in Missouri. The young people in the youth group were really burdened that there weren’t that many books out there for teenagers that really pointed to God, and started praying. Some of them fasted. We had some of our teenagers do extended fasts with pastor approval and parents in mind, everything. They were concerned about this. They said, “We need more books for Christians.” Not just clean books that are in the regular market, but books that have a Christian world view. So there’s a big stroke of the brush with those. You’ve got books with a very clear message, and that’s awesome. And then you’ve got books that are a little more subtle. Those tend to be a little bit easier to crossover in some markets, which is exciting because you’re reaching more people with the message than you have.

    FC: Heather, as parents, we can certainly relate to both your concern for your own kids and those within your church community. If a teenager or college student has a stack of books on their nightstand or in their family room, Halflings would be a good book to see. What other titles?

    Heather: Zondervan has some fabulous books for the young adult market, for kids that are not Christians especially. Those kids are readers. They want that voice of the regular young adult market. We haven’t always necessarily nailed that in the Christian market. It kind of had its own tone and its own voice, which is fabulous, but now it’s branching out more. People can pick up Halflings and it reads very much like secular books other than the fact that it has a Christian worldview. Obviously there are no cuss words, no drinking, no smoking. The characters have a much higher moral standard. Also in the Christian market, Jill Williamson has a book called Replication, which is a wonderful book. She was on book tour with me. She, Bill Myers and I were together on book tour throughout the month of April. Bill Myers has a fabulous series right now that deals with the occult that is great for young people if they are teetering in that area at all. Melanie Dickerson has a few. She does fairytale retellings. They are like a nice, hot cup of tea, curled up in a blanket, sitting by the fire. They’re just really beautiful reads. Of course, I’ve got Halflings. We’ve got book two coming out, which is already in, and that will release in October. I know that Jill’s working on another storyline too. I’m not sure when it releases. I’m very excited about what Zondervan is doing right now.

    FC: You touched in this a little bit earlier when you said that the book itself and everything you’ve written in the book is not based on actual events – it’s a fictional tale. Have you ever had anyone approach you and use Halflings as some sort of doctrinal treatise for their Christian faith?

    Heather: No. I was all geared up with such a great answer for that! (laughs) I was ready to explain the differences in fiction and how we can use biblical truths to tell a fictional story. I kind of expected to get more angel stories too. I [also] expected to hear from some people, “Well that’s not biblical. That’s not in the Bible. It didn’t happen.” I haven’t, I’ve been really surprised – maybe because I was ready for it.

    FC: How would you answer that type of question? If someone came up to you and said “I’ve been using your book as a guide for my own personal and spiritual walk.”

    Heather: I would say that there’s only one Word of God. Find out what His Word says, because anytime you add to it or take away you’ve lost everything that it is about. It’s easy for people to want a new set of rules. The Gospel is a simple message, but it’s relational. You cannot have a relationship with Jesus any other way than learning through the Bible. There’s no other book that will lead you to what you’re looking for.

    FC: Heather, what do you do to relax? When you’re not writing, what are you doing?

    Heather: We just went to see Brave, so that was great fun. I loved it! It was great and had a great message. We live in Florida, so we’re in a really beautiful area. We drive around a lot; we look at the area, and go to different beaches. I’m a big theme park junky, so I was actually up at Disney last week which is very close. We also go to Sea World and Busch Gardens once in a while. They have great deals for Florida residents. Of course we’re youth pastors too, so that keeps me busy. We pretty much love the water.

    FC: Heather thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. We appreciate everything that you’re doing and looking forward to book 2.

    Heather: Thank you so much. I can’t wait for it. I’m sure this is the thing you should never say, but I actually think it’s a better book than Halflings. Now that the characters are established, we [can] get into the meat of the story a little bit more. We have book two, Guardian, coming out in October and book three, Avenger, in April, next spring.

    To download a sample of the Halflings book, click here. Experience Halflings for your ereader now!

  • Church Social Justice

    "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." 1 Timothy 6:10


    The Church of Jesus Christ has the opportunity and obligation to serve the injustices of society in Jesus’ name. Protecting the life of the unborn and elderly, providing for widows and orphans, caring for the sick and dying, and visiting those in jail or prison allows the church to engage in the culture. Compassion is not just a feeling, but a meaningful effort to get involved. A secular society needs a Savior to save its soul of injustice.

    Who is the church? It is both an institution and the individual believers who make up the Body of Christ. We are responsible corporately and personally to serve society with good deeds and with the good news of salvation in Jesus. Words without works is dead faith, and works without words is ashamed faith. Thus, the Body of Christ is light and life for a dark and dying society. "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8 

    So, where does the family of faith first show it cares? You start by providing for your family: your household and your relatives. It may be transportation to get them to work, a prayer over the phone, a rent payment, groceries, or sponsoring their attendance at an intensive marriage retreat. Families who follow Jesus are a compelling force for good in the culture.

    Secondly, the Body of Christ is to care for its own. There is a spiritual kinship that benefits those who serve the King of Kings. Who do you know in your church whose tears silently cry out for care? Who is too embarrassed to ask for financial help, but your anonymous generosity would be a tourniquet to their bleeding budget? The wounds of social injustice are a wake up call for aggressive acts of kindness.

    "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

    Lastly, the Church is called to engage the culture as a whole in social justice. Serving the poor and needy, defending the rights of the unborn, and upholding biblical marriage are right strategies for the righteous. The good news of Jesus goes to the heart for salvation, the mind for renewal, and the body for purification. Social justice for the Church is modeling Christ's actions of preaching, teaching, giving, feeding and clothing. We love children and honor the elderly. As the Church grows in its influence the need for government lessens. Where the Lord reigns above—justice rains down on society.

    "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

    Related ReadingsDeuteronomy 14:29; Isaiah 1:17; Titus 2:14; Ephesians 2:19

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours. Use me to initiate Your social justice.

    Post/Tweet this today: Where the Lord reigns above—justice rains down on society. #Lord #justice

    Click on the free download “How to Have a Quiet Time”… http://bit.ly/KWDrkJ

  • Love and Truth

    for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth. Psalm 26:3


    Walk in truth and be lead by love. These are twins of wise living. Love is our leader and truth our motivator. Love is our strategy and truth our tactic. Love is our goal and truth  our inspiration. Love is our encouragement and truth our obedience. We need both to become better followers of Jesus. We are not under the bondage of the law, but we are under the sweet constraints of grace. Love, without truth, can be deceived with every new form of teaching. It can be easily swayed by emotion instead of remaining stable and confident in Christ. Truth without love becomes judgmental and harsh. It goes through the right motions while resentment builds unabated. Love and truth work together so we are able to live a compelling Christian life. They bring us into balance. 

    This is why we look forward to the love of God as a guide for our faith. Faith trusts God to accomplish His own decrees. This is why we do not have to steal, for we know God will provide for His children. This is why we do not have to get back at others in revenge, because God can and will handle them in His timing and in His way. This is what it means to be led by the love of God. You can trust God’s love to dispense justice when appropriate, and extend grace and forgiveness as needed. He sees the bigger picture and knows what is necessary to draw others closer to Christ. This is why we look ahead to the love of God. When we look to love as the leader, we trust. We follow love by faith.

    Secondly, we walk grounded in truth. Truth governs our faith. Truth keeps us rooted in reality. It is obedience to God’s truth that proves our love for Him. Truth takes us back to the question, “What does the Almighty think I should be and do?” We walk in truth because it preserves us from sinful behavior. It is the assurance of God’s promises that causes us to imitate them as well as believe. Like a pilot who depends on instruments, radar, radio and GPS (Global Positioning System) to guide him on the best path to the right destination, so we walk in truth expecting the Lord’s best outcome. Some talk of truth, but it is much better to walk in truth. Some vow to do better in the future, but their resolutions come to nothing. Avoid those who say one thing and do another.

    A companion of fools suffers harm (Proverbs 13:20). Stay away from those who stray from the truth. It may be a pastor, teacher, friend, or business client who handles the truth loosely. They lie even when the truth will do. These are vain people. Do not sit with them and be drawn in by their charisma. They are deceptive. However, those who walk in the truth will at times tell you things you do not want to hear. They are your internist on eternal matters. So listen when they prescribe doses of truth. The medicine may be bitter, but if applied, it will heal your heart. Therefore, walk in truth, and walk with those who walk in truth. Love leads and truth follows. Go with God. Go to Him often and receive gladly his infinite love and insightful truth. He is both.

    Taken from Reading #17 in the 90-day devotional book, “Seeking God in the Psalms”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Post/Tweet this today: Walk in truth and be lead by love. #truth #love

    Click on the free download “How to Have a Quiet Time”… http://bit.ly/KWDrkJ

  • Royal Tailor - Falling Free


    Take a generous helping of soul...splatter it with bouncing rhythms, blistering guitars, engaging vocals, stellar musicianship and catchy pop melodies that make you want to move--all textured with the truth of God's grace--and you have Royal Tailor.

    Rarely has music collided with ministry in a more explosive mash up than on Royal Tailor's Essential Records debut Black & White.  Fusing pop, rock, R&B, hip hop and worship into a distinctive musical blend, Tauren, Blake, Jarrod and D.J. deliver the Gospel in a high-energy style that makes audiences want to dance, pray, shout and sing along.

    "We like to get down," Tauren says with a smile.  "That's how we roll.  If you ever spend any time with the four of us, you will be dancing.  If it's the Electric Slide, the dougie, free-styling or whatever, at some point we're going to turn up the music, and we're going to have a good time. That's just who we are."

    Check out their new single, Freefall (lyric video).

    For your further listening pleasure... here is the acoustic version.  

  • Gods Sense of Humor

    “Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” Genesis 21:6


    God makes you laugh because of the incredible way He provides and the way He answers prayer. You laugh out loud when you have a child, especially when the little one is unexpected. You laugh when you land a job or a deal that was totally unexpected. You laugh when the Lord loves you beyond your wildest dreams. Because of His extraordinary provision, your joy and thanksgiving turn into laughter. It is a respectful and grateful laughter to the Lord. Smiles are the refreshing fruit of laughter. He makes you laugh because He has a sense of humor. Heaven is not humorless; it’s full of joy and laughing out loud. The Lord laughs with you and at you. He gives you laughter to remind you of His sense of humor. He gives you laughter to unleash joy and enable you to relax in Him. 

    God is in control and you have His permission to laugh. It is tragic when there is failure to receive heaven’s humor.  It is a false belief that a smile is not spiritual; piety produces joy. God has a sense of humor. To walk with the Lord means to laugh with the Lord. Think about the last time Jesus surprised you by joy. Reminisce on those prayers that seemed almost irresponsible, yet He answered them in the most unlikely way; He smiled and said yes. Did you take the time to laugh out loud with the Lord? Awe and laughter are not mutually exclusive; they go together.

    Celebrate God’s sense of humor with others. Do not hold back your laughter with those you love and respect. Laughter is relational lubricant. It is an elixir for evangelism and discipleship. It is a marinade for mentoring. No one wants to be around laugh-less company. Don’t wait for special occasions like weddings and birthdays to laugh. Laugh in between those times. Laugh daily with others. Laugh out loud. It may be at a child’s performance at school or a church play. Laugh with them as they risk being vulnerable and expressive. Laugh when things don’t go just as planned at work and home. Laughter links people to the Lord and to each other. Laughter keeps you from taking life and yourself too seriously.

    There are certainly issues that are no laughing matters. Be sensitive not to laugh at someone’s pain, but do not discount your ability to make others laugh. Your laughter gives others permission to laugh. Laugh at yourself, laugh at your quirks, laugh at your accent, laugh at your life. Laughter is contagious. Laughter with one another is love. You love  someone when you laugh together. Christ gives laughter as solace for your soul. You miss experiencing an important part of Christ’s character when you choose not to laugh. Let go and laugh. Let go of anger and laugh. Let go of hurt and disappointment, false humility and pride, and laugh, for He has done great things.

    The Bible says, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them’” (Psalm 126:2).

    Taken from August 8th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”… http://bit.ly/bQHNIE

    Post/Tweet this today: Smiles are the refreshing fruit of laughter. #smile #laugh

    Click on the free download “How to Have a Quiet Time”… http://bit.ly/KWDrkJ

  • Four Questions With... (part 4)

    We thought it would be fun to ask four questions to some of your favorite artists.


    Question 4:  What has God been teaching you lately?

    David Zach (lead singer from Remedy Drive) - The biggest thing that I've been paying attention to lately is the idea of continually being born.  I keep on making the mistake that a list of steps or a formula will be the way to renew my soul - but then I keep realizing that the only chance I have to be made new again is through a redemption that's already been set in motion.  It's really easy for me to look to ritual or 'doing the right thing' rather then dependence upon the voice of a King that turned on stars in the sky just by speaking.  The biggest thing God has been teaching me lately is that salvation is an exciting, dynamic and essential thing.  Remembering that I'm blood bought, loved more than anything and a prince of a Kingdom behind the skies makes me want to run after this hope that I can't see - makes me want to let God reshape and repair this heart of mine and renew a right spirit within me.

    Jekob Washington (from The Washington Projects) - Patience, & giving up control. I've always been one to hold on tightly to my desire to hear something a certain way, or see a vision develop the way I'd like it to. God has been teaching me that it's not about what I want, it's about what He wants from me.

    Jason Gray - To be led by the Holy Spirit in a level I haven’t given myself to before. For instance, my mentor has helped me to see that when I’m headed into a conversation, I may be tempted to speculate about what I might say, or to prepare myself for whatever the other person might say so I’m ready for anything. I make these speculations based on past conversations. So I’m always projecting into the future based on my past, which in essence means I’m only ever talking to myself. But the Holy Spirit only speaks in real-time, and when I abandon all my speculating (which is really a form of damage control and trying to have an edge), his voice emerges. This is why Jesus says in Matt 10:19 - 20 to not worry about what to say when we stand before the authorities, because we will be given the words we need. To be tuned into the spirit this way—in real time—invites the voice of the Spirit into all of my interactions, my ministry from the stage, my songwriting, and every moment.

    Andrew Peterson - Not to trust people at church camp who promise you free Snickers bars for every snipe you catch.

    Phil Vischer (VeggieTales and What's In the Bible creator) - Just because it isn't easy doesn't mean it isn't valuable.  We always look for great results to show us we're in God's will.  But God's will is more about obedience than results.  VeggieTales was a massive success - a success on a numerical scale I may never see again.  But numbers can be a dangerous way to look for God's will.  Or, as Albert Einstein once said, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."  It isn't about numbers.  It's about obedience.

    Jon Micah (from Kutless) - Trust Him completely. When things seem out of control I can always be reminded that HE is in control. There is no challenge too great for God, I must simply put my faith and trust in His strength and not my own.

    KJ-52 -Be myself! Be exactly who God has created me to be and never be embarrassed or insecure about it...

    Jason Atkins (from Harbinger Media) - Joy is a choice married to faith, supported by hope, and governed by love.

    Barry Graul (from MercyMe) - God is always in control. There are however circumstances in life that I want to control, but know that I have to rely and wait on God. He is now teaching me patience.

    Laura Story - He's teaching me that I'm not a big deal. I read the first chapter of John this morning, the part where John the baptist tells the pharisees that he not only is NOT the Christ, but he's not even worthy of untying Jesus' smelly sneaker (my translation). As someone who plays a lot of concerts these days, stands on a lot of stages with spotlights and has my name and face on posters, its easy to lose sight of the fact that I am not the main attraction here. I know its the simplest of prayers but one I must return to daily: "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30).

    Tobymac - To continue to trust in God and the promises He has for me.

    Danny Riley (from Gold City) - I am learning that I should look at the trials in my life as opportunities to watch God work, knowing that He is making me the man He wants me to be. I'm learning to trust Him. I was involved in an accident one time, Bus vs. Ford Ranger. The 2 girls in the truck were drunk. The bus had little damage, but the truck... Wow. I was amazed that the girls were alive. They were both ejected from the vehicle and walked away practically injury free. Why? Because they were so drunk their reaction time was yesterday. When the accident occurred, they didn't resist it, they just went with it. When trials come, we shouldn't resist, we need to yield. God is our strength. He will fight our battles on one condition... Get out of the way and allow Him to take control.

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…to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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