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Monthly Archives: December 2012

  • Casting Crowns - The Acoustic Sessions

    Posted on December 4, 2012 by Family Christian

    Ever committed to the simple but profound story of truth, Casting Crowns has impacted millions with powerful songs like "East To West", "Who Am I", and "If We Are The Body". Now fans can experience these favorites and more on the new acoustic project The Acoustic Sessions: Volume 1. In times of difficulty and in moments of praise, these songs have provided the words so many hearts long to communicate. Including two BRAND NEW songs, Acoustic Sessions: Volume 1, is a must have for any Casting Crowns fan.

     

    Here is Praise You in the Storm - listen now.

     

    Prebuy their new album today. Click here for details.


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Casting Crowns

  • A Q&A With Chris Tomlin

    Posted on December 4, 2012 by Family Christian



    Family Christian: Chris, congratulations on your new album. What can people expect to hear on Burning Lights?

    Chris Tomlin: Hopefully, they will find songs that are more than just the latest flavor—but they will hear the heart, the passion, the fire, the joy, the majesty, the surrender, the truth, and the triumph in every listen.

    FC: The first single from the album draws from II Kings 6. Tell us a little about the connection between that story and the song, “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies).”

    Chris: My friend Matt Redman says it best, "Worship is about seeing. We sing in response to what we see.”

    In II Kings 6, there is an enemy army surrounding the town of the prophet Elisha. Elisha proclaims to his servant, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." He then prays for the eyes of his servant to be opened to truly see what is going on around them. The Lord opens the eyes of the servant and he sees the mountains filled with horses and chariots of fire (angel armies)! Truth is, we live in the same reality. There are enemy armies constantly at our doorstep, and many times, we live in a state of fear. I hope and pray this song can build faith in people to know the truth that "those who are with us are far more than those who are against us."

     

    FC: On that song, the lyrics, “The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine,” feel very personal. What inspired this line?

    Chris: I love this line. What a concept and truth to grasp. The creator of the heavens, the maker of every living thing, the One who sits on the throne of an everlasting kingdom calls us "friend."  Every time I sing this line, I can barely contain the thought of it.

    FC: What else would you like listeners to know about this album as they worship the Lord with these songs?

    Chris: In the end, it’s about the heart of the song. Does the song move people or not? "I'm just a shepherd boy, singing to a choir of burning lights.” And I’m asking everyone to sing along.

    FC: As you contemplate a new year, is there a passage from Scripture that the Lord has been speaking to you about lately?

    Chris: I would easily say the passage from II Kings 6 I referenced earlier. My prayer for my own life: "God open my eyes to see the true reality...give me a fearless heart."

    FC: In your travels around the world leading worship, can you recall a particular story that has really impacted your life or ministry?

    Chris: The ministries of Compassion International and Watoto have truly blown me away. So many people are doing amazing work for the kingdom of God. Sitting in the shanty of a little boy named Julius in Uganda—it was just him and his grandmother, everyone else in his family had died (mostly of HIV). He had the disease as well. Through Compassion, he was receiving the medicine to keep the deadly disease away. He was five years old and so full of life and hope. And to know he was just one of the countless that this ministry and others like it are touching.

    I have been humbled every time we have traveled around to these other nations and experienced the passionate worship of Jesus.

    FC: After the Passion Conference and release of Burning Lights, what’s next for you? Can you give us a glimpse of upcoming projects?

    Chris: I’m so looking forward to our spring 2013 BURNING LIGHTS tour. It’s going to be the best yet.  Louie Giglio and Kari Jobe are joining me and I have such huge expectations for these nights.

     

    Burning Lights


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with 2 Kings, Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, Matt Redman, Louie Giglio, Compassion International

  • When Your Bag is Heavy and Your Faith Feels Small

    Posted on December 4, 2012 by Emily Freeman

    Emily Freeman

    "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

    New York City is alive with the late fall air. Faith stands next to me, her blonde hair blows across her face just as the carriage pulls in front of us.

    We flew to the city to stay with friends and celebrate Faith's birthday. During this entire trip I've felt a nagging sense of anxiety and worry over what's going on back home. It isn't one thing in particular, but I can't shake the heaviness. I clench my jaw and know I'm carrying around a sense of responsibility to manage things outside of my control.

    It's our turn to ride. We get the carriage pulled by white horses, a detail I feel compelled to mention because it seems the ones pulled by white horses are more important than the ones pulled by regular brown horses.

    The two girlfriends who are with us live here in the city. Though they roll their eyes over the cliché they've become by hanging out with us (A carriage ride through Central Park? Really must we?) they love us enough to climb up and squeeze tight into the red velvet covered benches.

    The black bag on my shoulder is packed to nearly unzippable extremes with my camera, wallet, extra gloves and bottle of water. It's heavy, and my right shoulder aches beneath the weight of it.

    I plop it down on the floor of the carriage just as the wheels begin to move.

    Faith laughs at something the driver says. I watch as she throws back her head and claps her small, gloved hands, my bag sitting at her feet.

    I remember a story I heard a long time ago about a horse and buggy and a man with a heavy load. The man climbs into a horse-drawn buggy and keeps his pack on his back once he sits down.

    When asked if he would like to remove it, he answers, "Oh no, I couldn't do that. I wouldn't want the horse to have to work so hard. I'll just carry it myself."

    I can't help but smile. I can see the ears of the horses in front of me, their heads bobbing up and down carrying me, my girlfriends...and my heavy bag.

    I never once thought to keep my bag strapped to my shoulder so the horses wouldn't have to carry the load. That would be needless, as they were already doing the work. Why should I do it, too?

    Matthew 11:28 comes to mind. Jesus issues an invitation to the weary, the burdened, the heavy-laden. He offers rest from heavy burdens to those of us who insist on carrying bags on carriage rides.

    The clip-clopping of horse hooves tap out a gentle rhythm as we ride. My friends chat and laugh, yellow leaves swirl out from underneath us, and I feel a shift inside my heart.

    The horses aren't just carrying my bag. They're carrying me.

    We have a God who can be trusted with not only our burdens, but also ourselves. He sees and cares and notices.

    He will not come undone.

    He remains un-overwhelmable.

    Dear Lord, gather us up into Your arms with all of our longings, fears, worries and burdens. We admit how futile it is for us to carry these things on our own. May we instead release them into your hands and walk with you by grace through faith. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    If you tend to take on responsibility for things never meant for you to carry, check out Emily Freeman's books, Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try Hard Life.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you carrying the burden of things you can't control?

    Let's imagine what life could look like if you dared to believe God carried both you and your burdens. How would today be different?

    Power Verses:
    2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (NIV)

    Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Emily P. Freeman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Matthew, Emily Freeman, Faith

  • Walk By Faith

    Posted on December 3, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    "For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV

     

    Eyes of faith are for this world, while eyes of sight are for eternity, where we see Jesus face to face—there faith is not necessary. Ironically, if we attempt to walk by sight we are blind to the things of God, but if we walk by faith we can fully see the ways of the Lord. On earth blindness to God breeds confusion, but eyes of faith receive vision and clarity. Thus, walk by faith and watch Him work. 

    For example: forgiving an offender (who has no remorse) seems irresponsible now, but ultimately brings peace through God's forgiveness of us. Or, if the Lord guides you to walk away from a deal, a relationship or a job, do so even if you don't completely understand why. Say no to what you see and yes to what you don't see. Your Savior Jesus has given you spiritual sight to see and act with conviction.

    "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

    Indeed, your view or understanding is not the perception of your heavenly Father's. Like a student observing the master sculptor whose statue is only half hewn out of marble, the gifted artist has the completed masterpiece in his mind's eye, but only reveals the work as it progresses. In the same way, God knows the intricate details of your destination and He makes known to you His plan as is proper. You are a wonderful work of His sculptured grace.

    Your physical eyes grow tired and dim as time rushes by, however your spiritual eyes grow more keenly robust with age. Put on the faith colored glasses of God's grace and you will see things as He wants them to become: a faithful and fun marriage, a job with joy and fulfillment, a clear calling, children who love Jesus and good habits that replace bad. Walk by faith and experience the abundance of Christ's capacity. Let the Lord heal your lame legs of unbelief, then once again walk robustly with Him!

    “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” Hebrews 11:7

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me daily in a faith walk with Your son Jesus.

    Related Readings: Mark 10:52; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Hebrews 11:1; 1 John 3:2

    Post/Tweet today: Eyes of faith are for this world, while eyes of sight are for eternity where we see Jesus face to face. #faith

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Hebrews

  • When You're Wrong, Even Though You're Right

    Posted on December 3, 2012 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy Blight

    "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

     

    My stomach churned in a mix of grief and anger. I was shocked with disbelief. A Bible study leader I knew had blatantly disobeyed God's truths. I was frustrated, and honestly I was angry, too.

    Righteous anger. Have you ever experienced it? That justifiable anger that rises up within you when you know someone is acting in a way that dishonors God. That anger Jesus expressed when He walked into the Temple and found the moneychangers doing business in God's house, defiling Holy ground.

    Righteous anger is a good thing. However, what we do with it is another matter.

    I shared my feelings about this leader's behavior with my husband and another couple during dinner one night. Was I gossiping? In the moment, I didn't think so. In fact, I felt okay talking about this leader since they'd engaged in behavior I thought was "unchristian."

    Everyone at dinner agreed with me and disapproved, which validated my feelings. I took comfort in how good it felt that I wasn't alone.

    However, the next day as I sat in church, God spoke in a powerful way through the sermon. Our pastor taught about idle gossip and character assassination, and how our words matter. Each word penetrated my heart like a double-edged sword.

    I too was a spiritual leader. And I had disobeyed God's Word as I judged another believer in the presence of others. Had I talked out of righteous anger? No. Idle gossip? Yes. Character assassination? Definitely.

    In the quietness of that moment in church, I felt conviction.

    Not guilt. Not shame. But conviction.

    The difference between these emotions is that guilt and shame are about us, and they are unproductive. They leave us stagnant, in a bad place with God and others.

    Conviction, on the other hand, is about God. It's a productive emotion from the Holy Spirit to let us know that we have not pleased Him. With conviction, God speaks truth into our hearts and empowers us to change so we live in a way that's pleasing to Him.

    That day, the Holy Spirit gave me a truth that I committed to memory.

    "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)

    I promised the Lord that morning, I will hold my tongue. I will only speak words that will build others up and benefit those listening. Or, at least, I will try.

    Paul gives a great tip on how to accomplish this in 2 Corinthians 10:5:

    "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)

    Next time, I commit to take my words captive BEFORE they come out of my mouth. I pray that I will not speak words that tear down, but only words that build up. Will you join me in this resolve?

    Dear Lord, help me to be a woman after Your own heart, one who speaks only what is helpful for building others up. And when I am tempted to speak unwholesome or critical words, help me to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Thank You that in Your strength I will be successful because I can do all things through You Who strengthens me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God's Story by Wendy Blight.

    Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    How can you take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ? List some practical examples from your own experiences.

    Ephesians 5:1 calls us to live a life of love. Spend some time thinking about how this call to live a life of love intersects the call to speak only words that build others up rather than tear them down.

    Power Verse:
    2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Wendy Blight

  • Trust Grows

    Posted on December 2, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. Psalm 52:8

     

    Trust is the soil in which our faith grows. Like a robust olive tree full of branches bearing luscious fruit, trust causes growth across the limbs of our life. It is trust that tears down our walls of fear. It is trust that allows us to outlast our critics. It is trust that brings to fruition a harvest of hope and patience. It is trust that keeps us from reacting wrongly. It is trust that moves a man to forgive his wife, or a wife to forgive her husband. It is trust that stands the test of time. Trust causes good things to grow. Our faith grows. Our humility grows. Our love grows. Our holiness grows. Our grace grows. Our fear of God grows. Our character grows. It is trust in our Savior that grows us up for His glory. 

    God’s unfailing love can be trusted, for there is no doubt about its trustworthiness. His love never fails (1 Corinthians 13: 8). No one has ever overdrawn the Almighty’s account of love. The Lord’s loans of love are not called in the middle of your crisis. On the contrary, He offers more love the more needy you find yourself. You can depend on the love of God. It will not fail  when you need Him the most. Others may walk away when you lose your way, but not your loving God; His love stays with you. You may feel deserted in your despair, but God’s love is still there for your comfort and care. His 100% track record of no failures can always be trusted. His love fails not. Our Savior's love is fail-safe.

    Sometimes it is hard to see the forest of our heavenly Father's love, for the trees of terror that stare us in the face. This is where we need to take a timeout and trust. Trust that God still loves you even when you represent Him poorly. Trust that He still loves you even though those around you don’t seem to care. Trust He still loves you in the loss of your job. Trust He still loves you though you let Him down. Trust His love does not keep accounts (nor should ours). Furthermore, He loves you so you can be loved and love others on His behalf. Being loved by God is just the beginning. Christians are a conduit for Christ in His cycle of love. We are His love agents; always investigating ways we can extend our Father’s love. Love that isn’t shared loses traction. Love given away gains more momentum. So pass along God’s unfailing love.

    Your trust in Jesus causes your love to grow to greater heights. His goal is for the fruit of His love to weigh down branches of your belief. Your fruitful loving life becomes attractive and inviting to others. They want to draw near the light of the Lord’s love that shines through your soul. They want to be close to your character so they can pluck some of your lovely fruit and partake. It is the love of God spread abroad in your life that becomes a beacon of hope. When you unleash love in your life, your faith, leadership, and ministry will flourish. The fruit of love calms angry hearts. It leads others to forgive and be forgiven. Love allows us to say things we otherwise would not say for fear of hurting another or of being rejected. Love is a remedy for rebellion. When the prodigal came home, his father first loved him (Luke 15:20). Love is our first and last response. It is our glimpse into the heart of God. Love never fails because God guarantees it. Trusting in God’s unfailing love matures us.

    Taken from Reading #38 in the 90-day devotional book, “Seeking God in the Psalms”... http:// bit.ly/InvUdR

    Post/Tweet this today: Trust tears down our walls of fear and allows us to outlast our critics. #trust

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Psalm, 1 Corinthians, Trust

  • Active Accountability

    Posted on December 1, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 3:21).

     

    Effective accountability partners are not passive. Once someone invites a friend into his or her life for accountability, it is a serious responsibility. Accountability is active, engaging, and encouraging. The giver and the receiver of accountability have entered into a trusting relationship. Indeed, wisdom listens to the warning of its accountability partner or group.

    Authentic accountability requires caring confrontation. A little bit of short-term discomfort and embarrassment will save you a lot of long-term regret. Thus, when you encounter emotional situations, keep a level head. Accountability facilitates objectivity. When you are under pressure, you have an objective team that gives you wise perspective. Your accountability group is there as a buffer to unwise decision making. 

    “Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning” (Ecclesiastes 4:13).

    Accountability provides much needed courage for another to do the right thing. Sometimes it is hard decisions that paralyze us into non-action. However, avoiding a difficult decision today will compound its inevitable consequences in the future. Accountability encourages you not to procrastinate when you are afraid. It relieves your fears and bolsters your faith.

    For example, team members may need to be terminated for the good of the company and for their individual betterment. Prospective church volunteers may need to be told “no” because their character is not fitting for a leadership role. Your young adult children are not prepared for marriage because they need to first move out from home and experience independent living. Accountability helps everyone move forward in God’s will.

    Above all else, live like you are accountable to almighty God, as one day we all give an account to Him for our actions. “They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:4–5).

    Prayer: Am I truly accountable to others, and do I provide effective accountability to friends?

    Related Readings: Proverbs 7:1–27; Jonah 3:6; Luke 17:1–4; Hebrews 4:13

    Taken from the December 1st reading in the new 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God” vol. 2... … http://bit.ly/Tv6y9a

    Post/Tweet: Avoiding a difficult decision today will compound its inevitable consequences tomorrow. #decide

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Peter, Ecclesiastes, Accountability, Ezekiel

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