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Monthly Archives: July 2013

  • New Album from The City Harmonic

    Posted on July 29, 2013 by Family Christian

    Internationally acclaimed band, The City Harmonic, is set to release globally its highly anticipated sophomore album, HEART, September 3 through Integrity Music.  The 14 songs on HEART are underscored by the cinematic and communal aesthetic prominent in all of the band’s music while building from where the band left off with its widely acclaimed, JUNO Award-winning I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home).  Reflecting life lived by the band members since their full-length debut, the new album shifts from the dream of what could and should be to the complexities of how to follow the true humanity of Christ’s example in the world.

    Co-produced by the band - vocalist/songwriter and pianist Elias Dummer, bassist Eric Fusilier, guitarist Aaron Powell and drummer Josh Vanderlaan - and Jared Fox, HEART places Christ at the center while delving into themes of grace, discipleship and being, and becoming, truly human, all the while giving the listener permission to sing out in hope, in hurt.

    “We set out to write an album ‘on being, and becoming, human,’ but, in a way, it’s about image bearing,” says Elias.  “By that I mean that yes, we’re human — and the Bible tells us that we’re made in the image of God and each and every human has an inherited dignity as a result. But there’s more to it than that…God made this universe around us and often refers to the cosmos as a temple. I mean if you stop and think about the role an ‘image’ or ‘statue’ might play in a temple, you begin to see that we humans have quite a role to play. Whatever our present circumstances, the biggest challenge before us is to recognize that in Christ we’ve been given the responsibility and capacity to become like Him, and as we do, we are becoming exactly the kind of humans we were meant to be from the beginning.

    “People have always talked about ‘the square’ representing the physical, the tangible, and the circle representing the spirit, God,” continues Elias, making reference to the new album cover artwork. “How do you square the circle? How do you make these things connect?  Jesus was the perfect man and God.  Only in Jesus do we have the ability to say, ‘I’m a whole person, not a broken apart thing, whole but broken.’ On HEART, we try to unpack what it means to be fully human.”

    At the core of the new album is the first radio single, “City on a Hill,” which is steeped in the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5.

    “‘A City On A Hill’ takes the high concept view of Christ and brings it down to earth in the form of the very things he said in the Sermon on the Mount,” says Elias.  “It also forms a natural transition into the balance of the album which attempts to marry the ideals with our real lives.

    “In Christ, God has given us the perfect example to live by, and the means to live that way,” adds Elias. “For the Christian, discipleship isn’t simply adding knowledge to our lives, but it’s to become increasingly more like the human example we’ve been given – to become ‘little Christs,’ and carry our cross through the mud and mire of a broken world in the knowledge that by the grace of God we arise brand new.”

    In the past two years, life has hit The City Harmonic ‘square on.’ They went from working day jobs to recording and touring full time. Aaron had his first child, Josh was married, Elias had his fourth child and Eric was diagnosed with cancer. In a very real sense, life set the context for HEART.

    One of the songs on the album, “Strong,” written by Elias and Eric, grew from a place of vulnerability in the middle of Eric’s battle with cancer. “I wasn’t really in a place to write anything,” Eric confesses. “Emotionally, I felt like a child who had been let down by his parents for the first time.  I just couldn’t see [my illness] as a blessing.  I couldn’t connect with God. To confront that stuff and write, ‘I am strong in my weakness,’ was really difficult because I couldn’t deny how I really felt...”

    Near the one-year anniversary of the stem cell transplant that saved his life, Eric’s cancer is in remission. “Being on the other side of it, my emotions now line up with what I believe. God really has been there the whole time, using this for the good. It’s a clear picture of God’s people coming together, working together... a profound experience.”

    With Eric planning to rejoin the group on the road, having been sidelined since his cancer diagnosis early last year, The City Harmonic launches their headline tour with special guests Shawn McDonald in October.

    Forming nearly three years ago, The City Harmonic went from anonymity to widespread acclaim, headlining tours across North America and gathering numerous awards along the way.


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Shawn McDonald, The City Harmonic

  • White As Snow

    Posted on July 29, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7 (NIV)

    We were friends in youth group. That led to Saturdays at her house. Double dates. And slumber parties where we talked about boys and did each other's hair.

    But more than silly teen stuff, Michelle and I were among the few in the youth group who attended church with no family support. Consequently, we encouraged each other spiritually and often knelt and prayed together.

    A year after high school, sadly we lost touch. We moved to different cities. Married. Had children. Our lives no longer intersected.

    Until three decades later.

    Her message on Facebook caught me by surprise, and I couldn't wait to see her again. When we met she told me all that had transpired in thirty years, and my heart hurt for my friend.

    So much had taken place, beginning with college and the party scene. She met men who said they loved her, but hurt her instead. Those unhealthy relationships led to more than one marriage. She endured abuse, and eventually began to believe that somehow it was what she deserved.

    Bravely, she left the abusive men. She went back to school and secured a job, taking care of her children on her own.

    But there was still something missing inside of the heart of this woman. Though she had once found sanctuary in an altar at a small church, she wondered if she had strayed too far to find her way back. Did too many men, too many parties, too much sin stand between her and Jesus?

    In Psalm 51:7-9, the Psalmist confronted those same fears. It led to this prayer of repentance.

    "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity" (NIV).

    Like the Psalmist, Michelle felt the sorrow of her sin and the path that had taken her so far from her once-vibrant relationship with God. But she also knew there was a place to find restoration.

    Not just to be forgiven, but to be restored, renewed, and to rejoice in Whose she was again.

    Michelle reached out for God's love saying, "I knew that I couldn't go back and try to fix the past. I could only make amends and claim the forgiveness that God had ready for me."

    Maybe you know of someone ... maybe you are that someone ... who believes you've gone too far.

    Repentance begins with sorrow or remorse over sin and leads to a change of direction. You turn away from your old life and turn toward God to accept His immense forgiveness. The burden of sin is removed as God cleanses you and takes your sin and replaces it with His righteousness.

    If this is you, return to the love of Jesus. Put the past behind you as you accept the complete forgiveness He freely offers. Don't wait one more moment. Your past may shape you, but it doesn't define you, and it certainly doesn't limit what God can do in and through you.

    Today Michelle is an example of what takes place when we are washed white as snow. She no longer feels ashamed or guilty for her past actions. A light heart and a joyful perspective have replaced these feelings. She volunteers in a rehabilitation home for women who have been abused or are homeless. Michelle delights when a woman opens her heart to receive God's cleansing and healing touch. She knows first-hand the hope and freedom that comes when anyone takes a U-turn back toward all God freely offers.

    Dear Jesus, it is no accident that I read this today. You are inviting me to change my direction and to run toward You for forgiveness. I do so freely and with joy. Thank You for washing me white as snow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

    Reflect and Respond:
    When God enters the picture, your past is reframed. How can your past story be used to encourage others to live free?

    Tell one person your story today.

    Power Verse:
    Matthew 9:6a, "But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm

  • Disconnect to Reconnect

    Posted on July 28, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns” (Matthew 14:13).

    There are times when the crowds crowd in on me. I need relief—relief from the routine, relief from responsibilities, relief from relationships, or relief from the raw pain of losing a loved one. Jesus felt this intense emotion as John the Baptist, His friend and spiritual confidant, was brutally beheaded. The pain of severe loss led Him to be alone.

    Are you on the edge of complete exhaustion? Is your tolerance for any more trouble at the tipping point of chronic fatigue? If so, it is time to disconnect from distractions so you can reconnect to your relationship with the Lord. You preclude coming apart emotionally and physically when you come apart relationally with your Savior Jesus.

    Our private investment in solitude gives our public service sustainability. If we are always available to everyone, then we are not effective with anyone. A soul that is always exposed to the light of life is unable to discern the desperate state of hurting humanity. So we schedule time on the calendar with Christ in seclusion, and He empowers us.

    Your responsibilities will not rest while you rest, but trust the Lord to take care of any crisis that may arise. For you to disconnect from your duties means you prepare ahead of time to transition from your tasks while you are away. Do not be ensnared by your ego that always wants to be wanted. Let others learn what you know so you can go away and grow. We grow stale if we reject retreats, but we are energized when we engage them.

    When we disconnect, we trust God to get things done through others in spite of our absence. Your break from work and home is an opportunity for a colleague to step up and be blessed with a new opportunity to be stretched. Why keep all the challenging circumstances to yourself? Let go so others can gain invaluable experience. Once you have truly disconnected from your phone, enjoy your soul reconnecting with Christ!

    “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

    Prayer: What relationship or responsibility do I need to disconnect from for a season? When and where is the best place for me to reconnect with Christ?

    Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 15:4; Daniel 9:3; Acts 17:27; Hebrews 11:6

    Post/Tweet: Our private investment in solitude gives our public service sustainability. #solitude

    © 2013 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 Matthew

  • Desert Experience

    Posted on July 27, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
    Mark 1:12-13

    Sometimes the Holy Spirit sends you into a desert experience. The purpose of this hard time is not punishment, but purity. God wants to purify your faith and grow your dependence on Him. Naturally, the enemy does not sit still when he senses someone has escaped eternity’s cover. He does, however, miss the principle that God uses all things for His good, even your enemies. Times of trial are full of temptation from Satan, for he appeals to your pride, your physical appetite, and your spiritual vulnerability. He wants to bring you down when you are at your weakest. He sees you alone and ready for the kill. Satan smells blood, but the blood he smells is not your demise, it is your salvation. It is the blood of Jesus Christ that covers you during this crisis time in your desert of life.
    Your desert experience may involve a child who is away from God and away from home. It may be that your health is failing quickly and you are on the fast track to heaven’s gates. Your desert experience may encompass loneliness and a Lord that does not seem to answer prayer. Heaven may be silent during this time of stress and distress. Your marriage may be in the ditch and even on the way to divorce court, so be careful not to make a dumb decision during your desert time. He will carry you through. His angels are not passive to your plight, but present to minister to your needs.

    Your heavenly Father is sending reinforcements for your faith, so stay immersed in the Word of God because His word is your anchor during this troubling time. The promises of God rain down like manna during desolate desert times. Feed your soul with Scripture, and you will have strength to make it through this time of turmoil. Look to the Lord, for He cares. He is willing to make you whole and to walk with you through this desert of distress. Do not attempt to gut it out without God and people.
    Lastly, you will be stronger as a result of this faith-stretching situation. What was meant to drive you away from God will draw you closer. The Holy Spirit knows better than you what you need to become more like Jesus in your faith and deeds. This desert experience will pass, so don’t waste this pain and discomfort, but use it to go deep with the Divine. Turn the tables with trust, for your faithfulness inspires others to remain faithful. The irrigation of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness will flood your desert with new life and will be beautiful to behold. Jesus creates a paradise of character where once existed a desert of temptation.
    The Bible says, “Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:6).

    Post/Tweet: Feed your soul with Scripture, and you will have strength to make it through times of turmoil. #Scripture

    © 2013 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 Mark

  • Faith Living

    Posted on July 26, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

    Faith living is focused on God living. It is the road less traveled. Even for believers in Jesus Christ, faith living is not always predominant. Why settle for anything less? If we limit ourselves to our efforts, our logic and what we can see, then we only tip God with our faith. He is calling us beyond the honeymoon stage of our faith to mature faith. A faith that only thinks of the past is anemic and stunted. Faith alive is focused on God’s vision for the future. It is caught up in the possibilities of today with no fear of tomorrow.

    By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going (Hebrews 11:8).

    Faith living enjoys God’s ability to create. For example, He can create resourceful relational opportunities, as He is the connector par excellent. By faith He can be trusted to lead you to just the right people. People whom you can serve and people who can join you to accomplish God’s will. Determine ways to bring value to the other person. It is not about what you can get from them, it is all about how you can serve them.

    Moreover, faith living is not irresponsible living. This is not some blind excursion that ignores the needs of your spouse and children. It is wrought with prayer and godly advice. This implies that faith living is not lived in a vacuum. It is living in concert with those around you. Abraham went by faith to a new country and cared for his family.

    By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:9).

    Yes, it requires sacrifice and service, but not in the guise of unwise decision-making. Faith living trusts God’s timing. It does not rush into battle without weapons or a plan. You trust God to prepare you and provide  you the needed resources to carry out His will. You are no match for Satan without the weapons of spiritual warfare.

    Furthermore, trust the Lord with how He has gifted you. Your part is to become more self aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Allow God and others to leverage your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. Be who God created you to be and come alive in Christ. Pursue Him, live by faith and execute His will. Live by faith and not by sight. Faith living is the only way to live for God. You are not really alive until you live by faith in Jesus!

    Prayer: How can I better position my life to live by faith and not by sight?

    Related Readings: Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 2:20; 3:11; Hebrews 10:38

    © 2013 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 2 Corinthians, Faith

  • Petra Celebrates 40th Anniversary

    Posted on July 26, 2013 by Family Christian

    To celebrate their illustrious 40-year career, Christian rock band, Petra, will release an exclusive CD project on July 30 featuring the band’s biggest and most-loved songs.  The standard edition of 40th Anniversary will include 27 of Petra’s hits, while the deluxe edition (digital copy only) will include 37 songs.  Both versions include a new recording titled “Holy Is Your Name.”

    “’Holy Is Your Name’ is a thank you to all our fans, but mostly a thanks to God for all the wonderful years!” says Bob Hartman, founding member of Petra.  “We are happy to include it on the 40th Anniversary compilation."

    Compiled by Hartman, 40th Anniversary displays Petra’s four-decade career of music and ministry featuring hits like “This Means War,” “Beyond Belief,” and “Creed.”  Long-time vocalist John Schlitt joined Hartman on a seven-city reunion tour this summer to share Petra’s anniversary celebration with fans.

    Over the course of their 40 years, Petra has released 24 projects, sold over 7 million albums, garnered four GRAMMY® Awards, 10 Dove Awards and several #1 radio hits.  Considered the “pioneer” of Christian rock, the band has successfully paved the way for numerous artists and has helped create a new genre of rock music.

    40th Anniversary Track Listing
    DISC 1
    01. Why Should the Father Bother?
    02. Killing My Old Man
    03. For Annie
    04. Without Him We Can Do Nothing
    05. Angel Of Light
    06. Road To Zion
    07. Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows
    08. Judas' Kiss
    09. Stand Up
    10. Bema Seat
    11. Grave Robber
    12. Beat The System
    13. God Gave Rock And Roll To You
    14. Voice In The Wind

    DISC 2
    01. Thankful Heart
    02. This Means War!
    03. He Came, He Saw, He Conquered
    04. All Fired Up
    05. Hit You Where You Live
    06. Beyond Belief
    07. Creed
    08. Dance
    09. Sight Unseen
    10. Midnight Oil
    11. Enter In
    12. Jekyll & Hyde
    13. Holy Is Your Name (NEW RECORDING)
    Additional Songs on the Deluxe Edition (digital copy only):
    Chameleon, The Coloring Song, All Over Me, More Power To Ya, Godpleaser, Not By Sight, Computer Brains, Fool’s Gold,  You Are My Rock and Mine Field


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Petra

  • Avoiding a Spiritual Stumble

    Posted on July 26, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "'Yes, come,' Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. 'Save me, Lord!' he shouted." Matthew 14:29-30 (NLT)

    The loud noise and screams suddenly coming from upstairs caused immediate panic.

    That morning my daughter had set out to run a few miles on our treadmill. Everything was going just fine until the worst happened.

    She lost her focus, then her balance, and stumbled. The treadmill violently threw her off and trapped her between the mat, the floor and the wall. She managed to wiggle free, but not before the treadmill wreaked havoc on her back, legs and arms.

    When tears dried and Band Aids had been gently placed over the raw wounds, I asked her how the accident happened. It turned out she had a lot going on besides just running. For example, a blaring television, incoming text messages (which of course needed urgent attention), a loose shoelace and fatigue in her legs.

    There were a lot of distractions that caused her to fall, and she was too weak to regain her balance. She vowed then and there to never get back on another treadmill. Ever.

    My daughter's tumble is a lot like what happens in our Christian walk. We fully intend to stay focused on Christ, but life's distractions cause us to shift our focus, stumble in our faith and leave us feeling too beaten down to get back up.

    Matthew 14:29 shows us how Peter took a tumble of sorts when he lost his focus. Peter and the disciples were caught in a terrible storm with their boat being tossed around by torrential waves. When Peter saw Jesus standing on the water, he asked to do the same thing. Let's pick up the story there: "'Yes, come,' Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. 'Save me, Lord!' he shouted" (Matt. 14:29-30).

    When waves of fear, insecurity, discouragement or stress crash around me, I stumble too. These quickly become my focus instead of fixing my eyes on Jesus. Without fail, I sink under the weight of these circumstances and fall.

    My "fall" looks like this: instead of praying, I worry about my dad's health. Rather than praising God and looking to Him for provision, I stress about paying bills. And instead of trusting He will help me complete a task at hand, I doubt if I'm able to get everything on my agenda done. All these distractions pull me down and pull my faith away from Jesus.

    Here is the amazing thing about Jesus. When Peter began sinking, he cried out for Jesus to save him. And Jesus did. Just as Jesus didn't hesitate to pull Peter out of the rough waves, He will pull you and me back too as soon as we ask.

    Life has stormy seasons. Unexpected health diagnoses', years when children decide to walk away from the Lord, rough patches in our marriage ... all cause waves of doubt, stress, worry or fear. These can cause us to stumble and fall if we only focus on them.

    The best place to fix our eyes is on Jesus. He's our peace, source of hope, and the One person we can trust will always be there for us. And when we do fall, as soon as we call out to Him, He'll pick us up.

    Dear Jesus, I confess I lose focus on You while running through the distractions of life. I have fallen many times. Help me to trust and have faith in You, and avoid letting life distract me from Your truths. Amen.

    Related Resources:

    NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women is interspersed with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team.

    Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

    Reflect and Respond:
    In what ways has life been distracting you, causing you to inadvertently lose focus on Christ?

    Close your eyes and visualize yourself standing in a storm looking at Jesus. Be bold and walk towards Him. Have faith that no matter how much life has caused you to get sidetracked, He is ready to reach out and pull you close once again.

    Power Verse:
    Proverbs 4:25-27, "Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


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

  • Friends Follow Up

    Posted on July 25, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing. Acts 15:36

    Friends need follow up. A growing relationship requires catching up and checking on how they are doing. Since life happens every day, a friend’s needs can change overnight. They may suffer from a sudden sickness,  experience a career change or a teenage child might require prayer. Wisdom in financial stewardship may trouble them so their walk with the Lord needs nurturing. A follow up visit carries compassionate care and concern.

    It is not enough for us to proclaim truth to people without providing ongoing discipleship tools and further teaching. Like a fruitful garden requires daily care and cultivation, so do those eager to grow in their relationship with Christ. Yes, wise are we to take hungry hearts by the hand and pray with them, read and study the Bible together, and experience the joy of sharing the gospel with others. Friends are loved and valued as we take time to follow up on their faith and family.

    Because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:5

    Furthermore, make it easy on your friends when you visit with them. Be careful not to take advantage of their hospitality by being demanding or expensive in your tastes. Be content with what they have, even if it requires your inconvenience or adjustment to their environment. You are called to serve, not to be served. Pay for your expenses when possible and offer to cover theirs. Be intentional when you travel overseas to adapt to their culture and not be a burden.

    Lastly, let the Lord lead you in your endeavors to encourage friends in the faith. Make sure people want you to come and see them before you announce your intentions to intrude on their lives. Life is short and you have a limited amount of time and energy, so invest wisely in those who genuinely want to grow in their daily walk with God. The Holy Spirit will show you the way to go and what to do, so pray earnestly. Follow God as you follow up with friends.

    During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:9-10

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to love  those who are hungry to learn Your word and grow in Your grace.

    Related Readings: Psalm 138:8; Proverbs 18:24; John 15:13; Philippians 1:5-6, 4:1

    Post/Tweet today: Like a fruitful garden requires daily care and cultivation, so do those eager to grow with God. #encouragefaith

    © 2013 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 Acts

  • Keith & Kristyn Getty Release Live Album

    Posted on July 25, 2013 by Family Christian

    Getty Music announces the release of the first live album from Keith and Kristyn Getty, which was recorded at The Gospel Coalition in Orlando, FL, this past spring. Keith and Kristyn Getty Live at The Gospel Coalition is produced by Ed Cash and features 13 previously-released songs that are heard live on a recording for the first time, along with a new tune, Lift High the Name of Jesus (co-written by the Gettys and Cash), and some of the Getty’s favorite traditional hymns. The project will be available September 10, 2013.

    “Working with Keith and Kristyn has been one of the great joys of my career,” says Cash. “First and foremost, their songs are packed full of theological truth, but their commitment to musical excellence and great melodies with respect to church tradition is unparalleled. This album is a fabulous collection of songs recorded in a live atmosphere with a real congregation exalting the Almighty. I tend to crave authenticity, especially with live records, and this project is chock-full of it. At the same time, the album has a professionalism due to the extremely high caliber nature of the players, and of course the driving excellence of Keith's piano playing and Kristyn's voice.”

    Keith and Kristyn Getty Live at The Gospel Coalition is comprised of several performances occurring during the 5-day conference that included sermons from such well-known speakers as Tim Keller, Senior Pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City/Author; John Piper, Founder/Teacher of desiringGod.org; and Don Carson, Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Keller adds, “The 2013 Gospel Coalition National Conference blended the spoken Word and the sung Word in an unforgettable way. Substantive expositions of the Biblical text were interwoven with the Gettys’ theologically-rich worship hymns. Together they truly did ‘tune our hearts to sing His grace.’”

    The Gettys are in their homeland of Northern Ireland spending time on a songwriting sabbatical and reconnecting with family and friends. When they return to the States in late August, they will begin rehearsals for a fall tour in support of the new project that will run September-November and crisscross the country.

    For a recent interview with Keith, click here.


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, John Piper, Tim Keller, Ed Cash, Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, D.A. Carson

  • Hope Runs in the Middle of Life - Claire Diaz-Ortiz

    Posted on July 25, 2013 by John van der Veen



    Claire Diaz-Ortiz leads social innovation at Twitter, Inc., and is the author of several books, including Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time. Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, she is a frequent international speaker on social media, business, and innovation and writes a popular business blog at www.clairediazortiz.com. She holds an MBA from Oxford University and an MA and BA in anthropology from Stanford University. She is cofounder of Hope Runs, a non-profit organization operating in AIDS orphanages in Kenya. Claire has been called a "mover and shaker" by Mashable, "the woman who got the pope on Twitter" by The Washington Post, a "force for good" by Forbes, and "one of the most generous in social media" by Fast Company. She has been widely written about in such publications as the New York Times, Business Week, The Washington Post, and Forbes.

    I sat down with Claire recently and talked through her amazing life. How she, as it seems to have lived such great stories in such a short time. What unraveled was not just intriguing, but also thrilling. Here is a women who is constantly living out what it means to be a "hearer of God." Or - Claire is a women who hears God. Not in a audible way, but in the still small voice kind of way.

    Her story is filled with passion for the lost and lonely. Her story is filled with hope running wildly through the middle of life.

    John: Claire, I'm wondering, maybe before we talk a little bit about your new book, if you want to just give us a brief history of who you are and what you have done. I think I know what your current job title is, but maybe if you just want to give us a brief overview of where you started and what made you interested in social media, that would be a good place to start.

    Claire: Sure. In 2006, I went on a trip around the world. And the last stop on that trip--it was a yearlong trip--was Kenya, where I went to climb Mount Kenya. Someone had told me that there was a guesthouse near the base of the mountain, so I decided to stay at that guesthouse. It was very cheap. The day I went to the guesthouse, I realized that it was actually on the grounds of an orphanage. When I arrived, the orphanage elders invited me in to have lunch at the orphanage. I went in that day and in the middle of lunch, I was in the restroom and I heard God telling me that I would stay at that orphanage. And so I ended up living at the orphanage for a year. My foster son was a child I met that first day, who ended up coming back with me to the U.S. So this book ...

    John: On that trip?

    Claire: Yeah, we met on that trip.

    John: Oh, you met on that trip, and eventually ...

    Claire: We met on that trip. I stayed, living at the orphanage for a year, and then about nine months or a year after, I came back. We brought him to the U.S.

    John: So, just to clarify. You were going to stay there one day, and you ended up staying a year?

    Claire: Yes. And getting that kid along the way. So, the book, Hope Runs is our story. It's the story of Sammy's life before coming to the orphanage, and my life before coming to the orphanage, and then us meeting that day, living together that year, and then the five years that have happened since then, essentially. During the year I lived at the orphanage, I had a blog that was popular. Because I had this popular blog, I ended up meeting some of the folks that were starting a little weird social media thing called Twitter. And so they said, "Hey, you should try getting on Twitter. We think it could be really cool for you to tweet about things." And so, I started tweeting while I was living at this orphanage in Kenya. Obviously, there weren't a lot of people tweeting about their lives in orphanages in Kenya at the time, so I started to learn very early on how Twitter could be used for non-profit organizations and missionaries. Eventually, then, about a year later, I started working at the company where I still work today.

    John: So to some extent, your career or your life story has two different paths. Because it certainly is philanthropy on the one side, but then it's also this crazy social media world on the other side. How have those collided, or how have they been beneficial for you in your history?

    Claire: Sure. I believe that we need to extend access to more populations on the planet for us to gain the change we are looking for. And I think that Twitter is a great tool for doing that. I think the online world creates a level playing field for lots of populations, different populations around the world. So I like being able to work with non-profit organizations from a cool platform like Twitter.

    John: That's very cool. So, going back then to this trip. You decided to climb Mount Kenya. Was this the first time that you had an encounter with God, or were you kind of on a journey with Him before?

    Claire: Yeah, no, I've always been a Christian. I was raised a Christian but up until that day, I've never heard God so distinctly. I've never heard him saying to me so clearly that something was going to happen, and I had to keep my eyes open for me to know what that was going to be, essentially. You know, that day in the orphanage, I decided to... I said, "I'm not going to climb the mountain. I'm going to do a 72-hour fast and read the Bible. I read lots of books about things like that, bettering yourself and what not.

    John: Yes, I found your list for 2013, I was intrigued…

    Claire: So inside I’m saying, "Okay, I'm going to read the whole Bible, and I'm going to fast while I do it, and then I'm going to come up with my decision on if I'm going to stay in the orphanage for a year." And I like to joke that I fainted somewhere near Leviticus, and they took me to the hospital (literally), because I had actually fainted. They thought I had malaria. But at that point I already decided I was going to live at the orphanage for the year, so it was okay.

    John: So going through the book of Leviticus should convict someone [laughs]…

    Claire: Exactly, exactly. To do anything.

    John: To do anything. That's amazing. What do you say to the person who thinks that maybe, at some point in their life, God has spoken to them but they may have missed that voice or that sign? How does someone kind of look at their life and question whether or not God is speaking to them?

    Claire: It's interesting, because I've often questioned why did I hear God, so distinctly that day, and why haven't I heard him so distinctly since. I've obviously heard God many times in my life, but what happened that day was bigger than anything that's ever happened to me before since. And, I really think a lot of the reason that it happened was that I had a lot of space in my life for it to come in. I was in a moment of searching, I had some time, there was margin in my life, essentially, and that allowed me to hear. I think probably most of us live our lives so busy and so full that we don't allow time to hear. Maybe we have 15 or 20 minutes in the morning of our quiet time or something. But that's not a lot if you're looking for God to really change your life.

    John: That's very interesting and also very convicting. In talking about the margin, Claire, I just have to ask the question, because in social media, we have access to the entire world at our fingertips 24/7. How do you make time, encourage either somebody who's younger or older or getting into or feeling addicted to social media, be it Facebook or Twitter, whatever. How do you plan margin in your life?

    Claire: Well, I think it's funny. Some people have thought I've been kind of heretical to say, does working at Twitter mean that I take the digital Sabbath? But I do. I try to take 24 hours off in every single week. And I think it completely restores me in ways that would never happen if I just stayed online. I mean, it's just so easy for us to get caught up in the fast-paced world we live in. And then in the fast-paced world, if you're spending all your time online, it feels even more fast-paced than ever. So you need to step away eventually and just shut it off and pause and stop.

    John: Have you always been a writer?

    Claire: Yeah. In my head.

    John: Sure. But I mean, you haven't come out with a lot of books, right, but you've probably written...

    Claire: Yeah. Sure.

    John: You know, unpublished or like you said...

    Claire: Right. I wrote a book about Twitter that came out a couple of years ago. And, as I say, I've always been writing in my head or something. I have all the Moleskin journals to prove it.

    John: Well, that's good. Encourage somebody who's on the fence about either foster care or adoption. What signs should they be looking at to either dive in or maybe hold off for that? How do you approach somebody who's considering that?

    Claire: Well, I think it's interesting, because I'm probably overly encouraging of anyone who's considering it. I actually ...

    John: Which is okay.

    Claire: I mean, I want people to be in a stable marriage if they're married, or to be in a stable financial situation, a stable living situation. Those things are important. But, I think that emotional renaissance, or emotional insecurities about the decision to adopt or the decision to foster, will always exist. Just in the same way that many soon-to-be biological parents have insecurities. And I don't think that's ever really going to go away. I don't think a hundred percent of the foster adoptive parents in the world are running around saying, "I can't wait for him or her to get here this second." But I think they all find that love very, very quickly upon meeting your new kid, essentially.

    John: So it's said that expecting parents are never, ever ... Even before they're expecting, they're never ready for a child. Do you think the same is true when they're expecting an adoption or a foster care child?

    Claire: Absolutely. And I think perhaps, even more so. Simply because often times when you're adopting or getting a foster child, you're getting a kid at a different age than day one. And you never quite know what day 1,000 might be for a child. And that comes with its own host of challenges.

    John: What has been the best surprise about Sammy in your life?

    Claire: I think the best surprise about Sammy has been simply the way that when I do little things, I'm amazed by how much Sammy appreciates them. When we were in the process of writing this book, I learned stories I never knew about Sammy. I thought I knew things about him, I thought he knew things particularly about his life in the last seven years since I've known him. But I was learning all these new things and one of them was, the emotion he felt the first time my best friend baked him a cake. Because he'd never... She baked him a cake because we were celebrating. He had graduated and he'd never had a cake baked for him before. And he was just so overcome with joy at this little thing. I hadn't even thought that, I dont' even know ... I guess we had bought cakes for him on past birthdays, past birthdays, I don't even know. And then the fact that the cake had been baked by someone because they cared about him, he was just like, "This is amazing." And he wrote this story in the book, and I just couldn't believe it. I started crying just because I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that A) no one had baked him a cake, and B) that I never knew that was important, 'cause I would've baked the cake years earlier, obviously.

    John: What is God teaching you lately?

    Claire: God is teaching me an incredible amount of patience right now.

    John: And how is he doing that?

    Claire: One of the ways .. There are different ways in my life, but one of the ways is in relation to Sammy. You know my parents sometimes say I got kind of the hardest end of parenting 'cause I started this with a teenager.

    John: How old was he when you took ...

    Claire: I met him at 13. He came over at 14 and a half, 15. You know that is a challenge. I think any teenager is a challenge. A parent of a teenager faces challenges and I'm facing all that. So without having had the years to kind of set him up for success in many ways, we are tackling those things. And that's hard.

    About Hope Runs

    Sammy Ikua Gachagua had lost his father to AIDS, his mother to abandonment, and his home to poverty. By age ten, he was living in a shack with seven other children and very little food. He entered Tumaini Children's Home seeing it as a miracle with three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and clothes on his back.

    When Claire Diaz-Ortiz arrived in Kenya at the end of an around-the-world journey, she decided to stay the night, climb Mt. Kenya, then head back home to Maine. She entered Tumaini Children's Home seeing it as little more than a free place to spend the night before her mountain trek.
    God had other plans.

    Hope Runs
    is the emotional story of an American tourist, a Kenyan orphan, and the day that would change the course of both of their lives forever. It's about what it means to live in the now when the world is falling down around you. It's about what it means to hope for the things you cannot see. Most of all, it's about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Orphans, Kenya, Claire Diaz-Ortiz

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