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  • The 46th Annual Dove Awards: Better Together

    46thDoveAwardsLast Tuesday, October 13, 2015, marked the return of the annual GMA Dove Awards. Since 1970 the show has honored excellence in Christian music, with this year’s show being no different. Highlighting the event were a number of big name performers, presenters, and the theme of the entire event: “We are better together.”

    Hosted by "Duck Dynasty" star Sadie Robertson and five-time Grammy winner Erica Campbell, the fun-filled night included powerhouse performances by Kirk Franklin, Matt Maher, Crowder, newcomer Lauren Daigle and many more.

    Speaking of Lauren Daigle, the young artist had one of the most memorable nights of all, as she brought home the “Song of the Year,” “New Artist of the Year,” and “Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year” awards.

    In her acceptance speech, Daigle reminded viewers of why she and all the others create the music that they do. “We as Christians have a legacy to leave, and it’s all about a love of Christ to permeate the music and reach the hearts of all of the people out there.”

    Taking home the “Artist of the Year” award was rapper Lecrae, who made history by becoming the first pure hip-hop/rap artist to win the award*. It didn’t stop there though, as he also took home the “Rap/Hip Hop Song of the Year” and “Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year” awards.

    Though he was not able to accept his awards in person, Lecrae offered this statement to The Christian Post the following day: “It is extremely humbling. I make music to impact and inspire. I’m grateful to have a team around me that believes in the vision and contributes their talent to bring it all to fruition.”

    Surrounding the night was the overarching theme of unity, reminding us believers that we are all one in Christ and that “we are better together.”

    That was never more present than when rapper KB performed his song, “I Believe,” where he and a group of dancers faced off against another group dressed as police and wearing riot gear.

    After the song ended he posed the question, “What does it look like to have two come together and talk and become unified, linking together to actually bring peace?”

    Throughout Scripture we are called to come together as one people within the body of Christ. In Colossians 3:13-14 (NIV), Paul says, “13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

    And in the Psalms it reads, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1 NIV).

    The Dove Awards promoted unity on a national scale, but more than awareness, unity requires action. We are to forgive one another and love one another as the Lord forgives and loves us.

    What can you do in your community to start creating more unity?


    *tobyMac has previously won “Artist of the Year,” but his style features a blend of rock, pop, and rap music.

  • When You Feel Like Giving Up

    Rachel Wojo OCTOBER 20, 2015

    When You Feel Like Giving Up Rachel Wojo

    "For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? — the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless." Psalm 18:31-32 (ESV)

    The alarm would sound any minute. It was time. Time to open my eyes, sit up and face another day. I started the inner pep talk immediately. Maybe today will be different. Things can’t get any worse. Well, maybe they can. No, God’s got this. I had this conversation in my head before my feet ever hit the floor.

    Circumstances overwhelmed me and had begun to take a toll on my body as well. I knew God was with me; I’d known that since I was a child. But the perfect life had taken a wild detour, and I found myself in a very imperfect world.

    The unexpected journey through divorce and losing my mom to cancer had been tough enough. Now looking ahead, my daughter’s label of "terminal disease" seemed bigger than God.

    In my desperation, I didn’t just pray: I cried to the Lord. I needed more than another sermon illustration. More than a checklist of do’s and don’ts. I really needed to know that God was not just near, but that He would get me through this. But how?

    My habit of reading the Psalms kicked in, and I fumbled to one of my favorites where today’s key verse can be found: "For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? — the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless."

    As I meditated on the verses, the phrase "who equipped me with strength" captured my attention. I found myself begging: Lord, I need the kind of strength only You can give. I need this equipping process, Jesus. Will You please help me?

    I dangled my feet over the side of the bed and continued reading. The Psalmist reflected: "You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip" (Psalm 18:36, ESV).

    The Holy Spirit prompted me through this reflection. That’s it! That’s what I need to remember! When I feel like giving up, I don’t have to comprehend the entire journey. I only need enough strength to take one more step.

    I can take comfort in the fact that God’s plan is always bigger and better than mine.

    Echoing the words of the psalmist, I whispered to God that the battle felt enormously overwhelming. I asked Him to equip me with strength only He can give (Psalm 18:39a).

    Finally, I moved my dangling feet from the bedside and placed them solidly on the ground, knowing His power would carry me through whatever came my way that day.

    Have you felt like giving up lately? Does the thought of seeing yourself on top of the mountain ahead seem too far-fetched to imagine? Let’s stop thinking about the vastness of the journey. Let’s recognize that when things seem out of control, God is always in control. He is with us, and giving us the strength to take one more step.

    Dear God, please equip me with strength for today. I know I can’t walk this journey on my own. I need Your spirit to infuse me with energy for the next step. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Job 23:10-11, "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Rachel Wojo’s new book, One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up, will help you learn how to persevere through out-of-control circumstances and gain a more intimate relationship with Jesus.

    Do you need to know how to keep going when things are going wrong? Visit Rachel’s blog where she encourages fresh faith.

    Enter to WIN a copy of One More Step by Rachel Wojo. In celebration of this book, Rachel’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, October 26.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How can I remember to run to God’s Word when discouragement strikes?

    Sometimes the overwhelming circumstances we face make us feel like giving up altogether. But when we begin to rely on God’s strength in place of our own, we can discover how to face those feelings of despair.

    © 2015 by Rachel Wojo. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • Discovering Something Better Than "Perfect"

    Amy Carroll OCTOBER 19, 2015

    Discovering Something Better Than "Perfect" AMY CARROLL

    "As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him." Psalm 18:30 (NIV)

    In the beginning of my marriage, I believed my husband Barry was the luckiest man alive. After all, he had married me, a woman who was going to introduce him to one of the principle joys of life, a live Christmas tree.

    In my mind, nothing could be more perfect than a live Christmas tree — certainly not the artificial ones he had experienced as a child!

    Each year we went to the Christmas tree lot to search for a perfectly-shaped, fragrant live tree. We’d haul it home, put it in the Christmas tree holder filled with water and decorate our lovely evergreen, singing "O Tannenbaum" all the while. Okay, so maybe I’m embellishing a little, but suffice it to say having a live Christmas tree thrilled the HGTV corner of my heart.

    There was one thing that made me very unhappy, however. Every Christmas, and I mean every Christmas, my darling husband was sick. The first Christmas, I attended to him with newlywed sweetness. The second Christmas, I tolerated him and brought him soup.

    By the third Christmas of holiday sickness, I was just plain annoyed. What was wrong with the man? He was big and strapping and healthy. How could he become so weak and sickly and pitiful every year at Christmas? I began to make snide remarks under my breath like, "Maybe you’re allergic to time with my family."

    Sometime in that fourth year, Barry went to the doctor after another round of illness. A specialist had Barry lay on his stomach while he poked lots and lots of tiny needles in his back. As you may have guessed by now, the results revealed that my poor husband is allergic to almost every green living thing … including Christmas trees.

    Because I believed live Christmas trees to be far superior to artificial trees, every year we dragged a beautiful, green, bushy deathtrap into our living room.

    Because I came to believe Barry just didn’t like the holidays much, I got snappy with him when he was sick.

    Basically, because I believed the wrong things, I acted in wrong ways.

    My belief about what’s perfect, like my idea of the "perfect" Christmas tree, is often off-base. Over the years, when I’ve acted on those false beliefs, I’ve damaged relationships.

    When I’ve believed I have to hide my flaws to be liked, I’ve kept friends at arm's length.

    When I’ve believed my kids have to behave perfectly to make me the perfect mom, I’ve left all of us feeling as if we don’t measure up.

    When I’ve believed I can create a perfect facade with my stuff, my service and my competence, I’ve pursued goals that left me empty and lonely.

    After years of struggling with my own perfection, I’m learning a new way. Here’s the freeing truth I’m beginning to live: Only when I give up my own view of perfection can God begin His perfecting work in me. When I embrace God’s true perfection, leaving the exhausting, destructive weight of my own perfection, I can take refuge in Him.

    Amazingly, giving up my own view of perfectionism has improved not only my relationship with God, but also with others.

    I’m more authentic with my friends, leading to greater closeness.

    I’m more grace-filled with my kids, leading to more trust and better communication.

    I’m not a live-Christmas-tree-fanatic anymore, so now Hubby and I curl up at Christmas in the glow of a plastic, pre-lit tree. It’s just perfect. We’re sniffle-free and happy.

    I’m committed to choosing people over perfection. If you’ll commit to the same thing, I promise you’ll find something better than your view of "perfect."

    Lord, please forgive me for pursuing my own perfection instead of finding refuge in Yours. As You faithfully forgive me, please draw me close to You. Restore my other relationships and help me to choose people over perfection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 119:96, "To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless." (NIV)

    2 Corinthians 12:9, "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." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Amy Caroll’s first book, Breaking Up with Perfect, is now available. Visit the Proverbs 31 Ministries store to purchase it today!

    Maybe it seems a little early for a Christmas devotion, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner! Visit Amy’s blog today for the beginning of a fun blog tour with Amy and other authors titled UnWrapped Grace: Holiday Help for Recovering Perfectionists. You can break up with perfect, strengthen your relationships and experience more joy over the holidays this year! Register at Amy’s blog to win a $100 gift card for help with gift giving this year.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: If you struggle with perfection, what relationships have you damaged by holding tight to your belief about perfection?

    What would letting go of those beliefs cost you? What would you gain?

    © 2015 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Spread the Warmth of God's Love with Barnabas Bear

    Family Christian introduced Barnabas Bear in 2003 to raise money for and show love to children in need throughout the world. With your help, we've donated over 800,000 bears in the twelve years since. Barnabas Bear has had many different looks, but the message has always remained the same:

    "This bear is named Barnabas, which means comfort and encouragement. Barnabas is here to remind you every day that someone cares about you and wants you to know that God loves you. To become a child of God and know that you will someday live in Heaven with Him and His Son, Jesus, all you have to do is ask Him to come and live in your heart.

    Just say this simple prayer: Dear God, thank you for loving me. I know that I have done things that make your heart sad. Please forgive me and come and live in my heart forever. Help me to do what's right. I love you. In the name of your Son, Jesus, Amen!"

    Offering a tangible expression of Christ's love, Barnabas Bear provides a wonderful way to share a big hug with the kids in your community and around the world.

    One of our employees from an Ohio store, Melissa, witnessed firsthand the comfort Barnabas Bear brings. In 2012 her nephew and his family were in a bad car accident. While her nephew and his 11-month-old daughter did not survive the wreck, her niece and their 2-year-old son did.

    Melissa shared that her great nephew was conscious at the scene of the accident, but was very traumatized by the machinery, sirens, and other loud noises.

    When a first responder found the young boy in a responsive state, he provided him with Barnabas Bear to help keep him calm.

    "It brings me comfort, knowing that he had this little bear with him to help provide the love and comfort that he needed in that very terrible situation," she said.

    This is one of many stories that show the impact Barnabas Bear can have in a child's life, and the reason that Family Christian created it years ago.

    Many children do not know Jesus, but Barnabas Bear gives a child the introduction, or reminder, that God loves and wants to have a relationship with them.

    Barnabas Bear with Kids

    Purchase Barnabas for only $6.99, and share God’s love by:

    Donating Him: When you buy at your local store, we give him to a ministry in your own community. When you buy online, your bear will be donated to and distributed through Back2Back Ministries, a non-profit organization who strives to provide spiritual, physical, emotional, educational, and social needs to orphans and other vulnerable children around the world.

    Taking Him Home: Give him to a child you know who needs to feel the warmth of God’s love.

    We look forward to teaming up with you once again to spread love to children in our own communities and to the ends of the earth.

    Have you or anyone else that you know had an experience with Barnabas Bear? Let us know in the comments below!

  • How to Take Your Faith to a New Level

    Lynn Cowell OCTOBER 16, 2015

    How to Take Your Faith to a New Level LYNN COWELL

    "The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD." Isaiah 11:2 (NIV)

    When my youngest daughter was 13 years old, she started preparing me, "Mom, for my 18th birthday, we’re going skydiving." Yeah, right! Not wanting to break her brave-girl bubble, I went along with it for a few years. Then the day came; my girl turned 18.

    So yes, long story short … I jumped out of a plane.

    The week after Madi and I went skydiving, I noticed something new about me. Suddenly I felt brave! I found myself climbing a tree with my niece and nephew and even rescued a fawn in my backyard. It was as if I were a new woman!

    Have you ever done something requiring bravery? Joined a new group? Spoken in front of people? Gone back to college?

    If you have, maybe you’ve made the same discovery: adventure breaks monotony.

    Adventure breaks monotony not only in the roles I play, but it also breaks the boredom in my relationship with God.

    I know, I’m probably not supposed to admit this. I’m not proud to admit it, but sometimes … my consistency, my predictability, my every-day-is-the-same when it comes to the way I interact with God can get down right boring.

    And boring is a terrible place to be.

    God didn’t create us for boredom! In John 10:10, Jesus said He came to give us a rich and satisfying life. Are we taking Him up on His offer?

    Skydiving in our relationship with the Holy Spirit can break boredom! In today’s key verse, Isaiah 11:2, it says: "The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD."

    This verse caused me to compare the Holy Spirit to my skydiving instructor:

    1) The Holy Spirit prepares us. Nehemiah 9:20a tells us: "You gave your good Spirit to instruct them …" (NIV). He prepares us with instructions on how to fully experience this life God has for us, just as my instructor whispered directions to me as we soared through the air.

    2) The Holy Spirit pushes us. He challenges us to grow. Jesus said, "… whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12b, NIV).

    When Jesus left earth, He gave us the Holy Spirit to live inside of those who invite Him to be their Savior. He did this so we could do great things, even greater than He did.

    So what did Jesus do?

    Luke 4:18 tells us: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free" (NIV).

    What an adventure! Getting down on your knees and then into the lives of people who need to know and discover His truth!

    3) The Holy Spirit empowers us. The day I skydived, I made a choice to attach myself to my instructor. Then, he could use his experience and power to do what I couldn’t do on my own. This is what happens when we connect with the Holy Spirit. He empowers us to do the work Jesus calls us to accomplish which we cannot do alone.

    Is your relationship with God a bit predictable? If we’re only doing the things we are capable of, there is no need for divine power or the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need to intentionally invite the Holy Spirit into our lives every day and experience God’s adventure!

    Holy Spirit, today I’m going to attach myself to You. Give me Your wisdom and guidance and take me on a great adventure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (NIV)

    John 14:26, "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (NIV)

    John 16:13, "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: The Holy Spirit wants to take us on an adventure to transform us into people who reflect God Himself. Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants by Lynn Cowell empowers young women to partner with the Holy Spirit to experience this transformation.

    Lynn invites you to stop by her blog today, where she’s giving away a Bravery Bundle — resources to help you attach your heart to the Holy Spirit.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Would you consider your relationship with Jesus full and satisfying, or dull and boring?

    What is one step of bravery you could take today that requires you to be dependent on the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish it?

    © 2015 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • I Had the Perfect Comeback

    Lysa TerKeurst OCTOBER 15, 2015

    I Had the Perfect Comeback LYSA TERKEURST

    "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." Philippians 3:16 (NIV)

    Have you ever wanted to put your Christianity on a shelf and be as mean to someone as they were being to you?

    Maybe not, because you are nice. And most of the time, I am too.

    But recently, I had a moment where the mean girl inside of me wanted to be heard.

    I was on a plane with two of my friends. We were talking in normal conversational tones when suddenly the couple in the next row up came unglued.

    The man turned around and said, "Can you guys just QUIET DOWN already?"

    It wasn’t a gentle suggestion. It was a harsh command.

    A little stunned, we simply replied, "Sure, we just …"

    Before I could finish my sentence, his wife whipped her head around and snapped, "Your constant talking has given me a migraine. So just HUSH, okay?"

    My heart raced. My face turned red. And I thought of the perfect comeback to say. I won’t tell you what I wanted to say, but I can assure you it didn’t involve being kind or gentle.

    This is the exact point where I had to make a choice.

    A choice of whom I wanted to partner with in this situation … God or Satan.

    If I’d chosen the route of anger, a harsh comeback and retaliation, I would have basically stepped into Satan’s camp and caused conflict escalation. If, however, I’d chosen the route of gentleness and grace, I would be partnering with God and would continue to make progress with my raw emotions. Like Philippians 3:16 reminds me, "Only let us live up to what we have already attained."

    On my journey of improving my reactions, I have already attained more gentleness, more grace, more peace. Why would I want to trade all that for a few minutes of retaliating words? Words that will only leave me with a big ol’ pile of regret.

    Now I can’t promise I’ve progressed to the point where my initial thoughts about this couple were nice. They weren’t. But, I chose to consider the reality that people who are that on edge must have a lot of stored up misery. Their reaction probably had a lot less to do with me and a lot more to do with another situation in their lives.

    My job wasn’t to fix them or set them straight or prove how wrong they were acting.

    My job in that moment was to keep everything in perspective. And simply give a gentle answer that could turn away their wrath.

    While it felt hugely offensive when it was happening, it wasn’t huge. This wasn’t some sort of major injustice in my life. This was just a minor inconvenience. Why would I want to trade the peace of partnering with God for a few cheap moments of putting someone else in their place?

    It’s all about perspective.

    Because in all honesty, if this was the worst thing that happened to me that day, it was still a pretty good day!

    Dear Lord, You are so good and faithful. Thank You for helping me keep things in perspective so I can work on having better reactions that honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Learn to improve your relationships instead of feeding your need to be right with a FREE resource from Lysa TerKeurst. Download it here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Think about the last time you reacted out of anger, frustration, bitterness, etc. Assess how you felt in that moment and what mindset you need the next time a conflict arises.

    Remember to ask yourself before you respond next time — will I partner with Satan or God with the reaction I’m about to have?

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • When You Are Tempted Not to Pray

    Chrystal Evans Hurst OCTOBER 14, 2015

    When You Are Tempted Not to Pray CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB)

    "BOYS!!! GO TO BED!" I yelled.

    Exhausted. That word describes how I felt in that moment and honestly … many other moments just like it for days. The boys were in their beds, giggling up a storm, and I knew if they didn’t go to sleep soon, we’d all pay for it in the morning.

    Quiet reigned for just a few minutes, until I heard the giggling and silliness start again.


    The quiet that came after was quickly broken by a pair of 6-year-old feet padding down the hallway.



    "Are you coming to pray with us before we go to sleep?"

    I have to be honest. I was hoping the boys wouldn’t notice. I knew I had skipped prayer that night, but I was just so tired. I deliberately pushed the thought to the back of my brain because I figured the boys wouldn’t care anyway.

    "Baby, I think we can skip prayer tonight. We’ve prayed a few times together already today anyway."

    "No we can’t, Mom! Those were prayers for the daytime! We need a prayer for the nighttime, too. We have to thank God for the day and you have to ask Him to help me have good dreams! Come on, Mom! We just have to talk to God!"

    There I sat, feet up on the couch, hand over my forehead, realizing I was actually trying to talk my child out of praying.

    But my son, even at a tender young age, understood something with his childlike faith.

    He understood how prayer offers an ongoing opportunity to talk to God and an open invitation for Him to talk with us. My son was not satisfied that previous prayers earlier in the day had been completed or checked off the list. Rather, he wanted to have yet another conversation with God where he could express thanks and ask God to intervene in his circumstances.

    He understood God is not something to do, He’s someone to know, and prayer is how we engage fully in our relationship with Him.

    And here I was, trying to talk my son out of doing just that.

    We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, to "pray without ceasing." For many of us this verse brings a bit of trepidation as we contemplate exactly what is required of us to pray and to "do it right."

    We look at our busy schedules and think we don’t have time to do that much praying.

    We rehearse our failures and decide God probably wouldn’t have much to say to us, or have much interest in listening to what we want to say to Him.

    We let disappointment from one unanswered prayer keep us from asking again.

    We let the seemingly well-done prayers of others push our spiritual confidence into a corner. There, the little desire we did have to pray sits, shrivels and grows smaller with each passing day as we hesitate to say something, anything, to the God who does not grade us on our rhetoric.

    Neither our schedules nor our pasts should prevent us from talking to God about whatever concerns us. A previous disappointment or our current level of spiritual maturity shouldn’t get in the way of our willingness to speak freely and honestly about how we need Him or what we’re thankful for.

    Prayer is simply open and honest communication with God. It involves our thanksgiving, repentance, requests and willingness to surrender to what He reveals to us in His Word and in our hearts.

    It can be tempting to skip, forget about or even talk ourselves out of praying, but prayer is a key part of how we fully engage in our relationship with God Almighty.

    Just like my son wanted to include conversations with God as a normal, ongoing part of his day, Scripture encourages us to pray and keep an open line of communication with God, talking to Him at anytime about anything.

    Dear God, Thank You for the ongoing opportunity I have to talk with You. Forgive me for times when I have not made my conversations with You a priority. Please help me remember I can always communicate with You openly and honestly, as You already know what I think, how I feel and what I’ve done — and You love me anyway. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Philippians 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (NASB)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Do you desire a better prayer life? Could you use a little help having regular conversations with God? Check out Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado.

    If you’d like a reminder to pray without ceasing, click here to download a free printable Chrystal Evans Hurst has made available just for you.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you struggle having a consistent, vibrant prayer life? Why do you think that is?

    If you find "praying without ceasing" comes easily for you, what tips or encouragement can you offer those who desire to grow in this area of their relationship with God?

    © 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Exclusive Interview with Mark Batterson

    Mark Batterson

    Family Christian: We are excited about your new book “If”. The idea of using your worries as a springboard to a new future is an intriguing idea.   What was your inspiration for this book?

    Mark: Everybody has a favorite chapter in the Bible. Romans 8 is mine. It’s got everything! It starts with no condemnation in Christ. It ends with nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. And right in the middle it says all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose! But the key verse to me is Romans 8:31—If God is for us, who can be against us. That’s the game-changer! There are 1,784 ifs in the Bible, but that’s my favorite.

    Family Christian: “If” is filled with great content, but if you could condense this down to one primary thought for readers to take away what would it be?

    Mark: God is for you every day, in every way!

    Family Christian: Same question Mark, but this time for Pastors. What do you hope Pastors, or those serving in ministry will take away from “If”?

     Mark: Pastors set the tone, set the standard. When you create a culture where people actually believe that God is for them, the church turns into a faith-filled atmosphere where anything can happen!

    Family Christian: Speaking of pastors, this is Clergy Appreciation Month. Do you have a suggestion for how lay people can show appreciation for their pastors/ministry leaders?

    Mark: I love gift cards! It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

    Family Christian: Could you share with us one encouraging verses for Pastors to focus on during Clergy Appreciation month?

    Mark: Jesus said, “I will build my church.” Emphasis on I and my. It’s His church, not ours. And if we can stay out of the way of what God wants to do, some amazing things can happen! We say it this way at NCC: if you stay humble and stay hungry, there is nothing God cannot do in you or through you.

    Family Christian: We know you are a talented author, so we have to ask…what are YOU reading right now?

    Mark: I had a little sabbatical this summer, first one in nineteen years of pastoring. So I had the chance to do lots of reading! I love biographies—helps me put my story in perspective. So I read biographies on George Washington, the Wright Brothers, and Andrew Jackson to name a few. I’m also at a place where I’m really trying to manage priorities and establish boundaries that are healthy and holy. I loved Essentialism by Greg McKeown and the classic book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries.

    Family Christian: Finally, we’d love to know how we can be praying for you and your family Mark.

    Mark: I have the joy and privilege of pastoring a church in the nation’s capital. Frankly, we’re praying for revival to start here. Why not? As we head into a presidential election year, I know all eyes will be on DC. I also know that our hope is not in the government, but in the King of Kings.

    "If" by Mark Batterson

    Order your copy of "If" today or pick this title up in your local Family Christian store.   You may visit our website to find other books by Mark Batterson as well.

  • When Happily-Ever-After Slips Away

    Rachel Macy Stafford OCTOBER 13, 2015

    When Happily-Ever-After Slips Away RACHEL MACY STAFFORD

    "The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever — do not abandon the works of your hands." Psalm 138:8 (NIV)

    If you are anything like me, you can become quite skilled at putting off your happily-ever-after. Maybe you’ve said things like …

    "Once I get this work done" … "When things slow down at work" … "When this crazy month is over" … "In just a minute" …

    But once the work is complete, the minute has passed and the busy month has concluded, something else always comes up. Your "one more thing" has no end.

    That’s when things start to happen: You drive into the intersection before it’s your turn because you’re tired and distracted … you scream at the ones you love the most because you’re stretched too thin … you wake up feeling irritable and unhappy despite the abundant blessings in your life.

    Then you speak to a friend whose husband is fighting for his life and realize your happily-ever-after is slipping right through your busy, little fingers.

    That’s how it played out for me. It was the slow deterioration of my highly distracted life that led me to pray for the Life Do-Over I once thought was impossible.

    Let me show you what my do-over looked like:

    At the height of my bulging social calendar, at the height of my ability to "do it all," at the height of my perfectly orchestrated life, God gave me the strength to let go.

    I surrendered my plan, as well as societal expectations, in order for God to show me His plan. Each morning I designated 10 minutes to be still and listen. Once I began to hear God’s gentle voice, instead of the damaging demands of distraction, perfection and pressure, I was able to grasp what mattered most in life.

    I told my inner drill sergeant perfection was not required on this journey. God nudged me when to let my children help prepare the meal … when to stay a few more minutes at the dinner table … when to stop hurrying and let my child set the pace. God showed me that accomplishing tasks perfectly and efficiently is less important than being present and connected to the people I love.

    I told my harsh inner critic to stop sabotaging my joy. I stopped letting the bulge around my waist or the wrinkles around my eyes prevent me from jumping in the pool … dancing with my children … or voicing my life-long dreams. God showed me that in order to reach my full potential, I must stop letting the mirror or the number on the scale determine my worth.

    I informed my internal over-achiever that I would no longer be everything to everyone. I realized that continually saying yes to everything outside the home meant saying no to the most important things inside the home. God showed me that in order to be joyfully fulfilled, I must choose to place my time and energy in what (and who) mattered most.

    It has been five years since I began my Hands Free journey. When I lay my head down at night, there is no longer a list of unfinished to-do’s running through my head. I am no longer consumed with guilt over missed opportunities to live, love and laugh. Instead, I am filled with gratitude for the grace of God, a daily do-over gift available to all of us.

    Dear God, Thank You for reminding me it’s not too late to live the life You have planned for me. Please help me discern what is important from the many distractions and time wasters in my life. Please nudge me when my loved ones are near, wanting me to listen to them, talk to them and love them. Lord, please help me see what really matters. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’re tired of managing life and want to start living life, you’ll appreciate Rachel Macy Stafford’s newest book, HANDS FREE LIFE: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, & Loving More. Through truthful storytelling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel can show you how to live each day with more love, more presence and more grace.

    Enter to WIN a copy of by Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford. In celebration of this book, Rachel’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, October 19.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Rachel once wrote: "There is peace knowing I spent today living my happily-ever-after instead of tacking it to the bottom of the to-do list where it will never be touched."

    Think about your daily to-do list. Is there time for living, laughing and loving each day? How might you surrender both self-induced pressures and societal pressures to allow God to lead you on a more fulfilling path?

    © 2015 by Rachel Macy Stafford. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

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

  • How to Find Peace Under Pressure

    Leah DiPascal OCTOBER 12, 2015

    How to Find Peace Under Pressure LEAH DIPASCAL

    "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

    Frantically pushing my grocery cart through the parking lot, I glanced back and forth, trying to remember where I had parked the car.

    The sun was blazing hot and as a bead of sweat dripped down my back, I couldn’t help but think of my hungry kids, waiting at home to consume the food I’d just bought.

    It was way past lunchtime and knowing my family and some visiting relatives were waiting at home created anxiety in my heart. But I figured I would make things right by serving up a delicious pizza, freshly baked in the deli department.

    As I continued to hunt for my car, the swirling aroma of mozzarella cheese, sweet basil, grilled garlic and fresh tomatoes was calling my name. I was tempted to snatch a slice, but decided to wait until I got home.

    Besides, I could almost hear the cheers of approval as I imagined the moment I would place this scrumptious meal before my clan. Sure, it wasn’t homemade, but at this point anything edible would have been welcomed with open arms.

    However, my thoughts came to an abrupt halt when my cart bobbled and suddenly stopped.

    I glanced down, and there it was. My deliciously fresh stone-baked pizza — on the ground with a tire mark across the top of the box. Sure enough, I had rolled over it with my grocery cart.

    You’ve got to be kidding! Honestly, who does that?

    In my haste, I hadn’t noticed that the cashier placed my pizza carton on the lower rack of my cart due to the overflowing groceries.

    With no time to have another one made, I rushed home with a car full of groceries, a smashed pizza and a very heavy heart.

    I tried to fake a calm smile when I got home, but the house erupted in laughter when everyone saw my fumbled fiasco. As my younger son tried to scrape off the gooey cheese from the broken pizza lid, everyone else opted for sandwiches.

    In situations like this, I need to be reminded of today’s key verse: "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!"

    The whole pizza mess could have easily been avoided if I weren’t in such a rush and worried about my peeps back home. Sure, it’s important to take care of family, but when meeting their needs creates anxiety and stress, it’s an indication that something is out of balance.

    Oftentimes, it’s not what my family asks of me — it’s what I demand of myself: I want everything to be perfect. I want to meet all my family’s needs. I want to please everyone.

    But that’s not possible, and God doesn’t require it of me. Instead, based on Isaiah 26:3, He promises to keep me in perfect peace, despite any situation, if I willingly commit to doing these two things:

    1. Trust God, instead of trying to master things on my own.

    2. Keep my thoughts fixed on God, instead of worrying about what everyone else thinks.

    Are you feeling rushed or anxious today? Would you like a slice of peace to calm your nerves and settle down the stress you’re experiencing? Jesus wants to offer you a holy deposit of His perfect peace that will last a lifetime — and not just satisfy you for a few hours.

    Dear Jesus, You are the Prince of Peace. Help me to trust and focus on You every day, so I can be calm and stress-free in any situation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Peter 1:2, "May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord." (NLT)

    Philippians 4:7, "Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you’re craving a slice of peace in your life, you’ll appreciate Tracie Miles’ book, Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace in Your Chaotic World.

    Connect with Leah DiPascal on her blog today and enter to win a Peace Under Pressure giveaway.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What is creating stress and anxiety in your life today? Is it a situation or a person? What are ways you can trust God and keep your thoughts on His promises as you navigate this challenge and seek to experience His perfect peace?

    © 2015 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

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