Author Archives: Family Christian
One bright April morning Alyssa and I (Robin) were busy in my kitchen preparing food for a youth event at church. All the windows were open. A gentle breeze cooled us.The television was on in the background, but we weren’t paying much attention. I reached for the remote to turn it off but accidentally changed the channel.
“Oh, wait,” Alyssa said. “Leave it there. I love this part.”
I had happened upon an oldie-but-goodie chick flick at just the right moment. It was one of my favorites too. Alyssa and I stopped what we were doing. We stood together in a sweet silence and watched as the fair maiden ran into the arms of her hero. We sighed and looked at each other. Alyssa had tears in her eyes. So did I. We pointed at each other and laughed.
“Why are we crying?” I asked. “I’m sure we’ve both seen this a dozen times.”
“I know,” Alyssa said wistfully. “But it’s such a great love story. And love stories get me every time.”
It’s true, isn’t it? Love stories draw us in. Honestly, who doesn’t love a good love story? The pursuit. The suspense. The drama. The mystery. We cry, we laugh, we cheer—all for love. We are captivated by our favorite movies, television shows, and books when the romantic elements capture our imaginations and enliven our hopes.
Even if you don’t see yourself as a girlie girl and didn’t have a favorite Disney princess when you were growing up, you know in your core that you want to be loved like the heroines in all the best films and stories. You want to see love conquer all.
The desire to be loved, cherished, and adored never goes away. All of us long to believe someone is out there who wants us. Someone who will come for us. Someone who will take the role of the hero in our lives and love us, deeply love us, not for what we do or how we look but simply for who we are.
What if you could know that you are loved that intensely? You are sought after. You are the bride-to-be in a love story that’s unfolding in your life right this minute. You are spoken for.
This love story began once upon a time long ago before you were even born. Almighty God, the Creator of the galaxies, thought of you. He carefully fashioned you—your voice, your fingers, your mind, even every one of your eyelashes. He carefully and deliberately crafted you. For all time there only has been and only will be one of you.
He saw all your days before you took your first breath. He knows all your thoughts before you speak them. He knows everything about you. From the very beginning you were known, and you were wanted. He is pursuing you like a tenacious bridegroom with a perfect proposal. He has set his affections on you. Why? Because he loves you, and he will never stop loving you. You are his first love, and he wants you back.
How do you respond to such unwavering, unending, unstoppable love?
In this book we will unwrap the ancient truths from God’s Word about what it means to be loved, to be sought after, to be spoken for. You will see how the Bible is a love letter written to us.
Through that love letter God makes it clear that he desires to be with us forever. Alyssa and I will share details from forever-love stories and show how our love for God grew as he pursued us.
Our goal is simple. We want you to see what happens when you respond to the invitation of the true Bridegroom and step into the center of an epic love story—yours.
Excerpted from Spoken For by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke Copyright © 2014 by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
I am a bully’s dream, no doubt about it.
No arms. No legs. No defense.
Born without limbs for reasons never determined, I was blessed in so many other ways. My greatest blessing was a loving and supportive family. They sheltered and encouraged me for the first years of my life. But once I left the protective shelter of family for the hallways and playgrounds of elementary school, I felt like I had a target on my chest that said, “Bullies, aim here.”
I felt alone in my fear of bullies, but I wasn’t alone. And neither are you.
If you’ve been bullied, the first thing you need to understand is that their attacks, taunts, and mean acts aren’t really about you, any flaws you might have, or anything you might have done. Bullies have their own issues. They pick on you to make themselves feel better, to vent their anger, to feel more powerful, or even because they can’t think of anything else to do.
I know it’s lame, but it’s true.
When I was a teenager, I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out why bullies picked on me. There was one guy in particular who really got inside my head. He bullied everybody, but for some reason I took it personally. I obsessed over his motives. Finally I realized that his bullying wasn’t about my problems. It was about his.
You may have a bully who has had the same impact on you, getting inside your head, knotting your stomach with stress, and tormenting your dreams because you can’t figure out why you are the target. I’m here to ease your mind and lighten that burden. Your bully’s motives don’t matter. You do.
Your safety and your happiness are important to me and everyone else who loves and cares about you; so instead of focusing on why a bully is picking on you, let’s focus on helping you feel secure and happy again.
Does that sound like a plan? I think so!
But before we move on, I want you to know that there is no single infallible strategy for dealing one-on-one with bullies. And I certainly don’t recommend you resort to violence if you can help it! Don’t ever let a bully lure you into a fight. If a bully attacks you, defend yourself but get away as fast as you can. If you have any reason to think a bully is going to harm you physically, you need to talk to an adult who can help you before that happens.
The Bullying Epidemic
It’s important to understand from the beginning that many people share your pain in dealing with this problem. Being bullied, sadly, is as common as catching a cold or stubbing your toe. I travel all over the world talking to young people about this issue. No matter where I go, bullying is a major topic of concern. Teens in every school in every town and every country tell me they have mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual pain because of being bullied.
A teen in China told me that he’d tried to commit suicide eight times because of being bullied at school. A cute little Korean girl in Boise, Idaho, came up to me crying after I gave a speech on bullying. She said, “I get teased every day about being Korean because I’m the only Asian in the whole school.” I hear similar stories from bullying victims in Chile, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Serbia, and around the world. Bullying is everywhere, and it takes many forms. Most of us are familiar with childhood bullies who threaten to beat us up, make fun of us, or turn friends against us. Adults may experience bullying in the form of sexual harassment or as discrimination based on race, religion, sexual identity, or disabilities. Bullies can be your boss, coworkers, teachers, coaches, boyfriends, or girlfriends—anyone who abuses his power or position.
It’s sad to say, but parents can be bullies too. Suicides are a major problem among young people in Asia, and part of the problem is that many teens are under incredible pressure to earn top grades so they can make it into the best schools and get the best jobs for the most pay. Parents naturally want their children to do well, but when a mother and father give love and support only if their child is successful in their eyes, it is a form of bullying. There was one case in which the parents burned their child with cigarettes because her grades were not up to their standards. That’s an extreme case to be sure, but I’ve encountered similar stories around the world.
The most common bullying experience is being taunted or ridiculed for being “different” in some way. I’m the poster child for this. For most of my life, I’ve been a bully magnet. I’ve heard every imaginable nasty comment about my lack of limbs. Cruel jokes. Even physical threats.
It didn’t help that my family moved a couple of times when I was in school. We went from one side of Australia to the other, then we moved to the United States and back again. At each new school, I wasn’t just the only kid with no arms and no legs; I was usually the only kid in a wheelchair. When we moved to the United States, I hit the bully-target trifecta: I was the only kid in my school with no arms and no legs, the only kid in a wheelchair, and the only kid with an Australian accent! Different? Me, mate?
Sure, I stood out from the crowd, and the fact that I was often the new kid without friends made me an even easier target. But I realized early on that bullies would find a reason to pick on anyone. They called the smart kids “nerds,” the tall kids “bird legs,” and the short kids “runts.” If perfect people existed, bullies probably would mock them for being “too perfect.”
Still, if you are being bullied, it hurts. It’s a terrible experience that often seems like it will never end. As someone who endured it throughout my teenage years and still runs into it from time to time, I want to give you hope and peace. You can rise above and beyond it.
Excerpted from Stand Strong by Nick Vujicic Copyright © 2014 by Nick Vujicic. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Heaven Is For Real ...
In Theaters This Wednesday
You've read (and shared) the beloved book. You've seen the trailer at your local theater. Now it's time to experience HEAVEN IS FOR REAL on the big screen, beginning this Wednesday.
Resources Available At FamilyChristian.com
Get ready for HEAVEN IS FOR REAL by visiting your local Family Christian Store to find resources connected to the movie, including a new version of the bestseller on which the movie is based.
Pop-singer/songwriter Shawn McDonald, long regarded as one of Christian music’s most respected and soulful troubadours releases his highly anticipated brand new studio album Brave on April 15th. Three years after releasing the critically acclaimed Closer, McDonald rewards patient and loyal fans with what is possibly the best album of his career.
Starting with first single, “We Are Brave”, there is a pop energy on the new album that instantly has the listener tapping their feet and singing along. The 11 song Brave is full of infectious melodies and deep, encouraging lyrics McDonald is known for delivering.
Watch his new video below. What do you think?
Michael W. Smith, one of the industry’s most enduring and well-loved artists, returns with Sovereign, his first album since 2008’s A New Hallelujah. In a career that boasts album sales of over 15 million, Smith is deliberately entering a new creative chapter on Sovereign, crafting a vibrant collection of vertically-focused songs with a fresh sense of musical innovation. Smith enlisted the talents of several songwriters and producers he hasn’t collaborated with previously for the album, which includes the hit single "You Won't Let Go."
Check out his new LIVE video here. What do you think of the song?