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User Archives: John van der Veen

  • Saying "I Love You"

    Posted on January 23, 2014 by John van der Veen


    During the first month and a half of every year, we all turn our eyes towards those we love. We say something sweet. Some may even eat something sweet.

    Many people say that Valentines Day is a made up holiday, put in place by the greeting card companies of the world. Well, truth be told, I don't care. It is a day to help us remember to say "I love you" to those around us. Taking the time each day to show love is certainly important, but it's also fun to get caught up in a holiday such as this day.

    So how do you say "I love you" to someone you love? Perhaps it's packing two cookies in the kid's school lunch. Maybe it's a surprise delivery of flowers for your spouse at work. Maybe it's even a call to your mother-in-law. How do you say "I love you?"

    We ask some of our friends to share their thoughts and ideas. See below for some great inspiration and pointers.

    My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is to push aside my hesitations, my duties, and my distractions so that my loved one knows I'm all there, and there’s no place else I’d rather be.
    -Rachel Macy Stafford (Hands Free Mama)

    "...is to come alongside them in their struggles and pray over them, speak encouraging truth from God's Word into their lives and look for ways to lighten their load. Galatians 6 says, 'Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."
    - Stephen Kendrick

    “I listen well and when I try to supply what someone needs, whether it's something I buy or something I do for them.”
    Colleen Coble, USA Today-best-selling author of Butterfly Palace and Smitten Book Club

    “My favorite way to say I love you to someone is by surprising him or her with a special and unexpected gift.”
    - Beth Wiseman

    “My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is by giving them my full attention.  I slip my phone back into my purse, take my eyes off the computer, and stop watching the television. Giving someone your complete attention shows them that what they are saying is valuable to you. It also feels good to have someone's attention for a few moments. Maybe you're not even talking, you're just being together. It helps the person to feel cared for. So when I want to show someone I love them, I unplug and pay attention with my mind, my heart, and both ears.”
    - Vannetta Chapman

    “My favorite way to say "I love you" is to do something unexpected. One example is surprising my teenage and young adult kids by doing their laundry or cleaning their rooms. Or I'll make my husband's favorite meal/dessert even when it's not a special occasion. Understanding the people I love, knowing what they need and want, and then giving it to them when they least expect it is a wonderful way to express love.”
    - Kathleen Fuller

    “My favorite way to say "I love you" is a lot like Elf's favorite way to spread Christmas cheer -- by singing loud for all to hear!”
    - Krista McGee

    "My favorite way to say "I love you" is to take their face in both of my hands so that they can't look at the screen beside them or down at the phone in their lap. Then I draw their face very, very close to mine until all they can see is my face.  At this point my heart always slows a little bit in anticipation because I know that I have their undivided attention. I look deeply into their eyes until I connect with that heart of theirs that I love so much and I say it, "I love you," and I smile.  Then I get to see the most precious thing known to me.  Their body relaxes a bit and a look of relief from the cares of the world melts their face. In that moment they know that they are loved--deeply, for real, forever.  My heart aches just thinking about it."
    - Susan Merrill

    “My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is to cook a nice dinner for them! My favorite time of day is when I have family and friends gathered around the dinner tables. I love happy smiles, bellies getting filled up, and the great conversation and laughter!”
    - Tricia Goyer

    "My favorite way to say, “I love you,” to someone is in small daily interactions that fit with the way God wired the people in my life to best hear love. For example, my husband and sons speak the language of respect. So I ask them for opinions when I’m making decisions. I don’t interrupt them. I avoid starting sentences with the word, “Why?” as it is received as a challenge. I recommend by starting with, “This may be something you already thought about, but have you considered, XYZ?” And when I disagree, I say, “I think that is an awesome idea! I love XYZ about it. One thing I’m wondering is how (my concern) fits into that…what do you think?” And I will often just work alongside them, responding to them, and providing help instead of instigating conversation. And with my daughter? She receives love best by being listened to, empathized with, and touched. To love people well, we need to love them like Jesus did, meeting them where they already are."
    Nina Roesner - Author, The Respect Dare

    ". . . to verbally tell them. It's amazing how many people don't say 'I love you.' I get my older brother with that all the time. But also, I look to say 'I love you' by giving or doing something the other person loves. My husband is an introvert and loves alone time. So I allow him to just 'be' without bugging him. Another way to say 'I love you' is to speak destiny over someone, especially teens. By saying, 'Hey, I see this in you,' eyes and hearts really light up."
    - Rachel Hauck

    ". . . written words. Ever since I can remember I've expressed myself best in writing (maybe because I tend to cry if I express love and gratitude in person!). I like the way writing gives me time to think, reflect, and edit my words until they say exactly what I mean."
    - Deborah Raney

    ". . . to take on a chore or run an errand I know he or she has been dreading. I believe love is indeed a verb."
    - Dorothy Love

    ". . . to speak the words aloud . . . and to speak them often. Naturally, love must be shown with actions as well, but words matter so I try not to let an opportunity pass me by to say, 'I love you.'"
    - Robin Lee Hatcher

    ". . . to bake them something. Cookies, cheesecake, granola – whatever sweet treat they like best!"
    - Denise Hunter

    "One thing I’ve noticed about saying “I love you” is that it has so much less to do with my favorite way to say it, and so much more to do with who I’m saying it to.  For my husband, speaking love means communicating words of gratitude and appreciation.  For my kids, it means turning off technology, holding them close, and playing games with them on our living room floor. There are so many ways to say I love you, but I’m learning to speak love in the ways that matter most to the people I love. "
    --Debra K. Fileta, M.A., LPC, Author of True Love Dates

    "My favorite way to say I love you is by spending quality time and giving thoughtful gifts."
    - Garrett Hornbuckly, All Things New

    “One of my favorite things to do, depending on how old the members of my household are, is to write '14 things I love about you' (my daughter is 14) 1 - You are so beautiful inside and out. 2 - You are so much fun to be around 3 - you have such a tender heart etc. With my husband, I like to use the years we have been married as my guide as we are getting so much older now and I'd have to find a pretty big card if I was going to go by age! We have been married for nearly 22 years now and he is an incredible man of God, so I like to remind him how amazing he is. I don't think we should ever take it for granted that the ones we love know how much they mean to us. Taking the time to communicate will help to reinforce the bond of love between us.”
    – Sam Evans, Planetshakers

    "I only know one way to say 'I love you,' I guess two ways if you count Spanish.  This is the best I could come up with: My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is…through action.  Daily, consistently and intently.”
    Fawn Weaver

    "My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is to do the one thing that I know will mean the most to them. Learn the language of those you love."
    - Sheila Walsh

    'My favorite way to say 'I love you' to my husband is to try to remember to say 'thank you' for what he does, when he mows the lawn or overcomes exhaustion to play with the kids or does something that makes me happy. That says 'I love you' to him more than anything else!"
    - Shaunti Feldhahn

    "My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is with one-on-one time including lots of laughter and hugs."
    - Kim Vogel

    "My favorite way to say 'I Love You' to someone is giving them my time. For my mom, who has Alzheimer's Disease, it's sitting with her on the patio watching for birds. For my hubby, it's watching a rerun of  a Star Trek TV show with him. For my grandson, Ryan, it's engaging in a Wii game tournament."
    - Mona Hodgson

    “My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is chocolate chip cookies. Well, cookies and kind words. I love the idea of calling out the good in someone. For me, an encouraging word or a reminder of what's true can carry me through rough days, so speaking life into someone I love brings me a lot of joy...and so do chocolate chip cookies!"

    "[Another] favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is…to ask them how they're doing and really listen. So often, "How are you?" is just another way of saying "Hey!". I love taking the time to really listen to the people I love, to hear their hearts and their dreams and their struggles. These conversations are where true community happens, and I'm so grateful for the people who have slowed down to really listen to me."
    - Ellie Holcomb

    "My favorite way to say ‘I love you’ to someone is “to do an act or sacrificial service that will demonstrate in deed how much I love them.”
    -Dr. Tony Evans

    "My favorite way to say I love you is through food! I love to cook and bake and nothing brings me more joy then to cook my husband or someone their favorite meal or treat!"
    - Molly Reed, City Harbor

    "My favorite way to say ‘I love you’ to someone is to point out simple things about them that I really value. I think sometimes people just need to be reminded that you're grateful for who they are.”
    - Robby Earle, City Harbor


    This post was posted in Music, Books and was tagged with Featured, Mona Hodgson, Dr. Tony Evans, Stephen Kendrick, Sheila Walsh, Shaunti Feldhahn, Rachel Macy Stafford, Colleen Coble, Beth Wiseman, Vannetta Chapman, Kathleen Fuller, Krista McGee, Susan Merrill, Tricia Goyer, Nina Roesner, Rachel Hauck, Deborah Raney, Dorothy Love, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hunter, Debra K Fileta, All Things New, Planetshakers, Fawn Weaver, Kim Vogel, Ellie Holcomb, City Harbor

  • MercyMe's Shake - Q&A

    Posted on January 22, 2014 by John van der Veen

    MercyMe's new album, Welcome to the New releases later this year. Their first single from the album, Shake, hit stations already and is climbing the charts.

    We thought we would ask a few questions about Shake and their new album.

    Your new song, Shake, is a bit of different path for traditional MercyMe singles. What is the inspiration behind the song?

    "The inspiration behind the song really came out of a new season we're in, and that I'm in personally, in learning about God's grace. The idea that, because we've been changed and because He sees us with no condemnation we should be floating on air because we have something that most of the world doesn't. Ironically, we're the power ballad band, so I'm excited about "Shake" because it's energy and beat offer a small glimpse of how I feel, and where I am right now.

    I'm a horrible dancer. But I'm allowed to dance in front of my kids (even though they think I'm horrible too). But everybody can shake or shimmy. And I hope the sound of this song will inspire people to do just that.

    My favorite line says "Brand new looks so good on you" and that's where the title of the album came from. I think we as a whole we need to understand that no matter what we've done we remain new, and we can't mess it up because of the cross. The old is dead and gone and we're redeemed, no matter what the world or the enemy tells us. So that's what the album is about. You're going to hear a lot of the same grace message throughout the album, and that is on purpose. So that being said, we just thought "Shake" was the perfect song to start with. And we hope it gets people excited."
    - Bart

    You guys look like you had a lot of fun making the video. What was that experience like?

    "Making the "Shake" video was a fun time for us. We hadn't made a real music video in 6 or 7 years. So it was fun to finally have an idea and make it come to life. We blocked off downtown streets in Huntsville, had a remote controlled octo-copter camera, and over 100 extras including some choreographed dancers, so it was a blast. We are all just a bunch of goofball dads, so we wanted to show that Christians could have fun and have a good time. We wanted to encourage others to get up and shake like we have a reason to.

    In fact we even created the "Shake" dance you see in the video, and it seems to be catching on with people. We've been seeing others posting their own "Shakes" with the #MMShake hash tag, and have gotten to record some additional videos doing the dance with radio stations. So it's been a lot fun to see people getting into it."
    - Robby

    Anything specific we can look forward to on your new album?

    "We're really excited about the record. I think we're supposed to say that every time we make an album, and hopefully it's better than the last one. But, I can honestly say this one is different for us. The title "Welcome To The New" really speaks on behalf of a lot of things. We're in a new season as a band, but also for me personally. I'm in a place where the Gospel seems brand new to me. I grew up in a very legalistic church. They didn't directly say that it was about works, but there always seemed like there was an opportunity to try harder. And I was taught that the better you were, the more you were in God's favor. Then about 2 years or so ago I was in a place personally where I felt so many things were just hanging by a thread. I was doing everything to try to succeed because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. So I wanted to be really good at it and thought that God would be pleased. It didn't make any sense until a friend came into my life and spoke the truth of God's grace to me. That there's nothing I can do to make Christ love me more than he already does. And for some reason I somehow never really heard that before.

    If I don't do another great thing; if I have the ability to sabotage everything good about my life. Because I know Christ, his Grace will still be enough. And I realize that I probably speak on behalf of a lot of the church that tries really hard. We keep ourselves busy thinking that if we do the song and dance long enough God will say "I see you amongst all those people, way to go!" And I realized that this whole time he's been screaming out, "I have been pleased with you since the day you called my name, and I have never stopped. Even at your worst I'm madly in love with you." Even at our ugliest and at our worst the Bible says to come boldly to the throne. We were all unworthy, broken vessels who didn't deserve it before. But now the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells inside of us, and we're holy as he is holy.

    There's a song on the album called "Flawless," and the chorus says: "No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars or how deep the wound is. The cross has made me flawless." So, I'm hoping this record can speak that grace message to people. The same message that has become brand new to me. And I've never been more excited about telling people that they are redeemed, and holy and righteous."
    - Bart


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, MercyMe

  • Creative Extremists - Martin Luther King

    Posted on January 20, 2014 by John van der Veen

    "Though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love:
    "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
    Was not Amos an extremist for justice:
    "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream."
    Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel:
    "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."
    Was not Martin Luther an extremist:
    "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God."
    And John Bunyan:
    "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience."
    And Abraham Lincoln:
    "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free."
    And Thomas Jefferson:
    "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. . ."
    So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.
    Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative
    extremists."


    The above is taken from Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail. Written April 16, 1963. You may find the whole letter here.

    This post was posted in Uncategorized and was tagged with Featured, Martin Luther King

  • Remembering Heart in Motion - Amy Grant

    Posted on January 14, 2014 by John van der Veen

    It doesn't take much to unlock the memories of our past. It might be a smell in the air that brings us back to summer camps. Or a taste that helps us remember a grandmother's cooking. Or, in this case, a song.

    Do you remember what you were doing in 1991? Songstress, Amy Grant released her eighth album, Heart in Motion then. It was the follow up to the more acoustic album, Lead Me On and more mainstream pop album, Unguarded.

    Heart in Motion was certainly a pop album, meaning that it was "popular." It was commercial in every sense. Lyrically though, it varied from light songs about relationships (Good For Me) to heavier songs dealing with dark pain (Ask Me). Also, many of our churches have sung, and some still do, Hope Set High.

    Heart in Motion made a huge impact on the Christian music landscape. By the time 1997 rolled around, it had sold more than 5 million copies. Singles; Baby Baby, Every Heartbeat, Good for Me, and I Will Remember You all held #1 or #2 slots on mainstream radio stations for months on end. The album itself was listed as #30 in the book (now out-of-print) CCM Presents: The 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music. It also was nominated for a Grammy.

    Do you remember where you were when you heard Heart in Motion for the first time?

    Heart in Motion was a landmark release for me. “I will Remember You” and “Hope Set High” are two of my favorite Amy Grant songs of all-time. - Dan Hubka, Music Buyer; Family Christian

    It's fantastic. She's fantastic. Amy helped pave the way for girl singer - songwriter-guitarists like me. Ironically it came out the year I was born. - Jamie Grace

    "That album still holds a sweet spot in my heart and will forever have on my iPod. Also, that cover made me and many others get unfortunate perms, velvet dresses and a locket necklace." - Anita Renfroe

    Baby Baby

    That's What Love is For

    Good For Me


    This post was posted in Music, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Amy Grant

  • The Ministry of Tenth Ave. North

    Posted on January 7, 2014 by John van der Veen



    Of course, fans of Tenth Ave. North know about their great music. For it's built on two foundations - depth in lyrics and musical creativity. For those of use who have seen the band live, have also been exposed to much more. A challenge to live our lives with a great passion for the glory of the Gospel.

    Mike Donehey continues to strike a cord of tension with those who are willing to listen. Some tension in life is truly good if it encourages us to do something. Mike, for the most part, does just that. His talks, whether in a live show or in a video, or an interruption that many of us need. He continues to make those that are comfortable, uncomfortable. Those that are sleepy in faith, awake.

    Below, we have grabbed a few videos that have been released by the band. These highlight what I am mentioning above. Take a few minutes today and see for yourself. Be encouraged. The struggle that God calls us to in the context of the Gospel is real. And good.

    "We really fostered the dance of both the music and they lyric while thematically unpacking the idea of what it means to struggle," says Mike Donehey. "We are free to struggle, but don't need to struggle to be free. It's about the permission to struggle but also a challenge not to stay there."


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Music and was tagged with Featured, Tenth Ave. North

  • New Year - More Inspiration

    Posted on December 31, 2013 by John van der Veen


    During this time, every year, all of us look both backward and forward. Back at where God had brought us, and forward in thinking where the Lord will be bringing us. It's good to do. To have a plan. A plan with perspective.

    We know that our Heavenly Father has a specific plan for us. Mostly to be a worshipper. To be a person that lives "doxologically-minded." Beyond that, there is a lot of freedom.

    Here are some resources that may help in guiding us to that "closer walk with Him."

    Discover an innovative approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle in community. Built on a scriptural foundation, The Daniel Plan, from pastor Rick Warren, will help you learn how to optimize your health in the key areas of faith, food, fitness, focus and friends.

    The Daniel Plan teaches simple ways to incorporate healthy choices into a reader's current lifestyle and helps them understand the kind of foods God created to keep them fit and strong. These concepts encourage readers to deepen their relationship with God and offer inspiration as they make positive choices each and every day.

    Take an in-depth look at the first Christians and discover how generosity was the hallmark of the early church—how giving changed everything, drawing people to the most generous of givers, Jesus Christ. Generosity changed the world once; it could happen again. How to Be Rich: It's Not What You Have. It's What You Do With What You Have. by pastor Andy Stanley explores 1 Timothy 6:18, biblically redefining what wealth is, how to use it and helping you practice being rich so you will be good at it if you should ever be so fortunate.

    Is that how people in our communities would describe us today? How to Be Rich will force conversation and reflection around the topic of what to do with what we have. Jesus could not have been any clearer - it’s not what you have that matters. It’s what you do with what you have that will count for you or against you in the kingdom of heaven.

    Billy Graham’s devotionals are impactful and empowering. Now you can hear them paired with beloved hymns—recorded in a variety of styles, including symphonic orchestra to solo piano from beautiful vocals to the rich sound of a full choir. Exclusive gift set includes 100-song, 4-CD set with companion book of 100 devotionals from Dr. Graham.

    This exclusive gift set includes both Songs of Faith, 4-CDs of over 100 hymns coupled with and Words of Promise, a companion book of 100 devotionals from the writings of Billy Graham. Recorded in a variety of styles - from symphonic orchestra to solo piano and from soaring vocals to the rich sound of full choir - this treasury of music will inspire you every time that you listen. In addition, each hymn is paired with a devotional text to compliment the message of the song.

    Songs of Faith / Words of Promise celebrates the message and the power of Billy Graham's ministry throughout the years.

    After preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world for the better part of the last century, Billy Graham has one more message to share in My Hope America. In conjunction with his book, The Reason for My Hope: Salvation, Graham seeks to empower America to turn back to Christ and to eventually inspire the world through a genuine relationship with Jesus.

    Following a simple biblical model, My Hope America with Billy Graham combines the video programs with the power of personal relationships, encouraging people to share the Gospel message with friends, family, colleagues and neighbors through these videos featuring Billy Graham, dynamic music and testimonies.

    Learn how to be part of the effort to reach people across the United States with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This essential three-DVD resource—with more than seven hours of content—follows a simple biblical model using the life-changing testimonies and powerful message from Billy Graham.

    What is on your New Years list?


    This post was posted in Music, Books and was tagged with Featured, Rick Warren, Billy Graham, Andy Stanley

  • Blog Summary for November 2013

    Posted on November 28, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Here are some of the most popular blogs that have been read by our followers during the month of November.

    Liz Curtis Higgs - The Women of Christmas

    A sacred season is about to unfold for three women whose hearts belong to God. Elizabeth is barren, yet her trust in God remains fertile. Mary is betrothed in marriage, yet she is willing to bear God’s Son. Anna is a widow full of years, yet she waits patiently, prayerfully for the Messiah to appear in the temple courts.

    Following in their footsteps, you too can prepare for the Savior to enter your heart, your mind, and your life in a vibrant, new way this season. In The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna, bestselling author Liz Curtis Higgs explores the biblical stories of these three women, unwrapping each verse with tender care and introducing you afresh to The Women of Christmas.

    Read the full interview here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    Read the full interview here.

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    Read the full interview here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujici

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses
    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now
    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and
    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet
    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine
    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Read the full Q&A here.

    Clinging to Christ in the Middle of the Hurricane - Natalie Grant

    In the opening lines of “In The End,” the spirited but poignant unplugged track that wraps her latest album Hurricane, Natalie Grant puts it as plainly as she ever has in dealing with the troubling storms we all face: “Can’t catch a break/You’ve had your fill of old clichés…”. Emerging from a dark, spiritually challenging time in her own life, the multi-talented singer/songwriter—a Grammy nominated, five time GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Award winner for Female Vocalist of the Year – breaks through the well worn and cheerful, but not completely truthful, phrases that often leave those who are struggling in need of more.

    Natalie and I sat down (with her daughter, Sadie, on her lap) and talked about what went into her new album. The ups and downs of life. Times of depression. Times of joy.

    Read the full interview here.

    Operation Christmas Child

    1993, more than 100 million boys and girls in over 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches and ministry partners to deliver the gifts and share the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ.

    Twenty years ago, Franklin Graham made a promise to collect a few gifts for boys and girls in war-torn Bosnia. Today, Operation Christmas Child has become a year-round, international project, delivering millions of shoeboxes to children in nearly 100 countries each year.

    Two decades after it started, Operation Christmas Child continues to deliver shoebox gifts and the Good News of Jesus Christ to boys and girls around the world.

    Read the full story here.

    Taylor's Gift - An interview with Todd & Tara Storch

    It was the last run of their first day on the slopes, the beginning of another great family vacation for Todd and Tara Storch and their three children. But when thirteen-year-old Taylor’s life was tragically cut short in a skiing accident, the Storches were overcome by the devastating loss of their daughter. Still in shock, they were asked a question no parents ever think they will hear: “Would you be willing to donate Taylor’s organs?”

    Their answer would change their family’s lives forever and provide comfort during their darkest moments. It would also save the lives of five desperate people anxiously waiting for a heart, a liver, a cornea, a pancreas, and a kidney.

    Read the full interview here.

    Everfound - God of the Impossible

    The four brothers of the Russian-born band Everfound, who immigrated to Denver, Colorado when they were young children, have been inspired by their ancestors’ commitment to their faith in the face of oppression in the Soviet Union. Although their ancestors were not legally allowed to profess their Christian faith, Everfound has sung freely and clearly about Jesus on four independent albums, and they will do so again on their major label debut with Word Records, the self-titled Everfound.

    For this album, they wrote 75 songs and narrowed it down to the best 12, including the lead-off hit single "Never Beyond Repair." While these songs are intensely personal, they were written with the a generation in mind. Everfound’s goal was to write songs that would serve as the soundtrack to people’s daily lives.

    See the full post here.

    Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America.

    I sat down with Mandisa at a local coffee shop to talk about new music, coffee vs. tea, family and what it means to be an over-comer. What follows is a real conversation. Mandisa, some would say is a true artist. She is that for sure, but she is so much more. She is a warrior in a huge battle. She is a fighter - fighting for the truth of the Gospel. That can be summed up with one statement from her, "There is joy unspeakable!"

    Read the full interview here.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, Nick Vujicic, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Todd Storch, Tara Storch, Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, Natalie Grant, Liz Curtis Higgs, Operation Christmas Child, Everfound

  • The Rhett Walker Band - Faith on the Road

    Posted on November 12, 2013 by John van der Veen


    “I won’t be caged to the status quo. I’m not afraid to stand and say what people won’t.” -Rhett Walker, “Get Up Get Out”

    Now there’s an understatement. Rhett Walker is not like any rising Christian musician you have met before or will meet again soon. The outspoken 25-year-old son of a preacher was born and raised around the South, his mellow yet animated voice a sure mix of Georgia and the Carolinas. In that drawl, he tells an intense wild oats story tempered by God’s grace, a testimony that fuels the deep-fried rock found on Rhett Walker Band’s debut, Come To The River.

    Indeed, Rhett is a shining example of faith, family, and country values today—an experienced man who teaches that grace comes with a calling.

    I caught up with Rhett and band at a summer festival earlier this year. I have to admit that the interview was more laughing than actually talking, I was challenged by what these guys have been through.

    John: Be honest. How did you come up with the name?

    Rhett: Funny thing. It's actually Joe; his last name is Bande, B-A-N-D-E. I'm Rhett. Kenny, his third middle name is actually an Indian name, was Walker. We just kind of put it together. Kevin is not a part of the band.

    Kenny: I'm not in the band.

    Rhett: So it's Rhett Walker Bande. We figured, make that "Band." It looks cooler.

    John: I love it. Why don't you give a little bit of background: Where did you guys come from?

    Rhett: We all come from different places: Kenny's from Texas and Joe’s from Oklahoma and I'm from South Carolina and Mr. Kevin's from North Carolina. We all come from different areas, but I'd say about ... How long ago was that? Probably about three years ago? Three or four years ago, when me and you met? How long have we known each other?

    Kenny: Dude, almost six years ago.

    Rhett: Oh wow.

    Joe: No way.

    John: As a band you've been together for six years?

    Rhett: No. About six years ago, me and Kenny, we met. I led worship at a church and he played drums there, so we started doing music together, and that's where we met Joe. Joe has his own studio and we were doing some demos. Nashville's a big city, but it's actually pretty daggone small. So we all kind of got in that middle circle and met everybody, and we just all clicked, man.

    It takes time to do anything. We played shows and ... Slowly, but surely, we kind of played shows, and about a year, exactly almost a year ago we put out our first record. We haven't been playing long. We're a new band, but we've known each other for a long time. We kind of, more or less, knew each other at first because we were all in different bands. It kind of all happened.

    John: The record's been out for about a year. What was it like to, all of a sudden, go, "We're now playing on a national level?" Before, you guys were playing churches, bars maybe, whatever. And now you guys are there.

    Rhett: It's cool, man. We were just talking about this. We just got back from the West Coast last week, and we were playing in clubs and stuff and churches last year, and we were thankful for 80 people were showing up. It's kind of funny to see what a year does and what radio does, and becoming on the, like you said, the national level, because now we're pulling eight hundred to a thousand in a room by ourself. And it's like, man, last year we were thankful when the first two rows were filled. This year we got people standing around, so ...

    It's just cool, too, because then you're playing shows and people are singing your songs and it's more of just a Rhett Walker Band thing. It's like, we're all here playing music. We love music, that's why we do it. These people love music; that's why they're here. It just becomes kind of a big party and we're all just hanging out doing our thing, you know?

    John: What do you guys play live? Do you basically play through the whole record, or do you try to incorporate some other songs in there as well, that aren’t necessarily Walker songs?

    Kenny: Well, sometimes we like to play songs off of Joe Kane and the Buttercream Gang record, solo EP. There's songs that we play off of the record. We've been playing a lot of new songs. And every once in a while, we'll get the hankering to do some covers: maybe some Skynyrd, maybe some CCR or John Fogerty, kind of a mix of good old time music and partying and fun and hanging out.

    John: You guys like playing live? Is it fun?

    Kenny: Oh yeah.

    Kevin: Yeah, playing live is great.

    Joe: Except for Kevin. As long we can, we get a lot of experience.

    John: Playing live experience?

    Kenny: His name is Mr. Kevin.

    Kevin: I'm Mr. Kevin.

    Kenny: Aka, the principal.

    Rhett: The principal.

    Kevin: That's what I've been called.

    John: Why's that?

    Kevin: I got my degree in education and I used to teach ...

    Kevin: Do you want to know anything about the live shows specifically? Or just …

    John: No, just talk about the live shows.

    Kenny: Your experience. Your favorite part.

    Kevin: My favorite part is that it's a band dynamic on stage. We'll switch the set list up every night. We'll play different songs in different orders. Sometimes we'll drag out solos. Sometimes we'll add stuff. Take it away. I don't know, man. It's just like, we don't have a laptop computer that we plug in and press "Play." We all play our instruments and all sing.

    John: You're a real band. You're not playing the tracks.

    Kevin: Exactly.

    Kenny: Exactly, yeah.

    Kevin: I take a lot ... I'm not ashamed to take pride in that, I don't think. I mean.

    Kenny: Kevin also has a tendency to yell and scream out of joy and excitement at points. And beat his chest, kind of like a gorilla. Real low.

    John: So Kevin, what do you play?

    Kevin: I play the bass.

    Kenny: Drums.

    Joe: Guitar.

    Kenny: Joe Kahn and the Buttercream Gang.

    John: That's what the EP came from?

    Joe: Yeah.

    Rhett: And I play the microphone.

    John: Any obscure live experience so far?

    Kevin: Yea.

    John: Like falling off the stage? People diving off the stage? Mosh pits?

    Rhett: No. I mean, we've had some mosh pits.

    Kenny: You climbed some ...

    Joe: Rafters.

    Kenny: Some truss once.

    Rhett: I, one time, climbed a rafter and a raptor. One time I climbed a rapper. I climbed on top of LeCrae and Kanye West.

    Kenny: One time Kevin threw his bass up in the air and forgot that it was a low ceiling, and threw it into the ceiling. Remember that?

    Kevin: Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.

    Rhett: One time we got kicked out of a church.

    John: Really?

    Rhett: Yeah.

    Joe: And got the pastor fired.

    Rhett: I mean, just good days of getting shut down by the police, you know? Just because we're too loud or something like that.

    Kevin: Sometimes Joe just takes off into the crowd and plays a guitar solo. I still don't know why he does that.

    Joe: There's usually food out there, and I'm so freaking hungry.

    Kevin: Going for a hot dog, man.

    John: So if the record came out last year, what's on your bucket list for this year?

    Rhett: Well, we've just been playing a lot of shows. But we're getting ready ... We're writing right now. So we're kind of looking forward to November. We're going to record a new record.

    John: So a new record early ‘14?

    Rhett: Yeah. I would say about summertime.

    Kevin: Yeah.

    Rhett: We're kind of dialing them songs and doing that number and mailing them out.

    Rhett: You know, just trying to figure out exactly what we want to say on this record, because the first record, you just write a butt-load of songs and then you pick the best. This one, we're all writing together on this out on the road, so we're singing a lot of ... There's some love songs to our brides back at home, there's songs about our faith on the road, and there's songs that are just feel-good songs. It's coming out in the summer. We're writing this in the summer, so it's just American music. I wouldn't say it's any type of thing other than just we got instruments and we play them and sing about life. And that's kind of what we want to do on this record.

    John: You guys book readers?

    Joe: Yes

    Kenny: Yeah, sometimes.

    John: What are you reading, Joe?

    Joe: What do I read? Currently?

    Kenny: I can tell you what Joe's been reading right now.

    Rhett: Ask him what he's been reading right now.

    Joe: I was this close to not turning to this. Okay, normally I enjoy the classics very much.

    Kenny: But now ...

    Joe: But currently ...

    John: It's a Harlequin Romance.

    Joe: Currently, I'm reading this sweet series called The Animorphs. And I've read two books today, and I'm probably going to finish two more before I go to bed. They're short.

    Kenny: Short tales about ...

    Joe: But I read them when I was a kid, so it's a nostalgia thing.

    John: Yeah.

    Kenny: There you go.

    Kevin: Bring back good memories.

    Rhett: I'm reading what I read as a kid, what I always read: The Bible.

    Kenny: Okay.

    Joe: That was good.

    John: Kevin?

    Kevin: Good one, Rhett. I've been reading this book by a rabbi. It's called Yearnings. I don't know the name of the author. I've only gotten a few chapters into it.

    Joe: Wow.

    Kevin: I love stuff like that.

    Kenny: Don't put me in on this, because after that, I would seem like an idiot.

    Joe: Man. I find obscure things to read.

    Kevin: On the spiritual side, I actually just finished, again, The Ragamuffin Gospel.

    John: Yeah, great book.

    Kevin: Yea. I read it a long time ago, and after his passing thought I'd pick it up again. But, then, I also finished, because of nostalgia, Where the Red Fern Grows.

    John: Oh.

    Joe: Oh, you just finished that?

    Kevin: Yea.

    Joe: That's a good one.

    Kenny: I remember that.

    Kevin: It's in the van. You can read it if ...

    Joe: You going to read Summer of the Monkeys now?

    Kevin: I could.

    Joe: I wasn't making fun of you. I was genuinely asking.

    Kevin: Genuinely serious.

    Rhett: Cool.

    So of course, the interview ended in laughter. These guys are a lot of fun to hang out with. They are a lot of fun to see live.  In the meantime, make sure that you check out their debut album, Come to the River.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Rhett Walker Band, Brennan Manning

  • Diving Deep with Casting Crowns

    Posted on October 31, 2013 by John van der Veen


    "If I could just get to the weekend."
    "If I could just get through this semester."
    "If I could just get to the vacation.”
    "If I could just make it through today.”

    So many of us today are simply surviving.
    But we were not made to survive, we were made to Thrive.

    Like a tree planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:7-8) we should be digging into God's word to know Him and know who He has made us to be. We should be reaching out to the world and showing others who He is through our lives and our stories - knowing Him and making Him known.

    I caught up with Mark, Melody and Juan from Casting Crowns at a summer festival this year. I wanted them to feel me in on their new album and what has been going on in their life as a band.

    John: You guys just got done in the studio, recording the new record. Is there a title for this thing yet?

    Mark: Yep, the name of the record is Thrive. It's named after the thing we've been teaching our student ministry in our church for several years. It's just a picture of digging deep and reaching out, what a healthy believer looks like after Psalm chapter one.

    John: I love it. When does it come out?

    Mark: Comes out ...

    Melody: January 28th.

    John: January 28th, Thrive. New record from Casting Crowns. That's pretty cool. A little bit of background information then. When you guys record a record, do you actually go through the process of teaching, through all of the lyrical content of the record first, and then go, "Okay, you know what? Now, we have 12 great songs from these 12 great lessons we just went through." Or is it reverse? Do you put the record out in front of people then go, "Now we're going to hammer you all over again"?

    Mark: What happens is, we're just teaching what we're teaching. Just pouring into believers, it’s discipleship. Then when it's time to write, we go back and usually the things that have been resonating throughout the year, sort of start emerging on their own. It's not really ... I don't know how to say that.

    Juan: It starts out as Mark is saying something from the stage. I'm usually playing the guitar, always talking like, "Oh, it's pretty cool." Then, it becomes a Bible study on Wednesday night for the teenagers and students, and then it turns into a song, usually after that.

    Mark: And new book comes out in January, as well.

    Juan: Mark has a new book coming out in January, same title.

    Mark: The record is called Thrive, the book is called Thrive. It's a little easier to make the book happen, because I get to say everything I wanted to say for every subject. You got to turn these Bible studies into a song. That's why Crowns can't write a song under five minutes long, because we have preacher's writing. The book is coming out as well, and I also have a children's book coming out, and it's called ...

    John: This is your first children's title.

    Mark: Yes, first one. It's called City on the Hill. It's after a song in the last record about how we are all different before we come together to make the body, so I’m pretty excited about that.

    John: That is very cool. When you guys go and set out to write these songs, do you have specific people in mind when you write a particular song? Name a song, can you name a song from the new record?

    Mark: Sure. There's a song called “House of Their Dreams,” that we’ll actually do tonight. A song about a family. When we sing a song about a girl, it's a song about a girl. It’s in these things that are going on around us.

    Juan: These are real stories that you ...

    Mark: They're real stories. Because our church will hear them, sometimes I'll shift things around to protect people, but these are just real life situations. That's what's cool about them, it’s that God lives in real life situations. That's where the hope is.

    John: With that in mind, what do you guys hope that this record will do, once it goes out there next year?

    Mark: For me, we've been doing concerts for a while. All of our concerts are really to pour into that young believer. The gospel is obviously going to be shared every time we're on the stage. But I'm trying to pour in it, for those not just young in age, but a believer who's young in their faith, to help them grow a little bit. I'd notice, I would say things in the teaching moments, and people in the crowd looking at me like, "Where has this been? How do I do this?" I can tell I need to give more. This record, the goal was to take that Psalm 1 passage about us being a tree planted by streams of water, and just look at what a believer should look like. Instead of going out and trying to be an awesome Christian, let's just dig in our roots and let God define for us some things. Let Him define who He is, and let Him define who we are.

    Once we grow in our roots, fruit will begin to happen. Instead of something we try, it's something we let God do in us. Six of the songs are all about digging deep in your roots and understanding God. Six of the songs are all about reaching out, and leting God use you in the world. It's really ... I'm just trying to pour into this bigger church that we've been coming in contact with.

    John: These songs, did they affect you guys as a band? I mean, are you just as moved, as maybe your audience is? How involved are you in responding to your own music?

    Melody: I don't write the words, the music; Mark usually does that. Sometimes he’ll co-write with somebody, but I know who he’s talking about in a lot of the songs. That is a bigger connection emotionally. One of the songs in the new record is called “Broken Together,” and it's about marriage. It's about a couple of marriages of friends that are close to us, that are just going through really hard times. When he was recording it, I was already crying, because when you know who is about, it means so much more.

    Mark: For me, it usually takes a few times for some of these songs to get through. A couple of these like, “Broken Together,” I don't know. It would probably be a rough couple of concerts to get through...

    Melody: He cries, I cry and then...

    Juan: And then everybody's crying.

    Melody: I'm the band crier. I cry at the drop of a hat.

    John: Anything on your bucket list for this year?

    Melody: Bucket list? Just survive first grade.

    Juan: I’m a big C. S. Lewis fan. They're doing a thing, it’s a big event, and I have to get to London, is it the day before or day after my daughter's birthday. It'd be like a three day deal.

    John: What are they doing?

    Juan: They're erecting a memorial stone, and poets corner, Westminster Abbey, honoring C. S. Lewis, so it will be beside Shakespeare, and Alfred Lawrence Tennyson, all those guys.

    John: You think you're going to go?

    Juan: I don't know.

    Melody: You want to really bad.

    Mark: I stepped out in faith, and I reserved the ticket to be able to do that. It was free to register, so I don't know. I think I'll start in a kick-starter. Please, please, send me money.

    Melody: I love it.

    Juan: There’s always some great kick-starters out there. I want to go the Switchfoot concert. Kick-starter for that.

    Mark: Good idea.

    Melody: I just want to survive first grade.

    Everyone: [Laughing]

    Bonus: All You've Ever Wanted (Official Lyric Video)


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Casting Crowns

  • Brandon Heath on Being Thankful for Christmas

    Posted on October 31, 2013 by John van der Veen


    Brandon Heath has some hard and fast rules about Christmas.

    1) Christmas music always sounds better on vinyl.
    2) Parents should never lie to their children about Santa Claus.
    3) Decorating should never,ever commence under any circumstance until the day after Thanksgiving.

    Brandon has dreamed of creating a Christmas album for a long time, writing quite a few songs along the way in anticipation for a future holiday release. In the end, he wrote three originals that made the album, Christmas is Here. In the few months leading up to recording he enlisted some friends to make the process memorable. Sonja Isaacs, Ellie Holcomb, Andy Gullahorn and Matt Wertz to name a few. Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson, Matt Wertz) produced the album, which was recorded in mid-July.

    I sat down with the Nashville native on a warm autumn day. The leaves were just starting to turn some color and the hint of "Frosty The Snowman" was a long way off.

    John: Okay Brandon, we need to talk about your song "The Day After Thanksgiving." I’m sensing maybe there’s a little bit of angst in that song.

    Brandon: There might be a little angst. I really just wanted to make this Christmas record fit me, and I’ve been wanting to make one for a long time.

    John: Okay... We need to talk a little bit about that.

    Brandon: Yeah.

    John: Who wrote the song?

    Brandon: I wrote it with my friend Ross Copperman and Lee Thomas Miller.

    Brandon: I have a very strict rule about Christmas music in that I don’t listen to any Christmas music or want to see decorations, or inflatables, or anything until the day after Thanksgiving. Consumerism has just taken over Christmas, and I think I really just want … fall is a great time of the year.

    John: It is.

    Brandon: Pumpkins and apple cider, and football games, and …

    John: Candy corn?

    Brandon: Candy corn, absolutely. All those things are great things that we should celebrate about fall. The seasons are an amazing time, so it’s unfortunate to me that the mall forgets about the fall, or maybe they’re celebrating the fall in the summertime. You just fast forward to Christmas every year, and by the time Christmas actually gets here you’re kind of tired of it.

    John: Yeah.

    Brandon: I wanted to really kind of punctuate that, like a Christmas gift, there is a time to open the gift and I think it starts the day after Thanksgiving.

    John: Yeah. For you, the Christmas tradition … so post-Thanksgiving Christmas tradition, what would that be like in your family growing up? What are some of the fond memories that you have? Are you bringing any of those into who you are today?

    Brandon: Yeah. One of the most fond memories I think of about our family Christmases was really, honestly, the music. Whenever we listened to music, it was usually on vinyl, and so I really wanted to … I think we tend to adopt, as children, we adopt the music that our parents listened to for Christmas.

    Mine would have been Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin. Kind of the crooner-type of Christmas music with great arrangements, and so I wanted that to influence this record. I did “Silent Night,” a very close rendition to what Nat King Cole did, which is all choral. It’s just a choir in the background, a cappella, very free-flowing. There’s not really a meter to it. Then his version of “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” which is actually called “The Christmas Song.”

    John: Yeah.

    Brandon: He was the first person to ever record that song, and I think he did it the right way, so we basically borrowed from old Nat King Cole. Every time I hear that song, that to me, that song is the official beginning of Christmas when I hear that song.

    John: What do you think it is? You’re talking about this idea that a lot of people have in trying to go back to this childhood. One might say, "It was greater back then." What do you think that is? What draws us to that sense of thought, of ideal, of philosophy when it comes to Christmas? Why do we do that this time of year?

    Brandon: I think Christmas is personified by a child. I think we think about The Child, the baby. There's something about maybe even gift giving that kind of comes from the Three Wise Men. I think we have made a tradition of giving gifts at that time of the year because of the Christmas story in the Bible. There is something about tradition that I think makes Christmas really special to people.

    It’s a time when family comes together. It might be that the only time that you see your family is at Christmastime every year. It’s important to know where we come from and who we belong to, and I think the Christmas story certainly fits in all that. Jesus was born to remind us who we belong to. His life was to remind us who we are, and that we’re loved.

    I think that’s why, after all these ages, it’s still important, even though people would argue and even old Brandon Heath would argue that consumerism has really kind of come in and invaded Christmas. I don’t think that you can completely extinguish what it’s all about, and that’s the birth of Christ.

    John: How does someone in pursuit of Jesus during the Christmas Season, how do they continually have the heart that says, “This is what this time of the year is about”? How do you wrestle with that? On your record, you certainly have these great, very fun, sentimental Christmas songs that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the birth of Christ. You’re talking about Santa, “Mama don’t lie to me.” You are talking about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. There’s that, but then there is this explosive idea of God becoming Man and just entering into humanity. How do we, as a follower of Christ … how do we transition to this idea of "remembering that God with us" is what it’s really all about?

    Brandon: Well, I think a lot of people think about Emmanuel, which means God with us. It helps us to feel not so alone, and it’s not necessarily as much an emotion as it is just the fact that God is with us. He is with us. I think that changes everything. We can live in confidence knowing that we’re not without purpose, and that we’re not alone. I think that that can really be a game-changer for people who have been looking for something to live for.

    When the Creator extends His hand and says, “This is who you are and this is why I made you; so that I could delight in you, and you could delight in Me.” It was the Trinity’s, not necessarily last-ditch effort, to connect with Man. The Trinity certainly could have chosen to start over. They, God, created us and He can choose not to have us anymore, but He does choose us. I think we should certainly celebrate that. I really wanted this Christmas record, it’s called Christmas Is Here, I really wanted it to remind people of their memories from a long time ago.

    I also wanted to bring in some new, fresh stories. There’s a story about the innkeeper that I took some liberties with. We don’t really know what happened with the innkeeper, but I wanted him to be remorseful. I wanted him to realize that, “Oh, I just turned away a pregnant woman; I could have helped her.” Then he finds out, “This was the Son of God that was born, I could have had a part in that. God gave me this opportunity, but I said, ‘No.’”

    In contrast, you have Mary, who could have said no but said yes. Isn’t it a great thing that she said yes? That God chose someone like her, a 15-year-old girl, who in our world would be a very unlikely character to carry out the birth of Jesus, but she did and in an unlikely place like Bethlehem, that’s where He was born. Any of us who say that we’re not qualified should think maybe twice about who God uses to carry out His great works.

    John: Do you think that God opens doors of opportunity, or windows of opportunity, towards us and many of us are blind to that?

    Brandon: Mm-hmm.

    John: You have had a lot of success in your life. You’ve had some great, very inspiring singles on the radio. You have toured very successfully. You seem to be a man who is walking into those opportunities that God has given you.

    Brandon: That’s key right there, what you just said.

    John: How does one discern God telling us, “Left, right, not this door, that door?” How do you pursue Jesus in your everyday life when it comes to stuff like that?

    Brandon: It’s definitely been a fun ride for me. I have had some success, but I’ve also had some failures and I’m really thankful for those. In the moment, I’m not so thankful for those, but in hindsight I’m glad that I have failures because then I can celebrate my successes more.

    I also am thankful for that because it reminds me that I’m not God. That I can’t govern what happens in my life but everything is by His Grace and His Power, and it’s His Plan. It kind of humbles you. How do you know which direction to walk? There’s really no way to tell that, but I think that … we were just talking about Mary and she just said yes.

    I think you kind of know when those doors open, you just have a feeling. It may not be an angel appearing to you and saying, “This is what God’s Will is for you,” but the ultimate reality is that all of our calling is to spread the Gospel. Everybody’s calling is to spread the Gospel. Now how you do that is gonna be different for each of us. My gift is music and I’ve known that for a while, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only way that I can spread the Gospel. It’s certainly the most fun way that I could think of, and I feel like I’ve got a gift at it.

    It’s just applying the commandment to spread The Word, and applying my gift with that commandment, and it’s flourished. I guess in some ways I’m not surprised, but honestly I’m always surprised because somebody at the end of the day will say, “Your song did this for me.” I will never get used to that, that God’s used me in that way. I feel an immense amount of gratitude for that.

    John: What’s on your bucket list?

    Brandon: What’s on my bucket list? I would like to, and this is so typical, I’d love to summit a mountain 14,000 feet or above. I’d love to summit a mountain.

    John: How far up have you climbed before?

    Brandon: Seven thousand.

    John: Which was?

    Brandon: In British Columbia, Canada. There’s a mountain there called One Eye, it’s 7,000 feet. That was cool, but that’s going from sea level to seven.

    John: Oh, sure.

    Brandon: You think about in Colorado you’ve got 14,000-15,000 footers, but you start at 9,000.

    John: Right.

    Brandon: It was a long hike, but it’s an amazing experience. It’s about a 3-day trip, spending a couple of nights in the woods. You could take it slower if you want, but we packed really light so that we could do it pretty quickly.

    John: Yeah, that’s cool.

    John: Are you still riding the Harley?

    Brandon: I still ride, yup.

    John: Did you take it with you?

    Brandon: It’s not with me on this trip. I was telling somebody today it is 80 degrees in Michigan; it would have been a perfect day to ride but, no, I didn’t bring it with me.

    John: It’s all right.

    Brandon: Yeah, next time.

    John: Let's circle back to the new album. Christmas Is Here certainly encourages us to celebrate the memories, the traditions, the joy and the meaning leading up to December 25. There’s a reason you want us to hold out to celebrate. Isn't there?

    Brandon: Christmas is like a good surprise, like a present. You should wait and open it when it’s time instead of opening it as soon as you get it, and then there’s nothing special about it anymore,” he says. “I think you should restrain yourself and say, ‘Okay, I’m not going to fully engage in this until it’s time.’ And Christmas is one of those things for me. I want people to savor the moment...just wait.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Brandon Heath, Andrew Peterson, Matt Wertz, The Isaacs

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