Posted on April 2, 2014 by Family Christian
And when she was good
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Ruthie never saw it coming. His fist flashed toward her so fast she couldn’t duck or turn away in time.
“Nooo!” Her cry echoed off the windshield of the Pontiac but went no further. Who would hear her in this parking lot anyway? With trash cans and alley cats for neighbors, she could hardly expect some hero in a white Ford Mustang to drive by and rescue her, not at this late hour. Hayden was leaning inside the open car window now, rubbing his knuckles as if to say, “There’s more where that came from.” As if she hadn’t figured that out. As if she wasn’t watching his every move. Ruthie was nineteen, but she was nobody’s fool.
She stared at the dashboard, feeling her cheek swell as the pain inched around her eye, along her nose, toward her temple. In her whole life no one had ever deliberately hit her. Even as a child, she hadn’t been spanked at home or paddled in school.
She was a good girl. National Honor Society. State chorus. Editor in chief of her small-town high-school newspaper.
Nobody ever needed to hit Ruthie, for any reason.
So much for that claim to fame. She’d been hit now, and hard. Slowly, hoping Hayden wouldn’t notice, she moved her jaw back and forth, grateful it could move.
He snorted, obviously disgusted with her. “I didn’t break anything. But I could have. Now slide over or get out.”
Not much choice there.
The time for making choices was behind her—that was clear. Weeks ago she’d chosen to spend that Thursday night at the Village Nightclub, knowing the kind of men who went there. And the kind of women. Women like me. She’d chosen to drag Hayden home with her because he was the right size and the right age and in the right state of mind: drunk. Too drunk to care whether or not she had a pretty face.
Her face wasn’t pretty now, of that Ruthie was certain.
And her choices were nil. If she got out of the car, he might hit her again. If she stayed in the car, he might drive like a maniac and wrap her new Pontiac around a telephone pole, with them in it.
Her new car. The one he routinely borrowed without asking. The one they’d been arguing about, right up until he parked his fist in her face. She moved across the seat toward the passenger side, sliding her keys out of the ignition as she did so, feeling her head begin to throb. Don’t let me pass out! Please…Somebody. Anybody. Resting her hand on the door handle, then carefully wrapping her fingers around it, she waited for her chance. As Hayden moved into the driver’s seat and dug in his pockets for his keys, she took a deep breath, then shoved the door open, nearly falling out on the gravel-strewn pavement.
“Get in the car, Ruthie!” Hayden’s bark was deadly.
She felt him grab for her and miss. “He-e-elp…” It was such a pitiful cry, like a kitten needing milk. Straightening awkwardly to her feet, Ruthie slammed the car door just as Hayden reached for her again. Judging by his curses, she’d unintentionally jammed his fingers in the process. Maybe not so unintentionally.
She had one goal now: to locate her apartment key among the dozen on the ring she held in her trembling hands. Stumbling toward her security door as she heard the car door open, she found the key at last and forced it in the lock. C’mon, c’mon!
When the deadbolt turned, she fell through the entrance with a sob of relief, then turned to bolt the door behind her. But she was too late. He’d already wedged his leg in the doorway and was muscling his way inside. Her heart sank through the linoleum floor, and the taste of dread filled her mouth.
Hayden was taller, wider, older, stronger. And meaner, so much meaner. Why hadn’t she seen that? Tasted it in his kisses that first night, discovered it in his eyes that first morning?
His hatred for her was a living thing, rolling off him in waves. “Don’t you understand?” His chest was heaving, but not from the effort—from the anger. “That Pontiac is mine. You’re mine. This apartment is mine. Nothing you do or say is gonna change that, Ruthie.”With one hand he slammed the door with a noisy bang.
With the other hand he reached in his jacket and pulled out a gun.
Her heart thudded to a stop at the sight of it.
His cold smile told her all she needed to know.
“Upstairs.” He waved the ugly black revolver at the staircase that led to her second-floor apartment. Her apartment. Hers! She’d scrimped and saved to have her own place. For what? So this…this…
It was no use. She started up the steps, doing her best not to trip, not to cry, not to let him see that he was tearing apart everything that made her Ruthie, step by awful step…
Define Bad . . .
Few of us made it our ambition in life to be a Bad Girl. Ruthie wasn’t bad; she was abused. But after several years of making bad choices—dating Hayden among them—she’d given up on ever being good.
Some of us stumbled through a rebellious youth or wandered into an addictive habit or walked down the aisle with the wrong guy for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps our sense of self was so skewed we decided we weren’t worthy of goodness or figured we’d gone too far to ever find the road home or concluded we enjoyed our favorite vice so much we weren’t about to give it up—no way, no how.
There are some women who even wear badness like a badge of courage.
As Tallulah Bankhead put it, “If I had to live my life over again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”
What labels a woman as “bad” hasn’t changed since Eve. All the usual suspects are there: disobedience, lust, denial, greed, anger, lying, adultery, laziness, cruelty, selfishness, idolatry.
Badness—in other words, sin—doesn’t have to be that dramatic. It can be something on the sidelines: an unkind word, a whisper of gossip, a neglected request, an unrepentant attitude, an intentionally forgotten event.
It all boils down to a heart that’s hardened against God—however temporary the condition, however isolated the tough spot.
To that extent, we’ve all been Bad Girls.
And to a woman, we long to be Good Girls.
I have trouble learning, though, from women who get it all right. I spend my energy comparing, falling short, and asking myself, How do they do that? It’s discouraging, even maddening. It also doesn’t get me one step closer to God.
So, for a season, I thought we’d look at women who got a lot wrong. I must admit I went into these stories with a bit of pride between my teeth and soon found my jaw hanging slack at the similarities in these women and me. How is it possible, Lord? I love you, love your Word, love your people…How can I see so much of myself in these sleazy women?
Ah, sisters. Our sins may be a surprise to us, but they are no surprise to the Lord.
For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord,
and he examines all his paths. Proverbs 5:21
Come, then, and meet our counterparts—for good and for bad. My introduction to these ten Bad Girls of the Bible began many years ago when I prepared a series of messages about famous women in Scripture for a national Christian convention. For a girl who loves to have fun, I found it the “meatiest” stuff I’d ever tackled. I savored every juicy minute of time spent studying the Bible and reading various commentaries. Not to mention examining my own life in juxtaposition with theirs.
Oops. Big mistake there. Ruth was so faithful. Esther was so courageous. Mary was so innocent. I was so none-of-the-above.
Then I happened upon Jezebel, and something inside me clicked. I identified with her pushy personality, I understood her need for control, I empathized with her angry outbursts…and I was aghast when I got to her gruesome ending.
She was a Bad Girl, all right, but boy did she teach me what not to do in my marriage! It was then the seeds for this book were planted in my heart. These stories are in God’sWord for his good purpose—and for ours. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
Where to begin? With the First Bad Girl: Eve. Of course. Badness had to start somewhere.
Next, I found three women who were Bad to the Bone: Potiphar’s wife, Delilah, and Jezebel. These were women of whom not a single kind word was recorded. Women who had a pattern of sinning, with no evidence of remorse or a desire to change, who sinned with gusto from bad beginning to bitter end. Because they were made in the image of God, as we were, these Bad Girls weren’t truly rotten to the core. They just behaved that way—and very convincingly!
Another three women were Bad for a Moment. Lot’s wife, Sapphira, and Michal were three good…uh…bad examples of women who made one colossal blooper—one big, life-changing mistake that was such a bell ringer it was recorded for posterity, chiming across the centuries. These three women were, by all appearances, believers in the one true God at the start, but when forced to make a choice, they each chose disastrously. Finally, my favorite women—those who were Bad for a Season, but Not Forever: Rahab, the Woman at the Well, and the Sinful Woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears. Yes, they all had plenty of sin in their past, but they also were willing to change and be changed. What a joy to watch their encounters with God redeem them for eternity!
Because I love writing fiction, and because I wanted to make these women come alive for all of us, I’ve opened each chapter with a contemporary, fictional retelling of the biblical story that follows. The names have been changed to protect the guilty, but you’ll spot their stories right away. You might identify yourself in these narratives too…I certainly did.
The same weaknesses, the same temptations, the same choices, and some of the same sorry results. Thanks to the tale of Lila from Dallas, Delilah will never again be a mere flannelboard cutout figure to me. And Lottie from Spirit Lake made me look at my beloved farmhouse in a whole new light, bless her misguided heart—and mine.
May these fictional stories speak to you as well.
Without missing a beat, we’ll jump right into a verse-by-verse look at the real woman’s story as it appears in the New InternationalVersion of the Bible, with plenty of “Lizzie style” commentary to keep you smiling as you learn what made that particular Bad Girl tick. Don’t faint when you see footnotes—a research paper this isn’t! But I believe in handling theWord of God with great care, so I studied more than fifty commentaries from the last two hundred years, along with ten different translations of the Scriptures. Funny: The older scholars blamed the women for everything and painted the men as heroes. The newer writers blamed the men for everything and described the women as victims and the men as jerks. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, so that’s what I aimed for: balance. And truth.
As writer Elisabeth Elliot phrased it, “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.”1
Here’s something you may not know about me, even if you’ve read many of my books: My incredible husband, Bill, has a Ph.D. in Old Testament languages. The man not only reads the Biblia Hebraica, he understands it. He combed through my manuscript for errors—in translation, in interpretation, in application. You can breathe easier, girlfriend, knowing I’m not alone on this project!
You aren’t alone either. That’s the point of Bad Girls of the Bible. I want you to know, categorically and absolutely, that whatever your story is, you are not alone. There are lessons here for all of us; each chapter ends with four of them. In the back of the book you'll find a short list of Discussion Questions for book clubs and a longer StudyGuide formore in-depth, chapter-by-chapter Bible study.
I had four kinds of readers in mind while I wrote: (1) Former Bad Girls who have given up their old lives for new ones in Christ and are struggling to figure out how and where they “fit” in God’s family; (2) Temporary Bad Girls who grew up in the church, put aside their devotion to God at some point, and now fear they can’t ever be truly forgiven; (3) Veteran Good Girls who want to grow in understanding and compassion for the women around them who weren’t “cradle Christians”; and (4) Aspiring Good Girls who keep thinking there must be something more to life but aren’t sure where to look.
This is the place, dear ones. Join in.
Find out what a twenty-first-century woman who loves God can learn from an ancient Egyptian temptress who did not: plenty!
All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean…As it is with the good man, so with the sinner. Ecclesiastes 9:2
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that
each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in
the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
In closing, a reminder that each chapter opens with fiction. Except this one. Ruthie is me. That’s a small slice of my own early life as a Bad Girl, and, yes, it was very hard to write.
It got so much worse before it got better. Only a few trusted souls on this earth know how bad. Jesus knows. He knows every inch of my heart. He knows how bad I was, am now, and will be, before I leave behind this transient shell and go on to undeserved glory.
Here’s the good news: He loves us anyway.
He loves us so much he will put people in our paths to lead us to him, just as he did for me—for Ruthie—decades ago. After years in the wilderness, I found myself at the end of my proverbial rope, so despondent I was willing to swing from that noose by my own stiff neck—anything to end the pain of disappointment and shame.
In my pursuit of earthly, fleshly pleasures—the whole sex, drugs, and rock-’n’-roll experience that many of us sampled—I discovered a sad truth: Fun and joy are not the same thing at all. Fun is temporary at best; it’s risky, even dangerous, at worst. Joy, on the other hand, was a mystery I couldn’t seem to decipher.
Oh, girlfriend!When I think of the shallow relationships, the misspent dollars, the wasted years, I can taste that bitter despair all over again. I was a woman without hope—a Bad Girl by choice and by circumstance—convinced that if I could just find the “right man,” he would save me from my sorrows.
One wintry day in 1982 I met that “right man”—a man of sorrows—who willingly had given his life to set me free. Me! Sinful, disobedient, rebellious Ruth Elizabeth. My friends Tim and Evelyn, who’d shared their hearts, their hugs, and their lives with me, now shared the truth with me: I was a sinner in need of a Savior.
Finally I understood the depth of my badness and the breadth of God’s goodness and so embraced his gift of grace with both hands. Yes, I was Bad for a Season, but Not Forever.
And my, oh my, have I found real joy!
With the courage of Rahab, the humility of the Sinful Woman, and the curiosity of the Woman at the Well, let’s press on, my sisters, and see what good news our Lord might have waiting for us within these pages. I promise I’ll be with you every step of the way.
Excerpted from Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs Copyright © 2013 by Liz Curtis Higgs. 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.
Posted on April 1, 2014 by 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.
Posted on March 31, 2014 by Family Christian
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Posted on March 31, 2014 by Family Christian
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.
Posted on March 28, 2014 by Family Christian
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Alex Stafford was just like Mama said. He was tall and dark, and Sarah had never seen anyone so beautiful. Even dressed in dusty riding clothes, his hair damp with perspiration, he was like the princes in the stories Mama read. Sarah’s heart beat with wild joy and pride. None of the other fathers she saw at Mass compared to him.
He looked at her with his dark eyes, and her heart sang. She was wearing her best blue frock and white pinafore, and Mama had braided her hair with pink and blue ribbons. Did Papa like the way she looked? Mama said blue was his favorite color, but why didn’t he smile? Was she fidgeting? Mama said to stand straight and still and act like a lady. She said he would like that. But he didn’t look pleased at all.
“Isn’t she beautiful, Alex?” Mama said. Her voice sounded strange…tight, like she was choking. “Isn’t she the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever seen?”
Read the whole book excerpt here.
Kirk Cameron wrote, "It's easy to get excited about your faith when things are going well in your life. But when your whole world comes crashing down on you, the questions start: 'Where is God when I need him most? Why do bad things happen to good people?' Unstoppable is a journey, based on a true story, that has become the most personal and transparent project I have ever made regarding my faith."
I recently had a video chat with the man-formally-known-as Mike Seaver. I wanted to know what was behind his latest DVD, Unstoppable. What follows are his honest answers.
Read the whole interview here.
The pages of history have been written by ordinary people who had something extraordinary to say with their lives. Bill Gaither is just such an individual… an Indiana-born kid with an insatiable love for music who grew to become an industry leader who would change the course of gospel music history through the songs he has written and through his influence as a mentor for other artists.
An avid fan of gospel quartets throughout his childhood, Bill founded his first group, The Bill Gaither Trio, in 1956, while he was a college student. He began teaching English in 1959 because his musical aspirations couldn’t support him full-time… yet. In 1962, Bill did one of the best things he has ever done. He married Gloria Sickal, who became the best writing partner Bill could have found anywhere. The couple spent the first five years of their married life juggling full-time teaching jobs, writing, singing, recording and publishing until music became their full-time career in 1967.
That's where it all started.
Read the full interview here.
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.
I was born in Houston, Texas to essentially a single parent household. We moved from Houston to Denver, and then, just because my mother was single and was just kind of struggling to make ends meet, I would stay with my grandmother quite often in San Diego, California. So between Texas, California, and Denver, those were the places I bounced around. I was just a sponge. I picked up so much in all that time. Obviously not having a strong male influence or role model, I gravitated to anyone who would pay attention. Most of the time those were terrible influences [who] influenced me to run in the wrong direction quite often. I grew up with a great sense of insecurity in figuring out what I was and where I belonged. Not growing up in church didn’t make it any easier. So I pretty much wrestled through that my whole life until my senior summer in high school. I got into a lot of trouble and [things] really exploded. I had to say “God, I need your help.” That’s really when I began to sense that God was drawing me and [I] later became a Christian after hearing the Gospel.
Read the full interview here.
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.
Nick took some time out of his busy schedule to do a little Q&A with us.
Read the full q&a here.
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.
Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s
history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says.
“We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in
the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole
would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”
Read all the q&a's here.
Locking Eyes with Your Lion
You are responsible forever for what you have tamed.
There is an obscure passage in Scripture that I doubt any Sunday school teacher has ever assigned as a memory verse. It wasn’t exegeted in any of the systematic theology classes I took in seminary. It has absolutely no bearing on any major biblical doctrines. You may have read it a few times in a one-year Bible, but it probably didn’t even make a blip on your radar screen.
Buried in the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel, the twenty-third chapter, the twentieth and twenty-first verses, is one of the most inconceivable and inspirational passages in Scripture:
Read the full book excerpt here.
Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).
As soon as the master was turned in to the studio to finish post production on the new album, I sat down with John Cooper (lead singer) to talk through what was behind Rise. As you will see, while reading this, John is a passionate man. He is passionate about his music. His wife. His family. About Christ.
Read the full interview here.
Shane Harper established himself as an artist with a quadruple threat—singer, actor, dancer, and songwriter. He began working as a professional dancer in the entertainment industry when he was just 13, appearing as a principal dancer in High School Musical 2, and in Nickelodeon's show, "Dance on Sunset".
Shane transitioned easily into acting, and is recurring on the hit Disney Channel show, "Good Luck Charlie", for all 4 seasons. He guest starred on "Wizards of Waverly Place", and "So Random". He also guest starred in a 4 episode arc for the scripted MTV series, "Awkward."
Shane has a principal role in the feature film, GOD'S NOT DEAD and recently, I sat down with him to talk about faith, Hollywood, books music and coffee.
Read the full interview here.
The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before.
Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.
We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.
There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.
Read the full interview here.
So which blog post was your favorite? Is there an author or an artist that you would like us to interview? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Posted on March 28, 2014 by Family Christian
What Does God Say About Economics?
What you don’t know can hurt you. We ignore the power of ideas at our own peril. All ideas, right or wrong, have spiritual, practical, or economic consequences.
Economics is an inexact science at best. Economists draw from the study of mathematics, statistics and probability, past economic trends, and a guiding philosophy that a particular school of economic theory provides the brightest light to follow. It’s a little like weather forecasting, except that meteorology doesn’t affect your retirement by getting mixed up in political skirmishes and power struggles at the highest levels of government. Not to mention that a faulty weather forecast will never destroy your family’s finances or blot out a secure economic future. Don’t dismiss these possibilities as things that happen only in other countries or to other people. You and your family, your friends and neighbors, and the country you love can all be caught in the aftermath of a financial hurricane if America continues on its irresponsible and unsustainable economic path.
Here is what our leaders in both major parties do not seem to understand: political solutions can never put us on a sound economic footing. Politics is not interested primarily in the good of the nation. Instead, politics has to do with gaining and exercising power over your opponents, rewarding your biggest donors, and benefitting the priority constituencies of your party. If, in doing these things, you also accomplish something that is good for the country at large, that’s great. But such an outcome is more an afterthought in the political process than it is a primary focus.
That might sound cynical, but if you fear I have cast my lot with the naysayers rather than choosing to work for a solution, keep reading. Recognizing why things are not working is the first step toward correcting the things that have gone terribly wrong.
The problem is that our nation’s leaders look to deals and compromise to determine policy and enact legislation, and they are guided by political and economic ideologies that shape their values and priorities. They need, instead, the guidance of a fixed standard and a voice that speaks outside of our time and culture. In a world filled with donkeys, elephants, and rhinos, we need a lion that can roar timeless, common-sense principles that are not beholden to any party, time period, or cultural shift.
What our nation’s leaders have missed is the one reliable, unfailing source of direction and wisdom that is available to us. If we continue to ignore God’s guidance in the economic realm—at the levels of individuals, families, and the nation—we can be sure we’ll end up losing even more of our freedom and personal wealth. We will be living in a country weakened by economic failure and wondering how the greatest nation in history could have been brought to such a depressing state of financial and ethical bankruptcy.
But that doesn’t have to happen. The voice of the people can still carry the day. I am not suggesting a new Reformation that takes on a political identity. Nor am I calling for a theocracy in which Americans would be required to adhere to the doctrines of Christianity. In our republic, the voice and will of a majority of the citizens still possess the power to move our nation in a different direction—if we are united.
What is Godonomics, and why is it the best way to solve the deepening economic dilemma we face as a nation, as families, and as individuals? Godonomics is, as the name suggests, God’s teachings and wisdom in the realm of
finance and economics. When you study the Bible, you find that God’s agenda for nations, families, and individuals is not hard to understand. But it is not easy to apply, either. It requires commitment, restraint, godly priorities, hard work, and generosity, among other virtues. These words are not used a lot in political campaigns, because candidates for office prefer to paint their policies in terms of solutions that won’t require hardship, sacrifice, or major shifts in priorities. God, of course, is not swayed by the results of opinion polls or the planks in a party platform.
And here is what is so refreshing in the principles of Godonomics: they make perfect sense. Speaking to us today through the scribes who recorded God’s message over millenniums, God’s plan for economic sanity, financial responsibility, and prosperity apply directly to the mess we are in today. Americans need to know that the options are not limited to Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, Tea Party, and all other groups working to gain influence and power. While each one claims to have the secret to solving our broken economy, only God’s principles will lead us out of the quagmire we’re in. I believe that when Godonomics becomes widely known, and more and more people begin to apply God’s principles at home, in their businesses, and in their communities, they will see for themselves that this is the solution we’ve been looking for.
Today’s failed economic policies are nothing new. In the chapters that follow, we will look at ancient kings who seem to have taken their cues straight from John Maynard Keynes—except that Keynes would not be born for another three thousand years. We will look at the words and thinking of God-inspired leaders from Israel who recorded wisdom on leadership, government, citizenship, and personal responsibility—all of which helped guide the founders of the United States as they created our nation’s legal and constitutional foundation. The same ancient wisdom undergirded the economic system that helped establish America as the most secure and prosperous country on earth.
Beyond that, the first Christ-followers applied these principles as individuals and families, and in congregations and fellowships. God’s instructions are not vague or hard to understand. They simply require single-mindedness, hard work, generosity, and steadfast commitment. But following His instructions brings unmatched freedom, opportunity, and self-directed prosperity.
Godonomics seeks to bring God’s economic principles to the forefront, so we can set our lives, our families’ futures, and our nation on a sound financial footing—now and for the future. But there is a second—even more important—reason why Godonomics is so crucial. A rapidly growing movement has lured believers away from God’s principles on finances and convinced them that socialism is, according to Scripture, the economic system that is most consistent with God’s will.
Younger Christians, especially, are intrigued by persuasive Christian authors, speakers, and bloggers who emphasize giving priority to helping the poor by taking from others or empowering intrusive governments. They use the term social justice to advocate a shift of the economic balance in favor of those who are not producing wealth. They justify this stance with verses from the Bible, primarily from the Sermon on the Mount, the book of Acts, or selections from the Old Testament, without seeing the broader contexts.
Growing numbers of younger Christians, who are largely unaware of the divine wisdom behind Godonomics, now consider socialism to be the economic system that God endorses. Advocates of this teaching do not call it
socialism, of course. They use words such as compassion, justice, even gospel, to legitimize their goal of shifting wealth away from those who are productive and creating opportunities for others, and toward those who are said to be
disadvantaged and marginalized.
I have pastored inner-city congregations that aggressively addressed the challenge and harm of generational poverty. I also have pastored suburban churches that are insulated from the plight of starving neighbors. I’ve been humbled to lead people from a variety of perspectives: One church was racially diverse while others were lily white. Some congregations were predominantly “blue state,” while others were much more politically conservative. I’ve learned that people of all backgrounds and perspectives love our country, have a common-sense approach to life, and are not nearly as divided personally as the leaders they elect portray.
It is time for Christians and all Americans to join together to protect our heritage and to restore strength, stability, and prosperity to our nation. At the same time, it is essential that this be done from the bottom up, generated by individuals and families who take seriously God’s wisdom on managing and stewarding their finances. Change will begin to take place only when citizens—both Christian and otherwise—act on the framework and guidelines upon which our nation was built. That is when we will see families prosper and our nation regain economic strength.
In the chapters that follow, we will look at the ideas and outcomes of leading thinkers and practitioners. We will examine policies based on economic theories that produced wealth and elevated the standard of living across the board, as well as those that weakened capitalism and, as a result, our nation. We will take a close look at capitalism’s most influential foe, Karl Marx, and the current American spokesman for the rechristened social gospel, Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners.
There is nothing more personal than your next paycheck, your financial future, and your family’s freedom, security, and well-being. So let’s see what God would say if He were talking individually to the economic thinkers and political leaders who shape and enact the policies that govern our country. These are the policies that have an impact in your town, in your home, and on your wallet. Let’s get started.
Excerpted from Godonomics by Chad Hovind Copyright © 2013 by Chad Hovind. 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.