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Interviews

  • Randy Singer on The Advocate

    Posted on May 20, 2014 by Family Christian

    Randy

    Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 12 legal thrillers, and a veteran trial attorney. In addition to his writing and law practice, he serves as a teaching pastor for a church in Virginia.

    In this interview, he talks about his latest book, The Advocate.

    1. As a novelist, pastor, and trial attorney, you seem uniquely qualified to craft this story. Do you feel that you were meant to write this novel, The Advocate?

    It does feel like I was born to write this book—that everything else has just been practice. I know that I’m more excited about this book than any other I’ve done. And it took longer—nearly five years from concept to completion.

    Unlike my previous books, The Advocate is historical fiction. It’s focused on the two greatest trials in the history of the world: the trial of Jesus (which has been written about extensively) and the trial of Paul in front of Nero, which we know next to nothing about. Both changed the lives of all those associated with them as well as the trajectory of history.

    So yes, it does feel like this story, more than any other, brought together my roles as storyteller, pastor, and trial attorney. It also tapped into my experience as a history teacher before I went to law school. Until I started writing The Advocate, I had forgotten how much I loved studying this period of history.

    2. How does The Advocate relate to the gospel message?

    In two ways. First, The Advocate is the story of a man who played a central role in both the trial of Jesus and the trial of Paul in front of Nero. As you read the story, you are literally face-to-face with the two greatest proponents of the Christian faith in the midst of their greatest trials. There is no middle ground. You are forced to choose.

    Second, I believe the strongest evidence for the authenticity of the Christian faith is the faith and courage of the first-century Christians. They are the ones who literally bet their lives on the reality of the Resurrection. They had seen the risen Christ and had been totally transformed by the Spirit. Their courage, humility, strength, and resolve cannot be explained away apart from the supernatural.

    The day after I called my publisher with the idea for this book, I had dinner with a friend. Not knowing anything about this book, he was telling me how he had rejected the Christian faith his entire life until he started studying the earliest Christians and asked himself some simple questions. Why would they pledge their lives to a cause they knew to be a fraud? If they hadn’t actually seen Christ come back from the dead, why would claim they did? Where did they find the courage to confront the kingdoms of their day with the claims of the Kingdom of Christ? Those questions, and his search for answers, led him to put his faith in Christ. I knew after that dinner conversation that God had called me to write this book and bring this story to life.

    3. This book is obviously a departure from your normal fare of writing contemporary legal thrillers. What elements of a typical Randy Singer novel are present in The Advocate? Do you plan on writing more historical novels like this or returning to legal thrillers?

    The Advocate is a unique blend of legal thriller and historical fiction. The protagonist is one of Rome’s greatest lawyers and is involved in the first-century trials that determined the fate of the empire. The stakes are even higher and the intrigue greater than in modern courtrooms.

    Whether I’m writing a legal thriller or a historical piece like this one, my goal is that each of my books will feature realistic and compelling characters, intricate plots with lots of surprises, and a story line that entertains the reader while causing him or her to think about the bigger issues in life. My hope is that this book will have the authentic “feel” of a Randy Singer novel, just in a different place and time. Only the readers can say whether I’ve accomplished that.

    I do plan on writing legal thrillers again, but I’ve also got a sequel to The Advocate in mind. I’d like to see how this book is received before I make any decisions.

    4. Who is the advocate, your titular character—the man who defended the world’s greatest missionary in front of the world’s cruelest tyrant?

    The advocate is Theophilus, the man to whom Luke addressed the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. My premise is that he was Paul’s advocate, chosen to plead Paul’s case in front of Nero, the most despised ruler in the history of Rome (and that’s saying a lot). Theophilus accepted the assignment because he had previously served as Pilate’s assessore, or law clerk, and was there for the trial of Jesus. The crucifixion of an innocent Jewish Rabbi, and the events that followed, changed Theophilus in profound ways. Thirty years later, he sought redemption for his role in the trial of Christ by defending the Rabbi’s most strident disciple.

    5. In your novel, you suggest that the books of Luke and Acts were written as evidentiary briefs for Theophilus in defense of Paul. Can you help us understand this?

    As a novelist, I always wondered why the book of Acts ended with Paul imprisoned in Rome, waiting for his trial in front of the infamous Nero. Luke is a great storyteller, but it seemed like a strange way to end a great story—right at the climax. Combine this with the fact that Luke spends five chapters at the end of Acts telling about the minute details of Paul’s trials that preceded his appeal to Caesar. And finally there is that intriguing hint in the salutation of the two books, where Luke tells the “most excellent Theophilus” that he has written this account so that Theophilus will “know the certainty of the things you have been [told]” (Luke 1:4).

    When you put all those things together, it seems to me that these two books were written to assist Theophilus, as Paul’s court-appointed advocate for his trial in front of Nero, to understand Paul’s story and better defend him. Perhaps Theophilus visited Paul when he was under house arrest and heard an earful from Paul and his companion Luke about this Nazarene named Jesus and the reasons for Paul’s arrest. Perhaps Theophilus, recognizing that Luke was a great historian and storyteller, urged the doctor to write the whole thing down in a form that could be submitted as evidence at the trial. In Roman courts, written submissions were just as valued as oral testimony. And when I read the books of Luke and Acts with this thesis in mind, I realize just how much they read like a legal brief—arguing the case that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah (because Judaism was still legal in the Empire) and that both he and Paul had been prosecuted based on trumped-up charges of sedition.

    6. The trial of Jesus Christ has been studied and dissected for centuries. What made you want to examine the trial of the apostle Paul? What do you most want to share about this trial?

    I would love to know what happened at the trial of Paul. He was the world’s greatest missionary, a brilliant advocate in his own defense who was not afraid to call even kings and rulers to repentance. And sitting on the throne judging him was Nero, the cruelest, most depraved and self-possessed tyrant the world had ever seen. Paul was accused of starting a new religion and of sedition against Rome. What did Paul say when he testified? What would I say as an advocate if I were the one defending him? How did the haughty Nero react? We know from Acts 26 that when Paul was brought to trial before Agrippa, he tried to convert the Roman king. Did he do the same with Nero? Is this trial part of the reason that Nero hated Christians so much?

    You would think that Paul would have no chance of winning. But you would be wrong. In 2 Timothy, Paul said that the message was fully proclaimed at his trial so that the Gentiles might hear it. And yet miraculously, he was “delivered from the lion’s mouth.” The phrase “the lion” was a common way of referring to Caesar. How could this be? How could Paul and his advocate possibly convince the notorious Nero that Paul was an innocent man? Those are the questions I wanted to explore in this book.

    7. The concept of Christian martyrdom comes up in this novel. How did the deaths of these early Christians set the stage for the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire?

    Romans were fascinated with death. They watched brave gladiators die and honored them for their courage. They experimented with the mechanics of death, thinking up new and horrific ways to kill condemned prisoners or captives of war. They made a spectacle of death, perfecting things like crucifixion.

    But they had never seen men and women die like the Christians. Yes, they had seen courage in the face of death—something the Christians exhibited along with the noblest gladiators. But they had never seen such commitment to a cause, such peace in the face of torture, such grace and forgiveness for those whom the Christians should have been cursing.

    I discovered in writing this novel that most of us don’t believe we have the kind of faith and courage that would allow us to be a martyr. But I’ve also found that God gives boldness and grace for each step of the journey, equal to what the situation demands, even grace unto death. Jesus himself wrestled in the garden before submitting to the Father’s will and embracing the cross.

    I’ve also discovered how powerful it is when others know that our faith doesn’t just help us to live well; it also helps us die well. In AD 197, in a letter to Roman authorities, Tertullian said it this way:

    “Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust; your injustice is proof that we are innocent. Therefore God allows that we thus suffer. . . . Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, avail you. . . . The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”

    8. Reviewers suggest that this book weaves together secular history and biblical history in a unique way. How is this book different from other historical novels set in first-century Rome?

    I’m not sure I can speak for all historical novels, but I do think that many books set in the first century tell the story from the point of view of a biblical character or a person on the bottom rung of Roman society. By contrast, The Advocate is told from the point of view of one of Rome’s leading advocates, a man who experienced Jesus firsthand but also interacted with Roman emperors and the Roman Senate. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that the Christian faith was incubated in a hostile world ruled by Rome. Christian leaders like Paul and Roman rulers like Nero crossed paths. We should not isolate church history from what was happening in the broader political context.

    9. How accurate is the book historically? How can readers know what parts are fiction and what parts are historical reality?

    As a history lover, I have worked hard on the historical details. That’s one reason it took me so long to write the book—I felt like I first needed to really understand the culture, politics, and people of the time. People who have read the book have many questions that start with “Did [fill in the blank] really happen?” For the most part, my answer is “yes.” I did not knowingly fudge the history just to make the story work. Plus, the reality of what happened in first-century Rome is quite often stranger than any fiction writer could imagine. That said, the book is fiction, so there are fictional characters and the main story line is fictional, though I’ve woven it into the actual history of the era (if that makes sense). At the beginning of the book is a list of characters that notes which ones are historical and which are fictional. I also intend to put up notes for each chapter on my website to detail which parts of the story are real and which parts I imagined.

    10. It could be argued that our modern-day society is reminiscent of first-century Rome. What are some of the similarities? What lessons can we learn in this novel that still ring true today?

    This was shocking to me—how much first-century Rome was like twenty-first–century America. Rome was the greatest power in the world, but it had abandoned the values that originally made it great. A Roman poet decried this state of affairs, calling the Caesars “emperors of bread and circus.” What he meant was that Rome’s rulers garnered public approval not through exemplary service but through creating a state of entitlement among the Romans (more than 400,000 Romans got free bread from the state) and by entertaining them with elaborate gladiator games and chariot races. Moreover, Rome’s rulers and intellectual elites led Rome down a path of sexual degradation, and the gap between the rich and poor became greater and greater. Treason trials were the order of the day and nobody dared say anything that was “politically incorrect.”

    In terms of lessons, we should look at how Christianity grew and flourished in such a culture. The early Christians didn’t try to reform the government through laws but chose to live differently in a hostile culture, winning the hearts of individuals. The power of the Spirit and the message of the gospel would eventually sweep the Empire, resulting in reform and cultural change that never could have been ushered in politically.

  • Dr. Ben Carson on Saving America’s Future

    Posted on May 20, 2014 by Family Christian

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  • All or Nothing with Mike from Mikeschair

    Posted on May 7, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John

    The band may have been formed in a dorm room with a group of college friends, but it has since become a music ministry that has touched peoples hearts and minds all over the globe.

    Here is Mike Grayson, the lead singer of Mikeschair, speaking about how he got involved with music, his songwriting process, and explaining some of the tracks from the latest album, All or Nothing.

    John: Well hey, Mike. How are you, sir?

    Mike: Good, how are you?

    John: I’m doing very well. Thank you so much for calling, man, I really appreciate it.

    Mike: Yeah, thanks for having me.

    John: Mike, I’m wondering if you could start off by giving us a little bit of background information. What made you decide to get into music in general and then into Christian music specifically?

    Mike: Going way back I’ve always been really, really, really drawn to music. When I was really little I was in a boy choir where it was like whoever could sing the highest was the coolest. It started out there but then I just desperately wanted to play an instrument. For a long time I thought it was going to be the saxophone, like that was going to be my jam, but in my middle school, they actually offered guitar in band. That’s where I learned how to read music, by playing guitar back in fifth grade. From the very first moment I had a guitar, I learned one chord, which was E, and I learned you could move it around the neck and it sounded good in different places, and I started writing music.

    I’ve never really been one of those people who wanted to be a guitar god. From the very beginning, it’s always been about writing songs. I actually, in fifth grade, started writing music.  I wrote some songs and recorded them so they were on a cassette tape. I gave them to my middle school Bible study leader who happened to be the mother of Dan Haseltine, who is the lead singer of Jars of Clay. She ended up playing it for Dan and then I don’t know what Dan heard in those songs back then, but he brought me up to Nashville the summer before eighth grade.

    I ended up recording three songs, which Dan produced, and some of the Jars of Clay guys played on the recordings. As you can imagine, that blew my mind. I was so young and I think Hanson was really big at the time, so that might have played a part in it. I just remember leaving Nashville being that young and feeling like I was leaving home. It was very weird. Then for the rest of middle school and high school, I wrote songs and sent them to Dan or whoever and I just really remember thinking that was my moment.

    I thought [becoming an artist] was going to happen right then and after years of that not happening, I got to the point right before I went to college where I thought, You know, I don’t really want to do the artist thing. I’d been leading worship in my youth group and just really had a heart for worship. I came to Belmont University, which is the only school I applied to there in Nashville, and I really just wanted to be a worship leader. Then, funny enough, in the first two weeks of my freshman year, Mikeschair formed and I’ve been an artist ever since. That was ten years ago now.

    John: When you talk about your journey, do you continue to write about that? You mentioned that you are a song writer. Would you consider yourself to be a song writer first and then a musician? Or a musician first and then a song writer?

    Mike: I was definitely a song writer first and then, I mean, I obviously loved playing guitar. I could play some piano but there are people who are far better than me when it comes to that. My heart leans toward writing music first.

    John: When you talk about your story and how God led you from what you were doing into Mikeschair, you continue to weave that story in and out of your songs. Your new record is called All or Nothing. Are there songs that deal with that specifically?

    Mike: I think maybe not specifically but I do think throughout my entire journey, the Lord has been teaching me about his timing and about the fact that we can’t really look to people to make our dreams come true. One of the things I feel like I’ve learned is that the Lord really is ultimately the only One who sees that through and sometimes he uses people, but the question is, where are we putting our hope?

    There’s a song on the new record called “I Can Wait,” and it deals specifically with the fact that I still struggle, even with God proving himself faithful time and time again in my life. I still deal with the whole, “God, I think my timing is better” mentality. I say, “If the events would only happen in this order, wouldn’t that be better, God?” When I write, it’s not necessarily about how my life actually looks, but rather how I want my life to look. They’re prayers; they’re statements of faith so that when I sing them it’s instilled in my heart. “God, okay, I can wait. You’re not a second late; you’ve proven that before so let me believe that now.”

    John: When you go through the process of writing a song, are you writing them because there is something that you are going through? In other words, is the song writing for you or do you have a particular audience in mind?

    Mike: It’s definitely both. This is our third studio album, so at this point we’ve spent a lot of years on the road. I’ve met a ton of amazing people and heard a lot of incredible stories. I definitely think that when I sit down to write there is an audience in mind now. There are actual faces that I can see when I write. And I definitely think, What do I want to say when I’m on stage at this point? Or, What are the words that I want to express to people? At the same time, on this record there are a lot of personal songs specifically for me. One of those songs is called “People Like Me.”

    That song deals specifically with my family and our struggle with addiction, and how my immediate family didn’t escape that. That song is intensely personal yet I think at this point when it comes to writing, I’ll write for myself knowing that I’ve been through enough scenarios now where people will come up and say, “Man, it’s almost as if you took the words out of my mouth.” I know that even though I’m writing something for myself, there are a lot of other people who feel the same way and need to know they’re not alone in their struggles. In that regard, it’s almost as if there’s a crowd of people in the room with me every time I write.

    John: Is it ever intimidating?

    Mike: Yeah, for sure. I’ve also gotten to the point now where I don’t want to mess it up. I want every lyric to be honest. I don’t want things to come across as cliché or fake. I always try to be as honest as I can, and that can be hard sometimes in Christian music because we tend to want to focus on the joy aspect of being a believer. But in my life, I’ve found that sometimes I focus on the difficulties of being a believer and just the hardships of what it means. Songs like “Let the Waters Rise,” “Someone Worth Dying For” and “People Like Me” lend themselves toward what it means to be a believer in a world that’s broken.

    Yet, on this record I made a conscious choice not to throw joy to the wayside. There are songs like “Loved By You” and “This is Our Moment,” which really speak to the joys of what it means to be a believer and being saved by grace. I’m trying to be more well rounded I guess when it comes to the songs that we’re singing.

    John: The title track “All or Nothing” says, “I wanna lose myself in grace’s ocean / Find my heart in your hands / Every piece I give it over / Nothing less, you have everything I am.” What’s behind those lyrics?

    Mike: “All or Nothing” was the first song that I wrote for this record and it really set the tone for the entire album. For our previous records we kind of wrote songs and then looked back and realized there was a theme throughout the process. This record, though, was the first time I actually set out with a theme in mind. I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to write an album that really spoke to the fact that there are so many things in the world dying for our attention. A lot of things are very loud about it, and I thought, Why can’t Jesus be the thing that is loud, the thing that is bold?

    It goes on to say, “I’m done wasting time … I wanna shine a light like the skyline.” It’s saying I want to be bold, I want to be all out, I want to be all in for Jesus. This song was the first thing that I came to the table with. It just set the tone for the entire thing. We start the record with “All or Nothing” and then the very last song is a song called “All to Jesus, I Surrender All.” That’s the prayer, that by the end of this record, people will be willing to join the ranks of those who say, “Yes, I’m all in. I found where my hope is, where my joy lies, and it’s in Jesus, and because of that I’m ready to surrender all.”

    John: Mike, I think to some extent because of the framework at least of that song and the rest of this record, you are really calling out the casual approach to Christianity. Do you think the church here in the west is suffering because of this lackadaisical attitude of we go to church once in a while, or we participate in the holidays of the church or we have this, in a sense, Christ-less Christianity? Do you see that going on?

    Mike: Yeah, I think I used to a couple years ago. I dealt with the “am I preaching to the choir” thing. I’ve been able to go out of the country multiple times now, and I think that really awakens the thing inside of me that’s like man, we are so blessed and we have such an opportunity to drastically change the world. I feel like every night when we do a show there’s this thing in me, I think it’s this warrior nature almost, that wants to shake people up and be like guys, do you realize what we have? Do you realize what we’ve been given in Christ?

    Yet most of us, including myself, struggle with this. Like I said, this record is a challenge to me as well, to stop wasting time and stop living a life that’s not to the fullest. What I found is that when we live life to the fullest, that means living life for Jesus, but what does that look like? What does it look like to wake up every day and say, “I want today to be all or nothing?” If you ask yourself that question, how would your day look different? That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out. Yes, I do feel that. I do feel the sense of comfort that we all have and that we all enjoy, and yet how can we use that to further the kingdom? How can we use the things we’ve been blessed with to make a difference in a world that is desperate for truth?

    John: Mike, you’ve graced the Family Christian version of the record with a couple exclusive bonus tracks, including “Let the Waters Rise” and “Someone Worth Dying For,” and we are certainly grateful for those. I know that you guys have had guests on your previous albums, but do you have any special guests joining you guys on this one?

    Mike: Yes, Matthew West actually joins us on “People Like Me” which is so awesome. We toured with Matthew two years ago and just love him. He is the real deal and he was so gracious, excited and willing to join us on this album, and I’ve always wanted to do a duet with a guy like Matthew. That song is really special for a number of reasons, but to have him on it makes it that much more special; that’s a really cool moment on the record.

    John: Awesome. Mike, are you a book reader?

    Mike: I would like to think that I am, but if you could see the list of books I’ve started and not finished, I think I would shame actual book readers by calling myself a book reader. I like to start them, does that count? No, my wife is a book reader, though, so I feel like I definitely get a lot from her. But I feel like I would be lying if I said that I was a legit book reader.

    John: Well, we won’t hold anything against you.

    Mike: Thanks.

    John: Are you a coffee drinker?

    Mike: This is embarrassing, I’m not.

    John: That’s not embarrassing.

    Mike: That’s the other thing. I feel like in order to be taken seriously as an artist you have to be this coffee connoisseur and I’m just not. I never have been, but I’m attempting to. My wife is a huge coffee drinker so I think it’s her mission in life to make me a coffee drinker.

    John: I always thought that if you put enough cream and sugar in the coffee then anybody could be a coffee drinker.

    Mike: Yeah it’s true. I love mochas, but I feel like that doesn’t count.

    John: Isn’t that like the wimpy version of coffee?

    Mike: Yeah, it’s just got a lot of chocolate in it or something like that.

    John: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. According to today’s standards I think you are a coffee drinker if you drink mochas.

    Mike: Yes, okay. I’m going to start saying I’m a coffee drinker then.

    John: There you go. You can wear a name tag even, if you wanted to.

    Mike: I'll take it.

    John: Good, awesome. Mike, thank you man. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.

    Mike: Awesome. Thanks man, it means a lot.

    John: My pleasure. God bless you, brother.

  • Blog Summary for April 2014

    Posted on April 29, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are the most popular blog posts as read by you. Thank you for following us!

    Shane Harper on Living Out the Gospel

    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."

    As an actor in film, Shane worked with Rob Reiner, in a supporting role for the movie, FLIPPED. He also had a small featured role in the Bollywood film, MY NAME IS KHAN.

    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.

    Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.

    "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.

    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.

    As a high-school athlete, Phil was All-State in football, baseball, and track which afforded him the opportunity to attend Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship. There he played first string quarterback ahead of Terry Bradshaw. Phil's been quoted as saying "Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks." After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and a Master's in Education, he spent several years teaching. While his students claim he was an excellent teacher, spending time in a classroom brought Phil to the conclusion that his time and talents would be better spent in the woods.

    Read the full interview here.

    BookBites - Vol. 1

    Craving a new read? You’ve come to the right place. We love books. And we love sharing our thoughts on them. Welcome to Bookbites, where we give the latest books a grade, brief review and include an excerpt—a “bookbite”—that grabbed our attention.

    Read the full reviews here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    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 them 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.

    Kari Jobe - Pioneering New Roads in Worship

    Dictionary.com gives the definition of pioneer in the following ways
    1. a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.
    2. one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress.
    3. one of a group of foot soldiers detailed to make roads.

    For more than 15 years, well-respected worship leader Kari Jobe has been using her gifts to lead people into the presence of God. When she began leading worship at age 13, she never imagined she would be nominated for a GRAMMY®, win a Dove Award or be praised by the New York Times. She only knew she had a heart for broken people and a deep desire to lead them to the cross.

    Pioneer? This may be the word that describes who Kari is and what she hopes to do as an artist.

    I sat down with Kari and asked about her background. Where she came from, how she found Jesus and where is she going. Read the full interview here.

    Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    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.

    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.

    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 the full q&a 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.

    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.

  • New releases are here!

    Posted on April 22, 2014 by Family Christian

    If We’re Honest by Francesca Battistelli Also out today! Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers When Calls the Heart Vo1. 3 DVD Also out today! 9.97 Select Tees Heaven Is For Real Now playing!

  • Michael W. Smith - Behind the New Album

    Posted on March 26, 2014 by Dan Hubka


    “Sometimes you’ve just got to shake things up,” Michael W. Smith says with a smile. After selling more than 15 million albums, scoring 28 No. 1 hits, earning three GRAMMYs and more than 40 Dove Awards, no one would blame the Christian music icon if he decided to coast just a little bit, but that’s just not in his nature.

    On Sovereign, Michael’s first worship album since 2008 and his first project since signing with Capitol Christian Music Group in 2013, he deliberately steps into a new creative chapter to craft a vibrant collection of vertically focused songs with a fresh sense of musical innovation.

    I sat down with "Smitty" to how he shook things up on his new album, Sovereign.

    Dan:                            And you’re with a brand new record label. What's that been like? Has it been different from what you've done in the past in terms of how things have progressed? Could give me some insight onto how things are different?

    Michael:                    Well, it's honestly a bit of fresh air. I mean, it was hard to leave when you've been with a record company for that long—for 29 years. But sometimes you just need to shake things up a little bit. I've always been impressed by Capitol and BMG and the kind of stuff that they're doing. And I’ve always wanted to work with Bill Hearn. So, through a series of many meetings with just about every record label there was, I felt like this was the right move. And they're knocking it out of the park. They're all in. It's been a real team effort to create this project and I'm really excited about it. I think it's my best work yet. We’ll have to see if everybody else feels the same way.

    Dan:                            Has the process itself been different from what you've done in previous records?

    Michael:                    Very different. Big faith steps for me. Going to territories I've never been to before on the creative side. Working with all these kids—I'm old enough to be their dad. That’s been a challenge and mostly fun. Working with producers I've never worked with before. It's been one of those times you jump out there with a lot of faith and it's really proved to be a great thing.

    Dan:                            The first single is "You Won't Let Go.” Can you tell us a little about that song?

    Michael:                    I wrote it with a guy named Seth Mosley, one of the producers and writers that I've never worked with before. We were hanging out in his studio working on another song called "Miracle.” It’s one of my favorite songs on the record. We kind of made that the bar, saying, “If the song doesn’t top this guy then it's not going to make the record.” We went through 120 songs.

    Dan:                            Wow.

    Michael:                    So I said to Seth, “Just play me something.” He started playing this track and I picked up an acoustic guitar started playing the melody you hear on "You Won't Let Go.” We got to the verse and chorus and I thought, “Oh my gosh, I need to get my iPhone out and hit record so I don't forget this melody.” Thirty minutes later we felt like we really had something solid musically.

    The verses from Romans that say, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God” really propelled the first idea for the lyric. Then we pulled a girl named Mia Fields in, who's a great writer. We all got in the room and we tackled the lyric and before you know it we had a song. And at the end of the day everybody felt like that was the first single. I'm very, very happy with it.

    Dan:                            I love the way that the song ends, with repeat of the simple word “always” at the end. It’s a powerful reminder to the strength of that Scripture.

    Michael:                    Yeah, I agree. It's fun to hear it on the radio. It's been awhile since I've had something on the radio. We've been doing a Christmas record and the Glory record—all these little specialty records that just I love doing. It didn't seem like anything from the Wonder record really connected for some reason.

    I can't predict what radio will play. I've never written for radio my whole life. I've never specifically said, "I'm going to try to write a pop song for radio." With Sovereign, it looks like we have a lot of songs that have potential for radio. It's very commercial but it's very authentic and worshipful.

    Dan:                            I see that you've written on several of the songs but other ones are songs that you found. Can you share with us how you found some of those other songs to round out the record?

    Michael:                    I said, "Look, I don't have to write in on every song. If we can find some songs that are really great then I'm up for that." I mean, I love to write as much as possible, but this is not about me trying to write all the songs on the album.

    So the word got out and all these people start sending me songs. I got a couple from a guy named Dustin Smith who leads worship in a church in Kansas City. "You Are the Fire" is one of his songs. I started doing it live in the fall even before I started working on the album. It seemed to really connect. "Sovereign Over Us” is just unbelievable. It’s written by Aaron Keys from Atlanta. Actually, my son-in-law, Jack Mooring from Leeland, was co-writer on that song. It might be the best song on the album musically and especially lyrically.

    That's just to name a few. Chris Stevens is a guy I've worked with. He's worked with TobyMac and Mandisa for years and was a fan growing up in Eugene, Oregon. Now he's producing three of the cuts and he's mixing the whole record.

    Dan:                            I had the privilege of attending the taping of the deluxe edition at your barn.

    Michael:                    Oh, that's awesome!

    Dan:                            Can you share some of those moments from that night that stuck out to you?

    Michael:                    I thought it was awesome. I mean, we had a lot of stuff to overcome. The weather – it was 14 degrees outside.

    Dan:                            It was cold.

    Michael:                    We kept all the folks in Franklin that sell propane in business. I think from so much that could have gone wrong, everything just worked. I think the challenge was having all of these people come—400 people—to sing these songs. And they’re songs that these people had never heard before.

    There were some wonderful moments. I thought the Leeland moment was incredible. The Kari Jobe moment was amazing. We prayed, “Can we just have a fresh encounter with the Lord this night? Forget about the cameras, forget that we're taping this thing for DVD and audio.” So we forgot all about that. And we felt something. I sensed the beautiful presence of God in that barn.

    Dan:                            As somebody in the audience, I agree there was something about the night. The presence of the Spirit was there. You hit on a couple moments that I thought were really special too. The song with Kari Jobe, “The One That Really Matters,” was a fantastic song and watching the two of you perform that in that moment was really good.

    Michael:                    It’s a Dustin Smith song. We found that song at the last minute. Actually Jack, my son-in-law, mentioned it to me. Jack says, "Hey, you've heard that song, ‘The One that Really Matters,’” and I go, "You know I need to go back and listen to it again." We were still trying to find one last song that possibly could end the record. I went back to listen to it and thought, "Wow. Maybe this is what I'm supposed to do."

    Dan:                            Leeland was at the barn that night as well.

    Michael:                    Leeland and Jack, along with David and Leslie from All Sons & Daughters wrote "Christ Be All Around Me.” I went to Jack because he had cut that song at the barn three weeks earlier and said, "Would you all mind if I cut it?" Everybody was cool with it. That song turned out really amazing not only live, but on the studio version as well.

    Dan:                            I heard that your son Ryan filmed the night at the barn. Is that correct?

    Michael:                    Yes. He's amazing. He's just so good. I'm so proud of him. There were a lot of people in line for that job to do that deal. Ryan had never shot a live DVD. He's made tons of videos. He's written and directed a movie called After, but he had never done this. I said, "Guys I'm staying out of it. You guys hire whoever you think needs the job. There's a conflict of interest here for me.” They all fell in love with Ryan at Capitol.

    It looks amazing. You're not going to believe it. It's so incredibly well done.

    Dan:                            How cool to have your son be part of that. That's pretty awesome.

    Michael:                    Yup. Kind of fun working with your kids.

    Dan:                            Last thoughts on the record. Can you give us some insight as to how you landed on Sovereign as the title track and an overall theme to the record? What made you land on that particular title and song?

    Michael:                    Well, second or third in terms of importance, I think the title pops. But really, first and foremost, I just think we're all just so in love with “Sovereign Over Us” and feel like this song is going to have longevity for a long, long time, mainly for what it says: What the enemy means for evil, He turns it for the good. Even in the valley, He's faithful. He's working it for the good. I think this is something so many people just need to hear.

    I think it's the right title for the record. It encompasses everything that's on the album for sure.

    Dan:                            Going back to that night at the barn, you mentioned something that night that really stuck out to me and I'd like to get some additional thoughts. You mentioned that you believed that 2014 was potentially a big year for the church. What do you mean from that standpoint in terms of what are you seeing and feeling out there?

    Michael:                    I just sense in my spirit that there's something stirring, you know? I feel like there's this—to borrow from Jim Cymbala’s book—Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. There seems to be a real hunger and passion in this next generation. I think that's going to pay off. When I say pay off, I think that's going to usher in something very, very beautiful. I think there’s something about to explode.

    That's just me. I could be wrong. But if you're a true believer and you look at the Word, man, we're in battle. It's a fight. We have an enemy that's very real and trying to take us down. And I'm feeling like there are a lot of victories coming in 2014.

  • David Lomas - On a Rescue Mission

    Posted on March 24, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John

    What is a rescue mission? I mean really. Not to sound dramatic on this, but isn't the call of missions placed on all followers of Jesus? Now if that is true, then isn't a work of mission really a work of rescuing? There is a lost world outside and Jesus has commissioned us to go after it with life and joy - to rescue people from the jaws of death, the devil and hell itself.

    David Lomas believes that to be true. He heard the word of the Lord to go, and that is exactly what he did. He went. David didn't go to a Bible-belt community where it may be a bit easier to teach and preach. No. He went to one of this countries most ungodly cities.

    David serves as the lead pastor at Reality in San Francisco, a church community that started in 2010 in the Castro District. According to Wikipedia, "the Castro remains one of the most prominent symbols of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activism and events." He lives, with his wife Ashley, in one of the most un-churched cities in the nation, but one that is bursting with new life and grace of God. The Reality family of churches is a growing movement committed to relational church planting and serving the broader body of Christ.

    I had to talk with this man. I wanted to hear his story and hear from him about what God was doing. Let me say this - The Gospel is alive in the Castro District and Jesus continues to change people into the likeness of Himself!

    John:               David, I'm wondering before with get started and talk about your book that just came out, would you be willing to give us a little bit of background information? Who is David Lomas, where did you came from, how you got into the position that you are now, as both a pastor and as a author.

    David:             Yeah, so I was born and raised in the central valley of California, so right now, I live in San Francisco. About 3, 4 hours south of here, almost to LA, is a little town right in the middle of California, called Bakersfield. Born and raised there. Didn't grow up in a Christian home at all. Was invited to church several times growing up. I always said that it was against my religion to go to church. Didn't really have a religion but it didn't involve church.

    I reluctantly went one time when I was like in 6th grade, and it was a very pentecostal church, and I was scared to death. I never went back to church, and then my freshman year of high school, a friend of mine started playing in a worship band at his church, and he was in a band that I would go and watch, like where I can get in as a freshman in high school, like pizza places and stuff like that. He invited me to church and said, "My band is playing at church," and I thought that was weird, but I went, and it was pretty fun.

    Then, right around I think my junior year of high school ... I didn't really go back that much. Junior of high school, I made a decision, I don't even know what it was. It might have been growing up kind of marginally Catholic, so it might have been those Catholic roots, but I'm like, okay, no matter what happens, when I wake up on Sunday morning from partying or whatever, I'm going to go to church. I don't even know why I did that. I think it was God just calling me, but I had no idea at the time why I was doing this.

    I would wake up random places on Sunday morning from partying all Saturday night, and I would wake up everyone to go to church. Like, "Hey, church starts at 10:30. It's 10:00. Everybody, wake up and let's get to church." I was like an evangelist before I was even saved. I'm like, "Let's get to church and there's free coffee and donuts there, so let's sober up." We'd get there, and we'd listen to the teaching, and I don't know, I just would go.

    I befriended a youth pastor there, and they invited me to a Wednesday night church one time, and I thought that was the strangest thing. I'm like, "You're going to church twice in a week? That's absurd. I mean, once is enough. What are you doing?" We were in a room, Wednesday night Bible study youth group. We were going around, sharing like, "When did you come into a personal relationship with Christ?" That was the question that everyone had to answer. I mean, I had no idea how to answer that question. I didn't even know that was a thing.

    I turned to my friend who invited me years ago. I'm like, "Hey," his name was Daniel, "Daniel, what do I say? Like, when it gets to my turn, what do I say?" He goes, "Don't worry. Just say, you don't know Jesus on that level yet," and I'm like, "Oh, that's a good one. I'm going to use that one."

    My turn and the youth pastor just says, "Dave, when did you come into a personal relationship with Jesus?" I go, "Well, I don't know Jesus on that level yet." I just look to my right, like next please, like he's going to pass over me, but I didn't know I was just pitching him right down the center, lob ball. I mean, this is every youth pastor's dream was to get this question, and he said, "Well, Dave," and he just pressed in, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?" I'm like, "I'd go to heaven, no problem, easy." He's like, "Why ... "

    I seriously thought in my head, I'm good enough. I'm good enough to get into heaven. He shared with me the gospel, and that night, I said the prayer to become a Christian. I think it was more of a fire insurance sort of thing, and then, I didn't change anything. Still sold drugs, still partied, and then about maybe 4 or 5 months later, I got kicked out of school for selling drugs, and my friend had just given me a Bible, same friend that invited me to church years ago.

    I opened it up, after getting kicked out of school not knowing what to do with my life, opened it up in the middle of the book to the book of Job, but I thought it said "job," and I'm like, "I need a job. That's what I need."

    John:               Yeah, of course.

    David:             I'm going to read this to get a job. I started reading it, 4 chapters in, God called me and said, "You can go to ... " well, it was just the whole Proverbs thing. "You go down this road and it leads to death or you can go down this road, it leads to life." I said, "I'm going to follow Jesus. I'm going to give up everything and follow him."

    I got rid of all my drugs that night, called my youth pastor up, said, "I'm a Christian now. I'm going to follow Jesus. Disciple me." Well, I didn't say that, but you know. "I want to follow Jesus now." He discipled me, got into ministry, and started doing youth ministry when I graduated high school. Was ordained at 21. God started giving me favor in doing ministry, and I loved it.

    I became a youth pastor and then a young adult pastor, and then, I met a friend in Santa Barbara, who said, "I want to plant a church," and he basically invited me to become a part of Reality, and I moved there, to Santa Barbara, and then from Santa Barbara, God called me to San Francisco to plant a church in San Francisco.

    We started the church in 2010, and it's just turned 4 years old, and it's been wild. It's been absolutely wild.

    John:               Was there a point, as you were reading through the book of Job ... like obviously something sparked in your life. Was there, what am I saying here, like a resonating story between the two of you, between both Job dealing with all of these really harsh realities of his circumstances and maybe a little bit of what you were going through as an individual?

    David:             Absolutely. I had a student Bible (I know you guys sell them at your store), but I got one that was put out, I don't know, in the early 90s, or mid 90s, and when I opened it up to Job, it said, "When bad things happen to good people," was the student Bible heading over that, and I'm like, "That's me. I am good," I was still convinced of my goodness, "I'm good. I'm not nearly as bad as all my other friends. Why me? Why did I get kicked out of school?"

    I read it, and what struck me was Job was being tested, was allowed to be tested by God, and I had zero Bible knowledge, but I somehow resonated with that going, "Maybe God is testing me and he wants to get my attention, and will I curse God or will I choose to follow him?" It was at that moment that I really had a vision, I think a vision of God. Christ going, "Choose. This way or this way. This way leads to death. This way leads to life."

    John:               Your life has been changed ever since.

    David:             Yeah, absolutely. It was that moment of repentance, turning from my ways to God's ways. I prayed the prayer before. I don't know what it did. I can't even tell you what it did. I might have made me receptive to when the Spirit called me, but that moment, the Spirit of God called me, and I turned repentant and followed him, and that was the moment it all changed for me.

    John:               David, this is not a secret, but you have chosen to pastor a church in one of the most un-Christian cities here in the US. I'm curious maybe about your thoughts as far as being a pastor in a dark place, like where you guys have chosen residency, and what does that mean as far as other cities? Are you saying that the rest of the US is doing that much better spiritually than San Francisco, or what? Just give your thoughts on that.

    David:             Yeah. I think that San Francisco is just as sinful as everyone else, but everyone else manages their sin better. You might have religious sin somewhere. Other cities might wrestle with different types of sin. San Francisco just sins a lot more out loud, a lot more colorfully, but just as sinful. I mean, I've lived in Southern California. I lived in beautiful Santa Barbara, and people just sin. It's the same rebellion as in other places.

    Ministering here? I love ministering here. I heard one time someone say that when they ministered in Texas they would have to convince people they're not a Christian before they could share the gospel. I'm like, "Wow, that would be really hard, to tell someone they're not," like, "You're not a Christian. Just because you go to church doesn't make you a Christian." They had to convince them that they're not first, like cultural Christianity doesn't count, and that this is what the true gospel is.

    Here, I don't have to work through that layer. Here, I can just say, "This is the gospel," and people here have rejected it so much that it really shines. You hold up the smallest light, and it shines in the darkness, and so, I'm able to get up every Sunday morning and preach truth and it's just black and white, and I love that. I love that opportunity, so ministering here has been one of the joys of my life.

    After living in San Francisco for just 3 months, my wife and I felt like God created us to live here. Everything great about this city, we love it. We love the diversity and the complexity of it, the culture of it, the colorfulness of it, the density, I mean, all of it, the food. Just everything about San Francisco, we love. We absolutely love. The architecture, the topography, everything.

    We feel like we're created to live here and then not only are we created to live here, but we're called to preach the gospel here, and it's needed and it's like a healing balm to people as soon as they hear it because it's so different than what they hear normally in San Francisco.

    John:               David, are people responding well to the message of the gospel?

    David:             Yeah. When I moved here, everyone said, "You're going to the graveyard of churches." I mean, prominent churches and pastors have tried to plant churches here and have put millions of dollars of effort in planning a church here, and almost all of them have failed, and so they said, "So and so has tried it and so and so has tried it and so and so has tried it. Good luck. It's where churches go to die. Have fun," like, "There you go."

    I had very low expectations. The church was sending us to plant here. I told them, "Give us 10 years before this church is established. Give us 5 to 10 years of funding and support, because this church is going to take a long time to bring 100 people to get critical mass," and the very first Sunday, it just was packed. I have no idea how, like zero promotion. Our website was horrible. You couldn't even find it even if you Googled our name. I have no idea.

    We had a group of people, like 35, 40 people praying, and then our first Sunday, close to 200 people showed up, and then, it just hasn't stopped growing from there, from our very first Sunday. People were very, very hungry for the gospel, and we just came at a ... I don't know. There's a time, San Francisco was just coming up. Our nation was coming out of a recession. San Francisco was leading the way in that, and all these start-ups were happening, all the stuff that the whole world is hearing about right now and happening in San Francisco was starting to happen in 2009, 2010.

    We just came right there, and I think there was this catalytic sort of moment, there was something in the air here where God was doing something different, and our church was just right there at that right time. I have no idea how it worked, but it's working. We great to 4 services. We have 4 services going on. We had to turn people away from church because we couldn't fit them in the room, and we just recently got into a bigger building that seats like 1400 people, but we're packed again. We're at capacity, and we don't know what to do next.

    Yeah, I don't know. God's just doing it. I don't know.

    John:               I heard once before of a church that was being planted in a large city that seemed to be kind of living through this more casual approach to Christianity where it was more of a cultural or a club kind of atmosphere. Almost everybody went to church, but hardly anybody had a real relationship with Jesus, and to some extent, that church, when they started, they just raised a banner on the flagpole saying, "Hey, we are a church that is all about the centrality of the gospel. We're all about Jesus and wanting to see and understand how he changes us," and the same thing kind of happened.

    It sounds to me that to some extent, you guys are in that same type of approach. You're preaching the gospel to people, to a people that are just very hungry for it.

    David:             Yeah, absolutely. When we first started the church, we said we're a theological community that's centered around Christ, and we'll preach, which is like we'll have conversation, but we're going to preach the gospel. As we've done that, as we've proclaimed Christ and made Christ central, God has drawn people to himself. We didn't come in trying to be like this really cool, hip thing. People thought our name was Reality, because we were so real, like, "Are you guys because you're real?"

    We stripped everything down to no production at all at the church, basically a band, but they weren't even spotlighted. You couldn't even see who was on the stage, and you could see the words on the screen, and that was proclaiming the theology of what we were singing, and that was it. People were like, it was so refreshing to people. They were like, "That's so refreshing." The emphasis is off the people and on God and it's transcendent and it's beautiful, and so, yeah, absolutely.

    John:               That's fantastic. David, you have a new book that you just came out with with David C Cook Publishers. Titled The Truest Thing About You. What is behind this? Give us the 30,000-foot view of this book and how it's speaking into the identity of those that you guys are ministering to.

    David:             Yeah, I guess, I'll give you a little back story behind the book that probably captures why we wrote the book, why I wrote the book, and why we put it out.

    About a 1-1/2 years into the church, we were growing, like we were saying and like I was saying, and we just got finished with the book of Mark, and it was great, and people were falling in love with Jesus, people were speaking the name of Jesus and getting baptized in Jesus' name. It was just great. It just Christ centered. It was a beautiful thing.

    After that, we were seeing all these people turn to Christ, but then, they were still sinning in the church, and I don't know what I expected, but I expected, you come in contact with the real Christ, and he'll completely change your life. He'll change your lifestyle, and we weren't seeing that as much, and so, I wanted to teach them holiness, and I wanted to bring down the hammer of holiness.

    I told me executive pastor. I'm like, "I'm going to teach them holiness after Mark, and I'm going to make people like ... " I almost put my youth pastor hat back on and make people sign pledges and wear  promise rings and stuff like that. I realized if I start doing this, if I want to teach on holiness the way I want to teach on it, everyone will feel like they've been duped. Like, "You brought us in with the gospel, and now, you're putting on us the law." That sort of thing.

    I felt like I can't do that. I know that there's something wrong, not resonating with me there, and then, as I was reading through the New Testament and I wanted to teach on a book and I came to Colossians 2 and 3, and  Paul is talking to the church in Colossae, saying that these lists that you keep doing, he says in chapter that do not touch, do not taste, do not feel, these sort of rules that you put on Christianity do nothing to restrain your sensual indulgences.

    Then, he goes right into chapter 3, which is all about Christian sanctification, and he says, but who you are in Christ, the fact that Christ is your life, you have to live from there that identity. I took that and I was starting to go through it and finding all these places where I was realizing before God ever tells us what to do, he tells us who we are, so every single command of holiness is based on a truth about us. Then, I was like, I don't think I've ever really understood that to the level of profoundness that I did when I was studying it for a series, and I said, "I need to teach our church how to find their identity in Christ."

    What I did, this was 2011, and I couldn't find that many good books on identity, and I'm like, this is it. I started teaching on it, and everyone started resonating with it. I almost feel like no one's talking about this, like who I am in Christ, make that the basis of my entire identity and then from there flows holiness, from there flows what I'm supposed to do, from that flows the commandments, and then, it started tapping into what ways people find their identity in, especially in San Francisco.

    They move here to work. They move here to express themselves sexually. They move here to flaunt what they have, and when we do that, we find our identity in a job, in a thing, in a sexual orientation or desire, and that's not where we're called to find our identity.

    From that series of identity comes this book, so this book is all about who we are in Christ, getting all the way back to Imago Dei. How we were created, and then letting that, those hints of creation, who we are, who we were created to be really, give us signposts to who God wants to remake us into and being conformed to the image of his son, and then taking that from because of who we are in Christ, then what we're called to do, there's power behind that. We can actually live into our identity in Christ because of who we are.

    Then, it goes into every single command of God is based on the truth about us, and that's the whole title of the book, The Truest Thing About You. Once you find the truest thing and you realize and come to understand and accept the truest thing about us, everything else flows from there, and so, that's like a high level of what the book is about. It's about identity. It's about our desires, and it's about why all those things really matter in our walk with Christ, and I think it's the whole point of sanctification.

    John:               There's a foreword in the book by another pastor, Francis Chan. How did that come about?

    David:             Francis is a good friend of mine. We met here in San Francisco. He moved here, I think, 2011. The church was just turning a year old, and I remember him showing up to church and we had a mutual friend. My friend said, "Hey, you should go to Dave's church since you're in San Francisco. Check it out." He came one Sunday and we had lunch afterwards, and we just kind of hit it off. Our hearts were kindred, like our hope for the church, our hopes for San Francisco, our hopes for what the gospel can do in the life of a person. We just kind of connected.

    We've been friends for several years now. I wrote this book, and I sent it to Francis, saying, "Hey, I'd love if you could endorse the book or maybe thinking about writing a foreword to the book or whatever," and so, he's like, I mean, he probably gets that 100 times a day. I would imagine everyone in the world wants Francis to do something in the book. I sent it to him not expecting anything back, and he read it on his plane ride to China. He got to China, and he emailed me immediately. He said, "Hey, I don't have time to tell you that much stuff, but I deeply love this book. Like, it moved me. It changed the way I think about things."

    Then it was almost like a little weird ... It was kind of weird to me, but it was almost like a little confession saying, "I think I've pushed people to mission not based on their identity in Christ but based on you have to do this for God," and he goes, "I was so convinced that I needed to tell people who they are in Christ." I was blown away. I was like, "Wow, thank you," all this other stuff, and I said, "Let me know if you would consider writing something for the book."

    He said, "Hey, I wrote you a letter, and you can do whatever you want with it. You could put it in the book as is. You could change it to be more like a foreword or an endorsement, whatever, or you could just ditch it, whatever you want to do." We read it, and it was just such a heartfelt letter of how this book changed the way I see and pastor and even parent as well as other stuff, and we just thought, "Hey, I'm going to leave it in just as it is, and so the foreword of the book is basically a letter that he wrote to me, telling how the book really impacted his life.

    John:               That's so cool. All right. I'm going to read a little bit here, just one quote at the very end, and then, I just have one more question for you, David.

    You write at the end "Christ is your life. He gives you a new identity and will work that new identity out in your life until the day when he appears. On that day, you will finally see clearly as Christ sees you now. You will know as you are known." What a great promise that is. That's awesome. I've been challenged by this book, and I want to encourage anybody who's reading this interview to go out and pick up a copy of David Lomas' new book, The Truest Thing About You. It's a good book, it's a challenging book.

    I wrestled as I was reading this book. There were a couple of parts in it as I was going through, and I was like, "I don't like where he's going with this," and then, of course, by the end of the chapter, I was like, "Of course, yes. This makes sense," and I felt like God was hitting me over the head with a 2 x 4, which was great.

    Hey, I have to ask, are you a coffee drinker or a Mountain Dew drinker? What is your culture like in San Francisco?

    David:             I don't remember the last time I had a Mountain Dew. Coffee all the way, absolutely. The culture here in San Francisco is a insane coffee culture, almost too insane, almost too snobby. Yeah, it's just like insane.

    John:               Now, is it like froo-froo coffee for you, or is it just like, hey, straight up black coffee?

    David:             Oh, straight up. Like, I'll add some milk or something to it, but yeah, every morning.

    John:               Anyway, David, hey, thank you so much, man, for chatting with me today. I really appreciate it. God bless you, brother. Thank you very much.

    For more on David's book, click here.

    Book Endorsements

    “The truth hurts, the phrase goes, but Dave Lomas shows how the truest truth blesses and heals. Read this book and be reminded, or hear for the first time, that you are beloved. Trust it is true, and love will change your life. Enjoy Lomas’ masterful fusion of pastoral compassion, writerly wit, and spiritual sincerity.”

    Jenell Paris, professor of anthropology at Messiah College and author of The End of Sexual Identity

    “We live in a world where it is so incredibly easy to have what we think about ourselves subtly and sometimes not so subtly shaped by culture, people, and our own insecurities. The Truest Thing about You is a compass and a map that will help us see how we may have missed the incredible way God created us to be and how He sees us, which is our true identity. Too many people live their lives not understanding what Dave writes about here and what a joy it is thinking about how people’s lives will radically change if they grasp the truths within this book.”

    Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith and author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church

    “Dave Lomas is not only a great pastor and author, but a great friend. Over the last few years my heart has been broken beyond my wildest imagination as I watched my young daughter die of cancer. There were times that I would not have made it through if Dave were not there to shepherd my soul with the same great wisdom, insight, compassion and incisive truth that overflows this book. I am so thankful for him and the way that this book will serve to heal and propel so many into the mission of Christ.”

    Britt Merrick, pastor and author of Godspeed

    The Truest Thing about You is an important book. It’s important because it cuts to the core of what it means to be human, what it means to be loved by God, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And this is not just theory. Dave writes from deep experiences pastoring in one of America’s most identity-rich cities. Rarely has a book gotten to the heart of the issue with such precision and skill. I believe this will be a powerful tool for helping people be more transformed into the image of Jesus.”

    Jon Tyson, lead pastor at Trinity Grace Church New York

    “We are a generation haunted by the question: who am I? More than ever before, we wander through life confused and lost amid the panoply of options. In a cultural milieu of one identity crisis after another, Dave Lomas’ first book comes as firm ground under our feet. Dave is a friend I know and respect. He’s smart, humble, kind, self-effacing, and he has something to say. I encourage you to listen up.”

    John Mark Comer, pastor for teaching and vision at Bridgetown and author of Loveology

    “Dave Lomas is hitting on one of the great felt needs of our generation by asking this transformative question: What is the truest thing about you? His perspective on identity is truly needed, flipping the entire subject on its head and driving to the center of who we are as people, and ultimately as leaders. Is it what you do? Is it what you're good at? Is it who you know? The answer is so much bigger than these things. I urge you not to miss this important book!”

    Brad Lomenick, author of The Catalyst Leader and President and Key Visionary of Catalyst

    "There is only one thing more important than who you think you are … that's who God knows you are. Our lives are full of opportunities to define ourselves by what we do, have, or desire, but with honesty and wisdom, Dave Lomas brings us back to the truest thing about you. This book is for everyone who wonders 'who am I, really?' … which is everyone!"

    Nicole Unice, Christian counselor and coauthor of Start Here

  • Kari Jobe - Pioneering New Roads in Worship

    Posted on March 20, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John

    Dictionary.com gives the definition of pioneer in the following ways
    1. a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others.
    2. one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress.
    3. one of a group of foot soldiers detailed to make roads.

    For more than 15 years, well-respected worship leader Kari Jobe has been using her gifts to lead people into the presence of God. When she began leading worship at age 13, she never imagined she would be nominated for a GRAMMY®, win a Dove Award or be praised by the New York Times. She only knew she had a heart for broken people and a deep desire to lead them to the cross.

    Pioneer? This may be the word that describes who Kari is and what she hopes to do as an artist.

    I sat down with Kari and asked about her background. Where she came from, how she found Jesus and where is she going.

    Kari is real. She didn't hold back. She has no problem sharing who she is and what she is about. Her new album, Majestic and where God is taking here. Admittedly, her greatest accolade always has been and always will be the opportunity to reflect Christ. “I don’t see myself any differently than when I was 13, just a worship leader,” she admits. “It’s just sometimes I open my eyes and there’s a few more people worshipping God with me.”

    Kari:                I was raised in a Christian family and my mom and dad did ministry, so we were in churches all the time. My parents sang, so as soon as I could pick up a mic I wanted to sing.  I just thought that's just what we do, we sing (laughs).  I just started falling in love with the fact that God ministered to people in worship. That it could reach people in their emotions and really help them in what they were facing. That they didn’t really know what they wanted to say, but that a song helped them.  I just did music all during that.

    As soon as I could be in the worship team at my church I did. Then in college I did the same thing. I just started really diving into just a lot of worship, a lot of leading worship and being on teams and stuff.  When I went to Christ for the Nations I recorded Revelation Song for the first time.  I would say that that song was a big game changer for me.  I just started using it.  People would start calling asking “Hey doesn’t the girl that sing Revelation Song go to your church.”  I was a worship pastor at Gateway Church in Texas.

    The church just started letting me travel a little bit to go and minister outside the four walls of our building.

    John:               Were your parents much of an influence to you as far as helping you lead and worship.  In other words are they musical as well?

    Kari:                Yeah absolutely.  I sang with them when I was in young.  My dad was the youth worship pastor and lead worship a lot for adult services and I just would sing on the team with him and my mom was on the worship team.  I remember sitting, when I was six years old, listening to her sing the alto line of the worship songs at church.  We would have these nights of worship at my church that would last two and three hours of just worship. People just sitting on the floor, all over the room, just to meet with God.  I grew up in that kind of atmosphere and that kind of heritage where we just waited on the presence of God.

    I got really impacted by the fact that depending on God is real, and it’s not just songs. We’re touching heaven with our worship and God is inhabiting the praises of his people and moving in a room and ministering. Speaking to people.

    John:               Kari you said one time, “Worship for me has always been such a rescue place in my life.”  What does that mean when you say that?  What’s behind those words?

    Kari:                This life that we go through comes with lots of surprises. Everyone has a hard time in life. With family or with friends.  I had a very, very dear close family friend go to prison when I turned 18 and with the Lord over that. There are moments were it's just the deep sorrow in everyone's life.  In that moment, I didn’t know what else to do, but to just turn worship music on or get my guitar out and start playing and pouring my heart out to the Lord.  I realized that worship was just a place that God would meet with us and that I could say things, think things and pray. Just pray songs over my heart.  In those moments its a song that was helping me say things to God or helping me find refuge and strength and hope.

    Experiencing that for myself made me realize how powerful it is to be able to do that for other people and to help them do that through music.  Probably what really made me do what I’m doing today because I just experienced that the transformation of my own life because of worship.

    John:               Yeah. I get it.  You obviously have played a lot of both churches as well as church conferences in your musical career.  Do you think the church here in North America is in a healthy place as far as worship is concerned?

    Kari:                I do.  I think that we’re just in a really exciting season of seeing some denominational barriers come down.  I could literally walk into a church and lead worship and not know what denomination I was in that night.  We’re doing a lot of different churches from Assembly of God to Methodist to Baptist.  People are just coming to church so hungry for a move of God and I think we’re just in a really exciting season in the church.

    John:               Speak about that for a moment.  What does that mean when we’re at that season of a "movement of God?"  I think there’s a lot of people that are expecting, almost sensing that type of activity from God moving upon His church.  What do you hope to see?  What does that feel like for you?

    Kari:                I think it’s because people are just so hungry for more.  I’ve watched the church grow in the last 10 years. There are so many more people coming to church.  Churches are having to do so many more services and I see that because I’m going into these churches and I used to do one service where now I’m doing five and six on a weekend because they’re having to do multiple services.  I get to see a lot of different kind of churches all over the nation and internationally, London, Australia, different places.  It just feels that people are just hungry for more of God. Not just wanting to come to church to get preached at, but they’re wanting to be interactive and feel the spirit of God move.

    I think I would just say that it’s just people are hungry and learn a place of expectancy. When "two or three are gathered in My name," we're going to see things because God comes where He’s welcomed.  A little more together than seeing you stare, but there’s something really powerful when people are saying God come and have your way.  Come and move and just opening their hearts up to the Lord to let Him move, not just coming because it’s a weekly duty of “Well it’s Sunday.  I should go to church.”  People are coming because they want to be there and they are hungry for more of a move of God.  I think that’s what we’re experiencing.

    John:               You just mentioned the verse where two are three are gathered in God’s presence.   With that context, you set out into the making of the new record.  In the context of community.  You set out ona journey of making this record within a community type of approach.  It wasn’t just Kari Jobe by herself.  You had other people speaking into the songs. Some of those would include Paul Baloche, Matt Redman.  You had Tomlin with you, Brian Johnson from Bethel Music, others.  Was that a different approach for you compared to the other two albums that you made?

    Kari:                I always like to co-write.  I love collaborating with other writers.  On this album I mainly collaborated with worship and congregational church writers and people who get it. That really have a heart for congregational worship.  That was my main theme and my main focus for the church and for songs people want to sing in church.

    John:               Was it fun to sit down with those guys?

    Kari:                Oh amazing.  It’s amazing too to just sit down with people who have hearts and like-minded desires.  All of us. Matt. Chris. Brian Johnson - that was our main goal in our heart.  Just to see the church singing songs and anthems. To sit with them and just to hear what they’re sensing for the church, what I’m sensing for the church and what God wants to say. You know I think back to the stuff that we read in 1st & 2nd Chronicles about the Levites and how David would send the worshipers out first and that the worshipers would lead the way into war.

    There’s something that is happening when worship leaders get together and we say what we’re seeing and what we’re experiencing because it’s the same today as it is back then in the Old Testament.  We see things and we can sense what Gods doing. We are asking those questions of God. "What do you want to say to the church?"  "What do you want the church singing?" It’s just powerful first to all do that together.

    John:               That’s quite an experience for sure.

    Kari:                Yeah it really is and to see what songs are working and what songs aren’t working.  It’s like people and the army of Israel would get together and say “This is what’s working in battle and this is what’s not working."  "We need to get rid of this and we need to keep doing this other thing.”  It’s the same thing with the Spirit and we’re tapping in the church and in the spiritual realm.  What’s working and what’s moving and what’s happening in the church in these songs?  Let’s write some more of those.

    John:               Yeah.  Kari this new record is a live album is a little different than other new records. I mean technically when an artist does a live record, they usually go through their catalog and sing songs from previous albums and that’s what makes the live record. You didn’t do that though.  You became very vulnerable. You went out to a concert setting with a list of new songs and recorded them live.  How was that process?

    Kari:                (Laughs) it was awesome.  It was really exciting because people were just as soon as they were catching on that night they were singing them at the top of their lungs.  It was just exciting.  I think everyone knew too coming into that they were going to be new songs so there’s different kind of expectancy with that.  People were ready.  They’ve got their thinking caps on and they’re ready to go and they came ready to help me do a live album.  You could tell.  I told them before we pressed the record button, I don’t care if you sing, even if you know the lyrics or not.

    I told them that I just want them to be interceding for the people that will hear these songs for the first time. That I want to capture the sound and I want to capture an atmosphere on worship on the project that doesn’t have anything to do with the lyrics.  It just has everything to do with the spirit of God being welcomed into this room and moving on this album.  There were times you could hear people praying and times you could just hear people speaking the name of Jesus and that’s just as powerful as them singing any of the songs or any of the lyrics.  We’re capturing the sound of worship.  It was pretty amazing how people just showed up to really help me do the album.

    John:               Kari are you a book reader?

    Kari:                Sometimes (laughing).

    John:               What’s on your book shelf right now that you’re reading?

    Kari:                That’s awesome of you to ask because I just downloaded a new one last night from Bill Johnson called Hosting the Presence.  I’m reading that.  I’m readings Christine Caine's book Undaunted.  I like to read books that really challenge me to keep moving forward and being a pioneer and being someone who just wants God. Wants and wants to be a vessel of the Holy Spirit.  I read some dangerous type books (laughs).

    John:               Do you view yourself as a pioneer?

    Kari:                I do, yeah.

    John:               Yeah, kind of breaking new ground in a sense.

    Kari:                Yes, that’s what I hope to be or I would like to be known as a pioneer in worship.

    John:               Yeah I think that’s a good name for you.

    Kari:                Thank you.

    John:               Moving away from the record besides leading worship, what else do you really enjoy doing?

    Kari:                I love longboard skateboard.  I went for a skate this morning.

    John:               Really.

    Kari:                The weather’s amazing here today.  I love shopping.  I have a new baby nephew and he’s amazing.  I’m a daughter, I’m a sister and a longboard skateboarder and I’m really a fanatic about social media (laughing).

    John:               That’s awesome.  Where can we find you on Instagram?

    Kari:                Just my full name Kari Jobe.

    John:               Got it.  Kari thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today.  I really appreciate it.

    Kari:                Yeah absolutely.

    The truth is, Kari may now lead worship for thousands around the world, thanks to an expanding platform, but for her, the songs birthed for Majestic have nothing to do with her. “It’s not about me,” she emphasizes. “If it became about me, that would be dangerous and wrong. It’s about Him. It’s a great honor and a great responsibility, but it’s not any different than me just living my life every day needing Him in my circumstances.”

    Kari's new album will be available in CD, CD/DVD and DVD.

  • Peter Furler - Bringing 3-Piece Rock Back

    Posted on March 10, 2014 by Dan Hubka

    After 22 years as the main creative force behind Newsboys, followed by his 2011 solo success On Fire, Peter Furler could be excused if he'd decided to mellow out a bit or rest on his laurels. Instead, the writer behind 27 #1 radio singles has come back with one of the strongest albums of his career, Sun and Shield. Reteaming with longtime producer/lyricist Steve Taylor for the first time since Newsboys gold-certified Adoration album,Sun and Shield finds Furler & Band — featuring Dave Ghazarian (Superchick, Audio Adrenaline) on bass and Jeff Irizarry on drums — combining an ambitious collection of new songs with a more muscular, band-driven sound that harkens back to the glory days of Take Me To Your Leader. Sun and Shield is the sound of an artist at the peak of his creative powers.

    I recently had a one-on-one interview with Peter to discuss his new album, his family and what he's excited for.

    Dan:                Peter. New album, Sun and Sheild. Can you tell me a little about it?

    Peter:              Yeah, it's called Sun and Shield. It comes out March 11. Of course, you can get it at Family Christian. Dan's already had a little preview of it so we were talking about that earlier and really happy with it. I kind of went in to make a record that was three-piece rock. We set some limitations. These days you can go into a studio and you can fix a good performance or an average performance. We were just hoping to capture a great performance, as opposed to... Everyone's got their Instagram accounts and they can capture a good photo and put some filter on it. Or someone goes out and hunts for that right shot. So we were hunting for the right shot on this record, just trying to capture the moment, what happened there on the day and not having to embellish it with a lot of tracks and repairs and such, with software. I'm really happy with it. It's kind of a photo album for me when I hear certain tracks. I remember the day and the time recording it.

    Dan:                So the title is Sun and Shield and that's also the first single.  Can you tell us what that means to you and what the title and the track is about?


    Peter:              Well, it comes from the Psalm 84. It talks about God bestowing honor and glory, and that he doesn't withhold favor from us. And He is... There's times we need the sun. We need... It was actually talking about the times of battle, back when David was fighting battles. There was a time where they needed the sun, and there's obviously another time where they need the shield.  It's really just that.  That's what that was about. It's about hanging in there in our faith and moving forward, and getting rid of the clutter that holds us back, and traveling light, so to speak. The whole record is again, just another piece of the journey of our faith. And as a singer and a songwriter, just trying to express that, how I've experienced it.

    Dan:                Very cool. There are some familiar faces on the cover.  It isn't just Peter Furler.  It's Peter Furler and Band. Can you tell us about the new lineup?

    Peter:              When I finished up with the Newsboys I never really, at first I didn't know if I was going to make music again, but then the songs kept coming. So I put out a solo record which I never thought I would do. I never had any aspirations to be a solo guy. In fact, that scared me. When I did make that record, I put it out, and then I'd gone on tour with that record. As I was touring that record, I began to put together a band. Dave Ghazarian, formerly of Superchick and Audio Adrenaline, has been a great friend of mine for a long time, and he was playing in that band, and Jeff Irizarry who's been playing drums for me since I left the Newsboys.

    It just seemed natural. It was one of those natural things. It wasn't like a strategic marketing plan. It was like, we were just on the road touring, and I'd come to this record. It was like, man, I want to do this as a band, I want to do it as a three-piece. I want to keep it just simple and go back to reintroduce three-piece rock into CCM. We haven't seen or heard of that for a while. And again, uncluttered without the performance tracks and all that stuff. I didn't even plan that. It's not that there's anything wrong with that. That's up to somebody if they want to do that. But for us, it was like, man, this new generation of crew that are coming through, we need to show them that it can be done live and you can make a lot of sound with just three guys.

    Dan:                There's another familiar name on the album - Steve Taylor.  Can you talk a bit about the mystery there?

    Peter:              Steve and I, we obviously co-wrote all of the Newsboys songs, or most of them, together. He's been a collaborator with me for many years, a great friend. I just got off the phone from him. He says, "Hi." He's somebody that I've just always looked up to and admired his integrity. He was somebody that when I was making this record I knew I would need help and the right kind of help. I was working on a project with him. I'm also playing drums in Steve's band. We had been working on a record for a few years which is coming out later. It had John Painter and Jimmy Abegg in that band. I was the drummer in that band. We kind of moved from making that record to making the Peter Furler Band record. It was just natural, just cool things were happening, and we were making music just for the love of it. No record deal. No management. No anything, except just kind of wild ambition and just loving music. It's been a really cool time. I don't know what happens after this but that's not for me to worry about.

    Dan:                I saw Mylon LeFevre's name on the song “Yeshua.” How did you get to having him on the record and the connection there?

    Peter:              That took about 23 years, that one, because I married his daughter 23 years ago. Mylon, for those that don't know, should know, he's one of the pioneers of contemporary Christian music. He's been my father-in-law for 23 years. We've talked about making music together and doing things through the years. That was a song that actually my wife and I wrote together. It might have even been her idea. She might have said towards the end... We'd actually tracked most of the music on it, and I'd sung it, and it did feel like something wasn't quite finished. I had Phil Joel come in and sing some BGBs, and I'm like, we're still not where it should be yet. My wife might have suggested or I might have thought this is the ones to get Mylon on. So he came in. We sent the tracks down to Texas. He lives in Texas. And he sang on them there. And he really took it to a new place.  It's awesome to be able to sing with your father-in-law.

    Dan:                So what's the process like for you working on music?

    Peter:              Well, it's changed so much. It's kind of gone full circle in some ways. When we first started out, we had no budget. We were making records on probably the budget that mainstream acts had for catering. For us it was a, you had to really hone your chops, you had to really know all your tunes, and you'd have to go into the studio. I think our first record we made in 24 hours. We cut the ten songs; we mixed it; we did everything. And as time went on, technology helped us a little bit where you could track some stuff at home. Budgets got bigger for us as a band and as a group. But it did cost a lot to make records. Now, it's coming down to... we're sitting here chatting to each other, and people are watching in different parts of America. And it's like, I could be sitting here now recording a record on this laptop because that's where it's come. There's good and bad to that. I think the good for us is that we still want to limit ourselves. There's something really cool when artists have a limitation. The Beatles were a group that only had four tracks, or a couple tracks to record with when they first started so the song had to be great. We live in a day and age now where you can put a lot of lipstick on that piggy, you know what I mean?

    Dan:                Right.

    Peter:              So for us, we still want to keep within the limitations of working with not a ton of gear, but just the right gear and making sure the part is the right thing and the song is the right thing. I think in the future for us, I'd like to go back to that time of, not go back to the time, but go back to that process of writing the song in the change room and getting the lyric where you're satisfied, and getting the tune where you're satisfied, and the arrangement, and going in the studio and just knocking the song out in a day, and then releasing it, or something, doing something with it. You could do a record in 24 hours or something. It'd be fun to get back to that, put that challenge back.

    Dan:                When you are not hanging out in the bus and doing an interview with us, what keeps you busy?

    Peter:              I drive a lot. My wife and I bought an RV. People think I'm a bit crazy, but I do a lot of the driving. I enjoy that. Today I'm in a tour bus, because we had the weather up here so I just jumped on the bus. I kind of like it. It's different. That keeps me pretty occupied. I sleep at a lot of KOA campgrounds and Walmart Supercenters. But there's something about that that I like, in its season. Otherwise, you have  walk and have a look at the city you're in. I took a walk today down in Grand Rapids, had a look around and grabbed a coffee, and chat with friends, and maybe grab a guitar and practice; write some songs.

    Dan:                Are there any RV experiences of people getting mad or experience that you've had?

    Peter:              There's always -- the RV community is this huge subculture in America. In Australia, they call them skiers and that's they're spending their kids' inheritance. Here there's like a real... What I love about it is when you're in these communities, and I've had many experiences. People are really friendly. And they don't know who you are which is really cool. They don't know what you do. You're just some Aussie guy who happens to be in the RV next to them. They're more curious how much water can your RV hold or where did you get your LP gas from? What's the best stop up here?

    The other thing too is the simplicity of living, traveling light. When you're living in that environment, you're in a small space. You have to conserve your water, you have to conserve things, you have to be aware of the road ahead, or surviving that way. And these people are all kind of like that. Some of them have sold their houses. It's a real marriage connector because they're all these married couples and they're always, they’re really united. A lot of them have sold their houses and they're living in this RV and they're just traveling. They'll spend two months, when it's cold, down South, and then they'll head up North. They're continually on the move. They're very nomadic. There's something about that, they remind me maybe of some of the early Bible stories of people just looking for a home.

    Dan:                How did you make that transition to trying out that RV style, going from the lead of the Newsboys to driving around an RV?

    Peter:              I started the RV thing when I was in the Newsboys. We had done every form of travel. We started out in a beat-up old Dodge van, sleeping in that, no air conditioning, no heating, through Death Valley, CA, 110 degrees; to New York City- freezing. Then as you get more successful as a band, we moved to an RV then, and we'd all drive it ourselves. Then we moved up to a bus. Then we moved to several buses with drivers. Then we moved to our own plane. We kind of traveled just about every way you could as far as touring goes. For me, after doing it for so long so many ways, I just had this idea... I don't know really where it came from... but just to spend more time really with my wife. I just saw the future and I saw that someday the Newsboys will pass. But my relationship with my wife and building memories with her, that's what's going to have to last and last well.

    So while I was sitting on a tour bus, I was online and looking at RV traders and trying to find an RV.  We got back after one tour and I bought an RV. Everyone thought I was just crazy. The band thought I was crazy. The management thought I was crazy. I am crazy. So I bought this RV and I drove it. I did about 40,000 miles in that one. And we just loved it. We were having the greatest time. Then I bought another one and did about 70,000, so I did about 110,000 miles. And in that time, that's really probably where I began to learn to simplify. My wife and I, here we are, we're living in this RV, in this little space, conserving water, living just kind of day to day. You can't store a lot of things on it. And it really changed our lives. So we went back from that and we began - we really felt the Lord telling us to simplify. So we did. We began to pull out everything out of our lives that was pulling us, as opposed to... We want to be led by spirit of God but we were getting pulled in directions. And sometimes we're pulled in directions because of finances or because of ambition, or ideas we get where we were pulled in directions because of the culture. So for me, it was, we just wanted to cut some ties. It's not that they were all bad ties or all bad things. There were some great times and great memories. No regrets. But for us, now that's how we live. I have one pair of shoes, man, and I like it. That's all I have to take care of.

    Dan:                That sounds good.

    Peter:              It is good. It might not be for... I don't know if it's for everybody. I'm not anybody's judge. You know, I look at people... That's one thing the Lord's really showed me lately. Judge not lest you be judged. I've seen that happen in my life. I've seen it in others. You see people that are really critical of other people. They judge them. Something... There's just a law that operates where something happens that all of a sudden the judgment gets turned on them and so I think that's a good Scripture as one of your life scriptures. For me it is. I'm not saying what we do is for everybody. Every household has to work out its own gig.

    Dan:                Absolutely. And Peter, in closing, I want to thank you for your time. We absolutely love the new album and we can't wait for more people to hear is. So before we close, is there anything that you would like to say about the record or anything before we say goodbye?

    Peter:              Just thanks to Family Christian, thanks for taking my music and getting it to people and fair enough, I encourage people to support you guys. It's awesome. It’s work. I'm so thankful for my life that I get to do what I love to do. And I hope that for everybody, watching and listening, that you're doing what you love to do. So that's it. Best wishes to everybody. And Family Christian, thank you. I don't take it lightly. It's a big deal that you take my music and you get it to the people. That's a message that I feel to encourage people to lift them up.  And when they hear music, they feel inspired. And you pour your heart into this music. It's so funny. You can go and buy a cup of coffee and a bran muffin, it costs you $7 now, and a CD that costs... that bran muffin and coffee probably cost $.50 to make and some dude made it in 30 minutes. Where a record you pour your heart and your life into it and it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and you sell that for 10 bucks. That's a good deal. So I do appreciate you getting the music out. It means a lot to us. Thank you.

    Dan:                We're glad to do it. So thanks for taking the time today.

    Peter:              Cheers, mate, you're a good man.

    Check out Peter's new album by clicking here.

  • Blog Summary for February 2014

    Posted on February 27, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are the most popular blog posts as read by you. Thank you for following us!


    Diving Deep with Casting Crowns

    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.

    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.

    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.

    I had gotten into trouble my senior summer. Financial trouble, trouble with other people, trouble with women – I was just running myself into a dead end. So I’m thinking, “I’m seventeen, let me do the mature, adult thing, and go to church.” Grandma was a Christian so the roots of the foundation I had established of the Christian God were through my grandmother. And that was where I needed to go. By grace, there was a young lady that I went to high school with that invited me to a Bible study. I went, and I had never seen Christians who dressed like me or talked like me, so I thought they were Martians from another planet! When I saw them, I said, “Oh you guys are human!” They loved me genuinely and that’s really what started it.

    To read the full interview, click here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    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 q&a here.

    Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.

    "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.

    Read our full interview here.

    Saying "I Love You"

    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?"

    Read the full blog post here.

    The Storm Inside - Sheila Walsh

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith. With

    Read the full blog 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.

    Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    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.

    Matt Maher. On Being Christian.

    Matt Maher's newest album, All The People Said Amen," fuses the popularity of his vibrant live show with several new studio cuts, offering fans an assortment of writing and performance styles.

    “This project,” offers Maher, “is a real collage of who I am musically. You’ll hear intimate worship songs, anthemic praise tunes often sung and shouted aloud together in unison, and celebratory songs that inspire the whole church.”

    I chatted with Matt on cold winter day.  What follows is a conversation on who Matt is, what he hopes to accomplish and how he just wants to sing about Jesus.

    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.

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