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  • Give God Guilt

    Posted on August 9, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. Psalm 38:4

    When we feel like we have come to nothing, our Lord Jesus is ready to make us into something. Guilt can cause our good deeds to grind to a halt or it can drive us to try to make up for lost time with frantic activity for God. Guilt motivated behavior is not sustainable, because like a scuba diver’s weight belt it weighs us down with sin and shame. We drift deeper into the murky waters of fear until we are unable to see the forgiveness and grace of God. Guilt overwhelms our heart.

    The blood of Jesus Christ is the only remedy for sin’s guilt. Other pseudo solutions like drugs, alcohol, sex, work and play only mess with our emotions and leave us longing for real relief. Guilt is a warning light on the dashboard of our life that flashes when we are close to losing our peace and joy. It is a protector of joy not a killer of joy. Guilt drives us to God for freedom from mental or emotional pain. Confess to Christ, release your guilt and accept His total forgiveness.

    For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10

    Beware of those who intentionally or unintentionally attempt to put you on a guilt trip. It could be they are shifting blame to you from their irresponsible behavior. Their own shame feels the need to shame those in their path. Avoid chronic carriers of guilt, they hurt innocent bystanders who stand near their exposed emotional wounds. Guilt is like a grenade whose pin is pulled, its insensitive shrapnel injures everyone in its path. Yes, be a righteous resolver of unresolved guilt.

    Do you hold unrealistic expectations over the head of a loved one? Do you demand of others more than the Lord expects of them? If so, guilt can easily drive a wedge in between your relationships. A friend or family member bound up in their own shame and guilt need God’s grace and your gracious response. Your forgiveness frees the guilty. Once you have been freed from guilt by God’s grace, you can lead others to receive the Lord’s love. He frees the guilty!

    They will be forgiven for any of the things they did that made them guilty. Leviticus 6:7

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, free me from the guilt of my past, so I can free friends from guilt in the present.

    Related Readings: Numbers 11:14, 14:18; Ezra 9:6; Luke 11:46; Hebrews 10:22

    Post/Tweet today: Guilt is a warning light on life’s dashboard that flashes when we are close to losing our peace and joy. #guilt


    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Letting Go

    Posted on August 9, 2013 by Amy Carroll

    Amy

    "He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands." Psalm 78:5-7 (NIV)

    Each year I take out one memory-soaked treasure after another from the boxes containing our family's Christmas and winter decorations. There's one I anticipate unpacking more than all the others. It's a framed photograph of my two little boys in brightly colored jackets sitting on a sled surrounded by fresh snow. Their heads thrown back with delight and laughter give testament to the joy of speed and a rare North Carolina snowfall.

    It's amazing how that one picture captures the childhood of my sons. Thinking about it makes my heart ache for days gone by. I reminisce about hours of playing with blocks and little arms wrapped around my neck.

    I never wanted those toddler hugs to end, but today, my once-little-boys tower over me, their deep voices filling our home. Gone are childish giggles, Play-Doh and picture books. Those things are replaced with teenaged practical jokes, car keys and college texts. The boys have turned into young men, and they've let go of juvenile ways. Now, if only their mama could let go!

    My oldest, Anson, is getting ready to head back to college for his sophomore year, and God's Word comforts me in this challenging transition. To parents who are watching their children sprout wings of independence, God gives strong direction followed by a powerful promise.

    Strong Direction ... our job as parents is to teach.

    There are several different scriptures that command us to teach:

    "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them" (Deut. 4:9 NIV).

    "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deut. 11:18-19 NIV).

    Followed by a promise ... as we let go, trust our children will hang on to God.

    "Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it" (Proverbs 22:6 NLT).

    Teach and then trust.

    Parenting is a divine partnership, with God as the controlling partner. Our acts of obedience to teach our kids merge powerfully with His promises to carry them through to the end.

    My husband and I have faithfully and lovingly taught God's Word to our sons. Now we are trusting God to finish the work He has begun in them. The work may not be evident immediately and there will be bumps in the road, but teaching and then trusting helps this mama's heart to let go.

    Dear Lord, help me to faithfully teach Your Word and Your ways to my children and then trust You to set their paths. I let go of control and trust Your work in them. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are there biblical lessons you feel you haven't yet taught your child? Make a plan to do that before they leave your home.

    Ask your older child today how you're doing in the letting go process. Discuss freedoms he would like to have and how those freedoms can be earned.

    Power Verses:
    Isaiah 44:3, "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

  • Live by Faith

    Posted on August 8, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Hebrews 10:38-39

    Saving faith is a Christian’s starting point and sustaining faith is what carries them forward. Followers of Jesus are saved by grace through faith and they grow by grace through faith. Faith in Christ is the key that unlocks the human heart to God’s imagination. The Holy Spirit looks for a humble spirit to spread around His spiritual security. He draws those full of faith in the fullness of His Spirit. Faith emboldens believers to begin each day better, because they started with Jesus.

    Has fear or suffering caused you to shrink back? Are you frustrated by the feeling of two steps forward and one step back? Be encouraged since you are moving along the Lord’s path, though maybe not at the speedy pace you desire. Your Master Jesus takes pleasure in your perseverance when you press forward by faith in the face of frustration. Jesus is your biggest cheerleader. Your little bit of faith in Christ creates enough confidence for today. So, live by faith in God’s son!

    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
    Furthermore it is the faith of Jesus that gives our faith spiritual fortitude. Similar to the fishes and loaves, when we surrendered to Jesus He multiplied our faith by His faith. Because Christ is our life, His faith grows our faith exponentially. Our capacity for belief is only limited by the Lord’s capacity for belief. So, by faith we are called to let Jesus loose with our lips and life. Daily we die to our small thinking and engage in God’s big thinking. Yes, we live by the faith of Jesus for Jesus!

    You may start the day on your knees in doubt, but once you leave your concerns at the feet of Christ in prayer, you will stand to your feet to live by faith. You know you live by faith when you’ve cast your cares on your caregiver Jesus Christ. You know you live by faith when your Heavenly Father gives you peace to proceed. You know you live by faith when the Holy Spirit reminds you to give God the glory for your successes. Live by faith in the One who died for you.

    "Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith. Galatians 3:11

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to love motivated by Your gracious and giving love.

    Related Readings: Habbakuk 2:3-4; Romans 1:17, 8:10; Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 4:2

    Post/Tweet today: Saving faith is a Christian’s starting point and sustaining faith is what carries them forward. #livebyfaith

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • What Did Daniel Pray?

    Posted on August 8, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before." Daniel 6:10b (NIV)

    Have you ever been in a pit? Recently, I was. And you know what pits make me feel besides frustrated and down? Hungry.

    Usually my pit comes when circumstances roll into my life that I can't control.

    Circumstances that affect me, but that are beyond my control, make me want to find comfort in things I can control. And eating sure does feel like an easy way to get comfort.

    But in these situations, what feels comforting going in my mouth doesn't settle well in my heart.

    Overindulging in junk food makes me feel guilty. And once guilty joins me in my pit, it only compounds my issues. So, if we can't eat our way out of a pit with junk food, what can we do?

    If I'm truly hungry, I can grab a healthy option. Then, I intentionally look for something for which to be thankful and get my mouth busy praising God.

    Even though I may not feel like praising God in the midst of my pit, something starts to shift in my heart and in my attitude when I see blessings in the midst of burdens. Each thing for which I verbalize my thankfulness is like a stepping stone out of the pit.

    And this isn't just my idea. It's biblical. Look what happened when Daniel took this approach to the pit he found himself in.

    In Daniel 6:10, Daniel had just learned that if anyone was caught praying to anyone else besides King Darius, they would be thrown into the lion's den. That's a serious pit! But Daniel's reaction is amazing.

    He went home, threw his windows open, and prayed anyway. I'm not thinking he did this because he felt good. I'm imagining he felt like anyone would feel in overwhelming circumstances. But he rose above his feelings to make a choice.

    And do you know what he chose to pray?

    "God, save me!"

    "God, it's not fair!"

    "God, this is too much!"

    "God, smite my enemies and wipe them out!"

    "God, You know I can't handle this without extreme doses of chocolate!"

    No. None of the above.

    What Daniel prayed is a powerful lesson for me.

    Daniel 6:10b tells us that Daniel spoke prayers of gratitude. "Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before."

    Since Daniel's response is so opposite of the way most of us would react, it makes me stop and ponder. Our initial responses are usually a by-product of the rituals we've established in our life. Daniel had made it his habit to be thankful.

    Since Daniel was a thankful man, God's nature and how He provides was front and center in Daniel's heart—even in the midst of uncontrollable circumstances.

    I am challenged and inspired by Daniel's response. It makes me ask questions like: where do I run when life presses in on me? Who or what am I really dependent on? Do I have a habit of inviting guilt to join me in my pit? What might happen if I stopped grabbing for comfort and instead embraced the perspective changer of thanksgiving?

    Life will be full of pits. But, that doesn't mean I have to be a pit dweller. Or a pit eater.

    Dear Lord, I know I will sometimes find myself in a pit. But I don't have to stay there and I don't have to try to eat my way out. Thank You for providing Your timeless Word to point to the way, the truth and the life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Ask yourself these 3 questions:

    Where do I run when life presses in on me?
    Who or what am I really dependent on?
    Do I have a habit of inviting guilt to join me in my pit?

    Power Verses:
    Hebrews 12:28, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." (NIV)

    Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Motivated By Love

    Posted on August 7, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

    Love is the highest and best motivation. Like beauty pageant contestants, faith and hope accompany love as the top three finalists, but love is crowned the winner. It reigns because it brings out the very best in the lover and the one being loved. Similar to an invisible force field, love protects us from ourselves and compels us to give ourselves to others. It generates goodwill and garners trust. Yes, love is the pinnacle of the Lord’s expectations because it points to Christ.

    Love is loyal when most are disloyal. Love steps up when some step away. Love believes the best and doesn’t think to assume the worse. Love looks out for the interests of loved ones above its own needs. Love loves when unloved, love loves when lonely and love loves when loved. Love loves the unlovely, the unconcerned and the underutilized. Love looks for potential where impatience sees disappointment. Love is the Lord’s lubricant causing relations to run smoothly.

    The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6

    What is your primary reason for relating to people? Is it to be loved or to love? Fortunately, when we are free to love without expecting anything in return, we are fulfilled by love’s fruit. Indeed, the glorious grace of God does not stand still when you run to love one starved of compassion. Hallelujah, your gift of love invites the Holy Spirit to shed His love across the landscape of your heart and soul. Like kudzu the seeds of love grow in places we cannot fathom.

    Furthermore, make sure your motivation for love is inspired out of your intimacy with your Heavenly Father, as you commune with Christ. The more consistent your love relationship with Jesus, the more capacity you have to love. To the extent you are loved well by the Lord, you will love well. The world’s noise drowns out the gentle words of Jesus, “I love you,” but in your daily quiet time you hear and feel His presence. God’s love motivates you to love with intentionality!

    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to love motivated by Your gracious and giving love.

    Related Readings: John 15:12; Romans 5:8, 10; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 3:6; 1 John 4:7-21

    Post/Tweet today: The more consistent our love relationship with Jesus, the more capacity we have to love. #motivatedbylove

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • John MacArthur's Call to the Church - Beware of Strange Fire

    Posted on August 7, 2013 by John van der Veen

    John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.

    In 1969, after graduating from Talbot Theological Seminary, John came to Grace Community Church. The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage. Under John’s leadership, Grace Community Church's two morning worship services fill the 3,500-seat auditorium to capacity. Several thousand members participate every week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, most led by lay leaders and each dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.

    John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four adult children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda. They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their fifteen grandchildren.

    John is type of author that evokes emotion in the reader. Some try to avoid his books and others can't stop reading them. His prayer would be that emotion would drive one to a specific place - the foot of the cross. Or, simply put, the Gospel of Jesus.

    In his new book, Strange Fire, John lays out a call for the Church to repent of it's "casual" approach to worship. After reading Strange Fire, one can understand that worship is a serious matter. God is to be enjoyed for sure, but in the direction that He gives.

    In our recent conversation, I asked Dr. MacArthur about his new book and what I found is a man still living under conviction. While in his mid 70's, there is a fire that burns in this man. Strange it is not. For it's a passion for the glory of God.

    John, I am curious, when you set out to write a book, who do you write your books for? Are you writing for a particular group of people? Are you writing for your church? Or are you just writing for the evangelical community altogether?

    John M.: Yeah, primarily, I'm writing for the broader evangelical community; in particular, the pastors and leaders and influencers. When I write a book, particularly a political or issue-oriented book, I do that for the benefit of the church: to make a truth clear to the church, to warn the church. So the audience is typically the broader evangelical community with a focus on those in leadership to help them understand the issues and the impact that they're having on the church.

    John: So, would you say that you're writing in response to something that's happening in church culture, or are you kind of thinking, "Hey, maybe this is what could be happening in church culture, so it needs to be addressed…"?

    John M.: You know more often than not, John, I react. I look at my books, or many of them anyway, as kind of a correction, a clarification, some discernment applied to an issue in the church that the church needs to be aware of. That might be more frequently my motivation but not exclusively. There are times when I think the church just needs clarity on a doctrine or an issue, and so I’ll write more from a positive affirmation side. That would be the lesser of the common motive, though, as usually I'm looking at the church feeling concerned about the direction, the lack of understanding or the church's exposure to something that is dangerous--something the church needs to understand more clearly to fulfill its ministry. So, I'm usually coming off of something that I think needs clarity or needs correction.

    John: Before we jump into your new book, "Strange Fire," I'm curious, John, have you ever written anything that you wish you would not have written? Have you ever changed a viewpoint on something that you would have liked to go back and refute?

    John M.: I would say no. I've never written anything that I would like to get back. I think the Lord really prepared me through my training and upbringing with a sound framework of theology so I kind of have the borders pretty much in mind for the truth and sound doctrine. Obviously, I've understood things in a clearer way. There are certain verses I would interpret differently now. There are some details maybe in handling the word of God that I might express differently. There's been a lot of refinement and a lot more clarification, but there's really nothing through the years that I would say would reach the level of "I wish I'd never written that."

    John: So, you have a new book coming out called, "Strange Fire.” I am curious, is this a follow-up to "Charismatic Chaos"?

    John M.: It is definitely in the same category and the same genre. It is addressing the charismatic movement, but it isn't that book. It isn't like that book, "Charismatic Chaos," which by the way is still in print--I just received the final word on the publication of that book in Chinese. So that book has been consistently in print since it first came out. But it addresses the same movement; only it addresses that movement in its current form. The "Charismatic Chaos" book is ... I don't know how many years old, but it's 15 years old or more, and the movement has morphed and changed and gained momentum on a global level. So while the same issue is addressed, which is the charismatic movement, this is a completely independent book that has nothing to do with the prior book. This one addresses the movement in a way that is consistent with its present form and, of course, since the time that I wrote that book, the prosperity gospel has just gone like a wildfire and so that's an element, and there are other elements as well that have changed.

    John: "Charismatic Chaos" was and is a fantastic book, and I have recommended it many times to many of my friends and I'm sure you have seen many comments by people who are being challenged by it. So hopefully we will see the same thing with "Strange Fire" as well.

    John M.: I will say this John, the book through the years has had an amazing ministry in helping people come out of that movement, and I would say that is the manifest impact of that book, letters upon letters, tens of thousands of them through the years coming to our ministry, the people in multiple languages reading that book, and coming out of that movement. This book is directed more at the leaders of that movement, the purveyors of that system, false miracles, false prosperity gospel, misrepresentation of gifts and all of that kind of stuff. This book really goes at the leadership and exposes the movement at that level, as well as its aberrations on a popular level. So, I'm praying that it will be an indictment whereas the "Charismatic Chaos" book was not so much an indictment of the leadership, but that it will also at the same help people to come out of that movement to the truth.

    John: You start "Strange Fire" with a story, the fantastic story of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron. They are both priests, as you know, part of Israel. They, as you clearly point out, understood the teachings of God, were highly regarded, etc., and then the unbelievable happened, they went within this context of worship for them to present a, in a sense, sacrifice to God, and they did it in a wrong manner. God responded by sending fire and consumed both of them, both of these brothers. My question John is, do you think to some extent, the greater evangelical community, or at least maybe the charismatic community is in danger of doing the same thing?

    John M.: I think the charismatic community does the same thing. I think it offers strange fire, that's the point I make. In the ninth chapter in that same context, an offering was given to God appropriately and rightly, and God burned up the offering, and immediately after that, the offering was made inappropriately and God burned up the offers, and what that does tell us is that God feels very strongly, even judgmentally, against false worship. That is, worship which dishonors him; and I think the charismatic movement is filled with that.

    Now, I understand, we're not living in Old Testament times. God doesn't open up the ground and swallow up false prophets. God doesn't send a bear out of the woods to shred young men who mock a prophet. Obviously, God doesn't bring judgment the way he brought judgment in the Old Testament era; but he has the same attitude, and while judgment may not come in a temporal way, it will come, because God feels exactly the same about unacceptable worship. In fact, if you go back to the Ten Commandments, the first commandment and the second commandment are about no other God and how we come to God, how we approach God. The Old Testament is clear that we are to fear God and that we are to worship Him in a way that is consistent with His decree and His will and His commands.

    So, I just think--and it's a sad thing--that these charismatic churches and charismatic groups are full of people who do not understand that they can't play fast and loose with this kind of supposed worship. They can't say the Holy Spirit is doing something He's not doing, or saying something He's not saying. They can't ascribe to God fake miracles or fake revelations and make up things and say that God said them and the Holy Spirit said them.

    This is the most serious kind of conduct, negatively speaking, that any human being can commit. It is to blaspheme God, it’s an affront to God. I say in the introduction of the book that Jesus said the leaders of Israel had attributed the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan, and I draw a parallel, kind of an inverse parallel, that the modern charismatic movement attributes the works of Satan to the Holy Spirit. There are so many things that are obviously not of God at all that are being attributed to the Holy Spirit. This is very, very serious, and that's why the book doesn't hold back because the seriousness of dishonoring approaches to God demands a serious confrontation.

    John: So my mind goes in a couple of different directions here and there based on what you just said. Is God adhering to His forbearance then, as He approaches the Christian community, the charismatic community?

    John M.: Well, first of all, yeah, we have to understand that God is always forbearing, and He doesn't give us what we deserve when we deserve it. We are all alive because of His grace, and God by nature as Savior, even temporally, He withholds his judgment, He is merciful, He is gracious. I think many of these people aren't Christians, they're false teachers, false prophets, charlatans and frauds, and many of the people that follow them are nonbelievers who are deceived and duped, and certainly the Lord withholds judgment on them. Obviously, their judgment is the judgment of eternal condemnation when it does come.

    But even among believers, you know, there are many sins that believers can commit and do commit, and there are many unfaithful believers who don't have the ground open up and swallow them or who aren't struck down by God, although that can happen because we know from the New Testament, there is a sin of the death and there can be a sin in the life of the believer that will cause the Lord to take him home.

    But I think that's correct; I think God is patient even toward his own, and that's one of the functions of pastors. Paul, you remember, said to the church in Acts 20, "I have not ceased for three years to warn you with tears and to warn you that of your own selves perverse men will rise up, will lead you astray and from the outside wolves will come in with deceptive teaching." Paul writes his letters to churches and continually talks about error, and he said to the Galatians, "Having begun in the Spirit, are you perfected in the flesh? Please don't fall into legalism." All of those epistles have warning sections. Thessalonians, you know, warns about misunderstanding the second coming and believing lies. That's just part of ministry.

    So, we would say that while the Lord is forbearing with His own people who truly belong to him, it is the role and duty of pastors and leaders of the church to expose the false teachers, to expose the false doctrine and to preach sound doctrine. In fact, you shouldn't even be a leader in the church unless you are capable of exposing error. According to Paul's standards for leadership, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, you have to be able to recognize error, expose it for error, and teach sound doctrine. That's part of being a leader in the church. It's not necessarily popular in this kind of environment where everybody calls for tolerance and acceptance. And nobody has screamed louder for that than the charismatics, because they have to have that in order to succeed. They have gotten what they wanted, but it's true that the Lord is patient, especially with His church. But that raises the importance of those who are leading His church to speak the truth and warn the people.

    John: In the book, you suggest a few questions to help test the authenticity of true works of the Spirit. You ask the readers to ask five questions. One, does it exalt the true Christ? Two, does it oppose worldliness? Three, does it point people to Scripture? Four, does it elevate the truth? And five, does it produce love for God and for others?

    Now, when I am reading those questions, my thought is, to some extent, we could have a pastor or a leader within the charismatic movement, being asked those questions on one side and John MacArthur being asked those questions on one side and both of them and looking at the acts of what's happening in the charismatic movement would answer those questions in the affirmative. Does it exalt the true Christ? They would answer yes. Does it oppose worldliness? They would say yes. How does someone within a Christian community approach then these two conflicting viewpoints and say, "Well, wait a second here, you both can't be right. I hear someone on TV telling me that what they're doing is truly of God, and yet I have MacArthur on one side telling me no, what they're doing is not of God, it's of the devil." How do we reconcile that, John?

    John M.: Those five questions basically came from Jonathan Edwards, and he was using those five things to evaluate the legitimacy or illegitimacy of certain things that were happening in the great awakening, and in every case it all depends on how you define the terms. If I ask the question, "Does it honor Christ?" the guy can say, "Of course, it honors Christ." A Mormon can say Mormonism honors Christ, A Jehovah's Witness can say Jehovah's Witness ministers honor Christ, but that begs a definition of Christ. Who is Christ? And what does honor Christ? That is the compelling issue.

    For example, when Kenneth Copeland says that Jesus on the cross became a sinner, died and went to hell, and was punished for three days, that's heresy. He may ask somebody, do charismatics honor Christ? Does Kenneth Copeland honor Christ? Sure, off the top of their head, they would say, “Yes,” but when you look more deeply, to say that Christ became a sinner and went to hell to pay for sin for three days and then God raised him, that does not honor Christ.

    So, all those questions then have to be defined. The terms in all those questions have to be defined. Before you can answer the question, "Does it honor Christ?" you have to show who Christ is, what Christ has done, and what the Bible says honors Christ, and then see if based upon the biblical definition of honoring Christ, they are honoring Christ; so in every case, a superficial answer, we expect that. We expect them to say, "Oh yeah, this demonstrates love for God, this demonstrates love for others." But upon closer examination, when you compare how the Bible defines those terms and what the charismatics do, it is not hard to answer the question.

    John: So, context defines the meaning here.

    John M.: Context and definition is everything. Sure, you could say to a Muslim, "Do you love God?" and he could say, "Yes," but he better talk about who you're talking about, what God you’re talking about and what you mean by love. So yeah, all those words beg for explanation, and in the book, those questions have a very carefully laid out biblical context in which they have to be answered.

    John: Yeah, they do, they do.

    John, the question was asked once of a TV preacher, "Why do amazing miracles like people being raise from the dead, blind eyes being opened, lame people walking again happen with greater frequency in places like Africa, and not here in the U.S.? So now I'm asking you John, would you agree with that statement, and then how would you answer that question?

    John M.: I would answer it by saying who said that and based on what evidence? I have absolutely never seen any legitimate evidence of anything like that going on anywhere in the world. People being raised from the dead claims, sure. People have made the claim that that has happened, that they have seen that happen, but there is literally no evidence, no genuine evidence for things like that. You have near-death situations where people come near to death and maybe are revived, we would all understand that, but nobody goes to a funeral and raises somebody out of the casket after they have been embalmed.

    So, you know, those kinds of claims are basically meaningless. They’re as meaningless as all of these claims about people going to heaven and seeing Jesus and seeing the Holy Spirit as a blue fog and Jesus riding a rainbow horse. That's why Paul said to the Corinthians, "I was caught up to the third heaven," but it's not profitable to talk about that, because it's not verifiable. They love the unverifiable. They love to make claims that no one can ever substantiate. People have done vast studies trying to track down the supposed miracles of well-known healers and all the evidence has come in through the years that there's just nothing there.

    John: What do you hope happens? I mean you kind of answered this at the beginning, but what do you hope happens as this book launches, as it goes out into the Christian community? Just what do you hope the response is going to be?

    John M.: First, I hope that those people who are sitting in these environments and know something is wrong but have been intimidated, that they have open minds and know this isn't right. That they know they're dying of cancer, they've got heart disease, they're going through a divorce, they're struggling with sin, they're not getting rich, and they're questioning why the guy at the top of the Ponzi scheme pile has a jet and two Mercedes and they can barely exist—or even can't exist. I hope those people who are full of anxiety and doubt will find reason to run and reason to flee the error and see and expose it for what it is.

    Secondly, I hope people will understand the danger of the influences that they're under. When Jesus was denouncing the Pharisees, he said they produce sons of hell. It’s an amazing indictment of those that the populous of Israel felt was representative of God, and what Jesus said is they don't produce sons of heaven, they produce sons of hell. I think it was more on Jesus' mind at the end of his ministry, in the final discussion he had before the cross with the disciples and the populous of Jerusalem that they flee from false teachers because they have such deadly influence. So, I hope people will see the corruption. If you start with Charles Parham from whom the movement came and see that he was arrested for sodomy and you just progress through the scandals of the movement, I hope it exposes the corruption that's at the top of the movement.

    The third thing that I would hope and pray for is that the movement would receive such a blow that it finds it difficult to recruit. And that's asking a lot because it's a big wide world and most of the Christian world doesn't even know I exist, but I would love to have this book slow down the growth and then obviously I would hope that even those that are fully convinced in the movement and fully convinced leaders in the movement, God might see fit to rescue them from it.

    John: We're going to jump off of topic of the book here. The tagline for "Grace to You" is Unleashing God's truth, One Verse at a Time. You have been a proponent for expository preaching, obviously for a long time. I'm curious, do you believe that's the only way to proclaim Scripture?

    John M.: Well, I believe initially the only way to proclaim anything from the Scripture is to interpret it correctly. So let's just say that however the sermon comes out, whether it's a theological sermon, or a sort of exhortational sermon, or an exposition of a given passage, or whether you're dealing with a biblical theme, the end product of what you preach has to come from rightly dividing the word of God. So, it's not that every sermon has to be a sort of word-by-word, verse-by-verse exposition, certainly as tight and as defined maybe as I would do it, but when you say this is what Scripture teaches, you can't truly say that unless you've rightly divided the truth.

    So, even when I preach, say, a message on a theological theme, a biblical theme, a doctrine of Scripture or give an overview, the message at the end of the day has to reflect the Scripture rightly interpreted. So, in that sense, all preaching has to be expositional. Sound theology is the product of accurate exposition. I prefer Bible exposition. I think it's the right way to preach because it's the only way that covers everything, and I don't think God simply gave us big ideas. I think He gave us truth down to the very smallest phrases and words, and if you're going to get the full richness of Scripture, that's the way you're going to get it.

    John: Do you think to some extent by avoiding expository preaching, it has allowed growth for the charismatic movement? I mean, do you think that's why to some extent everything that "Strange Fire," the reason why you wrote that book is because of the fact that expository preaching has not been held in high regard?

    John M.: If expository preaching dominated the church, and if that expository preaching was accurate interpretation of Scripture, the movement couldn't survive. That's absolutely correct. All false doctrine survives in an environment of ignorance or tolerance, and in evangelicalism in our day, you have a lot of ignorance, a lot of people who just think about church growth and whatever, and not about the truth in its detail. And you certainly have the personal kind of movement in Christianity, which conveys the idea, “What does the Bible mean to me?” and whatever I think it means and feel it means, and whatever the Lord shows me it means, that's what it means.

    So you not only have no exposition of Scripture based upon a scientific pattern, but you don't even have Hermeneutics, you don't even have rules for interpretation. If the Lord shows you what this means intuitively, like a pain in your stomach or a notion that pops into your head, now you've got an alien approach to Scripture. So, whether you have the Bible interpreted intuitively or interpreted personally or not interpreted at all, of course then anything and everything flourishes.

    Interested in reading John's new book? Click here for more information.

  • Moments Like These

    Posted on August 7, 2013 by Wendy Pope

    Wendy

    "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." Hebrews 13:15 (ESV)

    My eyes caught hers as I was leaving the room. The somber look on her face revealed her heavy heart. I gave her a questioning look to which she simply shook her head "no." We'd been praying for her to receive some good news, a "yes" to an opportunity she'd been working hard to get. The call had come; she'd been denied.

    I recognized her pain. Its name: rejection. Like my friend, I waited for a similar call, only to be turned down too.

    Perhaps you have met the unwelcome intruder, rejection, as well.

    You work hard to earn a promotion, only to be over-looked. You aim to be a loving wife, yet your husband still leaves. Well-intended friends assure us with words like, "God's plans and timing are perfect." With great compassion they tell us, "Keep trusting God." But sometimes, when rejection hits hard, we need a boost to our trust. We need something when we're in the pit. Moments like these are made for praise.

    Praise heals brokenness in a way words alone cannot. When we praise through our pain, God supernaturally empowers us to do what seems impossible: rise above our circumstances. Our praise redirects our focus on Him rather than our rejection, and reminds us that God always welcomes us into His presence.

    Praising God is easy when life is full of happiness and success. However, when we're dealing with rejection, praising God can be difficult; it can feel like a sacrifice. It's not necessarily easy to offer a heart of thanks when we feel like we don't have much to be grateful for. However, the writer of Hebrews advises us to "continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips" (Hebrews 13:15b). Just like fruit is sweet and pleasing to our taste, praise is sweet and pleasing to the Lord.

    Praising through the pain (and if we're honest, sometimes through the self-pity) seems to take strength we don't have to give. But the author of Hebrews 13:15 tells us our ability to praise in hard moments comes through Jesus.

    As we tap into His power, our sacrifice of praise will generate more strength to praise, which will generate more praise. It is a beautiful cycle! Praise lifts our eyes from the rejection and sets it on all we have in Jesus: peace, comfort and acceptance.

    Later that week I texted my friend to see how she was doing. She'd taken time alone for praise and the pain of my friend's rejection had begun to ease. Did her troubles disappear? Was her rejection turned into acceptance? No. But her sorrow was turned to joy as she focused on praise, that was sweet and pleasing to her Lord.

    Dear Lord, thank You for supplying all I need all the time. You even give me strength to praise. What an awesome God You are! Help me to remember the truth I learned today when rejection comes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    What is your typical response when dealing with rejection?

    Today, sit alone and praise the LORD. Praise until praise generates more praise.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 7:17, "I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High."

    Psalm 21:13, "Be exalted, O LORD, in Your strength! We will sing and praise Your power."

    © 2013 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Do God’s Will

    Posted on August 6, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

    The fortitude to press forward in the face of resistance is the mark of a steady saint. God’s will is momentarily celebrated on the mountain top, but most of the time is lived climbing a rocky face or regaining balance along a slippery slope. Traversing up or down requires perseverance. Yes, it’s reassuring to walk with someone who has plodded along a similar path. They know when to go boldly and when to wait patiently. God’s will normally works out in a round about way.

    What is the will of God for you right now? You can’t go wrong doing the next right thing. Don’t be overwhelmed with what needs to happen six months from now, rather focus on living today to its fullest. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with faith and wisdom for today. Daily obedience leads to weekly goals, leading to monthly objectives, leading to quarterly milestones and finally leading to annual accomplishments. Doing God’s will today leads to doing God’s will tomorrow.

    And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:27

    For example, if you are a husband or wife begin each day praying for your spouse to feel loved by their Heavenly Father and loved by you. If you are a parent pray the same for your child. If you are single ask the Lord to give you a singular focus to trust and obey. Stay pure by being washed daily with the cleansing power of prayer and God’s word. If you are a supervisor at work ask those you serve how you can help them. God’s will is fully obeying Christ’s commands.

    Your Heavenly Father sympathizes with your tension over two conflicting options. He wants you to use this test to lean into His heart and mind. Maybe there is a third option He wants you to discover through the wise counsel of a trusted confidant. Make sure your motivation is not to run away from a problem or conflict, but to persevere as the Holy Spirit reveals what to do next. As you wait out an uncomfortable circumstance the reward of God’s promise awaits you. You do God’s will by doing the next right thing. Walk close with Christ and He will lead you in His will!

    Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
    1 Thessalonians 5:13

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me with thanksgiving into the next steps in Your will.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 20:7; Mark 3:35; Romans 1:10; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

    Post/Tweet today: As you wait out an uncomfortable circumstance the reward of God’s promise awaits you. #doGodswill

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Posted on August 6, 2013 by John van der Veen

    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!"

    John:               I’m reading a quote, and I’m not sure where this was, maybe on your promo sheet or something, but you said, “I recorded both the song ‘Overcomer’ and the album to fuel faith and empower people; to remind those facing a battle that all for the strength and power they need is readily available to them. We are all overcomers.”

    So, my question is, why do you think people struggle with not seeing that identity themselves?

    Mandisa:       Because we are natural people. We have a supernatural heritage, but we’re natural people. We tend to only see our circumstances and not look beyond our circumstances. I was reading in Judges 6-8, which is the story of Gideon, and it was fascinating to me. If you look at the snapshot of who Gideon was and Judges 6, and then if you look at the end in Judges 8, it’s almost like two completely different people. He was really kind of riddled with fear; I just think it was a stronghold of his. When the angel came to him and said, “Oh, mighty man of valor, the Lord is with you,” Gideon’s initial response was, “Well, if the Lord is with me, then why is this happening?” That’s so typical of us, isn’t it? We hear that the Lord is with us but then we look at our circumstances and say it doesn’t feel like the Lord is with me. Once Gideon started to believe what God said about him, he started walking it out. It took him believing what the angel of the Lord was saying to him to make him really started walking as a mighty man of valor. It was a process.

    I’m convinced that when people start believing what God says about them, they’ll start walking it out. But God, He requires the faith at first. That’s why He says time and time again, “Believe Me, trust Me.” I love the man in the Gospel as He says, “I believe; help my unbelief.” God honors that prayer; it’s like, “Lord, I really want to believe and I believe you a little bit but help me in the areas where I don’t so much.” I think when we pray that, God says, “Okay, thank you for finally asking me.” Wham! “Here you go!” [laughs]

    John:               When somebody comes to you and says, “Yeah, but you have it all together.”

    Mandisa:       Ugh! Please. [laughs]

    John:               They may say, “I’m just a single mom raising three kids,” or “I’m a college student with the whole world ahead of me,” or whatever, and yet they can’t see anything going on in their lives spiritually. How do you say, look at Gideon or look at the man in the New Testament who said, “Help my unbelief”? What is your secret? Have you found a set of steps or something?

    Mandisa:       Totally. I say look at them and look at me. My last album was called What If We Were Real? That’s because God really sent me on a journey of taking the mask off. It was the mask that I would wear to try to tell the world that I’ve got it all together. He taught me to really let people see me as I truly am because I’ve found… I don’t know, I think so often in the Body of Christ we drive up to church, get in an argument with our family in the car, and then drive up and hit the church door and we’re like, “Hi. I’m blessed and highly favored.” We put on this veneer like I’ve got it all together and I actually think that God calls us to live more transparently, to live more vulnerably and to let our brothers and sisters in Christ see us as we really are. One, because in that way we can help one another know that we’re not alone; and two, it helps us to become more than what we are or were to start with.

    So, my last album was a process of coming to understand that, and I have just learned to be very transparent--almost to a fault on my social media sites. I posted earlier this week about a moment where I had to confess to somebody at a store—it’s a long story, you can read it on my Facebook [laughs] —I had to confess to somebody at the store that I lied to them and [groans] that is just never easy to do! But I did it because, well, the Lord told me to and he convicted me and the less you listen to the conviction of the Lord, the more you get numb to it. I just want to always follow the conviction and to repent when I need to and to receive God’s grace and forgiveness and to keep it moving.

    I just try to make it a point of letting the world know I do not have it all together.  I’m on this journey just like you are and let’s do this together, let’s learn from one another.

    At the same time, you have to recognize that you’re more than what you currently see. When God looks at us, He sees us as he created us. He sees us covered in the blood of Jesus, not as what we see when we look in the reflection in the mirror.

    John:               Is it scary sometimes when you get that vulnerable with people?

    Mandisa:       I think it used to be; it’s not so much anymore. It’s been a process, but I can thank Simon Cowell, in part, for that [laughs], for kind of putting me on blast, you know, on American Idol years ago. It helped me to not live hidden and not live hiding who I really am. Him making fun of my weight on national television put my weight story out there for the world to see, and that’s the main area where I was the most timid of letting people really see what was inside. So when Simon threw me out there, I was kind of forced out there, but it was a blessing in disguise because I feel like I’ve really learned a lot through it. I’ve helped several brothers and sisters along the same journey know that they’re not alone and that they—and I’m struggling just like they are—we have everything we need to fight and to come in victoriously.

    John:               Total sidebar, but do you still stay in contact with some of those people from those days?

    Mandisa:       The contestants I do.

    John:               Who won that year?

    Mandisa:       Taylor Hicks. He is in Las Vegas right now, and I know I’m a little bit biased, but I think that we had one of the more successful seasons. If you look at our Top 10, you’ve got Catherine McPhee on an NBC show, Kelly Pickler was just on Dancing with the Stars, and Chris Daughtry is a superstar. So many of the people on my season are doing really well, so that’s one of the great things about social media.  I can always tweet them and Facebook them and keep in touch with how they’re doing. Then when I get to their cities, I can look them up and say, “Hey, let’s go grab some coffee.” But no, I don’t hang out with Simon Cowell on a regular basis. [laughs again]

    John:               So let’s look at this: Each of your records seem to tell another chapter or story in your life; adding, maybe, another layer of who you are. When you put those songs together or create that album, are you thinking of Mandisa? Are you thinking of your personal friends… or your fan base? When you make a record, who’s that for?

    Mandisa:       I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question and I like it!

    My albums have been a journey of my life. True Beauty was first and that was coming right off of doing American Idol and really learning not to define myself by the standards of the world but by what God says about me. Freedom was when God started chipping away at the things in my life that I’ve been bound by, mainly my food addiction, and I began really letting Him teach me that true freedom is not the fact that I can eat these scones that are right behind me, but that true freedom is knowing that I don’t have to and knowing that I have the power to resist those scones and the chocolate cookies or whatever is tempting me.

    The third was What If We Were Real? That record was God chipping away at the layers and letting me show the world who I really am, and with this one, it was a combination of me looking at my life and how I’m overcoming not just the weight struggle, but also lots of other areas in my life.  I’m overcoming … I think for a long time I was very miserable being single. I call myself super-duper single because I think once you hit 30 you’re not just single, you’re super single. (Laughs)

    I’m just saying, once I hit 30. (laughter). I think I was so miserable in that for such a long time, and I feel like God has been helping me to overcome depending on a man to complete me. I believe that I’m called to be married; I believe that I’m going to meet my husband one day, but saying “I’m going to live my life right now and not just wait for the moment when I get married.” That’s a big overcomer story for me.So, I was thinking about myself in those areas and then I was thinking about some friends of mine. One in particular, whose name is Keisha, was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant and was undergoing chemo treatments while she was seven months pregnant. When I looked at her story, I went, “Wow! You were in the middle of this battle and had the greatest outlook!” I could just see how God was going to use this as a testimony. I was like, “Keisha, you’re an overcomer and we’ve not even seen the end of this battle.” For me, it’s about really studying the Word of God and coming to understand that an overcomer is somebody who has not even conquered their circumstances yet.

    The Bible describes an overcomer as, first of all, if you have the Holy Spirit inside of you, the Bible makes it really clear that those who believe that Jesus is Lord, are overcomers, because Jesus is an overcomer. Then, of course, in John 4:4, it says that the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world. So, it really isn’t about circumstances; it’s not about feeling like we’re an overcomer.  We’re an overcomer because God says that we are. Like I said earlier, once we believe that, I think that’s when we’ll start walking it out. But we have to believe it first.

    That’s what this album is, is it’s convincing both myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ to believe that you and I are overcomers. That we need to and can trust God, and that the One who is inside of you is greater than the one who is of the world. You can beat whatever it is that you’re going through, even though beating it may not look like we think it does. Keisha’s doing really well with her cancer. She’s had a double mastectomy and is still going through more treatments, but her baby was born perfectly healthy. We don’t know what the end is going to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s overcome this; she may overcome it by seeing Jesus face to face sooner rather than later. Or she may overcome it by God completely healing her, but what we know is that because Jesus lives in her, she’s an overcomer regardless of how we see the circumstances working out.

    John:               Is this record more personal for you?

    Mandisa:       I think all of my records have been personal.  This one is different in that where I am in my life is different than all of my other past albums. I just feel like I’m in a great place of contentment that I’ve never had before. I love being single now; there are many benefits. Let me tell them to you… (laughs)

    On Mother’s Day, I got a last minute flight to Charlotte where I got to support my friend Lisa who was speaking in her Church. She was speaking about something that was really difficult for her, and as I booked those flights with my miles, I was like, “If I was married and had kids, I probably couldn’t have hopped this flight at the last minute and gone to support her.” I can take my money and use it to benefit causes that are important to me. I can spend as much time in my bed as I want to and I get the whole bed to myself. I love my bed; I named my bed Rufus because I love it that much.

    I have the ability to do that without having to worry about somebody next to me pulling my covers, I love that. I think more importantly, I can spend as much time with the Lord as I want to. I can wake up on any given day, sit there in my bed, Rufus, and talk to the Lord all day long and study the Word and fellowship with my friends. You can’t really do that when you have different devotions to your children or to your husband.

    John:               It’s different.

    Mandisa:       It’s a different kind of a calling, but for right now I’m just appreciating that I have those things. So, yeah, in one area, that’s important, and I have a song, “I’m Praying for You” that I wrote with Chris August. That is a song to my future husband—who is not Chris August, by the way. (laughs) Let me just make that clear!

    So, I long for that day, but I’m not putting my life on hold. And I’ve got a lot of great workout songs on this album, just because that’s been important to me in the last few years. More than anything, there’s a lot of worship songs this time around because I’m just so loving the Lord and just so thankful for so much that that came out in my music. I’ve got a lot of songs that are like, “God you don’t have to do another thing, I just want to worship you because you’re that good.”

    Yeah, it’s different from my other albums. I think a lot of my other albums were more like, “Lord, when?” and “Help me,” and “I can’t get through this!” So now this one is a little bit more like, “Thank you, Jesus! I know that I can get through this!”

    John:               “Dear John”… Can you tell us about that song?

    Mandisa:       Oh, gosh! Do you have Kleenex ready? (laughter)

    John:               We can get some. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay too.

    Mandisa:       No, I’m happy to talk about it. Although I’ve never been able to talk about it without crying.

    John is my brother. He is not a Christian, and I really want him to be. And the reason I want him to be is not because I want him to live a life of rules and regulations. It’s because I know the abundant life that I have from a relationship with Jesus, and I simply want him to have that same abundant life. We’ve talked many times about faith. But right now he’s enjoying his party lifestyle, and he sees a lot of hypocrites—people who say they believe one thing and then their lives reflect another. So I think that’s just kind of been a way that the enemy has blinded his eyes. I pray for him on a regular basis and I have a lot of people praying for him. All of my Facebook and Twitter people know. Natalie Grant is a great friend of mine, and she has an alarm that goes off at nine o’clock every single day to remind her to pray for John. Here I go with the tears… (laughs)

    So, I played “Dear John” for him on Fourth of July weekend. It was the first time he heard it, and his response was, “You know, that’s a great song, Disa.” And, of course, my response that I wanted was, “What must I do to be saved?” and I know that that day is going to happen; it just hasn’t happened yet.

    So “Dear John” is a song that I wrote, if I were to write a letter about my desire for him to live that abundant life in Jesus and then if I were to put that letter to music, that’s what “Dear John” would be. I am praying first for his salvation, and hoping that as he listens to that song, he would put it on repeat without even knowing why, that he just keeps playing it and calls me up and says, “Okay, I’m ready.” Secondly, I’m also praying for every unbeliever who listens to it.  I just … I’m asking God to flood them with grace and forgiveness. I think so often people think that it is about, I don’t know, a list or something of things that you have to do. My brother’s enjoying partying and he likes going to bars and he likes women, and I just think that he probably has some shame there, but he’s just kind of enjoying that. But if I could just convince him, you don’t know what you’re missing! Jesus is literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me and what you think you’re getting from these bars and alcohol and women, it does not even come close to the joy and the freedom and the satisfaction you get from a life with Jesus.

    So I’m praying that for him and I’m praying for every unbeliever as they listen to it that they’ll just receive a flood of forgiveness and grace. Third, I’m also praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ who have loved ones in their lives who don’t know the Lord, that God would just rise up like faith to talk to them, to maybe write their own Dear John letter and say “Hey, one of my favorite artists, Mandisa, has this song that I really want you to listen to,” (laughter) but before you listen, let me tell you about what Jesus means to me.

    I don’t know, I can just imagine people sending a letter with that song and then their loved one calling them and saying, “Okay, I recognize that you want this for me because you love me, so let’s talk about it.” I’m just praying that God opens up doors for conversations about Jesus to be had through this song.

    John:               Very good. Okay, so let’s see. We’ll kind of change gears a little bit. So talk about the record. Any new guest vocals?

    Mandisa:       Yeah, lots of guest vocals.

    John:               Is Chris on it as well?

    Mandisa:       He is, yes. I wrote with Matthew West. We wrote a song called “The Distance.”

    John:               Okay.

    Mandisa:       I wrote with Plumb, we actually wrote “Dear John” together.

    John:               Does that mean that Matthew is then singing with you?

    Mandisa:       Matthew was doing the background on “The Distance.”

    John:               Okay.

    Mandisa:       I wrote “Dear John” with Plumb, she’s singing background on that. I wrote “Praying for You” with Chris, he’s singing background on that. Then, there are a few people who aren’t singing on the album, but we wrote with… Israel Houghton on a song called “At All Times.” He lives in Houston, so we didn’t get those vocals. Then Cindy Morgan and Britt Nicole wrote a song that I did not write on called “Where You Begin,” and they’re not singing on it but they wrote that song.

    So, yeah, lots of guest appearances on this album and they’re not only some of my friends, but they’re also some of my favorite artists. So it’s just been neat to be able to come together on these.

    John:               That’s great! That’s cool.

    Are you a book reader? You are a book reader; what are you reading right now?  That’s okay if you mention like three or four.

    Mandisa:       Okay. I’m reading Captivating by John and Stacy Eldredge, just because as a single woman that’s a great book for me to have. I’m also reading through The 5 Love Languages because there’s kind of a new relationship in my life. I don’t know where it’s going to go but, shhh. (laughter)

    John:               And it’s not Chris August.

    Mandisa:       It’s not Chris August.

    Female:         He didn’t hear that part. (laughter)

    Mandisa:       I think it just kind of helps to know how people are wired. I’m really into my friend Tam here; she does radio at Capitol with me and we’ve been talking all day long about personalities and how different kinds of people communicate with one another. I’m just into stuff like that. So I’m reading The 5 Love Languages, as I mentioned, and I’m realizing what my love languages are and are not. I think it will really help me to be able to show love to whomever I marry; but not just in a potential marital relationship, but with friends and family and coworkers too. So I’m reading that. Then, I’m also reading through the Bible; my Church is reading through the Bible, the Scriptures both in the Old and New Testament, and I’m using the voice translation, which I absolutely love.

    Those three things I’m reading right now.

    John:               You are an author as well.

    Mandisa:       I’m working on a new one [book].

    John:               Really? Wow! When does that come out?

    Mandisa:       We’re just in the process; we’re meeting with publishers now. I have my preference, but we want to do an overcomer book. We want to do an overcomer book where people would compile a bunch of overcomer stories because I’m just convinced that when people tell their story in their testimonies, it helps them because the Bible says that we overcome by the word of our testimony. But it also helps people to hear it so I want to hear people tell their stories of how they overcame cancer because when people are going through cancer to read something like that, fuels their faith. So I want to compile these powerful stories about people in the middle of their battles, and also at the end of the battle. So, we’ll see.

    John:               What kind of music to you listen to now?

    Mandisa:       I’m a big CCM fan; the thing I love about CCM music, which stands for Contemporary Christian Music for those who don’t know, is that it comes in every style. You’ve got Christian Hip Hop and Rap and Country and Rock and Polka, probably! I don’t know. (laughter) I love that you can get all these styles, but the thing I love most about Christian music is that it’s not just something that makes you feel good, that makes you want to get up and dance, there’s a purpose and a meaning to it, and it helps you connect with the Lord. I love worship artists. My favorite worship artists are Israel Houghton and Jesus Culture, Meredith Andrews. I love the more current, more pop, hip hop styles. Capitol Kings I’m loving now. Then more pop artists like Britt Nicole and Natalie Grant. I don’t know; I love it all! If you look at my iPod, you’ll see a little bit of everything, but it’s pretty much all Christian music.

    John:               Last question, because we’re going to end here at three o’clock.

    Female:         Okay, we can leave a few minutes late too, because we came so late.

    John:               Well … What are you most excited about in 2013 besides Overcomer coming out?

    Mandisa;       I think the Hits Deep tour. We did it last year. It is tobyMac’s tour. He brings out a bunch of artists that are all my favorites. Last year it was Britt Nicole and Group 1 Crew were on it, but Britt and Blanca from Group 1 Crew are in baby mode right now, so they’re not on it this year. But we’ve added Colton Dixon who was on American Idol as well and is my label mate, and Capitol Kings who I just mentioned. I love them, they’re just really current. Then the people who were on it last year as well, like Brandon Heath, Jamie Grace and Chris August and Toby and myself. I cannot wait; it’s literally all of my favorite artists in one night.

    John:               Is that this fall?

    Mandisa:       It is. It starts in November and goes through December. Then in October I’m doing some more shows with Brandon Heath. We’ve been touring all year together; we did a 3-in-1 tour with Laura Story, and then we did a few shows called the Brandisa tour (laughs), because there was a rumor that he and I were dating so we just sort of embraced the name Brandisa. We are not, we are not dating.

    John:               Who started that rumor?

    Mandisa:       He did. (laughs)

    John:               Oh, he did?  (laughter)

    Mandisa:       He went on a national radio station and said that we’re dating. I was like, “Brandon, look, I know it’s all kind of fun and games, but as a single woman you are messing up my game by telling the world that we are dating!” (laughter)

    So we set the record straight. There’s a video on YouTube of him clarifying that we’re not dating. But, yeah, we’ve been touring together all year long.

    John:               So we need to pray for a husband for Mandisa, and for her brother.

    Mandisa:       You can pray for continued contentment for Mandisa and then the  husband will come whenever God is good and ready. (Laughs)

     

  • My Goodness

    Posted on August 6, 2013 by Sheila Mangum

    Sheila Mangum

    Sheila

    "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalm 23:6 (NIV)

    It was well into the second quarter of the high school basketball game when the senior captain of the home team showed up late.

    Just that morning his mother unexpectedly passed away from a sudden hemorrhage. She'd been in remission after a five-year fight with cervical cancer when she took the fatal turn.

    Some of the team had been at the hospital with their grieving friend. Although they had an important game that night, the guys wanted to cancel it. Brokenhearted, the senior captain encouraged the team to play.

    You can imagine everyone's surprise when this young man came out to root for his team.

    His coach asked him if he wanted to sit on the bench with his teammates.

    "No," he replied. "I want to play."

    Game rules prevented anyone not on the pre-game roster to play unless the opposing team was granted a technical foul that would give them two free throws. It was a tight game, but his coach willingly traded the points to comfort his player.

    But that is not where the compassion stopped.

    The other coach wasn't interested in the free throws. He wanted to let the brokenhearted player just play. With no penalties. This coach and the referees argued over the rules until the referees won with, "Rules will not be broken."

    So, after a brief conversation with his coach, the visiting team's senior captain took his place on the free throw line.

    Giving his coach an understanding nod, he dribbled the ball and threw it two feet. The crowd stared in wonder as the ball rolled off the court. The second free throw landed at his feet. He had purposefully missed guaranteed points.

    This gesture of sportsmanship ignited a standing ovation. Applause roared throughout the gym. The crowd witnessed a rare act of kindness birthed out of the goodness of the visiting coach and captain's hearts.

    We don't often hear about people taking hold of opportunities to demonstrate such graciousness. But every day we can see God's goodness if we simply take the time. Psalm 23:6 tells us that "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

    Before the brokenhearted player even arrived at the game, God's goodness followed him, ready to show up when he needed it most. Goodness tapped two coaches on the shoulders. Goodness whispered in the hearts of a group of teenagers.

    God's goodness is here for us as well. We find it in His daily care and love, especially in times of hardship. But we have to "get in the game" to see it. If we're checked out of life, not spending time in prayer, or not actively seeking to recognize God's goodness, we'll miss it. True, His goodness might not always seem as evident as a team opting out of free points in a basketball game, but God's goodness is all around us.

    Could His kindness and love be the encouraging word or hug from a friend? Perhaps it's peace that comes unexpectedly. Or maybe it's the conversation with the grocery store clerk that brought a smile to your face.

    This young man who lost his mother probably had no idea how he was going to ease the pain that surrounded him. You may be wondering that very thing as well. This is why God promises, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). God wants to be closer to you than the pain. One way He does this is by following you with His goodness and showing up through the hands and hearts of others.

    I cannot tell you who won the last Super Bowl. I don't know who the Major League's MVP is. There's no way I can spout off the NBA lineup. What I can tell you about is the day God's goodness followed a crushed young man into a gymnasium during a high school basketball game in Milwaukee and made His goodness known. I can tell you he played the rest of the game, scoring ten points that led to his team's victory.

    But most importantly, I can tell you that God's goodness is following you. Will you get in the game and look for it?

    Dear Lord, I praise You for Your goodness. Open my eyes that I will fully see Your marvelous ways. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    God's goodness is following you and wants to be closer to you than the pain. Look for His goodness to show up for you.

    Who will you demonstrate God's goodness to today? How?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 3:3, "But you are a shield around me, O LORD, you bestow glory on me and lift up my head."

    © 2013 by Sheila Mangum. All rights reserved.

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

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