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  • Matt Redman to Release "Your Grace Finds Me"

    Posted on August 5, 2013 by Family Christian

    Acclaimed worship leader and two-time GRAMMY® winner Matt Redman announces the release of his new live album Your Grace Finds Me due September 24. The forthcoming release from sixstepsrecords follows his heralded 2011 project and its RIAA certified gold anthem title track, 10,000 Reasons. This year alone "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" has won two GRAMMY®  awards, a Billboard Music Awards and was named ASCAP's Christian Music Song of the Year. Continuing the momentum from “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” is the new album’s lead single “Your Grace Finds Me” which drops at radio on August 2.

    Redman shares about Your Grace Finds Me and the inspiring new songs:

    Redman recently finished recording the 12-track project at Passion City Church’s ‘LIFT: A Worship Leader Collective’ in Atlanta, GA. The event was hosted by Louie Giglio and GRAMMY® winner Chris Tomlin and included worship leaders from all across the country. The record follows suit with 10,000 Reasons, which was also recorded at the annual LIFT conference. This fall, Matt Redman will embark on a European tour along with Martin Smith.

  • When You Have a Choice to Make

    Posted on August 5, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21 (ESV)

    According to recent statistics, I made 5,000 decisions today. Seriously?

    Well, I made a decision to get out of bed. I made a choice to put on my tennis shoes and run at 6 a.m.

    I chose peanut butter Cheerios™ over oatmeal. I decided which bills to pay. What to make for dinner. Whether to answer a phone call. Which clothes to wear. Whether the plants needed watering or if they could wait another day. I chose to fill up the small car instead of the gas-guzzler.

    I may have made more than 5,000 decisions today!

    Some of our everyday choices are random, others weighty, but many of our decisions are choice points. Choice points are seemingly insignificant decisions yet they lead us in one direction or another.

    I choose whether to react in anger, or respond with understanding to my husband.

    I choose whether or not to create drama with a friend who hurt my feelings.

    I choose time with my Heavenly Father, or push that time to another day ... again.

    I choose whether or not to say those words that cause my child pain.

    Recently I was on a mission trip and the team was exhausted after nearly six days of intense travel. We had missed a train and stood on the platform in the moonlight. It was nearing midnight and cold and wet. Our next ministry event was early in the morning.

    The coordinator walked over. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I didn't mean for it to work out this way."

    There I stood with a choice to make.

    I could share my frustration. I could explain that my sleep tank was on empty. I could say nothing, while sighing with a martyred expression. Or I could choose to override my fatigued irritation and be gracious.

    As she waited for my reply, a gentle voice softly spoke to my heart: "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

    I knew it was definitely the leading of the Holy Spirit, just as Scripture promised. Yes, I was exhausted, but I reminded myself what a privilege it was to be there. Ease and comfort were not readily available to Jesus, and losing a little sleep was nothing in comparison to anything He went through. The Holy Spirit nudged me to recognize that everyone around me was just as tired as I was. He led me in the way to respond.

    "I'm fine," I said. "In fact it's been an amazing day and I can't wait to see what God does tomorrow."

    She grabbed me and pulled me in a huge hug. "Thank you, Suz."

    I wish I could say I handle every choice I have to make that way, but sometimes I fail and gripe, nit-pick, am critical and grouchy. It's my prayer that I'll remember how much my choices matter. You see, they don't just affect me; they affect those within the vicinity of my decisions.

    In the 5,000 decisions you make today, take a moment to pause before deciding. Ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance and counsel. And choose to follow as He leads the way.

    Dear Lord, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all my choices, and it makes me cranky. Today as I make my 5000 decisions, walk with me, remind me of how my choices affect others and help me follow Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

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

    Reflect and Respond:
    Keep a journal this week of choice points. Note those that lead you in the wrong direction. Are there common themes?

    If you were overtired, how can you implement rest?

    If you were trying to live a packed life with your spiritual tank unfilled, will you stop and fill it up?

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 16:9, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (ESV)

    Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Hitting a "Home Run" with Carol Matthews

    Posted on August 5, 2013 by AlexMosoiu


    Carol Spann Mathews is an award-winning television and film producer whose work has been featured in theatres nationwide and on major television networks ranging from ESPN to the Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN).

    Carol began her career more than 20 years ago in television marketing and advertising for clients including CITGO, Donald Trump Resorts, Sprint and Wilson Sports. She has since produced multiple television series that have aired on ESPN, EOE (ESPN Original Entertainment) and The Family Channel, as well as educational home entertainment for international brands like the "Dummies" publishers.

    Driven by a passion for faith and family entertainment, Carol has also produced numerous successful collaborations for major faith-based networks like Daystar, Inspiration and TBN—including TBN's top-rated show, "360 Life." Her resume also includes nationally syndicated documentaries such as "Death and Beyond" and the Angel Award-winning program, "Hymns," which uncovers the remarkable stories behind beloved hymns like "Amazing Grace."

    In 2011, Carol transitioned into feature films as executive producer and producer of "Home Run." The inspirational film, which celebrates the freedom and hope offered by Christ, premieres in theatres nationwide in April 2013. Prior to its theatrical release, "Home Run" was named Best Feature Film and Best Inspirational Film at CBA's Resonate Film Festival.

    That's when I caught up with Carol. It was the story behind Home Run that has intrigued us all. It's not just another baseball movie. It's much more than that.

    Alex:               Hi, Carol.  Can you tell me how you got started in the entertainment business.

    Carol:              I got started in the entertainment industry really with commercials and advertising first. I started with church commercials essentially in the faith community. I worked on church films, 35 mm filmed commercials that were syndicated to churches around the country, and then I went from there to longer form programming.  I worked on a couple of documentaries; one about near death experiences that was televised on what was at the time The Family Channel and other cable networks. Years later we did one on famous hymns, the stories behind “Amazing Grace,” “It is Well with My Soul,” and “Just As I Am. “

    In my career, I also kind of shifted and went to work at a production company that did work primarily for ESPN. I did behind-the-scenes videos for their original movies, and a couple of their television series. That was a really great learning experience for me. Eventually, I left there and went back to doing faith stuff.  There’s no replacing the joy and purpose you feel when every day you go to work, and you work on something where the outcome affects people’s lives, so I stepped back into that with doing television work. While Home Run is my first feature film, I’ve been doing television and productions for about 24 years.

    Alex:               Wow! How does working on a Christian project, whether it’s a movie, a TV show, or those kinds of things, differ from working on a secular project? You mentioned it changes people’s lives, but speak more to that.

    Carol:              I think whenever you go to work every day, it’s invigorating to the day if you’re working on something that has a purpose beyond the moment it’s seen. If you could trigger a thought inside someone, if you could give them a perspective of the kingdom that they never had before, open their minds and hearts to something, it puts gasoline in your tank. You have energy to go to work every day. If it’s just for a momentary entertainment, I personally am not called to that, so it’s not as motivational personally.

    Alex:               That makes sense. How did the idea of Home Run come about?

    Carol:              The original concept belongs to a guy named Eric Newman. It was very simply a baseball player that returns to his small town. He’s a bad boy type and he goes to the small town and hooks up with kind of a mentor in the town, and he gets better. He sees the error of his ways and transforms, and this mentor was the one that claimed him to the Lord. It changed when we started believing that God was guiding us to do a film about addiction, so we just shifted our main character’s problems a little bit, and then when we hooked him with Celebrate Recovery, we realized that instead of having a mentor, a guy that kind of preaches at him, we decided to use the story to celebrate recovery to kind of propel our character forward. That was sort of the genesis of that concept of Home Run, and that was 2010, a long time ago.

    Alex:               Wow!  When somebody sees the movie, what do you want them to take away from it? What are some of the themes?

    Carol:              The main thing is that change is possible, that no matter what has happened to you, no matter what decisions you’ve made, you don’t have to stay in shame. It’s about the fact that you don’t have to continue to wrestle with that bad habit, and that your past doesn’t have to dictate your future. God can take those things and not only heal you, but take those very places of shame in your life and use them to glorify Himself and help others. I think that’s the most amazing thing. It is just the idea that God will take the places where we’ve fallen, and if we give it to Him, He not only heals us but He’ll allow us to use that to help others. So that change is possible, that our lives can be different from what they are right now in the areas that we want them to be.

    Alex:               That’s a very powerful thought. One thing I love about the movie is Scott Elrod’s character, Cory, after he has his little mishap and he gets kind of sent to the minors--not to the minors exactly, but he gets sent to coach the team. He eventually joins Celebrate Recovery, and you kind of watch him go through the journey. A piece of me, while I was watching it was thinking, man, I hope this just doesn’t… I hope he doesn’t just find Jesus and everything’s okay, and he gets his girl back and everything. I love the fact that you kept realistically portraying the struggle to overcome. Some people are delivered instantly, but others, it takes awhile; so I thought that was a very realistic portrayal.

    Carol:              Thank you.

    Alex:               How did you guys come to the partnership with Celebrate Recovery? What did that look like, and how did you integrate that into the script so well?

    Carol:              It was just one God thing after another. In my church, we have Celebrate Recovery, and every now and then--I knew very little about it--but every now and then on a Sunday morning, somebody from that ministry would get up and tell their story. And every single time that story was told in our church on a Sunday morning, it was so clear that God was at work in that ministry. It was just inarguable that you were hearing about the hand of God. I thought how great would that be to have story after story that I got in the movie, right? Where people are moved and responding to stories like the ones I heard in my church. So that’s the beginning.

    I started investigating, and next thing you know, I’m having breakfast with one of the Celebrate Recovery state reps, and she just happens to be very close friends to the founder of Celebrate Recovery out at Saddleback. That just gave me favor every step of the way. I’d love to tell you it was a really complex set of circumstances, but honestly, it was just one thing after another God just kept putting in our path. Even I was able to see the signals!

    Alex:               [Laughs] It’s amazing to see the level of engagement that people have with Celebrate Recovery. It’s the kind of ministry where you can be open and honest and transparent. You walk in going, I’m screwed up and I need help, and I don’t need to wear a mask because clearly, I can’t do it alone or else I wouldn’t be here; so it’s a very…

    Carol:              Yes. You just worded it so perfectly. You just worded it perfectly. The very first time I went to Celebrate Recovery was after I had breakfast with the state rep.  I’m like, can we use Celebrate Recovery in our movie? She was like, well, have you ever even been to a meeting (laughs)?  I was like, uh no; so I went to one, and consider this: I’m in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which for me is the heart of the Bible Belt. I mean, some cities fight for it, but we’re at least a contender.

    The Baptist church here in town is a longstanding large kind of pillar of the Southern Baptist community here in the town. This is where the Celebrate Recovery that she was a part of was. I’m there in that church, and the senior pastor of the church gets up, and in the Celebrate Recovery normal operation, you introduce yourself while you introduce the thing that brought you to Celebrate Recovery. I’m a grateful believer in Jesus who struggles with, whatever your thing is, alcohol, drugs, eating, abuse, whatever. Then you say, my name is.

    Here’s the senior pastor; he gets up, and he says, “Hi. I’m a grateful believer who struggles with deep-seated anger and lust, and my name is Seth.” I thought to myself, all right. This is different because the senior pastor revealed his struggles… and you know, he stood up there to make announcements. I mean, he was up there for no big reason, but the fact that the senior pastor is able to say he struggles with anger and lust, you know? I just think what possibilities opened up in that room that night for first comers like myself because the senior pastor was faithful enough to say his stuff. Does that make sense?

    Alex:               Oh, absolutely.

    Carol:              Anyway, I love Celebrate Recovery for that, and I knew, after just attending Celebrate Recovery a few times, that the script was going to change exponentially because Celebrate Recovery wound up being more beautiful and more impacting than I realized.

    Alex:               You guys released theatrically, and it had a good theatrical run, and it’s coming out on DVD here in late July. What do you hope that God does with this project?

    Carol:              There are so many hopes and expectations. My hope is that people don’t see it just as a movie or one-time experience, but as a tool--that they see the DVD as a way to do multiple things. For instance, perhaps there’s someone they love who is really struggling with addiction. That would be the most obvious thing, right? They might give them the DVD. Or maybe there’s somebody who is having trouble with some other life issue, and that person feels like “this is it.” You know, that this is the end for them and that they’ll never get better. They’ll always struggle, and maybe they get the DVD.

    Or maybe the DVD could be used because people are really looking for more authentic relationships in church. You know, we don’t mean to, but our church culture has propagated this thing that we have a hard time being real with each other because we feel like somehow or another, we’re going to be indicted for not being really “good” Christians.

    I don’t think it’s been ill intended; I just think it’s an outcome of people trying hard to be a good witness for the Lord. Consequently, what we’ve created is an atmosphere where people don’t feel like they can say, “I’m really struggling here.” Even worse, they feel like they’re all alone. They feel like they’re the only ones, because no one’s talking in church. So they’re not saying the things that are troubling them, like “I really want to leave my husband” or “I’m having an affair.” They’re not telling anybody because they’re thinking if anyone knew they had feelings or thoughts like, they would never speak to them again. They might be cast out. The reality is lots of people are struggling in our church pews; and if we started talking to each other, we would begin to see that one of Satan’s most paralyzing lies is that you are all alone. No one else in this church would understand; because if he can keep us in a secret and in our shame, then we are debilitated from being what we’re supposed to be in the kingdom.

    Alex:               That is very true. Let me ask you one other quick question before we go. You guys did a tremendous job on the casting. Tell us a little bit about how you got to work with those cast members.

    Carol:              Okay. These are such important stories to me because they are ... it’s just like we tripped and fell into the most amazing cast ever, but we went … David Boyd and I, we had a great casting director. He narrowed the field for us, and David Boyd, the director, and I went to Los Angeles, and we sat in a room during a cattle call, and the actors and actresses came in and auditioned. In a series of three days, we cast the movie. We had no idea how much God was in it until the stories began to unfold, and the actors began showing up and doing their thing, and we realized we could not have asked for more with our actors.

    We got David Boyd because of the beautiful script. Because of David Boyd, we attracted better than the normal quality of actors for this genre and for our budget. These actors wanted to work with David because he’s amazing. We were able to get people that typically we wouldn’t be able to afford, so we were blessed, blessed, blessed by the Lord in terms of casting.

    Alex:               Yes, and it definitely showed on the screen. It sounds like, I guess, in summing everything up, you guys had an idea of the kind of movie you wanted to make, God showed up and messed up all your plans, and Home Run ensued.

    Carol:              That’s exactly the truth (laughing). I love the way you sum things up. I’m going to start sending you things and then ask you to sum them up for me.

    Alex:               Do you know what, though? That’s a great testimony for all of us that we all have gifts, and talents, and opportunities, and God calls us to start moving in a direction; and then if He wants us to go in a different direction, the key is to be obedient to it, and let go of our plans, and use the gifts and talents He’s given us, and return them back to Him, and see what He does with it.

    Carol:              Amen to that! I never even planned to be in film. I never planned it. I would say to people, “Oh, film. Television is so much better because it’s so much faster,” and I’m right, but I just laugh because the Lord’s like, “Oh, whatever, Carol.  You’re going to be doing a film.” Yes. Amen to all that that you said, and thanks so much for interviewing me. I want to say one more thing. The DVD, using it as a tool; I do believe that there … my little boy at the time he was five went through a super hero phase, and he wore a facemask everywhere he went.

    When I tell this story in front of audiences, I say, my son; and then I always say he’s 18. Is that weird (laughing)? I am an old mom. He’s seven now, but he was five, and he was wearing a cape and mask everywhere he went, I mean everywhere: grocery stores, restaurants, whatever.  One day at the park, he was playing, and he was saving the world from impending doom. An older kid looked at him and said, “You’re not real.” This was so mean, right? I said to Sam, “Oh dude, I’m sorry he said that,” and Sam said to me, “That’s okay, mom. I don’t think he knew I knew that.” Right? I love that story.

    I think that there is a world of people outside the church who look at the church and say, “You’re not real.” The fact of the matter is, they don’t know we know we have problems. They don’t buy that once you come to Jesus, all your problems go away; and most certainly, any believer will tell you that they don’t.  We still are working out our issues, but we have a hope, and a grace, and a love, and a Father who’s helping us work them out. We’re not doing it alone. The fact of the matter is we’ve unintentionally put out there, again, this sort of Pollyanna look that if you come to Jesus, all your troubles melt away, and they don’t buy it.

    I think about using the DVD and handing it to our friends with addictions, and handing it to our friends that have something happen to them in life, and they feel they’re a lesser person for it, or giving it to friends that are sexually promiscuous or whatever. I love the idea of showing it to people who don’t know the Lord because it shows them a beautiful part of the body of Christ, and it’s the part of the body of Christ that is healing, and honest, and open, and transforming; and people really can change. I’ll tell you what, the world wants to believe in that type of Jesus, and I love that Home Run shows it to them.

    Alex:               Yes, and we’re looking forward to getting as many DVDs out in people’s hands as possible. I do think that taking that message into your home is probably a little more non-threatening than necessarily going to the theater, so I think this is going to have a huge impact, not only here at home but all over the world. We look forward to seeing what God’s going to continue to do. Thank you very much for your time, Carol.

    Carol:              Thank you. Thank you so much for believing in it.

    Alex:               Absolutely. We’re standing in agreement that God’s going to do something big.

    Carol:              Amen. Amen to that. Thank you guys so much. It’s a privilege talking to you. I really appreciate it.

    Alex:               Thank you, Carol. Bye-bye.

    Carol:              All right. Bye-bye.

  • Sharpened Skills

    Posted on August 4, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    If an ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.  Ecclesiastes 10:10

    Life is not meant to be full of endless activity and busyness, without pause it loses its edge. A life worth living is one that takes the time to sharpen its skills. Skill-sharpening is an investment that will serve you well the rest of your life. Do not settle for mediocrity, by God’s grace seek to be the best in your life roles. Your commitment to sharpen yourself is much like that of a farmer. A wise farmer will use his seasonal down time to upgrade, replace, and repair his equipment. He literally sharpens the tips of his plow, rebuilds the tractor engines, and upgrades and cleans his equipment.

    A prepared farmer will not only survive, but will thrive with this type of motivation to always improve. In the same spirit, there is a time to execute and a time to regroup and sharpen yourself for the next initiative. A person with sharpened skills is an effective tool in the hand of God. He wants to use you to your full potential. Your part is to continually improve. Your activities and work will produce more lasting results when you take the time to hone heaven’s gifts.

    God wants to use your life to cut through life’s issues the way a sharp knife slices through a juicy ripe tomato. A skilled concert pianist practices the piano. A skilled writer searches out new words and becomes engrossed in sentence structure. A skilled speaker learns how to understand his audience and communicate his point in a variety of ways. A skilled mom quizzes other moms on how to become a better mother. A skilled golfer continues to hit balls way after the tournament ends; he smashes the little white spheres into the night. So, seek out new ways to keep your mind sharp and engaged in new ideas.

    Read about and learn from wise leaders of the faith whose writings have stood the test of time. Books are tremendous skill-sharpeners. Join a book club to ramp up your commitment and accountability. You can attend seminars or pursue a graduate degree. Use a variety of tools to stay sharp. Sparks fly when steel is sharpened, which means there will be some discomfort and growing pains. You are either moving forward or shrinking backward; there is no standing still. As you sharpen your skills, you are moving forward. You are stewarding God’s talents and gifts to their fullest. Swinging at issues with a dull life will lead you to the brink of giving up.

    Sharpen your mind with the Word of God. Nothing sharpens a mind like wisdom from above. God’s principles are like a whit rock on a battered blade. He smoothes the jagged edges of your roughed up life. Like an axe that has become chipped and blunt over time, your life is refurbished by God till it regains its radiant and shiny silver edge. Discover your skills through assessments and the counsel of others. A hint: when you operate within your skill set, executing the plan is almost effortless. Stay sharp, and your skills may swing open some impressive doors.

    Wisdom says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).

    Post/Tweet: God’s wisdom is like a whit rock on a battered blade. He smoothes the jagged edges of a roughed up life. #sharpenskills

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

  • Break Bad Traditions

    Posted on August 3, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “‘Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!’ Jesus replied, ‘And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?’” (Matthew 15:2–3).

    There are good traditions and there are bad traditions. A good tradition aligns with God’s expectations and honors Him and others in the process. A bad tradition benefits man and breaks Christ’s commands. Indeed, it is wise to take an inventory of our current traditions and make sure they are grounded in God, not made up by man. Is there any habit, belief, or assumption you give credence to that may be undermining your family or faith?

    For example, a good tradition is routinely giving ten percent of our income to the Lord’s work, beginning with the local church and expanding to support ministries. However, a bad tradition is when a Christian leader tries to control the conscience of a person’s giving through guilt and intimidation. It is Spirit-led giving, not man’s manipulation, that gains the best outcome. Tried and true traditions are anchored by trust in the Lord’s control.

    You may face a colleague at work or a strong-willed person in your extended family who has his or her way of doing things. This person’s tradition worked well in the past but is inefficient in the present. How do you break bad habits of another for the good of the company or for what is best for the family? Prayer, patience, and a plan are your best change management tools.

    Prayerfully come up with alternatives that honor the old but give preference to the new. Be bold to ask challenging questions in a spirit of humility. Why are we doing it this way? Is there a better way? How can we improve the process to make the best progress? Are you called to do this? Do you have the gifts and experience required for this project?

    Good traditions enjoy God’s favor over time; bad traditions struggle to survive. What project or program needs to be taken off life support so other resources can be freed up to further the mission? Some traditional strategies suffer from fatigue and need to be put to rest. Other new ones need focused support to execute with excellence. Be honest about your spiritual life and strategic direction. Are your traditions truly from God and for God? Are you trying to change the unchangeable, or are you trusting Christ with change?

    “See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you” (Isaiah 42:9).

    “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins” (Mark 2:22).

    Prayer: What accepted traditions do I need to respectfully reject? What new traditions do I need to embrace by faith?

    Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 35:25; Micah 6:16; Mark 7:4–9; Galatians 1:14

    Post/Tweet: Good traditions enjoy God’s favor over time; bad traditions struggle to survive. #traditions

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

  • Raising Sons

    Posted on August 2, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 1:8

    Raising a son requires intentionality from a parent or parents. Wise are the father and mother who have a plan to instruct and teach their son how to make God-honoring choices and to lead like Jesus. Yes, being an excellent example is fundamental, but it takes more than modeling—sons need to understand the why’s, what’s and how’s.

    For example, they need life preparation in how to become a Christian, pray and study the Bible. Take them through the book of John to love Jesus, the book of Ephesians to grasp grace and the book of Proverbs to embrace wisdom. Boys and young men who grow up fearing God are prepared to persevere through adversity, success, marriage and parenting.

    “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it—wisdom, instruction and insight as well” (Proverbs 23:23-24).

    Fathers show your son how to relate to girls and young women by loving and cherishing your wife; and wives be an example of the woman he will marry by respecting and following your husband. Parents who agree in their discipline and expectations provide a consistent environment that causes their son to grow in confidence and manhood.

    Anger does not work in molding your son’s will; rather use encouragement and calm correction. Lead him to be accountable to Almighty God and then he will behave well, even when you are absent from his presence. Teach him the value of hard work; let your son sweat through manual labor. Help him discover his God-given gifts and then invest time and money to develop his skills. Competence and character create confidence.

    “Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path” (Proverbs 23:19).

    What if your son strays from the truth? What if he makes a series of foolish decisions? It’s imperative dad and mom stay on their knees in earnest prayer for their wayward son. Pray for him to be influenced by those who love Christ, pray for him to grow weary of sin and pray for the love of God to draw him to Himself. Parent’s prayers are productive.

    Rules without relationship lead to rebellion, so keep your relationship growing and communicate often. Even if you are the only one initiating, stay the course in caring correspondence. Above all—start early instilling godly wisdom into your son, as it is easier to build sons than to fix sons. Lead him to be a leader who loves God. Indeed, joy awaits the parent or parents who by God’s grace are able to grow up godly sons.

    “The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful” (Proverbs 23:24-25)!

    Prayer: Am I intentional in how I raise my son in the ways of the Lord?

    Related Readings: Proverbs 23:15-16; 31:2; Philippians 2:22; James 2:21

    Post/Tweet today: Rules without relationship can lead to rebellion, so grow your relationships in grace. #relationships

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

  • A Mistaken Identity

    Posted on August 2, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "He who belongs to God hears what God says." John 8:47a (NIV 1984)

    I poured a cup of coffee and logged on to my computer to peek at a friend's Facebook page.

    When I tried hopping over to see her latest pictures, I couldn't get her name to appear in the search bar. I was puzzled. This had always worked before. Glancing at the top of the screen, I realized I wasn't logged in to my own account. My son had forgotten to sign off when he'd been on earlier, so I was actually logged in as him instead.

    I couldn't get where I wanted to go because I had a mistaken identity.

    With a quick click of a mouse, I switched accounts and used Facebook as "me." Under the right identity, I was free to view friends' pages, leave comments with ease and get where I wanted to go.

    Sometimes in life we encounter the same issue-a mistaken identity keeps us from living out God's best for our lives. This may happen when a voice from our past or our own negative self-talk causes us to forget our identity in Christ. We log into our day and encounter wrong thinking that's not in sync with who we are. Those wrong thoughts lead us to doubt God's promise of a life filled with security. We can question our value that is rooted deep in His heart toward us.

    Instead of the truth of our identity, we hear: You can't do that. You aren't good enough. You'll never change. Why can't you be more like your sister? If only you were more ____________ instead of so ___________.

    When self-doubt screams and discouragement sets in, we need to recognize what's happening, log out of the lies we believe and log into God's truth. It's the only way to live in our true identity so we can navigate our lives according to God's Word.

    Here are some truths we can tell ourselves to remember who we are: I am the daughter of the Most High God. I am loved, redeemed and renewed. I am chosen, blameless and holy. I was bought at a great price. God knows me thoroughly and yet loves me completely. He has plans for my future that include hope, not harm; blessings, not banishment. I belong to Him.

    John 8:47a tells us, "He who belongs to God hears what God says" (NIV 1984). We need to listen to His Word, let it take root in our minds and allow it to eradicate any untrue, destructive thought patterns. Replacing the negative chatter with assuring scriptures will gently, but firmly, remind us we are children of God.

    Yes, if we "belong to God" we will hear what He says. As we log into His truths daily, no longer will we mistake our identity. We will know the confident reality of who we are in Christ.

    Dear Lord, when I am tempted to think of myself in a way that is neither healthy nor true, remind me both of who I am and to Whom I belong. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

    Reflect and Respond:
    What are some counter-productive or self-doubting thoughts that race through your mind at times? The next time you sense this happening, read Ephesians 1:3-14.

    Power Verses:
    Romans 1:6, "And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ." (NIV 1984)

    1 John 3:1a, "Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God's dear children. And that's what we are." (GW)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Jesus Intercessor

    Posted on August 1, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25, NKJV

    Jesus sits at the right hand of His Father, ever interceding on behalf of His followers. Because of His sinless sacrifice for the human race, followed by His glorious resurrection, He is qualified to mediate between God and man. Christ is positioned in heaven to help all who call on His name. Indeed, just as He selflessly served as the son of man, so He still serves in heaven on behalf of His servants on earth. Jesus is an advocate to Almighty God for those who need mercy and grace.

    Praise God, our Heavenly Father looks over to His son Jesus instead of looking down on unholy human beings. In Christ, the Lord sees forgiveness not guilt. He sees sinlessness not sin. He sees acceptance not rejection. He sees life not death. He sees wisdom not foolishness. He sees healing not hurt. He sees grace not law. He sees mercy not judgment. He sees love not hate. Yes, we have entered into a covenant relationship with Christ, thus He represents us to God in purity.

    Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34

    Where do you struggle? Who has hurt you? Lay your sorrows, fears and pain at the feet of Jesus and He will represent your needs to your loving Heavenly Father. Don’t concern yourself with what might be appropriate or inappropriate to ask of the Lord, because Jesus filters your prayer requests in His righteous wisdom. He will only give over to God what is worthy of the grace of God. Yes, Christ weighs the motive of your heart before He presents your request to God.

    Therefore, petition Jesus with bold belief from a pure heart. When you are unsure what to request in prayer, trust Christ to communicate to your Heavenly Father on your behalf. Most of all listen to the Lord and what the Spirit is saying to your spirit. The closer you walk with Christ the closer your will aligns with His will. Prayer becomes a quiet affirmation from the Holy Spirit, as you become one with Jesus. Hallelujah, He lives in heaven and appears for you in God’s presence!

    For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Hebrews 9:24
    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me Jesus as my personal intercessor at Your throne of grace and mercy.

    Related Readings: Job 16:20; Isaiah 53:12; 1 John 2:1; 1 Timothy 2:5

    Post/Tweet today: The closer you walk with Christ the closer your will aligns with His will. #Godswill

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

  • Newsboys Hit the Restart Button

    Posted on August 1, 2013 by Family Christian

    Four-time GRAMMY®-nominated band Newsboys plans to “take the music further” than ever before with their new album, Restart, set to hit stores on September 10. Boasting a discography of 16 records and over eight million albums sold, Restart will be the third studio album with Michael Tait at the helm and combines the pop, worship and rock that fans embraced from the first two albums, Born Again and God's Not Dead. In the nearly four years since Tait joined the band, over 650,000 records have been sold, while five singles have attained No. 1 status on the radio charts.

    Musically, the Newsboys are driven to recast themselves with the pop-spirited new album and have already proven to be successful as their first single “Live With Abandon” reached No. 20 on the National Christian Audience chart this week. The single has also broken into the Top 10 at Christian Hot AC at No. 6.

    "At the start of this record two years ago, we knew we'd be taking great risks, but people will be excited about this album because we've pushed the music and taken it further than we've ever taken it before,” says front man Michael Tait. “I have not felt this way about anything I’ve been involved in musically since Jesus Freak.”

    The lyric video for “Live With Abandon” is now available here.

  • One On One with Mark Batterson

    Posted on August 1, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Mark Batterson serves as the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D. C. Recognized as “one of America’s 25 most innovative churches,” NCC is one church with seven locations. Mark’s blog and webcast also reach a virtual congregation around the world. He is the author of several bestselling books, including New York Times Bestseller - The Circle Maker and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Mark holds a doctorate degree from Regent University and lives on Capitol Hill with this wife, Lora, and their three children.

    His new book, All In: You Are One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life is available now.  His publisher has this to say about it: "The Gospel costs nothing. You can't earn it or buy it. It can only be received as a free gift compliments of God's grace. It doesn't cost anything, but it demands everything. It demands that we go 'all in,' a term that simply means placing all that you have into God's hands. Pushing it all in. And that's where we get stuck---spiritual no man's land. We're afraid that if we go all in that we might miss out on what this life has to offer. It's not true. The only thing you'll miss out on is everything God has to offer. And the good news is this: if you don't hold out on God, God won't hold out on you. Readers will find Batterson's writing filled with his customary vivid, contemporary illustrations as well as biblical characters like Shamgar and Elisha and Jonathan and . . . Judas. No one has ever sacrificed anything for God. If you always get back more than you gave up, have you sacrificed anything at all? The eternal reward always outweighs the temporal sacrifice. At the end of the day, our greatest regret will be whatever we didn't give back to God. What we didn't push back across the table to Him. Eternity will reveal that holding out is losing out. The message of All In is simple: if Jesus is not Lord of all then Jesus is not Lord at all. It's all or nothing. It's now or never. Kneeling at the foot of cross of Christ and surrendering to His Lordship is a radical act of dethroning yourself and enthroning Christ as King. It's also an act of disowning yourself. Nothing belongs to you. Not even you. Batterson writes, for many years, I thought I was following Jesus. I wasn't. I had invited Jesus to follow me. I call it inverted Christianity. And it's a subtle form of selfishness that masquerades as spirituality. That's when I sold out and bought in. When did we start believing that the gospel is an insurance plan? It's a daring plan. Jesus did not die just to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous.'"

    That sparked our curiosity, so we emailed Mark to share with us about life.

    1. In your book The Circle Maker, you encouraged believers to pray "big" prayers to God. What is your goal with your new book, All In?

    The Circle Maker was all about the power of a single prayer. One prayer can change anything, change everything. But you can't just pray like it depends on God. You also have to work like it depends on you. You can't just draw the circle. You also have to draw a line in the sand. The most promising thought in All In is this: you are one decision away from a totally different life. I absolutely believe that. All In challenges readers to identify the one decision that will make the biggest difference in their lives. Of course, I believe that starts with the decision to go all in with God. I think many people think they are following Jesus, but the reality is that they've invited Jesus to follow them. They have inverted the gospel. But the true adventure begins when you completely surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If Jesus is not Lord of all, then you cannot claim Him as Lord at all. It's all or nothing.

    2. What is it like being a pastor in one of the US's most dangerous cities?

    Washington, DC is a tale of two cities. We live less than a mile from the Capitol Building--the symbol of freedom and power. But one mile in the other direction are some crime-ridden communities in desperate need of God's love. We'll actually open a Dream Center in one of those neighborhoods in the next year. We want to show the love of Jesus in practical ways. We feel like the needs around us give us an opportunity to put Matthew 25 into practice--feed the hungry, clothe the poor, house the homeless, adopt the fatherless.

    3. Earlier this year, your church hosted a conference called "City Fathers." Can you tell us a bit about it?

    We live in a culture that celebrates fifteen minutes of fame. I think it's high time we celebrate a lifetime of faithfulness. So we invited five pastors, City Fathers, to share their heart and vision for our city.

    Between the five of them, they had 167 years of pastoral ministry in DC.

    Honestly, the rest of us are reaping the seeds they sowed. I just felt like we needed to sit at their feet for a day and glean wisdom. We also needed to give honor where honor is due! That's what we did. It was a historic day for DC. It didn't just foster unity. It's created synergy.

    4. What is it about the corn-hole game that you love so much?

    When I was a kid, I spent about two hours a day trying to shoot a basketball hoop through the basket. Now that I can't jump like I used to, I guess corn-hole is the old man's version! It stokes the competitive fires. Consider this an open invitation to all challengers!

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