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  • Rich Toward God

    Posted on April 2, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God. Luke 12:21

    It is easy to justify larger savings accounts for the sake of security. However, for the heart hungry for God, security is in Christ, not a bank balance. Future uncertainties are submissive to faith, not finances. Yes, to be rich toward God is to be rich in faith that exhibits generosity. True riches are trust in Jesus that leads to charity in Jesus' name. To build excessively  bigger bank accounts builds on ego and fear, but a life rich toward the Lord wisely gives away as the world wonders.

    Fools lose what they only prepare for themselves, but those who give away their extra gain more.  How is your degree of richness toward God? Are you overly cautious or aggressively generous? Perhaps you defer a major expenditure, so you can give away some of your excess to those who hunger to hear the gospel. Professionals and poor alike need regular reminders of the love, forgiveness and justice of Jesus. Your intentional investment in the Kingdom bears big fruit.

    Though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62:10

     

    It’s our inheritance in heaven, not on earth, that captures the heart of focused followers of Christ. Fortunes fade away, but treasures sent ahead to heaven are never lost, only compounding in value. Yes, the development and deployment of spiritual resources are the most strategic use of wealth. Human accolades over our earthly accomplishments are hollow compared to our Heavenly Father’s smile and affirmation over our richness toward Him. We can’t out give God!

    Perhaps you draft a manifesto of generosity before you experience abundance, so you predetermine aggressive giving. Preplanning protects you from the temptation to trust in stuff over  your Savior Jesus. The best remedy for greed is radical generosity. Hoarding feeds a life of ease, but significant eternal investments enhance a life engaged in the Almighty’s agenda. Be rich toward your Heavenly Father, since He has already given you His riches in Christ Jesus!

    He [Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews 11:26

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank You for Your riches that qualify me to be rich toward You.

     

    Related Readings: Job 20:20, 31:24; Jeremiah 17:11; Psalm 39:6, 49:10; Luke 12:33

     

    Post/Tweet today: To build excessively bigger bank accounts builds on ego and fear, but a life rich toward God aggressively gives away. #generous

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Luke

  • A New Pattern of Thought

    Posted on April 2, 2013 by Renee Swope

    Renee Swope

    "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2 (NIV)

    It's usually very subtle. I'll think about something I want to do or sense God calling me to, and a feeling of uncertainty comes over me. Doubt whispers You can't do that. You're not good enough. Out of the blue, I'll get that awful, insecure feeling.

    Too many times in the past I've gone along. Without realizing it, I agreed with my insecurities.

    For years, I didn't tell anyone about my doubts. I figured if they knew the reasons I doubted myself, they'd notice flaws I had worked hard to hide. Honestly, I thought I was the only one who struggled with doubt.

    However, I didn't call it doubt. Maybe you don't either. Sometimes I called it worry—worry that I was going to disappoint someone, worry that I might make a mistake and get criticized for it, worry that I might start something but not be able to finish.

    Other times I'd call it fear—fear of not measuring up, fear of rejection, fear of looking prideful by thinking I could do something special for God.

    What I've realized over the years is that these feelings may end up as fear or worry, but their source is self-doubt. Looking back, I see there was a pattern in my thinking that led to the pattern of my doubting.

    As a child I thought I wasn't worth keeping. My insecurity kept me from riding the carousel at an amusement park because I doubted my dad would wait for me. In school, I thought I wasn't smart enough. I avoided great opportunities because they came with the risk of failure.

    Even as a young bride, I doubted my worth in my husband's eyes. Although he gave me no reason to fear, our newlywed memories include many arguments about trust.

    The apostle Paul challenges us in Romans 12:2 to not let our minds be conformed by the patterns of this world. This means we need to take our patterns of thought into consideration because they affect what we believe about ourselves and what we believe about God's view of us and others.

    The world's patterns of thought tell us our worth is measured by our weight or bank account, our job or spouse, by the number of our friends, or if we are able to have children. And if we do have children, the world tells us we're only good parents if our children behave 'just so.'

    Have any of these thoughts ever convinced you you're not enough or don't have what it takes to do all God's calling you to do?

    Just this week, doubt tried to convince me I couldn't handle my life. I had a sick teenager, a huge deadline to meet, several therapy appointments for my daughter and very concerning health problems with my mom.

    Remembering the wisdom in today's key verse, I paused to consider the pattern of my thoughts and knew they didn't line up with God's thoughts. For instance, in Philippians 4:13 God tells me, "... I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength" (NLT).

    I claimed God's promise by weaving it into my thoughts, knowing I could do it all if I depended on the strength God promises to give. And when I did, God transformed my heart by renewing my mind with His peace and confidence.

    It takes time to replace our patterns of thought with God's thoughts. The ways of the world—fear and worry—are powerful forces. But God's Word trumps them, always. Today, let's be intentional to lay down self-doubts and replace them with truth, remembering "... he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:16 ESV).

    Lord, I want to have a confident heart in Christ and persevere in Your truth so that when I have done Your will, I will receive what You have promised. When doubt tells me I can't do something, I'll remember all things are possible to her who believes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    In her life-changing book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises, Renee Swope will empower and equip you with new patterns of thought to help you overcome doubt, fear, and worry so you can move forward in confident assurance of all God has for your life!

    Reflect and Respond:
    What motivates you the most to be free from self-doubt?

    What would you do differently if you were free from worry and fear, and fully trusted God? Let go of unforgiveness? Volunteer more? Travel? Start a new hobby or look for a new job? Ask the Lord to help you replace self-doubt with His confidence and what your first step of freedom should be.

    Power Verse:
    Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" (NLT)

    © 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Romans

  • Pursue Righteousness

    Posted on April 1, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    The Lord detests the way of the wicked but he loves those who pursue righteousness. Proverbs 15:9

    What does it mean to pursue righteousness? We pursue happiness. We pursue financial security. We pursue a husband or wife for marriage, but what is the pursuit of righteousness? It is a standard of behavior that is morally right or justifiable as God defines right. We pursue righteousness when we determine to understand what the Scripture outlines as right, integrating it into our behavior. It is intentional living.

    The pursuit of righteousness begins with the pursuit of God, for He is the Righteous One. He detests the way of the wicked but loves those who pursue righteousness. He loves those who pursue Him for righteousness sake. So we seek Him because we need Him to transform us into the likeness of His Son Jesus. We become what we pursue.

    “The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin” (Proverbs 21:12).

    It is the path of the righteous He makes smooth, not without bumps along the way, but with clear direction for living. Perhaps you ask, “How do I know God’s will for school, marriage, or work?” Pursue righteousness, and He will direct your steps. Do not worry and fret over step fourteen; instead, by faith focus on the next step. “The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth” (Isaiah 26:7).

    Without your Lord and Savior Jesus, your “righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Indeed, it is not what you do for Jesus, but the work of His Spirit in and through you, to produce the fruit of righteousness. Remain in Him, and He will make you righteous—not holier-than-thou, but humble and loving. Your pursuits are what you become; thus, wise are you and loved by the Lord when you pursue righteousness.

    “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4 nkjv).

    Prayer: Am I pursuing righteousness by abiding in Christ?

    Related Readings: 1 Chronicles 29:17; Psalm 1:6; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22

    Post/Tweet today: Our pursuits are what we become; thus, wise are we when we pursue righteousness. #pursuits

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Proverbs

  • Matt Maher. On Being Christian.

    Posted on April 1, 2013 by John van der Veen



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

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

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

    John: So, Matt … hey man, again, thank you for talking with me. I’m wondering if you could give me a little bit of background information on who you are. I know you spent some time in Arizona as a worship leader, but before that, where did you come from?

    Matt: I grew up in Newfoundland, Canada. I was involved in the Northeast, and I lived there for 20 years. I was born and raised there. I grew up in St. Johns, sort of a small harbor town with a population of about 250,000. I worked there when I was 19. My parent’s got separated and my mom’s American. So, she moved back to Arizona. Her father was a naval pilot and her parents retired in Arizona. I wasn’t going to church at the time. I was born and raised in the Northeast. Like a lot of people 20 years ago, you grew up definitely in one of the main lines of denominations: Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal or what have you. I grew up Catholic with Catholic schooling and all that, and had a lot of great experiences. From a very young age, my parents did a great job of instilling a general faith in God, in Jesus. Going to school, you hear the story of the incarnation and salvation, but I didn’t really get all the person of Jesus. I grew up like a lot of people, sort of educated somewhat in my faith but not really getting to have a moment where I made a decision to follow this person, Jesus, who did all of these amazing things for me. Not only gave the universe and gave me life but also died for all my sins and the sins of the whole world and guaranteed me a place in heaven.

    I think what happened was, I moved … I was 19, my parents were getting divorced, I was a Music major in college already, studying music. I wanted to do film restoring. That was my childhood dream! I figured, well I moved to Arizona and L.A. is an eight-hour drive. I could get a job working part-time. Then I thought about it and I was like, “You should really finish your degree.” Then I applied to Arizona State University and got accepted! I didn’t realize that it was two months after the admission deadline and somehow I still got accepted and met the people for the school of music and had to do an audition tape. They were like, it’s obvious you’re meant to be here but we don’t have any scholarship money available. You are an American citizen, so why don’t you come here and live here for a year and then we can get in the tuition and we can figure out what we can do for you then. So I did!

    I took one credit hour. That’s all I could afford! I worked at a coffee shop down the road, but more importantly, I had a cousin there who was my age. I had been in Arizona for six weeks, and she was really involved with a youth movement called “Life Team” which is kind of like “Young Life” in the Catholic Church. It started at a church in Arizona and now it’s in more than 1,600 churches in the U.S. and all over the world.

    Basically, what they were doing is they were taking sort of the historical traditions and the doctoral teachings of Catholicism and presenting them in a format that helps kids understand that the foundation of it all is having a relationship with Jesus. So, I started hanging out with her because I didn’t know anybody else my age. All her friends were helping out with the youth group. I had met them a couple of years ago because when I was in high school, like I said I went to Arizona and I went on a couple of the youth trips and it seemed kind of cool.

    So, I’m 19 years old, my parents are divorced and I realized that I had a lot of questions about life and about who I am. I wondered about my real purpose and the meaning behind all of it and that kind of stuff. I was in that time frame when people are asking those major questions, and what I realized is that I was going to everywhere but God for answers. I think that by being in a community of not just people my age, but in one where young people, older people, families and everybody was sort of living out their faith, it gave me permission to do the same thing. So in a very short period of time, I started going to church again every week. That summer I was prayed with to receive Jesus, and I started participating in my Catholic faith again, but this time in kind of in a more personal sense. I had never experienced anything like that before growing up.

    I started helping out with the youth group and started playing piano at our masses and services. All of this amazing stuff happened. I found … like I said, I found a job and my mom got an apartment a mile away from ASU and a mile away from the church, and it just became very apparent to me that God had a plan all along. I helped out at this church for a year and then I actually ended up at another church. I got my job there because of Rich Mullins.

    John: Really?

    Matt: Yes. Back to the story … Like I said, I had been in Arizona for about a year and a half and I got a phone call from this guy named Tom Boos who was sort of a contemporary Catholic music guy, worship leader, more liturgical of sorts.

    He was the music guy for “Life Team” and basically Tom started mentoring me. He was casting a musical that Rich had written, called “Canticle of the Plains.”

    John: Oh sure!

    Matt: The church that he worked at—St. Timothy’s, which is in Mesa—did a performance of it. He asked if I would play a character. He goes, “I’m doing a musical that Rich Mullins wrote and I think you’d be perfect for it. He was actually thinking … I was praying and I felt like Jesus told me that I was supposed to cast you.

    It was like the worst … well, not the worst, that’s probably a bad word, but it was the most amazing type of typecasting. I played a character who was best friends with Frank, who’s modeled after St. Francis and his name was Ivory, we’ll just nickname him or Ira was his name. He played piano in a saloon. What was crazy was I paid my way through the first three years of college in Canada by playing piano in a hotel bar.

    John: Wow!

    Matt: I spent about a month, on and off every other week, a couple of days with this guy Rich Mullins and the only song I knew that he wrote was “Awesome God” which I didn’t particularly like the verses. I thought it was so strange, but to hear this amazing chorus ...

    I got to know Rich, and during that time a job opening came at St. Tim’s and so I took it. Rich would periodically come down. He developed a really good friendship with Tom who was my mentor. Tom actually co-wrote the song, “Nothing is Beyond Jesus” with Rich and Mitch McVicker. I kind of ended up joining this other church then for 13 years and during that time I graduated from college and discovered modern worship music. I discovered that there were a bunch of guys my age doing what I was doing, but in the denominational or the Baptist world. I was led to Christ by sort-of charismatic Catholics, so I was much cooler with that bit of musical expression anyways. For me, hearing music such as the Delirious and Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman, all of a sudden I was like, oh, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. There was this period where I was meandering and I was trying to figure out what am I supposed to be doing? I was just writing music primarily for my church for the youth group I was part of. We started doing a weekly worship night, kind of like a Wednesday night. It was primarily geared towards kids in the Catholic Church and I think what changed was in … are we good so far? Do you need me to stop?

    John: I’m really enjoying this Matt. I have hours and hours and days and days. You can talk as long as you want!

    Matt: Oh, good. In 2002, no 2003, I wrote your “Grace is Enough” and I remember when I wrote it, I was going through a bit of a dry spell, spiritually, you know like most people that work at churches do. You know, you just get burned out. You give a lot of yourself, you know, and a friend of mine once said, “Look, if you allow her to, Church will suck the life out of you!” The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few!

    I wrote that song, and later that same year, I played it at a youth specialties convention. They came to my church and they were so flipped out that there was this Catholic Church in Arizona doing not only youth ministry but using contemporary music, like in a mass. They were like, “You need to come sing that song! That song’s amazing. I was kind of oblivious and I was like, “Okay, cool!” I knew who Chris (Tomlin) was and I was familiar enough with the Passion ministry. I used to go to a Family Christian store and buy CDs when I worked at the church.

    John: Woo Hoo!

    Matt: So, what happened was that Chris backed me up with that song; him and his band. He, I guess, I guess he really, really liked it and a couple of months later I ran in to him again and he said, “Hey, do you have a copy of that song? I’d really like to show it to somebody and I was like, sure!” Well, what I didn’t realize was that that somebody was Ed Cash, who was his producer.

    John: Oh yeah!

    Matt: The next day or that Saturday or Monday I got an email from him that said, “I’m going to record this song. Are you cool with me putting it on my next record?” He wanted to make a couple of arrangement changes and stuff, and so we talked on the phone and I was like, “Absolutely!”

    I remember when I read that email, where I was … I was in the house across the street from my church and that’s where all the worship staff worked and I remember reading it and I think I even screamed out loud! It wasn’t so much that Chris Tomlin was recording my song, as much as it was that I felt like I was staring at the screen through words on a screen, sort of looking into my future. And I felt like God was just saying, “I’m opening a door here and there’s a new sequence of life coming.” Chris recorded that song, obviously, and it was on “Arising,” and I think that started a relationship, which has really turned into a friendship. Chris, to me is just a great friend. He’s a wonderful man of God and I think that’s blossomed over the years; that sort of collaboration. In fact, kind of what happened after that was that he asked us to come to a Passion conference and lead in a small community group. We did and I was the token Catholic; that’s what people were talking about. I think all of us kind of looked at it like what is happening? Why do we all connect?

    During that time, I just kind of started to feel like the Holy Spirit was downloading into me a vision for ministry that was less focused on denominations and more about trying to bring the Church together. Not ignoring the disagreements that we have, but more so saying the things that we agree upon are just far greater, and that that’s something that the world desperately needs to see. It needs to see the Church standing together in solidarity.

    John: Matt, let’s talk a little bit about that. You’ve had a unique role in walking in to both Catholic as well as Protestant circles with that ideology behind you. What do you think... where others have attempted that before you but for some reason, there is something with your songs that are resonating very well. Not to say that they’re two camps but just to kind of break it down to some extent that there are two camps. What do you think that is? Why is it that God is using you in this particular moment in time to do such a thing as that?

    Matt: Well, I think and here’s what I’ve learned, that as a songwriter, you can write songs about your faith, you can write songs from your faith. I think a great example of that is just in the test of time in great songs of the Church that we all sing, because of our denominations. I think that when you look at those songs, those songs weren’t necessarily written about doctrines of faith as much as they were written from doctrines of faith; the difference of that being that I realize that early on in my writing I was writing songs about my Christian faith from a Catholic perspective. I think over time as my faith became more and more integrated just to know who I was, I realized that I didn’t need to do that. I just needed to write songs from my faith, and so I think when you do that, there’s a timeless element of core Christian truth that shines through regardless of disagreements. I think people just start to go … I mean, “Amazing Grace” … that song isn’t about justification. It isn’t about subsidiary atonement or sensationalism. It’s a song about grace! It’s a song that comes from a deep personal perspective, and in a way from the gospel. It’s not about the gospel.

    I think that’s the difference. I think writers more and more are realizing that. “10,000 Reasons”… some people could say it was a theological speculation about the multitude of reasons that a redeemed sinner would have to bless God, or you could just simply say that it’s an amazing prayer that comes from a heart of somebody who knows Jesus. Do you understand what I’m saying?

    John: Yes.

    Matt: I think part of it is the realization that I don’t major in the minors!

    John: That’s a good point!

    Matt: Like Matt Redman and I wrote a song about communion together. He comes from an Anglican or Evangelical background and I came from a Catholic background. We have completely different doctoral teachings about communion and about the Eucharist. Does that mean that we can’t write a song together about the importance of communion. Or that when Jesus says in the Bible, “Remember me … do this in remembrance of me… that we can’t. What we can say is let’s try to serve the Church with a song that somehow reflects truth and leaves a little bit of room for the mystery of faith. I think that’s what I’ve tried to do with my music. Particularly I think the corporate songs … the songs specifically for churches to sing on Sunday. I have definitely tried to do that in those songs.

    John: When you look at the catalog of songs that have come through Christian-dome in the years, down through the ages, what is a song or two that continues to move you and make you go, “That is a song that drives specifically to my heart and makes me fall at the feet of Jesus”?

    Matt: Hmmm.

    I think for me I definitely do … I liturgically sort of … coming from a liturgical mindset and as a believer … I’m a firm believer in seasons and so I would say it would depend on what season we’re in. I think “It Is Well” is just to me such an awe-encompassing, amazing hymn that I think the more you grow in your faith and in your life, you know, being single and following Jesus is one thing but being married and being a father and following Jesus it completely changes. Particularly as you get older in life, you just start noticing this thing where people around you, their bodies just start breaking down. It’s like I have had more family members or friends suffer with illness or disease or heart problems or diabetes or all of that. I think that combined with just the climate of everything going on in the world. Well, we don’t have a pope, we’re currently sequestered and the city of Detroit just filed for bankruptcy. If you don’t have anything to pray about, just go ahead and pick one of those!

    I think a hymn like that speaks volumes because it’s very real and it addresses a lot of the human experience. It’s like we have mountain top moments that are fleeting and small, and they inspire us to walk through the valleys, so that even in the valley’s we can continue to be a joy for people and say it as well.

    It’s so funny because when you immediately said it, I thought of “Oh Holy Night”. We sing that song once a year but for a lot of people, the lyrics just fly right by. Truly He taught us to love one another, His name is love and His gospel is peace, chains shall He break for the slave is our brother and in His name all oppressions shall cease … the problem is that we only sing that song once a year so it doesn’t get enough scrutiny.

    I think of a hymn like that and a song like that and how it defines a singular moment. I mean if you hear “Oh Holy Night” you knew everybody, even the un-churched can think of an experience of being in church and hearing that song, hopefully sung well. I think that is powerful. Those are two examples. I think it’s so funny … I just love the fact that a melody that was written hundreds and hundreds of years ago, we’ll still sing it and that’s just a really neat prospect.

    As a songwriter, to think that you might eventually stumble upon something that you’ll get to hand down to the church and the point isn’t that you wrote it, the point is that it gets to get handed down and to me, that’s exciting.

    John: I’m going to ask you a personal question and again, all of these are fair game. If you don’t want to answer any one, it would not offend me at all.

    Matt, how does somebody who is in your role, who’s known possibly all over the world for leading people to Jesus … how do you kind of step out of that and say, it’s not about Matt, it is about Jesus when you happen to be in front of a couple thousand people at that time?

    Matt: Well, I would say that wherever you are in your life, God has used the years prior to that to prepare you for that moment and that season. I look back on the 13+ years of doing ministry in the local church and not being known and kind of being taken for granted. I asked God for moments in my life where I could be part of relationships and communities where I am a little bit taken for granted; not in a negative way but in a positive way. To be seen as part of the body of Christ and not the head. There’s only one head. That experience of being active in the local church—not just leading worship on a platform, but being in community with people and having your relationships with young people, teenagers and playing at funerals and playing at baptisms and playing at weddings and participating in the life of the body of Christ—those things stay with you. I think that has definitely been part of it. I had very small beginnings; the first thing I ever really got to lead worship for was a Bible study … no that was actually on a good night … it was with about 15 teenagers. That’s where I started falling in love with leading worship. The biggest fear I had was playing for 65 kids one night and it might as well as been with 65,000 people. I just think for me, that’s where my heart was formed and God definitely poured a lot into me and spoken a lot of things in those years that have stayed with me. For example, I remember being in a conference and God saying, “All you’re doing is standing up and supporting what I’m doing. Don’t worry, you’re not doing anything!”

    Because you do … you get in there and you’re like, what if I make a mistake or what if I mess up or you know? You fall victim to your pride and think like … look at me, I’m so great and I just remember God saying I’m doing all the work and it kind of comes from second Chronicles when the Lord leads that small army … he said, “Go and stand up on this hill and I want you to watch, I’m basically going to kick it!” I remember reading that early on and then carrying that into worship one night and God saying, that’s all that you’re doing. You and your little band of people are going to go stand up on the mountain and watch and look down and watch me take care of everything! Being married helps a lot!

    John: Amen!

    Matt: You know, my wife isn’t impressed at all by musical ability. It’s not that it doesn’t matter anymore, it just doesn’t woo her anymore … that’s all!

    John: I may need to have a part II interview with her pretty soon!

    Matt: (laughs)!

    John: Let’s talk a little bit about your new record. You have a new record coming out next month. “All the People Said Amen” and in listening to it, it’s a little bit different than your previous records. Do you want to talk a little bit about what went in to the making of it?

    Matt: Sure. I was on tour with Third Day and talking about what’s next, and I started sharing that I wanted to double-down on the experience of being with people. I discussed how I pray a lot with the church and love writing songs, but that I love watching the church sing them even more. So, when you record songs live, there are a couple ways you can do it. You can record a specific night’s performance or you can take it on the road and just see what you get. I was formed so much by live worship albums like “Delirious” and some of that stuff that was really spontaneous, that I wanted to do more of that. So we were like, “Let’s get going and do that then! Let’s try to capture some live moments. And some of them were worth shipping, and some of them were a little more like a jam session, but I think that kind of reflects what happens out there on stage. We had one weekend where we realized we had a perfect representation of what my ministry looked like, which was we were playing in a non-denominational church at a sports bar at the University of Notre Dame campus, right on campus …we’re talking across the street from the football stadium! A Franklin Graham crusade and a Catholic church in Detroit. I thought, this is it! This is what I do! This is kind of where I go. I go wherever the Lord leads me.

    We tried to record everything that the Franklin Graham crusade, the weather was really bad that night and so that night kind of got messed up and we didn’t get anything from it. We had those three nights and it was great! The night at Notre Dame was so special. I mean 500 college students showed up and God’s been doing stuff on that campus. There are kids there who are hungry and are running after Jesus and are trying to lift him up in that place. It was just amazing to be able to go there and all of a sudden I’m singing “Your Grace is Enough” and I realize that everybody has their hands in their air! I’m like, they’re not just singing any more, they’re worshiping God!” It was really, really amazing. We recorded that weekend and then we worked it out where we could record our set every night when we were on tour with Brandon Heath and we said, “Let’s just try to capture ‘moments’!”

    I think the cover of the new album is indicative of the music and the ministry that I do and it’s just mismatched. It’s a collage of a bunch of different stuff that reflects a lot about who I am. I’m a worship leader, but then I’m a songwriter who studied jazz in college. There is a mismatched component to all of it and it was exciting. I got to use my studio… I got to use my band that I play with live. I was able to use them in the studio for the first time for actual studio tracks and that was significant for to me. You don’t always get that opportunity, to record music with those you actually play live! It was great fun to be able to do that.

    I think ultimately what I’m trying to do is just help the Church remember who she is! She’s a work of art. She’s the bride of Christ. She’s the body of Christ. We have all this art … you know we have all these photos of religious art and photos of churches and buildings on the cover—and my life’s in the middle of it from my perspective—but the church is a work of art. Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s handiwork created for his good work which he has prepared for us in advance. That is the heart behind this project.

    Also helping people that maybe haven’t yet heard me sing live, but have heard songs on the radio. I wanted to create an experience that would make them say, “Man, I want to go see this guy live now.” Not just to see me, but more so that we could maybe have an encounter with Jesus together.

    John: Wow, that’s really awesome, Matt. So, now tell me. Who are you a fan of, Matt?

    Matt: I’m obviously a friend of all the guys from the Passion movement: Chris [Tomlin], David [Crowder], Matt Redman, Kristian Stanfill and everybody else. In fact, Louie came up to me and has mentored more worship leaders just through his sermons online and conferences than anybody else. I call them friends now but God used them early on. I feel a certain level of gratefulness. I was a huge fan of “Delirious” when they were around.

    Honestly, musically, growing up, I was huge a fan of the Beatles. A huge fan of Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, Nirvana. I kind of grew up listening to everything. My dad listened to Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson when he would cook dinner. My mom listened to instrumental music. I played in youth orchestra and concert bands and jazz bands. I kind of grew up literally listening to every style of music.

    I would say right now that the newest album I’ve been listening to … I’m trying to think … it’s so funny, when you become a parent things change. I listen to the Backyardigans channel on the Pandora station… that’s what I listen to when I’m home with my son. Ha!

    John: Funny. But of course. How old is he?

    Matt: My son is 18 months.

    John: Eighteen months!

    Matt: Yes. I just started listening to Bach in B-minor again to kind of get reacquainted with it. I had to listen to it in college because I was getting graded on it and I kind of got out of classical and plugged into listening to whatever was current, and then I was writing a lot of music.

    I mean going back and listening to Bach... or classical music in general… Bach and more on a contemporary level, Erin Copeland, who’s an American composer, it’s pretty fantastic.

    And of course, there are certain popular bands that everyone’s listening to right now. With the advent of shared music services. This is funny… I used to go to record stores to find new music. I would go to a Family Christian store and go to the listening station and spend 45 minutes to an hour. I discovered Audio Adrenaline and Underdog that way. It’s weird. It’s changed now.

    John: Do you think that you’ll ever do a film score?

    Matt: It’s kind of one of those things that’s in the back of my head, that I say to God, “Well, whenever you want to get around to that, just let me know.” And if it’s meant to be, just give me enough time in advance so that I can maybe take a couple of theory classes again to get myself ready.

    John: Or you could do like Smitty did. He didn’t call them film scores but basically that’s what they are… when he did his two pieces.

    Matt: Yes, the inspirational… I think I would probably do most of it. If I was to do a film score now, I would lean toward the sound from the Social Network movie, which was a weird combination of instrumental, electronic and acoustic music. I think that’s what I would probably go for, mostly because of budget. Recording with a huge orchestra cost a lot of money! Anything’s possible though, especially if God desires it to happen. If He wants me to do a film score with a symphony orchestra, who am I to turn that down!?

    John: Is your wife rolling her eyes right now?

    Matt: No, no. She’s upstairs playing cards with our son, but if she was downstairs she probably would be rolling her eyes!

    John: I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have said that!

    Matt: That’s alright. You’re obviously tuned in. That’s good!

    John: Matt, I’m assuming because you used to work at a coffee shop, you are a coffee-snob?

    Matt: I’ve gone through phases. My wife and I have been married for almost three years, and I remember for the first Valentine’s day, she brought me a hand-grinder. I embrace the whole thing; I was hand-grinding beans and using beans from a certain mountaintop in Ecuador or El Salvador, but you know, when you have a baby, all bets are off! Whatever’s in the cupboard that doesn’t have mold on it, just pour hot water over it and put a paper towel underneath it.

    At this point … black with one Sweet’N-Low or Stevia and I’m good to go!

    John: I love a good cup of coffee!

    Matt: I still do too.

    Matt: Yes!

    John: Hey, Matt, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today and I’m excited. I’ve listened to the new record, and I love it. I think it’s fantastic. I have your other records.

    Matt: Thanks! It’s been a pleasure!

     

     

     

    MATT MAHER INTERVIEW Edited by JLF

    John: So, Matt … hey man, again, thank you for talking with me. I’m wondering if you could give me a little bit of background information on who Matt is. I know you spent some time in Arizona as a worship leader, but before that, where did you come from?

    Matt: I grew up in Newfoundland, Canada. I was involved in the Northeast, and I lived there for 20 years. I was born and raised there. I grew up in St. Johns, sort of a small harbor town with a population of about 250,000. I worked there when I was 19. My parent’s got separated and my mom’s American. So, she moved back to Arizona. Her father was a naval pilot and her parents retired in Arizona. I wasn’t going to church at the time. I was born and raised in the Northeast. Like a lot of people 20 years ago, you grew up definitely in one of the main lines of denominations: Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal or what have you. I grew up Catholic with Catholic schooling and all that, and had a lot of great experiences. From a very young age, my parents did a great job of instilling a general faith in God, in Jesus. Going to school, you hear the story of the incarnation and salvation, but I didn’t really get all the person of Jesus. I grew up like a lot of people, sort of educated somewhat in my faith but not really getting to have a moment where I made a decision to follow this person, Jesus, who did all of these amazing things for me. Not only gave the universe and gave me life but also died for all my sins and the sins of the whole world and guaranteed me a place in heaven.

    I think what happened was, I moved … I was 19, my parents were getting divorced, I was a Music major in college already, studying music. I wanted to do film restoring. That was my childhood dream! I figured, well I moved to Arizona and L.A. is an eight-hour drive. I could get a job working part-time. Then I thought about it and I was like, “You should really finish your degree.” Then I applied to Arizona State University and got accepted! I didn’t realize that it was two months after the admission deadline and somehow I still got accepted and met the people for the school of music and had to do an audition tape. They were like, it’s obvious you’re meant to be here but we don’t have any scholarship money available. You are an American citizen, so why don’t you come here and live here for a year and then we can get in the tuition and we can figure out what we can do for you then. So I did!

    I took one credit hour. That’s all I could afford! I worked at a coffee shop down the road, but more importantly, I had a cousin there who was my age. I had been in Arizona for six weeks, and she was really involved with a youth movement called “Life Team” which is kind of like “Young Life” in the Catholic Church. It started at a church in Arizona and now it’s in more than 1,600 churches in the U.S. and all over the world.

    Matt: Basically, what they were doing is they were taking sort of the historical traditions and the doctoral teachings of Catholicism and presenting them in a format that helps kids understand that the foundation of it all is having a relationship with Jesus. So, I started hanging out with her because I didn’t know anybody else my age. All her friends were helping out with the youth group. I had met them a couple of years ago because when I was in high school, like I said I went to Arizona and I went on a couple of the youth trips and it seemed kind of cool.

    So, I’m 19 years old, my parents are divorced and I realized that I had a lot of questions about life and about who I am. I wondered about my real purpose and the meaning behind all of it and that kind of stuff. I was in that timeframe when people are asking those major questions, and what I realized is that I was going to everywhere but God for answers. I think that by being in a community of not just people my age, but in one where young people, older people, families and everybody was sort of living out their faith, it gave me permission to do the same thing. So in a very short period of time, I started going to church again every week. That summer I was prayed with to receive Jesus, and I started participating in my Catholic faith again, but this time in kind of in a more personal sense. I had never experienced anything like that before growing up.

    I started helping out with the youth group and started playing piano at our masses and services. All of this amazing stuff happened. I found … like I said, I found a job and my mom got an apartment a mile away from ASU and a mile away from the church, and it just became very apparent to me that God had a plan all along. I helped out at this church for a year and then I actually ended up at another church. I got my job there because of Rich Mullins.

    John: Really?

    Matt: Yes. Back to the story … Like I said, I had been in Arizona for about a year and a half and I got a phone call from this guy named Tom Boos who was sort of a contemporary Catholic music guy, worship leader, more liturgical of sorts.

    John: What was his name?

    Matt: His name was Tom Boos. He was the music guy for “Life Team” and basically Tom started mentoring me. He was casting a musical that Rich had written, called “Canticle of the Plains.”

    John: Oh sure!

    Matt: The church that he worked at—St. Timothy’s, which is in Mesa—did a performance of it. He asked if I would play a character. He goes, “I’m doing a musical that Rich Mullins wrote and I think you’d be perfect for it. He was actually thinking … I was praying and I felt like Jesus told me that I was supposed to cast you.

    It was like the worst … well, not the worst, that’s probably a bad word, but it was the most amazing type of typecasting. I played a character who was best friends with Frank, who’s modeled after St. Francis and his name was Ivory, we’ll just nickname him or Ira was his name. He played piano in a saloon. What was crazy was I paid my way through the first three years of college in Canada by playing piano in a hotel bar.

    John: Wow!

    Matt: I spent about a month, on and off every other week, a couple of days with this guy Rich Mullins and the only song I knew that he wrote was “Awesome God” which I didn’t particularly like the verses. I thought it was so strange, but to hear this amazing chorus ...

    I got to know Rich, and during that time a job opening came at St. Tim’s and so I took it. Rich would periodically come down. He developed a really good friendship with Tom who was my mentor. Tom actually co-wrote the song, “Nothing is Beyond Jesus” with Rich and Mitch McVicker. I kind of ended up joining this other church then for 13 years and during that time I graduated from college and discovered modern worship music. I discovered that there were a bunch of guys my age doing what I was doing, but in the denominational or the Baptist world. I was led to Christ by sort-of charismatic Catholics, so I was much cooler with that bit of musical expression anyways. For me, hearing music such as the delirious and Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman, all of a sudden I was like, oh, this is what I’m supposed to be doing. There was this period where I was meandering and I was trying to figure out what am I supposed to be doing? I was just writing music primarily for my church for the youth group I was part of. We started doing a weekly worship night, kind of like a Wednesday night. It was primarily geared towards kids in the Catholic Church and I think what changed was in … are we good so far? Do you need me to stop?

    John: I’m really enjoying this Matt. I have hours and hours and days and days. You can talk as long as you want!

    Matt: Oh, good. In 2002, no 2003, I wrote your “Grace is Enough” and I remember when I wrote it, I was going through a bit of a dry spell, spiritually, you know like most people that work at churches do. You know, you just get burned out. You give a lot of yourself, you know, and a friend of mine once said, “Look, if you allow her to, Church will suck the life out of you!” The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few!

    I wrote that song, and later that same year, I played it at a youth specialties convention. They came to my church and they were so flipped out that there was this Catholic Church in Arizona doing not only youth ministry but using contemporary music, like in a mass. They were like, “You need to come sing that song! That song’s amazing. I was kind of oblivious and I was like, “Okay, cool!” I knew who Chris (Tomlin) was and I was familiar enough with the Passion ministry. I used to go to a Family Christian store and buy CDs when I worked at the church.

    John: Woo Hoo!

    Matt: So, what happened was that Chris backed me up with that song; him and his band. He, I guess, I guess he really, really liked it and a couple of months later I ran in to him again and he said, “Hey, do you have a copy of that song? I’d really like to show it to somebody and I was like, sure!” Well, what I didn’t realize was that that somebody was Ed Cash, who was his producer.

    John: Oh yeah!

    Matt: The next day or that Saturday or Monday I got an email from him that said, “I’m going to record this song. Are you cool with me putting it on my next record?” He wanted to make a couple of arrangement changes and stuff, and so we talked on the phone and I was like, “Absolutely!”

    I remember when I read that email, where I was … I was in the house across the street from my church and that’s where all the worship staff worked and I remember reading it and I think I even screamed out loud! It wasn’t so much that Chris Tomlin was recording my song, as much as it was that I felt like I was staring at the screen through words on a screen, sort of looking into my future. And I felt like God was just saying, “I’m opening a door here and there’s a new sequence of life coming.” Chris recorded that song, obviously, and it was on “Arising,” and I think that started a relationship, which has really turned into a friendship. Chris, to me is just a great friend. He’s a wonderful man of God and I think that’s blossomed over the years; that sort of collaboration. In fact, kind of what happened after that was that he asked us to come to a Passion conference and lead in a small community group. We did and I was the token Catholic; that’s what people were talking about. I think all of us kind of looked at it like what is happening? Why do we all connect?

    During that time, I just kind of started to feel like the Holy Spirit was downloading into me a vision for ministry that was less focused on denominations and more about trying to bring the Church together. Not ignoring the disagreements that we have, but more so saying the things that we agree upon are just far greater, and that that’s something that the world desperately needs to see. It needs to see the Church standing together in solidarity.

    John: Matt, let’s talk a little bit about that. You’ve had a unique role in walking in to both Catholic as well as Protestant circles with that ideology behind you. What do you think... where others have attempted that before you but for some reason, there is something with your songs that are resonating very well. Not to say that they’re two camps but just to kind of break it down to some extent that there are two camps. What do you think that is? Why is it that God is using you in this particular moment in time to do such a thing as that?

    Matt: Well, I think and here’s what I’ve learned, that as a songwriter, you can write songs about your faith, you can write songs from your faith. I think a great example of that is just in the test of time in great songs of the Church that we all sing, because of our denominations. I think that when you look at those songs, those songs weren’t necessarily written about doctrines of faith as much as they were written from doctrines of faith; the difference of that being that I realize that early on in my writing I was writing songs about my Christian faith from a Catholic perspective. I think over time as my faith became more and more integrated just to know who I was, I realized that I didn’t need to do that. I just needed to write songs from my faith, and so I think when you do that, there’s a timeless element of core Christian truth that shines through regardless of disagreements. I think people just start to go … I mean, “Amazing Grace” … that song isn’t about justification. It isn’t about subsidiary atonement or sensationalism. It’s a song about grace! It’s a song that comes from a deep personal perspective, and in a way from the gospel. It’s not about the gospel.

    I think that’s the difference. I think writers more and more are realizing that. “10,000 Reasons”… some people could say it was a theological speculation about the multitude of reasons that a redeemed sinner would have to bless God, or you could just simply say that it’s an amazing prayer that comes from a heart of somebody who knows Jesus. Do you understand what I’m saying?

    John: Yes.

    Matt: I think part of it is the realization that I don’t major in the minors!

    John: That’s a good point!

    Matt: Like Matt Redman and I wrote a song about communion together. He comes from an Anglican or Evangelical background and I came from a Catholic background. We have completely different doctoral teachings about communion and about the Eucharist. Does that mean that we can’t write a song together about the importance of communion. Or that when Jesus says in the Bible, “Remember me … do this in remembrance of me… that we can’t. What we can say is let’s try to serve the Church with a song that somehow reflects truth and leaves a little bit of room for the mystery of faith. I think that’s what I’ve tried to do with my music. Particularly I think the corporate songs … the songs specifically for churches to sing on Sunday. I have definitely tried to do that in those songs.

    John: When you look at the catalog of songs that have come through Christian-dome in the years, down through the ages, what is a song or two that continues to move you and make you go, “That is a song that drives specifically to my heart and makes me fall at the feet of Jesus”?

    Matt: Hmmm.

    John: If I put you on the spot there, I apologize.

    Matt: I think for me I definitely do … I liturgically sort of … coming from a liturgical mindset and as a believer … I’m a firm believer in seasons and so I would say it would depend on what season we’re in. I think “It Is Well” is just to me such an awe-encompassing, amazing hymn that I think the more you grow in your faith and in your life, you know, being single and following Jesus is one thing but being married and being a father and following Jesus it completely changes. Particularly as you get older in life, you just start noticing this thing where people around you, their bodies just start breaking down. It’s like I have had more family members or friends suffer with illness or disease or heart problems or diabetes or all of that. I think that combined with just the climate of everything going on in the world. Well, we don’t have a pope, we’re currently sequestered and the city of Detroit just filed for bankruptcy. If you don’t have anything to pray about, just go ahead and pick one of those!

    I think a hymn like that speaks volumes because it’s very real and it addresses a lot of the human experience. It’s like we have mountain top moments that are fleeting and small, and they inspire us to walk through the valleys, so that even in the valley’s we can continue to be a joy for people and say it as well.

    It’s so funny because when you immediately said it, I thought of “Oh Holy Night”. We sing that song once a year but for a lot of people, the lyrics just fly right by. Truly He taught us to love one another, His name is love and His gospel is peace, chains shall He break for the slave is our brother and in His name all oppressions shall cease … the problem is that we only sing that song once a year so it doesn’t get enough scrutiny.

    I think of a hymn like that and a song like that and how it defines a singular moment. I mean if you hear “Oh Holy Night” you knew everybody, even the un-churched can think of an experience of being in church and hearing that song, hopefully sung well. I think that is powerful. Those are two examples. I think it’s so funny … I just love the fact that a melody that was written hundreds and hundreds of years ago, we’ll still sing it and that’s just a really neat prospect.

    As a songwriter, to think that you might eventually stumble upon something that you’ll get to hand down to the church and the point isn’t that you wrote it, the point is that it gets to get handed down and to me, that’s exciting.

    John: I’m going to ask you a personal question and again, all of these are fair game. If you don’t want to answer any one, it would not offend me at all.

    Matt, how does somebody who is in your role, who’s known possibly all over the world for leading people to Jesus … how do you kind of step out of that and say, it’s not about Matt, it is about Jesus when you happen to be in front of a couple thousand people at that time?

    Matt: Well, I would say that wherever you are in your life, God has used the years prior to that to prepare you for that moment and that season. I look back on the 13+ years of doing ministry in the local church and not being known and kind of being taken for granted. I asked God for moments in my life where I could be part of relationships and communities where I am a little bit taken for granted; not in a negative way but in a positive way. To be seen as part of the body of Christ and not the head. There’s only one head. That experience of being active in the local church—not just leading worship on a platform, but being in community with people and having your relationships with young people, teenagers and playing at funerals and playing at baptisms and playing at weddings and participating in the life of the body of Christ—those things stay with you. I think that has definitely been part of it. I had very small beginnings; the first thing I ever really got to lead worship for was a Bible study … no that was actually on a good night … it was with about 15 teenagers. That’s where I started falling in love with leading worship. The biggest fear I had was playing for 65 kids one night and it might as well as been with 65,000 people. I just think for me, that’s where my heart was formed and God definitely poured a lot into me and spoken a lot of things in those years that have stayed with me. For example, I remember being in a conference and God saying, “All you’re doing is standing up and supporting what I’m doing. Don’t worry, you’re not doing anything!”

    Because you do … you get in there and you’re like, what if I make a mistake or what if I mess up or you know? You fall victim to your pride and think like … look at me, I’m so great and I just remember God saying I’m doing all the work and it kind of comes from second Chronicles when the Lord leads that small army … he said, “Go and stand up on this hill and I want you to watch, I’m basically going to kick it!” I remember reading that early on and then carrying that into worship one night and God saying, that’s all that you’re doing. You and your little band of people are going to go stand up on the mountain and watch and look down and watch me take care of everything! Being married helps a lot!

    John: Amen!

    Matt: You know, my wife isn’t impressed at all by musical ability. It’s not that it doesn’t matter anymore, it just doesn’t woo her anymore … that’s all!

    John: I may need to have a part II interview with her pretty soon!

    Matt: (laughs)!

    John: Let’s talk a little bit about your new record. You have a new record coming out next month. “All the People Said Amen” and in listening to it, it’s a little bit different than your previous records. Do you want to talk a little bit about what went in to the making of it?

    Matt: Sure. I was on tour with Third Day and talking about what’s next, and I started sharing that I wanted to double-down on the experience of being with people. I discussed how I pray a lot with the church and love writing songs, but that I love watching the church sing them even more. So, when you record songs live, there are a couple ways you can do it. You can record a specific night’s performance or you can take it on the road and just see what you get. I was formed so much by live worship albums like “Delirious” and some of that stuff that was really spontaneous, that I wanted to do more of that. So we were like, “Let’s get going and do that then! Let’s try to capture some live moments. And some of them were worth shipping, and some of them were a little more like a jam session, but I think that kind of reflects what happens out there on stage. We had one weekend where we realized we had a perfect representation of what my ministry looked like, which was we were playing in a non-denominational church at a sports bar at the University of Notre Dame campus, right on campus …we’re talking across the street from the football stadium! A Franklin-Graham crusade and a Catholic church in Detroit. I thought, this is it! This is what I do! This is kind of where I go. I go wherever the Lord leads me.

    We tried to record everything that the Franklin-Graham crusade, the weather was really bad that night and so that night kind of got messed up and we didn’t get anything from it. We had those three nights and it was great! The night at Notre Dame was so special. I mean 500 college students showed up and God’s been doing stuff on that campus. There are kids there who are hungry and are running after Jesus and are trying to lift him up in that place. It was just amazing to be able to go there and all of a sudden I’m singing “Your Grace is Enough” and I realize that everybody has their hands in their air! I’m like, they’re not just singing any more, they’re worshiping God!” It was really, really amazing. We recorded that weekend and then we worked it out where we could record our set every night when we were on tour with Brandon Heath and we said, “Let’s just try to capture ‘moments’!”

    I think the cover of the new album is indicative of the music and the ministry that I do and it’s just mismatched. It’s a collage of a bunch of different stuff that reflects a lot about who I am. I’m a worship leader, but then I’m a songwriter who studied jazz in college. There is a mismatched component to all of it and it was exciting. I got to use my studio… I got to use my band that I play with live. I was able to use them in the studio for the first time for actual studio tracks and that was significant for to me. You don’t always get that opportunity, to record music with those you actually play live! It was great fun to be able to do that.

    I think ultimately what I’m trying to do is just help the Church remember who she is! She’s a work of art. She’s the bride of Christ. She’s the body of Christ. We have all this art … you know we have all these photos of religious art and photos of churches and buildings on the cover—and my life’s in the middle of it from my perspective—but the church is a work of art. Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s handiwork created for his good work which he has prepared for us in advance. That is the heart behind this project.

    Also helping people that maybe haven’t yet heard me sing live, but have heard songs on the radio. I wanted to create an experience that would make them say, “Man, I want to go see this guy live now.” Not just to see me, but more so that we could maybe have an encounter with Jesus together.

    John: Wow, that’s really awesome, Matt. So, now tell me. Who are you a fan of, Matt?

    Matt: I’m obviously a friend of all the guys from the Passion movement: Chris [Tomlin], David [Crowder], Matt Redman, Kristian Stanfill and everybody else. In fact, Louie came up to me and has mentored more worship leaders just through his sermons online and conferences than anybody else. I call them friends now but God used them early on. I feel a certain level of gratefulness. I was a huge fan of “Delirious” when they were around.

    Honestly, musically, growing up, I was huge a fan of the Beatles. A huge fan of Billy Joel, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, Nirvana. I kind of grew up listening to everything. My dad listened to Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson when he would cook dinner. My mom listened to instrumental music. I played in youth orchestra and concert bands and jazz bands. I kind of grew up literally listening to every style of music.

    I would say right now that the newest album I’ve been listening to … I’m trying to think … it’s so funny, when you become a parent things change. I listen to the Backyardigans channel on the Pandora station… that’s what I listen to when I’m home with my son. Ha!

    John: Funny. But of course. How old is he?

    Matt: My son is 18 months.

    John: Eighteen months!

    Matt: Yes. I just started listening to Bach in B-minor again to kind of get reacquainted with it. I had to listen to it in college because I was getting graded on it and I kind of got out of classical and plugged into listening to whatever was current, and then I was writing a lot of music.

    I mean going back and listening to Bach... or classical music in general… Bach and more on a contemporary level, Erin Copeland, who’s an American composer, it’s pretty fantastic.

    And of course, there are certain popular bands that everyone’s listening to right now. With the advent of shared music services like Spotify; this is funny… I used to go to record stores to find new music. I would go to a Family Christian store and go to the listening station and spend 45 minutes to an hour. I discovered Audio Adrenaline and Underdog that way. It’s weird. It’s changed now. You know? Now you go to sites like Noise Train, and find that a lot of independent artists are giving away their music.

    John: Do you think that you’ll ever do a film score?

    Matt: It’s kind of one of those things that’s in the back of my head, that I say to God, “Well, whenever you want to get around to that, just let me know.” And if it’s meant to be, just give me enough time in advance so that I can maybe take a couple of theory classes again to get myself ready.

    John: Or you could do like Smitty did. He didn’t call them film scores but basically that’s what they are… when he did his two pieces.

    Matt: Yes, the inspirational… I think I would probably do most of it. If I was to do a film score now, I would lean toward the sound from the Social Network movie, which was a weird combination of instrumental, electronic and acoustic music. I think that’s what I would probably go for, mostly because of budget. Recording with a huge orchestra cost a lot of money! Anything’s possible though, especially if God desires it to happen. If He wants me to do a film score with a symphony orchestra, who am I to turn that down!?

    John: Is your wife rolling her eyes right now?

    Matt: No, no. She’s upstairs playing cards with our son, but if she was downstairs she probably would be rolling her eyes!

    John: I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have said that!

    Matt: That’s alright. You’re obviously tuned in. That’s good!

    John: Matt, I’m assuming because you used to work at a coffee shop, you are a coffee-snob?

    Matt: I’ve gone through phases. My wife and I have been married for almost three years, and I remember for the first Valentine’s day, she brought me a hand-grinder. I embrace the whole thing; I was hand-grinding beans and using beans from a certain mountaintop in Ecuador or El Salvador, but you know, when you have a baby, all bets are off! Whatever’s in the cupboard that doesn’t have mold on it, just pour hot water over it and put a paper towel underneath it.

    At this point … black with one Sweet’N-Low or Stevia and I’m good to go!

    John: I love a good cup of coffee!

    Matt: I still do too. If you ever come to East Nashville, there’s a great coffee shop right around the corner from my house, and I will gladly take you there. It’s a really fantastic cup of coffee.

    John: I may have to take you up on that. I used to live down in Springhill.

    Matt: Oh really?

    John: Yes. I was there for six years but now I’m back up here in Grand Rapids.

    Matt: That’s funny. I was in Michigan last weekend!

    John: You were?

    Matt: Yes. I played … where was it Friday night? Flint, and then Saturday in Holland.

    John: You were that close man!

    Matt: I know! I actually flew out of Grand Rapids airport Sunday morning!

    John: We could have chatted face-to-face!

    Matt: It would’ve been great!

    John: Oh, well. Next time!

    Matt: I’m going to be back. I know I’m going to be back in April with Chris August and Bella Reid.

    John: Oh. Well, that’s cool.

    Matt: Yes!

    John: Hey, Matt, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today and I’m excited. I’ve listened to the new record, and I love it. I think it’s fantastic. I have your other records. I don’t have your Indie records so maybe one day I’ll try to find those somewhere!

    Matt: (laughs).

    John: The records that you have done, honestly man… terrific!

    Matt: Thanks! It’s been a pleasure!

    Burning In My Soul - Lyric Video


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews and was tagged with Featured, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Brandon Heath, Third Day, Rich Mullins, Michael W. Smith, Audio Adrenaline, Matt Redman, Divorce, Louie Giglio, Young Life, Ed Cash, Matt Maher, Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, Mitch McVicker, Delirious, Franklin Graham, Kristian Stanfill, Bach

  • Mama Don't Play That Game

    Posted on April 1, 2013 by Micca Campbell

    Micca Campbell

    "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." James 3:16 (NIV)

    The evening started off great. The breeze coming off the ocean felt soothing against my sunburned skin. After dinner, we promised the kids dessert at our favorite spot along the coast. That's when the night took a turn for the worst.

    When we arrived at the popular ice cream shop, the line was long. Anticipation caused my two younger children to squirm in line. They stepped to the right to look ahead as far as they could see. They stepped to the left to make sure the distance was the same as the other side. All their movement irritated my eldest son who is a great deal older than his sister and brother.

    Eventually he had enough and tapped each of them strongly on the shoulder. "BE STILL!" he demanded.

    I quickly reminded him there was a parent present, and I had asked him not to correct his brother and sister in that manner before. It was not his job to control his siblings, but mine.

    "Then do your job," he grunted.

    So I did.

    Right there in the crowded ice cream shop I put my finger in his face, which let him know I meant business. With my other hand on my hip, I looked up at my teenage son, making my message clear. I was still the parent and it was my job to take care of my kids. He was still the child and his job was to respectfully obey.

    It would have been so easy to ignore my older son's behavior, especially on vacation. But if there's one game I don't play with my kids, it's disobedience. God doesn't put up with it either, because our heavenly Father is looking out for our best interest. He longs for us to live in peace and goodness. Disobedience brings the opposite result. As our key verse states: "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice."

    King Saul is an example of selfish ambition leading to disobedience. In 1 Samuel chapter 15, we learn that the Amalekites had committed a terrible sin against Israel. God's instructions to Saul were clear: "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them..." (1 Samuel 15:3a NIV).

    Saul was a great leader, able to organize a large army. However, he struggled with complete obedience. Instead of destroying all as God had commanded, he and his soldiers got rid of what they didn't want and kept the best for themselves. But partial obedience is still disobedience.

    In not fully obeying God, they dishonored Him. God, longs for us to follow His ways, and won't play games when we don't. His heart is for the good of His children and with disobedience comes consequences. God rejected Saul as king of Israel, which separated him from the peace and goodness of the Lord.

    You see, God doesn't take an odd delight in disciplining us when we sin, but does so for our good. Like that day in the ice cream shop, I wasn't willing to play games either. As hard as it was, I had to refuse my son a treat so he would learn to obey even when his way seemed right. My prayer is that he will learn to trust and obey God even when he doesn't understand.

    Yes, God's correction is for our protection. We are wise to accept His discipline, learn from it and obey. It was hard in the moment to deny my son ice cream, but the end result is life changing ... a life of peace and goodness.

    Dear Lord, search my heart and see if there is any wicked way in me, and then, lead me on paths of righteousness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    One of the best ways to know God's heart and desires for us is by reading His Word. Proverbs 31 Ministries is so excited to introduce to you the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women, containing 366 of our devotions that unpack Scripture with you.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How do your actions affect the heart of God?

    What will it take to fully obey God in all areas of your life?

    Power Verses:
    Lamentations 3:40, "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD." (NIV)

    1 Samuel 15:22a, "But Samuel replied: 'Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice ...'" (NIV)

    © 2013 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with James

  • He Is Alive

    Posted on March 31, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again”’ Then they remembered his words” (Luke 24:5–8).

     

    He is alive and I am forgiven and my soul has been set free. He is alive and I am forgiven and my joy I cannot contain. He is alive and I am forgiven and my faith is here to stay. He is alive and I am forgiven and my love flows deep and wide. He is alive and I am forgiven because He did what He promised—He arose after three days. He is alive! He is alive! He is alive!

     

    What emotions did the friends and disciples of Jesus feel when they realized He was real? Certainly they were surprised by the joy of knowing Jesus was back, even larger than in life. Even though they had watched Him raise Lazarus after four days of death, their faith had forgotten. But now they were glad again because God raised His Son to life.

     

    If you look for Jesus among the dead you will not find Him. He has left the cold cemetery and risen to be with the warm love of His Father. Dead churches cannot claim the calming presence of Christ because they have forsaken the faith required to recognize Him. Look for the Lord among the living, those who live out their faith with bold grace.

     

    Remember the words of Jesus, and your faith will resound with reassurance. “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18). You serve a risen Savior who lives in your life by faith. Take Him at His Word, and joy will fill your innermost being as you celebrate His appearance almost two thousand years ago. Enjoy Jesus, anticipating your Lord’s second return.

     

    “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).

     

    Prayer: How can I reassure my faith with the reality of a risen Savior? Where are the places I can find Christ among the living? What words of Jesus do I need to constantly remember?

     

    Related Readings: Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Peter 3:18

     

    Post/Tweet: Look for the Lord among the living, those who live out their faith with grace and transforming truth. #amongtheliving

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

     

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Luke, Easter

  • Alive and Well

    Posted on March 30, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen” (Mark 16:14).

     

    Jesus Christ is alive and well. His earlier followers, taken aback by His death, initially denied His resurrection. They rejected reliable testimonies and refused to receive the truth of Christ rising from the dead. However, when they encountered the risen Lord, He rebuked them and then loved them. Unbelievers can loathe the Lord. Deists can deny Christ’s deity. Agnostics can be apathetic over His resurrection, but He is alive and well.

     

    Contemporary Christ-less cultures could care less about Christ’s resurrection, but it does not lessen His lordship over them. Everyone will one day confront Christ. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10–11). Easter is an excuse for Jesus followers to celebrate His resurrection and His relevance.

     

    The Lord is alive and well in your heart. His resurrection resulted in Christ taking residence in your soul and transforming your life. By faith you believed, and God gave you grace upon grace. Because He has risen from the grave, He has given all who confess Him as Lord abundant grace on earth and the promise of heaven with Him.

     

    “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). He is all you need.

     

    Lastly, you can live large for the Lord because He has triumphed over sin, sorrow, death, and hell. Easter is your eternal encouragement that He is alive and well. There will always be doubters, but do not dwell there. Focus on the undeniable force of faith that has captured you and millions before you. Because He has risen, you can rise above your circumstances, your hurt, and your fears.

     

    “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

     

    Prayer: Am I a disciple who ignores His power or one who proclaims His power?

     

    Related Readings: Numbers 14:11; Matthew 28:17; Acts 10:41; 1 Corinthians 15:1–58

     

    Post/Tweet: Because Christ has risen, we can rise above our circumstances, our hurt, and our fears. #resurrectionpower

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

     


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Mark, Easter

  • Good Friday

    Posted on March 29, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him…” John 19:16b-18a

    Good Friday is really good for those who have come to the foot of the cross of Jesus, in repentance and faith. It is a commemoration for Christians of the ultimate and final sacrifice for the sins of the world. Through a cruel and grueling death, Christ gave His life—His body wreathed in pain, so the sick could be healed. He felt abandonment, so the rejected could be accepted. He knew no sin, but became sin, so sinners could be forgiven.

    “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

    Oh what salvation and love—the Lord’s life consummated on Calvary. Oh what forgiveness—His raspy voice reiterated. Oh what compassion—His swollen face communicated. Oh what grace—His nail pierced hands activated. Oh what good news—His nail pierced feet initiated. Oh what humility—His crown of thorns demonstrated.

    It is Good Friday, because the good news of Jesus Christ’s love and forgiveness has been proclaimed around the world for almost two millennium. Taste and see that the Lord is good. He is good on Friday, but He is great on Sunday—because on the first day of the week He rose from the dead. Friday is good—but three days later is better—for He lives! Indeed, some who killed Him instantly recognized Him for who He was—they believed.

    “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, Surely this man was the son of God” (Mark 15:39)!

    Good Friday’s come and Good Friday’s go, but how is it with your soul? Does the cross of Christ move you to emotion—are you a grateful and engaged follower of Jesus? If not, embrace and celebrate the Cross. Ask your heavenly Father to restore the joy of your salvation, or maybe, you are coming to Him for the first time in faith and trust. Surely, this man must be the Son of God—who came to save you and the world from their sins.

    Make today a meaningful memory of what your master Jesus did for you. Linger long in reflection of the love that flowed down, and mingled with His precious blood. See His hands, see His feet; oh what love that makes your joy complete. You serve a risen Savior, who’s in the world today—He walks with you—He talks with you—He gave His life just for you. Good Friday is good—because Jesus is good—and His cross is God’s loving gift.

    “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

    Prayer: How can I celebrate Good Friday as a sacrifice of praise and gratitude to God?

    Related Readings: 1 Corinthians 1:18; Colossians 1:19-20; Galatians 6:14; Hebrews 12:2

    Post/Tweet today: Good Friday is good—because Jesus is good—and His cross is God’s loving gift of forgivness. thecross

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with John, Easter, Good Friday

  • Suffer with Me Awhile

    Posted on March 29, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Then he said to them, 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.'" Matthew 26:38 (NIV)

    I dipped my piece of torn bread in the cup of dark purple juice and placed it in my mouth. I tasted the ripeness of the fruit and savored the texture of the bread. "I will remember, Lord." I spoke the words in my head, silently thanking Jesus for the sacrifice He made for me on the cross.

    Within a minute, the aftertaste of the juice distracted my communion meditation. It was more bitter than usual and I thought about taking a sip of something else to remove the flavor from my mouth. Should I grab my coffee, or some water?

    Immediately, the Lord spoke to my heart: "Suffer with Me awhile."

    Sadness filled my heart as I realized how quickly I wanted to remove the unpleasant taste ... how fast my thoughts drifted from the suffering of Christ to my own comfort. And I wondered how many times my self-focus had led me away from obedience in the hard places of life.

    The Bible tells of three disciples who also chose comfort over obedience. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus asked Peter, James and John to watch and wait for Him while He prayed. During the time when our Lord was "overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," His closest friends couldn't keep awake. Three times Jesus returned to find them sleeping.

    For those disciples, it was sleep that drew them from Christ's request to keep watch with Him. What is it for me? What keeps me from obeying Jesus' requests? Oh, the easy ones I have no problem with. It's the ones that infringe on my comfort that I wrestle with.

    Someday, we'll get to enjoy heaven and all its perfection. But for now, the work God calls us to do here on earth is often uncomfortable, physically tiring and emotionally draining. Some days it's downright dirty and difficult.

    While my flesh would prefer a cushy assignment, I don't want to shake the nail-scarred hands of Jesus—the hands that touched lepers, the hands that stroked the head of a broken sinful woman—with hands that have never gotten dirty with life.

    During this time before Easter, consider what sacrifices the Lord might be asking of you. Perhaps it's serving in an area at church that's difficult, reaching out to an unfriendly neighbor, or mending a damaged relationship. Or maybe it's getting less sleep in order to wake up and spend time with Him through prayer and reading Scripture.

    Moving from serving in comfort, to serving in sacrifice, builds spiritual character and maturity. But more than that, our hearts unite with Christ as a suffering servant.

    Jesus asked us to carry our cross daily. Before we can truly appreciate what happened on the cross 2000 years ago, or the resurrection that happened on Easter, we need to deny ourselves and follow Jesus wherever He leads. And stay awake while we do.

    Heavenly Father, You are faithful and awesome. Forgive me when I disobey Your requests to sacrifice my own comfort. I ask for a heart like Yours that sees beyond the surface of this life, a heart that sees the work that needs to be done from an eternal perspective. Please give me courage and boldness to become a steadfast servant, pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Find new boldness in serving Christ by getting to know Him through Scripture. Proverbs 31 Ministries' team included 366 devotions to study the Word with you in our new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women. Pick up your copy here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Why would Jesus have asked Peter, James and John to watch with Him while He prayed?

    Is there something that Jesus has asked you to do that you haven't done? Define what that is and take a first step toward it today.

    Power Verses:
    Luke 9:23-24, "Then He said to them all: 'If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.'" (NIV)

    Phillipians 1:29, "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Matthew, Suffering

  • Shameless Audacious Prayers

    Posted on March 28, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. Luke 11:8

    Sometimes our prayers are too pretty and too pious. They become a work of art instead of a work that conforms our heart to Christ. We can pretend things are better than they are and we can lack a sense of urgency with matters that mean the most to our Heavenly Father. He wants our prayers to persistently punctate heaven for help, for wisdom, for the least, the lost and for those who need His healing. Indeed, our big God wants us to offer up big bold prayers with shameless audacity.

    Men and women tire of our requests, but not the Lord. He is ever vigilant to take our weary requests and revitalize them with His robust resources. Jesus is the Master of the Universe in meeting needs that seem to be a nuisance to the naked eye. He longs for His children to linger long in importunity for other needy friends. When prayer flows from an unfeigned faith, what man says is annoyance the Spirit commends as shameless audacity. Bold prayers breakthrough!

    So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. Ezra 8:23

     

    Moreover, you can be an aggressive advocate for others, because you have a generous advocate in Jesus Christ. Your advocacy for those stuck in adversity grabs God’s heart. Perhaps a portion of your prayer time is to lift the downtrodden to the Lord. Your heart will follow, as it seeks provision for your petitions. Also, pray for creative ways for your house to become a haven for those who need a safe place to stay. Your warm home will warm hearts to Christ’s heart.

    Shameless audacious prayers are the product of a broken and contrite heart. The more the Lord has of you, the more you will want of Him. The world brands foolish what God calls wise. Thus, don’t let go of dreams and visions that raise the stakes of your commitment to your Savior Jesus. He gave His all for you, so that you can give your all for Him! Lastly, pray bold prayers with other shameless servants of Christ. He answers prayers produced during intimate encounters.

    After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31

    Prayer: Heavenly Father,  I will pray shameless, audacious prayers on behalf of others.

    Related Readings: Job 42:10; Psalm 34:6; Isaiah 62:6-7; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Philemon 1:22

    Post/Tweet today: The more the Lord has of you, the more you will want of Him. #surrender

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Luke, Prayer

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