“Many curry favor with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts.” Proverbs 19:6
Do you act differently when you are in the presence of power? Are you able to be yourself and not become pretentious because of someone’s position? Leaders need people around them who will tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. If you are intimidated or awestruck by wealth and stature, you will tend not to tell the truth for fear of rejection or punishment. Bold believers bow down to no one but the Lord God.
Fake followers of Jesus are in it for what others can do for them. Faith is replaced with favors. Receiving is valued over giving; self-service is sought over sacrifice. Casual Christianity is an affront to Almighty God, because it creates an inauthentic culture. If there is no confrontation or hard discussion, then life is being lived in a bubble of denial and disillusionment. Someone needs to speak up and be real.
Leaders can preclude pretense by deflecting any air of superiority. Your transparency over loss and disappointment gives the team permission to express their anxieties. Take time to confess your struggles and inability to trust Christ at times. People in positions of influence have an obligation to invite honest evaluation. When was the last time you asked your family or team how you can serve them? What disappoints them?
Lastly, are you willing to lose a friend for the sake of being real? Genuine grace-filled followers of God are like gold. They are valuable, and wise leaders seek to retain them for their honesty and no-nonsense counsel. Do I have secure people around me who will tell me the truth? Do I honor honesty and appreciate authenticity? Loyalty longs to be around a friend who only seeks favor from the Lord Jesus Christ.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
Prayer: Heavenly Father help me to stay true to You and myself in the presence of power.
Related Readings: 1 Kings 14:6; Jeremiah 3:10; Philippians 2:20; 1 Peter 1:7
Post/Tweet today: We need people around us who will tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear. #accountability
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6 (NIV 1984)
As we stood in the parking lot outside my daughter's dorm, waves of grief washed over me. Lauren hugged her daddy and then her brother. Finally, I held her for what seemed an eternity ... no words, just tears.
When we began the drive home, I prayed for her, just as I had every day for the last 18 years. I knew it was time for the next phase of God's plan for her life. But the ache in my heart was deep.
As time passed, I learned to accept, and even embrace, our new normal. I enjoyed the extra time I got to spend with my husband and son.
But I couldn't get used to not encouraging Lauren in her faith face-to-face. We sent her to college with a Bible and a devotional book. But when she lived at home, we did these activities together. In the mornings, we read a devotion and I prayed with her most every day, from the time she was born till the day she packed her bags to move out.
Questions filled my mind. Without me, who would do this for her? Would she do it on her own? What if she turned away from her faith we'd been building for so long?
My questions prompted me to pray very specifically. I prayed for Lauren to make her faith her own, as I'd been training her to do all these years. I asked the Lord to work in her life in very real and personal ways, just like the times I'd pointed out for her to notice in her childhood. I prayed for His Spirit to stir her heart to read her devotional book each day, and I pleaded with Him to meet her in the pages of His Word.
God answered my prayers in a way only He can do. Lauren had been studying for her economics exam for days. She was worried she would fail because she'd been struggling with some of the concepts. My daughter texted me and a few good friends to pray. I wrote her back my prayer and a verse the Lord laid on my heart, Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths" (ESV). As it was sending, I prayed for Him to use this verse to encourage her and give her confidence as she walked into her exam.
I woke up the next morning to find this text from my girl:
"I opened my devotional and today's truth was Proverbs 3:5, exactly the verse you gave me!! ENCOURAGEMENT."
God taught me such a powerful lesson that morning. My role as a parent is to pray for and with my children and to model, to the best of my ability, what it means to be a godly woman. I was not perfect and often missed the mark. But when we do those two things, God fills in the rest. I only have them at home to teach, guide and train in God's Word for a short 18 years. But they are His for all their lives.
God showed me through a few minutes of texting that Lauren's faith was still building. On her own, she asked for prayer (which meant she too was praying), and she was reading her devotional book with no prompting from home.
If you have kids at home, pray for them, read God's Word with them and rest in knowing God is with them. You are building a firm foundation. You are paving a pathway that will lead them in the direction they should go.
Dear Lord, help me to train my children in the way they should go. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, lead me as I lead them. Draw each of us closer to You as we walk together in faith. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Read Lamentations 2:19. Prayerfully ask the Lord how you can pray for the children in your life.
If you are a parent or grandparent, pray specifically for one of your children. Ask God for wisdom to guide you on how to pray and share with that child you are praying for him or her.
Lamentations 2:19a, "Rise up during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children." (NLT)
Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions [at least 60,000] of angels? Matthew 26:53
Angels are at our Heavenly Father’s beckoning. They are poised at His prompting to support, protect and care for His children. Jesus could have called on a company of heavenly help, but He resisted and remained in the crucible of the Cross. He had an out for His suffering, however His great love led Him to sacrifice His life, so He could save mankind from sin. God’s angel armies are His agents who minister to our needs, but they may not necessarily deliver us from evil.
Your Father in heaven has His angels assigned to your well being. They constantly experience the glory of God, so they can surround you with His glory. Since your angels see the face of the Lord, they are your support to face your difficulties. You have no need to fear, because the God of angel armies stands beside you, in front of you, behind you, above you and below you. You are covered by His host of angels. Thank the Lord of Hosts for His help in your time of need.
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:10
Also, beware of bad angels who have fallen from the presence of God. Their pride drove them to displace God, because they wanted to be God. Lucifer lost the Lord’s favor and was cast into hell. Therefore, seek discernment to expose these impostors of angelic light. Oppose those who are counterfeit leaders, who lead unscrupulously in Jesus' name. These angels of darkness have dark motives that seek to darken our minds with selfish desires. Beware of bad angels!
Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
Above all, look for the angelic armies of Almighty God to defeat Satan’s forces on the spiritual battlefield. Like Job, your Heavenly Father’s strategy may be to use your faithfulness in the middle of suffering to disarm the devil’s plan to discredit your faith. Your obedience is oxygen to your spiritual lungs. Moreover, your angels adore the Lord with praise. Their example of genuine worship is worth emulating. Yes, your angels have God’s authority to support His will for you!
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. Revelation 18:1
Prayer: Heavenly Father I bow at your throne of truth and trust you as my King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." Galatians 5:13 (NIV)
My two sisters and I always wanted brothers.
Prayed for brothers.
Begged our parents for brothers.
So when the decision was made to adopt two boys from Africa, my sisters and I were in awe the miracle was happening! Our mom and dad assured us it was real and God was behind it all—He had tugged at their hearts, He had prepared these boys and our family, and He had called us all to say "yes."
Our saying yes to God as a family to adopt our brothers made me want to say yes to Him in all areas of my life.
That's when I promised God my life would be His mission field and I'd be sold out to serving anywhere He sent me.
When I was 14 years old, I went on my first mission trip to Nicaragua. I fell in love with the whole experience. Even though I had happily said yes, the trip was difficult. I was totally outside my comfort zone. But any initial craziness and chaos gave way to great joy and peace.
The following summer I went to Ethiopia where I got to see a different way of life on the other side of the world. I experienced jitters being in a foreign land with a language, culture, and food I didn't understand, but the adjustment time was short and my passion grew great.
Since that trip I have taken several more to Nicaragua, including one where I helped run a foot-and-shoe clinic. We welcomed everyone who visited the clinic, washed their feet, prayed for them, and then helped them choose a pair of shoes. It was incredibly humbling to serve the people from these two countries.
They are grateful for their lives. Very few have anything of material value, yet their gratitude and joy flows without ceasing. They laugh, sing, dance, and give generously without holding back ... even to a stranger like me. I went to give. Yet, I was the one who received.
I've found that when I say yes to God, a joy fills me and motivates me to be close to Him and to walk in His will. It makes me want to keep asking Him how He can use my life as a mission field, any where from my home to my hometown to around the world.
We don't have to go overseas to do missions work. Opportunities are all around. Who has God placed in front of you that needs help? Who in your family needs support? Which friend has been struggling with a temptation or a broken heart?
When God works through us to meet the needs of others—that's missions.
Let's turn our everyday life into God's mission field. I think we'll be amazed at what He does as we step out of our comfort zone and partner with Him!
Dear Lord, I want You to use me to love and bless someone today. Show me exactly how I can serve Your people, even if it's in the smallest way. I'm trusting You to move in my heart and in the hearts of those around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Do you know a young woman who needs to be equipped and encouraged in her relationship with God? Read more about Hope TerKeurst's (Lysa TerKeurst's oldest daughter) journey of radical obedience as a teenager in What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God, co-written together. Click here to purchase your copy!
Reflect and Respond:
How can you bless those around you? Turn your everyday life into a mission field!
Think about your job, your relationships, and your interactions with others as extraordinary opportunities to serve someone else.
Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV)
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder. Luke 11:21-22
Every life is ruled by self, Satan or a Savior. The desire for control crowns self, the believer of lies crowns the devil, and faith in Jesus Christ crowns a Savior. Self and Satan are strong. They can sit on the throne of a man or woman’s heart, but the Lord is stronger. The only competent ruler of a life is God, because He is the originator and sustainer of life. He is all wisdom and understanding. Above all, the Lord deserves all worship and glory as ruler. He is King of Kings!
If I try to reason what to do without God’s perspective, I lose the ability to make the best decision. I can seem strong as my possessions increase and I become smarter from evaluated experience. However, there is One stronger...Almighty God. It is foolish for me to crown myself King of my life when I am not qualified to do either: crown myself or be King. The enemy whispers vain suggestions of self sufficiency, but this is his plan to pull the strings of my pride.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Therefore, we are wise when we surrender to the authority and power of Almighty God. We crown Him as King over our life when we submit to His rule over our attitudes and actions. Since Jesus suffered under a cruel crown of thorns for our sins, we can crown Him as our Savior and Lord. Oh, the gratitude and praise that flows from our hearts to think that our King would die for us. Indeed, King Jesus has no equal. He alone rules us with grace, truth, love and holiness.
Have you completely and totally capitulated to Christ? Is every ounce of your being, being transformed by the truth and grace of God? It is in death to self that you find true life. It is in surrender to God that you find freedom in faith. It is out of respect for your Lord that you respect yourself. It is out of love for God that you love yourself and others. Bow, even lie prostrate at the foot of your Heavenly Father’s throne and He will lift you up strong in Him. He is your King!
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:7
Prayer: Heavenly Father I bow at your throne of truth and trust you as my King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
There’s nothing like life experience to provide a deeper, richer emotional palette for a songwriter to draw from when crafting new music. For Amy Grant, it’s been 10 years since her last full studio album and it’s been a decade marked by soul-shaking milestones. As she’s always done, Grant has embraced both the triumphs and challenges, distilled them to their essence and poured the lessons learned into songs that ache with honesty and reverberate with gentle wisdom.
How Mercy Looks From Here is the soundtrack of a life well-lived. “A lot of major life changes happened during these past few years.” Grant says. “So on this record, there’s zero filler. Every song has a real story behind it.”
In chatting with Amy, I saw, again, that here is a woman of deep faith. Deep love. Love for family. Love for art. Love for food. Yes, food. And love for God.
John: Before we talk about the new record, do you want to talk a little bit about what you’ve been doing over the last 10 or so years since the last new record? Is that too big of a question?
Amy: I’ve been… Ten years is a lot of life!
John: That’s a lot of life.
Amy: It’s not that I haven’t made music in 10 years. I’ve toured and just from a work standpoint, I never stopped working. Just had a little less energy for being in the studio. In the last 10 years, we’ve gone from four kids under the roof to one. It’s a big change. I have two daughters living in New York now, a son who’s getting his engineering and applied mathematics degree and then a lot of personal changes that you just never know when those things are going to happen.
There was the death of some good friends and my mom. A fellow musician, Will Owsley, who I’ve made a lot of music with. A good friend of mine who’ve I’ve played music with, my gosh, for 15 years, passed away in 2009. Anyway, I think there are times that are just sort of more creative, and there are times to just hunker down and be in life.
John: When you go through the process of creating art, is that something you more or less feel compelled from your own heart, where it just kind of flows from you? Or is it more structured than that? Do you sit down, and take the time to say, “Okay, now I have to work here.”
Amy: As far as song ideas, those just appear because they’re triggered by something. I might hold onto a song idea for quite some time before I sit down to put it into a song. Probably what makes me focus on an actual project is a deadline. I don’t know how you are in your life, you’re clearly a writer, but I don't know much time you make to sit down and just write for art’s sake. Since this last year I knew I had a record due and sometimes the responsibility of a deadline makes you disciplined. I consider it a gift.
John: Do you know how many songs you have written?
Amy: I don’t write 100 songs a year or anything like that. I’ve written only a couple songs some years, but I’ve done this for a long time, so I don’t know. Maybe a couple hundred.
John: Amy, you are a singer, you’re obviously a songwriter, you’re a musician, you’re an actress and you’re an author. How do you encourage some of the people that are reading this now, who feel like they have too much on their plate and they don’t have time being a wife or a mom or a daughter or a co-worker? How do you manage all of life?
Amy: I have to go back and say that I would use the term actress very loosely. I can’t speak for a man, but for a woman it might feel like we’re juggling all things at all times. But I think in reality that different things take priority, kind of in a revolving pattern. If you’re a working mom, there are times that a deadline at work forces you to put that on the front burner and there’s no rest until it’s done. I think maybe it’s good to say occasionally what matters the most, either to write it down or to talk about it with a good trusted friend.
If how you’re spending your time never matches up to what your priorities are, then I think we need to be honest and say, “This is my priority.” If something is a priority and it never matches up with the time that you’re spending on it, there needs to be a change in how we’re spending our time. I have done all those things, but someone told me that one time. Everybody’s life is so different that it’s hard to say what’s going to give someone more time.
The list of things I’ve done doesn’t tell you how I spend my time on a daily basis. For instance, we don’t eat out very much. You might think I do. Maybe it’s because when I’m on the road, I’m never digging into my own refrigerator. But I think the kitchen is the hub of the home. And because I travel so much with work, when we’re home, I’m almost always cooking something. I’m not a great cook, but I’m decent, so I always make sure there are good things in the refrigerator.
When I get really overwhelmed with work or I feel very scattered, I will go into the kitchen and start cooking. Easier said than done sometimes, I know. For someone who has a 9 to 5 job, that might not work so well. But you can do it on the weekends. I find that when I start cooking, I have time to think. People walk through the kitchen because they smell something good, and they go, “Hey, what’s that smell?” So there’s the social side of it too. And if you don’t have an idea at first of what you’re going to cook, just cut up some onions and put them in a little olive oil in the skillet and then it starts to smell good. My family may ask, “What is it?” I go, “I don’t know. I’m just buying time.” That’s just for me.
Cooking’s a very centering process. Somebody is always hungry and I’m cooking in mass, and so I know one of my friends is not going to have had time to make dinner or somebody I know might be sick, but I will just go, “Oh, man. I am feeling so scattered and really sad. I feel like I’m untethered. I can’t figure out what’s wrong,” so I start cooking. We all have our trigger points. For me, if I can start cooking, it gives me time to think, and then people come into the kitchen. My daughter will come in, sit on the kitchen counter and we just start talking. Anyway, those are some of the reasons I like it.
Amy: He only really cooks one meal a year, Christmas breakfast for the whole family. He loves to eat and so it’s nice to cook when you’ve got someone in the house who loves to eat.
John: Does he make the same Christmas meal every year?
Amy: It just kind of anything breakfast-y that you can think of.
John: He goes beyond just, “Here’s bowl of cereal.”
Amy: Yes. It’s like sausage, bacon, sometimes waffles, eggs. He started doing that years ago. It’s so nice to just sit there with a cup of coffee and watch him work. I like that.
John: That’s a nice gift. Amy, let’s talk a little bit about the new record, How Mercy Looks From Here. What went into that title as a theme?
Amy: It’s the title of one of the songs. I had that phrase floating around in my head for quite some time. I was anxious to write a song. I think the great thing about living for a while is that the longer you live, the less quick you are to say, “This is a good thing, this is a bad thing.” I just say, “Well, this is what it is, and now we live with this.”
John: In one of the lyrics in that song, I think you sang, “I would have given up drowning in my tears if it wasn’t for your voice all these years.” What’s behind that?
Amy: That song originally came from a really difficult time. I think the idea for that song was born in the first week of May, 2010. A lot of really awful things happened that week, and some really beautiful things as well. But with each extreme, what I experienced alone and what I experienced with my family was that we encountered a kind of gentle grace and mercy.
Some within, with each other. I’ll tell you what happened that week. It started off on a Friday, Will Owsley, a good friend of mine, a musician, killed himself. It was awful and I went to his home that night. His mom and dad had come up from Anniston, Alabama and we were all just in shock. Then it started raining on Saturday, the next day. The biggest flood that’s ever been in recorded history hit Nashville. I guess it crested on Monday. Like a lot of people, we were not physically hurt, but we lost a lot of things.
A lot of guitars that were at a storage facility and a rehearsal hall called Sound Check; probably all of our road cases and guitars. Of course in the wake of Will’s death, that seemed like nothing, but it was actually very difficult to even get in the car to go to his funeral because the roads were still flooded. Then it was also beautiful being with his family. And it was beautiful watching the community of Nashville come together to help each other out with the flood.
Then, as a family, we were anticipating the wedding of our oldest daughter, Jenny, which was that Saturday. We were forging ahead with this outdoor wedding in our yard and making those plans, putting up tents. The woman who was the wedding planner, and handles all the decorations, said her home was completely destroyed. She was living out of a hotel and we said, “What can we do?” She said, “You know what? I can’t get home until the water recedes.” Her car was, I mean, the whole thing was under water. She said, “I’m living in a hotel and I just want to lose myself in this celebration. At the beginning of a married couple’s life and I’ll just deal with the mud later.” Watching that, we were going, “Oh, my goodness!” It was the most beautiful, joyful coming together. All week there were preparations and it was just so great. My mom and dad were over every day. Then on Thursday, a cousin of mine was killed in Afghanistan. Friday morning I’m at their home mourning again. Extremes.
We were just talking about what a blessing he was. And his four siblings had sat around and made this recording with a friend of ours for several hours, reminiscing about family history. Just the timing of it was so merciful. Everybody was thankful for Skype, and that it hadn’t been months or weeks since they’d seen Adam’s face. Just processing, but feeling this sense of love and the mercy in the middle of it.
Then that night, we had Jenny’s rehearsal dinner in our front yard because the location had been rained out for her rehearsal dinner. Our house is at the top of a little hill on the street. She got married in the front yard, I mean the rehearsal dinner’s in the front yard and the next day the wedding was in the side yard and the reception was in the backyard. I got to tell you, that was such an emotional rollercoaster week, the whole thing. I came away from that week saying, “I feel like from every angle I have seen how mercy looks. “ It took a couple of years to write the song, but I kept going, “I’ve got to write that song ‘How Mercy Looks From Here.’”
John: I don’t want to say that all of your other records are not spiritual, because they certainly are, all of them are, but there are songs on here that go really deep. The one you were just talking about, “How Mercy Looks From Here,” which is the title track, and the first single “Don’t Try so Hard,” are quite spiritual. Has there been a spiritual awakening or a deep rootedness you’ve felt? You obviously have been talking about the various things that have happened in your life in the last few years, has God done something amazing?
Amy: Well, I think He always does. Whether you’re writing about it or not. I think that on this record, in particular, I wanted every song to matter. That came directly from a conversation I had with my mom. My mother passed away in April of 2011. It’s February, I was home from a road trip, kind of an extensive tour with Michael W. Smith, from Fall 2010 to the Spring of 2011. Anyway, I had gone by to see my mom and dad, they both suffered with dementia.
My dad’s still living and he has full blown dementia, but my mom … If you’re going to have to vote for a kind of dementia to have, Lewy Bodies is a good kind to have because it doesn’t change your personality. It just changes your relationship with reality. Sometimes it comes and goes, sometimes it seemed almost like she was in time travel or something like that.
One time my niece was visiting her and my mom was so excited. She confided in my niece that she thought she was pregnant, which would have been a nightmare since she was 78. But she was so excited about … My aunt Gracie said, “Doe, you’re 78. There’s no way you’re pregnant.” My mother’s like, “I am? That’s awful.”
And there was the time I had gone to see her in February. It was nighttime and we had our visit and then I said, “Mom, I’ve got to go pack and get back on the bus.” And she said, “Oh, you’re getting a bus.” I’m like, “Yes, I’m going to do a show. I’m traveling with Michael W. and I’ve been singing so much this year.” She went, “Ah, you sing?” Okay here we go… I said, “I do.” I’m so used to that pattern of her being there and then not being there. I said, “I do, I sing.”
“What kind of songs do you sing?” she asked. I told her and she asked, “Will you sing something for me?” So I did and she was so adorable. Then she said, “Can I go with you?” I pictured my mother crawling into one of those bunks and I said, “Maybe not this time. We’ll talk about it when I’m back in town.” I kissed her on the cheek and I was heading out the door and she said, “Hey, will you do me a favor?” I turned back and I said, “Sure, what?”
She said, “When you get on that stage, sing something that matters.” I said, “I will do that.” That was not our last conversation, but it was in the last eight weeks of her life. I’m dedicating this record to her. Gloria Napier Grant. I believe that was probably a driving force in the song choices. They’re not all of the spiritual nature, but they all matter.
John: Amy, on the song, “Deep As It Is Wide,” you have some quest vocals.
Amy: Yes, but that’s the only song on the record that I was not a part writer on.
John: Who are the other singers?
Amy: Erik Paslay. He wrote that song six years ago and I have loved it. I’ve had a copy of it for four years. I’ve loved it.
John: It’s a great song.
Amy: I’ve listened to it incessantly in the last months of my mom’s life. He is the one that gave me the permission to sing it with him. He wanted to do a group thing. Erik and Sheryl Crow and myself. I’m just crazy about that song and they’re both dear friends of mine. Erik and I were both at the studio, because we were working simultaneously with the same producer, Marshall Altman. I said, “Erik, either say yes we can do the song or no we can’t.”
He was really dragging his feet because so many people had asked him to record that song. Little Big Town wanted to record it, Lady Antebellum wanted to record it and he kept saying, “No.” I said, “Just say no, it’s okay.” He said, “No. I think I want you to be singing on this song,” and I said, “Okay, well great. What else? Do you want it to be like a group of singers?” He said, “I guess so.” As a songwriter, what you write, those are your gems. That’s clearly a great song. Erik will, hopefully, have a great career in country music.
I have good audience in the Christian music community and so I said, “Why don’t we ask Cheryl, because she’s more of the rock-n-roll background. That way we’re really speaking to three different communities. He said, “I like that. I like that.” Because really it’s about the song, especially that song. We called her up and she said, “I’m getting ready to lie down for a nap. I’ll listen to it as soon as I get down, and I’ll call you back.” She called back and said, “How did I get lucky straw to get to sing on this song?”
John: That’s great. Amy, do you have a passage in the Bible that you’re particularly close to right now?
Amy: That’s a good question. I spend a lot of time memorizing Scripture. I would say the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is swirling around my head currently. Really the whole thing, I think, because it dove tails with this book that I’m reading right now called The Epic of Eden. Who’s the author of that? Let me see. Sandra Richter is the author. She’s a professor at some seminary.
The songs on How Mercy Looks From Here represent a season of growth, yet as personal as they are, they are also universal. Everyone can relate to love, loss and the passing of time. “At some point in life you realize that some things really matter and some things don’t,” Grants says. “Living matters. Celebrating life matters. Seeing the value in hard times matters. Relationships and people matter. Faith matters. I feel like that’s where my head has been while writing and recording his project. I feel this is a very positive record. I hope it is life affirming. Life prepares us for the journey. You don’t know what’s ahead and that is one of the great things about getting older in a framework of faith. Faith is the one thing that stands the test of time.”
Amy Three Caregiving Tips
In this video, Amy talks about caring for her father who has profound dementia and what families can do to make this time one of meaning and spiritual growth.
If you like faith-based films that inspire and encourage you, then plan to see Home Run when it opens in theaters on April 19.
About Home Run
Baseball all-star Cory Brand knows what it takes to win in the big leagues. But off the field, with memories of his past haunting him, his life is spiraling out of control. Hoping to save her client's career and reputation after a DUI and a team suspension, Cory's agent sends him back to the small town where he grew up.
Forced to coach the local youth baseball team and spend eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, Cory can't wait to return to his old life as quickly as possible. As his young players help him experience the joy of the game, Cory discovers his need to find freedom from his past and hope for his future … and win back the love he left behind. With this unexpected second chance, Cory finds himself on a powerful journey of transformation and redemption.
Max Lucado says, "'Home Run' reminds us of the power of forgiveness, the richness of redemption, and the wisdom of trusting God to revive us."
Joyce Meyer adds, "'Home Run' portrays the church in its beauty—true life transformation through real and honest relationships with one another and with Jesus."
Tickets are available and show times are listed here for the theaters where this powerful, redemptive parable will be opening. Make plans now to bring a group to see HOME RUN on opening weekend, April 19-21.
Wondering who will be impacted by Home Run? Take a look at this DadPad blog post written by Jeff Abramovitz:
"Raise your hand if you had or know someone who had a difficult childhood. Raise your other hand if you or someone you know has struggled with some kind of addiction. Since most of us now have two raised hands put them down and get ready to buy a ticket for the opening weekend of the movie, Home Run that comes out April 19-21."
"I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." 2 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)
Tod's family went to church faithfully. That's what they had always done. But once inside the brick walls of their home, the story was different. There the masks came off, and Tod and his little brother lived with the painful reality of their parents' bad choices. Living a double life became the norm for Tod, and he learned early that Christianity was something you put on with your church clothes.
Summer, however, brought more than relief from school, homework, and the daily routine of life. Summer brought with it a short break from living in the craziness of his family, because summer meant time at his grandparent's home.
Grandma and Grandpa Whitwer were humble people. They served alongside each other as ministers, sacrificially laying down their lives to travel from church to church in many different states. They served well into their retirement years, and never gave up ministering to others.
Throughout the years they saw the pain of their son's choices, choices that drastically affected the lives of their grandchildren. But there was little they could do to intervene. At least it was little in the eyes of the world.
What they were able to do had a lasting impact on Tod. Quietly and consistently, they showed their grandson love. Their never-wavering faith was an anchor. Their unconditional love was like water to a thirsty child. Their integrity was a light on a hill to a lost boy. Amel and Elise Whitwer gave hope to a young boy; hope that there was more to God and to this life than what he knew. Moreover, Tod learned that Christianity was something you lived out every day, not just on Sundays.
Through the faith of two humble people, my husband and I learned that God's most effective influence often comes in quiet ways. God can change a life, and a generation of lives, using gentle, consistent, sincere people who love and serve Him.
The faith of a godly woman ... the faith of a God-fearing man .... it changed my husband's life. It changed my life. And it is changing our children's lives. Never underestimate the power of faith, and a godly legacy, to make an impact over generations.
Note from Author: Before Tod's parents passed away, we were blessed to see both of them receive healing and restoration, to God and to their families.
Dear Lord, thank You for the model of faith You have given me through the lives of previous generations. Help me to honor those people who love and honor You. Like them, I long to be a woman who creates a legacy of faith to those who will follow in my footsteps. Help me be the woman You want me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark,with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted themin Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. Acts 15:37-38
Sometimes a critical circumstance requires the leader to assert influence for the good of the whole. There is no time for collaboration, since what’s best for the mission can’t be jeopardized. Good people can disagree, but the leader is responsible to do what he or she thinks is right. The risk of a failed project takes precedent over the risk of relational rejection. Hopefully there is eventual relational restoration when a leader wisely serves by saying no and clarifying the course.
Yes, leaders lead. It is a disservice for the one in charge to not give direction when a situation is sticky. God places us in positions of authority to serve others by leading them down prayerful and productive paths. Followers look to leaders to instruct with integrity and intentionality. So, even if our ill timed decision meets the disapproval of someone we respect, we still move forward by faith. We serve by leading in doing the next right thing and trusting the Lord for His results.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. Psalm 78:72
You serve by leading when you reassess a person's past failure in light of lessons they’ve learned and their current faithfulness to the task at hand. Grace gives you permission to extend a second chance, working to restore someone’s youthful indiscretion that tarnished their integrity. Perhaps you take this occasion to bring a coworker back into good standing, so they have an opportunity to prove their trustworthiness. You serve by leading when you lead a friend back into faith’s fold.
Lastly, you serve by leading when you lead others into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. You lead well when the goodness of God wells up within you like the iconic geyser Old Faithful, intermittently boiling forth the refreshing fruit of the Spirit. The human heart is waiting for another human to lead them into an understanding of the Lord’s great grace. Indeed, the Spirit is interceding on behalf of unbelievers, God will use you to introduce others to His Son Jesus.
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip beganwith that very passage of Scripture and told him the good newsabout Jesus. Acts 8:34-35
Prayer: Heavenly Father give me courage to serve by leading others to know the good news of Jesus Christ.
Related Readings: Genesis 17:1; 1 Samuel 18:16; Isaiah 53:7; 2; Hosea 11:4; Timothy 4:11
Post/Tweet today: Followers look to leaders to instruct them with integrity and intentionality. #leaders
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Elle's tiny hands hold tight as we fly high on the swing. Every time I visit, she runs into my arms, glad to see her grandmother but more excited about the possibility of walking to the playground.
There's another playground I used to visit, one where I spent countless hours. It was the playground of my thoughts.
When someone made me angry or when conflict arose and it hurt my heart, that's where I ran to entertain 'those' thoughts. I escaped there to think about all the things I should have said. Swinging high and then low, I reminded myself of how right I was and how wrong they were. Words or situations replayed, just like a child going in circles on a merry go round.
In this playground I didn't have to deal with conflict in a healthy way, or speak the truth when it was needed. I didn't have to admit my own errors, because there I was always the hero.
One day I sensed God asking me to leave the playground. Like Elle, I wasn't ready to go. But He took me by the hand and led me away to a place of grace for those who hurt me with their words, reminding me that we all stumble.
God brought me to a place of well-being where I recognized that conflict takes place even in the healthiest of relationships.
And He guided me to a place of letting go of those things I could not change, so that I could fully embrace those that I could.
There were days I wanted to go back to my playground, but each time I saw a closed sign on the gate.
Not for you, My daughter.
Instead of hanging out in an imaginary place where I could avoid conflict and hurt, I embraced real life, with real people and real struggles. Although it took work to process hard situations, with each one I grew. It involved loving the people around me, enjoying each new day, and releasing hurtful events and people from the past.
Our Heavenly Father knows when we struggle with our thoughts. They can be a place where we work through issues with wisdom and care, or a playground where bitterness sprouts and anger is fed.
Is He taking you by the hand, like He did me so many years ago? If so, I celebrate with you. For He's leading you into growth.
My prayer is that you'll swing high in day-to-day joys of real life as a strong woman of faith.
Dear Jesus, I can spend hours in my angry thoughts, or thinking I'm the hero. Sometimes in my mind I put others in their place. That's a trap of the enemy. Today I shut the gate to the playground of unhealthy thoughts, with Your help. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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