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  • I Under-Stand


    "... Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word." Ephesians 5:25-26 (NIV)

    "I just feel mean so much of the time," my friend whispers through the leak of tears. Downward, the salty droplets slip and so does her heart, her resolve, and her assurance of being a good mom.

    "I understand," I whisper back.

    And sometimes that's all that needs to be said.

    I don't remind her of gentleness verses. I don't try to fix anything. I don't offer solutions or articles or statistical data.

    I simply under-stand.

    Under ... to dip low and find that same place that lies beneath my outside veneer.

    We all have an under.

    And I admit to her, "I've felt mean so many times too. I've set out to have a super day with my kids only to be red-faced and aggravated minutes later. Buckling under the weight of my imperfections, I've wondered if I'll ever get it right. It sometimes feels like all the other moms are doing it better. But that's not true. All moms struggle."

    Stand ... to come alongside in a position of strength, closeness, and unwavering support.

    We all need those friends we know will stand with us.

    And I reassure, "Somehow, God shows us what to do and fills in the gaps if we ask Him. The fact that you're crying shows a heart tender enough for God's molding and shaping to occur. Don't listen to the world's answers. And don't fall into the trap of trying to be like other moms. Just saturate yourself in God's Truth and trust the gut instincts He gives you."

    Thankfully we don't have to be perfect. God has made a way to free us from the mistakes we make so we can keep going forward without the chains of regret. Ephesians 5:25-26 tells us, "... Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word."

    I love that picture of Christ washing us through the Word. Some versions of Ephesians 5:25-26 actually call this washing sanctifying.

    The Greek meaning of this sanctifying is hagiazo. When we unwrap the package of this word, we find three simple treasures. Hagiazo means: 1. To cleanse externally. 2. To free from the guilt of sin. 3. To purify internally by the renewing of the soul.

    Externally, I wash my tears away with the truth of Lamentations 3:22-23 that God's mercies make all things new. Past minutes are gone. But this minute brings with it a fresh start.

    Relationally, Colossians 1:14 frees me from the guilt. God's Word reminds that I can live in the freedom of repentance and forgiveness.

    Internally, I see my depravity but refuse to wallow in it. I recall the words of Micah 6:8 as a call to action. Another place to receive the Truth as a cleansing agent from fear, doubt, hopelessness.

    Yes, I understand. My need to be sanctified is great. Just like your need is. We're all in that place. We all sometimes feel mean.

    Unable. Incapable. Insecure. Broken down.

    So, let the Word of Christ wash afresh over you, in you, and all about you. And let the whispers of a friend assure you, I under-stand.

    Dear Lord, I praise You today for being such an understanding, loving God. Thank You for carrying me through every storm that I face, and for placing special people in my life to encourage me along the way. Help me to be that voice of encouragement for someone else today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: Lysa TerKeurst's New York Times bestselling book, Unglued, gives a fresh perspective on how to be obedient to the Lord with your emotions, reactions, and decisions.

    The accompanying Unglued Devotional: 60 Days of Imperfect Progress will provide you with daily encouragement as you learn what the Bible says about better ways to react. To order your copy, click here.

    Reflect and Respond: Reflect on the three meanings of hagiazo as they apply to your personal struggles and emotions right now.

    Power Verses: Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (NIV)

    Colossians 1:13-14, "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (NAS)

    Micah 6:8, "Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Available Grandparents


    “After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.” Job 42:16-17

    God gives grandparents the opportunity to be available for their grandchildren. It can be the most fulfilling season of life, because of the joy that comes from seeing the third generation follow the Lord with wholehearted commitment. Grandchildren need their grandparents for fun, support, encouragement, wisdom, security and a loving legacy.

    Do you have a plan to be intentional in your grandchildren’s lives? Grandparents who take the time to be with their grandchildren invest in the next godly generation. Do you want to be remembered for being available to those who desire you the most, or for being busy doing good things for people who probably won’t attend your funeral? Bless your grandchildren with your faithfulness to them and the Lord—pray for His will in their life.

    “When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?” “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them” (Genesis 48:8-9). Grandchildren need their grandparents blessing.

    What’s a grandparent to do if they are available, but the grandchild is unavailable? It may be a geographical challenge or a generational gap; whatever the relational chasm, pray for them to love Christ. Don’t allow distance to dissolve your relationship with your grandchild. Look for creative ways to go to them—relieve mom and dad for a needed time away. Invite them to join you on an educational trip to an interesting historical site.

    Moments with grandmother and granddaddy are memories that are not soon forgotten. Fishing, hunting, eating, reading, learning to drive, walking together and laughing are all healthy interactions that build a sense of belonging for grandchildren. In a transitional society it’s imperative that families find close community—perhaps you pray for a local  “adopted” grandparent that can fill in the gaps of absent grandparents.

    “But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:6). Commitment to family bears fruit that transcends generations.

    Lastly, if you are a grandchild then reach out to your grandparents. They will not be with you forever and they cherish every word of communication with you. Visit them often at their home, call them regularly and write them nice notes thanking them for their love for you and others. The elderly need the respect and care of those blessed by their wisdom and generosity. Grandparents deserve honor expressed with our time, talent and treasures.

    “‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32).

    Prayer: How can I be available for my grandchildren? How can I honor my grandparents?

    Related Readings: Proverbs 16:31; Isaiah 46:4; Titus 2:1-5

    Post/Tweet today: Don’t allow distance to dissolve your relationship with your grandchild. #grandparents

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

  • Mr. Del's Fourth Album, 'Faith Walka,' in Stores Today

    Today marks the release of Christian Rap and Hip-Hop pioneer Mr. Del’s fourth studio album, “Faith Walka.” Released on Mr. Del’s own Dedicated Music Group (DMG) label and distributed by longtime partner Universal Music Christian Group, the album is available now.

    As a former member of the hugely successful, multi-platinum hardcore rap group Three 6 Mafia, Mr. Del became a Christian and walked away from the group, money, fame and just about everything that he knew. He suddenly found himself alone, broke and homeless. He was forced to leave Memphis for a time after receiving death threats from those that were once part of his inner circle. But in the midst of his darkest days, he learned that God was sufficient, and that there was a calling on his life.

    “I started to feel an emptiness living the Gangsta Rap life,” says Mr. Del. “It wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought it would be. I started to have a conviction about my generation and the message and damage I was doing to it. So I left the Gangsta Rap life to pursue a life of walking by faith. This album is my report of what I've seen along my journey.”

    As has come to be expected, “Faith Walka” features some high-profile collaborations, including appearances from Canton Jones on “Forgot to Forgive,” and Rod G. Newman on the project’s first single, “Sunglasses.”

  • Family Force 5 Announce New Remix Album - REANIMATED

    Family Force 5 announces the June 18 release of "Reanimated," a 12-track electronic album. This will be a digital release with physical copies available on the band’s appearances at summer festivals. The album will be a perfect addition to any Family Force 5 collection, as it features three new songs and nine remixes of FF5 songs from releases "III" and "III.V" in addition to classic throwback tunes from "Business Up Front/Party In The Back."

    Some of the remix artists featured on "Reanimated" include Tedashii, The Toxic Avenger, Nico Stadi, McSwagger, Riley Friesen, Smile Future, André Allen Anjos of the RAC, and others. Over 173k fans have already clamored to the recent music video "Chainsaw" (feat. Tedashii), which will be featured on this project.

    Fans can catch FF5 performing many of these new remixed songs during their DJ sets at summer festivals. These parties flaunt the band’s characteristically crazy and notoriously engaging post-show experience.


    Summer Schedule:

    June 19-21     Alive Festival

    June 22          Big Ticket Festival

    June 26          Creation East Festival

    June 30          The Triple A

    July 12           Roller City

    July 13           Lifest

    July 17           Sonshine

    July 20           Beruna Music Festival

    Aug 02           Rock the Desert

    Aug 09           Creation Northwest

  • Resurrection Life


    "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

    I grew up in a family that lacked patience. It was a running joke in my maternal family: "The Capkas have no patience." I accepted it as normal and continued the tradition in my own family.

    The problem is, it made for a very unhappy home. I had a short fuse with my husband and our kids. I often spoke words I regretted the moment they left my lips. Tempers flared between my daughter and me, and I saw her following in my footsteps, believing the lie I believed: we have no patience.

    But as I studied my Bible, I began to understand the truth about my impatience. I didn't have to accept the fact that it ran in my family. You see, Galatians 2:20 tells us when we surrender our lives to Christ, the way we were dies and is replaced by the way He calls us to be. God changes us from the inside out! His Word tells us our old (dead) ways are gone and the new (alive) ways can take over!

    Transformation comes. Because Christ lives in me, I do have patience. I don't have to be that impatient mom who spews out unkind words when things don't go my way. Even though I was raised in a family where I learned an impatient attitude, I have within me God's power to hold my tongue, to think before I speak, to speak truth in love. It's the very same power that raised Lazarus from the dead and parted the Red Sea. That's the power that lives in you and me!

    I call it "Resurrection Life."

    The reality of Christ living in me—Resurrection Life—first changed my heart and then my home.

    If you have believed similar lies about who you are, hear these words and never forget them:

    Resurrection Life means...

    You are unconditionally loved.

    You are completely forgiven.

    You are fully redeemed.

    You are a new creation.

    You are totally transformed from the inside out.

    This Holy Spirit transformation is real. God's Word tells us that we are "more than conquerors" through Christ who loves us (Romans 8:37). Our new "living" self conquers our old "dead" self.

    So where we used to join in the gossip, now we turn the conversation around. Where we used to lie to get out of a commitment, now we just say, "No." Where we used to lose our temper and speak unkind words, now we stop, listen and then speak truth in love. Where we, though married, used to harmlessly flirt with other men, we now set boundaries with other men that are honoring to our husbands.

    Psalm 139 tells us we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Sin corrupted that creation, but the good news is that Jesus' work on the cross returns to us the power to live in the fullness of how we were originally made. Free from sin.

    Walk confidently in the newness of Resurrection Life!

    Father, thank You that Christ lives in me! May I know deep in my heart that I am a new creation, transformed from the inside out. Help me to live in the fullness of the incredible gift of the indwelling power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy Blight

    Reflect and Respond: How would things change if you truly believed you are a new creation and live in the power of God's Holy Spirit living in you?

    Read the following verses: Ephesians 1:4, Psalm 103:3, Galatians 3:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:10. What do they speak to your heart?

    Power Verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (NIV)

    © 2013 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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

  • Stay in Process


    “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

    Are you struggling to stay in the process? It may be the engagement process—he or she cannot make up their mind on a date, time and location for the wedding. Perhaps you feel trapped in the process of a job search—a promising door opens and then just as quickly closes. The process at work is a challenge, because the project never seems to be completed on time and not up to your standards.

    Or, for years you have prayed for the salvation of a loved one and they seem further away from the Lord than when you first started petitioning for their soul.  It’s in the process that God purifies our heart and gets our attention to go deeper with Him. The process may not seem perfect, but it is necessary to draw us near to Jesus in utter dependence.

    “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10). We all are a work in process that requires a prayerful process.

    It’s through a prayerful process that relationships are strengthened, lessons are learned and patience is produced. We may not like the process, but later on we will appreciate the wisdom we gained from God. Indeed, treat process as a friend, not a foe—see it as Jesus molding your mind and heart into His image of integrity.

    “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

    Be careful not to bypass the process because you may miss God’s best. The flesh faints along the way of His will, but the spirit is energized by faithfulness to Christ’s course. Success comes as you see the destination with eyes of faith and stay focused in prayer. Your patient endurance is momentary and  makes a difference in those who watch you.

    “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer” (2 Corinthians 1:6).

    Prayer: What process do I need to persevere in and trust that the Lord is in control?

    Related Readings: Jeremiah 29:4-6; Proverbs 25:4-5; Matthew 13:23; James 1:2-4

    Post/Tweet today: The process may not seem perfect, but it is necessary to draw us near to Jesus in utter dependence. #stayinprocess

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

  • Building 429 We Won’t Be Shaken Debuts at No.1 on Billboard

    Building 429 generates more groundbreaking news, as its sixth career album from Essential Records, We Won’t Be Shaken debuted at No. 1 this week on Billboard’s Christian Albums chart and No. 53 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart. This marks the first No. 1 album and No. 1 debut for the band, while first week sales nearly doubled early sales for Listen To The Sound in 2011. At the same time, the title track and current single has reached No. 5 on the Billboard AC Indicator chart, No. 7 on NCA Overall Chart and No. 2 on Hot AC/CHR chart. The song has accumulated more than 57-million impressions to date after only three months of radio airplay.

    Building 429 is one of the hardest working bands in our business and to see them reach No. 1 for the first time on the Billboard Contemporary Christian Chart is a proud moment for all of us at Provident,” says Jimmy Wheeler, Vice President of Sales, Provident Label Group.  “The entire team is privileged to work with this band and we believe this is just the beginning of bigger things to come.”

    Media has also embraced We Won’t Be Shaken with Worship Leader Magazine saying, Masterfully written and produced.This album is truly a joy to listen to. About.com exclaims, This reflective album will shake you if you’re breathing because it will really cause you to look at yourself, your walk and your real level of faith. Charisma.com says, This album will encourage listeners to dream God-sized dreams, and HMMagazine.com adds, Building 429’s new release, We Won’t Be Shaken, is a heartwarming record with songs that will be stuck in your head for days to come.

    Building 429 continues to establish themselves as a centerpiece within the greater Christian community. We Won't Be Shaken makes two statements to every believer - 'don't be afraid' and 'share what's in you.' I'm not surprised by the success of We Won't Be Shaken. Building 429 continues to point to a greater Kingdom. - Dan H., Senior Buyer of Music

    Building 429 heads into a busy summer of touring including major festivals and a stop in Chicago,IL later this month for appearances on Moody’s national radio show, Chris Fabry Live!, and LeSea Broadcasting’s Harvest Show and Live From Studio B.

  • Looking for God


    "Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!" 1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV)

    My granddaughter Elle is almost three. Recently we had a family event and Elle and her parents arrived before we did. It had been a few weeks since we had seen her, which is unusual. When we walked in the door, a wide smile filled her face and she ran into my arms.

    For the next several minutes Elle circled around the crowded room. Each time she made her way purposely back to me, placed both hands on my knees, looked me in the eye and said, "There you are!"

    It was as if Elle wanted me to know that, in the midst of a crowd, she delighted that I was in the room.

    I wonder if I show my Savior this same joy? I wonder if I seek Him like 1 Chronicles 16:11 teaches me to.

    In a crowded schedule, do I carve out time to find Him?

    The reality is that sometimes, if I am not intentional, my time with Him can get pushed to second or third place behind deadlines, bills to pay, errands to run, events to attend. And yet when I seek Him out and sit in His presence, I realize all over again how beautiful it is to worship Him, to feel the pleasure and love of a Heavenly Father.

    In my crowded thoughts, do I pause and say, "There You are!"

    Or do I let anxiety, anger, frustration, or worry take center stage, forgetting His promises of comfort, of strength, of peace in the midst of storms. Yes, He's there for He assures us that He is (Joshua 1:9; Romans 8:38-38; Hebrews 3:15). But do I ask Him to shine His Light on my troubled thoughts?

    In my crowded life, do I invite Him in to every area?

    Time with God is not confined to a prayer time or a few moments reading Scripture. Instead, we are invited to live and move and breathe in Him (Acts 17:28). That means that He is with us as we parent, as we go to work, as we reflect on a beautiful sunset, or as we comfort a friend. As believers, we don't just have to live. We live in Him, and He lives in us.

    Elle had many options that day. Aunts and uncles held out open arms. Toys and books were offered at every turn. Cousins gave her kisses.

    But she delighted in me instead. She didn't have to, for I love that little girl with every fiber of my being. But the fact that she loves me back with abandon is sheer joy for this grandma.

    How long has it been since you delighted in God? Or experienced His pleasure in your presence? He loves you; that we know for certain. But what if today you pushed aside crowded thoughts, a crowded schedule, and a crowded life to proclaim with delight, "There You are!"

    Dear Heavenly Father, I delight in You. Not for what I might receive, but simply because of Who You are to me. I love You with my heart, my soul, my mind. No matter the crowd I find myself in, with You is where I long to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    NIV Real Life Devotional Bible with devos from the Proverbs 31 Ministries team, including Suzie Eller.

    Reflect and Respond: Find a "There You are" moment in your thoughts or schedule today. Speak a word of praise or breathe a prayer of gratitude.

    How would things change if, instead of responding to situations with stress, doubt or worry, you looked for God in the moment? Instead of choosing these other things, decide to find the Lord and delight in Him in the middle of your moments today.

    Power Verse: Psalm 92:4, "You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done." (NLT)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • God is Good


    "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him…” Nahum 1:7

    God is good. He is good when times are bad. He is good all the time. Do not relegate God to the bad side of the ledger just because you are experiencing bad. Focus on the goodness of God, for He is good. His goodness is a refuge for you in times of trouble. Your security is in the safe environment His goodness provides.

    God’s goodness is the standard by which people act "good". No person’s goodness exceeds God’s goodness. Your goodness is but a reflection of His, because apart from the Lord there resides in us no good thing. “I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:2). His goodness is foundational for all goodness.

    Thus, Christ dwelling in you by faith, allows the goodness of God to flourish. It is one of the wonders of grace. Indeed, faith in Jesus unleashes the goodness of God in your life. Good works without the goodness of God are just good works for the temporal. But, good works, motivated by the goodness of God, reap eternal benefits. The Lord is good.

    People receive food, shelter, clothing, a job and forgiveness. This is the beauty of God’s goodness. He cares for those who trust in Him. Earthly goodness is fleeting. It is here today and gone tomorrow, but heavenly goodness is eternal. You can always depend on the goodness of God. Your trust in Him guarantees His care—His godly goodness.

    However, God’s goodness does not preclude His judgment. Rather it demands it—because God is good—He must judge bad. In Christ—it's all good—but when sin enters the equation, bad inflicts its evil influence. Evil inebriates people with bad behavior. Corrupt men and women are not conscious of the goodness of God. An insomnia of righteousness drives them to sin, as demons sear the conscience of the ungodly.

    “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

    Furthermore, do not be stunned or disillusioned when bad things happen to good people. God rains on the just and the unjust. His judgment does not always discriminate between the good and the bad. He wants our attention. He wants a loving and growing relationship with His creation for His glory and goodness sake. His people are good because He is good. Rejoice for He can be trusted and the goodness of God cares for His children!

    “May your priests, LORD God, be clothed with salvation, may your faithful people rejoice in your goodness” (2 Chronicles 6:41b).

    Prayer: Do I exhibit joy, trust and gratitude for the goodness of God?

    Related Readings: Luke 16:25; Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Titus 1:15

    Post/Tweet today: Our goodness is but a reflection of His, because apart from the Lord there resides in us no good thing. #goodness

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

  • The Afters - Life Is Beautiful

    The only true alchemy in this world occurs when trials turn to gold, the debris and heartbreak of life transformed and polished into shining beauty by a loving, unseen hand. We try to catch a glimpse of this remarkable change in action, yet human eyes fail us. However, once these storms of life pass, we see the afterglow through signs as sure as Noah's ancient rainbow. A loved one overcomes. Morning breaks after an impossibly long night. Grace thunders through spiritual drought with a mighty downpour of living water. All of this, and more, affirms the fact that yes, life is beautiful.

    Such was the thought going into the new album from The Afters. I sat down with lead singer, Josh Havens to discuss the lines between the lines of what made up life and it's beauty.


    John: New record. Life is Beautiful. Josh, what is underneath the title? What is the theme of the record. When you guys are singing about the idea of life as being beautiful, what does that mean for you guys?

    Josh: Well, this record is really a collection of stories that comes straight from life. It's little vignettes that come straight from our lives. It's the beautiful things that we experience in life, the things we're thankful for and the good things, but also some of the pain and the struggles that we go through. What ties this record together is how God is present in every moment of it. He's with us on the beautiful sunny days and the good times in life, but he's also there when we face the valleys in life and walk through the harder things too. That's why the stories on this record are a real collection of some of the joy and the sorrow that we've walked through and just God's faithfulness through all of it. Ultimately, I think no matter what situation we find ourselves in, God can make beauty in anything. That's definitely been our experience as we were walking through the making of this record.

    John: Was there ever a moment in the recording process where either you, individually or the four of you guys together, after a lyric is written or a song is recorded, you kind of just step back and go, "Okay, this is a God moment." Where the song almost becomes outside of who you are and God is speaking to you?

    Josh: Absolutely. Yes, there's definitely been songs where it's almost like you blink and you're like, “Okay, where did this come from? Where did this song that did not exist just a little while ago come from, because there is no way we could have just done this ourselves?” There were moments for instance in the song called “Broken” where I remember looking up, and we were all in tears as we were writing that song. The subject matter was so personal to us, and you know, I think writing in a way is therapy for the people who did the writing because you're dealing with the harder things that you go through and you're facing some of these things that are sometimes difficult to confront. For instance, with the writing of “Broken,” we were all discussing different losses that we've been through. I had just come out of being in the hospital with my son. When my son was born he had some unexpected complications and had to spend quite a while in NICU, and that was a pretty crazy experience. We saw other children there who never left the hospital. Parents that never brought their children home, and it was a difficult thing to be there and see all the suffering. We also saw God do some pretty amazing things and he really did show us His faithfulness in those times. I remember being in the hospital and reading the book of Job for comfort and seeing a man who lost everything in his life. I mean he lost his family. He lost all of his possessions, and then in the midst of that loss and brokenness he shaved his head and took off his clothes so he truly had nothing left, and then he fell to his knees and worshiped God. I just remember being so inspired by that and just thinking, “Wow, that's the man I want to be.”

    John: You guys had the opportunity to partner with the Erwin Brothers on their film October Baby. Then you made a music video for the song "Life is Beautiful" that was in correlation with the movie. What kind of experience was that like seeing your song being such an integral part to the message of that movie?

    Josh: Well, the way that that all came about was pretty interesting. We were actually on tour with Casting Crowns and we were working on songs for the new record. Most of the venues were these sports arenas, so we would have stinky locker rooms that were basically our dressing room for the day. So we would bring out equipment into these locker rooms and set up kind of a little mini studio. The idea for “Life is Beautiful” is one that's been kind of in my head for a while. I've wondered about that song and thought even about maybe doing a record with that scene for a while. We started discussing the concept of it and it just flowed out. It was one of the fastest songs we've ever written. We had it written and demoed within a day. Sent it to our manager. It was almost like once we started talking about the idea of things that we're thankful for in life and things that make life beautiful and those little gifts from God, it just started flowing. I remember sending it to our manager the next day after we had demoed it, and he said, "I've got to send this to the Erwin brothers because they just did a movie that this would be perfect for." Well, they had already finished it and turned it in, but they actually pulled it back and asked if they could make a tweak on it and they put the song in the movie because they felt like it would be a perfect fit. Then we did the music video for it. They had a whole campaign surrounding this film called “Every Life is Beautiful.” They didn't know about our song and we didn't know about the campaign. It just happened to be the perfect blend of ideas and the right thing at the right time that got put in place. It's been cool to see. It's such a great film. It's been cool to have a song that was a part of it and see the lives that were impacted by that movie.

    John: Josh, are you always writing songs?

    Josh: Try to. Right now we're writing songs, but not necessarily for us. We're working with some other artists on some songs. I try to keep fresh. It's one of those things like a muscle. If you don't work it out it gets flabby and you've got to work it back up and tone it again. It's better to not get out of shape. Songwriting is the same way. You don't want to lose it because it seems like once you practice the songwriting muscle as they say, you get better at it and faster at it and you're able to collect your ideas a little better. I definitely feel like once we're in the songwriting groove it's easier to finish songs and to channel ideas. I try to stay up on songwriting. I heard Charlie Peacock, he said he writes a song everyday whether it's good or bad. I think that's a great discipline to have. I'm not that disciplined, but I definitely try to stay up on it.

    John: What does this year look like for you guys? You're going on tour?

    Josh: Yes, we just finished a tour that we did together with Francesca Battistelli, and then during the summer we're basically just traveling all over doing festivals and fairs and things like that. Then come fall, we're doing an exciting tour. We're partnering with our friends Building 429 and we're going to bring out Hawk Nelson, some good buddies of ours as well. We're going to do a big fall tour so that's going to be really fun.

    John: Awesome. Josh, when you look back at The Afters touring experiences through the years, through all of your records that you guys have done, is there a most embarrassing moment that comes to mind?

    Josh: Most embarrassing moment. We've had quite a few numbers of them. We've had a number of embarrassing moments. I think for me, I've had some pretty epic falls on stage because I'm pretty mobile. I move around a lot and I go into the crowd and I climb on my piano and things, and I've had a couple of instances where I’ve had some pretty big falls. One of which was actually collected on video and somebody put us on You Tube. That's always fun. I think just the shear length of time that we've done this, we've all had our fair share of embarrassing moments.

    There's been times when I walked on stage and said the wrong city’s name and that's something I think most singers have done at sometime or another, and that's always something that's hard to recover from. And it’s like, no really, I am glad that I'm in your city.

    John: Yeah, wherever we are.

    Josh: Wherever it might be.

    John: Have you ever broken a bone on stage?

    Josh: No, I've been fortunate to not break a bone, thankfully. I have broken equipment before. My guitar has suffered through my falls.

    John: What has God been teaching either you personally or the band in the last month? You had mentioned a few minutes ago in looking at some of the songs you guys were wrestling with the fact that God is present in all things, both good and bad.

    Josh: Absolutely.

    John: What about today? What would you say ... you're a married man who has children. Speak to other guys that are just kind of hitting the daily grind, attempting to love their wife well, love their children well, and pursue Christ. What does that look like on a daily basis for you, Josh?

    Josh: I think that the reality is we all struggle with very similar things. We all want to be better husbands. We all want to be better parents. We all lose our temper at times. We all say things that we regret. We all make mistakes. I think what God has really taught me on a family level here recently has really been showing me through having kids is a little glimpse of the picture of grace. It's kind of given me an understanding of grace that I didn't have before being a parent, because anyone with kids knows that kids can be rotten sometimes and I have great kids, but they can still be rotten sometimes. No matter how rotten they are, it's not going to change my love for them. If they lie or if they hit their brother or sister or if they do something that I've asked them not to do and are disobedient, that's not going to change my love for them and they can't make me love them any less than I already do, and they can't make me love them anymore than I already do because I already love them as much as possible. That's given me a little glimpse of what God's grace for us is like and His love for His children. That no matter what we do in life even though we can be rotten sometimes and we make mistakes, that doesn't change God's love for us. He loves us so much that nothing we can do can take away even a single bit of that love.

    John: Amen. That is a good word, Josh.

    Josh: On the band side of things, I think gratitude has been something that God has really shown us through the years. We feel really fortunate to have done this as long as we have. Matt and I have been playing music together for going on 14 years. As a band, we've been touring full time since 2004. So we feel really blessed to be able to do what we do. I always remind my guys, if there's a day where people are complaining or maybe the bus breaks down or we miss flights or things happen that make the day difficult, I always remind them even on the worst of days that we're living somebody else's dream and we're so fortunate to be able to do this day in and day out. We definitely feel gratitude. It's cool to be able to see the fruits of what we're doing because when you write music you never know how God's going use it. Through touring you get to see a little glimpse when people come up to you and tell you these stories. We'll never hear all the stories, but when we do hear those little glimpses of what God has been using the music for, it's definitely encouragement to keep going.

    So what are the beautiful things in life? Havens sums it up thus: "Our hope for our record—and a lot of heartache went into this album—is that it will encourage people to see how God is working in their lives. He's not just there on the sunny days. No matter what we go through in life, God is still with us and life is beautiful—God is beautiful."

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