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Family Christian

  • Take the Plunge

    Lynn

    "I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure." Psalm 119:162 (NLT)

    My husband and I had saved for a year to go snorkeling. With all the sacrifices we had made, I couldn't believe we were finally on the white sandy shore. Confidently, I grabbed my gear and prepared to jump into the clear blue water.

    But it wasn't like I had imagined. The mask felt funny once I got it on; how was I supposed to breathe like that? My heart fluttered as anxiety grew.

    My head screamed at me, dive in! Get out there. This is an opportunity of a lifetime! But my feet stayed planted on dry ground. Though Greg pleaded with me, even came and took my hand to lead me out to the deep water, I never got past the rocky shore that day.

    Twenty years later, my chance came again. Starting a few months before the trip, I gave myself a talking-to every day. Go for it, Lynn! It will be worth it. Just dive in and don't look back! I recited this pep talk as I waded in the ocean.

    My heart began pounding again, but I kept going. Encouraging voices beckoned me to come farther out where the schools of rainbow-colored fish swam. Holding my breath, I peeked under the water, shocked to see the cobalt blue and golden yellow creations. I even swam with a sea turtle! Before I knew it, an hour had passed.

    Did I want to quit? Some moments I did, but I reminded myself of all I was gaining by staying out away from the shore.

    There was a time when I avoided "diving" deeper into Scripture. My schedule was always short on time. Not to mention I felt intimidated by stories I didn't understand and challenges that made me feel "less than."

    I relieved any guilt I felt about not studying the Bible by reading a verse or two here and there. Yet, like that young woman on the rocky shore so many years ago, I knew I was missing out by not going deeper.

    When I became part of a leadership team at my church, I had to take the plunge. The group's accountability helped me be consistent in reading and studying the Bible. The daily homework navigated me as I learned to go below the surface. I found I loved it!

    Years later, I can't wait to hang out with Jesus and learn what He has to say to me each day. I still participate in a group Bible study now and then, but what I enjoy most is going through my Bible on my own.

    When we study God's Word, He reveals who He is and His plans and heart for us. As we explore different verses, their original Greek and Hebrew meanings, the culture the text was written in, and how verses tie in together, it's like coming upon a gold mine. See how the psalmist put it: "I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure" (Psalm 119:162).

    It was one thing to hear my husband's experience of snorkeling 20 years ago when I waited on the shore. But, his stories came to life when I dipped my head under water and discovered for myself the beautiful coral, shimmering fish and vibrant colors.

    In the same way, it's wonderful to hear what others have to say about Scriptures they have studied, to listen to sermons or to read books. But it's really amazing to dive in ourselves. Studying God's Word opens our eyes, heart and mind to learn from Him about His ways, His will and His direction for us. So go ahead, take the plunge. What are you waiting for?

    Lord, the only thing holding me back from discovering the depths in Your Word is me. Empower me to be disciplined and help me to hear Your voice as I study Your Word. Amen.

    Related Resources: Devotions for a Revolutionary Year: 365 Days of Jesus' Radical Love by Lynn Cowell is a book to help your daughter get her feet wet and take the plunge for the deep water of God's Word.

    Looking for a way you can connect to your daughter and learn God's Word together? His Revolutionary Love: Jesus' Radical Pursuit of You by Lynn Cowell is for girls ages 13-18. It's a great study for moms and girls to bond over!

    Dive deep into Scripture with the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women, filled with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team. Take the plunge by clicking here.

    Reflect and Respond: What hinders you from spending time alone with Jesus?

    In the next 24 hours, carve out a time for just you and God. You may need to set your alarm clock earlier. You may need to stay up later. Be intentional.

    Power Verse: Jeremiah 15:16, "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Unwise Argument

    Boyd

    “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’?”    (Isaiah 45:9)

    Do not argue with the Almighty for it is unwise and unproductive. Debating Deity is a vain and proud proposition. How could you know better than God what’s best? People possess a fraction of all knowledge, He owns all knowledge. Your perspective is limited at best, His view is all encompassing. You are the created, He is the Creator. You are worshippers, He is worshipped. You pray, He answers prayer. You receive grace, He gives grace. You sin, He forgives. You are human, He is God. Mind you, God does not mind sincere dialogue that seeks understanding. Questions regarding clarity of purpose and obedience are okay with Him. However, He rejects exerting energy around arguing about obvious obedience to His commands. The best way to relate to God is with agreement instead of argument. Agree with Him about who you are, as He has made and gifted you uniquely. You do not need to be anyone else other than yourself. You will stay frustrated trying to fashion your life after someone else’s, so be you. Let others inspire you to become better, but do not be overwhelmed by their abilities. God may have given them a greater capacity for activities and relationships. Be who God wants you to be, and don’t argue with Him about not having the opportunities afforded to others. He knows what’s best for you. Wouldn’t you rather have time to enjoy your family than to make 30% more  income, or even to double your salary? An increase in pay or a move to another city is not worth neglecting your family. You may argue with God and even get your way, but there is a price to pay. Guilt, broken relationships, hurt, and anger are not worth the trouble. Maneuvering around your Maker to get something may come back to haunt you. Arguing often means you are not getting your way. Therefore, call a time out. Take a prayerful pause, and align your way with His. Arguments can be resolved with alignment of purpose. Stay true to His call on your life, take responsibility, and do not argue with God or blame others.

    You have an opportunity to deepen your faith during this time of uncertainty. Cling to your Savior for affirmation and direction. Accept the truth instead of resisting reality. God is in control, He can be trusted. He will send you the relationships and resources needed to accomplish His will. The enemy tempts, so debate the devil with God’s word, and align with the Almighty’s purpose for your life. Choose acceptance of God’s will over argument. Acceptance allows you to channel your energy toward eternal matters. Argue less and accept more. This is wise and acceptable to the Almighty. No need to argue.

    Post/Tweet: Accept the truth instead of resisting reality. God is in control. #God’scontrol

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

  • Attentive to Children

    Boyd

    “Samuel continued as judge over Israel all the days of his life. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places” (1 Samuel 7:15–16). “But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice” (1Samuel 8:3).

    Children need attention. They spell love T-I-M-E. We can be so busy, even busy doing good things, we miss out on God’s best, which is spending time with our children. They need time to laugh and time to cry, time to run and jump, and time to be still and nap. Children need time to pray, go to the library, make snow angels, ski, play dolls, dress up, make believe, play in the dirt, climb trees, and play hide-and-seek.

    Parents have the tremendous privilege of investing time in their children by having dates, hunting, and shopping together. You can take trips, run on the beach, chase sand crabs, swim, and watch the sun go down. You can eat a peanut butter sandwich and pretzels at their school, attend their sporting events, and proudly watch their school play or awards ceremony.

    If we miss our children experiencing life, we neglect them. If we neglect our children, there is a high probability they will reject us and/or our faith. Indeed, their perception of dad and mom is their perception of God. If we are distant, uninvolved, and disengaged, so they will see their heavenly Father. Therefore, invest time, money, and love in your children.

    Children require, and in some cases demand, a lot of attention. Your role is to be there for them, to be available. Your quality time with your children flows from your quantity time with them. You cannot stage or script quality time, it just happens, and you have to be around them to enjoy its benefit. When children are comfortable, they open up. Sometimes unexpectedly they begin to share their hearts. These spontaneous snippets of time become precious, teachable moments. Remember, quality time requires quantity time.

    For example, after attending their sporting event, affirm and encourage them. They already know about their mistakes. They just need to know everything is okay and they will do better next time. The most important part is showing up. You are the first person they look for in the crowd. When you are there, it shows you care. You cannot make up for these childhood days, but there will be other deals, work projects, ministry roles, and business opportunities. Be careful not to let work or ministry compete with your family.

    When at all possible, integrate two competing responsibilities. It may mean a family mission trip or serving together in the church nursery. If work requires travel, take a child with you. Make it a special trip with just the two of you. Let your children watch you “do life.” Let them see you trusting God with a difficult situation or watch you give Him credit for a great success. Then as they mature into adults, your children feel accepted rather than neglected, they respect mom and dad, and they embrace faith in Jesus.

    Prayer: How does my child like to spend time with me?

    Post/Tweet: Quality time with our children flows from our quantity time with them. #childtime

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

  • Too Sensitive

    Boyd

    For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

    Pride is too sensitive. It easily gets its feelings hurt, because pride has a very high opinion of itself. Indeed, those who are overly sensitive believe they are beyond questioning or criticism. When someone asks for clarification or questions their actions, the proud move quickly to a defensive and/or attack frame of mind. Self focus causes hyper sensitive people to easily get their feelings hurt. Proud people have a protective process of projecting an image of perfection.

    Are you vulnerable and open to other opinions? Or, is your mind made up and no one can persuade you to think differently? Furthermore, how can we think soberly about ourselves? Sober mindedness is a healthy blend of humility and confidence in Christ. Humility sees even in our imperfection, we are loved by a perfect Savior. Confidence in Christ means we can be assured where He calls us, He will empower us. Humility is sensitive to the Spirit and not to self.

    My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Psalm 131:1-2

    There is a calmness that accompanies our heart when it is content and void of conceit. Our spirit is quieted under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit gives us compassionate sensitivity to other souls. The Spirit’s influence keeps us from being consumed with ourselves. We quickly admit our offenses, own them and ask others for forgiveness. We laugh with others at our goofy remarks or silly mistakes. Humility is not easily offended.

    Lastly, look to the Lord for affirmation, approval and acceptance. His nod of approval, His smile of affirmation and His hug of acceptance still your spirit. Your Heavenly Father has given you the faith to forge ahead for Him. Many will support your efforts, some will be indifferent and a few will resist. Regardless, do not take the feeling of rejection personally. Remember, like Jesus  stay focused on bringing glory to God. It is not about you, but Him. Be sensitive to the Spirit.

    You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low. 2 Samuel 22:8

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to be sensitive to Your Spirit and not to selfish desires.

    Related Readings: Psalm 101:5, 116:7; Isaiah 2:12; Romans 8:14, 12:16; Galatians 5:18

    Post/Tweet today: Humility sees even in our imperfections we are loved by a perfect Savior. #lovedbyJesus

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

  • Changing History through Prayer

    Sharon

    "In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, 'LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life ..." 1 Samuel 1:10-11a (NIV)

    Hours before I was conceived, my mom got on her knees. "Lord, if You will give me a baby tonight I will dedicate it to You and for Your service all the days of its life. Amen." God answered her prayer that night, and all my days have been devoted to Him in large part due to the fervent prayers of my mom.

    My mom followed in the footsteps of millions of mothers who prayed for their children. From the time of Samuel until this very day, some of our most influential Christian heroes became history makers because of their mothers' prayers.

    Samuel's mother Hannah poured out her soul to the Lord for years, pleading for a son. Eventually, God granted her prayer requests with her son Samuel, who Hannah dedicated to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:10-11a). He grew in wisdom, became a great prophet and judge, and led the Israelites into victory over the mighty Philistines.

    Susanna Wesley raised her sons, John (one of the greatest evangelists of the 1700's, speaking to crowds of more than 20,000) and Charles (who wrote over 9,000 hymns still sung today) in a home dedicated to the Word of God and prayer. In the midst of raising 10 children, she would spend two hours a day in personal prayer. On days she couldn't find a place of solitude, she would lift her apron over her head to be alone with God.

    George Washington was known for his humility, perseverance and dignity. His mother Mary raised him and his siblings as a single mother after her husband died when George was 10. It is recorded that she went to a nearby rock outside her house to pray continually. George wrote letters to his mother while on the battlefield of the Revolutionary War, that he escaped death when bullets went through his coat and horses were shot out from under him. Miracle after miracle happened to George, and he honored his praying mother with these words: "All that I am I owe to my mother."

    Billy Graham has led nearly three million people to freedom in Christ and has preached the Gospel to more than 80 million people during his lifetime. He has said of all the people he has ever known, his mother, Morrow, had the greatest influence on his life. She would gather the family to listen to the Bible and pray together. She and his dad would pray for Billy each morning at 10:00.

    Every Christian mother contending, interceding and praying for her children has the potential to change the course of history for God's glory. Our world is in need of God-filled history makers to rise up. I'm going to pray more diligently than ever for our children and their future and will stand on these promises of God:

    Matthew 21:22, "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (NKJV).

    John 14:13-14, "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (NKJV).

    I will pray as my mother, Hannah, Susanna, Mary, and Morrow did for their children. I will pray for my children and for generations to come with unwavering passion and persistence. Will you join me?

    Let's rise up and be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might as we pray to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can think or imagine.

    Father, You hear our prayers, and You promise to answer them, according to Your will. Teach me how to pray for my, and other's, children that they might become fishers of men and bring You glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: Scripture calls us to care for all children. In Fields of the Fatherless, Tom Davis shares God's heart for children and how we can be the hands and feet of Jesus to kids.

    Prayers for a Woman's Soul by Julie Gillies

    Reflect and Respond: Pick several Scriptures to pray specifically for your children.

    Write out your prayers for your children in a notebook or save them in a special file on your computer. As God answers them, record how He works. Keep this to pass down to your children.

    Power Verse: Colossians 1:9, "And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding ..." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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

  • Absolutes Allow Freedom

    Boyd

    “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” Judges 21:25

    Spiritual and moral decline is the fruit of a nation or person who abandons absolutes. Once absolutes are dismissed liberties are limited. A decline in spiritual fervor and moral purity always leads to the loss of freedom. For example, a home or car left unlocked in the past is locked today for fear of robbery. Indeed, small loses of freedom lead to larger loses of freedom. Without standards based on absolutes, absolutely anything can go.

    The threat of stealing moves from your home to corporate America where in some cases billions of dollars have been bilked to justify a short-term allusion of success to investors. Immoral and unspiritual individuals become deceptive and dishonest if allowed to do “what is right in their own eyes”. Without boundaries and absolutes anything goes and if anything goes, your freedoms will deteriorate and eventually be destroyed.

    The cultural battle that rages in our country is over the soul of our society. If absolutes win then our children and grandchildren will see their cherished rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness extended. Therefore, will we bow to the false promise of freedom wrapped in the guise of no absolutes, or will we expose the lies and uphold God’s standards and His definition of absolutes? People flourish where freedom loudly rings!

    We lead out of love and compassion, however there are behavioral boundaries to be guarded with vigilance. When the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage are under attack we cannot sit passively by and just pray. As followers of Jesus Christ we have a mandate to defend these bedrocks of civilization. Yes we are busy, and yes we have our own problems to deal with, but “you ain’t seen nothing yet” if good people do nothing.

    Your freedoms will continue to deteriorate like the “frog in the kettle”, unaware but slowly boiling himself to death. We should be the thermostats of society not the barometers; the influencers rather than the ones being influenced. Consider how you might get involved in the PTA at your child’s school or the local government. Volunteer in church or ministries that need your skill set, gifts and passion. Model the fruit of the Spirit (patience, gentleness, self-control…), as you influence the culture for Christ.

    Public policy is a reflection of private morality and spirituality. Absolutes abided by absolutely guarantee your freedoms. So, by God’s grace continue to raise the bar of expectations and absolutes, so that “everyone is doing what is right in the Lord’s eyes”.

    The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. Psalm 11:4

    Prayer: How can I best model and live out His absolutes in my life and in the life of my family? How would Christ have me engage in our cultural battle?

    Related Readings: Genesis 4:7; Deuteronomy 6:18; Galatians 5:22; Hebrews 13:7-9

    Post/Tweet today: Once absolutes are dismissed liberties are limited. #absolutes

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

  • Afraid to Turn the Next Corner

    Lysa

    "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)

    You know how some people love the thrill of being surprised? They love surprise parties. They would love to show up at work one day and be told they are actually going on a surprise vacation and be whisked from their desk to paradise in just a few hours.

    They would love to have one of those makeover shows pop up at their house with a film crew and be told they're getting a whole new wardrobe.

    Surprises feel thrilling to them. Like the thrill some people get when a roller coaster ride they thought was over suddenly takes off again and starts doing upside down loops. They throw their hands in the air and embrace the thrill of the unknown.

    They call that fun.

    I don't.

    I love a good birthday party. But I don't want it to be surprised.

    I love a good vacation. But I don't want it to be planned for me.

    I love winning stuff and would freely accept a gift certificate for a new wardrobe. But I don't want anyone to pick out the clothes for me.

    I like (not love) a roller coaster. I don't mind when it finally crests the lift hill and then careens downward like the bottom just fell out of the world. But I don't want it to take unexpected twists and turns.

    This dislike of surprises can usually be managed with all the things I mentioned.

    My friends know not to throw me a surprise party. No one is looking to give me a surprise vacation or new wardrobe. And before getting on a roller coaster, I thoroughly check it out and know its patterned route.

    But life is different.

    Life twists and turns and throws loops into those places we think will be flat and smooth. Because that's what life does. Sometimes it all just catches us off guard.

    And at the end of the day, I guess that's why I don't like to be surprised. I can't stand to get caught off guard. It makes me feel exposed and afraid.

    But slowly, I'm learning God can bring good out of feeling exposed and afraid.

    That vulnerable place reminds us we have needs beyond what we can manage by ourselves. It reminds us we need God. Desperately. Completely.

    And into that gap between what we can manage on our own and what we can't, that's right where faith steps in and has the opportunity to find deep roots. Roots that dig down and break up previously unearthed places within us.

    Our faith doesn't just need to grow big, it needs to grow deep. Yes, we need deep faith roots.

    I want to have faith like the believer that Jeremiah describes as, "... a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:8).

    Deep roots anchor us when surprises blow like strong, unruly winds.

    Deep roots hold us steady during the storm that didn't show up on the radar.

    Deep roots find nourishment when the surface gets awfully dry.

    Deep roots allow for growth not previously possible.

    Deep roots yield rich fruit.

    So, I'm learning to not be so afraid of what might be around the next corner. Even if it does catch me off guard. I close my eyes and whisper ... "deeper still."

    Dear Lord, deep roots of faith–that's what I need to grow today. Help me to trust in You above all else. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: Do you want to grow your faith? Lysa TerKeurst's book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, will help you do just that as you learn to walk in radical obedience to the Lord each day. Click here to purchase your copy!

    Reflect and Respond: Is there something dividing your heart and distracting you from knowing God more?

    Pray a courageous prayer. Ask God to show you one distraction you could distance yourself from to more fully embrace growing your faith.

    Power Verses: Psalm 52:8, "But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Christ and Country

    Boyd

    “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind. Psalm 33:12-13

    God blesses a country that honors Him, but He brings down a country that dishonors Him. It honors Him for His people to pray in earnest for righteousness to reign in religion, the work place, seats of government and the home. It dishonors the Lord when we behave like His commands are suggestions and we marginalize His mandates. Countries founded on Christ are blessed if they continue with Christ.

    Where is our Christ conscientiousness? Do our actions reflect accountability to Almighty God and His ultimate judgment? Faith without the fear of God is weak and anemic in the face of moral relativism, academic attacks and the indulgences of affluence. A nation who fears the Lord fears sin and its deadly consequences. Thus, Christians are called by Christ to engage in their communities with compassion and a standard of right and wrong.

    The law of the Lord is the basis of the law of the land in a country that honors Christ. The Bible is clear, “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous” (Romans 2:12-13). God blesses a nation who obeys His laws.

    Therefore, for our children’s sake, let's raise our standards of acceptable actions for preachers, politicians and parents. Let’s return to public prayers of dependence on the Lord and private prayers of repentance from sin. Without God’s blessing a country creeps into moral chaos, an economic meltdown and institutional irrelevance. But, with God’s blessing a country thrives on trust in Him. We desperately need to stay bless-able before the Lord.

    If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

    Prayer: Am I a citizen who unashamedly represents Christ in my community? Do I pray with persistence and humility for repentance among God’s people?

    Related Readings: Exodus 19:5-6; Psalm 144:15; Romans 12:14-15; 1 Peter 2:9

    Post/Tweet today: Countries founded on Christ are blessed if they continue with Christ. #foundingfaith

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

  • Michael Landon Jr. - Leaving a Legacy in Film

    Michael Landon Jr., son of the late television legend, Michael Landon, has been in the film business for over 25 years.  Educated at USC and a Directing Fellow graduate of the American Film Institute, he has worked in just about every capacity of the movie making process including film loader, 1st and 2nd assistant cameraman, stedicam operator, Director of Photography, apprentice film editor, production assistant, and actor.

    Our buyer of DVDs had a candid conversation with Michael on his upbringing, his work in the past and what he working on now.

    Alex: So we'll kind of start out with a general question about your background. How have you seen changes in Hollywood from your days in Little House on the Prairie to your dad's involvement in Highway to Heaven, and to where Hollywood is today? How have you seen it change during that time?

    Michael: Well, there have been a lot of changes that have taken place since the Little House days. So there are different aspects and components to the business, right? For example, when Little House was around, you had three major networks, and they controlled most of the content on television, maybe four networks. Now there are literally hundreds and hundreds of channels to choose from. So the idea of families sitting down together and experiencing storytelling, whatever that might be, is no longer around. Everybody has a TV in a different room. And since there's specific, narrower targeting of the audience--stuff for teens, little ones, grownups, etc.--no one's sitting down and experiencing storytelling anymore together. That's definitely one thing I've seen.

    The other side is all of the different avenues in which media is being fed to us. It's not just TVs. It's the Internet, streaming, iPhones and iPads. And so it's coming in every sort of way, and there's the emergence of these social media things like YouTube and Twitter and Facebook, and other ways that media is coming and pretty much bombarding our homes.

    Then there's the content issue. Programming content has radically changed, which to me is extremely unfortunate. Family programming is almost completely extinct. There are a few reality shows that I feel like are probably fine, the singing shows and the dancing shows and things like that, where the content is suitable for the entire family for the most part. But gone are the days of the Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven and Touched By An Angel, and TV series like that. Now, fortunately, I do have the opportunity to create a new TV series for Hallmark based on a very popular Janette Oke book, When Calls the Heart. That is actually Hallmark's second foray into TV series work. So at least now there's an opportunity for families to have an alternative to the very sexualized sitcoms or the gritty cop forensic shows that currently permeate the airwaves.

    Alex: So what do you think that the lack of family type of entertainment has done to the family unit, you know, the idea of sitting down and all watching stuff together on a regular basis? What do you think that that causes in a family dynamic?

    Michael: It's hard to probably calculate exactly what the repercussions are. I can't imagine it not having some detrimental effect to the family. I mean, technology is amazing, the way we use it, the way we can quickly disseminate information back and forth between each other. But at the same time, obviously, there is this fragmented aspect of being together, where everybody is in the same room and yet not really present with each other. They're on their phone and tweeting, or emailing or texting their friends. It's definitely breaking down the family unit in a way. It doesn't allow for intimacy to really grab hold of families. And also, I can't imagine that the increased and different content isn't breaking down the family unit as well. It clearly is. The messaging that's coming out of a lot of these shows sometimes is sexually promiscuous or shows a lack of respect for authority whether it be for parents or teachers or whoever. I mean, these are messages that our children are being bombarded with constantly--no holds barred. It seems nothing is really off limits. If you advocate limits, then you're against freedom of speech. It's always spun off in a very kind of negative tone.

    Alex: Michael, what do you think? Is life imitating art? Or is art imitating life in television and entertainment right now?

    Michael: Well, I definitely think they're pushing both, right? I think they're feeding off of each other. And I think we see that. I don't know the statistics, but I can just imagine in terms of the age of sexual contact between young people is getting lower and lower. The sexually transmitted diseases are out of control, from my understanding. Again, the respect issue for parents and teachers is completely falling apart in many areas. So, I think the media is feeding off society, and society is feeding off the media, and it's not good.

    Alex: So, let me ask you this, kind of along those same lines. You went to USC film school, right? One of the most prestigious film schools in the country, to kind of learn your craft. And obviously you grew up in the Hollywood business to some extent. What would you say, as a believer, what would you tell Christian parents whose kids want to grow up and be in the entertainment business in some way? How would you guide and direct them to be a part of the business?

    Michael: Right. Just a clarification, though. I did go to USC, but I was not in their film program.

    Alex: I guess I just assumed that.

    Michael: That was the game plan, but I ended up going to AFI for film studies.

    Alex: Got it.

    Michael: American Film Institute. I was a directing fellow there. It's a great question, because I think that many Christian parents see the business and they're terrified of what it will do to their children, and how it will affect them and the people that they'll come in contact with. It's a tough business. The film business is really, really tough. It's extremely competitive. If you're in front of the camera, your ability to make a living is very difficult, especially if you're going to keep your integrity in terms of the projects that you'll pick and choose. Because you'll see that it's a limited amount of family fare. A lot of it, especially in the younger category, is due to the fact that there are a lot of horror films out there, and teen party kinds of films. It's basically adults who run the business, and they know what teenagers want to see. So it's not an easy decision. I would say, however, at the same time, that the business is craving talented storytellers who want to tell stories that will be uplifting to families; ones that deal with issues of faith, forgiveness and love. So, I would probably still encourage a Christian family whose son or daughter is passionate about it—and they have to be passionate because this business is really tough. It's very competitive. If they're really passionate, you see signs of greatness when it comes to acting or writing, and I would encourage them to allow their children to become involved in that case.

    Alex: And so as a producer, or generator, I should say, both on the production and the directing end of Christian content, you're one of the most prolific people in our industry who generate content. How do you personally choose the projects that you get involved with?

    Michael: Well, a lot of it is generated by certain properties that I've purchased the rights to, for example, such as the works of Jeanette Oke, Beverly Lewis and Francine Rivers. The content is coming directly from like-minded storytellers, so that's definitely one avenue. Then there are other projects I'm generating, either through novels or I'm being hired to direct, for example, The Ultimate Life. So I, you know, it's a story that just needs to resonate, and then I'm going to try to either get the job or develop it. But the first thing that has to happen is that the story has to resonate with me deeply. I don't see myself as a Christian filmmaker. I see myself as a filmmaker who happens to be Christian. And I think there is a difference there.

    Alex: Talk about that difference.

    Michael: I think one main example of the difference would be that I see myself as someone who doesn't try to work outside the system, but work with the system. I don't try just to hire Christian actors and actresses. I try to hire the best actors and actresses to play the roles. That goes along with anybody else on my crew. I try to hire the best DP (Director of Photography). So I think that's probably one of the main differences. Not everything that I do has to be Christian, per se.

    Alex: Yeah, and I think from our perspective in the entertainment business, in any line of work that's what we're called to do as believers, right? Is to use our gifts and talents and apply them to being the best at that particular trade. So it's a good analogy, and I apologize for stating it the way I did. I should have stated that better. You don't find a Christian plumber and a Christian car repairman. You find a car repair guy who happens to be a Christian.

    Michael: That's right.

    Alex: For various reasons. You touched on Janette Oke. Obviously you had a lot of success working with the Hallmark Channel, starting with the Love Comes Softly series and that piece. And it's been several years now since that series started, and it had a very, very successful run. Tell us a little bit about how you got involved with Jeanette and that book series, and what that's meant to you in your career.

    Michael: Oh, Love Comes Softly was huge for me. The interesting thing about that particular property was that it took me 10 years to get made. Most people don't know that fact. But it was something that I championed for 10 years. When I started pitching it and shopping it around Hollywood, everybody just didn't get it from the title on down. They just thought it was too soft. You know, no one would be interested in this type of storytelling anymore. The Little House days are over. And then, so I knew that the next step was going to be, I needed to write the script. So I worked on it and co-wrote it with Cindy Kelly, who was a writer that I co-wrote The Velveteen Rabbit with, and had a certain amount of success with that. We wrote the screenplay and it still took a few years to finally land a home. Hallmark finally stepped up to the plate. Even they were a bit skeptical at the time, but when it aired, it ended up being the highest rated movie in the history of that channel by 40%.

    Alex: Hmm.

    Michael: And then the sequel, Love’s Enduring Promise, then became its highest rated movie in the history of the channel. Since then, Hallmark uses that particular franchise. They play that franchise more than anything they’ve produced, by far, and they've produced hundreds and hundreds of movies for that channel. So it proved the skeptics wrong, and obviously there is a powerful hunger and need for this type of family programming. To top it off, I formed a relationship with Jeanette Oke, who is really the pioneer of Christian romance fiction. She started that genre, and I have to say, she is one of the most beautiful, wonderful human beings I have ever met. Everything about her is so genuine and real. I'm honored that she has allowed me to use--and trusted me with--more of her material. I just think the world of her.

    Alex: Yeah, I've had the chance to meet her on a couple of occasions--certainly not on an in-depth level--but I would definitely agree with you that that's exactly how she comes across. So you're partnering with her again on this next project, When Calls the Heart. Tell us what that's about, the TV series idea and the movie piece.

    Michael: Yes, so the When Calls the Heart series has been a labor of love for us as well, my partner Brian Bird and myself. It is an offshoot from the original source material. The way the books are laid out, it wasn't conducive for a TV series. The setup is the same, which is that we start off with this very young, educated woman who has the desire to become a teacher. She's done all of her schooling, and she comes from this very wealthy family living in the city. She is challenged to take a job out West in kind of this unlawful coal mining town, where underprivileged children live. And she forsakes the comforts of home and goes on this daring adventure to teach these children. And so the pilot veers away from the book a bit, but thank goodness Jeanette Oke is completely in agreement with our take. The actual storytelling is in line with When Calls the Heart. But in order to keep a series going and create a world where we're not moving through the other books that we want to preserve of Jeanette's, the coal mining town that we've created, Coal Valley, is a piece of fiction that is separate from her novel. But the essence and the characters and everything are very much from Jeanette's imagination.

    Alex: Excellent. It sounds like both your fans and her fans will greatly enjoy that as well.

    Michael: I believe so.

    Alex: So you've had the chance to work with Jeanette Oke and then Beverly Lewis, which are kind of two very strong pillars in the Christian fiction community. You made movies so far out of Beverly Lewis' The Shunning and The Confession. So what attracted you to her writing, and what was different in portraying kind of that Amish lifestyle versus the more pioneer days in Jeanette Oke's books?

    Michael: Right. Well, you know, it's the fascination with the Amish. And obviously, Beverly Lewis has made an entire career out of that. I believe that the non-Amish all just have a certain sense of nostalgia for life without technology. It kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier. In our culture, technology is integrated into nearly every part of our lives, whereas the Amish pretty much avoid all modern technology, including the car, the Internet and, in many cases, even having an in-home phone. And it's all to preserve that social cohesion within their community. And I just think that when you have the modern world spinning around them at this lightning fast speed and pace, these people in like a time-stopping universe becomes just fascinating. Totally fascinating. Beverly Lewis has captured the hearts and minds of readers, and has created compelling characters that push her stories forward.

    Alex: Excellent. So we talked briefly about The Ultimate Life, the sequel to The Ultimate Gift. Share a little bit about that project and why you took it on. What is it about the story of Red that attracted you to it, and what do you hope that somebody who sees the film gleans from it?

    Michael: The Ultimate Life. The producer, Rick Eldridge, came to me last year in November and asked me if I'd be interested in directing The Ultimate Life. He gave me the script, which centered on Jason, the heir to the estate. And it got into all the machinations and crazy scheming of the dysfunctional family, and the story took place in a courtroom for about 80% of the storytelling. And I just felt like this wasn't where the story needed to go. I think what people were going to be fascinated by was the character that influenced Jason so much, which was the Red character. So in November of last year I pitched to Rick that this be a prequel, and not a sequel, that the story actually revolves around how Red became who he was, what his early upbringing was like and how he ended up becoming a billionaire and how he had a change of heart. And thankfully, he agreed, and we quickly brought on a few writers and built the story.

    I usually don't like telling what the audience will get out of it, because I feel like there are different messages that will resonate with different people depending on where they are in life. I do, however, believe that there is something for everyone in the storytelling, the innocence of young love, of commitment. You know, something that was really joyful and one of my favorite parts of this movie is Red’s young love story. I just love the innocence. I'm not saying that the 40s and 50s were perfect. But it sure was really joyful to be in that time period. That's all I can say. Just the music, and kind of innocence of romance and everything. I'm wandering a bit right now.

    Alex: Oh, no, that's okay. Yeah, the brief time that I had on set, and the interactions that I've had with Rick and the scenes I've seen of it, definitely resonate the differences in time periods. Also the timeless things—the lessons or gifts--that no matter what time you interact with, it's still a very appropriate message.

    Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, one of the big themes is gratitude. The one conclusion I've definitely come to is that if you don't have a grateful heart, you can't be a happy person. And listen, I completely understand that there is a lot of struggling going on for a lot of people in this country. But when you look at other countries and what their struggles are, as a whole, we should be pretty grateful. I know we had worked together on getting the film Jamah out, you know, you look at worlds like that, and you see the spirit of those people, and their gratefulness for basically having nothing. It's just so important to try to have a grateful heart no matter what the circumstances are that you're going through.

    Alex: That is very true. Very true. In fact, I was talking to my kids the other day, and we were talking about the scene in Jamah of the little boy and the girl having to haul the coffin halfway around the country, and thinking, my kids are about that age. Boy, you know, I'm eternally grateful that they don't ever have to live that sort of thing. So you're right. Gratitude is such a very important thing.

    Michael: Yeah. And I just want to make sure I'm clear that I'm definitely speaking to myself when I talk about gratitude. Something that I constantly need to remind myself. If I'm acting spoiled or feeling down because something didn't happen right, I try to remind myself that it's ridiculous.

    Alex: Yeah, I got frustrated last night because my WIFI was down for 15 minutes at home--it was a meltdown—so, I know the feeling.

    Michael: Right? And then you just take a step back. You go, oh, my gosh, this is ridiculous. In reality I'm so blessed.

    Alex: Absolutely. So let me ask you one more question as our time winds down. We usually like to find one crazy, off-the-wall question to ask folks. So, if you were sitting down with an 18-year-old Michael, what would you tell yourself all those years ago?

    Michael: Oh, if I was sitting down with an 18-year-old Michael.

    Alex: Like with yourself, not just a random 18-year-old kid named Michael.

    Michael: With my actual self?

    Alex: Yes. What would you have told yourself when you were 18? What wisdom would you have imparted?

    Michael: I would have told him… Just trust in Jesus. Trust Him. Trust that He's going to bring you through to the other side, and don't try to do it on your own strength. And I mean that sincerely. This is not just to tell an audience of Christians. When I was 18 years old, I was a wreck. I was a wreck. My parents had divorced, and I was completely lost in the world. And I fought. I fought The Message. I fought it all the way, all the way. I didn't want to have anything to do with Jesus, nothing. Yeah.

    Alex: Excellent. Well, that sounds like very timeless advice. Michael, thank you so much for this time; we appreciate it. We very much look forward to partnering on these upcoming projects, and I definitely look forward to our paths crossing again.

    Michael: Appreciate that, Alex.

  • TFK Releases New EP Metamorphosiz II

    Modern rock favorite THOUSAND FOOT KRUTCH will release its second remix EP, Metamorphosiz II The End Remixes Vol. 2.  The EP features six songs from the independently released, five-star acclaimed and No. 1 selling Billboard Hard Rock album, The End Is Where We Begin, by noted remix talent Robbie Bronnimann, Andy Hunter, Solomon Olds, Rui Da Silva and Joshua Silverberg.

    The new EP follows the success of Metamorphosiz: The End Remixes, Vol. 1, which released Dec. 4, 2012 and sparked ESPN2 to load up “War Of Change,” “We Are” and “Let the Sparks Fly” remix tracks for placements on its show “First Take.”  New ESPN placements for “Vol. 2” are being considered now, including for NASCAR coverage.

    Bronnimann (Nicki Minaj, Chicane), Hunter (The Matrix: Reloaded, The Italian Job, ABC’s Alias) and Olds (Family Force 5, Newsboys), all featured on the first EP, return with brand new remixes.  Bronnimann tackles SiriusXM’s Octane Big ’Uns Countdown Top 10 single “Fly On The Wall” and hit radio single “Be Somebody. ” Hunter and Olds ‘trip out’ “Down” and “The End Is Where We Begin,” respectfully.  New to the mix are Portuguese musical innovator Silva (“Touch Me”) who takes on the militant “Courtesy Call,” and producer/songwriter Silverberg (Edison Glass, Abandon) with an unsullied take on “So Far Gone.”

    The full Metamorphosiz II The End Remixes Vol. 2 track and remix artist list follows:

    1) “Fly On The Wall (The Robbie Bronnimann Mix)” – Robbie Bronnimann 2) “The End Is Where We Begin (Solomon Olds Remix)” – Solomon Olds 3) “Courtesy Call (Rui Da Silva Remix)” – Rui Da Silva 4) “Down (Andy Hunter Remix)” – Andy Hunter 5) “Be Somebody (The Robbie Bronnimann Mix)” – Robbie Bronnimann 6) “So Far Gone (Joshua Silverberg Remix)” – Joshua Silverberg

    As the band prepares to releases the new remix EP, TFK is also hitting the festival circuit this summer following its “War Of Change” winter/spring tour that was named one of Pollstar’s Top 50 tours this year.  While on tour, the band is performing fan favorites and hits from The End Is Where We Begin, including the top 40 Active Rock tracks “Let The Sparks Fly” and “War of Change.”  The latter song not only hit No. 1 on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Octane Big ‘Uns Countdown and is the No. 1 most-played this week on KADR FM (Des Moines), but also has become the band’s first-ever independent music video.  The video has recently been picked up by ClubCom Hard Rock (500 health clubs in the U.S., as well as locations in England, Australia and Japan), Promo Only Video Pool Express Video (Walt Disney World, MTV, Harrah's Casinos, Hard Rock Cafes, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Universal Studios, more), California Music Channel, TVU’s The Most Wanted, JCTV, Video Hits and many more. “War of Change” further became TFK’s 13th No. 1 song overall at Christian radio.

    TFK’s current single, “So Far Gone,” busted into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot AC Christian chart for the first time April 15 at No. 9 and remains a Top 10 hit today, a full 8 weeks later.

    “This is a very intimate song. It’s a love song, and my way of saying, ‘I can’t get enough of you,’” says TFK frontman Trevor McNevan. “It’s a worship song to me.  There’s not a day in my life when I don’t need God more and want to get closer.”

    TFK has found that sometimes the best way to move forward is to go back to the basics, taking all of the raw energy and emotion of the past and channeling it into the present.   For those who’ve been following the Ontario, Canada-bred players since their formation in 1997, it’s been a continuously escalating highlight reel that includes best-selling albums, top Active Rock hits (“War Of Change,” “Let The Sparks Fly,” “Fire It Up” and “Move”), tours like last summer’s Third Annual Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival, plus a slew of soundtrack slots. In fact, the group has literally infiltrated every facet of pop culture, from ongoing ESPN appearances, to various NASCAR, MLB, NHL, WWE, NCAA and NFL airings (including the 2010 Super Bowl and Tennessee Titans’ 2012-13“kickoff” song), along with the “GI Joe” movie trailer, WGN-TV’s “Smallville” and EA Sports’ NHL 2010 and 2013 video games.

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