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  • Godonomics from Chad Hovind

    Posted on March 28, 2014 by Family Christian

    Chad Hovind

    Introduction

    What Does God Say About Economics?

    What you don’t know can hurt you. We ignore the power of ideas at our own peril. All ideas, right or wrong, have spiritual, practical, or economic consequences.

    Economics is an inexact science at best. Economists draw from the study of mathematics, statistics and probability, past economic trends, and a guiding philosophy that a particular school of economic theory provides the brightest light to follow. It’s a little like weather forecasting, except that meteorology doesn’t affect your retirement by getting mixed up in political skirmishes and power struggles at the highest levels of government. Not to mention that a faulty weather forecast will never destroy your family’s finances or blot out a secure economic future. Don’t dismiss these possibilities as things that  happen only in other countries or to other people. You and your family, your friends and neighbors, and the country you love can all be caught in the aftermath of a financial hurricane if America continues on its irresponsible and unsustainable economic path.

    Here is what our leaders in both major parties do not seem to understand: political solutions can never put us on a sound economic footing. Politics is not interested primarily in the good of the nation. Instead, politics has to do with gaining and exercising power over your opponents, rewarding your biggest donors, and benefitting the priority constituencies of your party. If, in doing these things, you also accomplish something that is good for the country at large, that’s great. But such an outcome is more an afterthought in the political process than it is a primary focus.

    That might sound cynical, but if you fear I have cast my lot with the naysayers rather than choosing to work for a solution, keep reading. Recognizing why things are not working is the first step toward correcting the things that have gone terribly wrong.

    The problem is that our nation’s leaders look to deals and compromise to determine policy and enact legislation, and they are guided by political and economic ideologies that shape their values and priorities. They need, instead, the guidance of a fixed standard and a voice that speaks outside of our time and culture. In a world filled with donkeys, elephants, and rhinos, we need a lion that can roar timeless, common-sense principles that are not beholden to any party, time period, or cultural shift.

    What our nation’s leaders have missed is the one reliable, unfailing source of direction and wisdom that is available to us. If we continue to ignore God’s guidance in the economic realm—at the levels of individuals, families, and the nation—we can be sure we’ll end up losing even more of our freedom and personal wealth. We will be living in a country weakened by economic failure and wondering how the greatest nation in history could have been brought to such a depressing state of financial and ethical bankruptcy.

    But that doesn’t have to happen. The voice of the people can still carry the day. I am not suggesting a new Reformation that takes on a political identity. Nor am I calling for a theocracy in which Americans would be required to adhere to the doctrines of Christianity. In our republic, the voice and will of a majority of the citizens still possess the power to move our nation in a different direction—if we are united.

    Why Godonomics?

    What is Godonomics, and why is it the best way to solve the deepening economic dilemma we face as a nation, as families, and as individuals? Godonomics is, as the name suggests, God’s teachings and wisdom in the realm of
    finance and economics. When you study the Bible, you find that God’s agenda for nations, families, and individuals is not hard to understand. But it is not easy to apply, either. It requires commitment, restraint, godly priorities, hard work, and generosity, among other virtues. These words are not used a lot in political campaigns, because candidates for office prefer to paint their policies in terms of solutions that won’t require hardship, sacrifice, or major shifts in priorities. God, of course, is not swayed by the results of opinion polls or the planks in a party platform.

    And here is what is so refreshing in the principles of Godonomics: they make perfect sense. Speaking to us today through the scribes who recorded God’s message over millenniums, God’s plan for economic sanity, financial responsibility, and prosperity apply directly to the mess we are in today. Americans need to know that the options are not limited to Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, Tea Party, and all other groups working to gain influence and power. While each one claims to have the secret to solving our broken economy, only God’s principles will lead us out of the quagmire we’re in. I believe that when Godonomics becomes widely known, and more and more people begin to apply God’s principles at home, in their businesses, and in their communities, they will see for themselves that this is the solution we’ve been looking for.

    Today’s failed economic policies are nothing new. In the chapters that follow, we will look at ancient kings who seem to have taken their cues straight from John Maynard Keynes—except that Keynes would not be born for another three thousand years. We will look at the words and thinking of God-inspired leaders from Israel who recorded wisdom on leadership, government, citizenship, and personal responsibility—all of which helped guide the founders of the United States as they created our nation’s legal and constitutional foundation. The same ancient wisdom undergirded the economic system that helped establish America as the most secure and prosperous country on earth.

    Beyond that, the first Christ-followers applied these principles as individuals and families, and in congregations and fellowships. God’s instructions are not vague or hard to understand. They simply require single-mindedness, hard work, generosity, and steadfast commitment. But following His instructions brings unmatched freedom, opportunity, and self-directed prosperity.

    Godonomics seeks to bring God’s economic principles to the forefront, so we can set our lives, our families’ futures, and our nation on a sound financial footing—now and for the future. But there is a second—even more important—reason why Godonomics is so crucial. A rapidly growing movement has lured believers away from God’s principles on finances and convinced them that socialism is, according to Scripture, the economic system that is most consistent with God’s will.

    Younger Christians, especially, are intrigued by persuasive Christian authors, speakers, and bloggers who emphasize giving priority to helping the poor by taking from others or empowering intrusive governments. They use the term social justice to advocate a shift of the economic balance in favor of those who are not producing wealth. They justify this stance with verses from the Bible, primarily from the Sermon on the Mount, the book of Acts, or selections from the Old Testament, without seeing the broader contexts.

    Growing numbers of younger Christians, who are largely unaware of the divine wisdom behind Godonomics, now consider socialism to be the economic system that God endorses. Advocates of this teaching do not call it
    socialism, of course. They use words such as compassion, justice, even gospel, to legitimize their goal of shifting wealth away from those who are productive and creating opportunities for others, and toward those who are said to be
    disadvantaged and marginalized.

    I have pastored inner-city congregations that aggressively addressed the challenge and harm of generational poverty. I also have pastored suburban churches that are insulated from the plight of starving neighbors. I’ve been humbled to lead people from a variety of perspectives: One church was racially diverse while others were lily white. Some congregations were predominantly “blue state,” while others were much more politically conservative. I’ve learned that people of all backgrounds and perspectives love our country, have a common-sense approach to life, and are not nearly as divided personally as the leaders they elect portray.

    It is time for Christians and all Americans to join together to protect our heritage and to restore strength, stability, and prosperity to our nation. At the same time, it is essential that this be done from the bottom up, generated by individuals and families who take seriously God’s wisdom on managing and stewarding their finances. Change will begin to take place only when citizens—both Christian and otherwise—act on the framework and guidelines upon which our nation was built. That is when we will see families prosper and our nation regain economic strength.

    In the chapters that follow, we will look at the ideas and outcomes of leading thinkers and practitioners. We will examine policies based on economic theories that produced wealth and elevated the standard of living across the board, as well as those that weakened capitalism and, as a result, our nation. We will take a close look at capitalism’s most influential foe, Karl Marx, and the current American spokesman for the rechristened social gospel, Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners.

    There is nothing more personal than your next paycheck, your financial future, and your family’s freedom, security, and well-being. So let’s see what God would say if He were talking individually to the economic thinkers and political leaders who shape and enact the policies that govern our country. These are the policies that have an impact in your town, in your home, and on your wallet. Let’s get started.

    Godonomics.


    Excerpted from Godonomics by Chad Hovind Copyright © 2013 by Chad Hovind. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Chad Hovind

  • The Next Book on Your List if Half Off

    Posted on March 28, 2014 by Family Christian

    Family Values 50% off select Books
    Jesus Calling by Sarah Young Jesus Calling: Devotional Journal by Sarah Young The Reason for My Hope by Billy Graham
    You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado Four Blood Moons by John Hagee Break Out! by Joel Osteen
    The Power of Right Believing by Joseph Prince The Screwtape Letters 4-CD set with DVD by C. S. Lewis (audiobook) God Girl by Hayley DiMarco
    Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas AHA by Kyle Idleman
    Shop all

    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Hayley DiMarco, C.S. Lewis, Sarah Young, Max Lucado, Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, Stasi Eldridge, Kyle Idleman, John Hagee, Joseph Prince, Eric Metaxas

  • Living in a World Gone Wrong

    Posted on March 28, 2014 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie Miles

    "Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" Psalm 10:1 (NIV)

    By the time I returned home that night, I was so agitated that sleep was impossible.

     

    I had travelled six hours by car and made the mistake of listening to news channels rather than my usual Christian music station. Throughout the drive, I became increasingly frustrated and irritated, as I heard one bad news story after another. My mind was spinning with thoughts, and my heart filled with emotions.

    The strongest emotion by far was sadness at the stark reality of our world gone terribly wrong.

    Stories of abuse, death, disaster, political corruption and a general lack of integrity are everywhere. At times it seems the voices and desires of those who are against God's ways shout louder than those who love Him and promote His ways. It frustrates me that things are getting worse instead of better.

    Driving down the interstate with my mind full of mental clutter, my heart felt heavy. I wondered what God's answer might be if I could ask Him, "God, what in the world is going on in this world? And when are You going to take action?"

    In Psalm 10, David expressed this same type of frustration and confusion. He asked the Lord why it appeared He wasn't doing anything about the wickedness of the world, or taking control of the cruelty, violence and injustices that ran rampant through their corrupt society. He questioned why wicked people were allowed to get away with their wrongdoings.

    David wanted to know when God was going to step in and do something. Anything. David prayed with a desperate heart, begging God's intervention.

    Maybe you have felt that way too. Maybe you are struggling with difficult circumstances, and you feel as if God is standing far away, not intervening with help. Maybe you have struggled while walking in God's ways, while others with less-than-godly motives succeed. Or maybe you too are frustrated with the direction our world seems to be headed.

    This is how David felt as well, but in Psalm 10:16-18a, we see his tone change from frustration to hope when he says, "The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed ..." (NIV). David took comfort in remembering and believing that God was with him, and in due time, He would prevail.

    In prayer, David voiced his deepest fears and honest feelings. He solicited God's wisdom for greater understanding, yet surrendered to trusting that God sees all, knows all and would handle it all when the time was right.

    Our world has gone wrong due to the existence of sin, but we have a choice in how we respond. Instead of letting despair pull us further from God, or cause us to doubt His goodness, we can choose to lean on our faith and draw closer to Him instead, just like David.

    Let's choose to proclaim God's sovereignty today, trust in His ways and be a voice for His truths even when the ways of this world break our hearts.

    Lord, help me remember that You are in control, no matter how out of control this world seems. Give me the desire to stay grounded in You no matter what I see on the news, or what challenges I personally face, and to trust You wholeheartedly. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do I feel forgotten or overlooked by God, or do I doubt His sovereignty over this world?

    Read Psalms 9, 10 and 11. Consider how your life and the world we live in mirrors much of what David describes. Ask God to speak to you through these scriptures and fill you with comfort and hope regarding our world and the situations you face in your personal life.

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 21:2, "A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart." (NIV)

    Ephesians 6:13, "Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet." (MSG)

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Calculated Obedience

    Posted on March 27, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross]. John 3:14, Amplified

    Christ was compelled by love to obey His heavenly Father. He planned in His heart and mind beforehand, that He would die on the cross for lost souls. Jesus knew He must be lifted up on the cross, since this was God’s plan. In the same way, when we are certain of Christ’s commands, we must gladly obey. Our love for the Lord calls us into calculated obedience. We deliberately do our duty, as an honor--not as an obligation. Our prayerful plan is a follow through for our faith.

    What has God called you to do that requires your follow through? What has He placed in your heart to complete, that even as a child, compelled you? Like Jesus as an adolescent in the temple, how must you be about your Father’s business? Similar to a sunflower that moves itself toward the sun for sustenance, so you turn your soul in trust toward God’s son for spiritual nourishment. Calculated obedience comes when you plan ahead of time, what Jesus would have you do.

    “And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49, NKJV)?

    Premeditated obedience is not always easy. We say, “until death do us part” in our marriage vows before God, but soon after the honeymoon period our spouse lets us down, sometimes severely. We commit to a contract at work, but surprisingly discover the other party is not upholding their end of the deal. We are loyal to our boss because of his integrity, but come to realize he has compromised his character. Is our commitment to do the right thing conditional, based on difficulty free circumstances and perfect people? Or, is it based on the ever dependable character of Christ?

    Most of all, make your calculated obedience to Christ preeminent. What Spirit-led sense of urgency is on your heart? Perhaps you define clearly what it looks like for you to finish well in your life roles. Write out a process to grow as a follower of Jesus, and to disciple followers of Jesus. Decide how to be financially faithful with a little, so when you are ready, you will do the same with more. Love for the Lord creates calculated obedience that God uses to bless others. Thus, as a matter of course, obey Him, because you love Him. Love feels it must fully obey.

    “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I desire to be compelled by Your love to obey You in a calculated way.

    Related Readings: Matthew 16:21, 24; 19:16; Mark 8:31; Luke 19:15; Acts 1:21, 20:21

    Post/Tweet today: Similar to a sunflower that moves itself toward the sun for sustenance, so we turn our soul in trust toward God’s son. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Get Lost from Dannah Gresh

    Posted on March 27, 2014 by Family Christian

    Dannah Gresh

    God. Guys. And the Great Mix-Up.

    This is a book about God…
    …and guys…
    …and how we get them mixed up.

    Oh, do we ever.

    It shows up in the little things: picking the short skirt, racing to update a relationship status on Facebook, filling a journal with guy-talk instead of God-talk, texting under the pillow at night, jumping from guy to guy, taking the “walk of shame”…again, or bailing on friends when a guy calls. As you think about similar choices in your own life and what they suggest about the priorities of your heart, you may have an intuition that I’m right. Your spirit gets it, if your mind does not.

    I’m certain that a part of you desperately wants to get lost in God’s love. At least some small piece of us always seems to be aware that we are wired to seek God’s heart and to let Him touch our own. But it’s so difficult. After all, the love of a guy is so stinkin’ tangible. You can see a guy. Smell a guy. Touch a guy. Hug a guy. Text a guy. Get gifts from a guy. And they are everywhere! There are more than 139 million men in the United States alone. No wonder we get distracted from seeking God’s love! I certainly have been prone to reach for the tangible love of a guy rather than the ultimate love of God. As I look back on one particular scene from my sophomore year in college, I see it as a classic example of my own mixed-up thinking.

    “I’ll meet you in the yearbook office in one hour,” I confirmed to Russ before I hung up the phone. Russ was my yearbook editor at Cedarville University, and after two years of hard work, I was in line for his position the following year. On top of being a great résumé builder, the job came with a hefty scholarship. If my boss needed me, I’d
    be there!

    Since I wouldn’t have time to hit the cafeteria, I turned on my electric kettle to boil water for some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. It wasn’t fancy, but it was fast. I was pouring neon-orange powder over buttered macaroni noodles when my phone rang again. Before I could get out a hello I heard, “Dannah Barker, say you’ll marry me. But if you can’t, then at least break it to me gently by saying you’ll go to Wittenberg with me to study.”

    Bob Gresh!

    This guy, whom I’d been dating for a while, always kept me laughing.

    “Yes!” I giggled. “When?”

    “I’ll be right over,” he said. It shouldn’t have surprised me. Bob was the definition of spontaneity.

    “Umm,” I hesitated, thinking about the commitment I’d just made to go help Russ. And I really did want that job next year. Should I risk it?

    “We’ll run through Lee’s on the way for some chicken,” he promised.

    “Well…okay,” I said, dumping my noodles into the trash can. “Let’s go!”

    For a brief moment, I considered calling Russ to cancel, but I wasn’t sure what to tell him. The truth: This great guy just proposed marriage or a date at the Wittenberg library, and I chose the latter when I’m really shamelessly going for the first option! Or the other truth: I’m a complete dolt, risking what I’ve worked two years to achieve in that
    yearbook office all because I’m incapable of saying anything but “yes” or “oh, yes!” to this guy because I crave him night and day. Either way I’d sound like a complete loser.

    So I didn’t call Russ. I needed to think of a good excuse first. (Read: I was planning to tell a really good lie.)

    I gathered my books, met Bob in front of my dorm, and jumped into his white sports car, casting aside my integrity.

    God in all His sovereignty made sure I’d run into Russ’s best friend at the Wittenberg library. Russ was forgiving, but I’d have given almost anything (except my boyfriend, of course) to have not seen the disappointment register in his eyes when the truth unfolded.

    There was no denying the truth.

    I was guy-crazy with no ambition to be God-crazy.

    That impulsive decision—along with so many others—was driven by a deep-rooted reality: I had confused my longing for God’s love with my longing for a guy’s love. All because of the Craving.

    The Violent Craving.

    You have it. Your friends have it. Your mom had it. Your grandma had it. Your greatgrandma had it. It’s been around awhile.

    Countless generations of woman have experienced it.

    The Craving is a part of the Curse, which means it dates all the way back to Eve. After she and Adam sinned, God showed up to explain that things would never be the same. To Eve, He talked about the Craving. Genesis 3:16b reads, Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

    The word “desire” is critical here. Two respected theologians once said that the Hebrew language used in this verse evokes a “desire bordering upon disease.” They also said that the desire might best be called a “violent craving.” In the original language of the Bible, God used some pretty expressive wording to describe what women would experience in relation to men after the Fall. Simply put, we hunger for them. The Craving makes us all insatiably hungry for the attention of a guy, but each of us experiences this desire in a slightly different way.

    I asked college-aged women who follow my blog to share how the Violent Craving has shown up in their lives. Here’s a sampling of their responses:

    I have felt the Violent Craving expressed as jealousy toward my peers that have boyfriends. How foolish I felt, to feel jealous instead of happy, when a friend started dating a guy I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO DATE.

    Elementary school to high school, I didn’t get the attention I wanted. I was the chunky monkey that everyone went to for a good laugh. It wasn’t until I got to be around 16 I got the attention from guys, and it got the best of me and took one of the most valuable things from me—my virginity. I lost it to a friend who liked my sister and respected her, but thought I would be the easier choice. And he was right.

    My main regret would be that I haven’t spent my time enjoying my singleness.

    There used to be a boy that I cared for very much. He was godly Christian, extremely polite, and we communicated through e-mail almost daily. My deep longing to be desired and pursued blinded my eyes from the warning signs that he wasn’t everything he claimed to be. A year or two after I met him, he ended up having sex with my younger sister on the couch in our living room.

    I went to a secular university and was involved in a campus ministry. One of the most popular sayings among the girls was “ring by spring.” To say there was a Violent Craving toward the idea of having a husband is an understatement.… I was the only single girl in the apartment. I allowed myself to be ruled by a Violent Craving for a husband.

    My Craving started at the age of twelve when my dad passed away. I longed for a man to notice me. I wanted that attention. I dressed to attract men and wanted a man’s approval.

    They shared countless such stories, each expressing a sense of “eureka” at finally having a diagnosis for their symptoms! Of all the voices who offered examples of how they express, deny, loathe, live in, and ache from the Craving, it was a sweet seventeenyear-old girl whose experience mostly clearly described the effects of the Genesis 3:16 curse. She wrote,

    I’m seventeen, raised by a very liberal mother and an extremely conservative father. That marriage didn’t work out. It ended when I was seven. Since then, I’ve always been very angry about marriage and cynical of love, due to its causing much pain, loneliness, and anxiety in my life. I swore I’d never marry. But even with all that confusion and anger, I still desperately wanted to be noticed and passionately loved by a man. I wanted someone to see and know me. The first guy I had any real relationship with, I clung to for four years, desperate for his attention and love. During those four years, I made many mistakes. I gave him everything I could physically and emotionally just to keep him around (except the actual act of sex). He was a need. A necessity. But why? I hated marriage yet wanted a man.

    She “hated marriage yet wanted a man.” I believe that’s the modern-day aftermath of the Fall. The consequence of original sin—and all the ways women have rebelled since then against God’s design—results in both a hatred of God-designed marriage and an insatiable longing for the presence of a guy. (The Craving may not cause you to actually hate marriage, but you may hate God’s specific design and purpose for it. A lot of us struggle with that!) I believe that every daughter of Eve is burdened by both a Craving for a husband and a rebellion against God’s design for marriage. What a mess!


    Excerpted from Get Lost by Dannah Gresh Copyright © 2013 by Dannah Gresh. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Dannah Gresh

  • How Much Will This Choice Really Cost Me?

    Posted on March 27, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "... in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)

    A few years ago I sat at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with my daughter Ashley while an officer told her the importance of good choices. Ashley was getting her learner's permit and entering the scary world of teenage drivers.

    "We've had 320 teens killed this year in fatal car accidents so we want to do everything possible to keep you safe," the officer said sternly as she highlighted for Ashley all the many rules for new drivers. Then she suggested signing a contract with her parents incorporating these rules.

    I've never wanted to hug a DMV officer. But, it was all I could do not to reach across the desk and throw my arms around her. For you see, my husband and I had already created a driving contract that we've made each of our teenagers sign.

    I'm sure our kids have thought our contract was a bit over the top. After all, none of their friends have had to sign such a document with their parents. So, it was good to hear another adult speak truth into the life of my child.

    And what I loved most about the officer's sermonette on safe driving was her emphasis on the cost of wrong choices.

    How I wish we could all see the cost of our choices as clearly as a price tag on items in a store. If I know how much something is going to cost me, I make much wiser choices. But we have an enemy who schemes against us to keep the cost of dumb decisions concealed until it's too late.

    Satan wants to defeat, discourage and destroy our families. His attacks are not just willy-nilly attempts to trip us up or knock us down. He wants to take us out.

    That's why, as parents, we've got to boldly fight for our families. We must get intentional with teaching our kids to think through their choices. And we must get intentional about modeling good choices as well.

    Do you know why Satan's tactics are called schemes in 2 Corinthians 2:11? A scheme is a plan, design or program of action. Satan's schemes are well-crafted plans specifically targeted to do three things:

    1. Increase your desire for something outside the will of God.
    2. Make you think giving in to a weakness is no big deal.
    3. Minimize your ability to think through the consequences of falling to this temptation.

    Satan is a master of keeping that cost hidden until it's too late.

    Sweet sisters, this is something worth thinking about. And it is something worth talking about with our kids. Consider age-appropriate examples of how costly wrong choices can be. Be real, raw and bold as you walk them through different scenarios of temptations they might face.

    That DMV officer was certainly bold in her explanation of the cost when a teen driver gets distracted by their iPod, cell phone or friends acting silly. Hearing her explain to my daughter how costly others' poor choices have been made these "rules" seem more like life-saving gifts.

    Think how different life might be if we all paused and asked ourselves this crucial question: How much will this choice really cost me? If we teach ourselves and our kids nothing else this week than to ask this one question, we will have invested wisely. So, so very wisely.

    Dear Lord, I am reminded that boldly following You is so much better than any short-term experience that's not pleasing to You. Give me Your eyes so that I can see temptation and its many different faces. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of a current situation in your life that requires a decision from you. Have you taken the time to consider the cost?

    Have you taken the time to help a friend, child or spouse think through considering the cost of their choices?

    Power Verses:
    John 10:10, "'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'" (NIV)

    Isaiah 30:21, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 2 Corinthians

  • Look Up To Live

    Posted on March 26, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. John 3:14-15

    Life has a way of turning our gaze away from God. Instead of looking up to be loved by the Lord, we look around us and feel love’s absence. Instead of looking up to trust Jesus, we look at distrustful people and are disappointed. Instead of looking up for wisdom from God, we look at the world’s wisdom and find it wanting. Instead of looking up for direction from the Spirit, we look at the spirit of the age, and feel lost. Yes, abundant life comes from looking up to Christ.

    Moses was a leader who wisely followed God’s instruction. He made sure to lift up what was important to the Lord, so His people could be healed. He didn’t argue with God about a better way, he simply obeyed. Time was short, so Moses quickly modeled the way to live for his followers. Similarly, we have a brief window of time to be a worthy example of obedience to Christ’s commands. Our family and friends look to us to learn how to best look up to the Lord.

    “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).

    What are you facing that invites you to look up into the loving face of your heavenly Father? If sorrow, refuse to stay stuck in grief, but look up to the One who wipes away your tears. If hurt by another human being, look up to the One who heals broken hearts. If uncertainty, look up to the One who is wisdom and generously gives wisdom. If fear, look to the One who controls circumstances and consoles souls. The world’s remedies lack, so look up to the Lord and live.

    Most of all, we look at Jesus lifted up on the cross as the payment for our sins. We cannot begin to truly live until sin’s death sentence has been pardoned by God. The snakes’ venomous bites required the children of Israel to look up to the brazen snake on the pole to live. In the same way, sin’s poisonous infection can only be cured by looking up to Christ and believing in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. Look down, our hope dies. Look up and we live for the Lord--forever.

    “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him,and his resting place will be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, by faith I look up to You for direction in how to live life for You.

    Related Readings: Numbers 21:4-9; Proverbs 30:4; Psalm 5:3; Isaiah 45:22; Micah 7:7; Luke 9:62

    Post/Tweet today: Life has a way of turning our gaze away from God, so instead, we look up to be loved by the Lord. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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


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

  • Michael W. Smith - Behind the New Album

    Posted on March 26, 2014 by Dan Hubka


    “Sometimes you’ve just got to shake things up,” Michael W. Smith says with a smile. After selling more than 15 million albums, scoring 28 No. 1 hits, earning three GRAMMYs and more than 40 Dove Awards, no one would blame the Christian music icon if he decided to coast just a little bit, but that’s just not in his nature.

    On Sovereign, Michael’s first worship album since 2008 and his first project since signing with Capitol Christian Music Group in 2013, he deliberately steps into a new creative chapter to craft a vibrant collection of vertically focused songs with a fresh sense of musical innovation.

    I sat down with "Smitty" to how he shook things up on his new album, Sovereign.

    Dan:                            And you’re with a brand new record label. What's that been like? Has it been different from what you've done in the past in terms of how things have progressed? Could give me some insight onto how things are different?

    Michael:                    Well, it's honestly a bit of fresh air. I mean, it was hard to leave when you've been with a record company for that long—for 29 years. But sometimes you just need to shake things up a little bit. I've always been impressed by Capitol and BMG and the kind of stuff that they're doing. And I’ve always wanted to work with Bill Hearn. So, through a series of many meetings with just about every record label there was, I felt like this was the right move. And they're knocking it out of the park. They're all in. It's been a real team effort to create this project and I'm really excited about it. I think it's my best work yet. We’ll have to see if everybody else feels the same way.

    Dan:                            Has the process itself been different from what you've done in previous records?

    Michael:                    Very different. Big faith steps for me. Going to territories I've never been to before on the creative side. Working with all these kids—I'm old enough to be their dad. That’s been a challenge and mostly fun. Working with producers I've never worked with before. It's been one of those times you jump out there with a lot of faith and it's really proved to be a great thing.

    Dan:                            The first single is "You Won't Let Go.” Can you tell us a little about that song?

    Michael:                    I wrote it with a guy named Seth Mosley, one of the producers and writers that I've never worked with before. We were hanging out in his studio working on another song called "Miracle.” It’s one of my favorite songs on the record. We kind of made that the bar, saying, “If the song doesn’t top this guy then it's not going to make the record.” We went through 120 songs.

    Dan:                            Wow.

    Michael:                    So I said to Seth, “Just play me something.” He started playing this track and I picked up an acoustic guitar started playing the melody you hear on "You Won't Let Go.” We got to the verse and chorus and I thought, “Oh my gosh, I need to get my iPhone out and hit record so I don't forget this melody.” Thirty minutes later we felt like we really had something solid musically.

    The verses from Romans that say, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God” really propelled the first idea for the lyric. Then we pulled a girl named Mia Fields in, who's a great writer. We all got in the room and we tackled the lyric and before you know it we had a song. And at the end of the day everybody felt like that was the first single. I'm very, very happy with it.

    Dan:                            I love the way that the song ends, with repeat of the simple word “always” at the end. It’s a powerful reminder to the strength of that Scripture.

    Michael:                    Yeah, I agree. It's fun to hear it on the radio. It's been awhile since I've had something on the radio. We've been doing a Christmas record and the Glory record—all these little specialty records that just I love doing. It didn't seem like anything from the Wonder record really connected for some reason.

    I can't predict what radio will play. I've never written for radio my whole life. I've never specifically said, "I'm going to try to write a pop song for radio." With Sovereign, it looks like we have a lot of songs that have potential for radio. It's very commercial but it's very authentic and worshipful.

    Dan:                            I see that you've written on several of the songs but other ones are songs that you found. Can you share with us how you found some of those other songs to round out the record?

    Michael:                    I said, "Look, I don't have to write in on every song. If we can find some songs that are really great then I'm up for that." I mean, I love to write as much as possible, but this is not about me trying to write all the songs on the album.

    So the word got out and all these people start sending me songs. I got a couple from a guy named Dustin Smith who leads worship in a church in Kansas City. "You Are the Fire" is one of his songs. I started doing it live in the fall even before I started working on the album. It seemed to really connect. "Sovereign Over Us” is just unbelievable. It’s written by Aaron Keys from Atlanta. Actually, my son-in-law, Jack Mooring from Leeland, was co-writer on that song. It might be the best song on the album musically and especially lyrically.

    That's just to name a few. Chris Stevens is a guy I've worked with. He's worked with TobyMac and Mandisa for years and was a fan growing up in Eugene, Oregon. Now he's producing three of the cuts and he's mixing the whole record.

    Dan:                            I had the privilege of attending the taping of the deluxe edition at your barn.

    Michael:                    Oh, that's awesome!

    Dan:                            Can you share some of those moments from that night that stuck out to you?

    Michael:                    I thought it was awesome. I mean, we had a lot of stuff to overcome. The weather – it was 14 degrees outside.

    Dan:                            It was cold.

    Michael:                    We kept all the folks in Franklin that sell propane in business. I think from so much that could have gone wrong, everything just worked. I think the challenge was having all of these people come—400 people—to sing these songs. And they’re songs that these people had never heard before.

    There were some wonderful moments. I thought the Leeland moment was incredible. The Kari Jobe moment was amazing. We prayed, “Can we just have a fresh encounter with the Lord this night? Forget about the cameras, forget that we're taping this thing for DVD and audio.” So we forgot all about that. And we felt something. I sensed the beautiful presence of God in that barn.

    Dan:                            As somebody in the audience, I agree there was something about the night. The presence of the Spirit was there. You hit on a couple moments that I thought were really special too. The song with Kari Jobe, “The One That Really Matters,” was a fantastic song and watching the two of you perform that in that moment was really good.

    Michael:                    It’s a Dustin Smith song. We found that song at the last minute. Actually Jack, my son-in-law, mentioned it to me. Jack says, "Hey, you've heard that song, ‘The One that Really Matters,’” and I go, "You know I need to go back and listen to it again." We were still trying to find one last song that possibly could end the record. I went back to listen to it and thought, "Wow. Maybe this is what I'm supposed to do."

    Dan:                            Leeland was at the barn that night as well.

    Michael:                    Leeland and Jack, along with David and Leslie from All Sons & Daughters wrote "Christ Be All Around Me.” I went to Jack because he had cut that song at the barn three weeks earlier and said, "Would you all mind if I cut it?" Everybody was cool with it. That song turned out really amazing not only live, but on the studio version as well.

    Dan:                            I heard that your son Ryan filmed the night at the barn. Is that correct?

    Michael:                    Yes. He's amazing. He's just so good. I'm so proud of him. There were a lot of people in line for that job to do that deal. Ryan had never shot a live DVD. He's made tons of videos. He's written and directed a movie called After, but he had never done this. I said, "Guys I'm staying out of it. You guys hire whoever you think needs the job. There's a conflict of interest here for me.” They all fell in love with Ryan at Capitol.

    It looks amazing. You're not going to believe it. It's so incredibly well done.

    Dan:                            How cool to have your son be part of that. That's pretty awesome.

    Michael:                    Yup. Kind of fun working with your kids.

    Dan:                            Last thoughts on the record. Can you give us some insight as to how you landed on Sovereign as the title track and an overall theme to the record? What made you land on that particular title and song?

    Michael:                    Well, second or third in terms of importance, I think the title pops. But really, first and foremost, I just think we're all just so in love with “Sovereign Over Us” and feel like this song is going to have longevity for a long, long time, mainly for what it says: What the enemy means for evil, He turns it for the good. Even in the valley, He's faithful. He's working it for the good. I think this is something so many people just need to hear.

    I think it's the right title for the record. It encompasses everything that's on the album for sure.

    Dan:                            Going back to that night at the barn, you mentioned something that night that really stuck out to me and I'd like to get some additional thoughts. You mentioned that you believed that 2014 was potentially a big year for the church. What do you mean from that standpoint in terms of what are you seeing and feeling out there?

    Michael:                    I just sense in my spirit that there's something stirring, you know? I feel like there's this—to borrow from Jim Cymbala’s book—Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. There seems to be a real hunger and passion in this next generation. I think that's going to pay off. When I say pay off, I think that's going to usher in something very, very beautiful. I think there’s something about to explode.

    That's just me. I could be wrong. But if you're a true believer and you look at the Word, man, we're in battle. It's a fight. We have an enemy that's very real and trying to take us down. And I'm feeling like there are a lot of victories coming in 2014.


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, Dan Hubka and was tagged with Featured, TobyMac, Kari Jobe, Michael W. Smith, All Sons & Daughters, Jim Cymbala, Leeland, Mandi

  • Praying for Your Future Husband from Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer

    Posted on March 26, 2014 by Family Christian

    An Extraordinary Mystery

    Robin:
    Sometimes, when an idea just won’t go away, you need to pay attention to how God is nudging you. That’s what happened with this book.

    Tricia and I have been friends for almost two decades, and both of us are writers. But our life stories as well as our love stories are radically different. Beyond writing, we do have one interesting commonality: both of us prayed for our future husbands when we were teens. But how did that add up to our writing a book together? Three incidents convinced us we should…

    The first moment of inspiration fell on me with a weighty sense of urgency one bright November afternoon. I was in Brazil, standing in front of three hundred teen girls in a school cafeteria. My Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen novels for teens have been translated into Portuguese, and the teachers at this school use the books as part of their curriculum. That meant all the girls had read the books. When my husband and I entered the cafeteria, the girls greeted us with a wave of screams as if we were the real Christy and Todd all grown up and visiting them in Brazil.

    To quiet down the screaming girls, I asked the translator to invite them to ask questions. One of the girls raised her hand and popped up from her seat. In Portuguese she asked me what she and her friends should do since the boys in Brazil weren’t reading my books.

    “What do you mean?” I asked.

    She spoke passionately as the translator beside me explained.

    “She says that, after reading your books, she and her friends are making good decisions. They’ve given their lives to Christ and now want to stay pure and save themselves for their future husbands. But, you see, the boys of Brazil are not reading these books. They are not making these same decisions. She wants to know what can be done about that.”

    My heart pounded. Every face in that cafeteria was fixed on me, waiting for an answer. The young woman had just identified a global problem for our present generation of Christian women. I had heard this frustration voiced many times in letters and e-mails I had received from readers over the years. But no one had ever asked me what could be done to change this dilemma of an unbalanced ratio between God-honoring young women and their male contemporaries who were slow to seek God. What could I tell her?

    The words that came out of my heart were, “You can start praying for your future husband now.”

    The translator gave her my answer, and a reverent hush fell over the room. Before me was a troop of willing but untrained young women ready to enter the warzone to fight for the young men. But how?

    I wished then that I had something more to offer those girls. It’s one thing to tell them to pray and another thing to come alongside and show them what that looks like. If only, I thought, a book existed. I wished one of my nonfiction writer friends would hurry up and write it. None of them seemed to have a passion for such a book.

    The second defining moment came two years later. Tricia and I were at a writers’ retreat in California. During the afternoon break, we headed out to the pool. I settled in a lounge chair and wrote notes in my journal for a novel I was working on. Tricia succumbed to the luxurious autumn sunshine and floated off into a deep sleep.

    Suddenly she woke up, turned to me, and said, “What?” as if I’d been talking to her while she slept.

    I looked at her and spoke an unpremeditated thought. “Tricia, we need to write a book together.”

    “Okay.” She didn’t even blink before sinking back into her afternoon lull. A moment later her head rose again. “What are we supposed to write about?”

    “I have no idea.”

    The gentle notion flitted past me as softly as it had fallen on Tricia. We caught the little inspiration the way an artist would reach for a floating feather or a child would bend to pick up a pale blue pebble and tuck it in a pocket.

    Over the next year or so we periodically pulled the small inspiration out of our pockets and talked about what we should write. We had lots of ideas, as all creative people do. But the affirmation and direction wasn’t there. So we waited, and we prayed…

    The third moment of inspiration came with such defining clarity we knew what the book was to be about.

    Tricia and I were in Montana, preparing to speak at a women’s retreat. The night before the retreat we sneaked off to a lodge for some last-minute planning. I entered the lodge first while Tricia parked the car in the snow. A darling little strawberry blond toddler trotted over to me, put up his arms, and allowed me to scoop him up. His surprised young mom told me his name was Toby, he was eighteen months old, and he was usually not that friendly with strangers. Toby patted my face.

    Tricia entered, and Toby’s mother froze. She stared at Tricia and in a shaking voice said, “It’s you! You’re the one who spoke at the luncheon two years ago.”

    Tricia spoke often at events for teenage girls and women in Montana, so I doubted she would remember this particular young woman from a luncheon two years ago. The mom said, “Do you remember that you talked about being a teen mom and that you prayed God would send you a Christian husband?”

    Tricia nodded.

    “I did the same thing. I prayed and…” She leaned in closer. “I don’t know if you remember my telling you this after the luncheon, but I had just found out I was pregnant.”

    I remember,” Tricia said.

    “I was scheduled for an abortion just a few days later.” The young woman gazed at Toby cuddled up in my arms. “But after I heard your story and what you said about how God answered your prayers, I cancelled the appointment for the abortion, and I prayed for a husband, just like you did.”

    Her smile widened, and tears formed in her eyes as she told Tricia, “I always wanted to see you again so I could tell you that God answered my prayers. He brought an amazing Christian guy into my life. He loves me, and he loves my son. We’ve been married for almost a year. When I think about what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t heard your story and did what you said…”

    By then we were all hugging and crying and hugging some more. Toby climbed into Tricia’s arms and received her cuddles and kisses. We couldn’t stop crying. It was such a beautiful moment. The room seemed full of light and hope.

    After Toby and his mama went their way, Tricia and I sat together in stunned silence. We both knew this was it—this
    was the theme of the book we needed to write together: praying for your future husband. We also knew we were the two unlikely novelists being invited to pour our hearts into this project. And so we did.

    As we wrote, what tumbled from our hearts surprised us. We didn’t compose a handbook on techniques or formula for
    effective prayer. Through the ages many wonderful such books have been written. Instead, what we saw forming, as we met together to pray and write, was a book anchored with true stories about what happens when women pray for their future husbands and the ways God answers those prayers.

    Both of us agreed to tell our own stories on these pages. This took some courage. Dozens of other women gave us permission to tell portions of their stories as well—how they prayed, how God chose to answer, and how their lives changed in the process. This took courage for them as well. We pulled from our Bibles and journals favorite scriptures and excerpts. These quotes worked perfectly to lace the chapters together.

    As the book took shape, we discovered that prayer is an extraordinary mystery.

    This sacred privilege of communicating with our Heavenly Father is more than a cozy, open invitation to come to Him
    anytime, anywhere. Even though His ears are open to the cries of His children 24/7, prayer is more than that. Prayer is also an act of obedience. We are exhorted to pray for others and to pray without ceasing.

    Neither Tricia nor I pretend to have prayer all figured out. What we do know is that God hears. He sees. He knows us. He cares more than we can ever comprehend. And most important of all, God answers prayer.

    Perhaps you’ve noticed that oftentimes the way God answers prayers isn’t what we expect. We look back years later and see that what God did was oh so much better than what we first envisioned when we sent our heartfelt requests heavenward. He created us, and He desires the best for us. God always gives His best to those who leave the outcomes with Him.

    Another, even more amazing mystery is that when we pray for someone else, we change. All of us were made both to give love and to receive love. When your heart connects through prayer to the One who is the source of true love, you’ll find that praying for your future husband will wondrously result in your heart being changed. And when your heart is changed, your life is transformed.

    What sort of changes will God bring about in the life of your future husband as a result of your praying for him now?
    We don’t know.

    As you pray for him, what sort of changes will God initiate in your heart? We don’t know that either.

    But we do know there’s only one way to find out…


    Excerpted from Praying for Your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer Copyright © 2011 by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Tricia Goyer, Robin Jones Gunn

  • Making the Resurrection Real

    Posted on March 26, 2014 by Karen Ehman

    Karen Ehman

    "Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness. Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles." Psalm 145:3-5 (NLT)

    The television host leaned over to make sure the microphone was close to the precocious girl's mouth so as to catch her every word. He'd just asked her, along with a panel of other school-aged children, about the real meaning of Easter. Her classmates' answers ranged from getting candy and trinkets from the Easter Bunny to the official beginning of spring.

    This curly-haired youngster seemed to have an answer that was more spiritual and accurate than the others. She spoke quietly into the microphone stating, "Easter is the time when Jesus died on a cross for our sins and got buried in a tomb."

    "That's right!" the host responded. "But He didn't stay in the grave, did He honey? Tell the audience what happened next."

    "Oh, that's easy!" she chimed. "He rises from the dead and comes out of the grave."

    The host smiled and started to commend her for her correct answer. But before he could, the no longer camera-shy student grabbed the microphone, pulled it closer to her mouth and heartily added, "And each year, if He sees His shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter!"

    Often holiday traditions can get mixed in with the real essence of holy days. Which can be confusing, like when that sweet little girl merged Easter with Groundhog Day. As a child, I wondered what Santa caravanning his reindeer through snowstorms had to do with baby Jesus who was born in Bethlehem. Wasn't that in a desert?

    And I never did figure out why the Easter Bunny brought me chocolate eggs each year. Didn't chickens lay eggs, not rabbits?

    Today's passage from Psalms encourages us to teach our children and future generations of God's mighty acts. We are to proclaim His power over all the earth. I can't think of a more powerful act than when God raised His only Son Jesus from the dead, making a way for us to gain access to heaven to live with Him for all eternity.

    There are many fun, family-bonding Easter traditions to celebrate with children. But this year, why not be intentional to tell the powerful story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in ways that stick in little minds? Here are some ideas to help make the reality of the story come alive for us too:

    • Attend a live passion play put on by a church in your area.

    • Read the account of Jesus' last week of life out loud as a family while enjoying a favorite snack. Read a passage each night beginning in Luke 22:1 through the end of the book of Luke.

    • Watch a movie on the life of Jesus. The Jesus Film by Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) is well done with each scene coming directly from the words of the Bible. Make sure to decide if the child is ready to see a depiction of the crucifixion.

    • Use Resurrection Eggs to tell the story over several days. (See the Related Resource section below for purchase information.)

    All of these activities help portray the true meaning of this sacred season and point the children to the God who created them, knows them and sent His only Son to die on a cross for them.

    Let's purpose to tell of God's mighty act of raising Jesus from the dead to the generations that come after us. Fun traditions can be OK, so long as we don't miss the real meaning of this Christian holy day.

    Dear Lord, help me to tell of Your wondrous power and mighty acts to those generations that come after me. May I not let the season pass by without pondering the real meaning of Easter. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Was there ever a time in your life when the secular traditions and the true spiritual meaning of a holiday got mixed up for you?

    In what ways have you seen Easter celebrated that drove home the real meaning of the season?

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 71:18 "Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come." (NIV)

    John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (NKJV)

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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


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

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