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Family Christian

  • A Small Church Known as Hillsong

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by Family Christian


    In 1978, a small church was planted in Australia by newly married Brian and Bobbie Houston. Their humble beginnings were rooted by a Christ-centered vision- one that focused on stirring up authentic praise and worship. They believed sincere worship was so powerful, it could pull heaven to earth in a powerful display of hope and faith.

    Thirty years later, they became the mega-church plant known as Hillsong.

    Thriving in over ten countries across the globe, Hillsong has made world-changing strides in Christ-culture as well as praise and worship music. The Hillsong Creative team consists of hundreds of singers, musicians, songwriters, and production volunteers whose passion is creating and worshipping. Since 1988, they have recorded 18 live albums and several youth albums that are distributed worldwide.

    Their most recent project, Zion, was created by Hillsong United, a musical branch of the Hillsong Creative Team. This group consists of various collaborating artists whose common goal is to musically express the truth and life found in Jesus. The album, Zion introduces a new reality-- one that invites us to step into the extraordinary life Jesus has prepared for each one of us.

    The most distinct song on the album, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” is a breathtaking, cinematic piece that seamlessly displays the purity and intimacy of our response to God’s love for us. The song ebbs and flows like the ocean itself. Sung with ethereal beauty, the words soar over an electronic symphony of blending melodies.

    Experience the Live Version of “Ocean (Where Feet May Fail)” here:

    In this interview, Hillsong United’s musicians talk about the story behind “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”:


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Hillsong, Hillsong UNITED

  • A Godward Heart from John Piper

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by Family Christian

    John Piper

    A Word to the Reader

    One of the reasons I put together collections of short meditations is that my life has been changed as much by paragraphs as by books. Books on one topic are valuable. They let the author explore all the angles of an insight. But where do the insights themselves come from? Usually they come from paragraphs. Even sentences. For reasons
    not entirely explainable, God can make a single paragraph life changing.

    Perhaps some evening your soul is hungry. Not for anything in particular, just a soul-hunger. A longing. Something is needed beyond what television is going to give. Something about God, or about the meaning of your life, or about eternity. You’re tired and you know you probably can’t stay awake to read twenty pages. So you pick up a book that you know focuses on eternal things, a Godward book. And three minutes later you have seen something, and you will never be the same again.

    It may take a lifetime to sound the depths of what you just saw. But the seeing happens in an instant. It’s as if God takes the paragraph in his fingers and uses it to adjust the lens on the eye of your soul, and something wonderful comes into focus that you had never seen before.

    Isn’t it amazing to think about the relationship between God’s focusing fingers and the human activity of writing and reading? You may have read that same paragraph before, perhaps just the other evening. But this time God put his fingers on it and turned the lens just one more focusing notch. What this means is that I should pray as a writer and you should pray as a reader. We should ask God to do this focusing.

    I think of your reading and my writing as a kind of partnership in the pursuit of a Godward miracle. I write, you read, but God gives the sight. What we both want is this miracle of seeing—seeing lifechanging things about God and life and eternity.

    In one of his letters the apostle Paul said, “By reading you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4, author’s translation). But was reading enough? A few sentences later he prayed that they “may have strength to…know the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18–19). Something more was needed than reading. Something from God—he called it “strength to know.” Earlier he had prayed that the eyes of his readers’ hearts would be “enlightened, that you may know” (Ephesians 1:18). Something from God is needed—in answer to prayer. This is what I meant when I said that God takes a human paragraph and puts his fingers on the lens of the eye of your
    soul. The slightest turn and we are made strong with sight. We are never the same again.

    So I have written. And you are reading. And God is ready to act. My words are not Scripture. They are not infallible like God’s words. But my earnest aim in all I write is to be faithful to God’s written Word in the Bible. To point to God and his Son and his works and his ways. My aim is a Godward book in the hope that God will put his fingers on its paragraphs and turn the lens of the eye of your soul, ever so delicately, and bring glories into focus.

    This is how God forms us into his image. “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is our aim: From a Godward paragraph, to a sight of glory, to a Godward heart.

    A very special word of thanks is due to David Mathis, executive editor at Desiring God. David helped me assemble these meditations from all the different places and times where I had written them. After I reworked them for this book, he provided his sharp theological, stylistic, and formatting eye to help me refine them for final release. I admire David’s gifts and love his friendship. Thank you, David, for your partnership.

    I have enjoyed a long and happy relationship with Multnomah Books, especially in bringing my shorter writings to publication. A Godward Heart is a continuation of what we began in A Godward Life, Book One (2001), continued in A Godward Life, Book Two (2003), Pierced by the Word (2003), Life as a Vapor (2004), and Taste and See (2005). I am thankful for this publishing partnership for the sake of spreading what I pray will prove to be life-changing, Christ-exalting paragraphs.


    Excerpted from A Godward Heart by John Piper Copyright © 2014 by John Piper. 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, John Piper

  • The God of the Dark

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by John van der Veen

    Close your eyes for a second. Well, close your mind's eye. Think back at all the beautiful moments you have seen throughout your life. Some of us may have less than others and that's ok. Just bring some of them back.

    Perhaps you were standing on the edge of the crashing waves on the Pacific Ocean. Others may have experienced the rocks of Zion National Park. Some have lain on a grassy plains in the middle of Nebraska and have been in awe of such a grand land. Perhaps you have enjoyed the peacefulness of a bubbling brook along the Appalachian Trail. It doesn't matter where you have been in life, I am fairly certain that each one of us has been able to capture a moment when beauty was lit up for us.

    There we stood. In amazement as the God of the universe was showing His handiwork. In moments like those, it's almost as if our breath is knocked out of us. Such beauty. Such glorious artwork in the creation. How do we behold such artistry?

    Now picture those places in the middle of the night. The ocean waves still crash against those rocks at 1 AM. Don't they? The majesty of mountains, plains, brooks are all still there in the darkest part of the night.

    Who enjoys those times? God could have given His creation a break in those hours when no one is looking. The ocean could rest. The brook wouldn't have to bubble up. You see what I mean. Why is all the beauty of God's creation that is visible during the day is still there in the darkest hour?

    Perhaps the intent is to remind us of something.

    There are moments in all our lives when we face dark times. The doctor shares bad news with us. We lose our jobs unexpectedly. We discover that our closest friend is actually not as close as we thought. Life is hard. It's not all sunny. It's not all roses. There are dark times.

    And yet, God never leaves us, does He? For even when we don't see Him, we hear Him. Even when we don't believe He is close, He is there. Those dark moments in life, yes, He is still there. Right with us. Just like a crashing wave at 1 AM. We may not see it, but it's still there. We may not see the vastness of the plains of Nebraska in the darkness of night, but they are still there. Reminding us that God is the God of the light and the God of the dark.

    “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)


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

  • The Letter Black - Up From the Ashes

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by John van der Veen

    Have you heard the new album from The Letter Black yet?  Continuing on sonic strength of their previous albums, Breaking the Silence and Hanging By a Thread, their new release Rebuild, proves to be just as strong.

    Rebuild is produced by former RED guitarist Jasen Rauch and mixed by David Bendeth, It is a full of energy-infused, hard-hitting collection of songs.

    Check out their new single, Up from the Ashes, here.

    What do you think?


    This post was posted in Music, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, RED, The Letter Black

  • I Don't Do Fancy

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7 (NIV)

    I'm not a spontaneous or particularly fancy person. Some people I know are, and their creativity amazes me. They whip up a gourmet dinner from leftovers in the fridge and what's in the cabinet. They create craft projects out of dried macaroni, spray paint and shoe boxes. They can think of birthday party games, favors and food that leave the celebrant feeling like a million bucks.

    Not me. Ask my kids.

    I'm thankful four out of five have summer birthdays and we have a pool! Cut up a watermelon, order pizza and voila!

    It's not that I didn't care. Or that I didn't want to do more. But for so many years in my early parenting, I was overwhelmed with managing a job, home and very active children. Plus I believed my celebrations had to look a certain way. Since I didn't possess many creative skills, I always felt like a party-failure.

    It was years later I realized most people don't really remember all the whoopla of a big party. There might be some shock-and-awe at first, but when the streamers fall and the balloons droop, people are more apt to remember moments inside those events. For example, at my 8th grade graduation, the only memory I have is of my older sister fixing my hair. Granted it was a long time ago, but her loving gesture meant the world to me.

    People just want to feel loved. Remembered. Noticed. Valued.

    That's how we were designed. God created us with a heart and soul to receive His love, so we could share it with others. In fact, loving God and each other is our highest calling. The Bible says it this way, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God" (1 John 4:7).

    Jesus said this, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12, NIV). The New Testament shows that Jesus loved His disciples by spending time with them, and caring about them deeply. He didn't need anything fancy to show His love.

    Fancy's not wrong. Some people show their love through their creativity. And I applaud them. But for those of us who walk out of a craft store crying because we can't figure out which tie-die kit to buy, maybe a simpler option is more our style.

    Maybe for some of us, we need to remove the self-imposed unrealistic expectations. Maybe we need to focus more on showing love rather than having our centerpieces match what we saw on Pinterest.

    I've learned that it's often the little things that speak love to my friends and family. It's sitting outside at that summer pool party and watching the silly jumps off the diving board. It's abandoning the dishes to play a board game. It's an impromptu potluck dinner with friends on paper plates.

    While I'll still try to make things pretty and creative, it's not my focus. My goal every day is to show love to my friends and family somehow. I may not always accomplish that goal with perfection, but I can come closer to it with God's help than I'll ever be able to pull off a spectacular birthday party.

    Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I've gotten so worried about how my dinner or gathering looks that I've neglected what matters most to You. Open my eyes to ways I can show Your love to others, making them feel valued. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Remember a special event where someone made you feel loved. What did that person do?

    What can you do this week to show someone you care deeply for them?

    Power Verse:
    Romans 13:8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law." (NIV)

    John 15:12, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with 1 John

  • God's Great Work

    Posted on February 3, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    So I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?"   Nehemiah 6:3

    God's great work is where He's got you now. His mission for you is in the moment, not some mystical opportunity that tingles the flesh somewhere in the future. Faith flourishes when it is focused on the task at hand. Like a sculptor with a block of marble not yet hewn, the beginning of the Lord's project may lack form and void. Though unseen, your soul sees what the Spirit has in store, if you persevere. God's great work deserves a relentless engagement of energy.

    The leader who models the way, shows the way. If we wander away from our responsibilities some team members will lose focus. The speed of the leader is the speed of the team. The interest of the leader is the interest of the team. The intensity of the leader is the intensity of the team. Like a rising tide lifts all boats, so the faith of the leader lifts the faith of all team members. A great work is sustained by great leaders who remain engaged in the execution of the mission.

    "He [Jesus] poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet,drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him" (John 13:5).

    Like with Nehemiah, distractors will send disingenuous messengers to create a diversion. They seek to strike fear into the team, so they stumble to complete the project. Seeds of doubtful questions are planted. Has the Lord really called me to finish this task? Is the sacrifice worth what I receive in the end? Am I just being used? Are the motives of the leaders really noble? Is all this effort worth carrying on to completion? Yes, great works survive a crisis of doubt.

    Furthermore, your Heavenly Father is your biggest fan to push through pain and gain His blessing. The Holy Spirit will give you the courage to have a hard conversation with an unfair critic. Your Savior Jesus Christ is your example of how to confront the enemy in prayer and with God’s Word. A great work requires a greater depth of character and a righteous resolve to remain in the process. It is a great work, because God is at work. Work with Him, bring Him great glory!

    "I [Jesus] have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do" (John 17:4).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, by faith keep me focused on Your work for Your glory.

    Related Readings: Genesis 2:2-3; Psalm 90:17; John 6:27-29; Acts 14:26; 1 John 3:8

    Post/Tweet today: Like a rising tide lifts all boats, so the faith of the leader lifts the team’s faith. #God’sgreatwork

    © 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 Nehemiah

  • What God is Teaching Me - Ernie Haase

    Posted on February 3, 2014 by John van der Veen

    I recently sat down with Ernie Haase from Signature Sound and asked him a single question, "what is God teaching you now?"

    Now if you know anything about Ernie, you will know that he is a fun loving man. Not only is he a great singer in one of America's top southern Gospel quartets, but he is a husband, a father and practically a stand-up comedian. At first blush, I thought that Ernie would answer this in a really simple way. Or tell an elaborate joke first.

    Neither. He simply answer the question is a honest way. A real way.

    Ernie: It's very, very simple.

    Be still, just be still.

    There could be 100 amazing things good that happen at a concert and I'll go back and lay in my bunk on the bus and stress and fret over the one thing that didn't go right.

    Now I know that at this point in my life I know that I have ever been in control. God's always been in control, steering me. So I'm just going to relax and enjoy the trip. I'm just going to be still and enjoy the moment.

    So what about you? What has God been teaching you lately?


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Signature Sound, Ernie Haase

  • Praying For Your Husband From Head To Toe from Sharon Jaynes

    Posted on February 3, 2014 by Family Christian

    Sharon Jaynes

    The Power and Purpose of Prayer

    I can still remember being sequestered in the “bride’s room” of our church just moments before the organist began to play for the early arrivals. As I sat in front of an oversized gilded mirror, trying not to wrinkle my dress, I daydreamed about the man who would become my husband by day’s end. He was everything I had ever hoped for: handsome,
    smart, ambitious, and strong. And most important, he had a deeply intimate relationship with Jesus.

    My delicate white gown fit snugly around my upper frame, and a flowing satin train trailed behind. A veil rested on a nearby table, ready to be positioned on my head. My bouquet of white roses stood at attention, waiting to be placed in my hands. The most important people in my life gathered in the sanctuary to witness the “I do’s.”

    Yes, this was a good day.

    As I stared at my reflection, my heart so full of hope and promise, an unwelcome thought interrupted my musing. Doesn’t every woman feel this way on her wedding day? What could go so terribly wrong that such a high percentage of marriages end in divorce? Am I fooling myself ? Am I that much different from the thousands who have walked the aisle before me?

    I decided right then and there that I would do everything in my power to make my marriage a success. It didn’t take long for me to discover that the words in my power were a problem. “My power” was not enough.

    Fairy tales always end with the words “And they lived happily ever after.” But if we could read the epilogue to those rides off into the sunset, we’d most likely find daily struggles, potentially divisive decisions, and angry arguments sprinkled throughout. Fairy tales stop short of telling us about tension over whose turn it is to wash the dishes, pay the bills, or put the kids to bed. They leave out the part about stress over holidays with in-laws, frequency of intimacy, and who gets to spend what when. We naively repeat the words “for better or for worse” and then are shocked when the first hint of “worse” rears its ugly head.

    Prayer Can Change Everything

    If you’ve been married for more than a few days, then you have most likely figured out that the blessed union doesn’t stay so blessed without a lot of work. And I dare say, the most important “work” we can do as wives is on our knees. The psalmist wrote, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Only God can truly protect your marriage and your man. And He invites you to participate in the unleashing of His power by praying for your husband and turning the key to the storehouse of heaven’s door for blessings outpoured. Louise saw this happen with her husband, Allan, in a miraculous way.

    Allan was a tough man. Raised by a single mom with five siblings during the Depression in the early 1930s, Allan learned how to scrap his way through life and climb to the top of humanity’s heap through sheer determination and grit. He married at nineteen, had his first son at twenty, then a baby girl at twenty-five. Over the next two decades he
    advanced from driving a delivery truck at a lumberyard to becoming part owner and president of a building supply company in eastern North Carolina.

    Allan drank heavily, fought with his wife physically, and terrorized his children emotionally. He gambled, dabbled in pornography, and had questionable relationships laced with a host of unsavory vices. But when his teenage daughter became a Christian and began praying for her family, God grabbed the chisel of grace and began chipping away at Allan’s proud heart of stone. Three years after his daughter’s decision to follow Christ, his wife, Louise, became a believer as well. His wife, his daughter, and a host of other prayer warriors began interceding with God on Allan’s
    behalf.

    When Allan was forty-six years old, his life took several hairpin twists and troublesome turns. Because of a business deal gone terribly wrong, he was sued for breach of contract for breaking a noncompete clause with a former employer. Fearing exposure in court and, more important, in his small community, Allan teetered on the brink of a
    nervous breakdown. From man’s perspective, it appeared he was on the verge of losing it all. From God’s perspective, Allan was right where he needed to be.

    One day, in a surge of panic, Allan drove home from work, only to remember his wife was at a meeting in Pennsylvania. He got back in his car and drove five hundred miles to try and find her. As he drove into the town where he expected to find his wife, he passed a church. Immediately, Allan made a U-turn, parked his car, and ran inside the ornate building.

    “Excuse me, ma’am,” he said with tears in his eyes. “I need someone to pray for me. Is the preacher available? I need help.” “I’m sorry, sir,” the church receptionist said. “He’s not in, but I know a man who can help you. Here,” she said as she sketched out directions on a scrap of paper. “The pastor of the Baptist church down the street is out doing some construction work on their new church building. Why don’t you drive on over there? I bet he can help you.”

    So Allan got back in his car, followed the receptionist’s crude map, and found the country preacher out in the woods working on his church. With a hammer in his hand and Jesus in his heart, the pastor turned to Allan and asked, “What can I do for you?”

    “I need you to pray for me,” Allan explained as tears ran down his weathered cheeks.

    “Let’s sit down on this log while you tell me what’s going on.” For several hours Allan sat with a fellow builder and told him all he had ever done. When he had finished his confession, the pastor put his arm around this broken man and said, “Now, Allan, let me tell you what I’ve done.”

    The way Allan later explained it, “I told this man everything I had ever done. Then he told me he had done the very same things. And I knew if God could forgive him, and he could be a preacher, then God could forgive me too.”

    Allan knelt in the woods of Pennsylvania with angels hovering low. Heaven’s host celebrated as he gave his heart to Christ and made Jesus the Lord of his life. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” But for me, this is more than a sweet story. It is a miraculous memory. Allan was my dad.

    From my earliest years as a Christian, I experienced the power of prayer to change a man’s life—to strengthen a man’s resolve, to protect a man’s heart, and to mature a man’s faith. My firsthand encounter with God’s faithfulness to hear our pleas began with my father and continues today as I witness it in the lives of my husband, my son, and a host of husbands whose wives call out to God in prayer.

    As a wife, you have the power to open the floodgates of heaven through prayer on your husband’s behalf. Whether your husband hasn’t yet decided to follow Christ, has a lukewarm fledgling faith, or lives a fiery firm faith, there is no one more qualified to pray for his relationship with Christ than you. No matter where your husband is on the continuum of faithlessness to faithfulness, I encourage you to pray with “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, nasb).

    Before we jump into praying for our husbands, let’s take a look at your position as a prayer warrior, the power and purpose of intercession, and the promises of persistent prayer.

    We’ll begin by looking at the first married couple ever: Adam and Eve.

    Then God Created an Ezer

    “In the beginning…”

    Those three little words are pregnant with anticipation, and God does not disappoint. Genesis 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God said, “Let there be,” and there was. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6). God decorated the sky with the sun, moon, and stars, separated the seas from the land, scattered seed of every kind in the soil, and released flocks of birds into the sky, swarms of insects into the air, and schools of fish into the sea. On the sixth day, God created
    all the creeping animals. And He wrapped up His work with a masterful flourish. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.…’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26–27). Then, as if the writer really wanted us to fully grasp what transpired during the first week of the earth’s existence, he picked up his pen and told the story again. In Genesis 2:4, he starts over: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.”

    This time when the writer got to the part about God creating man, he interjected God’s musing after He formed Adam and breathed the breath of life into his lungs. God sat back, considered the lone male, and decided, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). This is where you come in.

    “I will make a helper suitable for him,” God declared. So God set out to fashion His final masterpiece. The crowning touch of His creation. Woman.

    Up to this point in the creation account, we have no recorded words from Adam. However, when he laid eyes on the fair Eve, I imagine he said, “Now this is good!” His exact words were, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23). Woman—the inspiration of man’s first poetry and the grand finale of God’s creative genius.

    Let’s back up, replay the scene, and take a look at one particular word God used in the creation account. God said, “I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). The Hebrew word translated here as “helper” in reference to the woman is ezer. This term is derived from a Hebrew word used of God and the Holy Spirit: azar. Both mean “helper”—one who comes alongside to aid, assist, or rescue. The ESV Study Bible notes that the “helper” is one who supplies strength in the area that is lacking in “the helped.”

    Ezer appears twenty-one times in the Old Testament. Two times it is used of the woman in Genesis 2, and sixteen times it is used to describe God or Yahweh as the helper of His people. The remaining three references appear in the books of the prophets, referring to military aid. Interestingly the sixteen times the word ezer is used of God, it also carries military connotations. “O Lord, be my helper,” David cried (Psalm 30:10, nasb). “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh,” Moses proclaimed (Exodus 18:4). Clearly, the word ezer suggests a role of great honor. It is a portrait of great strength. Theologian William Mounce painted a poignant picture:
    With so many references to God as our helper, it is obvious that an ezer is in no way inferior to the one who receives help. This is important because this is the word that God uses in Gen. 2:18, when he says about Adam, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” God then forms Eve as his ezer. According to God’s design, therefore, the man and the woman, the husband and the wife, have been designed by God to stand together and help each other fight the battles of life. And God is there as the divine ezer to fight with them.1

    I was surprised to discover that even the Proverbs 31 woman, the model for godly wives and mothers through the centuries, was also referred to in military terms. “An excellent wife, who can find?” the passage begins. “Her worth is far above jewels” (Proverbs 31:10, nasb). The New International Version calls her “a wife of noble character.” The Amplified Bible describes her as “a capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman.” The Hebrew word that is translated “excellent” or “virtuous” can also mean “wealthy, prosperous, valiant, boldly courageous, powerful, mighty warrior.”
    2 Did you catch that? Mighty warrior.

    In my book What God Really Thinks About Women, I noted the following:

    God did not create woman simply because man was lonely.… He [fashioned] woman to complete man—to love with him, work with him, rule with him, live life with him, procreate with him, and to fight alongside him. She was a female image bearer in this mysterious union of marriage. Woman was and is a warrior called to fight alongside man in the greatest battle that was yet to come—a battle not fought on the battlefield with guns, but on our knees in prayer.3

    I’m not suggesting you replace your jeans with battle fatigues and your cute shoes with army boots. But I am suggesting that God has given you an amazing role as a prayer warrior on your husband’s behalf. The apostle Paul urges believers to enter into spiritual battle armed and ready with the Word of God.

    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions.… Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10–18) A spiritual battle is going on all around us, and Paul urges us to be prepared, spiritually armed and physically alert. He emphasizes this again
    in his second letter to the Corinthians: “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish
    strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3–4).

    While we don’t have authority over our husbands, we do have authority over the Enemy who seeks to harm him (Luke 10:19). Through prayer, the Enemy’s plans are intercepted; the principalities and authorities are defeated. Through prayer, the power and provision of God flow into the lives of His people.

    Paul tells us that marriage between a woman and a man is an earthly example of a heavenly relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22–33). So of course the devil, Satan, wants to destroy that microcosmic snapshot. He began with the first couple in the Garden of Eden, and he continues his all-out assault on the God-ordained institution of marriage today. The words of Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent,” continue to slither into marriages just as surely as they did with the first couple of all time.

    But here’s the good news. Jesus said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” ( John 16:33). Not only that, Jesus said He has given you power and authority to “overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19). “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). You are an ezer, uniquely fashioned and supernaturally
    equipped to do battle on your knees in prayer for your marriage and your man.

    The Purpose of Prayer

    “Well, I guess the only thing left to do is pray about it.” How many times have I heard those words? How many times have they slipped past my lips? But what if we looked at prayer from a different perspective…God’s perspective? What if we viewed prayer as our first course of action rather than a last resort?

    The vast majority of the e-mails I receive through my ministry center on marriage problems. Women struggle with husbands who aren’t living up to their expectations: men who work too much and love too little, men who withdraw emotionally and advance sexually, men who initially appear to be Prince Charming but later reveal the villain within.

    Some wives describe their husbands as hardhearted, meanspirited, and verbally combative. Others complain that their husbands are aloof, passive, and emotionally withdrawn. Perhaps your man fits one of those descriptions.

    On the other hand, perhaps you have an adoring husband who cherishes you, cares for you, and encourages you to be all that God has created you to be. Praise God for such a man!

    Regardless of where your man or your marriage falls on the continuum of terrific to tolerable to terrible, there is always room for improvement. Prayer can make a bad marriage good and a good marriage great. Before we start, I want to make this very clear: Prayer is not a means of gaining control over your husband, to whip him into shape and make him the man you want him to be. Prayer is a means of relinquishing control of your husband and asking God to shape him into the man that He wants him to be. Prayer involves turning the finger that points out your man’s faults and folding it along with the others in prayer.

    The Bible tells us in Isaiah 29:16, “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He did not make me’? Can the pot say of the potter, ‘He knows nothing’?”

    God is the Master Potter, and He certainly doesn’t need you or me to tell Him how to shape and mold that marvelous piece of pottery called husband. Oh, we’d like to. That’s for sure. But God’s ultimate goal is for that lump of clay to be fashioned according to His design and for His purposes, not ours. “We are the clay, you are the potter,” Isaiah writes,
    “we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). I am. You are. Your husband is.

    God shapes and molds. You pray and intercede. James warns about the danger of praying with wrong motives ( James 4:3). Check your desire to control at the door of the prayer closet and don’t let it in.

    Prayer is not for the purpose of getting your husband to do what you want him to do when you want him to do it. Let me take that a bit further. Prayer is not for the purpose of getting God to do what you want Him to do when you want Him to do it. It is not for twisting God’s arm to convince Him to do your bidding. He already has your best interests in mind. He already has your husband’s best interests in mind. Amazingly, He invites you to play a part in the miracle of making your husband into the man He created him to be. Your role is not to nag, manipulate, cajole, or control. Your part is to love him and pray for him. And as you pray, God aligns your desires with His desires, your thinking with His thinking, and your heart with His heart.

    God is not hoarding His blessings, waiting for us to say the right words to pry those blessings out of His stingy hand. He longs to lavish us with His goodness! (Ephesians 1:7–8). And yet He often waits for us to ask. I am not saying I understand it. Prayer is simply how He chose to engineer the flow of His power and activity from the spiritual realm into the physical realm. Prayer is the conduit through which God’s power is released and His will is brought to earth as it is in heaven.

    It is not that God cannot act without the prayers of His people. He can do anything He pleases (Psalm 115:3). However, He has established prayer as the gate through which His blessings flow. James reminds us: “You do not have, because you do not ask” ( James 4:2).

    Ezekiel gives us a glimpse into the heart of God regarding prayer.

    Israel had sinned in every possible way, and her people were doomed for destruction. God said, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30). God looked for someone to pray, to intercede, to stand in the gap for Israel, but there was no one.

    Today God is looking for women who will stand in the gap for their husbands, wives who will pray for their men to experience the fullness of God’s blessing. I’m so glad He has found such a woman in you.


    Excerpted from Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toe by Sharon Jaynes Copyright © 2013 by Sharon Jaynes. 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, Prayer, Sharon Jaynes

  • Blog Summary for January 2014

    Posted on February 3, 2014 by Family Christian

    Here are some of the most popular blogs that have been read by our followers during the month of January.

    MercyMe's Shake - Q&A

    MercyMe's new album, Welcome to the New releases later this year. Their first single from the album, Shake, hit stations already and is climbing the charts.

    We thought we would ask a few questions about Shake and their new album.

    Your new song, Shake, is a bit of different path for traditional MercyMe singles. What is the inspiration behind the song?

    Read the full q&a by clicking here.

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    Lecrae, how much was music or the arts part of your life growing up? Did you realize early on that there was some talent in your life, or did that come later?

    "Absolutely. I was a latchkey kid so I would sit at home for hours while my mother was at work. I had to use my imagination. I’d sit in front of the television so much. Sometimes she would allow me to watch television and she would come home to see if it was warm so I had to figure out what I could do with my time. It just became an outlet to start writing, experimenting, and just trying to be creative. I knew I had a passion for the arts, but we didn’t recognize it. It was one of my fifth-grade teachers who recognized it and suggested to my mother that I be put in a special class. That special class led me to audition for a special school so I actually went to a performing arts middle school for a couple years. That’s really where I started to hone my writing skills."

    Read the full interview here.

    Free Wallpaper for Your Mobile, Tablet or Computer

    February is also a month for love. We would be amiss if we didn't mention Valentines Day and what that stands for. As followers of Jesus, Valentines Day is much more than a once-in-three-hundred-sixty-five-days type of holiday. For we have been loved well, so we are compelled to do the same to all around us. AND not just on one day, but every day.

    Look below for some free wallpaper to decorate your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. These are completely free to download. Just right click on the size that you need and you will be all set. To find out which size you need, click here.

    Both images are taking from our Coupon Calendars that we sell online and in our stores. Click here to find the Growth in Faith Calendar and the He Refreshes My Soul Calendar.

    See the whole selection of sizes here.

    What if the Trouble Is in Me?

    "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33b (NIV)

    When Barry and I were first married I came up with a nickname for him: "Velcro-Boy."

    He earned that title because every time I turned around, there he was. In the beginning, I thought I might suffocate from lack of oxygen!

    If I went out for an hour to buy groceries he would call me: "Hey honey, where are you?"

    "I'm at the grocery store ... remember, I told you right before I left."

    I might on a good day make it to the cereal aisle before the phone rang again: "I'm missing you. Are you almost done?"

    I'm sure some of you are thinking what a blessed woman I am. But while it's lovely to have someone enjoy your company, I subscribe to the old adage that, "absence makes the heart grow fonder." My heart was never going to have that opportunity!

    Read this whole devotional from Sheila Walsh here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

    Being unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents and your purpose and, most of all, in God’s great love and His divine plan for your life.

    Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick’s challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaningful career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose, that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life, God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action.

    Nick took some time out of his busy schedule to do a little Q&A with us. Read the full blog post here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

    There’s no denying much of today’s music has the power to move the masses
    physically. Inventive beats and hooky choruses are the currency of the day. Now
    enter Capital Kings, a talented duo that blends pop, electronic dance music, and
    rap into an intoxicating musical mix that makes audiences want to move, and yet
    there’s a thought-provoking, life-affirming undercurrent. Capital Kings combine
    style with substance and introduce flash with a foundation.

    Jon White and Cole Walowac have parlayed a long-term friendship and shared passion for music into one of the hottest careers in the industry. Despite their young age, the duo’s
    history is a lengthy one. “We were in the nursery in the same church,” Jon says.
    “We moved away to Massachusetts for a few years, Cole and I met back up in
    the same middle school and we started playing in the youth group band. Cole
    would play drums and I would sing and that’s how we started making music.”

    Read the full q&a here.

    Francesca Battistelli - A Girl. A Voice. A Mission.


    "The more you walk in relationship with the Lord, the more you learn to trust him. I'm learning not to focus so much on the issues I think are so big right now—our bus has broken down, or someone said something that frustrated me. I'm learning to slowly let things roll off my back, to say, 'Hey, God knew about this before it happened and He's got a way out or a plan better than mine.' I've learned to stop freaking out and just trust that God knows what he's doing. He's not going to leave me in a bad place because He never has before."

    Such it is with Francesca Battistelli. Honest. Simple. Beautiful. Intentional.

    We have all been exposed to her music. Starting with "I'm Letting Go," or "Free to Be Me." "This is the Stuff" or "Strangely Dim." It doesn't matter. For every time that "Franny" opens her mouth to sing, she is opening her heart.

    There is a vulnerable side to this young lady. And if you didn't know it already, you will be able to hear it by reading the interview below. Franny came to our corporate Christmas party to bring encouragement and holiday greetings. After I sat down with her, I was reminded again about her passion.

    Read the full interview here.

    Michael Landon Jr. - Leaving a Legacy in Film

    Michael, 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?

    "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."

    Read the full interview here.

    The Storm Inside - Sheila Walsh

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith. Sheila shares insightful biblical teaching, intimate stories of her own storms and the chaos other women have faced and overcome.

    Read the full blog post and watch a video from Sheila here.

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    As a high-school athlete, Phil was All-State in football, baseball, and track which afforded him the opportunity to attend Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship. There he played first string quarterback ahead of Terry Bradshaw. Phil's been quoted as saying "Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks." After receiving his Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and a Master's in Education, he spent several years teaching. While his students claim he was an excellent teacher, spending time in a classroom brought Phil to the conclusion that his time and talents would be better spent in the woods.

    Read our full interview with Phil here.

    If you like these blog posts. Make sure that you check out our blog regularly. Or add our blog url to your blog reader.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies, Interviews, Proverbs 31, Alex Mosoiu, Dan Hubka and was tagged with Featured, Lecrae, MercyMe, Francesca Battistelli, Nick Vujicic, Capital Kings, Phil Robertson, Michael Landon Jr., Wallpapers, Sheila Walsh

  • He Really Loves Me!

    Posted on February 3, 2014 by Darlene Sala

    Darlene Sala

    "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

    Our hearts long to be loved. We want to know someone treasures and values us. Truly. Faithfully. Lavishly. Would someone, anyone, be willing to give up an item of great value for us?

    I'm stunned God willingly paid so much for me to know Him. It's mind-boggling to grasp that Jesus left His Father in heaven to come to this earth as a baby, then die by crucifixion. I can hardly comprehend a love that cost so much.

    I can't imagine sacrificing any of my three children to save someone else's life. Yet Peter writes, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed ... but with the precious blood of Christ ..." (1 Peter 1:18-19, NIV). What love!

    What makes it even more costly is God the Father knew He would need to turn away from His son during Jesus' death.

    When Jesus was hanging on a wooden cross, God the Father withdrew His presence because of the sin His Son bore on our behalf. Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46b, NIV). A great shadow had come between Jesus and the Father. Jesus was excruciatingly alone on that cross because of you and me.

    A story from the mission field illustrates a similar kind of love. For years, Dr. Margaret Brand served as a missionary eye surgeon in southern India. In the rural areas she would sometimes do 100 cataract surgeries in a day.

    In one instance where there was no electricity, Dr. Brand asked a 12-year-old boy to hold a large flashlight so that its beam gave her enough light to operate. Dr. Brand doubted whether the boy would be able to endure the sight of eyes being sliced open and stitched. For the first five operations he did his job impressively. During the sixth, however, he faltered.

    "Little brother, show the light properly," Dr. Brand instructed him. But she could sense that he simply could not bear to look at the eye. When she asked him if he felt well, she saw tears running down his cheeks. "Oh, doctor, I cannot look," replied the boy. "This one, she is my mother."

    You see, God loves us so much, "For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NRSV) when we put our faith in Him. The high price Jesus paid makes us incredibly valuable — no matter how worthless we may feel at the end of the day.

    Here's another way to look at it. When it comes to placing a value on a piece of art, that value is derived from three things:

    • Who made it?
    • How many are there like it?
    • What is someone willing to pay for it?

    You are a priceless work of art. The greatest Artist in the universe hand-crafted you. God gave the life of His only Son to have a relationship with you. That's how valuable you are. I'm clearly a sinner, not holy like God. But God loves me, and He loves you enough to pay an enormous price so that we could have our sins forgiven.

    With a word the universe was brought into being. With a touch lepers were healed. But when sin was forgiven, Jesus the Son of God willingly died. What amazing love!

    And the focus of that love? You and me.

    May we pause in this moment to absorb the depth of God's love for us. And may our lives be filled with thankfulness that He was willing to pay the price!

    Loving God, help me always remember that my only true worth is found in You. Thank You for the gift of Your Son; thank You for loving me so much that You thought I was worth Christ's life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Knowing how treasured you are by God, what part of you doesn't feel like a "priceless work of art"?

    What would your day look like if you thanked Him for this "flaw" all day long?

    Power Verses:
    1 John 3:1a, "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." (ESV)

    1 John 4:19, "We love him, because he first loved us." (KJV)

    © 2014 by Darlene Sala. 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

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