• ABOUT
    Did you know?
    All of our earnings go to Christian charities.
    Click to learn more about us!
  • SHOP
    View the latest sales and promotions going on now!
    When you shop, you give.
  • GIVE
    See our latest Giving Challenge.
  • GROW
    Our blog shares devotionals, interviews, contests & more—all to help you grow in your faith.

  • Shop Small Group & Bible Studies

Family Christian

  • Lioness Arising from Lisa Bevere

    Posted on January 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Lisa Bevere

    Awaken a Lioness
    Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us. —RALPH WALDO EMERSON

    The year was 1994, and it was a night like any other in that season of my life. I had tumbled into bed later than I should have after a desperate attempt at putting my house in order. As a pregnant mother of three sons, I slept deeply in those days. I would shut my eyes and fall right to sleep, only to be roused by the sound of an alarm, children, or late-morning sunlight streaming into my room. But this night I fell asleep and woke at dawn, shaken to my core.

    In the predawn hours I’d experienced a vivid and unusual dream. Actually, to call it a dream makes it sound as though it came to me in the form of sleep or shadow; this imagery did not. I dream regularly, but not at this level of intensity. In my world of sleep, I found myself vibrantly awake. Before me was a scene set in another place and time. I sensed I no longer walked the pathways of earth. I stood in some heavenly realm, a place of illumination, without glare.

    Radiant light was everywhere and appeared to come from everything. There was no mist or shadow, only glorious color. These saturated hues of living color were comprised of shades so concentrated that I am without earthly reference to name them. The pigments were layered and multidimensional. For some reason I best remember the tones of purple (but not quite our purple) and blue (yet unlike ours). There were no edges, sides, or upper border, yet the backdrop of color enwrapped what it showcased—an elevated platform of flawless, cream-colored stone, and on this platform reclined a golden lioness.
    She was feline perfection—majestic, powerful, and richly textured. She didn’t move, but there was no doubt in my mind that she was alive—far more alive than any earthbound animal I’d seen in motion. Her head was erect but not tense, and her forelegs stretched out in front of her. Her fur and eyes gleamed golden. Beneath her flawless, tawny coat, I could see every curve of her perfectly formed muscles. This stunning, still lioness was far more substantial, vivid, and vibrant than any of the lionesses that now walk our earth. I couldn’t help thinking I beheld a heavenly prototype. Etched on the front of the flawless pillar platform were both a word and a roman numeral: Numbers XXIII.

    In contrast with this lioness, my form felt transparent, insignificant, and strangely out of place. I felt detached from my body and unaware of being pregnant. I knew I was there to behold and see, to keenly observe—and in doing so, to learn something unrealized. I sensed an urgency to grasp the weight of the imagery. Even though I was alone with a lioness, I felt no alarm or threat. I felt only wide-eyed wonder, as though by seeing, my spirit was being enlarged and connected. I absorbed all I could of what was around me. My focus shifted, and I looked into the eyes of the lioness.

    As I did, I heard a voice somewhere behind me announce: With the birth of this son,you will awaken a lioness.
    In a blur of golden light, majesty, and wonder, it was over. The next thing I knew, it was morning, and I was fully awake. All my senses were in a state of high alert, not out of fear as much as out of shock. What had I just witnessed? As time has passed, I have come to believe our earth is the time tethered, shadowed form or partial revelation of what is original, timeless, and whole in heaven.

    RISE UP LIKE A LIONESS
    As I lay in the gray of dawn, wide awake, heart racing, and body trembling, I sensed God had sent me this vision of a lioness to reveal something I would have easily missed in the day-to-day. He had my full attention. I was listening with every sense engaged. My room seemed faded and hollow, a stark contrast to the world of color I’d just left. The morning sounds of earth were muffled compared to the clarion voice in the otherworldly place. I paused, afraid to move and lose the last remnants of the vision. I closed my eyes. Yes, it was all there—the lioness, the platform, the inscription, the backdrop, and the voice.

    Time passed, my heart slowed, my body calmed, and I opened my eyes. Curious about the inscription on the front of the platform, I reached out and drew my Bible into bed with me. I wondered, was there a connection with a literal chapter or verse? If so, what did Numbers 23 hold? As I flipped through the pages, my heart sank when I noted the translator’s heading and discovered the passage was an oracle of Balaam. I knew he was an accurate, but dishonorable, prophet. I read on, not sensing much of anything until I came to verse 19.

    “God is not a man, so he does not lie.
    He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
    Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
    Listen, I received a command to bless;
    God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
    No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob;
    no trouble is in store for Israel.
    For the LORD their God is with them;
    he has been proclaimed their king.
    God brought them out of Egypt;
    for them he is as strong as a wild ox.
    No curse can touch Jacob;
    no magic has any power against Israel.
    For now it will be said of Jacob,
    “What wonders God has done for Israel!” (Numbers 23:19–23, NLT)

    These words contain so much about the faithfulness of God. His promises are sure and certain, and his blessings are irreversible. Because of God’s faithfulness, Israel had a future secure and free from the tainted and twisted effects of witchcraft or curses. All this was reassuring, but the next verse was riveting.

    These people rise up like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself. They refuse to rest until they have feasted on prey, drinking the blood of the slaughtered! (Numbers 23:24, NLT)

    Trembling, I reread the fierce words printed on the fragile page: rise up
    like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself. The raw imagery hit me. I could
    see it: a lion and his lioness, rising up out of the grass. As they rose, the dynamics of the plain changed from peaceful to electric. Every living creature sensed the lions’ change of posture and watched attentively. The golden ones were awake, stretching, testing the air, surveying their domain, ready to make their move. Perhaps they were hungry. Maybe they were agitated by the presence of an enemy who had violated the marked boundaries of their territory, and it was time to make their presence known.

    Once they were up, tensions would be high until their movements ceased. If the lions were restless, there’d be no rest for the other creatures until the lions had fought or feasted, then resettled. With their rising, I sensed a stirring of their strength in my spirit as well. Who isn’t awed and captivated when a lion or lioness rises and moves out from its resting place? It is a wonder to behold. But what was this to me? How could I possibly be connected to any of this wild, golden might? While the imagery thrilled me, it also repelled me. I liked the idea of lionesses napping in the sun as their young frolicked, but images of the hunt and kill frightened and even disgusted me. When I watched National Geographic or Wild Kingdom, I averted my eyes as the big cats took down impalas and zebras. As these thoughts flashed through my mind, I recalled the words of the night vision: “With the birth of this son, you will awaken a lioness.” What could this mean? I saw no connection between the powerful, fearless lioness and the large, pregnant woman who lay in my bed. To say I was a lioness was laughable. I was a tofu-eating, borderline vegan, not a bloodthirsty predator. I was terrified by almost everything outside my control and intimidated by the majority of the people I met. I found strong, dominant women especially frightening.

    My pregnancy had been somewhat of a reprieve. In an impassioned moment of prayer a few months before my son’s conception, I’d laid aside all my protests and told God, “Okay, okay! I’m yours. Have your way in my life! I’ll do anything you want. I’ll even talk to women if you want me to.” Though at the time I had no idea what I might say. When I became pregnant, I figured all bets were off. I imagined the commission and my compliance had been a test of sorts—like Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. Perhaps I’d get bonus points for being willing and I’d never have to follow through on my pledge. But with this vision, it appeared my pre-pregnancy deal still stood. And what was this about a son?

    Throughout my pregnancy I’d assumed I was carrying a daughter. Everyone I came in contact with told me I was having a girl. No one had mentioned the possibility of a boy. I was the only one who harbored the secret hope for another son. I shook my head in disbelief. If any of this was true and I was about to morph into a lioness of sorts, then surely someone else would see this impending transformation as well. This vision was going to require some serious secondary confirmation.

    LOOKING FOR AFFIRMATION
    A few weeks passed, and a woman evangelist I had immense respect for came into town. Here was my chance! She’d invited another pregnant friend and me to join her for lunch. My friend was an exceptional businesswoman who’d experienced a radical conversion and was shaking her region of Asia with the gospel. Perhaps the lioness vision was for her…I decided to casually bring up the idea over lunch and watch her reaction.

    Our lunch date fell on a gorgeous, sunny day in Winter Park, Florida. After the three of us roamed the streets for a while, I finally plopped my pregnant self down for lunch and wondered how I could introduce the lioness into our girlfriend-shopping conversation. Later as we ate, my opening came. My friend told us she was expecting a girl, and the evangelist said she was excited about the prospect of me having a daughter as well. “But what if it’s another boy?” I asked. She was aghast that I would even raise such a possibility. After all, she reasoned, I had three sons, and John needed a girl to dote on. Right then I decided to relay the story of the lioness and the proclamation of a son. I’m not certain what I said made sense. Actually, I know it didn’t. After all, I was far from convinced myself. I knew the vision was real, but in my nervousness I still discounted my connection with the lioness imagery. I kept talking, trying to process my encounter, but how could I expect them to understand when I was confused? My ramblings reflected on their concerned faces. Realizing I had hit an impasse, I stopped abruptly. There was a long pause in the awkward aftermath as the minister looked doubtfully at me and then asked, “When is your baby due?” “October tenth,” I answered sheepishly, relieved to say something that made sense. Leaning back, she shook her head and said with confidence, “No, no, you could not possibly be a lioness by then.”

    I wanted to yell, “I agree!” but feeling slightly ridiculous, I merely nodded. On one level I felt relief and on the other slightly annoyed, definitely embarrassed, and possibly insulted. What did she mean I couldn’t be a lioness by then? It was only springtime, and October was more than five months away! After all, how long could this lioness transformation take? Why had I shared my vision anyway? I should have waited until I found out if I was carrying a son. She sensed my confusion and explained, “There is still too much stuff in you that God needs to work out…You will not be free by October.”

    Well, there you go. Even though I didn’t like the woman’s bluntness, I agreed with her assessment. Slowly the conversation returned to its previously normal rhythm as I closed my mouth and allowed my thoughts to turn inward. She had only voiced what she saw obviously reflected in me. I was plagued by doubt and insecurity on many levels. Even my husband, John, was constantly saying to me, “It must be so hard to live in your mind, Lisa, with so many worries and fears crowding in on you.” He was right. And it was getting harder and harder all the time. I was tired of being a long term restoration project.

    NO MORE EXCUSES
    For years I’d been making excuses for myself. I was a cancer survivor and a stay-at-home mom with a dysfunctional past, who just wanted to survive her preschool children. Was it possible that God thought I was destined for more? Was something powerful and slightly fierce waiting to be awakened inside me? Maybe I’d wear courage well. After all, hadn’t I been adventurous when I was young? There was a time when my dream job ideas ranged between assassin and astronaut.

    Yes, I wanted to recover some of the strength I’d forfeited while trying to fit in as a pastor’s wife and a nice Christian woman. I was ready to stretch a bit and rise up in strength and beauty. I was tired of being thought of as weak and whiny. I was tired of revisiting the pain of my past. I was up for a challenge. I loved that my husband was passionate and strong, but I was tired of hiding behind him. Tired of wearying my mind with so many things that didn’t matter. Tired of pretending. Maybe the vision of a lioness was just what I needed! Rather than nice and safe, I was ready to be seen as slightly fierce and definitely focused.

    I drove home after lunch that day, gripping the steering wheel more tightly than necessary. I was willing to try on this lioness vibe in the relative safety of my Honda Civic. I rolled down the windows and bounced to the latest in contemporary Christian music, and I let the wind rather than the air conditioning shake my “mane.” It all seems a bit silly now (especially since lionesses don’t have manes). Through my cat-shaped Ray-Ban lenses, I saw my frizzy, highlighted hair in the side-view mirror…Wait, do I see wild lioness gold in those tresses? Not ready by October? Ha! I’ll show you! I’m a lioness! Somehow through the combination of my lunch faux pas, my friend’s blunt assessment, and a series of other unrelated events, an interesting transformation began to take shape. It was as though a gauntlet had been thrown down and a challenge had been issued. With the birth of my son Arden Christopher (his name means “fiery, determined, anointed one”), something within me shifted. Even though another child meant more of a mother load, I became a focused daughter. You see, like many other mothers, my God-connected self had been strained. I was almost at the point of drowning in my day-to-day life. I was so caught up with my ever-expanding and increasingly demanding to-do list, I’d forgotten who I was. I was full of self-doubt. My life was small, self-centered, isolated, petty, safe, and ineffective. I remembered my name, whom I was married to, and who my kids were, but what I did and who I was responsible for overshadowed my sense of being God’s daughter.

    As I paused, God began to whisper strength to me and to call me by another name. To everyone else I had a name that was attached to a job description. I was mother to my children, wife to my husband, pastor’s wife to the congregation, but to God Most High I was simply daughter. As I focused on just being his and what all that meant, life and strength flowed into my days, and rest entered my soul. My heart enlarged. After Arden’s birth, I began to step out of the shadow of my insecurities, fears, comfort zone, and failures and began to reach out to others. I wrote my first book, Out of Control and Loving It!, while nursing Arden. Writing this book opened up another world to me.

    Suddenly I was out speaking to women across our nation who were hungry for authenticity. In response to their hurt and hunger and the glaring need for healthy female connections, I wrote more books. Time passed, we moved from our home in sunny, hot, and humid Florida to another home in sunny, cold, and dry Colorado. The move to Colorado drew our family indoors and around the table more. It also positioned us to weather many transitions. A few times over the next decade (almost too few to note), I was singled out or called a lioness. I would just smile, content that I was no longer a frightened, timid, domestic cat. I imagined the lioness story was over and my personal transformation almost complete. But I was wrong.

    IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, LISA
    In the fall of 2007, the lioness visited me again. I was one of many women ministering at a women’s conference in the stunning land of New Zealand. This event was so well attended that the host church had to do two back-to back conferences to accommodate all the women.

    The first conference was held at the church, and the second was held in an Auckland arena. We had finished conference number one and were at the arena for conference number two. The sessions had begun. The ministers were able, compassionate, faithful stewards of the Word. But for some unknown reason, I felt troubled during the afternoon break. It wasn’t that I felt pressured to prepare—I would be duplicating what I had said in the first conference. Still, I felt an urgency to pray before my session. It was as though there was some sort of resistance. I knew it was not from the attendees, who had chosen to be there, nor from any of the speakers or the host church. We were all of one heart and had come ready to worship, preach, and encourage the women. But there was something else in the mix. Perhaps God was trying to get my attention. I had to get alone and sort my way through it, so I headed off to my hotel room, which overlooked the Auckland harbor. I paced my room, stretching my arms out toward the harbor, praying for God’s direction and insight and singing along with the music on my iPod, “Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.” To position my heart, I began to thank God for various things he was doing in my life. I had just completed the final edits on my Nurture manuscript and began to thank God that the writing and editing process was over. For me, writing a book is like going through labor, so my prayer went something like, Thank you, God. It is finished! I exalted, I don’t want to write again anytime soon! Suddenly I sensed God speak to my spirit. I am sorry you feel that way…because I need you to write again. What? God needed me?

    He went on. I am releasing strategies from heaven. They will be found in my Word. You will not have all of these strategies by any means, but you will have a measure of them. You must write and record what I speak to you so that when my daughters gather, there will be a whole picture. If you do not bring your piece of the puzzle, the picture will not be complete.

    Suddenly the lioness was again before me. As I beheld her in all her strength and fierce beauty, I heard the Voice say, I said with the birth of your son, you would awaken a lioness. I did not say you were the lioness.
    Immediately I saw how limited, silly, and human my perspective had been. The Voice went on to say, Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and it is time his bride awakens a lioness. Study the ways and aspects of the lioness. Then I heard the first strategy: Lionesses hunt together.

    I was taken aback. Was what I was hearing even scriptural? What could all this mean? Women were beginning to get used to the idea that there is power in femininity and value in their capacity to nurture. Now God was telling me to call them lionesses? How did this fit in? I wondered, Could it be God wants to awaken something fierce and wildwithin his women?

    Numbers 23 came before me once again, and I saw in it a charge for Christian women to rise up. Right then and there I set my heart to study the lioness and to search out the parallels for God’s daughters. I’ve spent the last two years researching, observing, and writing about lionesses. Initially I thought of making connections between women and lionesses only on a literary level—without sharing the vision God gave me—but as time passed, I realized this vision was not meant to remain mine alone. I was not shown the lioness because I am favored or special. Nor did I experience this imagery because I am highly visionary. I was shown this because God knew one day I’d be someone with a voice.

    Time and time again as I have spoken the phrase “you will awaken a lioness,” I have literally seen it impact women. Sometimes they respond with quiet tears as something within them is watered. At other times they gasp as though they’ve breathed in the revelation and realized it is okay to be beautiful and fierce. I believe the response has been so overwhelmingly positive because, just as there is a lamb of sorts hidden within, there is also a lioness within every one of God’s daughters. And it is time she awakens.

    When I think of a lioness, a smile plays along my mouth. I throw back my shoulders and stand a bit straighter. More than any other creature, the lioness makes me proud to be a female. There is no doubting her strength. I also imagine there is no creature that makes a man prouder to be a male than the lion. The lion is the king of the jungle, and there is no question about who is the queen.

    LOOK…AND LEARN
    This isn’t the first time God has pointed us back to the simplicity of creation to restore our perspective. Jesus admonishes us to consider the flowers and to learn from them that God will clothe and care for us (see Matthew 6:28; Luke 12:27). Likewise, the heavenly realms declare God’s glory and make an open show of his righteousness (see Psalm 19:1; Psalm 50:6). The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory. (Psalm 97:6, NKJV)

    The wild, fierce beauty of creation is but a window that offers a glimpse of the God who created us. We need to throw open this window and allow God’s untamed, limitless beauty to awaken a heavenly awe within us. As we open our eyes to the wonder of creation, it arouses a God-yearning. Our spirit will respond to what it sees. Creation declares, “There is more! More than what you see. More than what you hear. More than mere human mortality. There is the Immortal God who is seated on high.”

    Jesus our Christ came as the Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth, but the book of Revelation also reveals him as a Lion: But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5, NLT)
    He is both our Lion and our Lamb. I wonder, could there be a combination of two more contrasting images? The Message version says this lion of Judah “can rip through the seven seals.” John, the author of Revelation, wept because after a search of all of heaven, earth, and even the underworld, not one was found worthy to tear open the seven seals and begin the progressive reveal. Then the elder nearest John encouraged him to look, for there was a revelation of a Lion in our Lamb. He alone is worthy and initiates this work of unsealing. A rip or tear is a violent release. I am immediately reminded of the thick curtain of separation in the temple as it was ripped or rent in two (see Mark 15:38).

    The tear began at the highest place and ended at the lowest. I love this, for our God is always tearing asunder that which would hinder or separate any of us from all of him. In the divinely mysterious book of Revelation, this act of unsealing the scrolls of heaven sets things in motion on earth. Even now I sense God longing to unseal and reveal a portion of Himself to and in every one of us. If not, why would he have written this dramatic end of our earth story if it did not contain a revelation for each of us? I believe we are invited again not to despair or to weep but to lift up our eyes, look, and truly see.

    Our earth echoes the revelations and wisdom of heaven. How amazing that our heavenly Father designed his creation to open our hearts. Each plant, animal, element, and landscape says, “Arise and be all you were created to be.” According to Job, nature has the potential to teach us. God sets out the entire creation as a science classroom, using birds and beasts to teach wisdom. (Job 35:11) The wonder of God’s love and the extent to which he will go to impart his wisdom to us is almost too vast to grasp. But we should not be surprised by this. He is, after all, the Creator, who declares:

    Every creature in the forest is mine,
    the wild animals on all the mountains.
    I know every mountain bird by name;
    the scampering field mice are my friends.
    If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?
    All creation and its bounty are mine. (Psalm 50:10–12)

    We isolate ourselves from the creatures of the earth, but God knows them by name. Do we imagine that he cares nothing for his creation? He fashioned creation for himself. Nature has much to reveal about its Creator, if we will but listen to it. In Proverbs we are charged, “You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two” (6:6). I believe God is asking us to do something similar now. He is asking us to look at the lioness and to learn. He invites us: Daughters, look at the lioness. Watch her closely. Let her awaken your untamed nature, your fierce beauty, and your unbridled strength so you can rise up and be the courageous women I have called you to be.
    How does a lioness reveal strength and courage in women? And how can women rise up like the lioness? Each of us will have our unique response, but this glimpse of lioness characteristics may give you insight. In the following chapters, we’ll look at several reasons a lioness arises from her leisurely repose in the African sun:

    She rises to gather strength.
    She rises to greet and groom others.
    She rises to hunt.
    She rises alongside other lionesses.
    She rises to move the young to safety.
    She rises to confront enemies that threaten the pride.
    She rises to walk with her king.

    I have come to see the lioness as a picture of how every daughter of the Most High can embrace her strength, develop courage, and effect change in her world. Is there a lioness hidden within you? It is my prayer that by the time you finish this book, you’ll have your answer, and with that answer something fierce, beautiful, and wild will be awakened in you.


    Excerpted from Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere Copyright © 2013 by Lisa Bevere. 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, Numbers, Lisa Bevere

  • Looking for Hidden Beauty

    Posted on January 24, 2014 by Amy Carroll

    Amy Carroll

    "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NASB)

    As a child who grew up swimming in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, I was used to wading into murky waters. The sun sparkled brilliantly on the surface, but most of the time I couldn't see anything past a few inches from the top of the brownish Atlantic Ocean. My young mind whirled as my toes met with all kinds of unknowns.

    "What's that sharp edge?!"

    "Oooo ... a slimy thing!"

    "What just brushed past me?!"

    A sting from a jellyfish and watching Jaws fueled my active imagination and latent fears. I couldn't see what was swimming in the vast expanse around me, so I worried, "What's in there?"

    One rare day, I waded into the ocean and much to my surprise, my toes were in full view! I don't know what caused the unusual clarity, but that day our waters were like the crystal-clear blue seas of the Caribbean.

    Suddenly, I could see all the delights around me. Brightly colored seaweed, flashing silver scales of a fish, and shells were pushed along the bottom by the tide. The sight that remains sharp in my memory, though, was a yellow piece of seaweed with several exquisite black and white striped angelfish swimming around it.

    Was THAT what I had been worrying about?

    The little vignette looked like something I'd pay to see in a public aquarium. The beauty was riveting, and I was shocked to know these gorgeous fish had been there all along, hidden by the cloudy water.

    Life is so often like the lesson I learned that day. Most of the time we are wading through life without seeing every situation clearly, and it's easy to become fearful of what we can't see.

    But just because the beauty is hidden, doesn't mean there's no beauty to be found. I've often gone through hard times when I couldn't see where my next footstep would land. That's just a season, though, not the whole picture. We truly only see in part, but thankfully we can befriend the One who knows fully.

    If we could only see our lives through God's eyes, the lens of eternity, we'd see that just below the surface there is something beautiful. He has created each day and each moment with purpose. Sometimes our vision will be cloudy and other seasons will bring enough clarity to see the loveliness of God's concealed work.

    I remember sitting beside my friend's bedside as death approached. Watching her still face, I prayed for God's will to be done quickly and peacefully. Walking through that experience with her, a young mother with precious little boys, was a very murky time for me. I just didn't understand why her life had to end so soon.

    But as I prayed, God reminded me that every minute of her life was beautiful and precious, even those she spent near death in a hospital bed. Rather than just seeing the heartache and pain, God opened my eyes to see His good work in and purpose for my friend's life. Years later I still remember the beauty of her life. Her example of proclaiming God's goodness in the midst of a tragic reality modeled deep faith in her Father's reign over her eternal story.

    In each season of our lives, even the ones moving through murky waters when we can only see in part, we can trust in the One who views it all. There is something beautiful happening just below the surface. May God give us eyes to see it clearly.

    Lord God, You are good. I trust You are doing beautiful things in my life even when I can't see them. Please help me trust when I don't see Your eternal picture clearly and hold on tightly to You until a new season of clarity. Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How would things change if you truly believed that this season won't last forever—that it's only part of God's bigger, eternal picture?

    List some of the other seasons of your life. Looking back, can you see with clarity some of the beautiful work of God even in the hard ones?

    Power Verses:
    Ephesians 3: 20-21, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Amy Carroll. 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 Corinthians

  • Prayer for Success

    Posted on January 23, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man. Nehemiah 1:11

    A prayer for success from a pure heart is profitable. So, we position our prayers out of reverence for Almighty God. It is not a rigid and rote prayer, but one that delights in holding the Lord’s name in high esteem. Yes, our Heavenly Father does not desire failure for His followers, but for them to flourish in His will. We ask boldly when we are compelled by His call on our life. We cannot sit still, so we seek God first and His Kingdom and watch Him open doors of opportunity.

    A prayer for favor with man begins by receiving favor from our Heaven Father. When He is pleased with what He sees in our heart, He wants to see us successful in our work. It is good to pray for the Lord’s favor with a servant spirit. Servants serve at the pleasure of their master. They are part of a much bigger kingdom, not their own. So it is for us, fresh from a soul cleansing from the Holy Spirit we are rid of any spiritual toxins and we are free to serve God with success.

    As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success. 2 Chronicles 26:5

    Notice Nehemiah’s prayer was in real time: today in the presence of the King. Your prayers for success need not be so far out that they lose their sense of urgency. It is your daily prayers for bread that keep you dependent on God. It is your specific prayers for God’s favor in upcoming meetings with influencers that the Spirit turns hearts to Kingdom matters. Who can you call on today to help carry out Christ’s calling? God’s provision awaits your explanation of the need.

    Who can you ask to arrange an audience with the decision maker at work? Perhaps you need to schedule a meeting with a school principal, pastor or politician. Be bold for the Lord is leading you to make a difference. Christ has made a difference in your life, so you can be a change agent for His agenda. Make sure to maintain a spirit of prayer when you engage those whom Christ has given influence and power. Trust God to grant you success in your service with Him. He will!

    In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 1 Samuel 18:14

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me favor with influencers, so I can successful serve with You.

    Related Readings: Genesis 24:12; Judges 18:5; 1 Samuel 18:15; Proverbs 2:7, 3:4; Luke 2:52

    Post/Tweet today: A soul cleansing from the Holy Spirit rids us of spiritual toxins and frees us to serve with Christ. #prayerforsuccess

    © 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 Prayer, Nehemiah

  • The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages from Shaunti Feldhahn

    Posted on January 23, 2014 by Family Christian

    Shaunti Feldhahn

    How a Handful of High-Leverage Secrets Unlocks Delight in Your Marriage

    The very first e-mail I received after the release of For Women Only came from an anonymous woman. I’ll never forget her note. It was just one line:

    I got a divorce five years ago, and now I know why. I read it and gasped. I knew the book revealed some surprising insights about men that most women just didn’t get. I had been continuously shocked myself during my years of research!

    But her e-mail brought home the importance of this knowledge in a whole new way.

    That was nearly ten years ago. Since then, my husband, Jeff, and I have researched and written For Men Only and other books. We have spoken at hundreds of conferences, seminars, churches, simulcasts, and stadium events. And during that time, literally thousands of men and women have come up to us at the book table or stopped us in a hallway. With a stunned look in their eyes, they say things like “I wish I had known this before I got married!” or “This book saved our marriage” or even “I’m going to cancel the divorce filing on Wednesday.”

    I’m not making this up.

    Trust me, they’re not talking about any special wisdom that Jeff or I have conjured up. They’re talking about a before-and-after experience. What they mean is “I used to be clueless about what my spouse needed, and I didn’t realize it.” What they mean is “Knowing now what I totally missed before—about my spouse’s inner fears and needs and desires—changes everything.”

    And they are right.

    I started calling these breakthroughs of sudden insight “light bulb on!” moments. They land in your relationship like a bright orange marker. Before, you thought and acted one way. After, you think and act differently. You suddenly see what you didn’t before. How you do a relationship—how you feel about it, what you expect, and what you get from it—changes. Light bulb on! This book on highly happy marriages is packed with moments like that.

    Without a doubt, the dream of a happy marriage is one of the most consistent longings of the human heart. Most of us deeply want to experience an abundant, delightful, lifelong companionship that we can thank God for every day. Forget the bleak statistics we’ve seen, forget the bad rap that committed, lifelong marriage gets in the media—we want to marry our best friend, then enjoy our spouse and enjoy being married. And many people do!

    But I’ve also noticed that many others feel stuck in a rut and don’t know how to get out of it. Some not-yet-married couples aren’t sure they can navigate the transition to a lifetime commitment—or whether the dream of a forever marriage is even realistic.

    And many married couples—especially in times of heartache—harbor secret doubts about whether a great marriage is possible for them. Some have stopped hoping for better.

    Instead of highly happy, they’ve settled for sometimes happy or even mostly mediocre.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. You’d be surprised what a few sudden flashes of insight can do for a couple. Let me show you what I mean.

    Why Do Some Marriages Turn…Good?

    You may have noticed that many marriage books and efforts at relationship improvement try to increase a couple’s happiness by digging into key relationship problems. Essentially, they’re asking things like, “What’s the underlying reason for this particular problem?” Or, bigger picture: “Why do marriages turn bad?” Identify the reason, identify the problem—and fix it. Indeed, this is great because all of us need that sort of help sometimes.

    For this book, though, I aimed my research in a different direction. I wanted to know: Why do marriages turn good? If a so-so union became delightful, I wanted to know what made the difference. Millions of couples truly enjoy each other in strong, rewarding relationships. What do they do right, and what can we learn from them that would make our relationships just as strong and rewarding?

    It makes a lot of sense to study the winners. Aspiring athletes who want to improve how they throw a ball, swing a racket, or twist gracefully in the air to land at just the right angle on the ice spend hours studying those who do it best. Psychologists, change management experts, and counselors have consistently found that in any endeavor of life, if we want to change, improve, or be inspired, we have to study what some call the bright spots, not just the problems. After all, if you want to be more like Jesus, you don’t spend the bulk of your time studying the Pharisees, His religious-leader opponents, in order to figure out how to not be like them. You study Jesus.


    Excerpted from The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages by Shaunti Feldhahn Copyright © 2013 by Shaunti Feldhahn. 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, Marriage, Shaunti Feldhahn

  • Saying "I Love You"

    Posted on January 23, 2014 by John van der Veen


    During the first month and a half of every year, we all turn our eyes towards those we love. We say something sweet. Some may even eat something sweet.

    Many people say that Valentines Day is a made up holiday, put in place by the greeting card companies of the world. Well, truth be told, I don't care. It is a day to help us remember to say "I love you" to those around us. Taking the time each day to show love is certainly important, but it's also fun to get caught up in a holiday such as this day.

    So how do you say "I love you" to someone you love? Perhaps it's packing two cookies in the kid's school lunch. Maybe it's a surprise delivery of flowers for your spouse at work. Maybe it's even a call to your mother-in-law. How do you say "I love you?"

    We ask some of our friends to share their thoughts and ideas. See below for some great inspiration and pointers.

    My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is to push aside my hesitations, my duties, and my distractions so that my loved one knows I'm all there, and there’s no place else I’d rather be.
    -Rachel Macy Stafford (Hands Free Mama)

    "...is to come alongside them in their struggles and pray over them, speak encouraging truth from God's Word into their lives and look for ways to lighten their load. Galatians 6 says, 'Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."
    - Stephen Kendrick

    “I listen well and when I try to supply what someone needs, whether it's something I buy or something I do for them.”
    Colleen Coble, USA Today-best-selling author of Butterfly Palace and Smitten Book Club

    “My favorite way to say I love you to someone is by surprising him or her with a special and unexpected gift.”
    - Beth Wiseman

    “My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is by giving them my full attention.  I slip my phone back into my purse, take my eyes off the computer, and stop watching the television. Giving someone your complete attention shows them that what they are saying is valuable to you. It also feels good to have someone's attention for a few moments. Maybe you're not even talking, you're just being together. It helps the person to feel cared for. So when I want to show someone I love them, I unplug and pay attention with my mind, my heart, and both ears.”
    - Vannetta Chapman

    “My favorite way to say "I love you" is to do something unexpected. One example is surprising my teenage and young adult kids by doing their laundry or cleaning their rooms. Or I'll make my husband's favorite meal/dessert even when it's not a special occasion. Understanding the people I love, knowing what they need and want, and then giving it to them when they least expect it is a wonderful way to express love.”
    - Kathleen Fuller

    “My favorite way to say "I love you" is a lot like Elf's favorite way to spread Christmas cheer -- by singing loud for all to hear!”
    - Krista McGee

    "My favorite way to say "I love you" is to take their face in both of my hands so that they can't look at the screen beside them or down at the phone in their lap. Then I draw their face very, very close to mine until all they can see is my face.  At this point my heart always slows a little bit in anticipation because I know that I have their undivided attention. I look deeply into their eyes until I connect with that heart of theirs that I love so much and I say it, "I love you," and I smile.  Then I get to see the most precious thing known to me.  Their body relaxes a bit and a look of relief from the cares of the world melts their face. In that moment they know that they are loved--deeply, for real, forever.  My heart aches just thinking about it."
    - Susan Merrill

    “My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is to cook a nice dinner for them! My favorite time of day is when I have family and friends gathered around the dinner tables. I love happy smiles, bellies getting filled up, and the great conversation and laughter!”
    - Tricia Goyer

    "My favorite way to say, “I love you,” to someone is in small daily interactions that fit with the way God wired the people in my life to best hear love. For example, my husband and sons speak the language of respect. So I ask them for opinions when I’m making decisions. I don’t interrupt them. I avoid starting sentences with the word, “Why?” as it is received as a challenge. I recommend by starting with, “This may be something you already thought about, but have you considered, XYZ?” And when I disagree, I say, “I think that is an awesome idea! I love XYZ about it. One thing I’m wondering is how (my concern) fits into that…what do you think?” And I will often just work alongside them, responding to them, and providing help instead of instigating conversation. And with my daughter? She receives love best by being listened to, empathized with, and touched. To love people well, we need to love them like Jesus did, meeting them where they already are."
    Nina Roesner - Author, The Respect Dare

    ". . . to verbally tell them. It's amazing how many people don't say 'I love you.' I get my older brother with that all the time. But also, I look to say 'I love you' by giving or doing something the other person loves. My husband is an introvert and loves alone time. So I allow him to just 'be' without bugging him. Another way to say 'I love you' is to speak destiny over someone, especially teens. By saying, 'Hey, I see this in you,' eyes and hearts really light up."
    - Rachel Hauck

    ". . . written words. Ever since I can remember I've expressed myself best in writing (maybe because I tend to cry if I express love and gratitude in person!). I like the way writing gives me time to think, reflect, and edit my words until they say exactly what I mean."
    - Deborah Raney

    ". . . to take on a chore or run an errand I know he or she has been dreading. I believe love is indeed a verb."
    - Dorothy Love

    ". . . to speak the words aloud . . . and to speak them often. Naturally, love must be shown with actions as well, but words matter so I try not to let an opportunity pass me by to say, 'I love you.'"
    - Robin Lee Hatcher

    ". . . to bake them something. Cookies, cheesecake, granola – whatever sweet treat they like best!"
    - Denise Hunter

    "One thing I’ve noticed about saying “I love you” is that it has so much less to do with my favorite way to say it, and so much more to do with who I’m saying it to.  For my husband, speaking love means communicating words of gratitude and appreciation.  For my kids, it means turning off technology, holding them close, and playing games with them on our living room floor. There are so many ways to say I love you, but I’m learning to speak love in the ways that matter most to the people I love. "
    --Debra K. Fileta, M.A., LPC, Author of True Love Dates

    "My favorite way to say I love you is by spending quality time and giving thoughtful gifts."
    - Garrett Hornbuckly, All Things New

    “One of my favorite things to do, depending on how old the members of my household are, is to write '14 things I love about you' (my daughter is 14) 1 - You are so beautiful inside and out. 2 - You are so much fun to be around 3 - you have such a tender heart etc. With my husband, I like to use the years we have been married as my guide as we are getting so much older now and I'd have to find a pretty big card if I was going to go by age! We have been married for nearly 22 years now and he is an incredible man of God, so I like to remind him how amazing he is. I don't think we should ever take it for granted that the ones we love know how much they mean to us. Taking the time to communicate will help to reinforce the bond of love between us.”
    – Sam Evans, Planetshakers

    "I only know one way to say 'I love you,' I guess two ways if you count Spanish.  This is the best I could come up with: My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is…through action.  Daily, consistently and intently.”
    Fawn Weaver

    "My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is to do the one thing that I know will mean the most to them. Learn the language of those you love."
    - Sheila Walsh

    'My favorite way to say 'I love you' to my husband is to try to remember to say 'thank you' for what he does, when he mows the lawn or overcomes exhaustion to play with the kids or does something that makes me happy. That says 'I love you' to him more than anything else!"
    - Shaunti Feldhahn

    "My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is with one-on-one time including lots of laughter and hugs."
    - Kim Vogel

    "My favorite way to say 'I Love You' to someone is giving them my time. For my mom, who has Alzheimer's Disease, it's sitting with her on the patio watching for birds. For my hubby, it's watching a rerun of  a Star Trek TV show with him. For my grandson, Ryan, it's engaging in a Wii game tournament."
    - Mona Hodgson

    “My favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is chocolate chip cookies. Well, cookies and kind words. I love the idea of calling out the good in someone. For me, an encouraging word or a reminder of what's true can carry me through rough days, so speaking life into someone I love brings me a lot of joy...and so do chocolate chip cookies!"

    "[Another] favorite way to say 'I love you' to someone is…to ask them how they're doing and really listen. So often, "How are you?" is just another way of saying "Hey!". I love taking the time to really listen to the people I love, to hear their hearts and their dreams and their struggles. These conversations are where true community happens, and I'm so grateful for the people who have slowed down to really listen to me."
    - Ellie Holcomb

    "My favorite way to say ‘I love you’ to someone is “to do an act or sacrificial service that will demonstrate in deed how much I love them.”
    -Dr. Tony Evans

    "My favorite way to say I love you is through food! I love to cook and bake and nothing brings me more joy then to cook my husband or someone their favorite meal or treat!"
    - Molly Reed, City Harbor

    "My favorite way to say ‘I love you’ to someone is to point out simple things about them that I really value. I think sometimes people just need to be reminded that you're grateful for who they are.”
    - Robby Earle, City Harbor


    This post was posted in Music, Books and was tagged with Featured, Mona Hodgson, Dr. Tony Evans, Stephen Kendrick, Sheila Walsh, Shaunti Feldhahn, Rachel Macy Stafford, Colleen Coble, Beth Wiseman, Vannetta Chapman, Kathleen Fuller, Krista McGee, Susan Merrill, Tricia Goyer, Nina Roesner, Rachel Hauck, Deborah Raney, Dorothy Love, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hunter, Debra K Fileta, All Things New, Planetshakers, Fawn Weaver, Kim Vogel, Ellie Holcomb, City Harbor

  • Replacing My Cravings

    Posted on January 23, 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:1-3 (NIV 1984)

    I rolled over and looked at the clock. Another day. Beyond all reason and rationality, I slid out of bed and stripped off everything that might weigh even the slightest ounce as I headed to the scale.

    I thought, "Maybe today will be the day the scale will be my friend and not reveal my secrets. Maybe somehow overnight the molecular structure of my body shifted and today I will magically weigh less."

    I yanked out my ponytail holder - hey, it's gotta weigh something - and decided to try again. But the scale didn't change its mind the second time. It was not my friend this day.

    Vowing to do better, eat healthier, and make good choices, I headed to the kitchen only to have my resolve melt like the icing on the cinnamon rolls my daughter just pulled from the oven. Oh, who cares what the scale says when this roll speaks such love and deliciousness.

    Two and a half cinnamon rolls later, I decided tomorrow would be a much better day to keep my promises to eat healthier. But tomorrow wasn't the day. Or the next. Or the next.

    I knew I needed to make changes. Because this wasn't really about the scale or what clothing size I was; it was about this battle that raged in my heart. I thought about, craved, and arranged my life too much around food. So much so, I knew it was something God was challenging me to surrender to His control. Surrender to the point where I'd make changes for the sake of my spiritual health perhaps even more than my physical health.

    I had to get honest enough to admit it: I relied on food more than I relied on God. I craved food more than I craved God. Food was my comfort. Food was my reward. Food was my joy. Food was what I turned to in times of stress, sadness, and even in times of happiness.

    I knew this battle would be hard. But through it all I determined to make God, rather than food, my focus. Each time I craved something I knew wasn't part of my healthy eating plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray. I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot.

    Sometimes I wound up on the floor of my closet, praying with tears running down my face. And I gave myself permission to cry, just like the psalmist in Psalm 5:1-3, "Give ears to my word, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."

    And that is literally what I did each day. Laid my requests before God and waited in expectation.

    Then, one morning, it finally happened. I got up and for the first time in a long while, I felt incredibly empowered. I still did the same crazy routine with the scale, no clothes, no ponytail holder. The numbers hadn't changed much, but my heart had. One day of victory tasted better than any of that food I'd given up ever could. I had waited in expectation using prayer as my guide and I did it.

    I can't promise you there won't be any more tears. There will. And I can't promise the scale magically drops as quickly as you wish it would. It probably won't. But it will be a start. A really good start.

    Dear Lord, You know me so intimately. You know how much I'm struggling right now. Please help me to replace my cravings with a reliance on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How can you pray through your specific struggle?

    Do some research on Scriptures that apply to your situation. Write them down on notecards or make a list in your cell phone. When faced with your struggle, turn it into an opportunity to pray through these Scriptures.

    Power Verse:
    1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (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 Psalm

  • Right With God

    Posted on January 22, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. Nehemiah 1:6
    Confession of sin makes things right with God. Right in the sense that there is nothing between the Creator and His creation. There is a free flow of fellowship, because no action is hidden from the Almighty, but is laid out before the loving light of the Lord. What the conscience can’t bear in guilt, Christ bore on the cross in payment for sin’s guilt. This sense of right and wrong is the Holy Spirit’s influence in the wise thing to do. Confession is good for it aligns the soul with God.

    Moreover, it is our exalted and holy view of the Lord and leads us to confession and repentance. Yes, we worship the great and mighty God of heaven. He is high and lifted up in holiness and we are low and pressed down by unholiness. Through Jesus Christ He is the Savior of our soul. He created us by His Spirit and He convicts us of what’s unacceptable in His sight. So, the more we mature as a Jesus follower the more our sensitivity to sin increases. Confession is our friend.

    Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5

    A swift and sincere confession are what serves us and the Lord the best. It is immature and unhealthy to split hairs over the severity of our sin, instead humility quickly takes responsibility and repents from further action. For example, a leader of integrity will admit to their team when they break a trust by not doing what they say. The humble leader will ask forgiveness and promise to keep their word going forward. Relationships require regular doses of confession.

    Furthermore, those in leadership confess their sin and the sin of their community to Christ. They start individually and expand institutionally. When the trust of the tribe and its chief are broken with God, then confession is expected by all. Our nation’s moral walls will be rebuilt by our humble confession and repentance to God. Like Nehemiah we have a great work to do and it begins with being right with God. Confession trusts God and it builds trust with God and people.

    If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I confess my desperate need for You and I confess our need as a country to turn back to You.

    Related Readings: Numbers 5:9; Ezra 10:1; Psalm 38:18; Proverbs 28:13; Mark 1:5; James 5:16

    Post/Tweet today: Our nation’s moral walls will be rebuilt by our humble confession and repentance to God. #rightwithGod

    © 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

  • MercyMe's Shake - Q&A

    Posted on January 22, 2014 by John van der Veen

    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?

    "The inspiration behind the song really came out of a new season we're in, and that I'm in personally, in learning about God's grace. The idea that, because we've been changed and because He sees us with no condemnation we should be floating on air because we have something that most of the world doesn't. Ironically, we're the power ballad band, so I'm excited about "Shake" because it's energy and beat offer a small glimpse of how I feel, and where I am right now.

    I'm a horrible dancer. But I'm allowed to dance in front of my kids (even though they think I'm horrible too). But everybody can shake or shimmy. And I hope the sound of this song will inspire people to do just that.

    My favorite line says "Brand new looks so good on you" and that's where the title of the album came from. I think we as a whole we need to understand that no matter what we've done we remain new, and we can't mess it up because of the cross. The old is dead and gone and we're redeemed, no matter what the world or the enemy tells us. So that's what the album is about. You're going to hear a lot of the same grace message throughout the album, and that is on purpose. So that being said, we just thought "Shake" was the perfect song to start with. And we hope it gets people excited."
    - Bart

    You guys look like you had a lot of fun making the video. What was that experience like?

    "Making the "Shake" video was a fun time for us. We hadn't made a real music video in 6 or 7 years. So it was fun to finally have an idea and make it come to life. We blocked off downtown streets in Huntsville, had a remote controlled octo-copter camera, and over 100 extras including some choreographed dancers, so it was a blast. We are all just a bunch of goofball dads, so we wanted to show that Christians could have fun and have a good time. We wanted to encourage others to get up and shake like we have a reason to.

    In fact we even created the "Shake" dance you see in the video, and it seems to be catching on with people. We've been seeing others posting their own "Shakes" with the #MMShake hash tag, and have gotten to record some additional videos doing the dance with radio stations. So it's been a lot fun to see people getting into it."
    - Robby

    Anything specific we can look forward to on your new album?

    "We're really excited about the record. I think we're supposed to say that every time we make an album, and hopefully it's better than the last one. But, I can honestly say this one is different for us. The title "Welcome To The New" really speaks on behalf of a lot of things. We're in a new season as a band, but also for me personally. I'm in a place where the Gospel seems brand new to me. I grew up in a very legalistic church. They didn't directly say that it was about works, but there always seemed like there was an opportunity to try harder. And I was taught that the better you were, the more you were in God's favor. Then about 2 years or so ago I was in a place personally where I felt so many things were just hanging by a thread. I was doing everything to try to succeed because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. So I wanted to be really good at it and thought that God would be pleased. It didn't make any sense until a friend came into my life and spoke the truth of God's grace to me. That there's nothing I can do to make Christ love me more than he already does. And for some reason I somehow never really heard that before.

    If I don't do another great thing; if I have the ability to sabotage everything good about my life. Because I know Christ, his Grace will still be enough. And I realize that I probably speak on behalf of a lot of the church that tries really hard. We keep ourselves busy thinking that if we do the song and dance long enough God will say "I see you amongst all those people, way to go!" And I realized that this whole time he's been screaming out, "I have been pleased with you since the day you called my name, and I have never stopped. Even at your worst I'm madly in love with you." Even at our ugliest and at our worst the Bible says to come boldly to the throne. We were all unworthy, broken vessels who didn't deserve it before. But now the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells inside of us, and we're holy as he is holy.

    There's a song on the album called "Flawless," and the chorus says: "No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars or how deep the wound is. The cross has made me flawless." So, I'm hoping this record can speak that grace message to people. The same message that has become brand new to me. And I've never been more excited about telling people that they are redeemed, and holy and righteous."
    - Bart


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, MercyMe

  • Greater from Steven Furtick

    Posted on January 22, 2014 by Family Christian

    Steven Furtick

    Steve and Me

    I used to want to do great things for God. That was before I found something greater.

    My mom says she’ll always remember that she was sitting in a social studies class when the loudspeaker beeped and crackled and someone announced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. All the kids would be going home for the day.

    I wonder if I’ll always remember that my two sons and I had just shared kung pao shrimp at P.F. Chang’s when I stopped in my tracks on the way out the door. I had to make sure I had correctly read the words that were scrolling across every television within sight:

    Apple founder Steve Jobs—dead at 56.

    I can’t explain why, but my hands were shaky and sweaty as I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket to verify.

    One of the first things I saw was a statement from President Obama. He said that Steve Jobs “was among the greatest of American innovators.” That “he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.”

    Then I looked at my Twitter time line to see what the rest of the world was saying about Jobs. Everybody seemed to be weighing in. The outpouring was overwhelming.

    “R.I.P. Steve Jobs. You led the world into the 21st century.”

    “R.I.P. Steve Jobs. You improved life as we know it.”

    “Steve Jobs—On behalf of every dreamer sitting in his or her garage who is crazy enough to try to change the world, you will be missed.”

    I suddenly felt the urge to tweet my own thoughts about his passing. But it felt melodramatic for me to share some deep thought about a person I’d never met. Still, he was the greatest business leader of my lifetime. So I fired off a three-word tweet:

    Steven Furtick @stevenfurtick 5 Oct
    “What a life.”

    My next thoughts made my stomach hurt. Or was it the kung pao? Either way, I got downright introspective. I was wrestling with a tension:

    Steve Jobs was a great man. He changed the world through technology.

    I’m a pastor. I have a mission to change the world through the gospel.

    But am I really achieving that mission? I’m doing well by some standards, I guess.

    I love Jesus. I have integrity. I love my family.

    But still…

    I’m not redefining an industry. I’m not accomplishing one of the greatest feats in human history. So what am I really doing? That matters? That will matter?

    That will set my life apart?

    In short, I was processing the nauseating feeling that, when I stack it all up, I don’t feel like I’m anything close to being the great man of God I want to be. Some days, actually, I feel like I sort of suck as a Christian. I didn’t tweet any of that. But I couldn’t stop thinking it.

    I’m guessing you’ve had thoughts like that too. I’m not saying you want to be the next Steve Jobs or build your own technology empire. But I think we all have these honest moments when we’re gripped by a desire to feel that what we’re doing matters more. That who we are matters more. A few hours later, after I tucked my boys into bed and prayed for them, I sat on my bed and opened my MacBook.

    For some reason I felt compelled to pull up a certain Bible verse. It’s one of the most staggering statements Jesus ever made.

    I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

    I’d read that verse so many times. But I had a new context for it.

    And it sliced me with the edge of fresh challenge. Greater things than Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived? What does that even mean? How can we do greater things than Jesus?

    Does it mean that we’re able to do more powerful miracles than Jesus? Have a bigger impact than Jesus? I don’t think so. After all, I don’t know many people who have walked on water, multiplied fish and loaves to feed thousands, opened the eyes of the blind, or given salvation to the world.

    If you’re looking to be greater than Jesus, put down your crack pipe, my friend. That’s not happening.

    By leaving and then sending His Spirit to dwell inside His followers—ordinary people like you and me—Jesus released a greater power for us to do extraordinary things on an extraordinary scale. The kinds of things the early church saw and did.

    The kinds of things He still wants to do today through us. Jesus isn’t calling us to be greater than He is.

    He’s calling us to be greater with Him through His Spirit within us.

    Meant for More

    As I tried to process the brain-bending implications of that claim, I thought through some conversations I’d had recently with people who were feeling disappointed and stuck in their relationship with God and their place in life.

    I’m meeting more and more believers who are unsatisfied with the kind of Christians they’re becoming and the version of the Christian life they’re experiencing. These aren’t bad people. They aren’t gangbangers and ungodly pagans. If they were, their discontent would make more sense.

    The thing is, most believers aren’t in imminent danger of ruining their lives. They’re facing a danger that’s far greater: wasting them.

    These are some of the very people Jesus talked about in John 14:12. People who are supposed to be doing greater works than—forget about Steve Jobs—Jesus Christ Himself.

    Yet it’s not happening. For most of us, the experience of our daily lives is a far cry from the greater works Jesus talked about in John 14:12. Or even the achievements of a luminary like Steve Jobs.

    We’ve had some big dreams about what God might want for our lives. But so many of us are stuck in the starting blocks. Or are dragging along at the back of the pack.

    We know we were meant for more. Yet we end up settling for less.

    We’re frustrated about where we are. But we’re confused about how to move forward.

    I wonder if you can relate.

    What a life…


    Excerpted from Greater by Steven Furtick Copyright © 2012 by Steven Furtick. 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, Steven Furtick

  • Things Have Got to Be Different This Year

    Posted on January 22, 2014 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis Whitwer

    "When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.' Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.' When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break." Luke 5:4-6 (NIV)

    "Something's got to change!"

    Have you ever said that in January? I sure have.

    It's usually when I'm frustrated with myself for something I'm not doing. For example, my broken-record complaints focus on the same three things: losing weight, better managing my work load, and spending more time with people I love.

    It's not for lack of trying my situations don't change; I work hard. But recently it dawned on me that I keep trying the same things in varying measures. I tried adding five minutes to my elliptical routine, and spent more time on my emails. Results: clothes still tight, inbox still overflowing. Time with family? I'm not sure more trips to the grocery store together qualify.

    The problem isn't my effort; it's my approach. Something has to change.

    There's a story in the Bible where Jesus told a disciple to change his approach. It happened at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry, as He was identifying and calling His disciples.

    In Luke 5, Jesus borrowed the boat of the fisherman called Simon Peter to teach the people on the shore. When He finished teaching, Jesus told Simon to put the boat in deep water and let down the nets.

    Simon surely was skeptical. Can't you see him raising his eyebrows as he looks at Jesus then at the water? He explains he's been fishing all night and hasn't caught anything. What he doesn't say, but might have thought is: Day isn't the best time to fish. Besides, all these people on the shore have probably scared them away. And no disrespect intended Jesus, but you are a carpenter/preacher—I am a fisherman. I might know a little something about fishing.

    But to Simon's credit he obeys Jesus' unusual request to fish differently. The Scripture records they caught so many fish the nets began to break.

    This story challenges my status quo. It's a call to change my approach to problem solving. If I want things to be different this year, I must do things differently.

    For me, like Simon Peter, this starts with listening to and obeying the voice of Jesus for new directions.

    This is hard for a routine-loving girl like me. I'm not a fan of different because it often feels uncomfortable. I prefer to keep things the way they are ... except that doesn't always work.

    So I prayed about these three areas in my life, and asked God to show me a fresh approach for each. Being a faithful God, He gave me some options to shake up my routines.

    1. Rather than go to the gym at night and stick with the elliptical machine, He asked me to go in the morning and incorporate strength training. So I signed up for a morning exercise class at church.

    2. Rather than try to manage my emails by spending more time on them, I'm unsubscribing to every list. I'll visit websites and blogs on my schedule.

    3. Realizing I've become too inward focused, I've made a list of special days, activities, and places I want to go where I can invite others to join me.

    That day on the lake, Jesus invited Simon Peter to go into the deep waters—a place Simon had been many times before. But under Jesus' direction and with a new approach, Simon saw amazing results.

    Can the same be true for me? For you? As we start 2014, may we become women who listen for the voice of Jesus as He speaks new ways into old habits. May we raise our faces to the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit. And may we trust Jesus as He takes us in to deep waters, where under His direction, we'll see amazing results.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for being a God of new things. You have called me in to new life with You, and Your ways are higher than mine. Help me see those areas of my life that need a breath of the newness of Your Spirit. I want to be a woman who sets aside her comfort and routine to fish in deep waters with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    What problem have you been trying to solve in your life by using the same approach as always?

    Pray and ask God to show you one thing you can do differently starting today.

    Power Verse:
    Luke 6:46, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (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 Luke

Items 491 to 500 of 1933 total

Helping you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith
Who doesn't love free shipping!? At Family Christian, you can qualify TWO ways:

1. To your door (just $50 minimum)*

No coupon required! Simply add $50 worth of merchandise to your cart and select the "Free Shipping" option under "Shipping Method." Easy as pie.

* Valid on merchandise totaling $50 or more before taxes. Please keep in mind this is valid on domestic ground shipping to addresses within the U.S. only, not valid toward international delivery. Additional charges apply for express shipping. Terms subject to change without notice.

2. To your store (no minimum order required!)*

At checkout, select "Ship to your local Family Christian store" and enter your zip code to find our closest location. Not sure if there is a Family Christian nearby? Find your local store now.

* Valid on select merchandise only
Loading... Loading...