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  • 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

  • Covenant of Love

    Posted on January 21, 2014 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments. Nehemiah 1:5

    Just as the Lord God made a covenant of love with His chosen people Israel, He covenants in love with His church the Bride of Christ. We are united with Christ in the bonds of love forever. Yes, those who fall in love with Jesus stand at the altar of trust and vow to remain faithful until death brings them into eternal oneness with their Lord. Our fidelity of faith is evidence of our genuine love and commitment to God. His covenant of love compels us to be loved and to love.

    We are loved by God unconditionally, even when we fail to reciprocate His love. Though the Lord’s love is jealous, He does not jettison us from His presence when we ignore Him. We may drift away from Him with our unwise decisions, but His love is available to bring us back to the security and serenity of His presence. Christ’s covenant of love to His forgiven bride keeps us humble and grateful. Like Esther, we seek to adorn ourselves with the beauty of His holiness.

    And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. Esther 2:15

    We love the Lord, because He first loved us. We pursue the Lord, because He first pursued us. We serve the Lord, because He first served us. We remain faithful to the Lord, because He remains faithful to us. Yes, we love Him and keep His commands, because of what His grace and love have already done for us. It is a divine gift that provides what we need most. Our greatest need is to be loved by our Heavenly Father. Christ’s covenant of love grows love in our heart.

    God’s covenant of love is not to be taken for granted. It is not an emotional acknowledgement we act on only when our feelings cooperate. No, when we entered into covenant with Christ we committed to Christ and to all He represents: love, obedience, generosity, holiness, service, worship, prayer, scripture, mercy, grace, forgiveness, evangelism, discipleship and the church. Since He keeps His covenant of love, we are the bride of Christ who loves, cherishes and obeys.

    And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your covenant of love that invites me to be loved by You and compels me to love You and others.

    Related Readings: Daniel 9:4; Matthew 22:37-40; 1 Corinthians 13:13, 16:14; Galatians 5:6;    1 John  4:7-12

    Post/Tweet today: Since He keeps His covenant of love, we are the bride of Christ who loves, cherishes and obeys. #covenantoflove

    © 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

  • The Power of a Half Hour from Tommy Barnett

    Posted on January 21, 2014 by Family Christian

    Tommy Barnett

    My name is Tommy Barnett.

    I’m a pastor and have devoted my entire adult life to helping people connect with God and find better ways to live. I could fill up this book and more with all kinds of spiritual and practical ideas about what works in life and what doesn’t. I think it would be good stuff, but I have one practical idea that I know from my own experience rises far above all the others.

    I admit it’s not an overly unique concept, like the invention of the Internet, for example. However, it’s an idea that has helped me realize success and great satisfaction in all aspects of my personal and professional life. I mean everything—from personal goals and dreams to marriage to raising a family to relationships to work.

    I believe the idea can change your life, though, as it has changed mine.

    Most importantly, it has helped me serve God and others more effectively. Trust me, my idea is not rocket science; in fact, it’s so simple that anyone can understand and benefit from it.

    I believe the idea can change your life, though, as it has changed mine. I call it the power of a half hour.

    Many people think of a half hour as a minimal or meaningless gap in time, downtime to catch your breath between periods of major effort. But the truth is your half hours can determine the difference between success and failure. Your half hours direct and shape your future.

    You can literally change your world in thirty minutes. In the same way that your effect on the world is felt one life at a time, so is that effect delivered through the careful and thoughtful investment of your half hours. The beauty of this reality is that anyone can do it. You don’t need a PhD, and you don’t need a life coach to pull it off. All you need is to accept the idea, have a clear sense of your God-given purpose, examine your activity patterns, sensitize yourself to your time choices, and start taking advantage of the power of a half hour.

    Every half hour in your day is a power-loaded resource. Your choice of how to spend those minutes is the focus of this book, which I intend to make a practical conversation about a resource that we misunderstand, abuse, take for granted, and ignore.

    I want to help you become the person God intends you to be and accomplish His plans for your life. And in order to do that, you need to use your small increments of time wisely—not just the big slices of time that are devoted to both routine daily activities and major life events.

    I agree with Harvey Mackay who said, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”

    I know that it’s not easy to find even a “free” hour in the world we live in. I also have learned that it’s difficult to accomplish a great deal in a quarter hour—especially if you need to communicate graciously and genuinely with another person within that time frame. But a half hour—it works!

    Claiming the Power of a Half Hour

    Here’s how we will approach turning your half hours into life-changing blocks of time. In the seven parts of this book, I will outline how seizing the power of a half hour can make such a difference in these major areas:

    • Impact
    • Purpose and goals
    • Faith
    • Character
    • Dreams
    • Relationships
    • Advancing God’s kingdom

    To help you remember key themes in this book, each chapter contains a Half-Hour Power Principle.

    By the way, researchers tell us that most people never finish reading the books they start. Because I think there’s too much helpful information in these pages for you to abandon the content before you get to the end, let me suggest that you do four simple but practical things as you read this book.

    First, read the book in half-hour spaces in your schedule. Each of the chapters in the book is short enough to read easily in a half hour. You might want to have more than one block during a day when you read the book, but start this practice as you engage with this book. In addition, at the back of this book you will find a Personal Power of a Half Hour Action Plan. This plan is set up to help you, over a thirty-day period, fully incorporate The Power of a Half Hour concepts into all major areas of your life. You have heard that it takes about a month to establish a new habit? I urge you to use this thirty-day plan to make the power of a half hour a habit you will never break!

    Second, if something strikes you as personally helpful, jot down notes about changes you need to make. Too often we are so intent on getting through a book that we forget some of the useful insights or challenges it provided.

    Third, pray that God will help you to implement the things you discover in these pages (or in your related reflections) that will improve your life experience. Fourth, and finally, express a commitment to someone you know and trust that you are going to integrate these simple changes into your lifestyle. Ask that person to check up on you once or twice a month to see how intentional you are being with your half hours. That simple act of accountability will help prevent the reading of this book from being just another helpful but forgotten task. (You may also wish to find mutual encouragement in learning the half-hour concepts by attending a small-group discussion. A guide for such a study is included at the end of the book.)

    I’ve been practicing these principles so long that I can now say I am a product of my half hours. I don’t always get it right, but I’m very much aware of the gift of life and the value of time. My half hours—the ones I carefully plan, as well as the unplanned ones I discover—are committed to doing His will in my life because I want to serve our God and others.

    I’ve been practicing these principles so long that I can now say I am a product of my half hours.

    If you get your half hours right, God will not only change your life but also use you to alter the lives of the people and organizations you influence. I sincerely believe the future is not going to be defined by those who rely on their intelligence, their talent, or their good looks. Instead, the future is dependent on the choices made by God’s people in the time that He has placed at our disposal.


    Excerpted from The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett Copyright © 2013 by Tommy Barnett. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Change, Tommy Barnett

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