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  • Spiritual Guide

    Boyd

    When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

    Jesus Christ is our guide to walk in God's will. We can traverse with Him through life as a trustworthy friend. Additionally, the Holy Spirit illumines our mind to understand His next steps. Yes, the Spirit reveals the truth of Scripture, as an eternal energy source that teaches our mind to think on His things. In triune harmony, our heavenly Father comforts our sorrows, disciplines our darkened behaviors, and pours out generous portions of His humility, grace, and wisdom.

    What does it mean to wholeheartedly follow the Light of Life, the Lord Jesus? It means we submit our wills to His will, our inner most desires align with His inner most desires, His commands are joyful to obey, and what breaks His heart breaks our heart. We follow our spiritual guide Jesus by faith. Since we trusted Him to save us, we can trust Him to guide us. When we are unsure, he is sure. When we have questions, He has answers. Jesus is our spiritual sherpa who leads us through valleys, over mountains, and beside still waters. Hell's gloom cannot extinguish the glow of God's glory!

    "The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day" (Proverbs 4:18).

    Our capitulation to Christ in faith gives us insight into what others need. We don't hide our light in the inner sanctum of ourselves, rather we release it to be a blessing to those distressed or depressed by darkness. If we owned the local power company, would we be good citizens if we kept the use of electricity to ourselves? Neither are we good Christians if we engage Almighty God's energizing truth and grace only for our own mental, emotional, and spiritual illumination.

    What do you face in life that needs revelation from the Light of Life? Faith is not a leap into the darkness, but a step into the light. So, be patient and pray. If this is not the right choice, there will be another, better one. If this is not the right job, there will be another, better one. If this is not the right relationship, there will be another, better one. As you wait, your spirit catches up with your Spiritual Guide--Jesus. As you walk, you trust your guide to go where He's been before.

    "For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life" (Psalm 56:13).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, guide me by the glow of Your glory, so my life gives You glory.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 50:10; 2 Samuel 23:4; Daniel 12:3; Matthew 5:14; 1 John 1:7

    Post/Tweet today: Hell's gloom cannot extinguish the glow of God's glory! #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Pause Before You Pounce

    Karen

    "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed ..." Proverbs 31:26-28a (ESV)

    On a sunny spring day, I sat in my backyard with my friend Suzy and our kids. While we relaxed in lawn chairs, sipping lemonade, a few of the children played on the swing set. The rest sat at our bright yellow children's picnic table, purchased just days earlier. They were happily creating masterpieces on the pages of several coloring books.

    When it came time to serve lunch, I helped the children clear their coloring supplies off the table. As I grabbed the crayons and coloring books, I spied a frightful sight. One of Suzy's daughters had gone into the house and grabbed permanent markers to color with instead of the crayons. And colored with them she did – all over the brand new picnic table! She'd even written her name in her very best 7-year-old penmanship.

    I was angry that our newly purchased picnic table was now laden with red and purple permanent graffiti. I wanted to raise my voice and shout and scream my displeasure. But I didn't. Instead, I leaned over and gently spoke to my friend's child.

    "Oh, Kelly. Miss Karen wants you to use crayons when you color, not markers. Would you please go put them back in the house? Thank you, honey."

    My eldest child's jaw dropped when she saw how I reacted to the situation with kindness and a calm voice.

    Loud enough for everyone to hear, she said, "Man! It's a good thing it was you, Kelly, and not one of us. Mom would've hollered at us something awful if we'd done that!"

    Ouch.

    My daughter simply vocalized a truth she noticed in my life: I tend to lose my cool with my family, but somehow manage to keep calm when I interact with others.

    Today's key verse, describing the actions of the woman from Proverbs 31:26, states, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Can that be said of us? Or would a reality TV reporter capture the way we talk to our families and announce, "She snaps with caustic words, and 'Why can't you this?' and 'You should have that!' rolls angrily off her tongue."

    When communicating with others, it appears this woman in the Scripture Hall of Fame was careful to speak in a way that honored and glorified God. In the Amplified Version of the Bible, which is rendered as close to the original language as possible, Proverbs 31:26 reads, "She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]."

    "Kindness."

    The tone of voice you'd use with a stranger.

    Friendly, not feisty.

    And the words, "giving counsel."

    Counsel is giving advice and guidance in a gentle but direct way that helps the person who's seeking the instruction. Counsel is not barking. Counsel is not belittling. Counsel is not filled with superlatives like "Why can't you ever _____?" and "See, you never _____!"

    I faced the music that day and owned up to the truth my child pointed out: I tend to extend grace to those outside my family — even complete strangers — while so easily snapping at the people within my home.

    Yes, there are times we must instruct and correct our families. Yet when we do, we should be conscientious and kind while giving counsel. It's not always easy, but God is always available to help me not to be controlling, complaining or critical.

    Perhaps we would all do better to learn to pause before we pounce when interacting with our loved ones, treating them with the respect we tend to give others. Or better yet, to pause, pray and then not pounce at all!

    Dear Lord, I want to run my home well, but as I seek to do so, help me to pause before I react, to ensure my words and actions are pleasing to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (NIV)

    Psalm 101:2, "I will be careful to lead a blameless life — when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Was there ever a time when you barked at your family about how things were done around your home? What happened?

    In retrospect, how could the situation have been handled differently?

    © 2014 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Honor Mom

    Boyd

    When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” John 2:3

    Jesus honored His mom though He had the power and prerogative to delay her request. She saw His newly recruited disciples and realized her little boy was now a man of God. She reflected on her Holy Spirit conception and the joy of bringing her son and Savior into the world. So, she asked her Lord for a miracle for the sake of someone else. He honored her by allowing the wedding celebration to continue without the disruption of running out of refreshments. Love is honorable.

    Our moms are needy and they need us. They cared for our needs for many years. As an infant they fed us, comforted us, and woke up in the middle of the night to calm our cries. As a child they taught us, disciplined us, and laughed at and with us. As a teenager, if they prayed, they prayed even more for our protection from ourselves. As an adult they want us to pray for them, keep up with them and honor them. Mothers filled with God remind us of His unselfish love.

    “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).

    Has your mother made a direct or indirect request of you? Has she implied a need, but not come right out and verbalized it? Perhaps the Lord is calling you to honor her by helping her, or by helping someone she is concerned about. Some moms have the admirable quality of always looking out for others, even if it requires giving up something themselves. When your mom senses your undivided attention and authentic concern, she’ll open up about her cares. Honor listens.

    If your wife is a mom, how can you support her dreams and desires? How can you better partner with her in parenting? It honors your wife when you pray with her for your children. It honors her when you listen to her fears and support her in her stress. Being a mom is oh so fulfilling, but it is hard. You honor her by being with her to laugh and cry over the children. You honor her when you offer emotional support. Yes, you honor your mom most, when you live honorably before God.

    “May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful” (Proverbs 23:25)!

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, show me how to better honor my mom and the mother of our children.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 5:16; Psalm 35:14; Mathew 12:46; John 19:26-27

    Post/Tweet today: We honor our mom most when we live honorably before God. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Honor Aging Parents

    Boyd

    Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise. Ephesians 6:2

    Aging parents are a gift from Almighty God. How many children have the opportunity to grow old with their mom and dad? Some see disease or an accident snatch away their mother or father before they become elderly. It is a blessing to support those who may have supported us over the years. To serve and honor our parents is to serve and honor Jesus. Yes, caring for them is a picture to a lost world of how our Heavenly Father cares for us. Aging parents are God’s excuse to love.

    How can we help our aging parents in a way that honors them? What if they don’t want assistance, but find themselves in a very needy situation? Build up relational equity with your mother and father before their bodies begin to break down. Don’t wait until they really slow down before you start your service to them. Dignify the aging process by honoring them along the way. They’ll feel more comfortable as you continue your care, as mentally they are less aware.

    "Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:32).

    Receive whatever level of engagement your loved ones allow. You may have total access to their finances; if so seek to co-manage their money with them. They may invite you into the inner sanctuary of their soul for spiritual support; do so with humble prayers, Bible reading, and church attendance, if they are able. Perhaps you join your mom and dad in their conversations with their physician. Ask questions as their advocate. Or, maybe they move in with you for a season.

    Most of all, pray aggressively for your aging parents. Pray for them to feel the caring comfort of Christ in their heart and His peace in their mind. Pray for them to come to know Jesus in a personal relationship of trust in His death and resurrection for their salvation. Pray for opportunities for you to love them to the Lord and to share the gospel. Pray for yourself to patiently model the grace of God. Aging parents are not about our convenience, but their honor.

    "Love is patient" (1 Corinthians 13:).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me favor with my parents to love and honor them as You do.

    Related Readings: Malachi 1:6;  Matthew 15:5-7; Romans 13:7; 1 Timothy 5:1-2; Titus 2:2-3

    Post/Tweet today: Aging parents are not about our convenience, but their honor. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Well Meaning Mom

    Boyd

    Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down,asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom. Matthew 20:20-21

    Sometimes well meaning moms can get ahead of God on their child’s behalf. They may see an opportunity for their son or daughter to succeed, so they seek to influence the process. But it's counterproductive to politic for a child to obtain a position prematurely. It's better for a child to learn how to wait on the Lord than to bypass lessons in faith, patience, and humility. An insecure, aggressive mother can edge out the Spirit’s work, instead of inviting in the Spirit’s influence.

    No doubt, the mother of James and John wanted the best for her boys, but she crossed a line  motivated by pride when she sought special favor. Perhaps she thought they deserved preferential treatment since Jesus’ mom, Mary, was her sister. However, an unqualified relative for a work role only creates confusion and indignation among other better qualified team members. Jesus knew James, John, and their mother, did not understand how suffering would precede this lofty position.

    “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).

    In an effort to promote our children before they are ready, we actually set them up for failure. It's pure pride to seek status for our son or daughter, just so it makes us look good. A person who obtains a highly regarded role before they are ready, is similar to giving a teenager a sports car before they have seasoned driving experience. A wise mom trusts the Lord to lead her offspring to listen to His small voice. She prays more than she tries to persuade. She wants wisdom.

    Therefore moms, seek Jesus with a humble heart on behalf of your children. Ask the Lord to educate your child in lessons of becoming the least, so He can use them the most. God blesses your beautiful example of serving others to teach and motivate your sons and daughters to serve others. A servant of Christ is the greatest position in God’s Kingdom. So mom, ask the Lord in prayer for your little ones to grow in joyful obedience to Him. Yes, suffering may precede your child’s success. What man manipulates does not last, but what God initiates is eternally blessed.

    “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:27).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for my precious child. I pray you will lead him to decrease, so you might increase in his life.

    Related Readings: Psalm 66:9-10; Matthew 19:28; John 15:4-5; Philippians 3:10

    Post/Tweet today: Our consistent example of serving others teaches and motivates our children to serve others. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • When You're Tired of Coloring in the Lines

    Alicia

    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    I was elbow-deep in soapsuds when my 4-year-old's cries prompted me to drop my dishrag and race to the other room. Maggie had been coloring a picture, but when I reached her side, the paper lay crumpled and torn on the floor.

    "Honey, what's wrong?" I asked.

    "I can't color in the lines," Maggie complained.

    I retrieved the wrinkled paper and smoothed it with my palm. The kitty on the coloring page looked like it had been caught in a crossfire.

    "See?" my preschooler said, as she rubbed the crayon furiously over the holes on the paper.

    I could feel Maggie's frustration as I watched her shoulders tighten with each squiggly stroke. The more she pressed that plum Crayola upon the page, the more the picture ripped beneath her efforts.

    "I just can't make anything beautiful," Maggie declared.

    What a curious remark from this child who sculpts gourmet cakes from Play-Doh and creates masterpieces on the driveway with a fistful of sidewalk chalk. An artist indeed, my daughter doesn't yet know that beauty isn't always measured between the lines.

    Maggie sighed and set down her crayon, and I recognized myself in her try-hard weariness. There, in my 4-year-old's furrowed brow, I saw the mom who had once tried to live within a set of invisible lines.

    No one had written out the rules of good parenting for me. They were the result of my own expectations, noble ideas shaped by well-meaning mommy books, fabulous Facebook posts and my personal good-girl gospel.

    My lines declared that a good mom keeps a clean house, bakes bread from scratch and arrives everywhere on time. A good mom knows just what to do when her teen slumps into silence, when a toddler refuses to eat her veggies, or when a 6-year-old strings a web of lies.

    No matter how hard I tried, my life kept spilling outside the lines.

    I was certain that a good mom never lies in bed at night wondering if she is ruining her children. (But sometimes I do.)

    A good mom never delivers her child to the wrong soccer field on the wrong day at the wrong time. (But maybe I've done that once or twice.)

    And a good mom never leaves the house with dirty-faced children or forgets to pack her kindergartener's lunch. (But I'm guilty of both.)

    Perhaps you've lived within a self-declared set of lines, too.

    Maybe you believe that good wives serve dinner by candlelight and always have the laundry done. Or that good friends always reply to texts and certainly never forget a birthday.

    Maybe, like me, the harder you try to live within the lines, the more your soul rips beneath the weight of your efforts.

    But here's the good news for try-hard women like us: God's not offended by our flaws and imperfections.

    God's Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9a, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

    That verse was what finally compelled me to trade my invisible lines of expectation for the compassionate contours of my Savior's grace. When I finally stopped obsessing over my flaws and began focusing on His faithfulness, my life took on a new kind of beauty.

    Maggie was still crying over the rips in her coloring page, so I tipped her chin and asked her to watch as I placed that picture, holes and all, against the window.

    Morning sunbeams streamed right through those holes in the paper and cast a glorious rainbow of light upon the carpet at our feet. Maggie grew quiet staring at the shimmers on the floor and slipped something small and purple into my hand. "I don't need my crayon anymore, Mommy. I like my picture just like that."

    So we stood at the window together, watching glory stream through the gaps.

    Dear Jesus, I am tired of living within my self-invented lines of expectation. Show Your strength through my weakness, Your sufficiency through my flaws. Make my life beautiful to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: It's Mother's Day this weekend, which can sometimes create angst either in our roles as adult children or as moms. Take some time to prayerfully consider the invisible lines you've created for yourself. What is one unnecessary expectation you could trade for God's grace today?

    Name three of your unique "holes." How could Jesus display His strength through your weakness or imperfection? Invite Him to shine His glory through your gaps this week.

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • Patient People Wait

    Boyd

    I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

    Patient people wait on God’s best. God things happen to those who are patient—those who wait. Patience is a virtue, but it is also a vehicle in which the Lord delivers His blessings. Like a loyal wife waiting for the gift of her husband’s return from war, so those who love Jesus wait on Him to return soon. Patience waits on God to rain down His favor.

    “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain” (James 5:7).

    However, as we wait we pray and we prepare. We pray for patience—knowing that Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy. We pray for boldness to declare God’s truth to those who have yet to fall in love with Jesus. Waiting is also the Lord’s time to prepare our character. Our character has to keep up with our success for us to remain successful.

    “Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character” (Romans 5:3b-4a).

    Yes, it is hard to be patient when you really want something. But, why do you want what you want? Is your motive aligned with what the Almighty wants for you? Your heavenly Father knows what you need and when you are able to handle His blessing. Pride demands to have things now, but humility sees the worth in wisely waiting.

    Your tension may be the normal desire for a husband or for a wife. Or, maybe you feel trapped financially or your job is a dead end road. You seem to be doing the right things, but you are not happy with your progress. Thus, while you wait focus on intimacy with Jesus, let Him do a work of greater grace in your heart. Enjoy what you already have and you will appreciate what you get. Like Job, wait on God to give back more than before.

    “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11).

    Patience is the fruit of the Spirit—it resides with God—available for His children. So, seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit each day. Wait for and anticipate good gifts from your heavenly Father. Christ manages the clock of life, so rest and regroup during His timeouts. In this parenthesis of time you can enjoy living for the Lord and others. Patience waits.

    “And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (Hebrews 6:15).

    Prayer: How can I enjoy God and others during this time of waiting? Whom can I serve?

    Related Readings: Psalm 27:14; 37:7; Micah 7:7; Romans 8:25; Jude 1:21

    Post/Tweet today: Our character has to keep up with our success for us to remain successful. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Am I a Bad Mom?

    Lysa

    "He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God'..." Psalm 46:10a (NIV)

    Have you ever struggled with letting a circumstance define you? This seems to be a lesson God lets me live over and over again. He wants to be my only definition of who I am.

    I am a child of God, holy and dearly loved.

    I know this. I teach this. I believe this. Yet it is so easy for me to slip into redefining myself when situations arise.

    Several years ago, one of my precious, precious, precious yet just-as-apt-to-sin-as-the-rest-of-us kids was called to the principal's office — on the very day I received an invitation to speak at a national parenting conference.

    With my head I was able to see the situation for what it was: My child is in the process of being shaped. My child is strong, and while this will serve her well later in life, strength in an immature little person begs to be disciplined. She is a sweet child who made a not-so-sweet choice.

    However, in my heart I felt like a failure. I wanted to decline the opportunity to speak and crawl into a hole. A part of me felt as though I'd personally been called to the principal's office, as the voice of condemnation started haunting me: You are a bad mom. You have a bad child. You have a bad home.

    Quietly, I slipped away with Jesus and did what I'd done a hundred times before. I held those condemnations up to the Lord and asked Him to help me see this situation the way He wanted me to see it. Not the way others see it, not the way my heart is tempted to see it, but the way He sees it.

    Matthew 7:24-27 brings some perspective: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (NIV).

    Do you know what amazes me about these verses? Both the person doing right and the person doing wrong experienced hard times. In each case the rains came, the streams rose and the wind blew and beat against the house.

    Just because we're parents living out God's principles for life doesn't mean we won't face difficult circumstances.

    God's Spirit spoke to my heart that day and said, "Let Me invade your natural flesh reaction. Instead of letting your mind run wild with this, sit with Me for a while. Be still, and know that I am God."

    So I sat and prayed. I went from defining myself as a failure of a mom to being a praying mom who can face hardships in a godly way. The frustration diffused as I determined to look at the situation from God's perspective.

    God's truth reassured me. I am not a bad mom. My child is not a bad child. My home is not a bad home.

    This situation is a call to action.

    There is a character issue that needs to be addressed within the heart of my child. And kids are supposed to have character issues that need to be addressed. That's why God gave them parents. That's why God gave me this specific child. God sees within me the ability to be the one He's perfectly designed to raise this child.

    When hard times come and beat against our stability, we must determine to hear God's words and put them into practice. Then nothing can topple our peace, security or true identity.

    I'm not sure who else needed to hear that — but I know I did. So dry your tears, sweet mama. Today is a new day. A day when we will only be defined by God's truth and grace as we navigate this wild wonder called parenthood.

    Dear Lord, help me to be the mom You've called me to be today. I want to honor You in everything I do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 3:20, "If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Write down a condemning thought you have often. Spend some time with God praying against this thought. Then, cross out that condemning thought and write down God's truth about who you are to Him instead.

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Perfect Peace

    Boyd

    You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.  Isaiah 26:3-4

    The world offers imperfect peace. It is temporary at best, as it comes in the form of materialism—a person—a pill—or a bottle. This caricature of peace prolongs pain and leads to long-term disappointment and disillusionment. Artificial peace restricts or rejects the peace of Almighty God, only to eventually come back and seek out what’s real.

    Are you able to sleep peacefully at night? Do you have an assurance deep down in your soul that Christ is in control and can be trusted? If not, let loose of the idols of worry and pride— redirect your energies to eternal solutions. Answers from above bring peace that’s within. Where there is trust in the Lord there is rest from fighting the enemy.

    “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7, NKJV).

    Accessing the Lord’s peace begins by first making peace with Him. In humble surrender and submission we unlock the control of our hearts to Christ and trust Him to give us what we need to follow Him and serve others. When we exchange our agenda for His agenda—in total trust—we in turn receive the peace of God. Peace follows trust. Peace with God results in the peace of God. Why wait until death to make peace with God?

    “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

    God’s peace gives us confidence to follow Christ in ministry, domestically and globally. His peace of mind is assurance that we can move forward in a relationship or a new responsibility at work. A home that is peaceful is a haven for family and for those who need a safe environment to feel secure and loved. Peace produces relational fruit that lasts.

    Can the Prince of Peace be trusted to get you through this challenge with your child or this season of suffering? Yes, of course He can and He wants you to experience His peace so you can be an ambassador of peace for Almighty God. People in turmoil who engage with your peaceful demeanor, want to know more about what you know and have.

    So, use the gift of peace that Jesus has given you as a platform to proclaim His truth. Give away this gift to all who will receive it—and oh what a difference it will make if only one life receives its benefits! You don’t have to look far for candidates: a single parent, the jobless, a confused child, a fearful parent, an addict, the sick or a lost soul. The perfect peace of God cuts through confusion and keeps your mind and heart on Jesus.

    “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:2-3).

    Prayer: Have I made peace with God? Do I access His peace and share it with others?

    Related Readings: 1 Chronicles 22:9; Psalm 85:8; Acts 10:36; Romans 14:17

    Post/Tweet today: Accessing the Lord’s peace begins by first making peace with Him. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • All or Nothing with Mike from Mikeschair

    John

    The band may have been formed in a dorm room with a group of college friends, but it has since become a music ministry that has touched peoples hearts and minds all over the globe.

    Here is Mike Grayson, the lead singer of Mikeschair, speaking about how he got involved with music, his songwriting process, and explaining some of the tracks from the latest album, All or Nothing.

    John: Well hey, Mike. How are you, sir?

    Mike: Good, how are you?

    John: I’m doing very well. Thank you so much for calling, man, I really appreciate it.

    Mike: Yeah, thanks for having me.

    John: Mike, I’m wondering if you could start off by giving us a little bit of background information. What made you decide to get into music in general and then into Christian music specifically?

    Mike: Going way back I’ve always been really, really, really drawn to music. When I was really little I was in a boy choir where it was like whoever could sing the highest was the coolest. It started out there but then I just desperately wanted to play an instrument. For a long time I thought it was going to be the saxophone, like that was going to be my jam, but in my middle school, they actually offered guitar in band. That’s where I learned how to read music, by playing guitar back in fifth grade. From the very first moment I had a guitar, I learned one chord, which was E, and I learned you could move it around the neck and it sounded good in different places, and I started writing music.

    I’ve never really been one of those people who wanted to be a guitar god. From the very beginning, it’s always been about writing songs. I actually, in fifth grade, started writing music.  I wrote some songs and recorded them so they were on a cassette tape. I gave them to my middle school Bible study leader who happened to be the mother of Dan Haseltine, who is the lead singer of Jars of Clay. She ended up playing it for Dan and then I don’t know what Dan heard in those songs back then, but he brought me up to Nashville the summer before eighth grade.

    I ended up recording three songs, which Dan produced, and some of the Jars of Clay guys played on the recordings. As you can imagine, that blew my mind. I was so young and I think Hanson was really big at the time, so that might have played a part in it. I just remember leaving Nashville being that young and feeling like I was leaving home. It was very weird. Then for the rest of middle school and high school, I wrote songs and sent them to Dan or whoever and I just really remember thinking that was my moment.

    I thought [becoming an artist] was going to happen right then and after years of that not happening, I got to the point right before I went to college where I thought, You know, I don’t really want to do the artist thing. I’d been leading worship in my youth group and just really had a heart for worship. I came to Belmont University, which is the only school I applied to there in Nashville, and I really just wanted to be a worship leader. Then, funny enough, in the first two weeks of my freshman year, Mikeschair formed and I’ve been an artist ever since. That was ten years ago now.

    John: When you talk about your journey, do you continue to write about that? You mentioned that you are a song writer. Would you consider yourself to be a song writer first and then a musician? Or a musician first and then a song writer?

    Mike: I was definitely a song writer first and then, I mean, I obviously loved playing guitar. I could play some piano but there are people who are far better than me when it comes to that. My heart leans toward writing music first.

    John: When you talk about your story and how God led you from what you were doing into Mikeschair, you continue to weave that story in and out of your songs. Your new record is called All or Nothing. Are there songs that deal with that specifically?

    Mike: I think maybe not specifically but I do think throughout my entire journey, the Lord has been teaching me about his timing and about the fact that we can’t really look to people to make our dreams come true. One of the things I feel like I’ve learned is that the Lord really is ultimately the only One who sees that through and sometimes he uses people, but the question is, where are we putting our hope?

    There’s a song on the new record called “I Can Wait,” and it deals specifically with the fact that I still struggle, even with God proving himself faithful time and time again in my life. I still deal with the whole, “God, I think my timing is better” mentality. I say, “If the events would only happen in this order, wouldn’t that be better, God?” When I write, it’s not necessarily about how my life actually looks, but rather how I want my life to look. They’re prayers; they’re statements of faith so that when I sing them it’s instilled in my heart. “God, okay, I can wait. You’re not a second late; you’ve proven that before so let me believe that now.”

    John: When you go through the process of writing a song, are you writing them because there is something that you are going through? In other words, is the song writing for you or do you have a particular audience in mind?

    Mike: It’s definitely both. This is our third studio album, so at this point we’ve spent a lot of years on the road. I’ve met a ton of amazing people and heard a lot of incredible stories. I definitely think that when I sit down to write there is an audience in mind now. There are actual faces that I can see when I write. And I definitely think, What do I want to say when I’m on stage at this point? Or, What are the words that I want to express to people? At the same time, on this record there are a lot of personal songs specifically for me. One of those songs is called “People Like Me.”

    That song deals specifically with my family and our struggle with addiction, and how my immediate family didn’t escape that. That song is intensely personal yet I think at this point when it comes to writing, I’ll write for myself knowing that I’ve been through enough scenarios now where people will come up and say, “Man, it’s almost as if you took the words out of my mouth.” I know that even though I’m writing something for myself, there are a lot of other people who feel the same way and need to know they’re not alone in their struggles. In that regard, it’s almost as if there’s a crowd of people in the room with me every time I write.

    John: Is it ever intimidating?

    Mike: Yeah, for sure. I’ve also gotten to the point now where I don’t want to mess it up. I want every lyric to be honest. I don’t want things to come across as cliché or fake. I always try to be as honest as I can, and that can be hard sometimes in Christian music because we tend to want to focus on the joy aspect of being a believer. But in my life, I’ve found that sometimes I focus on the difficulties of being a believer and just the hardships of what it means. Songs like “Let the Waters Rise,” “Someone Worth Dying For” and “People Like Me” lend themselves toward what it means to be a believer in a world that’s broken.

    Yet, on this record I made a conscious choice not to throw joy to the wayside. There are songs like “Loved By You” and “This is Our Moment,” which really speak to the joys of what it means to be a believer and being saved by grace. I’m trying to be more well rounded I guess when it comes to the songs that we’re singing.

    John: The title track “All or Nothing” says, “I wanna lose myself in grace’s ocean / Find my heart in your hands / Every piece I give it over / Nothing less, you have everything I am.” What’s behind those lyrics?

    Mike: “All or Nothing” was the first song that I wrote for this record and it really set the tone for the entire album. For our previous records we kind of wrote songs and then looked back and realized there was a theme throughout the process. This record, though, was the first time I actually set out with a theme in mind. I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to write an album that really spoke to the fact that there are so many things in the world dying for our attention. A lot of things are very loud about it, and I thought, Why can’t Jesus be the thing that is loud, the thing that is bold?

    It goes on to say, “I’m done wasting time … I wanna shine a light like the skyline.” It’s saying I want to be bold, I want to be all out, I want to be all in for Jesus. This song was the first thing that I came to the table with. It just set the tone for the entire thing. We start the record with “All or Nothing” and then the very last song is a song called “All to Jesus, I Surrender All.” That’s the prayer, that by the end of this record, people will be willing to join the ranks of those who say, “Yes, I’m all in. I found where my hope is, where my joy lies, and it’s in Jesus, and because of that I’m ready to surrender all.”

    John: Mike, I think to some extent because of the framework at least of that song and the rest of this record, you are really calling out the casual approach to Christianity. Do you think the church here in the west is suffering because of this lackadaisical attitude of we go to church once in a while, or we participate in the holidays of the church or we have this, in a sense, Christ-less Christianity? Do you see that going on?

    Mike: Yeah, I think I used to a couple years ago. I dealt with the “am I preaching to the choir” thing. I’ve been able to go out of the country multiple times now, and I think that really awakens the thing inside of me that’s like man, we are so blessed and we have such an opportunity to drastically change the world. I feel like every night when we do a show there’s this thing in me, I think it’s this warrior nature almost, that wants to shake people up and be like guys, do you realize what we have? Do you realize what we’ve been given in Christ?

    Yet most of us, including myself, struggle with this. Like I said, this record is a challenge to me as well, to stop wasting time and stop living a life that’s not to the fullest. What I found is that when we live life to the fullest, that means living life for Jesus, but what does that look like? What does it look like to wake up every day and say, “I want today to be all or nothing?” If you ask yourself that question, how would your day look different? That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out. Yes, I do feel that. I do feel the sense of comfort that we all have and that we all enjoy, and yet how can we use that to further the kingdom? How can we use the things we’ve been blessed with to make a difference in a world that is desperate for truth?

    John: Mike, you’ve graced the Family Christian version of the record with a couple exclusive bonus tracks, including “Let the Waters Rise” and “Someone Worth Dying For,” and we are certainly grateful for those. I know that you guys have had guests on your previous albums, but do you have any special guests joining you guys on this one?

    Mike: Yes, Matthew West actually joins us on “People Like Me” which is so awesome. We toured with Matthew two years ago and just love him. He is the real deal and he was so gracious, excited and willing to join us on this album, and I’ve always wanted to do a duet with a guy like Matthew. That song is really special for a number of reasons, but to have him on it makes it that much more special; that’s a really cool moment on the record.

    John: Awesome. Mike, are you a book reader?

    Mike: I would like to think that I am, but if you could see the list of books I’ve started and not finished, I think I would shame actual book readers by calling myself a book reader. I like to start them, does that count? No, my wife is a book reader, though, so I feel like I definitely get a lot from her. But I feel like I would be lying if I said that I was a legit book reader.

    John: Well, we won’t hold anything against you.

    Mike: Thanks.

    John: Are you a coffee drinker?

    Mike: This is embarrassing, I’m not.

    John: That’s not embarrassing.

    Mike: That’s the other thing. I feel like in order to be taken seriously as an artist you have to be this coffee connoisseur and I’m just not. I never have been, but I’m attempting to. My wife is a huge coffee drinker so I think it’s her mission in life to make me a coffee drinker.

    John: I always thought that if you put enough cream and sugar in the coffee then anybody could be a coffee drinker.

    Mike: Yeah it’s true. I love mochas, but I feel like that doesn’t count.

    John: Isn’t that like the wimpy version of coffee?

    Mike: Yeah, it’s just got a lot of chocolate in it or something like that.

    John: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. According to today’s standards I think you are a coffee drinker if you drink mochas.

    Mike: Yes, okay. I’m going to start saying I’m a coffee drinker then.

    John: There you go. You can wear a name tag even, if you wanted to.

    Mike: I'll take it.

    John: Good, awesome. Mike, thank you man. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.

    Mike: Awesome. Thanks man, it means a lot.

    John: My pleasure. God bless you, brother.

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