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  • New from Billy Graham

Family Christian

  • The Digital Age Declared “Best New Addition to the Worship Genre”

    Posted on September 12, 2013 by Family Christian

    Fair Trade band The Digital Age released their debut studio album Evening:Morning last month to widespread acclaim and affirmation. The four-piece, Waco, TX based group, made up of Mike Dodson (Mike D), Mark Waldrop, Jack Parker and Jeremy Bush (Bwack), formerly of the GRAMMY®-nominated David Crowder*Band, received nods from several major Christian media outlets, as well as their former lead singer David Crowder. Worship Leader Magazine went as far as calling the album the “best new addition to the worship genre this year.”

    “Worship is not a passive exercise. Our praise should be symphonic. On the first full-length album by The Digital Age, this aesthetic is on full display,” said RELEVANT Magazine.

    Evening:Morning bowed at No. 3 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart and was the top streaming album on the Christian/Gospel chart for street week.

    Later this month, The Digital Age will embark on a headlining, nationwide tour to promote their release of Evening:Morning. Kicking off September 26 in their hometown of Waco, TX at University Baptist Church, the tour will feature Christian pop group Bellarive and will make 30+ stops across the country.

    Earlier this summer, The Digital Age asked their fans to record themselves singing along with their single “Captured” to be included in the official music video coming soon.

    “We've always cherished our interactions with our fans. We are the one's posting and replying on our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc., not some social media company,” said Mike Dodson of The Digital Age. “We wanted to extend that direct relationship to include our ticketing process as a way to stay connected with our friends and offer tickets with a greatly reduced service fee. We just want to be able to get in the same room with folks and sing with one voice to our God! It's why we do what we do.”

    “Evening:Morning Tour with Special Guest Bellarive” Dates
    (Dates are subject to change)
    September 26 - Waco, Texas | University Baptist Church
    September 27 - Hobbs, New Mexico | Hobbs First Assembly
    September 28 - Tucson, Arizona | St. Andrew's Presbyterian
    September 29 - Tempe, Arizona | Christ Life Church
    October 3 - Fullerton, California | First Evangelical Community Church
    October 4 - San Diego, California | NYWC*
    October 5 - Las Vegas, Nevada | Station Cafe 3:16
    October 6 - Carson City, Nevada | Calvary Chapel Carson City
    October 8 - Chico, California | El Rey Theater
    October 9 - Eugene, Oregon | W.O.W. Hall
    October 10 - Portland, Oregon | TBA
    October 11 - Tacoma, Washington | Our Savior Lutheran Church
    October 12 - Richmond, British Columbia | The Tapestry Church
    October 13 - Coeur D'Alene, Idaho | Salvation Army KROC Center
    October 15 - Granger, Indiana | Innovate Conference*
    October 16 - Colorado Springs, Colorado | The Loft Music Venue
    October 18 - San Antonio, Texas | Journey Fellowship
    October 19 - Dallas, Texas | First Baptist McKinney
    October 20 - Houston, Texas | First Baptist Church
    October 24 - Farmington, Missouri | Farmington Centene Center
    October 25 - Tulsa, Oklahoma | Central Church
    October 26 - Siloam Springs, Arkansas | Harvard Avenue Baptist Church
    October 27 - Dardanelle, Arkansas | Dardanelle First Baptist
    October 29 - Woodbury, Minnesota | Five Oaks Church
    October 30 - Leseur, Minnesota | LSH High School Auditorium
    October 31 - Chicago, Illinois | Judson University
    November 1 - Detroit, Michigan | Metro South Church
    November 2 - Cincinnati, Ohio | The Underground
    November 3 - Cleveland, Ohio | NEO Church
    November 6 - Jacksonville, Florida | Murray Hill Theatre
    November 10 - Nashville, Tennessee | TBA

    *No Bellarive


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, David Crowder, The Digital Age, Bellarive

  • Should I Quit?

    Posted on September 12, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

    We all have those times we wish the voice of God would audibly speak so loudly there's no way we could miss it: "THIS IS THE DIRECTION I WANT YOU TO GO." Then we'd know whether to stay the course or head in a new direction.

    Have you ever wished for this kind of certainty?

    I have.

    Most of us want to know what to do. Without that confidence, sometimes we stay in a place too long. But the greater loss happens in those times we quit too soon. Then, we can live with this nagging sense of "what if?" What if I'd persevered one more year, one more month, one more day?

    Knowing when to stop and when to keep on keeping on is a crucial life lesson. One I want to learn well. Often, the more I struggle on my own, the less confident I am with the right next step. It's exhausting!

    But the truth is, I don't need to be confused or tired. There is one central place I can go for direction and rest. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus encourages us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

    I used to get so frustrated with this verse because I thought, I don't want rest. I want reassurance! I'm burdened by this decision I have to make. I don't want to mess up by missing a cue from You, God.

    But the rest Jesus offers is not a spiritual sleep aid. The Greek word for this kind of rest is anapauo which has as one of its definitions, "of calm and patient expectation."

    In other words, Jesus is saying if you come to Me, I will take your exhaustion and uncertainty and turn it into a calm expectation.

    But how?

    My friend Jennifer Rothschild does this enlightening exercise at some of her conferences. She tells the audience to imagine her writing two different words on a large chalkboard. She then speaks the letters as she draws the first word into the air ... R-E-S-T. She does the same for the second word ... R-E-S-I-S-T. Then she asks what is the difference?

    The difference is, of course, "I."

    I don't know what to do. I can't figure this out. I'm worn out. I've tried everything I know to do. I've given all I have to give.

    I'm familiar with these "I" statements because I've said them myself.

    We can only find anapauo rest — fresh hope — as we stop running ragged and simply take on the next assignment Jesus gives.

    In verse 29 of Matthew 11, Jesus gives us the assignment: to take on His yoke and learn from Him. Ask Jesus to show you how to rest in Him. It might mean sitting quietly, asking others to join you in prayer or clearing your calendar to read the Word. Once you're still, take the next step. Not ten steps. Not the whole path. Not the Google map with the highlighted route. Just the next step. You'll know it because it'll be in line with God's character and His Word.

    Complete that step with excellence and an open, humble heart. Listen and look for all Jesus wants to teach you in this next step.

    This is your part of the equation.

    But after the assignment comes the reassurance in verse 30, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." We don't have to have all the answers. We just have to stay connected to the One who does. Where our strength ends is the exact point where His will begins.

    This is God's part of the equation.

    I must do all I can do. Then trust God will do what only He can do.

    Should I stay? Should I go? Maybe the better question is, "God, what is the next step I'm to take today? I'm going to do my part. And trust the rest to You."

    Dear Lord, I am tired, and I can't figure things out. Please help me see Your part in this equation. Where my strength ends is where Your will begins. Help me, Lord, to look to You for my very next step. I will wait in calm expectation. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:
    Billy Graham - The Reason for My Hope: Salvation

    In The Reason for My Hope, Graham presents the core message that has guided his life and calling for more than 70 years. Filled with new stories and timeless truth, he once again calls the world back to its spiritual priority as only he can.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Listen and look for all Jesus wants to teach you in the very next step you will take. Determine what your part is and then look to God for His.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 16:9, "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure." (NIV)

    Psalm 51:12, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." (NIV)

    © 2013 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 Matthew

  • God Gets Angry for You

    Posted on September 11, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." Romans 12:19 (NIV)

    Not too long ago there was a bust on a major interstate. Authorities discovered teens as young as 14 being held against their wills. The trucking industry was being used as a way to force these victims into modern-day slavery.

    This not only makes my heart hurt, it makes me angry. I know without a doubt that God calls these precious girls beloved and worthy-not products to be sold.

    This bust is a reminder that evil exists around the world. We see it in news-grabbing ways like terrorism and mass shootings, but it's also hidden behind closed doors. It's on every continent and in our own neighborhoods.

    My emotional response to these types of evil is strong. But what about our Heavenly Father? Does He see it? Does He care?

    Without a doubt, the answer is yes. Scripture tells us evil is the result of sin showing up in human nature. So how does God respond to our sin?

    The Bible shows us God's heart is to forgive. When we seek forgiveness with a repentant heart, He grants it. Not only that, but God asks us to forgive bad behavior of others. His love in us gives us the ability to pardon flawed humanity with humility and compassion.

    Although God is ready to forgive us, the tone changes when Scripture talks about the evil one, Satan. Jesus described him in John 10:10 as "the thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy."

    All sin grieves God's heart, but He displays a righteous anger over unrepentant, premeditated acts that attempt to steal, kill, or destroy His beloved. The Bible tells us God will demand justice. As Romans 12:19 says, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."

    You may think it is up to you to make someone pay for the wrong they have done. You long to let go of the anger and live again, but you feel chained to the past, chained to unforgiveness. It feels wrong to forgive what seems unforgiveable. When evil comes to your front door, or impacts those you love, you may struggle with feeling angry and secretly wanting revenge. You may think it's up to you.

    That's when God's righteous anger steps in to make us whole. When we realize God is angry for us, it removes a burden we aren't big enough to carry. His righteous anger overshadows our anger as we let it go, and He scoops it from our hearts.

    Does God care? The answer is yes. And the reason He's asking you to forgive is not to absolve another person's sin against you or to say that it was okay. It's so that you, His precious daughter, can live free.

    The enemy thinks he can steal dignity and peace from you, but as you release your anger to God, you keep your self-worth and calm instead.

    The enemy wants to kill your spirit, but you can find renewed life as find freedom in forgiveness.

    The enemy means to destroy you and your future, but God's redemptive power is released as you let God handle the burden of anger for you. With His help, you can forgive the unforgivable.

    Dear God, Your righteous anger toward evil overshadows the pain in my heart and allows me to forgive as You are righteously angry for me. Thank You for freeing my heart so that I may begin to heal. In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:
    Billy Graham - The Reason for My Hope: Salvation

    In The Reason for My Hope, Graham presents the core message that has guided his life and calling for more than 70 years. Filled with new stories and timeless truth, he once again calls the world back to its spiritual priority as only he can.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Read 1 Peter 5:8. How is the evil one described?

    How might holding on to anger leave a person defenseless?

    Power Verses:
    Leviticus 19:18, "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." (NIV)

    Colossians 3:13, "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. 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 Romans

  • Sincere Love

    Posted on September 10, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:9-10

    Insincere love is motivated by control and self satisfaction. The one in need of love is used to satisfy the giver's guilty conscience. They deludedly admire one another for their good deeds. Hypocritical love lacks unconditional and unselfish attributes that an unfeigned faith exhibits. Furthermore, sincere love hates what is evil. The resulting acts of charity are shallow if they ignore injustice or heaven forbid, promote sin. Genuine love upholds God’s holy standards.

    Sincere love looks to do good in the name of God. Yes, you love not expecting anything in return, but you hope the recipient of your kind gesture will pay it forward in Jesus' name. For example, you may anonymously help pay off a friend’s debt so one day they could be in a position to do the same for someone else. Or, you quietly provide meals for a sick friend and volunteer to care for their lawn. Perhaps you invite your neighbor and their child to church.

    The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5

    A pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith can’t help but love well. The closer we walk with Christ the more we love and the more genuinely we love. Like luscious green ferns flourish from regular rain, so our devotion to one another hydrates and brings our love alive. My devotion to you in love means I think the best of you and do not give up on you. A devoted love looks out for the best interest of its friends. Sincere love is available to serve when needed.

    Lastly, how I honor you above myself is evidence of my sincere love. So, I offer you the better seat at the theater, the preferred position at work or the optimal opportunity in a relationship. I defer to your comfort not mine, your financial benefit not mine, and your interests not mine. I best honor you above myself when I model how Jesus honored me above Himself. He died for me when I was dead in my sins. He loved me before I loved Him. Sincere love loves like Christ!

    Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow my love to be sincere like the love of my savior Jesus.

    Related Readings: Romans 5:8; Ephesians 6:23-24;  Philippians 2:1-3; 1 John 3:16

    Post/Tweet today: Like luscious green ferns flourish from regular rain, so our devotion to one another hydrates and brings our love alive. #sincerelove

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


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

  • Condemning Thoughts

    Posted on September 10, 2013 by Melissa Taylor

    Melissa Taylor

    "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44b (NIV)

    Do you ever question if you are good enough? Are you more likely to dwell on what's wrong with you than what's right?

    One day I realized I was scrutinizing myself to find out what my problem was. The more I picked myself apart, the more it dawned on me another voice was egging me on: the voice of the enemy, Satan. As I listened to his lies, they zapped my sense of worth and security.

    For a long time, I didn't recognize the enemy for who he was. The negative thoughts and deceitful suggestions simply sounded like my own voice.

    The Bible opens with a serpent slithering into the lives of Adam and Eve. This snake is also known as Satan, and he filled their heads with lies they believed. Lies which separated them from God. From the start, Satan’s goal has been to trick and deceive. John 8:44b tells us "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." This liar also tempted Jesus. He was always ready though, with the Word of God, to defeat the evil one.

    We too can have this weapon in our arsenal. As we fill our hearts and minds with Truth, we can defeat the lies we tell ourselves, and the lies Satan whispers in our thoughts.

    When I compare my negative thoughts to God's Word, the differences amaze me:

    My thoughts: I want to give up.
    God's Word: Be committed (Philippians 4:13, Galatians 6:9).

    My thoughts: I'll feel lost.
    God's Word: He watches my paths and establishes my ways (Proverbs 5:21, 4:26).

    My thoughts: No one loves me.
    God's Word: He loves me more than life (John 3:16).

    My thoughts: I'm ugly.
    God's Word: I'm wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

    My thoughts: I'm all alone and no one understands me.
    God's Word: He will never leave me. He has plans for my life (Deuteronomy 31:6, Jeremiah 29:11).

    My thoughts: I'm just not good enough.
    God's Word: I was created in His image (Genesis 1:26).

    When the enemy tries to slither in with false accusations, we must be ready to combat him with what God's Word says about us. To get started, evaluate your thoughts and pray for wisdom to distinguish the voice of the enemy.

    Condemning thoughts that steal your confidence of who you are in Christ aren't from God. Let's commit today to renew our minds with the Word of God each day, and replace those worn-out, deceitful lies with truth.

    Dear Lord, thank You for Your life-giving truth. Please fill me with Your Word so that I can live in freedom and confidence! In Jesus' Name, amen.

    Related Resources:
    Billy Graham - The Reason for My Hope: Salvation

    In The Reason for My Hope, Graham presents the core message that has guided his life and calling for more than 70 years. Filled with new stories and timeless truth, he once again calls the world back to its spiritual priority as only he can.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are your thoughts reflective of who God's Word says you are?

    If not, what one or two things will you begin to change based on the verses above?

    Power Verses:
    Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV)

    Romans 8:1, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Melissa Taylor. 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 John

  • What Counts?

    Posted on September 9, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 1 Corinthians 7:19

    What counts in the Kingdom of God? What counts most in the Kingdom is obeying King Jesus. He has all authority and power to do what’s right and just. He never rules unrighteously or unwisely, so wise are we to submit to His Lordship and His reign over our lives. The starting and ending point for a follower of Christ is to keep His commands. Obedience is evidence of our love for Him. Our spiritual linage is established by knowing and doing the Word of God. He counts!

    Your life counts when you do what counts to Christ. Thus, when you invest time in prayer, you do what counts. When you hear, understand and apply Holy Scripture, you do what counts. When you help a helpless child, you do what counts. When you sacrifice for your family, you do what counts. When you work as unto the Lord, you do what counts. When you are grateful and generous, you do what counts. When you lovingly share the gospel of God, you do what counts!

    Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother. Mark 3:35

    What counts is not your denominational label, but who you are as a new creation in Christ. Institutions can expect more than is required by the Lord, so discern what He is saying before you add additional obligations. What counts is how your service for God flows from your devotion to God. Yes, your inner character development means much more than outward religious rituals. Do what counts to God and He will make your life count to the utmost.

    Do you feel your life counts for something significant? In Christ you are incredibly valuable! You count because you are counted among those called by God. You count because you are a new creation in Christ. You count because you are a daughter or son of your Heavenly Father. You count because you can count your many blessings. You count because Jesus died on the cross for your sins. You count because Christ is coming back for you to reign with Him in glory!

    What counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule. Galatians 6:15-16

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep me focused on what counts to You, so I can count for You.

    Related Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; Mark 12:28-34; Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 11:28

    Post/Tweet today: Do what counts to God and He will make your life count to the utmost. #dowhatcounts

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians

  • Nicole C Mullen on Life, Family, Ministry, and Worship

    Posted on September 9, 2013 by John van der Veen


    Few artists in any genre of music possess a more diverse resume than Nicole C. Mullen. From her early days as a background vocalist/dancer/choreographer to writing and recording such classic hits as “Redeemer” to mentoring young women through her Baby Girls Club, Mullen’s creativity and compassion have fueled a life of ministry that has had global impact.

    Nicole's newest album Crown Him, contains hymns old and new like, "All Hail The Power," "It Is Well," and "Redeemer" along with a new song "Teach Me."
    Nicole C. Mullen just happens to be one of the most inspirational communicators of our time. Her ability to captivate an audience by telling a story, sharing from the scriptures or singing a song has earned her many awards as well as bringing her into the company of greatness. Nicole’s gifts have allowed her to travel all over the world, and they have brought her many accolades. She has won multiple Dove Awards, for Song of the Year ("Redeemer," and "On My Knees"), Female Vocalist, Contemporary Song of the Year ("Call on Jesus"), and the first African American to win Songwriter of the Year. She has also been nominated for two Grammy awards.

    I joined Nicole for a quick minute to catch up on "all things" with her life.

    John:               Nicole, you have a new record that you are coming out with, with Family Christian. And it is a hymns record.

    Nicole:           A hymns album, yes, it is.

    John:               A hymns album. How much, what would you say would hymns be a part of your background? I mean, how much were they a part of your life?

    Nicole:           Oh, we grew up singing hymns a bit. Not all hymns, because I grew up in an African-American nondenominational church we borrowed from a lot of different styles of worship, so hymns were a part, but not a huge part. I grew up hearing hymns because my parents knew them and my grandparents were singing them at their churches. As a songwriter, one of my goals is to write songs that will not just affect people today, but will affect people in their worship tomorrow and in future generations. Because of that, one of the subtitles is ‘Hymns Old and New’, but the main title is ‘Crown Him’, and it comes from the hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name” because we crown Him Lord of All. I'm very excited about people hearing it!

    John:               Yeah. You mentioned, Nicole, that you're a songwriter. You certainly have written a lot of songs. Is it easy for you to write a song? Or does it just kind of flow out of you? Because that's what it seems like it would.

    Nicole:           Ish. I mean, sometimes an idea will come and it flows immediately. Then other times it's kind of laborious. It takes a minute. Redeemer took me a year to write. There are other songs that I've written in an afternoon. So it kind of varies. For me, getting the idea and the melody is normally easier part for me. But the part that really takes work that I'm probably the most anal over, are the lyrics, what's being said. And so I want to make sure that I am conveying the message and the sentiment that I'm going after with the right words. I want to paint the picture correctly. And so that can take time. And so, again it varies. Sometimes it's a short period of time, and sometimes it's forever, it seems. But at the end of the day, for me the litmus test is not, was it a number one single? It's not if it did great on the charts. But really, did it move someone's heart to worship Christ. Did their heart, eyes and focus to turn toward Him? To bow low and worship Him’? If that answer is yes, then I feel as if my mission has been accomplished.

    John:               When one looks through your discography, your catalog of songs, there are a lot of songs that seem to be very personal to Nicole Mullen. When you set out to write songs, do you have yourself in mind? Are you thinking of your family? Are you thinking of your church? Are you just thinking of a broader audience? Who are you writing songs for?

    Nicole:           All of the above. Oftentimes, though, when I'm writing, I'm thinking of the wounded, the abused, the hurt, the discouraged. You know, people that I meet often, whether I'm in a grocery store or I'm in an autograph line at the end of the night. These are the people's faces that I see, and that when I'm writing a song I'm thinking of them. Like, how do I convey this message of hope to Angela, to Ellie, to Melissa, to Lisonja. You know, how do I convey this message of hope to them. And so that's where I have to go back and I ask the Lord, "What is it that you want me to say? What is it that you want to convey? What message do you want me to deliver to your people that will heal them, that will lead them to you?" And so then it's a process of listening and writing. And so often I feel like I'm His secretary, or I'm the mailman. I'm called to deliver what He wants to say to them. And so these are the faces that I see when I write.

    John:               A lot of your songs have literally been . . . Let's see, how do I phrase that question. So many of your lyrics have contained passages of Scripture. The way you talk, when you're live on stage, you incorporate Scripture throughout your entire show. Every single one of your songs has Scripture in there. What do you say? And I'm going to lead you down a road here, and I think I know what you're going to say because I know you. But what would you say to the person who is attempting to walk out their faith in a daily life, and is not a songwriter. They're not a professional singer. They're just a mom, or they're a single dad, or they're in college right now. What do you do to get through life, in a sense?

    Nicole:           For me it starts with first of all having a personal relationship with Christ, and then being in fellowship with Him by talking to Him, which is prayer, and listening to Him. And then getting to know Him through His Word. In the Bible there are . . . I tell people all the time, if you want the supernatural, it's in there. If you want romance, it's in there. If you want, even like blood and guts, it's in there. The Bible was not rated G, just so you know. It's not rated G. But it is fantastic, and it's for everyone. It's E for everyone. But there's something for everyone. But really this is a formula for life for me. Successes will come and they will go. Good days will come. They will go. And love will come, and it may go. The Word of God, the Person of Jesus Christ will remain steady throughout life, throughout eternity. And so it is Him that we build our hope upon and our lives upon. So when it's all said and done, for me, it's Christ. And it's getting to know Him--not just learning about Him or meeting Him, but getting to know Him. And we get to know Him by inviting Him into our daily life, our every day life, whether we're doing the dishes, driving or having a conversation in Walmart. He is a part of everything that we do. And His Word is our standard. It's our guide for how we live life and how we treat people, and how we worship God. That's what I know. I'm not perfect at it. I haven't mastered it. But I when I fall off, this is the standard for which I get back on track with. In regards to where people are right now in their walk with Christ, whether they are one with Him, my urge would be, get to know Him. Give your life to Him. If you know Him and you've fallen away, or you're kind of doing this, get back on the path. Get back into His Word. Get back into fellowship with Him by talking to Him, and listening. And then do what He says to do. And so that's really the only formula for a successful life that I know and that I've seen that really actually works. So that's what I know. Jesus.

    John:               As a songwriter, what would you say is the most important song ever sung?

    Nicole:           Oh, that's a hard one. That's a hard one. And people ask me often, "What's your favorite song that you've written?" I can't pick. It's like picking your favorite child. That could get you in trouble.

    John:               That's for sure.

    Nicole:           Not like the songs are going to get me. But it's like on different days, there are different songs that really speak to me differently. Some days it might be “It Is Well,” which I didn't write. Other days it might be “ShooBee,” you know, in which I wrote, I believe in Jesus and I won't apologize. Some days it might be “Redeemer.” Other days it might be “Homemade Love” or “Wholly Captivated.” There are different songs that speak to me in different places and in different times in my life and different seasons. And so for me, the criteria for a song being my favorite for the moment is something that it is one that moved my heart, my attention and focus closer to Christ. And I don't want to sound redundant, but for me, that's the only thing that has any weight. I don't want songs that just entertain; I want to sing songs where, at the end of the day hopefully you didn't just hear a good beat, or weren't just moved emotionally, but my heart is that you'll be moved spiritually toward the One who is worth our worship, and that's Jesus. And so those are the kind of songs I like to listen to as well. And something that's well crafted, I love well crafted songs. Yeah.

    John:               I agree. What's on your bucket list?

    Nicole:           Probably to go to Israel. I don't have many things on there, but probably Israel would probably be one of them.

    John:               Do you have that planned?

    Nicole:           Not yet.

    John:               Not yet.

    Nicole:           Not yet. I mean, I have had it planned.

    John:               You've been to other countries.

    Nicole:           I've been all over in the world. Yes, I have.

    John:               Just Israel was not on there.

    Nicole:           Not yet, but I would love to go there. And I don't have very many places. I mean, I love going wherever God calls me. So if you hear me speaking and you're from another country, I want to come to your country. But Israel is one of those places that just, ah, I would love to. At the right time and the right season, if it's the Lord's will. And if not, hey, when we come back with a new Jerusalem, I'm going to be there anyway.

    John:               Are you a coffee drinker? Tea drinker? Red Bull?

    Nicole:           No, I'm a water drinker.

    John:               Water.

    Nicole:           I'm really boring. My daughter works at Starbucks, so she's a, she drinks coffee and tea. My husband's a coffee drinker. H2O people.

    John:               H2O.

    Nicole:           H2O, yeah, that's la-la.

    John:               The drink of heaven.

    Nicole:           Yes, the drink of . . . Ah! I love that you said that.

    John:               Cool. Well, that's great. Thank you again.

    Nicole:           Oh, but let me tell you. Wait, wait, wait, wait! Oh, I've got to tell you something else.

    John:               All right.

    Nicole:           Okay. Wait, wait, wait. I've got to tell you what I did for real, okay?  I know most of you all know me as the singer and all of that.

    John:               Oh, yes, I'm sorry.

    Nicole:           Let me tell you how I really feel about what’s important in my life, okay? This is like, I love this season of life, too. I love singing. I love writing. We're in the studio working on albums. I love that. But, let me say this. This is part of my fuel. During the week, about four days a week, we have two mentorship programs, mentorship and discipleship. One is Baby Girls Club, and it's for girls only. And I'll tell you a little bit about that in a second. Then we have Team NCM, which is Nicole C. Mullen. Team NCM is a group of kids that have to audition every year at the beginning of the year. They're between the ages of 8 to 18. They have a bent in singing, dancing, arts, drama. They audition. They have to love Jesus Christ as well. They audition. We get together twice a week after we've chosen them. We practice, practice, practice. We memorize Scripture. We do Bible study. We laugh. We giggle. We eat. We do all kinds of crazy things.

    John:               This is at your house?

    Nicole:           No, this is actually at a place called the Clubhouse, up in Tennessee. Because you know, I live out in the boonies. Nobody's coming out there. So we get these kids together, and a lot of them have traveled all over the world with me. A lot of kids from Team NCM, not necessarily currently, but we've had many years. So that's one of the discipleship programs that we have. And we're discipling kids who will, in turn, disciple other kids. And other people, because it could be their elders that they're discipling. Then we have another group called Baby Girls Club, and that's for girls only. And it's more of a whosoever will. You don't have to be a believer to come, but you're going to hear about Christ. We have a wide range of economically influenced kids. Some are from the haves, and some are from the have nots. Probably more from the have nots. We bring kids in from housing projects. We get them after school. We sing. We dance. We do Bible study. We memorize Scripture. We eat. We do conflict resolution, which is that we break up fights. We do all kinds of things. We are, me and some other women, it's not just myself. We're in their lives. It's our way of investing in them with the hope of Christ. And we've seen a lot of these kids give their hearts to Jesus. And as a response, some of their family members, their parents, have given their hearts to Jesus as well. Last year we had some of them get baptized, and it was just really great. So we've seen the Lord work in that. And even now from the Baby Girls Club, we've had people all over the world now who are asking us to help them set up theirs. We've actually started one in the country of Belize, so we have the Baby Girls club there. We have a place in Kenya. They're asking us to help them set up theirs. In South Africa, help them set up theirs there. In Burundi there's a request for us to help them there. Even in our own country, the people are asking throughout the United States. So, we're praying that the Lord will continue to give us wisdom as to how to facilitate this, and to really help them in the right way. I believe right now we have a great opportunity to effect the future of our nation and the future of our world. Because whoever gets the seed, gets the tree, and gets the fruit. So if we can influence the seed of these young lives for Jesus Christ, then He will get their tree and their fruit off the tree. And they're the ones who are going to be affecting nations and generations. So we have a great opportunity. And so we get to do Mondays through Thursdays, and that's where I am, hugging, loving on kids, doing Bible study. Just Stephanie and I, we're like mamas, and we love these kids. These are our babies. Then we have another girl, Karen, she's in Belize helping over there. I'm really excited about that aspect and would love to just have people to pray for us. When they think about us, pray for us. If they want more information, they can go to my website, nicolescmullen.com and they can find out about it there. Or babygirlsclub.com.

    John:               That is cool.

    Nicole:           I love it. Yeah.

    John:               That is so cool. I'm so glad that you shared that as well. That's great.

    Nicole:           They sing with me, too, so they inspire me. They do.

    John:               That's so awesome. I love that. This is great. Because it says so much more than just, I'm an artist and that's what I do. This is what I really do.

    Nicole:           Ministry starts when you get off stage. Ministry's not just about what you do on stage. It's when you take those steps off that stage, the real question is are you going to live it out, or are you just going to talk about it. And we're called to live it out. And Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations." So it's not making coverts that we're after. We're after making disciples, and that's messy. It's time consuming. That costs money. It costs energy. But that's what he called us to do. And so that's our aim. When it's all said and done, we're not looking for pats on the back. We're looking for Him to say, "Well done. You were faithful at what I called you to do." And then we can go forth and say, "Lord, you've given us five talents. We've gone out and we’ve multiplied it. We're bringing back 25, 25 lives," or whatever it might be. So yeah, that's what I do. I love doing that.

    Nicole is excited about this new season in her life and sharing the worship songs on “Crown Him.” “My mom told me a long time ago ‘when you sing, never sing to the people, always sing to the audience of One and invite the people to worship along with you,’” Mullen says, “and so that’s my new aim these day is to sing to the ‘Audience of One’ and hopefully it becomes so contagious and the melody becomes so soothing and so inviting that people will want to sing along.”


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

  • Five Questions With Author Tracy Groot

    Posted on September 9, 2013 by Family Christian


    Tracy Groot is the critically acclaimed and Christy Award–winning author of several novels. Her most recent books exemplify her unique style of storytelling—reimagining biblical stories within other historical contexts. Tracy's novels have received starred Booklist and Publishers Weekly reviews and have been called "beautifully written" and "page-turning" by Publishers Weekly and "gripping" with "exquisitely drawn" characters by Library Journal. Tracy and her husband have three boys and together run a coffee shop in Holland, Michigan.

    Tracy has a new book coming out early 2014 titled, The Sentinels of Andersonville. We thought that we would sit down with her and ask her a few questions about life.

    What got you interested in writing about the Civil War era?
    I watched a film when I was a kid called The Andersonville Trial. I was a film buff even then, and one element of the story stayed with me: a man testified that the commandant of Andersonville turned away four wagonloads full of food donated for the starving prisoners. He refused to allow Southern citizens to feed Yankees--even dying ones. The story haunted me. Then, in my twenties, a friend loaned me a book called John Ransom's Andersonville Diary. It was another heartbreaking story that never left me.

    In doing your research, how were you challenged the most?
    I had to get into the mind of a Confederate Southerner. I had to think like one in order to write like one. So to put it into a context I could relate to, I imagined how I would feel if, 10 miles from Hudsonville, Michigan, a prison had been built that housed up to 33,000 Muslim terrorists--and one of my sons had died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. How would I feel about feeding them, if I knew they were starving? Would I do what God told me to, and feed my enemy regardless? Or would I feel that to feed them is to be a traitor to my nation and to my son? And if I was inclined to help, then what would I do if my government actually forbade it?

    Are any of the characters in your books based on your personal life?
    Not any one particular character. I suppose they all have a little bit of me in them, because I have to tap into a lot of Me in order to get to Them. In early development, I tend to give characters recognizable elements from people I know, and then the characters take off with it and become who they are; I've found that real human beings defy getting trapped on paper. They won't stand for it, and fictional characters won't stand for it either. They want to be who they are, not Aunt Helen or my brother Rick. But when I start out with Aunt Helen or Rick, I start from a place where I am familiar with certain personality traits and I can write strongly--then the characters get some feet under them, and take it from there.

    What has God been teaching you lately?
    He's been reminding me that I need to put action to my thinking. G.K. Chesterton said that right thinking is a waste without right action. I believe that's true. Then we'd all just be a bunch of philosophers on a rock. I heard on the radio today that the action people took in the Bible brought about divine response. I've been meditating on this, from Psalm 50:23--"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me, and to him who orders his way aright, will I show the salvation of God." Basically--God helps those who help themselves. It's not enough for me to mentally assent. God wants action, whatever it is. I may not feel like taking action at all. I may not feel like I have faith. But, as I also heard today, "You can be full of faith and no feeling." And this: "You believe by following through on the action proscribed." If I know I need to bite my tongue about something, mental assent does no good unless I bite my tongue. I believe God blesses the most faltering steps, if step out, we do. I believe he even honors and blesses it when I holler, "You know what, God?! I sure as heck don't feel like biting my tongue right now--so if you want me to, then you're gonna have to pull off a miracle--give me the want to." If I can at least tell God how displeased I am about having to obey something, that opens up a line of communication between us--it shows me and it shows God that I know who I need to go to for the hard things, when I just can't pull it off myself. I've also been meditating on a George McDonald quote: "He gave man the power to thwart His will, that when he comes at last to do His will, he may do so in a higher kind and way than otherwise would have been possible to him."

    What is on your "bucket list?
    A few bucket list things: I'd like to visit Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, and the Scottish Hebrides. Not necessarily in that order. I'd like to be on the NY Times bestseller list. I'd like to have lunch with the entire cast of BBC's Merlin for a cast reunion to talk about old times. (Well--they'll talk about old times; I'll interject pithy comments and take pictures.) Then I'd talk them into a new series, where Arthur comes back. Finally, I'd like to co-star on Alphas, my current favorite sci-fi series; I'd hang out all day with my favorite Alpha, Gary.

    For more information on Tracy, click here.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Fiction, Tracy Groot

  • Imprisoned by Shame

    Posted on September 9, 2013 by Julie Gilles

    Julie Gillies

    "But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high." Psalm 3:3 (NIV)

    They were only boots. On their own, boots are good. They are functional, sturdy, insulated. But that day they were an embarrassment, the last resort of a 7th-grade girl whose only pair of shoes was soaked. I couldn't walk through the foot-high snow to the bus stop without the boots.

    Maneuvering my dad's huge size 11 boots with my size six feet was a clumsy effort. Slide, slide, lift. Slide, slide, lift. My cheeks burned as I climbed the school bus steps, desperately hoping no one would notice. When the bus dropped us off in front of the junior high, I slide-slide-rushed inside and immediately pulled off the boots. In my stocking feet, I raced through the dirty snow accumulating on the hallway floors, eager to stow the humiliating footwear in my locker.

    All day long friends and teachers glanced at my wet socks and asked why I was walking around without shoes in the dead of winter. "My shoes are soaked," I told them, which was true. I didn't mention that they were at home, or that I'd worn the humiliating oversized boots that belonged to my dad.

    My heart was imprisoned in shame that day at the age of 12. And the shame only multiplied with constant hunger pangs, my parent's ongoing violent fights, and being left in charge of my four siblings more often than was wise.

    As I stepped into young adulthood, shame followed closely. I tried to push it away with other things and tragically sought love and attention from men, believing their affections could somehow make up the deficit of dignity I felt.

    On my own at 17, I was determined to earn my way, determined never to borrow from my neighbors, and determined to have a full pantry. I worked hard and bought lots of nice shoes to line my closet and heart. And I obsessively filled my cupboards with every food I had been denied much of my life.

    No matter what I did, shame clung to my heart and tainted my perception. I believed others saw me as less-than because deep down, that's how I felt about myself. I struggled to overcome the embarrassment from my childhood, but it refused to let me go. Though I was no longer in my shameful past, my shameful past was still in me.

    And then I met Jesus, and He gently began working in my heart. Slowly, through praying for myself, He began a transforming work in me.

    It wasn't an easy or instant process. When I was afraid to believe He could make me whole, He said, "Anyone who believes in [me] will never be put to shame" (Romans 10:11 NIV). When the wardrobe of my heart felt stained and embarrassed, He said, "[You are] clothed with dignity" (Proverbs 31:25 NIV). When I felt condemned by my past sinful choices, He said, "Then neither do I condemn you ... Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11 NIV).

    As my relationship with Jesus grew, it struck me that He treated me with the dignity and honor my soul longed for. As I continued to pray for myself, His exquisite love covered my shameful past and made me feel beautiful. Cherished. Unashamed. Free.

    The mortified young girl who wore her dad's boots to school now walks unfettered with the One her soul loves. As I continue to pray for myself, He continues His transforming work. And now, instead of defining myself by shame and embarrassment, I cling to the truth that Jesus treasures, esteems, and beautifully clothes me.

    Dear Lord, You know the shame and embarrassment of my past, both from what happened to me and through my own choices. Please bring the healing and transformation that only You can. Thank You that in Christ I am cherished, unashamed and free. In the Name of Jesus, amen.

    Related Resources:
    Billy Graham - The Reason for My Hope: Salvation

    In The Reason for My Hope, Graham presents the core message that has guided his life and calling for more than 70 years. Filled with new stories and timeless truth, he once again calls the world back to its spiritual priority as only he can.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Is your heart imprisoned by shame, guilt, or fear? Pray, forgive your offender, and ask God to bring healing and freedom to you both.

    Power Verse:
    Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Julie Gillies. 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, Shame

  • Stay Focused

    Posted on September 8, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
    John 17:4

    Focus is the fuel to productivity and frees you to stay on task. Focus facilitates God’s will, and  has the ability to bring intensity to a situation, problem, or opportunity. There is a sense of urgency that pushes out distraction and brings clarity back to the matter at hand. Focused individuals understand that some things naturally drift out of focus, so they intentionally refocus. “Mission drift” ensues when the leader becomes distracted and unfocused as well-meaning activities can distract the team or the individual from the original purpose.
    The opposite of focusing on a task is to ignore or disregard it. We lose focus when we lose interest or assess a lower value to a person or opportunity. We lose focus when something else more attractive draws us away, and like a moth to a flame we can get burned if we are not careful. We are forever fighting to stay focused because of bad distractions and good attractions. But we don’t have to remain unfocused or get focused on the wrong things. When we stay laser beam-focused on the Lord, important things become priority and our minds become centered on Christ.
    We focus all the time. We may not focus on our most important options, but we focus. We focus on sports. We focus on having fun. We focus on finances. We focus on fitness. We focus on frustrations. Indeed, your mind and your heart tend to follow your focus. Your life aligns around where you focus, so by God’s grace stay focused on Him and His will for your life. Focused faith goes a long way toward experiencing God’s very best. Focused intensity on the Almighty’s agenda leverages His plan for your life. Focus brings freedom to do His will without reservation; so stay focused on the one thing He has called you to do and you will be amazed at the results. Become an expert in your field.
    Above all else, become an intensely focused person of faith and character. Your character determines your credibility with people. Your influence grows as your character grows; so stay focused on becoming more like Jesus. Laugh more and complain less. Relax more and worry less. Pray more and talk less. Give more and control less. One idea is to focus on your family. Focus more intently on your family than you do your work or your hobbies. Put a puzzle together, take scuba diving lessons, plan a family reunion, organize a trip, or take care of a pet. Intentionally focus on your family now while you have the opportunity and while they are interested. Your children deserve your intense focus. They will be gone soon, so zero in on them. Finally, focus on God in prayer. Prayer brings into focus what matters most.
    Prayer dismisses distractions and invites priorities. Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

    Post/Tweet: Our character determines our credibility with people. #belikeJesus

    © 2013 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com


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

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