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Family Christian

  • Blog Summary for May 2014

    Here are the most popular blog posts as read by you. Thank you for following us!

    Shane Harper on Living Out the Gospel

    Shane Harper established himself as an artist with a quadruple threat—singer, actor, dancer, and songwriter. He began working as a professional dancer in the entertainment industry when he was just 13, appearing as a principal dancer in High School Musical 2, and in Nickelodeon's show, "Dance on Sunset".

    Shane transitioned easily into acting, and is recurring on the hit Disney Channel show, "Good Luck Charlie", for all 4 seasons. He guest starred on "Wizards of Waverly Place", and "So Random". He also guest starred in a 4 episode arc for the scripted MTV series, "Awkward."

    As an actor in film, Shane worked with Rob Reiner, in a supporting role for the movie, FLIPPED. He also had a small featured role in the Bollywood film, MY NAME IS KHAN.

    Shane has a principal role in the feature film, GOD'S NOT DEAD and recently, I sat down with him to talk about faith, Hollywood, books music and coffee.

    Read the full interview here.

    Michael W. Smith - Behind the New Album

    “Sometimes you’ve just got to shake things up,” Michael W. Smith says with a smile. After selling more than 15 million albums, scoring 28 No. 1 hits, earning three GRAMMYs and more than 40 Dove Awards, no one would blame the Christian music icon if he decided to coast just a little bit, but that’s just not in his nature.

    On Sovereign, Michael’s first worship album since 2008 and his first project since signing with Capitol Christian Music Group in 2013, he deliberately steps into a new creative chapter to craft a vibrant collection of vertically focused songs with a fresh sense of musical innovation.

    Read the full interview here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

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

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

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

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

    From “latch-key kid” to key player in the Man Up movement, Lecrae’s life is an example of God’s transformative power – and he’s not quiet about it. In his signature straight-shoot approach, new album Gravity calls Christians to open their eyes to the weight of need in their world and share the love of Jesus as never before.

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

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

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

    Read the full q&a here.

    All or Nothing with Mike from MIKESCHAIR

    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.

    Read the full interview here.

    Matt Maher. On Being Christian.

    Matt Maher's newest album, All The People Said Amen," fuses the popularity of his vibrant live show with several new studio cuts, offering fans an assortment of writing and performance styles.

    “This project,” offers Maher, “is a real collage of who I am musically. You’ll hear intimate worship songs, anthemic praise tunes often sung and shouted aloud together in unison, and celebratory songs that inspire the whole church.”

    I chatted with Matt on cold winter day.  What follows is a conversation on who Matt is, what he hopes to accomplish and how he just wants to sing about Jesus.

    Read the full interview here.

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

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

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

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

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

    Read the full interview here.

    Kari Jobe - Pioneering New Roads in Worship

    Dictionary.com gives the definition of pioneer in the following ways 1. a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others. 2. one who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress. 3. one of a group of foot soldiers detailed to make roads.

    For more than 15 years, well-respected worship leader Kari Jobe has been using her gifts to lead people into the presence of God. When she began leading worship at age 13, she never imagined she would be nominated for a GRAMMY®, win a Dove Award or be praised by the New York Times. She only knew she had a heart for broken people and a deep desire to lead them to the cross.

    Pioneer? This may be the word that describes who Kari is and what she hopes to do as an artist.

    I sat down with Kari and asked about her background. Where she came from, how she found Jesus and where is she going. Read the full interview here.

    The Life, Legacy and Music of Bill Gaither

    The pages of history have been written by ordinary people who had something extraordinary to say with their lives. Bill Gaither is just such an individual… an Indiana-born kid with an insatiable love for music who grew to become an industry leader who would change the course of gospel music history through the songs he has written and through his influence as a mentor for other artists.An avid fan of gospel quartets throughout his childhood, Bill founded his first group, The Bill Gaither Trio, in 1956, while he was a college student. He began teaching English in 1959 because his musical aspirations couldn’t support him full-time… yet. In 1962, Bill did one of the best things he has ever done. He married Gloria Sickal, who became the best writing partner Bill could have found anywhere. The couple spent the first five years of their married life juggling full-time teaching jobs, writing, singing, recording and publishing until music became their full-time career in 1967.

    Read the full interview here.

  • Below Paradise - an interview with Tedashii

    John

    Reach Records artist Tedashii has been a busy man since we heard from him last. Following the 2011 release of Blacklight, which debuted at No. 2 on the iTunes hip-hop chart, he’s had a heavy touring schedule that included his own concert series, The Unashamed Tour and The Rock and Worship Roadshow with MercyMe and Jeremy Camp, where he had the distinction of being the only hip-hop act. Then there was that guest spot on Lecrae’s Grammy-winning album Gravity, and Tedashii’s own hit track “Dum Dum” was featured on the popular TV show So You Think You Can Dance. And did we mention he’s also the host of his own weekly radio show, Serium, heard on NGEN Radio?

    Despite his demanding schedule, Tedashii planned to return to the studio shortly after he came off the road in March of 2013. But before he could lay down a single track, tragedy struck. Tedashii’s one-year-old son passed away suddenly, and the world stopped. There was no recording, no touring, just months of family time, counseling, and trying to find a new normal. While the healing continued, eventually, he knew he needed to get back to work. That interaction with people – both from the stage and before and after shows – is what Tedashii loves to do. So by June 2013 he began to ease back into performing, which he found to be therapeutic.

    I sat down with Tedashii for a one on one chat. What follows is a that conversation. A conversation about loss. About life. About living Below Paradise.

    John:               I'm wondering Tedashii if you could just bring us a little bit back in time and maybe talk a little bit about how you came to know Jesus as your savior and how that relationship more or less started with you.

    Tedashii:       I would be glad to do that. I graduated high school and got to go to this really small school, somebody might have heard of it, it’s called Baylor University. I got to go to Baylor, and when I got there I had a plan. My plan was to be the most popular and the most well-known student that school had ever seen from a party scene and from an academic scene. I was ready to hit the world by storm. Man, I had a lot of dreams, ambition, and aspirations.

    In the second month of my first semester this guy walked up to me on campus, never met him before, had seen him around but never met him, and it’s hot, and so on I'm ready to get into some AC, the wind isn't blowing it all, it’s really dry, it’s in Central Texas, so there's a lot of hills and I'm just tired. I just want to go in and not be bothered.

    This guy walks up and he says, “Hey, I heard the way that you interacted with your buddies, and I heard some of the jokes you guys told, and just how you carried yourself, I think that the Bible would call this sin.” He then proceeded to share the gospel with me. Told me I needed the Savior, the only savior was Jesus and I needed to be saved. I didn't know him from at all. I got super offended, pushed him, literally put my hands on him and showed him away from me and walked off upset, because here was this guy judging me.

    But for most of my life everybody told me I was a good guy, I was a good kid. Here was this one guy saying the opposite of everybody else, so of course I easily dismissed him. But in the days to follow I got injured, I lost my scholarship, and I was on my way home. My world was crumbling, it was crashing down.

    Literally as I'm hanging up the phone with my high school girlfriend, because she was breaking up with me, this guy walks by and sees me and he says, “Man, you look like you need to talk to somebody.” I was so frustrated that it was him, but I did, I needed to talk to somebody. He just started sharing the gospel with me again. This time I heard him, I understood it, and on that campus, in the middle of all that heat I just got on my knees and cried out for Jesus man.

    John:               So it was the same guy?

    Tedashii:       Same guy, same exact guy. We are friends to this day. He was the best man at my wedding and, man, he’s just a dear, dear brother in the Lord man.

    John:               That's pretty incredible man. Just that whole idea of confronting someone in their sin and presenting them with the gospel, I think the world might be a better place if we all ended up doing a little more of that.

    Tedashii:       Yes, very much so.

    John:               At what point, I mean, obviously you have a talent, obviously you are the artist, I am not. Your talent is that you do hip hop and you do it incredibly well.

    Tedashii:       Thank you man.

    John:               Absolutely. My question is was hip hop part of who you were before you were a Christian? Did it come later in life? I mean how did you end up moving into that realm?

    Tedashii:       Hip hop was definitely later in life. I grew up in a home. My mom was … I don’t think my mom was a believer at the time, but she was really religious. We grew up in the Bible Belt and so church is what you did. We were not allowed to do certain things because the preacher called it sin, so one of those things was hip hop. Hip hop wasn’t in my home. I couldn't watch videos. When everybody else saw videos, I didn’t know what they were talking about. I couldn’t listen to the radio station. Well, hip hop stations. We could listen to her music all day long, but couldn’t listen to my music.

    But my mom was a very musical person. She sang in the choir. She would sing around the city at different events. Then she also played a lot of soul and blues music, every now and again some jazz, but the weird one is country. She’d always play country too. I just got influenced by music and a lot of it at an early age. When I got to an age that I could … Well, I was about to say when I got to an age I could listen to hip hop, really when I got to an age that I could sneak hip hop in and not get caught, I listened to it all the time.

    But really the guy that led me to Christ and Baylor was the same guy who first encouraged me to write a rap song. He said, “Man, you're always listening to hip hop. You like to seat and freestyle and make up rhymes. Why don’t you write a song down?” I tried it. He talked me into doing it at a talent show and it was horrible. I got fourth-place on five people and it was really embarrassing then so I vowed never to do that again.

    But years later, really, really later I met Lecrae and I met Trip Lee and some other guys and these guys encouraged me to try it again. They thought I was good at it, they thought there was a gift there, some talent, and lo and behold they were right. The Lord was opening that door and he's continued to open it.

    John:               That is for sure, and the world has certainly been a better place ever since.

    Tedashii:       Praise the Lord.

    John:               Your new record, Below Paradise, is now available. Why don’t you talk a little bit about it. What’s the catalyst behind it?

    Tedashii:       Below Paradise is a very personal album, very, very near and dear to my heart. I've had three previous albums and I tell people I put my heart on my albums. But this one in particular I put my soul on it. I gave literally everything I had. The catalyst behind it was me trying to communicate what my life was like in 2013 leading up to 2014, just everything that I went through from the loss of my son, to my journey as a guy trying to reconcile what it feels like to live in a harsh world with a loving God, and wanting to be able to communicate that to people who have also maybe gone through something similar, but also to people who may not.

    There are a lot of people when I talk to them, they say, “Man, I can’t imagine.” Then their very next statement is, “I don't know what I would do.” My encouragement to them is I know what you would do. If you love God like you say you love God, you would wrestle to continue to love Him and by His grace He would keep you. I feel like that's my story. The Lord has allowed me room to wrestle within His grace up but He's kept me.

    John:               Tedashii, I mean, just hearing obviously the trials that God put you through and how that has shaped your life, not just this record, but obviously your life, if God puts me through something, that's stored here, in my heart. But you have chosen to go one step further. You’ve chosen to literally open your heart and to allow people to see it.

    As you've already referenced, you said your previous records have always been a personal statement about who Tedashii is, what you stand for, and everything like that. But this one, I mean you are being very vulnerable in this fact that you are literally showing the world your heart. There's a sense of brokenness and also a sense of restoration. How do you …? What is it like to be that personal with such a wide audience? What's the goal there and what's that like?

    Tedashii:       Good question. The goal for me was to be able to trust God enough that my open honesty and vulnerability would in some way encourage people who may have gone through this or are feeling pain and suffering in some way, my goal is to bring awareness. I think a lot of people fight to live in this bubble where everything seems to be good and works out good and there's always a happy ending. In reality there's just a harsh world all around us.

    I don't necessarily want awareness for their lives personally. That's good. That's one thing. But be aware of the world around you so much so that you start to ask the question, how I need to engage it. After this moment, that's what I asked myself. I went on this journey to write this album as a part of my responsibility on how I am going to engage a harsh world.

    Now there's good in this world. I mean I'm not at all blind to that. God is a good God himself. There are good things. He gives good gifts to His children. But within this world there's a harshness and some of it is unanswered. I don't think I’m trying to provide an answer as much as I am begging people to walk with me in awareness so that we can push back the darkness.

    John:               That is the goal, right? That's what we're all called to do.

    Tedashii:       Yeah.

    John:               I think that's more or less Kingdom living.

    Tedashii:       Yeah, amen.

    John:               Going back to the record Tedashii you have guest artists that show up on the record with you. You want to name some of those?

    Tedashii:       I do man, I'm excited. I've been a fan of this young lady by the name of Britt Nicole.

    John:               Awesome.

    Tedashii:       She has a phenomenal voice. I wanted to do something, when I first spoke with her and asked her if she’d be willing to be on the album she said, “Of course.” I was super excited. My plan was to do a song similar to the songs she normally does. But I had this random idea to put her on a song opposite of everything anyone would expect from her, and let her shine in that way. I put her on this song called Dark Days, Darker Nights which chronicles my pain, initially after feeling this loss and this weight of it. She did an amazing job. I'm so appreciative of her.

    Another guy, another person in the album is this guy named David Crowder. I know some people know who he is. David Crowder, he’s just a cool dude who every time I saw him he was down to earth and willing to engage and interact. To me, I describe him as a worship leader with stadium, with a stadium sound.

    There are some guys, they lead worship. It's better for that sitting to be a smaller close-knit sitting, but he has the ability to engage this stadium size crowd and still draw them in to want to call out to Christ. I wanted him on a track.

    John:               I have a question regarding Crowder. When you guys were basically, I'm not sure if you actually recorded the vocals on the same day or not, but did he require you to wear a trucker hat when you were working on the song that he was involved in?

    Tedashii:       No, I wanted that brother to wear a flat bill. I was like, “You need to switch it up bro, switch it up. Let's change it. Let’s some do something totally different.” Of course he didn’t. He was like, “I’m good man. I’m good.”

    John:               It is what it is.

    Tedashii:       But he did, he had a trucker hat on, his glasses, and I want to say he had on a flannel shirt and it was hot. But I don’t get it, I don't know why he had that on. It’s kind of hot outside. But he came in there and he did his job. It was amazing. He killed it. I'm appreciative of that. He’s on a song called … Wow, I just forgot the song talking about it. That's hilarious. Angels and Demons, he's on a song called Angels and Demons. Then of course the label mates on the album, I got a single out now with Lecrae and Trip Lee called Nothing I Can’t Do. So yeah, I'm excited about it man.

    John:               That's great. Obviously I read up a little bit about you Tedashii in preparing for this conversation. Don't be alarmed by what I'm going to ask you. But I know that you are not as a fan of hip hop, but there so there's a few other forms of music that you truly enjoy doing. In fact maybe sometimes on a Sunday morning someone may find you … where?

    Tedashii:       At church.

    John:               I thought I was reading somewhere that may be on occasion you've helped in a worship setting where you’re a vocalist, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Tedashii:       You had me nervous because I was like, “What secret info has he found out. What he knows? What’s happening?” No, that’s good. I have on occasion joined in with the worship team and sang the back background vocals. I'm not necessarily just background, I tend to be further, further back because I carry a tune very lowly, and so not all the time does a baritone get the solo, so I'm okay with that.

    Then sometimes I’ll through in a verse. We go to the church called The Village Church were a guy named Matt Chandler is the pastor. Our campus is super diverse and has a lot of different cultures. We try to implement a lot of different styles of worship. Actually, I try to serve when I can man. But I'm a secret closet fan of a lot worship guys like, man, I don’t know if have heard of Shane and Shane before, but I am a super fan of Shane and Shane. I think those dudes are amazing. They say they don't, but I’m like, “Not only do you have perfect pitch. You have perfect harmony. It’s like every time, live or on the album.” Anyway, but I worship bro, I am a fan.

    John:               I totally agree. I think there are songs … Record is one of my favorites.

    Tedashii:       Yes, yes.

    John:               Let’s see. So besides music, I'm sorry if I was making you a little nervous there.

    Tedashii:       I was a little nervous. I was like, “What is he about to say,” because everybody teases because I'm a fan of country music. I like country music.

    John:               Well, I mean you are from Texas so it's not that big of a deal.

    Tedashii:       Here we go, good.

    John:               So anything beyond music? Is there any other passion that you really enjoy doing?

    Tedashii:       Well I do a weekly radio show called Serium. It’s a word I made up. It’s s-e-r-i-u-m, but Serium is a weekly hip hop show that airs every Saturday night at eight pm Central on NGEN radio, the letter N, the letter G, the letter E, the letter N, ngenradio.com. Anyone who lives in the Houston area can listen to it. There's call letters for you to find that you can get on FM station. Check it out. It's a sister company of KSBJ. Man, it's been amazing to do that. l love doing radio, I love playing around vocally with what I can do and then bring in people, all these different types of songs that are amazing within what we're doing right now as far as hip hop goes.

    I love doing theater. I consider myself a thespian to a certain extent. I love doing that. At the end of the day I see myself as a communicator. So any way that I can, any medium, any art form that I can use to communicate the truths of the Lord and scripture and my passion, then I'm going to do it. I don’t know, I may do a spoken word piece one day, or I may turnaround and try to write a short story. I don't know, it just depends, but anything artistically that I can use I'll try to do it.

    John:               Tedashii thank you very much for taking the time to chat with me today. I really appreciate it.

    Tedashii:       Thank you man.

    Heaven has become more real, and there’s a new urgency to get there. It’s an important message he feels compelled to share. This newfound purpose doesn't make the pain worth it or lessen the ache of loss, but it's a calling he’s embracing. As he moves forward in his life and with this new album, he’s more determined than ever to prove himself faithful while he’s still here, Below Paradise.

  • Trust and Verify

    Boyd

    Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?"  John 11:25-26

    Trust Jesus first and verify His claims second. We cannot recognize the works of God until we exchange our works for belief in God. Before Jesus demonstrated His ability to resurrect the dead, He asked Martha to believe He was the resurrection and the life. Her faith preceded His power. Real trust is not expressed in a sentimental reading of a creed or the halfhearted singing of worship songs. Genuine trust embraces Jesus--the resurrected Savior, and then experiences Jesus--the resurrected Lord. In Christ, we pass from death to life to be with Him and enjoy Him.

    Have you truly trusted Jesus and verified His presence and promises in your life? Belief is like a drawbridge into the comforts of Christ’s castle. Faith is a suspension bridge between sinful man and holy God. Trust is the tunnel under a river of worry, as we follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership toward the Lord’s best. Thus, make trust your ticket to traffic with Jesus. He promises peace, hope, forgiveness, wisdom, strength, direction, love and eternal life. Verify these things.

    “Then Peter came to himself and said, 'Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches'” (Acts 12:11).

    Furthermore, we have daily opportunities to trust and verify with people. It may be a child who asks for a second, third or fourth chance. Perhaps a struggling work associate has improved his skills,and desires an opportunity to reengage with excellence. Has a friend violated a trust, but asked forgiveness and took responsibility for their immaturity? When we trust individuals we give them confidence. So, we clarify expectations (even in writing), we trust, and we check up. Yes, as we extend trust, it's easier for others to reciprocate. Trust grows healthy relationships.

    Most of all, have you totally trusted Jesus in your heart and mind? Have you sought to verify His claims in a loving personal relationship with Him? Unregenerate religion thinly cloaks a conscience still soiled from sin. But, a sensitive soul that’s been born again is transformed by a mind renewal. Once we are resurrected in Christ, by faith in Christ’s resurrection, we are positioned to observe His resurrection power. Our loving Lord can’t wait to bring back to life dead souls, dead relationships, and dead deals. Trust Him and enjoy verifying His great works!

    “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father give me the humility to truly trust You and to verify Your works with an obedient heart, all for Your glory.

    Related Readings: 2 Kings 5:15; Nehemiah 8:12; John 6:35; 1 Corinthians 13:12; Galatians 4:9

    Post/Tweet today:As we extend trust, it's easier for others to reciprocate. Trust grows healthy relationships. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Page Turning Fiction

    Page turning fiction!
    Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
    Undetected by Dee Henderson
    The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg
    The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis
    Silenced by Dani Pettrey
    The Advocate by Randy Singer
  • Give him a special message this Father's Day

    Personalize your gift for Dad & the Grad!
    Make your gift personal!
    Check out our selection of P. Graham Dunn products—from heartwarming plaques to decorative mugs—that will light up Dad’s heart and be a treasure to the graduate, especially when you personalize your gift to them. We’ll imprint your message with a laser engraver that works on multiple types of materials, such as wood, metal, leathersoft, glass and more.
    Make your gift personal!
    Show Dad how much you appreciate him and wish the graduate well on her next journey with these photo frames from Kindred Hearts—plus, add your personal touch with an imprint and framed sentiment. We’re available in-store to help you with suggestions for messages to imprint, or you may visit our personalization page for ideas.
    These products are only available in select stores.
  • Am I Devoted to God?

    Micca

    "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." Psalm 73:25 (NIV)

    I long to be fully devoted to God, but it amazes me how far things can get out of line when I'm not paying attention.

    In weak moments, I can spend money on myself that I've saved to give away. I've sat halfway through a sitcom before realizing I'm laughing at things contrary to the will of God.

    Bad habits quickly gain the upper hand when I neglect to address them daily. Worse yet, a passion for self-indulgence can sometimes trump my devotion to God.

    Perhaps you can relate. If we aren't careful, it's easy to let worldly desires become obsessions, redirecting our love and devotion away from God.

    When I give more devotion to anything or anyone other than God, I'm being unfaithful. Why? Because I belong to God and He deserves my whole heart.

    Yet one of the most amazing things about our great God is no matter how unfaithful we are, God is never unfaithful to us. He is wholly devoted to His children, holding nothing back.

    Not love.

    Not forgiveness.

    Not mercy.

    Not provision, protection or His presence.

    Not even His Son.

    Our heavenly Father, by example, models devotion for us. Take another look. God is totally devoted to you. The question is, "Are you totally devoted to Him?"

    You already know my devotion isn't always what it should be. However, giving in to worldly passions isn't the only thing that exposes my lack of devotion. Holding back parts of myself from God is a sure sign of a divided heart.

    I tend to withhold my time, adoration, dedication, honesty and gratitude. Yet without full surrender on my part, I'll never become fully devoted to God. It's only when God means more to me than anything or anyone on earth that my heart will be fully devoted to Him alone. Then I can state our key verse with passion:

    "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you" (Psalm 73:25).

    Our key verse is attributed to a music director of King David named Asaph. And from this verse, it's obvious nothing meant more to him than God. Asaph knew God was far more excellent than any object on earth.

    God is our peace and joy. He is our salvation and security. He is our daily portion and strength. Nothing of earth's wealth, honor or fame comes close to God. Even in heaven there is nothing more superb than He. For that reason, Asaph proclaims, "earth has nothing I desire besides you."

    When you and I are able to say those very words and mean them, our devotion for God will shine. But that's not all. There are benefits to being fully devoted to God.

    A devoted heart draws near to God and experiences His presence throughout the day. A fully surrendered heart calls us to fellowship with Christ so that His power can equip us to carry out His plans. Devotion allows us to adore Him for who He is: a God who withholds nothing from His children.

    A love like that reminds me of the lyrics from an old hymn penned by Isaac Watts: "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."

    May the Holy Spirit stir our hearts until we can say, "There is nothing I desire besides you, Lord."

    Dear Lord, I'm so grateful for your immeasurable devotion to me. Work in me until I'm completely devoted to you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 2 Chronicles 16:9a, "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: A devoted heart is a surrendered heart.

    What keeps you from being fully devoted to God? Could it be worldly desires? Perhaps you're holding back a part of yourself. Identify what it is and write a prayer surrendering it to God today.

    © 2014 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

  • Spiritual Receptivity

    Boyd

    Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:9

    Spiritual receptivity is necessary for the growing follower of Christ. Jesus knew that there had to be a willingness to want to know and understand, before there could be any comprehension of His teachings. This hunger for God is an innate appetite that only He can satisfy. Even if you do not hear, you can want to hear. This is the attitude of a growing disciple of Jesus Christ. A willing heart is what the Holy Spirit infuses with insight.

    Spiritual receptivity is born out of your attitude and validated by your actions. Actions are an indicator but not an initiator of openness to the Almighty’s agenda. Have you ever grown weary working for the Lord, struggling to have a patient attitude? Yes, we all have from time to time, but it is a patient and grateful attitude that hears Christ communicate the most clearly. Gratitude for His grace, love, and forgiveness leads to hearing His voice.

    His Word lodges alive and eventually bears fruit when the ears of your heart humbly listen to the Lord with an attitude of obedience. Jesus explained the results of a spiritually receptive heart; hearing and understanding His Word, thus finding faith and healing. Indeed, the comprehension of His ways is not limited to a select few “professional Christians”. In fact, their ministry vocation can become a stumbling block to belief.

    “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matthew 13:15–17).

    Spiritual receptivity means I submit to the Holy Spirit’s prodding to preempt my pride. Instead of reacting to raw data, I wait and process with prayer so I am able to gain God’s perspective,  not being rushed by the world’s way of doing things. Spiritual receptivity sees the face of God and hears the heart of heaven.

    “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21).

    Prayer: Do I hear with a heart toward hearing from heaven? Is my heart humbled to hear from the Holy Spirit?

    Related Readings: 2 Samuel 7:22; Jeremiah 6:10; Romans 11:8; 2 Timothy 4:3

    Post/Tweet today:.  Spiritual receptivity is positioned to see the face of God and hear the heart of heaven. #wisdomhunters

    Taken from the June 1st reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 2”

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • I Am Sorry

    Boyd

    Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  2 Corinthians 7:10

    “I am sorry” are three freeing words. “I was wrong”; “You were right”; “I apologize”; “Please forgive me”. All of these phrases communicate culpability. Sincere sorrow means taking responsibility. You initiate peace because your desire is to repair the relationship. Disharmony and disconnection are not acceptable options. Yes, someone may take advantage of your goodwill, but that’s in God’s hands. Have faith that God expects behavior that brings reconciliation. You put the relationship at risk if you resist humbling yourself and apologizing. Someone has to start by saying, “I am sorry”. It is smart to extend your apology as soon as possible. A more powerful apology occurs when you admit your error, transgression, or sin before you are found out. You take the first step in asking forgiveness because you know it is the right thing to do.

    Godly sorrow sends a message of change, for you want to change for Christ’s sake. You have sinned against your Savior and those you love. The pain inflicted is not worth continuing with the same bad habits. No one ever regretted repenting of sin. Godly sorrow leads to repentance, which results in transformation. Change occurs around a humble and honest heart. So, where do you start? Family is a logical place to extend your apologies. You hurt your parents by breaking off communication and care. Perhaps you have intentionally gone out of your way to not go there. There is a widening rift in the relationship. Now is the time to reach out and recover your relationship with your mom and dad. Take the time during the holiday season to pay a surprise visit or place a long overdue phone call. Start the conversation by saying, “I am sorry”.

    Sincere sorrow is a relational magnet, and trust reoccurs around repentance. When others sense you have really changed, they extend trust. However, they may withhold that trust until you prove yourself worthy of it. People who have been burned in the past by shallow and insincere sorrow will not automatically engage. They need time to see that your apology is authentic. Sorrow that does not lead to change results in relational death. Sincere sorrow hurts your heart, causing you to weep visible or invisible tears of remorse. It makes you sick to think you let down the One who loves you the most.

    On the flip side, be patient with those who ask your forgiveness. Forgive them and give them a chance to change, while releasing your anger and their broken promises to Jesus. Give them over to the Lord and pray for their repentance. God can do more with a person’s heart in a minute, than a lifetime of your nagging could ever accomplish. Do not hold them in contempt. Rather, entrust them to Christ. Give time for repentance to root out bad habits and destructive behaviors. Lies can be extracted by the everlasting love of God and replaced with His transforming truth. Accept apologies at face value and hope for the best. Pray for the work of the Holy Spirit to have His way in a humble heart. Be quick to forgive and just as quick to ask forgiveness. Replace fear with faith. Your sorrowful confession connects with Christ and with others. Therefore, take the first step and apologize. Ask for forgiveness, and surrender to your Savior. Become broken, for brokenness leads to freedom. Say, “I am sorry”, and see how your Savior blesses your apology.

    Post/Tweet today:. Sincere sorrow is a relational magnet, as trust reoccurs around repentance. #wisdomhunters

    Taken from the May 31st reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Sickness for God’s Glory

    Boyd

    Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.  John 11:4

    Sickness is an opportunity for God to be glorified and for observers to believe in Jesus, God’s Son. This perspective is easy to forget, because sickness is often a struggle. The physical body can be extremely demanding. It can writhe in pain, convulse from seizures, sweat from fever, ache from infection, and fatigue from fighting cancer. Some feel so badly, they are ready to go home to heaven. In the meantime, illness can be a hard, but meaningful moment for God’s glory.

    Furthermore, the Lord uses sickness to draw people to each other and to Himself. A sick child causes mom and dad to come together on their knees on behalf of their precious one. Elderly parents are an invitation for adult children to spend time together and to work together for the betterment of their parent’s quality of life. Sickness can reveal a heart of giving or a heart of taking. As we serve the sick, those who need Jesus see His love in action.

    “The strong spirit of a man sustains him in bodily pain or trouble, but a weak and broken spirit who can raise up or bear” (Proverbs 18:14, The Amplified Bible)?

    Are you struggling with sickness? If so, seek to experience the intimacy of God’s glory in the middle of your illness. Your afflictions can be eclipsed by His glory. Similar to the stamina of a mother caring for a needy child, His glory engulfs your soul with energy to endure chronic pain. The sweet spot of His sweet Spirit provides security in your sickness. Christ’s peace guards your heart and mind to get through intense health issues. God’s glory gives you hope and healing.

    Is someone you love suffering from an illness? How can you glorify God in your love for them? Start with a simple prayer for the Holy Spirit to strengthen your sick friend by His grace and love. Share Scripture with them, such as Psalm 59:16-17 for comfort and peace. Your faith in God is a rock to those whose world is being rocked by adversity. Be available to support them by caring for their children or raising funds to pay for their medical bills. Prepared to give a reason for their hope in Him,God’s people love and serve like Jesus, glorifying Him.

    “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, use my illness or the sickness of a loved one to bring glory to my Savior Jesus Christ.

    Related Readings: John 9:2-3; 2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:6; Colossians 4:6; Hebrews 1:3

    Post/Tweet today:Your faith in God is a rock to those whose world is being rocked by adversity. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Don't Miss the Ride of Your Life

    Leah

    "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (HCSB)

    I watched my family as they waited in line for the heart-pounding experience of riding the Griffon. We read about this roller coaster in the theme park brochure, but now it was time to put words into action.

    My sons kept looking back from the line, motioning for me to join them for the cliffhanger thrill ride. With a convincing smile, I shook my head no and pointed to my camera. My reason for not riding was to take pictures of them during each upside down loop and heart-pounding free fall.

    After their turn, my husband walked up with an exhilarating smile and said, "You missed out on an awesome ride!" As our sons shared the hair-raising moments and laughed about each other's reactions, I felt a twinge of sadness and disappointment.

    Truthfully, saying no to my family's request that day had more to do with fear and less to do with capturing family photos. I was afraid of the unknown, and when given the opportunity, I opted to stay safely away from the risk and inside the padded walls of my comfort zone.

    For years I was aware of this pattern in my life. When faced with adventurous opportunities, fear and uncertainty often held me securely within the boundaries of my comfortable space. Then I'd be disappointed that I missed out.

    I longed to be brave but instead allowed the enemy to convince me I was a coward. I dreamed about being adventurous, but compared myself to others, which left me feeling less than and discouraged.

    Then one day I came across Joshua 1:9 and the words resonated deep within me: "Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    I'd read this verse many times before, but that time I realized being brave wasn't just a personal want-to in my life. God was commanding me to live strong and courageous.

    God originally spoke these words to Joshua (Moses' successor as leader of the Israelites) while presenting him with a new opportunity. Joshua's assignment was to lead more than two million people into a strange new land, claiming it as their promised territory.

    Now that's what I call a hair-raising experience! And way more difficult than riding a roller coaster at a theme park.

    God could have chosen someone else for this great task, but He specifically selected Joshua.

    First, there was a command: "be strong and courageous ... do not be afraid or discouraged." And it was wrapped inside a promise: "for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

    What if Joshua had allowed the unknown to keep him from saying yes to God? What if he gave insecurity and doubt permission to keep him firmly within his comfort zone?

    Joshua would have missed out on the blessings. He would have missed his calling in life. He would have missed the adventure with God.

    Is God presenting you with a new opportunity? Is He asking you to go back to school, start a new career or accept a new ministry position?

    Without God it can be scary. But with God it can be a great adventure! Just as God was with Joshua, He promises to be with us. We may not conquer nations, but with God by our sides anything is possible.

    I'm learning to be brave. To trust God more when He gives me new opportunities. I don't want to miss out on anything God has for me because of fear, doubt or insecurity.

    Will you choose to be courageous and step out of your comfort zone? Will you say yes to God and no to fear when He opens the next door of opportunity?

    What are you waiting for? The greatest ride of your life is just up ahead. So go get your seat next to God, strap into the safety of His presence and experience the adventure with Him!

    Dear Lord, You are my greatest adventure. Help me to trust and follow Your lead. When I start to feel afraid or discouraged, strengthen me so I can fulfill the assignments You've chosen for me. Thank You for always being with me wherever I go. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 32:8, "The LORD says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'" (NLT)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What opportunity is God presenting to you today? What is keeping you from stepping outside your comfort zone and saying yes to God?

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

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