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Family Christian

  • All or Nothing with Mike from Mikeschair

    John

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

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

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

    Mike: Good, how are you?

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

    Mike: Yeah, thanks for having me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    John: Is it ever intimidating?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mike: Thanks.

    John: Are you a coffee drinker?

    Mike: This is embarrassing, I’m not.

    John: That’s not embarrassing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Mike: I'll take it.

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

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

    John: My pleasure. God bless you, brother.

  • My Faith Declaration

    Wendy

    "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37 (NIV)

    It was a day like any other. She awakened to the usual routine: Rouse her children from bed. Prepare lunches. Pack bags. Drive carpool. Work out. Return home.

    A day like any other ... until she walked into the kitchen.

    She heard a text alert from a phone on the counter. Not hers, but her husband's. A name she didn't recognize. A woman's name. Probably a new co-worker. Or a client. She trusted him. Right?

    Something drew her to the words on the screen. Reading through the intimate communication, waves of nausea overcame her. She scrolled through more texts ... words that pierced her heart.

    She heard her husband step out of the shower. What would she say?

    She said nothing.

    That night, she confronted him. He confessed, apologized and promised to end it. She wanted to believe him, but she knew how difficult that would be. The woman lived in another state. They worked and traveled together often.

    How could I ever trust him again? she thought to herself.

    Months passed. She discovered more texts and e-mails. So she asked him to leave, at least temporarily.

    She appeared at my door, tears streaming. She poured out her heart as she shared his betrayal. Betrayal that flooded the depths of her soul. My heart ached.

    She felt abandoned and alone. Words escaped me. But I knew she didn't need my words. She needed truths and promises from the One who would never betray her, never abandon her, never leave her. So I gave my friend a Faith Declaration to remind her of who she was in Christ and the promises that, no matter what happened, could never be taken away. Here's what I shared with her that day ...

    You are Loved

    "For I have every confidence that nothing – not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing – can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, The Voice)

    You are Known by Almighty God

    "You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." (Psalm 139:15-16, NLT)

    You are Forgiven

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

    You are Redeemed

    "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20, NLT)

    You are God's Masterpiece, Created with a Purpose

    "For we are the product of His hand, heaven's poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago." (Ephesians 2:10, The Voice)

    You are More Than a Conqueror

    "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Romans 8:37, NIV)

    Has someone broken your heart? Betrayed you? Lied to you? Used you?

    Are you feeling lost? Alone? Defeated? Desperate? Unworthy? Unloved?

    You are not alone. Jesus understands. He identifies with our pain and suffering. Those He created betrayed Him. Those He loved abandoned Him.

    Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, understands.

    Through His living and active Word, He has given us truths and promises to heal our gaping wounds ... to bring hope to what seems hopeless ... to speak truth to the lies.

    Sweet friend, pray this declaration over your circumstances. Plant these seeds of truth in your heart. God will water them and grow deep roots of love, hope and faith.

    Heavenly Father, I pray this declaration over my life today. Plant these truths and promises deep in my heart, water them with Your love and make them come alive in my circumstances. I ask this in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 119:50, "This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life." (KNJV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Take time to read through and reflect upon the verses in the Faith Declaration. Which one spoke to you the most? Write it where you'll see it often.

    Write a prayer surrendering your circumstances to your Father in heaven and pray each of these verses over your situation.

    © 2014 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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

  • Suffer Grief

    Boyd

    In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

    Grief is a very real source of suffering. We grieve when we lose our loved one who has gone to be with the Lord. We may or may not totally get over their departure.  The memory of the little things we shared in life could linger with us until the day we go to be with them in glory. We also grieve when we lose a child to foolish flings. We watch with broken hearts, as we are unable to control the harmful decisions of an adult son or daughter. We can suffer grief from all kinds of trials that create troubles. Yes, troubles are a test to refine our faith and to lead us to praise God.

    Furthermore, suffering grief and/or trouble can be a tool for the Spirit to wean us from the world’s way of thinking. If anything other than Christ controls our peace of mind, it is a threat to our trust in God. The Lord’s plan is for us to suffer grief for a ‘little while'. Thus, we must resist the temptation to get sucked into the crazy cycle of being controlled by another person’s bad behavior. We temporarily grieve their immature actions, but then we leave them with God.

    “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

    Perpetual grieving is not the heart of God for His children. His desire is for praise and rejoicing to follow our faith refinement. However, during this interim of intense pain, He grieves with us as we process our hurting heart. His compassionate Spirit draws us into sweeter communion as we enter into a deeper and fuller understanding of our heavenly Father’s love and grace. We suffer grief to gain God and to lose ourselves. Grief makes real the precious promises of God.

    Most of all, lean into the Lord’s long suffering and unconditional love as you grieve. Get to know your special friend Jesus at a new level. Enjoy solitude for a season, but avoid a prolonged trap of isolation. Engage with individuals and a care group who can grieve with you. Grief is not meant to be experienced alone. Processed pain is productive, but unprocessed pain is destructive. Rejoice, though we suffer grief, we gain a greater grace and deeper love from our heavenly Father.

    “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless: (Psalm 10:14).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, in my grief I receive your greater grace and deeper love that brings healing to my heart.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 17:21; Nehemiah 8:10; Zechariah 12:10; John 11:35, 16:20

    Post/Tweet today: Properly processed pain is productive, but unprocessed pain is destructive. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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  • Cleaning up a Mess I Didn't Make

    Chrystal

    "And I pray that you ... grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." Ephesians 3:17b-18 (NIV)

    When my middle son was 2 years old, he went through various stages that almost sent me to the mad house.

    One of the most irritating stages was his habit of taking off his diaper after putting him to bed. Many late nights we would have to put on a fresh diaper, change his sheets and put him back to bed.

    After awhile, we wised up. We started putting him into all-in-one pajamas that made it not so easy for him to accomplish his little feat.

    That pretty much solved the problem.

    Until one night, when my husband put the boys (ages 2 and 4) to bed. Unfortunately, he forgot about our precautionary measure of locking our toddler into his diaper.

    Before long, our eldest son shouted at the top of his lungs, "Mommy! It stinks in here! Somebody needs his diaper changed!"

    No worries. It happens, right?

    Soon we heard urgency in our eldest son's voice as he called out again, "MOMMY! COME QUICK! THERE'S A STINKY MESS IN HERE!"

    We entered their room. The smell that greeted me at the door was enough to make me want to run for my life.

    Friends, we are talking yuck e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e ... on the sheets, blankets, feet and smudged into the carpet. So that night, while many other mothers slept peacefully in their beds, guess what I was doing?

    Cleaning up a mess.

    At almost midnight and for close to an hour, I was on my hands and knees cleaning and scrubbing. I'll spare you the gory details.

    Believe it or not, the carpet today looks like nothing ever happened. Between my cleaning concoctions that fateful night and a borrowed steam cleaner the next day, I managed to handle the situation like a pro.

    Of course I did. I'm a mom. That's what moms do. We clean up after our children when necessary, because that's what love does.

    There is a lesson to be learned from the middle of this messy situation ...

    My son didn't mean to make a mess. He didn't intentionally deprive me of sleep or aim to make me uncomfortable. He didn't mean to make me suffer for his transgression.

    But I did.

    And why? Because that's what love does.

    Even when he wasn't showing me much love, I loved him anyway. And I showed my love by cleaning up a mess that I didn't make.

    My dear sister... don't you know Jesus loves us this same way?

    He saw us in our mess. He cleaned up after us. He was willing to suffer for our transgressions. And even when we aren't showing Him much love, He loved us first and continues to love us anyway.

    Because that's what love does.

    I believe with all my heart that as my son matures, he will be grateful and appreciate my sacrifices. I pray that eventually he will come to understand the width, length, height and depth of the love I have for him. Just like God's love for us, Paul prayed that the church at Ephesus "may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" (Ephesians 3:18).

    In the same way, as we mature in our relationship with God and develop a greater understanding of why we needed His rescue, we can appreciate more and more His huge sacrifice.

    Here's the kicker – our lives, actions and attitudes should show it.

    Just like mothers find a way to do what seems

    ... inconceivable

    ... impossible

    ... or insurmountable ...

    so, too, our precious Savior found a way to rescue us from our plight.

    And I'm so thankful. Aren't you?

    Dear Lord, thank You for being willing to clean up my mess. Sometimes I'm a little bit of a mess. Other times, I'm a big mess and the yuckiness in my attitude or actions greatly impacts others. Yet You still love me. You loved me enough not only to clean up after me, but also to suffer on my behalf. I want You to know I'm grateful. Help me to walk worthy of the love that You have so lavishly offered me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 4:1b, "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." (NIV)

    Ephesians 3:19, "I ask that you'll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God." (CEB)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: At some point and time we have all been a mess. If we're honest with ourselves, we still are! How does the fact that God loves you anyway make you feel?

    In light of God's great sacrifice for you, what is one thing you can do today that would show your appreciation for His great gift?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Mercy Covers Betrayal

    Boyd

    Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. Matthew 26:49-50

    Have you ever felt betrayed by a friend? A sense of being stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a loyal supporter? Maybe it happened at work and you found yourself falsely accused by a team member you thought was your ally. You experienced anger, vulnerability and aloneness. Or perhaps a close confidant shared your secrets with another who was wounded by your words. You extended total trust, only to be deeply disappointed by their indiscreet behavior.

    Jesus faced betrayal from a disciple in His inner circle. Though the Lord knew Judas was up to no good, He still received his affection and called him friend. Jesus’ mercy begins with a man or woman’s unseemly motivations and moves on to cover their actions. Interestingly enough, Peter and Judas each betrayed Christ and both were remorseful, but only Peter received the mercy and forgiveness of God. Judas’ all consuming guilt kept Him from seeing and receiving God’s grace.

    “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20, NKJV).

    Therefore, as we learn to receive and extend mercy, we experience emotional and spiritual health. As Jesus prays from the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"  (Luke 23:34), so we forgive. Mercy is not manic about proving itself right, rather it trusts in the Righteous One--Christ--to make things right in His time. We give mercy generously since our Savior has lavished His mercy upon us. Mercy looks beyond the crime to forgive the criminal.

    Above all, do you enjoy the mercy of God? Is your sleep sweet because of the sweet forgiveness of your heavenly Father? Be like Peter--repent and rest in God’s mercy. Avoid being like Judas, who gave back the bribe, but would not receive God’s forgiveness. The Lord’s mercy is deep and wide enough to cover those who betray Him. Let go of guilt that steals your joy and replace it with the grace and peace of God. Your heavenly Father has not turned His back on you, His full mercy is available to hug and kiss you. Christ’s abundant mercy can heal your guilty heart.

    “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love” (2 John 1:3).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I receive Your abundant mercy, so I in turn can extend Your abundant mercy.

    Related Readings: Hosea 6:6; Proverbs 11:13; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25; Hebrews 4:16

    Post/Tweet today: Mercy looks beyond the crime to forgive the criminal. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • iDisciple is the ultimate spiritual growth tool

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  • Moms' Night Out Opens in Theaters this Friday

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    Give Mom the Gift of Laughter and Love

    with Moms' Night Out!  

    On Mother's Day weekend, MOMS' NIGHT OUT opens in more than 1,000 theaters across the U.S. This endearing true-to-life family comedy celebrates the beautiful mess called parenting. Give mom a gift she will love: her life on the big screen!

    Find Theaters & Get Tickets
    About Moms' Night Out
    About Moms' Night Out  

    All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation . . . a long-needed moms' night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a paper bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for three hours—what could go wrong?

    Watch the Trailer
    Old and New Friends
    Old and New Friends  

    If you've seen Courageous, you'll be excited to know that Alex Kendrick, Kevin Downes, and Robert Amaya are together again in MOMS' NIGHT OUT. For October Baby fans, The Erwin Brothers direct the comedy and Jason Burkey has a fun role in it. Add in Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton, and Trace Adkins—along with a number of other great actors you will love—and you have all the ingredients for a great Mother's Day comedy feast!

    Speaking of Gifts
    Speaking of Gifts  

    In addition to taking your favorite mom to see MOMS' NIGHT OUT, stop by your local Family Christian Store to get mom a copy of the Moms' Night Out novelization and a devotional based on the movie called Moms' Night Out And Other Things I Miss ...

    Learn More
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  • When Your Life Feels Like a Mess

    Renee

    "But while Joseph was there in prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden." Genesis 39: 20b-21 (NIV)

    Do you ever feel like your days are filled with one messy relationship and situation after another? During those times, it's easy to label my circumstances and myself as "a mess," then wonder how God could ever use me, or my experiences, for good.

    To protect my heart from discouragement, I often ask God to remind me of times when He has worked in ways I couldn't have imagined, in my life and the lives of others. Recently He reminded me of Joseph's story (Genesis 37-50). It reads like a series of very unfortunate events!

    Imagine being beaten and thrown into a pit, sold as a slave and then relocated to a foreign country where you are falsely accused of a crime you didn't commit and banished to die in prison. And to make matters worse, what if your siblings had initiated this evil against you?

    That's only the beginning of what happened to Joseph.

    Looking behind the scenes of stories like his helps me see how God specializes in using messes to transform people into masterpieces of His grace. That's exactly what He did here:

    "[Joseph's brothers] saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him ... they stripped him of his robe ... and they threw him into a pit" (Genesis 37:18, 23b–24, ESV).

    Joseph was then taken to Egypt where he was sold as a slave to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. Could things get worse? They did when Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him, and despite Joseph resisting her advances, she accused him of attempting to rape her:

    " ... she called to the men of her household and said to them, 'See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.'"

    "As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him ... his anger was kindled. And Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison ..." (Genesis 39:14-15, 19-20a).

    In Potiphar's house, Joseph learned servant leadership and integrity; in prison, Joseph learned forgiveness, wisdom and patience. He had been wronged multiple times, yet he experienced God's guidance through the darkness that helped Joseph get out of prison:

    "And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. ... And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed" (Genesis 39:22-23, ESV).

    In a messy pit, the house of Potiphar and a cold dark prison, God prepared Joseph for the amazing future and role he would play in rescuing God's people and eventually bringing his family back together.

    Through it all, Joseph stayed close to God and allowed his difficult circumstances to make him more dependent on the Lord. And in turn, God molded Joseph's character into a great and godly leader — who was humble, loving, forgiving, patient and wise.

    Friend, you might feel like you're in a pit right now just like Joseph was, but don't despise the mess you're in — God is doing some behind-the-scenes work. He is preparing to unleash His limitless power in and through you!

    Dear Lord, thank You for reminding me that You are always with me, just like You were with Joseph. When I face hard circumstances, I want to lean in and depend on You for wisdom, patience and grace. In all these things, I will remember that I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 8:37, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:

    Do you ever look at the messiness of your circumstances and feel discouragement or even despair? Although Joseph had every reason to be depressed, he chose not to be by looking beyond where he was, to what God was doing.

    Read Joseph's story in Genesis 37-50 and make a list of ways God used messes and difficulties to transform Joseph's life for His glory.

    © 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

  • Less is More

    Boyd

    But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men.  Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there.  If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”  Judges 7:4

    Less of some things can mean opportunity to trust in God with more things. This is why the sifting by your Savior need not be discouraging. His goal is not to harm you, but to strip from you any dependence on yourself or others and to rely solely on Him. Your financial limitations are an opportunity to watch Him provide in ways that give Him the glory in your life. Less money means you have the occasion to trust Him with His creative provision.  When some of your friends fall away, itstings; but your best friend, Jesus, still remains. You can become involved in numerous relationships and miss engaging in intimacy with your heavenly Father. Fewer true friends will lead to richer relationships and more time with God. If your life is driven by one new relationship after another, you will drown in shallow living. Having fewer earthly relationships means you have more time for your Heavenly One. Less is more.

    Take the time to shed the weight of worry and watch God work. A surrendered life can be efficiently leveraged. However, a life independent of God is severely limited in its influence. He is positioning you for unprecedented leadership and influence. Now is the time to quit mourning your losses and move on. You have a new lease on life with the Lord, so follow His lead. Watch Him take your “five loaves of bread and two fish” (Matthew 14:17-19) and multiply them far beyond your efforts and enthusiasm. What God breaks, He rebuilds to be dependent on Him and more influential. This rebuilding process has simplified your life; so don’t revert to complicated living. Less is truly more.

    If “more is more” is your motto, you can easily become mean-spirited and hard to live with. A “more is more” mantra eventually becomes meaningless. You achieve and receive more, but to what end? There is no fulfillment outside of Kingdom-minded motives. If it is all about you, you will become miserable. If, on the other hand, it is less of you and more of Him, everyone is happy. This is how God works. “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble” (Luke 1:52).

    Therefore, lower the volume of activity and wait in quietness. It may be time to talk less and listen more. The calming presence of Christ is priceless, so tap into His reservoir of renewal. Less worldly thinking and more heavenly thinking leads to discerning the will of God. Don’t just stand in awe of His robust accomplishments through your meager efforts. Now is the time to use this momentum generated by your Master. God is on a roll, and you have the privilege of joining Him. By faith, stop doing two things before you add one. Slow down so God can speed up. Focus on quality, and watch Him multiply the quantity. God wants to do more with less, so He gets the glory.  Decrease, so He can increase (John 3:30, KJV). Less is more—less of you and more of Him.

    Post/Tweet today: Focus on quality and God can multiply the quantity. God can do more with less, so He gets the glory. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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