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  • A.D. The Bible Continues

Family Christian

  • Finish Well

    Posted on November 2, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”    Luke 14:28-30

    To finish well is to plan well; to plan well is to understand the cost of commitment. The commitment to follow Christ is not an added luxury but standard equipment for the Christian. To plan to finish well is to plan to follow Christ daily in humility and sacrifice. To finish well tomorrow means you finish well today. Finishing well does not imply a perfect life, but it does require a submitted life. This is a life that is under the authority of Jesus Christ; so finishing well is all about the life of a committed disciple of Christ. You can start the Christian life ablaze with the fire of your salvation, fresh and contagious for Christ.
    However, if the fuel of understanding and applying God’s Word is not added to your initial enthusiasm, you will burn out. You will not finish well. People may even observe, “I thought you were a Christian. Didn’t you used to attend church?” Finishing well is about joining with God to accomplish His will. Thus, finishing well is a building process. It is daily discerning God’s best, and then following Him wholeheartedly. Finishing well is a process that over time begins to take shape. Your faithfulness gives you credibility to invest in others what you have learned. You share with them what works and what doesn’t work, out of brokenness. You are more likely to finish well when you are pouring yourself into others, as it provides accountability.
    Now you may have sons-in-law who are looking to you for leadership. You are one of their role models. Don’t take this lightly. Your children and grandchildren will greatly benefit from your finishing well. It is imperative to pace yourself by God’s grace; so stay in the race until you make it to heaven. Spectators are not needed for this life, only for the life to come. Finish well by becoming wiser today than you were yesterday. Love and forgive more today than you have in the past. This is the essence of finishing well. It is becoming more like Jesus in your attitude and actions. This race of righteousness sweats out our sinful acts. Unrighteous anger is replaced by patience. Fear is replaced by trust. Pride is replaced by humility, and addictions are replaced by love. Be encouraged. If you are growing in Christ and building a life of obedience, you are finishing well.
    Lastly, you can finish well in spite of a soiled track record. God loves to take your false starts or your backsliding ways and place you on the road to finishing well. Stop today, turn from yourself, and turn to Christ. It is never too late to finish well. The wreckage from your past may still haunt you at times. But forget what is behind, pressing forward for the higher calling in Christ. He is your new reason for living. He is your life. He propels you forward to finish well. For His sake you will finish well, for your family’s sake you will finish well, for the sake of others you will finish well. By God’s grace, plan to finish well, and you will.
    The Bible says, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

    Post/Tweet: Finishing well does not imply a perfect life, but it does require a life submitted to God.  #finishwell

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

  • Faith Finds Jesus

    Posted on November 1, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. Mark 2:4

    Faith finds Jesus, especially when He seems hard to access. Faith is persistent to get to God, because it knows He knows what’s best. Like a honey bee is drawn back to the honeycomb for community and nutrition, so the soul is drawn to God by the Holy Spirit. In the presence of Jesus is forgiveness, healing, peace and contentment. So, faith does not rest until it rests in Christ. The condition of forgiveness and healing is faith and obedience is the fruit of faith. Faith finds Jesus.

    Furthermore, faith finds creative ways to get friends and family to Jesus. Because we enjoy the love, healing and forgiveness of God, we want others to have access to His life changing blessings. Thus, we pray for opportunities to expose a person’s felt need to the power of Christ’s care. We may invite them to a Christian concert to enjoy an uplifting night of praise and worship. Or, we can take them for coffee, listen to their hurts, and pray for their heart to be healed by Jesus.

    And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. Luke 14:23, KJV

    Yes, our faith compels us to help friends find Jesus in personal salvation and forgiveness of sin. Perhaps, we pick them up in our automobile, promise them lunch after church, and take them to hear the Bible taught and the Gospel preached. Some religious people will criticize our zeal and even question the sincerity of someone’s salvation, but the fruit of faith is up to the Holy Spirit. Our part is to love people to the Lord, but it is God’s part to change their heart. Faith finds Jesus.

    Lastly, if our faith does not compel us to help others find faith, we may have a false faith, or at best an immature belief. Mature saints are moved to tears over the sin stained souls of the lost. As we enjoy our sweet salvation, how can we sit still and not engage in serving those who have yet to taste the satisfying grace of God. Thus, by God’s grace we pray for innovative opportunities to get people to Jesus. Perhaps we give a book, offer a prayer, share a video or sit and listen. Whatever pure means we employ, we can trust the Holy Spirit to bring joy. Faith finds Jesus!

    For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am so blessed to have found Jesus; give me the faith and courage to help others find Christ.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 4:29; Mark 4:24; Luke 7:48; Acts 5:39; Colossians 3:3

    Post/Tweet today: The condition of forgiveness is faith and obedience is the fruit of faith. #faithfindsJesus

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

  • God is Not Worried

    Posted on November 1, 2013 by Karen Ehman

    Karen

    "You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security." Proverbs 3:24-26a (NLT)

    As a little girl I loved being outdoors. I could often be found playing kickball with the neighborhood kids or riding my bike around the block. I liked to splash in puddles and jump in piles of leaves. There was one aspect, however, about being outside that I didn't particularly care for: the critters.

    Spiders were scary ... dogs terrifying. And I couldn't even bear the thought of snakes. My intense fear of these creatures often kept me from fully engaging in play.

    Unfortunately, even when I didn't encounter creepy-crawlies outdoors, they occasionally wound up in my dreams at night. I would have the same reoccurring nightmare of snakes slithering toward me while I stood frozen, unable to run away. When I would wake up, I would be in a panic, heart wildly beating, palms sweating. I never thought my fears would go away until the one summer when I had no other choice.

    The summer I turned 20, I took a job at a nature center teaching four-year-olds. It didn't cross my mind that keeping company with critters would be a part of my duties.

    I had to capture insects to examine and release, scoop tadpoles to study pond life, and even hold the snakes that were kept in glass tanks in the main building.

    Although everything in me wanted to run away, there were little eyes on me. So, I whispered a prayer for strength, pushed past my fears, and made those kids think I was a critter-lovin' instructor whose calm demeanor (and lack of screaming!) showed them there was nothing to fear. If their teacher wasn't freaking out, why should they?

    Even though I worked through my fear that summer, as an adult now, I'm still tempted to "freak out" with fear. My imagination concocts all sorts of scenarios peppered with dread and doom. Sometimes I can't shake fear as I try to fall asleep.

    But I have come to trust this perspective-shifting truth: God is not worried. He's not in heaven wringing His hands, wondering just how everything will eventually turn out. He is in control. He is loving.

    God longs to use the circumstances of our lives to mold our mind, craft our character, and chase away the fears that threaten to slither in, paralyzing us and rendering us ineffective. Ever the patient and wise teacher, if He isn't freaking out, why should we?

    Proverbs 3:24-26a is a sweet promise to us, "You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security" (NLT).

    Now that passage doesn't promise that we won't ever encounter sudden disasters in life. But it does reassure us that we have no need to fear them. Why? Because the Lord—our gracious and wise teacher—is our security. He will be there to comfort and to guide as He teaches us the lessons we need to learn.

    With God as our security, we can have calm in our present. With God as our security, we can face the future without fear. And we can share this confidence we gain to inspire others, helping to keep them from unnecessary fret and worry.

    Why it even helps me deal with little critters that get inside my house without squirming. Well . . . without squirming too much.

    Dear Lord, help me place my fears in Your hands, knowing You alone are my security, both now and in the future. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources


    Reflect and Respond:
    What is your greatest reoccurring fear?

    Turn it into a prayer by asking God to be your security in the midst of uncertainty.

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 112:7, "They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

  • Influence of Impure Spirits

    Posted on October 31, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. Mark 1:23-26

    There are impure spirits inside some people. Some even possess individuals in our places of worship. It is scary to see those who have Satan as their master and who are set on disrupting the work of God. They may say they believe in God, because ‘even the demons believe and tremble,’ but their heart is far from Him. Impure spirits try to blend in with true believers, but they are exposed as fakes to those with spiritual discernment. Christ’s presence drives them out.

    Jesus encountered evil in the synagogue and cast out the impure spirit from the man. Demons are not comfortable where Christ is taught and where the Spirit of God has a powerful presence. Unfortunately, some impotent churches have people who go through the motions with zombie like spiritual energy. The enemy’s influence has embedded their minds. Evil induces individuals to smile and be satisfied to live for themselves. Impure spirits lead people to live impure lives.

    You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. James 2:19

    Therefore, make sure not to make light of the influence of impure spirits. If you embrace activities and entertainment that espouse evil, you expose yourself and your family to the influence of impure spirits. Even events done in fun and jest can open the door to the unintentional consequences of accepting the abnormal as normal. Your children can dress up and have fun without imitating witches, warlocks, spiritists and the occult. Why dance with the enemy and risk defilement by his influence?

    Furthermore, pray against impure spirits in the pure name of Jesus Christ. They cannot stand it when we stand up to them in the mighty name of Jesus. Everyone will bow to our Lord Jesus, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11”  Impure spirits cannot remain in the presence of Purity, the Lord Jesus.

    Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:31

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me by Your Spirit to discern impure spirits and confront them in the pure name of Jesus Christ.

    Related Readings: 1 Samuel 28:3-9; Job 1:6-12; Mark 3:15; 1 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 9:20

    Post/Tweet today: Impure spirits lead people to live impure lives. #impurespirits

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

  • Diving Deep with Casting Crowns

    Posted on October 31, 2013 by John van der Veen


    "If I could just get to the weekend."
    "If I could just get through this semester."
    "If I could just get to the vacation.”
    "If I could just make it through today.”

    So many of us today are simply surviving.
    But we were not made to survive, we were made to Thrive.

    Like a tree planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:7-8) we should be digging into God's word to know Him and know who He has made us to be. We should be reaching out to the world and showing others who He is through our lives and our stories - knowing Him and making Him known.

    I caught up with Mark, Melody and Juan from Casting Crowns at a summer festival this year. I wanted them to feel me in on their new album and what has been going on in their life as a band.

    John: You guys just got done in the studio, recording the new record. Is there a title for this thing yet?

    Mark: Yep, the name of the record is Thrive. It's named after the thing we've been teaching our student ministry in our church for several years. It's just a picture of digging deep and reaching out, what a healthy believer looks like after Psalm chapter one.

    John: I love it. When does it come out?

    Mark: Comes out ...

    Melody: January 28th.

    John: January 28th, Thrive. New record from Casting Crowns. That's pretty cool. A little bit of background information then. When you guys record a record, do you actually go through the process of teaching, through all of the lyrical content of the record first, and then go, "Okay, you know what? Now, we have 12 great songs from these 12 great lessons we just went through." Or is it reverse? Do you put the record out in front of people then go, "Now we're going to hammer you all over again"?

    Mark: What happens is, we're just teaching what we're teaching. Just pouring into believers, it’s discipleship. Then when it's time to write, we go back and usually the things that have been resonating throughout the year, sort of start emerging on their own. It's not really ... I don't know how to say that.

    Juan: It starts out as Mark is saying something from the stage. I'm usually playing the guitar, always talking like, "Oh, it's pretty cool." Then, it becomes a Bible study on Wednesday night for the teenagers and students, and then it turns into a song, usually after that.

    Mark: And new book comes out in January, as well.

    Juan: Mark has a new book coming out in January, same title.

    Mark: The record is called Thrive, the book is called Thrive. It's a little easier to make the book happen, because I get to say everything I wanted to say for every subject. You got to turn these Bible studies into a song. That's why Crowns can't write a song under five minutes long, because we have preacher's writing. The book is coming out as well, and I also have a children's book coming out, and it's called ...

    John: This is your first children's title.

    Mark: Yes, first one. It's called City on the Hill. It's after a song in the last record about how we are all different before we come together to make the body, so I’m pretty excited about that.

    John: That is very cool. When you guys go and set out to write these songs, do you have specific people in mind when you write a particular song? Name a song, can you name a song from the new record?

    Mark: Sure. There's a song called “House of Their Dreams,” that we’ll actually do tonight. A song about a family. When we sing a song about a girl, it's a song about a girl. It’s in these things that are going on around us.

    Juan: These are real stories that you ...

    Mark: They're real stories. Because our church will hear them, sometimes I'll shift things around to protect people, but these are just real life situations. That's what's cool about them, it’s that God lives in real life situations. That's where the hope is.

    John: With that in mind, what do you guys hope that this record will do, once it goes out there next year?

    Mark: For me, we've been doing concerts for a while. All of our concerts are really to pour into that young believer. The gospel is obviously going to be shared every time we're on the stage. But I'm trying to pour in it, for those not just young in age, but a believer who's young in their faith, to help them grow a little bit. I'd notice, I would say things in the teaching moments, and people in the crowd looking at me like, "Where has this been? How do I do this?" I can tell I need to give more. This record, the goal was to take that Psalm 1 passage about us being a tree planted by streams of water, and just look at what a believer should look like. Instead of going out and trying to be an awesome Christian, let's just dig in our roots and let God define for us some things. Let Him define who He is, and let Him define who we are.

    Once we grow in our roots, fruit will begin to happen. Instead of something we try, it's something we let God do in us. Six of the songs are all about digging deep in your roots and understanding God. Six of the songs are all about reaching out, and leting God use you in the world. It's really ... I'm just trying to pour into this bigger church that we've been coming in contact with.

    John: These songs, did they affect you guys as a band? I mean, are you just as moved, as maybe your audience is? How involved are you in responding to your own music?

    Melody: I don't write the words, the music; Mark usually does that. Sometimes he’ll co-write with somebody, but I know who he’s talking about in a lot of the songs. That is a bigger connection emotionally. One of the songs in the new record is called “Broken Together,” and it's about marriage. It's about a couple of marriages of friends that are close to us, that are just going through really hard times. When he was recording it, I was already crying, because when you know who is about, it means so much more.

    Mark: For me, it usually takes a few times for some of these songs to get through. A couple of these like, “Broken Together,” I don't know. It would probably be a rough couple of concerts to get through...

    Melody: He cries, I cry and then...

    Juan: And then everybody's crying.

    Melody: I'm the band crier. I cry at the drop of a hat.

    John: Anything on your bucket list for this year?

    Melody: Bucket list? Just survive first grade.

    Juan: I’m a big C. S. Lewis fan. They're doing a thing, it’s a big event, and I have to get to London, is it the day before or day after my daughter's birthday. It'd be like a three day deal.

    John: What are they doing?

    Juan: They're erecting a memorial stone, and poets corner, Westminster Abbey, honoring C. S. Lewis, so it will be beside Shakespeare, and Alfred Lawrence Tennyson, all those guys.

    John: You think you're going to go?

    Juan: I don't know.

    Melody: You want to really bad.

    Mark: I stepped out in faith, and I reserved the ticket to be able to do that. It was free to register, so I don't know. I think I'll start in a kick-starter. Please, please, send me money.

    Melody: I love it.

    Juan: There’s always some great kick-starters out there. I want to go the Switchfoot concert. Kick-starter for that.

    Mark: Good idea.

    Melody: I just want to survive first grade.

    Everyone: [Laughing]

    Bonus: All You've Ever Wanted (Official Lyric Video)

  • Brandon Heath on Being Thankful for Christmas

    Posted on October 31, 2013 by John van der Veen


    Brandon Heath has some hard and fast rules about Christmas.

    1) Christmas music always sounds better on vinyl.
    2) Parents should never lie to their children about Santa Claus.
    3) Decorating should never,ever commence under any circumstance until the day after Thanksgiving.

    Brandon has dreamed of creating a Christmas album for a long time, writing quite a few songs along the way in anticipation for a future holiday release. In the end, he wrote three originals that made the album, Christmas is Here. In the few months leading up to recording he enlisted some friends to make the process memorable. Sonja Isaacs, Ellie Holcomb, Andy Gullahorn and Matt Wertz to name a few. Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson, Matt Wertz) produced the album, which was recorded in mid-July.

    I sat down with the Nashville native on a warm autumn day. The leaves were just starting to turn some color and the hint of "Frosty The Snowman" was a long way off.

    John: Okay Brandon, we need to talk about your song "The Day After Thanksgiving." I’m sensing maybe there’s a little bit of angst in that song.

    Brandon: There might be a little angst. I really just wanted to make this Christmas record fit me, and I’ve been wanting to make one for a long time.

    John: Okay... We need to talk a little bit about that.

    Brandon: Yeah.

    John: Who wrote the song?

    Brandon: I wrote it with my friend Ross Copperman and Lee Thomas Miller.

    Brandon: I have a very strict rule about Christmas music in that I don’t listen to any Christmas music or want to see decorations, or inflatables, or anything until the day after Thanksgiving. Consumerism has just taken over Christmas, and I think I really just want … fall is a great time of the year.

    John: It is.

    Brandon: Pumpkins and apple cider, and football games, and …

    John: Candy corn?

    Brandon: Candy corn, absolutely. All those things are great things that we should celebrate about fall. The seasons are an amazing time, so it’s unfortunate to me that the mall forgets about the fall, or maybe they’re celebrating the fall in the summertime. You just fast forward to Christmas every year, and by the time Christmas actually gets here you’re kind of tired of it.

    John: Yeah.

    Brandon: I wanted to really kind of punctuate that, like a Christmas gift, there is a time to open the gift and I think it starts the day after Thanksgiving.

    John: Yeah. For you, the Christmas tradition … so post-Thanksgiving Christmas tradition, what would that be like in your family growing up? What are some of the fond memories that you have? Are you bringing any of those into who you are today?

    Brandon: Yeah. One of the most fond memories I think of about our family Christmases was really, honestly, the music. Whenever we listened to music, it was usually on vinyl, and so I really wanted to … I think we tend to adopt, as children, we adopt the music that our parents listened to for Christmas.

    Mine would have been Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin. Kind of the crooner-type of Christmas music with great arrangements, and so I wanted that to influence this record. I did “Silent Night,” a very close rendition to what Nat King Cole did, which is all choral. It’s just a choir in the background, a cappella, very free-flowing. There’s not really a meter to it. Then his version of “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” which is actually called “The Christmas Song.”

    John: Yeah.

    Brandon: He was the first person to ever record that song, and I think he did it the right way, so we basically borrowed from old Nat King Cole. Every time I hear that song, that to me, that song is the official beginning of Christmas when I hear that song.

    John: What do you think it is? You’re talking about this idea that a lot of people have in trying to go back to this childhood. One might say, "It was greater back then." What do you think that is? What draws us to that sense of thought, of ideal, of philosophy when it comes to Christmas? Why do we do that this time of year?

    Brandon: I think Christmas is personified by a child. I think we think about The Child, the baby. There's something about maybe even gift giving that kind of comes from the Three Wise Men. I think we have made a tradition of giving gifts at that time of the year because of the Christmas story in the Bible. There is something about tradition that I think makes Christmas really special to people.

    It’s a time when family comes together. It might be that the only time that you see your family is at Christmastime every year. It’s important to know where we come from and who we belong to, and I think the Christmas story certainly fits in all that. Jesus was born to remind us who we belong to. His life was to remind us who we are, and that we’re loved.

    I think that’s why, after all these ages, it’s still important, even though people would argue and even old Brandon Heath would argue that consumerism has really kind of come in and invaded Christmas. I don’t think that you can completely extinguish what it’s all about, and that’s the birth of Christ.

    John: How does someone in pursuit of Jesus during the Christmas Season, how do they continually have the heart that says, “This is what this time of the year is about”? How do you wrestle with that? On your record, you certainly have these great, very fun, sentimental Christmas songs that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the birth of Christ. You’re talking about Santa, “Mama don’t lie to me.” You are talking about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. There’s that, but then there is this explosive idea of God becoming Man and just entering into humanity. How do we, as a follower of Christ … how do we transition to this idea of "remembering that God with us" is what it’s really all about?

    Brandon: Well, I think a lot of people think about Emmanuel, which means God with us. It helps us to feel not so alone, and it’s not necessarily as much an emotion as it is just the fact that God is with us. He is with us. I think that changes everything. We can live in confidence knowing that we’re not without purpose, and that we’re not alone. I think that that can really be a game-changer for people who have been looking for something to live for.

    When the Creator extends His hand and says, “This is who you are and this is why I made you; so that I could delight in you, and you could delight in Me.” It was the Trinity’s, not necessarily last-ditch effort, to connect with Man. The Trinity certainly could have chosen to start over. They, God, created us and He can choose not to have us anymore, but He does choose us. I think we should certainly celebrate that. I really wanted this Christmas record, it’s called Christmas Is Here, I really wanted it to remind people of their memories from a long time ago.

    I also wanted to bring in some new, fresh stories. There’s a story about the innkeeper that I took some liberties with. We don’t really know what happened with the innkeeper, but I wanted him to be remorseful. I wanted him to realize that, “Oh, I just turned away a pregnant woman; I could have helped her.” Then he finds out, “This was the Son of God that was born, I could have had a part in that. God gave me this opportunity, but I said, ‘No.’”

    In contrast, you have Mary, who could have said no but said yes. Isn’t it a great thing that she said yes? That God chose someone like her, a 15-year-old girl, who in our world would be a very unlikely character to carry out the birth of Jesus, but she did and in an unlikely place like Bethlehem, that’s where He was born. Any of us who say that we’re not qualified should think maybe twice about who God uses to carry out His great works.

    John: Do you think that God opens doors of opportunity, or windows of opportunity, towards us and many of us are blind to that?

    Brandon: Mm-hmm.

    John: You have had a lot of success in your life. You’ve had some great, very inspiring singles on the radio. You have toured very successfully. You seem to be a man who is walking into those opportunities that God has given you.

    Brandon: That’s key right there, what you just said.

    John: How does one discern God telling us, “Left, right, not this door, that door?” How do you pursue Jesus in your everyday life when it comes to stuff like that?

    Brandon: It’s definitely been a fun ride for me. I have had some success, but I’ve also had some failures and I’m really thankful for those. In the moment, I’m not so thankful for those, but in hindsight I’m glad that I have failures because then I can celebrate my successes more.

    I also am thankful for that because it reminds me that I’m not God. That I can’t govern what happens in my life but everything is by His Grace and His Power, and it’s His Plan. It kind of humbles you. How do you know which direction to walk? There’s really no way to tell that, but I think that … we were just talking about Mary and she just said yes.

    I think you kind of know when those doors open, you just have a feeling. It may not be an angel appearing to you and saying, “This is what God’s Will is for you,” but the ultimate reality is that all of our calling is to spread the Gospel. Everybody’s calling is to spread the Gospel. Now how you do that is gonna be different for each of us. My gift is music and I’ve known that for a while, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only way that I can spread the Gospel. It’s certainly the most fun way that I could think of, and I feel like I’ve got a gift at it.

    It’s just applying the commandment to spread The Word, and applying my gift with that commandment, and it’s flourished. I guess in some ways I’m not surprised, but honestly I’m always surprised because somebody at the end of the day will say, “Your song did this for me.” I will never get used to that, that God’s used me in that way. I feel an immense amount of gratitude for that.

    John: What’s on your bucket list?

    Brandon: What’s on my bucket list? I would like to, and this is so typical, I’d love to summit a mountain 14,000 feet or above. I’d love to summit a mountain.

    John: How far up have you climbed before?

    Brandon: Seven thousand.

    John: Which was?

    Brandon: In British Columbia, Canada. There’s a mountain there called One Eye, it’s 7,000 feet. That was cool, but that’s going from sea level to seven.

    John: Oh, sure.

    Brandon: You think about in Colorado you’ve got 14,000-15,000 footers, but you start at 9,000.

    John: Right.

    Brandon: It was a long hike, but it’s an amazing experience. It’s about a 3-day trip, spending a couple of nights in the woods. You could take it slower if you want, but we packed really light so that we could do it pretty quickly.

    John: Yeah, that’s cool.

    John: Are you still riding the Harley?

    Brandon: I still ride, yup.

    John: Did you take it with you?

    Brandon: It’s not with me on this trip. I was telling somebody today it is 80 degrees in Michigan; it would have been a perfect day to ride but, no, I didn’t bring it with me.

    John: It’s all right.

    Brandon: Yeah, next time.

    John: Let's circle back to the new album. Christmas Is Here certainly encourages us to celebrate the memories, the traditions, the joy and the meaning leading up to December 25. There’s a reason you want us to hold out to celebrate. Isn't there?

    Brandon: Christmas is like a good surprise, like a present. You should wait and open it when it’s time instead of opening it as soon as you get it, and then there’s nothing special about it anymore,” he says. “I think you should restrain yourself and say, ‘Okay, I’m not going to fully engage in this until it’s time.’ And Christmas is one of those things for me. I want people to savor the moment...just wait.

  • I Know How to Manipulate

    Posted on October 31, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)

    Just because something great happens doesn't mean it is from God. I know this is true because I know how to manipulate and make great things happen.

    Honestly, I hate that word—manipulate. It rubs something rough and grainy into the softer places of my heart.

    But there it is. And I know it. Because sometimes I do it. I manipulate.

    I know how to sell an idea.

    I know how to go the extra mile.

    I know how to strategize to make my plan seem like a wonderful strategy.

    And not that any of this is intrinsically bad. Some of these things are qualities God can certainly use in good ways.

    But what if I use these skills and talents outside God's will? To push past God's timing, God's direction, God's plan to teach me stuff in the process?

    Sometimes I think He lets us push past His better plan to experience the consequences of our headstrong attitude. Boy, do I know all about that. I've jumped headfirst into something I thought I wanted, only to find extreme stress, fear, anxiety, and an overwhelming sense of regret.

    It's great to know how to sell an idea. But it's not great to do it outside God's will.

    It's great to go the extra mile. But it's not great to do it out of a desire to secure what I want—rather than out of a desire to serve another.

    It's great to strategize and have a plan. But it's not great if that plan stretches me so I seek my desires more than God's desires.

    I am learning to not always push so hard. Or run so fast. Or allow my personal desires to overtake waiting on God.

    Recently I had the opportunity to be considered for something huge. And I knew how to secure it.

    I knew the words I could use to sell my idea. I knew I could go the extra mile with my pitch and look impressive. I knew a strategy that could be implemented and the plan to propose.

    But what I didn't know is if this was God's plan or my desire.

    If I knew for sure it was God's plan, all my efforts wouldn't be manipulation—they'd be smart. But I didn't know.

    Therefore, all my pushing and plotting were manipulation. So, I stopped, backed off, and stepped aside.

    I waited.

    And then I doubted. It was hard to watch the opportunity slip away. But I reminded myself that this was a place where my trust in God had to step in. This was one of those times a deeper faith could be found. And so I trusted in the truth of Isaiah 58:11, "The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

    Now, I can rest in the assurance that if something is to be, it isn't up to me. It's up to God. It's not that I just sit back and don't pursue things. I do. But, I give what I can give without manipulation. And then wait for God to give what only He can give. So, if He makes it happen without all my chaotic self-effort, then I will know it is His best.

    And if it doesn't happen, I will thank Him for saving me from myself.

    Dear Lord, I am so grateful for Your everlasting love and vision for my life. Help me to embrace the fact that Your plans are greater than mine. Humble my heart in the moments when I try to maintain control so that I can fully serve You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:


    Reflect and Respond:
    Do you ever catch yourself manipulating past God's plans to secure your own desire?

    God wants you to give up your own agenda and trust in His plans for your life! Set aside some time every day to reflect on Bible verses dedicated to this particular issue. Having this daily reminder of God's sovereignty will help you to recognize when your own desires are taking precedence over His will.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (NIV)

    Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Life’s Interruptions

    Posted on October 30, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Mark 1:35-37

    Life is full of interruptions. Car maintenance, a sick child, divorce, death, financial surprises, a friend’s crisis, government shutdowns, home repair, health questions, and job issues all interrupt our regular routine. If we have perfectionist tendencies we can stress out over control slipping away or we can learn to embrace Christ’s control. Ironically, expectations of a stress free life only create stress. As long as we live, life will interrupt, so how shall we respond?

    Jesus was interrupted in His prayers and He was interrupted by the leper, but He used them both for God’s glory. Is the Lord in on our life’s interruptions? Many times, yes! He takes distractions in our prayer time and uses them to lead us into His will. On occasion while praying, my mind races with a mental list that longs for immediate attention. So, I stop praying, write down the items and then offer the list in prayer as a sacrifice to Jesus. The Holy Spirit leads me in how to manage the needs I’ve written down. So, I seek to lean into the Lord when interrupted by life.

    Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

    We are all needy to one degree or another. Needy people need to have their needs met. Therefore,  when someone interrupts your life with their need, look for the Lord in the interruption. Pray for a way to meet their need in Jesus’ name so they are attracted to His love. Furthermore, you are not called to meet everyone’s needs all the time. There are others God wants to engage as His benevolent blessing. Be available, do what you can, and trust the Lord to add more resources.

    There is no shame in being needy. This is the human condition. It is what draws us to God. So, we first seek Christ Jesus to meet all our needs in Him. His love, His patience, His mercy, His rest and His care are a treasure trove of spiritual invigoration, emotional healing, and mental stamina. The Lord is with us in the middle of life’s interruptions. We also seek those who love us when we need love. We ask for prayer in our pain. We need each other and we need our Savior Jesus when life interrupts our plans. Yes, life’s interruptions direct us to God’s better plan!

    And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, when life interrupts my goals and aspirations, thank you for meeting my needs in Christ Jesus.

    Related Readings: Psalm 23:1, 39:5; Matthew 8:24; Luke 12:18-20; 2 Corinthians 9:8

    Post/Tweet today: Ironically, expectations of a stress free life only create stress. #lifesinterruptions

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

  • Blog Summary for October 2013

    Posted on October 30, 2013 by John van der Veen


    Here are some of the most popular blogs that have been read by our followers during the month of October.

    Phil Robertson. Father. Teacher. Theologian. Commander.

    If you have never heard of Phil Robertson or the Robertson boys, well, you must be living under a rock.  The Robertson family has taken American TV by storm, along with it the hearts of almost every person. Along with Phil, his wife Kay and their boys, the reality TV show Duck Dynasty has been a gathering place for the whole family. In other words, it's been a breath of fresh air.

    Phil Robertson was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana, a small town near Shreveport. With seven children in his family, money was scarce and very early on, hunting became an important part of his life.

    Read the full interview here.

    Clinging to Christ in the Middle of the Hurricane - Natalie Grant

    In the opening lines of “In The End,” the spirited but poignant unplugged track that wraps her latest album Hurricane, Natalie Grant puts it as plainly as she ever has in dealing with the troubling storms we all face: “Can’t catch a break/You’ve had your fill of old clichés…”. Emerging from a dark, spiritually challenging time in her own life, the multi-talented singer/songwriter—a Grammy nominated, five time GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Award winner for Female Vocalist of the Year – breaks through the well worn and cheerful, but not completely truthful, phrases that often leave those who are struggling in need of more.

    Natalie and I sat down (with her daughter, Sadie, on her lap) and talked about what went into her new album. The ups and downs of life. Times of depression. Times of joy.

    Read the full interview here.

    One On One with Mark Batterson

    Mark Batterson serves as the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D. C. Recognized as “one of America’s 25 most innovative churches,” NCC is one church with seven locations. Mark’s blog and webcast also reach a virtual congregation around the world. He is the author of several bestselling books, including New York Times Bestseller - The Circle Maker and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Mark holds a doctorate degree from Regent University and lives on Capitol Hill with this wife, Lora, and their three children.

    Read the full interview here.

    Laura Story - I Can Just Be Me - Story Behind the Song

    Talented worship leader and songwriter Laura Story is best known for her inspirational hit "Blessings" and for co-writing "Indescribable," a Chris Tomlin anthem. Now, with her third studio album, God of Every Story, Laura returns to that deep place of vulnerability before the Lord and honesty with herself. Award-winning producer Ed Cash helmed the deeply personal project, and their shared Carolina roots led to the incorporation of acoustic and epic instruments into this worshipful pop album. Lyrically, God of Every Story draws from Laura’s own life. Her husband’s brain tumor early in their marriage led the young family down a painful path she wouldn’t have chosen, but one that deepened her faith and her music.

    Read the full post here.

    God's Not Dead

    God's Not Dead is a new film about faith and the limits one young man will go to in order to defend his belief in God. Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), a freshman college student, enrolls in a philosophy class taught by an infamous and dictatorial professor. Dr. Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) demands that all of his students must sign a declaration that "God is dead" in order to get a passing grade. Josh refuses. But, he needs to take this class to meet his academic requirements. And so the professor strikes a bargain: Josh must defend his position that "God is alive" in a series of debates with him in order to stay in the class. If he loses, he flunks. When Josh accepts the challenge, he gets more than he bargained for -- jeopardizing his faith, his relationships and even his future.

    Read the full post as well as watch the movie trailer here.

    John MacArthur's Call to the Church - Beware of Strange Fire

    John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.

    In 1969, after graduating from Talbot Theological Seminary, John came to Grace Community Church. The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage. Under John’s leadership, Grace Community Church's two morning worship services fill the 3,500-seat auditorium to capacity. Several thousand members participate every week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, most led by lay leaders and each dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.

    Read the full interview 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.

    "Grace Unplugged" Film Soundtrack to Release in August

    Soundtrack Features Songs From The Film's Stars AJ Michalka And Jamie Grace, Also Includes Songs From TobyMac, Colton Dixon, Chris Tomlin And More

    Sparrow Records and Capitol Christian Music Group announce the "GRACE Unplugged" movie soundtrack, set for release on August 27th at both retail and online. "GRACE Unplugged," a Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions feature film starring AJ Michalka, James Denton, Kevin Pollack, Jamie Grace and more, is slated to hit theaters nationwide October 4.

    Read the full post here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujici

    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.

    Read the full interview here.

    Liz Curtis Higgs - She's Smart. Witty. Serious. (And a cat lover).

    In her best-selling series of Bad Girls of the Bible books, workbooks, and videos, Liz Curtis Higgs breathes new life into ancient tales about the most infamous—and intriguing—women in scriptural history, from Jezebel to Mary Magdalene. Biblically sound and cutting-edge fresh, these popular titles have helped more than one million women around the world experience God’s grace anew.

    Her best-selling historical novels, which transport the stories of Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Dinah, Ruth, and Naomi to eighteenth-century Scotland, also have invited readers to view these familiar characters in a new light.

    Read the full interview here.

  • Chris Tomlin's Burning Lights - Deluxe Edition

    Posted on October 30, 2013 by Family Christian

    One of the most storied worship leaders of our time, Chris Tomlin returns with this deluxe tour edition of his hit album, Burning Lights. As the songwriter behind the worship favorites "How Great Is Our God," "Jesus Messiah," "Holy is the Lord" and "Forever," Chris continues to write songs that connect people to the heart of Jesus and lead them to a greater worship of Him.

    Burning Lights: Deluxe Edition includes special guest performances from Lecrae, Phil Wickham, Kari Jobe and Christy Nockels, as well as an all new talk from Louie Giglio. Recorded live at Red Rocks, the included bonus DVD is the next best thing to seeing Tomlin in concert!

    Check out God's Great Dance Floor LIVE

    Our God LIVE

    To read our Q&A with Chris, click here.

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