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  • Paving the Way - Duncan Phillips, Newsboys

    With a worldwide gross of over $61 million, the movie, God’s Not Dead has taken the film industry by storm. The movie featured Newsboys singing their hit single, “God’s Not Dead.” As a result, the single has been certified GOLD by the RIAA, selling more than 140,000 tracks in the past 5 months.

    We sat down with Duncan Phillips, Newsboys drummer, for an inside look at the band, the music, and the film’s success.

    Dan: Duncan, talk to me about some of the influence that you're seeing from the movie, God's Not Dead and the amazing success that's been having.

    Duncan: About a year and a half ago, Pure Flix came to us ... maybe even longer than that now. They said, "Look, we love that song. We love the theme of the song. We're doing a movie right now. We'd like to bring the two together and make a movie called, God's Not Dead." We're like, "Yeah, fine. No problem." We get things thrown at us all the time, as you might expect.

    About a year and a half ago, we were in the middle of a tour somewhere in Texas and we've been kind of learning our lines… but not really. I thought there was going to be [only] a couple of red cameras. We get through the door of the tour bus, 7 a.m. is the call [time] which is early for us, and they have 50 people on deck. They've got their own catering. There's vehicles everywhere. There's cameras in the air. I'm like, "Oh my gosh guys… we're in trouble. We better go back and brush up on our lines!"

    It started out in about 800 theaters nationwide. I think it's up to about 2,000 theaters now, but the impact has been great and varied. I think one of the reasons why is [because] it's a subject that a lot of kids in high school or college can really relate to. It's a very liberal culture out there. It's very hedonistic. It's humanistic and 20 [or] 30 years ago, [they started] taking God out of school. Now, of course, they don't even acknowledge that there is a God. Well, we're smarter than that. We've got science, but science tells us that there is no God. [That] couldn't be further from the truth.

    It really is quite wicked when you look into it, but I think a lot of Christian kids [are] going to college and they're dealing with it on a daily basis. I think what [the movie has] done more than anything, is [that it has] really helped to empower kids who are in those situations to be able to come back with a legitimate answer and a response to the atheist agenda.

    There [are] a lot of intelligent people. I don't say they're necessarily smart, but there [are] a lot of very intelligent people that have decided to become atheists… maybe because of a past hurt or [they know] if they recognized that there is someone greater than themselves, then they [would] have to wrestle with that… The agenda is basically [that] we have evolved [and] we've come so far as human beings… that we [have become] our own god. That's a very fallible position, because then you're answerable to no one. Basically, you can do what you want to do. [There is] a spirit that goes along with it… a very anti-Christ spirit with the whole agenda. It's a very interesting time we live in, that's for sure.

    Dan: Yeah, it's interesting. I think part of the appeal of your song is the overt nature of the title, the song, and the movie, God's Not Dead. You're not tap dancing around anything. That leads me into the success of your current single that's out, the song, “We Believe.” Can you tell me a little bit about where that song came from and how it got to be where it is now?

    Duncan: Well, we love the song, “We Believe.” Michael Tait always says that if Billy Graham was to sing a song, it probably would have been a song very much like “We Believe,” because it's very short. It's sharp. It's to the point… My feeling [is] that you can be direct in what you say, but you can say it in a way of love, and I think that's what [the song] “We Believe” does. It's not [pointing] the finger, saying “You are going to hell if you don't act like this.” It's saying “This is what we believe. We believe we found the answer, and this is the way.”

    At the rehearsal space, I'd well up every time, because when you hear those songs and lyrics go over the crowd, over microphones and over [the] PA, it's a very powerful, sobering moment. We're playing [“We Believe”] live in the set every night. It's just this incredibly poignant moment in the set [when] people stand up, raise their hands, and just sing to the heavens, “This is what I believe.” Even at interviews, I'll well up… talking about the song, simply because it goes so deep for me.

    Dan: You've also now set a challenge out for me to try to make you cry at some point in this interview.

    Duncan: That can happen. I'm definitely a crier for sure.

    Dan: Obviously, it's resonating with people. Sometimes these things are cyclical and I think we're in a season now of wanting to stand up and be accountable for our faith. I think that's the power of “God's Not Dead” and “We Believe.”

    You guys are in a really unique position right now… the movie has brought life back to the God's Not Dead record and then you have your current single on the radio. Has your band ever experienced anything like this before?

    Duncan: We've had moments like this, but I don't think there's ever been a moment in the band's history where we've had a prior record stomping all over the latest.

    Dan: (Laughs)

    Duncan: I was just talking to someone earlier today [about] their impressions. I'm a numbers guy. I love numbers. We just got off Winter Jam… and over a three-month period of time, we [were] playing for nearly 600,000 people, which is amazing. The biggest, most attended tour in the first quarter, four years in a row. But [the first] two or three weekends of the movie, 5.5 million people [saw the] movie. If you're talking about clout, or impressions, or the perfection of the branding, it can take a band five [or] 10 years to have that many impressions, but we put in a 12 [to] 16-hour day, one and a half years ago. It's almost like the inertia has caught up and the weight is pushing the notoriety and the perception of the band to greater heights than it's ever been before.

    We've had 26 number one hits. We've had a lot of number one hits over the years but [the God’s Not Dead single] has been the quickest advancing [song] in Newsboys history to date, because it's a creed. It's an anthem. It's something that when people sing it, it resonates deep within their soul and their spirit. That's the power of a wonderful song. That's the power of a great song. That's why we decided to take our hands off and allow [other] songwriters [to work on it]. Just because you're in a band doesn't mean you're a great songwriter.

    I know we want to own everything. We want to write our own songs, and that's great if you're an amazing songwriter, but we were average songwriters. We definitely had our moments writing a great song, but I think we came to the realization that we were better at being a band. We're better at getting out there [and] playing a live show. That's where Newsboys shine. There [are] people out there [whose] craft is to write songs. We realize that and recognize that.

    Dan: Can you tell me a little bit about that process that changed from writing songs to finding songs? Do you have somebody who brings songs to you? Are you guys actively looking yourself? What's that moment when you go yeah, that's a Newsboys song?

    Duncan: Well, I think it's everything. It's a process, man. I think for the Restart record, we looked at about 70 or 80 songs, a lot of them great songs. They just [were not] “Newsboys.” There's a definite theme [for] Newsboys. There's definitely a sound. We have grown that sound.

    Although we've dabbled in songs like “We Believe,” “It is You,” “He Reigns”… I think Newsboys really [does] shine as a pop band.  I grew up loving the music of the 80s and I think you just want to go back to your first love in music. I love pop music. I love the three and a half minute pop song. I think the Restart record [is] probably the best pop record Newsboys has ever made. I'm very, very proud of that record.

    Dan: You're one of the most entertaining drummers to watch. I think that you somehow bring the audience to you and we feel the music. Can you explain what happens?

    Duncan: I never thought, as a drummer, that I should be invisible. I always told [the band] “I'm in this band, so why not perform just as much as the lead singer?” I wanted people to feel that they could do it. I wanted people to go, “Man, that guy is having the best time of his life.”

    A part of it really has come out of this feeling of thank you, Jesus that I still can do this. Literally, it's a joy of the Lord when you get something taken away or nearly taken away that's precious to you, or something that you believe is God-given and he gives it back to you tenfold, the joy and the appreciation and the gratitude that comes out of that is unspeakable. You look at some video footage of five years ago [and] I probably wasn't quite as energetic because I was [thinking] “Well, maybe this is winding down.”

    Sometimes change is painful, but when you come out the other side you can look back and then you go, “Oh, now I get it.” I think the change with Michael was necessary. I think it was a Godsend. At the time, it didn't feel like it though.

    I think when [most people are] in the middle of something, they [ask] “Where [are you] God? You turned your back from me.” No, he hasn't. He's just building your backbone. He's just taking you somewhere. A lot of times we pray, “God, take me further, take me to the next level.” You know what? The next level is painful. It hurts.

    Birthing is painful and somehow as we look at that we think God can't be in [it]. I've never believed that. Whenever we've had problems, I've always tried to [ask], “Where is God in this whole thing?” When Peter left and Michael came on, as bleak as it looked, I knew down deep that this is a God moment and the best was yet to come. [It] was a little faith statement at that time because we hadn't recorded Born Again. We hadn't recorded God's Not Dead. We hadn't recorded Restart. We've been with [the band] for a couple of decades. [I was thinking], “I have a wife and a young family. I've got a mortgage to pay.” All the practical things that people forget sometimes. It's not just [my] career-- it's my livelihood. It's how I put food on the table. When it was looking like it was going to go belly up, my whole world on every level-- physically, financially, spiritually… was absolutely drained, and so was the band. We were spent, but I think sometimes that's where God needs us to be to really turn [it] around.

    It gives me great confidence, saying that I really believe the best is yet to come. It's more than a wish. [When I] look [at] what he's done over the last five years, [I think], “Oh my gosh, what can He do in the next five years? Where can He [take] this thing in the next five years?” The sky is the limit. I really believe that.

    Hopefully, that encourages every other person, every other band that's come up behind us, because they see Newsboys do it. That's one of my biggest hopes in the industry… to encourage all those bands, all those artists coming up behind us, that it can be done. You can have a long, fruitful career in Christian music.

    To purchase Duncan's latest record with his band, The Newsboys, click here.

  • BookBites Vol. 3

    Craving a new read? You’ve come to the right place. We love books. And we love sharing our thoughts on them. Welcome to Bookbites, where we give the latest books a grade, brief review and include an excerpt—a “bookbite”—that grabbed our attention.

    Happy reading!


    BRIDGE TO HAVEN Francine Rivers Grade A-  Woeful tale of an abandoned child turned adult and her headstrong escape into desolation and darkness, it’s a long journey but the love and light of home beckons and eventually restores her.  Well-written, page-turner as usual from Rivers.  However the author never addresses the fact that the pastor could have kept the child if he had asked for help from the congregation.  She was really abandoned more than once and it is heartbreaking and hard to get past, making the rest of the book seem like it was unnecessarily tragic...but apparently necessary to develop a romantic interest in the adopted brother.  These two elements don't fit Rivers' usually seamless writing.  Still a worthy read.

    Appeals to:  Fans of Francine Rivers, especially of Redeeming Love, and those who like fiction with an edge instead of fluff.

    Bookbite:  "Abra sat back on her heels, bowing her own head, hands clasped tightly.  'Please, God, please, please, make my daddy take me home. Please I'll be good.  I promise.  I won't make anybody too tired or sick.'  She dashed tears away.  'I wanna go home.'  Full of hope, she rose and looked out the window.  Daddy had walked to the end of the block.  She stared as he disappeared around the corner."

    UNDETECTED Dee Henderson Grade B  Known for her romantic suspense, Henderson unfortunately does not add much of either to this book; they are almost undetected or at least very tepid.  However if you are enchanted by submarines and want to learn more about them, you will love this book.  The men in the book bend over backwards to be the good guy in the white sailor hat, to the point of giving up the girl to the other guy.  Gina is a girl-genius, smarter than she deserves to be, who beats herself up for discovering things that might get somebody killed at the same time that they also save lives.  Lots of anguish from all throughout but in the end predictable.

    Appeals to:  Dee Henderson fans, but lacks the charm of the O'Malley series and the suspense of some of her newer books.

    Bookbite:  “Nothing’s changed with us, Gina.  We’re still in the days after Georgia.  As difficult as this is to sort out, Bishop and I really are different sides of the same coin.  You want to get married.  One of us will likely be the guy. That’s still the reality.  Okay?”

  • Lord, I Don't Know What to Do

    Leah

    "Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow." Psalm 25:4 (NLT)

    Do you ever feel like you're going in circles and not making any progress? At least not the kind of progress you were expecting.

    Are the constant appeals of our world pulling you in a million different ways, causing you to question if you're headed in the right direction?

    If you're like me, you have plans and dreams you want to fulfill. But life is confusing at times. And most days it seems like you're just surviving instead of living out those dreams or accomplishing your goals.

    Numerous distractions.

    Too many choices.

    Endless interruptions.

    There have been days I've felt like one foot was fixed to the floor, while my other foot scurried in every direction. Expending a lot of energy and mental fatigue, but going nowhere. Can you relate?

    Wouldn't it be awesome to wake up every morning and be assured you're on the right path towards your goals? To know with certainty that you're headed in the right direction? To feel confident with each step, without constantly questioning yourself?

    Too many times I've second-guessed a decision I was confident about. I want so desperately to follow God's will that I'll pray, but then feel uncertain, not wanting to make a wrong move. I wonder: Maybe this isn't what I'm supposed to be doing. Maybe this isn't part of God's plan for my life.

    As I've wrestled with indecision and insecurity, I've sought God's Word for help. A few months ago, I found a priceless nugget of truth in the Bible. It addresses our desire for guidance and shows us what to do when we need clear direction.

    King David composed these words in a beautiful psalm, tucked within the pages of the Old Testament:

    "Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you" (Psalm 25:4-5).

    These verses reveal David's humble and teachable heart. He wanted to be guided by God and led by His truth. David knew God was his Savior and placed all his hope in the One who created the right path for him.

    We find the answers to David's request for guidance only a few short passages away. Promises we can claim for our own lives:

    "The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands" (Psalm 25:8-10, NLT).

    Based on these verses, when our hearts are humble and truly seeking God's will, we can be confident of this:

    1. God will always show us what is right for us. 2. When we get sidetracked, God will direct us back to the right path. 3. We are not alone. God leads and teaches us along the way. 4. God leads those who obey Him with unfailing love and faithfulness.

    If you're unsure about some things in your life, don't wait another day to figure it out on your own. Ensure your heart is in the right place of humility, and then ask God to help you. Once you've asked, trust that God is directing you.

    If you know you've gotten on the wrong path, seek God for direction instead of looking to the world for answers. As you take steps to follow and obey God's voice, He will lovingly show you the way.

    Months ago I asked the Lord to etch these verses onto my heart and mind, so I'd always have them with me — especially on days when I feel like I'm going in circles and lacking direction.

    Today, I'm praying these verses over you.

    Dear Lord, help my friend come to You when she's in need of direction. Remind her that the world can't offer what she deeply longs for, nor does it hold her future, but You certainly do. Thank You for guiding her today. 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)

    Psalm 90:17, "Let the favor of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" (ESV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What area in your life is lacking direction: marriage, parenting, career, health?

    Find three Scripture verses (relating to that particular area) and personalize them into a prayer as you go to God for guidance.

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • Knowing God

    Boyd

    I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11

    Knowing God is not for the causal Christian, but for the committed ones. This intimate relationship is forged on the anvil of adversity and expressed through the power of Christ’s resurrected life. Knowing God requires dying to self and coming alive in Christ. Resurrected living is the fruit of a faith that is not satisfied with surface Christianity.

    To know God is to be loved by Him, to love Him and to love for Him. To know Him is to behold Him in the glory of His holiness, and to bow down in humble worship. To know Christ is to receive His comfort and to carry on a caring conversation with Him. It is going deep in knowledge and understanding of God, so we can carry His character and faith far and wide. Knowing God leads to making God known with our words and deeds.

    “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” Psalm 100:3-4

    Knowing God grows your character, as intimacy with Him influences you to be like Him. Christ's character begins to transform your character. His influence in your life broadens your influence in other lives. Indeed, your depth of character determines your breadth of influence. Grow in grace, so you can export grace throughout your circle of influence.

    But, be careful not to compare your character standard to others—even other Christians. Comparison games are the enemy’s game plan to get you off the track of trust in Jesus. Pride will puncture your ballooning influence, when you begin to take credit for what only the Lord can do. The more you know God—the less you see of yourself and the more you see of Him and others. You know Christ in His death, accompanied by a radical resurrection.

    How do you grow to know Him better? It happens in the margins of life, not in a packed schedule with no room for interruptions. A frantic pace lacks grace. A hurried life is tired—unable to trust and give back. Start by slowing down and calendaring time with Christ. Be with Him, so you can hear Him, get to know Him, and be changed by Him. Then the depth of your character will grow the breadth of your influence—for His glory!

    “For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:10-11).

    Prayer: How am I growing in my knowledge of God? How is He transforming my character and broadening my influence for Him?

    Related Readings: 1 Chronicles 16:24; Isaiah 45:24; 54:11; Matthew 21:42; John 5:29

    Post/Tweet today: Resurrected living is the fruit of a faith that is not satisfied with surface Christianity. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • How Conflict Creates Connection for Couples

    Dr.

    "Wounds from a friend can be trusted ..." Proverbs 27:6a (NIV)

    When my wife, Barbi, and I were first married, we had conflicts about conflict. Looking back, it's kind of funny because I later went on to write a Christian relationship book called Boundaries in Marriage. Imagine watching us have boundary conversations about how bad our marriage boundaries were.

    Barbi's approach to conflict was to avoid it. My approach tended to be more blunt. We'd talk about a problem, and it wouldn't go well. One of us would misunderstand, we would pull away from each other and the problem wouldn't get solved.

    One day I asked Barbi, "When we argue, I never stop loving you. Is there anything I can do to make this better for you?"

    She thought a minute and said, "Maybe if you let me know you love me before you confront me, that might help."

    That was a good idea, so I agreed. The next time I wanted to have a talk with her about a concern, I walked in the room and said something like, "Honey, I just want to let you know I really care about you, and I hope you feel safe with me." Then when I brought up the problem, things went better for her and for us.

    This method of having successful conversations went on for a while. As time passed, however, something changed. I needed to bring up an issue, so I began with, "Honey, I just want you to know..." Barbi said, "Stop! It's okay. I know you love me; just get to the problem."

    We had a good laugh about it. Over time, she began feeling safe enough not to need reassurance before each conversation. She realized I loved her even in the midst of confrontation, and she was ready to go straight to problem solving.

    When God created marriage, He gave us one of His best gifts. He provided a permanent and safe connection for a man and a woman to experience love, joy, meaning and purpose together. Genesis 2:24 says, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (NASB). God designed marriage to be a whole-person connection. This means that, more than in any other human relationship, every part of you ideally is to connect and cleave to every part of your spouse. The love you share should be complete as you intertwine your lives and emotions around each other.

    Because marriage is such a wonderful type of relationship, confrontation within the marital relationship is very important. Who is better qualified to understand and speak to someone about a problem than the person living life right next to him? You are intimately involved with him. You see the real person, imperfections and all. More than anyone, a spouse should be able to see what her partner's true problems are.

    Marriage is not about making each other happy; it is about growing and helping one's spouse to grow. Happiness can and does come to a good marriage. However, it is a byproduct of growth and life — not the goal.

    Confrontation brings empowerment, which is the ability to make choices and changes in your relationship. God created all of us to be change agents for each other. We have a responsibility to influence the people in our lives to be the best possible people they can be. For instance, 1 Thessalonians 5:11a says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up" (NIV).

    As Barbi and I have learned to confront each other lovingly, directly and effectively, we are often pleased in the change not only in our marriage but also in ourselves. We feel a sense of power that we can make changes and that we have choices. God designed all of us to connect and act, and confrontation helps put the "act" into the connection.

    Lord, thank You for the blessing of earthly marriage to display Your heavenly love for me. May I value marriage as all that You designed it to be. Help me move past seeking personal happiness and strive to develop growth in myself and my spouse. I trust You to guide my words and actions when conflict arises so that it can be an opportunity to connect in a deeper way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 4:10, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What can you tell your spouse today to help each other feel safer in the relationship?

    Common conflict issues may revolve around your responsibilities, money and tasks, but do not stop there. Set aside time to talk with your spouse about the relationship itself. This is where the marriage lives.

    © 2014 by Dr. John Townsend. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Thomas Nelson Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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

  • Celebrate Life

    Boyd

    A large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead...for on account of himmany of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him. John 12:9, 11

    We can live a ‘drive thru dining’ life that rushes from one activity to the next, or we can live a ‘sit down dinner’ life that enjoys the caring company of others. It's especially meaningful to celebrate special occasions: graduations, anniversaries, birthdays (both physical and spiritual), work promotions and successful surgeries, to name a few. We celebrate life when we show our gratitude for the Lord’s blessings. We take the time to honor God for His bounteous provision and healing.

    Mary understood how to celebrate the gift of life. She took her best--her all, and gave it to Jesus. Her glee and gratitude could not be contained for her brother Lazarus was alive, raised by God. Without inhibition and in the face of fierce criticism from a family member, she lavished her love on the Lord. The death and resurrection of Lazarus became the harbinger of her symbolic anointing of Jesus for His burial. A celebration of life points to the giver of life; Jesus Christ.

    “They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” (Psalm 145:7).

    A life lived well celebrates well. What has the Lord done in your life that invites a celebratory occasion? Perhaps you use this time to tell your story of God’s faithfulness, and as an opportunity to raise funds for a worthy charity. Recounting Christ’s blessings blesses others. Open your home to honor a friend who has been healed, or pay tribute to a new believer who has been raised to walk in newness of life in Christ. Life celebrations memorialize your heavenly Father’s favor.

    Some will scoff when we spend time and money to commemorate Christ. But their small view of God misses the point of creating unique ways to glorify God. For out of our great gratitude to the Lord, others are drawn to the Lord. Just as many believed in Jesus because of Lazarus’ testimony, so many will believe in Jesus because of our testimony. Others take notice when we celebrate our life blessed by the Lord. We anoint Jesus as our Lord when we give all we have to Jesus. Christ is our celebration. He is the reason we are rowdy with joy. Yes, celebrate when a soul is saved!

    “Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;he was lost and is found.  So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:23-24).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, slow me down to celebrate Your faithfulness. Use my joy to bring others to faith in Jesus.

    Related Readings: Psalm 2:11, 89:16; Isaiah 30:29; Matthew 26:18; Revelation 11:10

    Post/Tweet today: Out of our great gratitude to the Lord others are drawn to the Lord.. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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  • When God's Assignments Feel Almost Impossible

    Lysa

    "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'" Mark 16:15 (NIV)

    I pulled into my driveway and stared at this gathering place my people call "home." And my heart whispered ...

    Lord, am I doing all of this right?

    This life You've entrusted to me, these people You've entrusted to me, this calling You've entrusted to me ... I desperately want to get it right. To live without painful regret gnawing deep within. To know that I gave it my very best. To please You. Love them. Smile more than frowning. Laugh more than I complain. See the beauty tucked within all these sacred moments of just being together and remember to whisper, Thank You.

    Thank You for all of it. The whole package deal of good and bad and highs and lows. For all that mixed together sets about a process of making me. The me that needs the tough stuff to mature me. The sad moments to soften me. The thrilling moments to invigorate me. The poignant moments to endear me. The complicated moments to challenge me. The quiet moments to unrush me.

    I need it all.

    But sometimes, in the midst of all the moments that are making me into the woman You created me to be, I get awfully tired and discouraged.

    And I find myself sitting in my driveway wondering. Staring at the culmination of thousands of decisions I've made that have brought me here. To this home. This family. This life. I made my decisions and then my decisions made me.

    I'm thankful, yes. So very thankful. But I need You to whisper reassurance into my heart that You're with me. That You see me. And that You are pleased with me. I just need to know, Lord, am I doing this right?

    Have you ever had one of those driveway discussions with God?

    Have you ever looked at your life and wondered, like I do, if you're on the right track?

    I think most of us girls think these thoughts. That's why 20 years ago, I helped start a place where we could gather and learn God's perspective on how to do life through the pages of His Word. Proverbs 31 Ministries exists because I desperately needed someone to help me connect life with God's truth. And I still do.

    So, every day my team and I gather to think through and pray over all that eventually ends up in your inbox. We're a rag-tag team of passionate, imperfect girls determined to bring God's Word front and center into your world. My deepest prayer is that as we encourage you, we're helping equip you to take that encouragement into your family and your sphere of influence.

    I think about you every time I put my fingers on the keyboard of my computer and tap, tap, tap tangled thoughts that eventually become words from my soul to yours. I see you standing in your corner of the world. Mentally I draw a circle around you representing all the people you reach and influence each day.

    Then I step back and imagine hundreds of thousands of circles of influence representing more than one million women who read our devotions on a daily basis. And I'm amazed how collectively our circles of influence cover almost the whole world.

    You, me and all the others who gather here are making a worldwide impact.

    Jesus instructed us to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation," (Mark 16:15). That seems an impossible task for someone who sits in her driveway and feels fragile and wonders all the things I sometimes wonder. Can you relate?

    But, I can reach my sphere of influence with God's Word woven in and out of my simple sentences typed in these simple devotions. And I can pray that somehow God's Word becomes a filter for your thoughts as you get these devotions each day. And then when you pass them along to friends or talk about them in your everyday conversations ... it's multiplied by almost a million.

    Together we are going into all the world with the good news! Amazing, what we can do together.

    If you find yourself wondering about life as you sit in your driveway, let me be a friend who whispers deep into your heart, "Keep going. You're doing better than you think you are. Now, let's go change the world together."

    Dear Lord, I love these honest conversations I can have with You. Thank You for equipping me to go into all the world with the good news. I want to shine as a light for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 96:3, "Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Intimacy through Brokenness

    Boyd

    The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

    Intimacy with God goes hand in hand with your brokenness. Your desire for intimacy with your heavenly Father will be accompanied by brokenness, as it escorts you into intimacy with eternal God. It is your date with destiny. A broken and contrite heart delivers intimacy with the Almighty. Do not despise your broken condition. Rather, delight in its opportunity for intimacy. You long to know Jesus in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10). These prayers were not in vain. Your brokenness is answered prayer. The answer may not be exactly what you expected. You may have anticipated a smoother route, a paved road free of bumps or potholes. But the path of personal and intimate relationship with Christ is not always easy.

    Most of the time, intimacy requires difficulty. It is at this point of pressure and discomfort that some people disembark the train of intimacy. It is much easier to talk about an intimate relationship with Christ than it is to arrive at this point through brokenness. However, this is an exercise in convenience. It is like placing a “Do not disturb” sign on the door of our life, in place of the “Clean up my room” invitation. Brokenness is inviting God to come in and cleanse your life. He stands at the door of our heart and knocks (Revelation 3:20). When you invite Christ into your broken life, He comes in. Intimacy is then unleashed on His terms, not yours. It is only when you surrender in total desperation and total dependency on God that you experience authentic intimacy.

    Intimacy with God through brokenness is not unlike what you experience in relationships with people. Hardships and brokenness are meant to grow you closer to other people. A crisis will either drive you further away from someone or closer together. God’s best for you is to make you relationally stronger with one another during a season of brokenness. But brokenness is not a one-time phenomenon. It is an ongoing part of the committed Christian’s life. It’s not as if you swallow this hard pill one time and are then set for a lifetime of intimacy with God. Once God has marked you with brokenness, you are positioned for Him to build on this firm foundation. He will still use mini brokenness throughout your life. These regular occurrences are bricks of brokenness connected together by the cement of His grace.

    Over time, a life of brokenness becomes a stalwart structure of sanctification designed by God. Your brokenness is meant for your betterment. Indeed, you are much better when you experience a defining moment of brokenness. It deserves your embrace, rather than your rejection. If you fight brokenness, you delay God’s best. You circumvent intimacy with Christ if you bypass brokenness. Focus your energies on changing yourself, not your circumstances. Christ will handle the circumstances while you adjust your attitude. A life of brokenness is an invitation to intimacy. His closeness and salvation are worth this time of brokenness. Don’t buck brokenness. Instead, rely on Him and get to know Him at this deeper level of intimacy. You are much better broken because brokenness leads to intimacy with God.

    Post/Tweet today: A broken and contrite heart leads to intimacy with the Almighty. #wisdomhunter

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Follow God’s Word

    Boyd

    When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law.… He is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees. Deuteronomy 17:18–19

     

    No one is above the law, and certainly not above God’s law. From the earliest origins of government, God instructed the rulers to write, read, follow, and obey His Word. God knew the tremendous wisdom and character needed by a leader to govern fairly and effectively. Integration of God’s principles is developed by  lifelong habits. The more you rise in power and responsibility, the more you need to understand the wisdom of God.

    You cannot lead like Christ without comprehending and applying Scripture. Without the influence of the Bible, your decisions become shallow, sentimental, and self-serving. Decisions untethered from the truth contribute to moral decay and cultural confusion. You are on solid, historical ground in expecting a biblical worldview from your local, state, and national leaders. Do not expect a state church, but expect a state influenced by the church.

    Our expectations of government leaders should be grounded in God’s eternal Word. He is the gold standard for conduct and character. What do your state and national senators and representatives believe about the Word of God? Where do your mayor and councilmen stand? Your leaders are a reflection of you. The best minds our culture has to offer are anemic without the filter of faith on their thinking. Intelligence without intimacy with the Almighty, leads to pride and self-rule. The Bible is our baseline for belief and behavior.

    We are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Therefore, can we expect our political leaders to represent their people with a biblical understanding, and to decree laws based on biblical standards? Yes, otherwise the logical conclusion to no biblical standard for belief, is a messy morality.

    We cease to be a God-fearing nation when everyone does what he or she thinks is right; someone has to be wrong for right to mean anything. May God save us from wisdom that leaves out instruction from the Lord’s law.

    “Jesus replied, ‘Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?’” (Mark 12:24).

    Prayer: How can I be an exceptional student of Scripture? Whom can I elect to government whose heart is governed by God?

    Related Readings: Joshua 1:8; Jeremiah 13:10; John 2:22; Acts 18:28

    Post/Tweet today:. Christians do not expect a state church, but we do expect a state influenced by the church.  #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

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