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  • Why I No Longer Cry Over Burnt Bread

    Alicia

    "If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:11 (NIV)

    I was squashed between kindergarteners in the school cafeteria when my 6-year-old son, Joshua, made an announcement that gave me the giggles. I hid my mouth behind a napkin to cover my smirk and realized that at one point in my life, my son's innocent words would have spawned tears instead of chuckles.

    It started when the little boy next to me lifted a sandwich out of his lunch box.

    "That's huge!" Joshua exclaimed as he poked at the lukewarm carrots on his cafeteria tray and gazed longingly at his classmate's lunch.

    The sandwich was big. Oversized slabs of cheese and slices of ham nestled between two thick slices of bread. I wondered how much cash it would take to talk a kindergartner into trading his mealtime masterpiece for my soggy sloppy joe.

    "Can you even get that in your mouth?" I teased as my lunch companion freed his sandwich from plastic wrap and lifted the culinary sensation to his mouth.

    "I'm used to big bread," he replied. "It's my mom's specialty."

    Joshua raised an eyebrow and studied the specimen in his classmate's hands. "You mean your mom makes the bread you eat?"

    The little fellow nodded happily.

    My son looked at me with wide-eyed wonder, then shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Oh, my mom's specialty is burnt bread."

    I nodded in agreement. "If the crust's not charred, the bread's not ours," I said with a laugh.

    The sandwich muncher beside me didn't even blink at my corny rhyme, but Joshua applauded me with a big smile.

    Soon a bell announced the lunch hour's end, and the kindergarteners hurried to line up for recess. My brown-haired boy waved and marched off to the playground, leaving me alone with my speckled pink cafeteria tray, a mound of lukewarm carrots and a smile.

    A decade ago my young son's honesty would have left me feeling second-rate. I would have raced to the library to check out a book on baking homemade bread.

    I've learned the hard way that I miss all sorts of sacred and significant moments when I live with the frantic insistence that I can do it all. When I'm striving to be good at all things, I miss the joy of small things.

    A good mom isn't good at everything. She's just really good at one thing. A good mom is good at being who God created her to be.

    The truth for bread-burning mamas like me sitting in school cafeterias and for gifted women like you sitting in mini-vans, corporate offices and rocking chairs is this: We weren't created to do it all.

    We were created to play one small role in a gigantic Kingdom tale. And if we spend our lives trying to mimic everyone else's script, we might miss the lines that are uniquely ours.

    On any given day, I can tell you a few things I do well. But, perhaps more importantly, I can tell you what I don't do.

    I learned a few years ago the importance of creating a list of what I don't do. If you're tired of feeling tired, make that list. If you're worn out from the comparison game, make that list. If you can't celebrate your talents and laugh at your limitations, make that list.

    Stick it to your bathroom mirror. Carry it in your purse. And refuse to apologize for being you.

    So, friend, if you've been created to bake homemade bread, by all means, bake away.

    If you've been fashioned to encourage others, speak life.

    If you've been gifted to sing, fill the earth with music, please.

    But whatever you do, don't try to do it all, or you just might miss the one thing that the world desperately needs you to do.

    Dear Lord, I am tired of trying to do it all. Help me identify my gifts and accept my limitations so I can play my part in Your mighty Kingdom tale. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Romans 12:5-6, "So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't." (The Message)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Try to go one whole day without measuring yourself against anyone else. When you are tempted to compare yourself to someone, pray for her instead.

    Make that list of what you don't do and post it where you will see it each day.

    This week, say "no" to one thing that you weren't created to do.

    © 2014 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

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

  • Threatened by Change

    Boyd

    Here is this man [Jesus] performing many signs.If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.  John 11:47-48

    Change can be our friend or our foe. It depends on our need for control. If we have to be in control, then our need for control can control us. Thus, we have the opportunity to trust Christ in exchange for our need to control. We play God when we feel like we have to be all knowing, when only the Almighty is omniscient. Frustration will follow a faith that requires a perfectly controlled environment, but peaceful is the person who embraces change and rests in Christ.

    The religious leaders were threatened by Jesus. His charisma, clear teaching and compelling character were competition to this gaggle of guys who sought to control the religious and political destiny of the nation. Yes, change is a threat to the status quo, because they feel like something better may replace their position and power. So, critics of change may create fear by promoting worst case scenarios to other insecure opponents of change. We shouldn’t be surprised if our belief in Jesus stirs up controversy. He is a threat to those who do not know Him.

    “There are six things the Lord hates... A false witnesswho pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16, 18).

    Furthermore, Christ is a change agent. He changes the motivations of the human heart. Jesus introduces a joyless heart of greed--to a joy filled heart of generosity. The Holy Spirit sensitizes a self reliant heart, with one led by listening to the Lord. Our heavenly Father takes our heart that yearns for love, and lovingly takes us into His intimate care. Our life in Christ is not an add on to our old life, or even an extreme makeover. Salvation is a start over with our faith as our foundation.

    Therefore, followers of Jesus need not be threatened by His desire for change. Similar to an effective athletic team or successful company constantly look for ways to change for the better, so we remain pliable in asking the Spirit to reveal areas of needed growth in our character. A Christian without change is sleeping with the enemy, but a Christian being changed by Christ is a threat to the enemy. What change is He calling you to not only accept, but initiate? Change wins!

    “And he said: 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:3).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me not to be threatened by change, but to invite Your life changing Spirit, into my life.

    Related Readings: 2 Chronicles 6:37; Ecclesiates 8:1; Jeremiah 7:4-6;  Luke 9:29; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

    Post/Tweet today: Our life in Christ is not an add on to our old life; salvation is a start over with our faith as the foundation.  #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • When Worry is Part of Your Personality

    Tracie

    "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

    His comment wasn't meant to be critical, but it immediately pierced my heart.

    I was explaining to my husband how worried I'd been about several situations and reciting the reasons why my worry was justified. He gently reminded me that worrying wouldn't help anything, and I quickly replied, "But I can't help it!"

    Then he said with a smile, "I know you can't. Worrying is just part of your personality."

    Deep down I knew I worried too much, especially when it came to my children's safety, their happiness and situations I couldn't control. But I didn't want to be labeled a "worrier," and I certainly didn't want to admit worrying was "part of my personality."

    Yet, if I were honest with myself, I knew it was true.

    Although I trust God and know He is in control, the human side of me often tends to worry. I'm thankful God isn't surprised by my worry, and wants to help me overcome it. Jesus even addressed this very issue when He taught His followers in what we now call the Sermon on the Mount.

    In this teaching, Jesus shared detailed instructions for how Christians should live their daily lives and how faith should shape behavior — including how to deal with worry.

    In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus specifically told His followers not to worry about food or clothes because God would provide for their needs, just as He does for the birds of the air. This promise of provision and protection applies to all areas of our lives, including help with our problems and easing our inner-most anxieties.

    Jesus knew the people of that time struggled with worry, just as we do. At times it is hard to trust God with the concerns that weigh heaviest on our hearts. Instead of trusting Him to handle what we cannot, we waste the opportunities of today worrying about the possibilities of tomorrow. God wants us to leave our problems in His hands, rather than let them become a stumbling block in our faith.

    Sometimes it takes a gentle reminder, such as my husband's innocent words, to remind me of this promise. I needed to stop holding onto my worries and quit continually reminding Jesus to be as concerned as I was. Instead, I should daily turn those worries into prayers. I have since committed to worrying less and trusting Jesus more and have experienced the freedom that comes with truly entrusting my needs to Him.

    Although we all have things in our lives that lead to worry and reasons to be concerned, what peace we can enjoy if we consciously choose to lay down each day's worries at God's feet and leave tomorrow's worries up to Him, too.

    Lord, forgive me for not trusting You with my problems and for letting my worry become a wedge in my faith. Give me the strength to put them in Your hands and avoid trying to take them back. Help me learn to trust You more and believe You are always in control of my life and the things that worry me most. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 5:7, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (NLT)

    Luke 12:29-32, "What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself." (MSG)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What worries are most heavily weighing on your heart today that you need to turn over to God?

    Have you been trying to handle everything on your own, without God's help?

    Read Matthew 6:25-34 and ask God to speak to your heart through these verses.

    © 2014 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

  • Divine Christ

    Boyd

    Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. John 11:43-44

    As a warm up to His own resurrection, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The One who called Himself the resurrection and the life, brought a dead man back to life. This seventh miracle  recorded by John is the most outrageous. Who brings a man back to life after being dead cold  in the grave for four days? Only God can do this--Christ, 100% divine in nature, transcended His natural law of death with His supernatural law of love that brings back life. Jesus is God.

    Jesus in His humanity wept bitter tears, knowing there would very soon be tears of joy. He hurts when we hurt and He rejoices when we rejoice. Hallelujah our Lord Christ cares; in the middle of our crisis His calm comfort is available and His hope is on the horizon. Our divine Christ sees with compassion a dead end job, and gives us life with fresh vision and opportunity. Natural man may seek to squelch, even kill our dreams, but our divine Christ supersedes cynical claims. What man tries to destroy by discrediting, Christ can bring back to life in a full display of His glory.

    “God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not” (Romans 4:17).

    Has something you hold dear died? A relationship that may have spiraled down into a suspicion filled scenario where neither of you trusts the other? The ability to enjoy a dear one’s company, because they have moved away or their physical functions are impaired? Whatever has died, trust Christ to bring back to life something exceedingly better. Our best and brightest imagination of what’s possible with God retreats penniless, compared to the incomprehensible riches of His grace.

    Above all, we look forward to the voice of Christ calling us forth from the dead. The final resurrection is anticipated by those dead in Christ, but is dreaded by those dead in their sin. The One who conquered death gives us the keys to escape death’s dungeon. What’s cloudy and overcast now, will be clear and sunny with Him. We may weep in the night of this life, but we will find the limitless joy of Jesus in the morning of our glorious resurrection body. In Christ, He sets aside our dingy grave clothes of sin, and robes us with His radiant robe of righteousness!

    “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise You for the divine power of Your son Jesus Christ, who brings to life my life and love.

    Related Readings: Isaiah 26:19; John 8:58-59; Romans 6:4; Philippians 2:6; Revelation 22:12

    Post/Tweet today: Our imagination of what’s possible with God retreats penniless, compared to the incomprehensible riches of His grace.

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Why God Makes Me Do the Hard Stuff

    Chrystal

    "... for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8 (NASB)

    Recently, I went to the gym to get in some cardio. Cardio makes me sweat, and sweat means my fat is crying.

    Hallelujah!

    Then I decided to go for some strength training. I don't like strength training.

    I found myself wandering around, trying to remember which machine did what and how much weight was the right amount. I looked like a lost puppy.

    I just don't like weights. They are unfamiliar. They are hard.

    My visit to the gym was the first time in a long while that I've attempted resistance training on my own.

    At various times last year, I'd been at the gym, hitting the weights ... but not by myself.

    Last year, my husband and I made a commitment to invest in our health and worked with a personal trainer.

    It. Was. So. Hard. And it involved a lot of weights.

    We were with someone who knew what they were doing, giving us direction.

    Someone successful in getting both of us to try new machines, routines and levels of resistance.

    Someone who worked us hard ... very hard.

    I didn't like it.

    Well, I didn't like it until I started seeing a change in my body.

    There is something about being pushed to lift a weight you think is too heavy that brings a new level of physical and mental strength — challenging you to attempt more reps than you would on your own.

    There is something about a person knowing what you are capable of doing, even when you don't know that for yourself.

    There is something about a trainer.

    In my spiritual life, I like to do what "works." I go to church. I pray. I read my Bible.

    But sometimes I'm challenged in the gym of life to hit the heavy stuff. But not by myself.

    When I made the commitment to have Jesus be the Lord of my life, I also committed to allow Him to be my personal Trainer.

    And I'm not gonna lie. Sometimes it's been hard. And involved a lot of heavy lifting.

    But I've learned that God is truly Someone who knows what He is doing.

    Someone who gets me to try new experiences, routines or levels of resistance.

    Someone who allows the hard ... the very hard.

    And many times I don't like it.

    That is, until I start seeing a change in my soul.

    There is something about being pushed to lift a weight that we think is too heavy that brings us to a new level of spiritual maturity — challenging us to go for a few more days, weeks, months or years in a situation we wouldn't even attempt on our own.

    There is something about a Person knowing what you are capable of even when you don't know that for yourself.

    There is something about the Trainer.

    Indeed, God the Master Trainer, has the health of our spirit and soul in mind.

    And because He knows where I need to be tested, challenged and stretched, He will not allow me to stay in my comfort zone.

    Although I could keep doing what "works" in my spiritual life, it's the uncomfortable situations God allows that strengthen and make me more "fit" in the faith.

    So hang in there. God is the Master Trainer. He knows what He's doing.

    Father God, I really don't like when life is hard. I don't like carrying heavy loads or pressing through difficult situations. Please help me see each and every uncomfortable circumstance You allow in my life as an opportunity for me to grow. Help me to trust that You are indeed the Master Trainer. Help me to believe and rest knowing that, even when life is tough, You know exactly what You are doing and have my spiritual strength and well-being at heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: James 1:3-4, "After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing." (CEB)

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

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: In what area of your life are you having to do some "heavy lifting"? What heavy load is God asking or allowing you to carry?

    Take a moment to reflect on your life. Where do you see that you have grown spiritually? What circumstances has God allowed that have helped you to grow?

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Son of God – Now Available on DVD!

    Son of God DVD
    Child of Mine by David & Beverly Lewis The Redemption of Henry Myers DVD A Long Way Off DVD
    A bestselling Bible study from Beth Moore
    Children of the Day – Member Book by Beth Moore
  • Emotional Jesus

    Boyd

    When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!" John 11:33-36

    Jesus felt; He felt deeply. He felt the intense sorrow of Mary and Martha losing their brother. He felt gratitude for friends and family who came alongside to support them in their grief. His spirit was moved and troubled by the trouble those He loved were experiencing. Yes indeed, our Lord wept with those who wept, and rejoiced with those who rejoiced. He was much more than the pale, emotionless European portraits of the renaissance. Love feels deeply human needs.

    Love takes the time to be with those who hurt and mourn over loss. Love in action is emotion expressed. Friendship is a communication of affection. We are strong for the weak, when we weep with the weak. Non-emotional responses to a hurting heart only prolong the healing. Thus, we pray by the Holy Spirit to enter into emotional access with our troubled friends and family. We love by being available and use words only when necessary. Love emotionally connects.

    “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it” (Luke 19:41).

    What human condition deserves our empathy? Have we so insulated ourselves from pain that we are numb to those who silently suffer? Indeed, we are called by Christ to be intentional to comfort the comfortless. Others who grieve and wail from within need our supportive, tender compassion. So, almost stealth like: we cook a meal, sit by the bedside holding a clammy hand, cradle a crying baby in our arms, or hug a sobbing soul. Our love feels what those we love feel.

    Are your emotions whole, so you are able to wholly love another soul? If not, invite the sweet salve of Jesus’ comfort to free you to feel again. Under the Spirit’s control, freely express what you feel: anger, fear, insecurity, disappointment, grief or frustration. Feelings processed properly in prayer become helpful prescriptions for others stuck in sorrow. Learn the skills of emotional conversation, so you can help others locked up by unresolved pain. An expressive heart loves Jesus with its heart, so prayerfully speak what you feel and feel what you speak. Jesus does.

    “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth'” (Luke 10:21).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the compassion and joy of Jesus, help me express my emotions in a healthy way.

    Related Readings: Job 16:5; Psalm 100:2; Isaiah 63:9; Luke 6:23; Hebrews 12:2; Jude 1:24

    Post/Tweet today:. Feelings processed properly in prayer become helpful prescriptions for others stuck in sorrow. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

  • Welcome to the Bad Mom's Club

    Kathi

    "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

    It was an "I'm crushing this motherhood thing!" kinda morning.

    Backpacks? Check.

    Justen's Colonial Day costume? Check.

    School lunches? Check.

    Crushing it.

    Then, at work, came Justen's teary phone call: "Mom? I left my costume at home!"

    Normally I didn't interfere with natural consequences, but I could tell Justen was broken-hearted. I promised to bring his costume in time for the Colonial Parade.

    I got to school just as all the kids were lining up to change and raced to hand Justen his bag. But the teacher stopped me, saying: "If Justen can't remember to bring his costume, then he'll not be wearing it in the parade."

    What? It was an honest mistake. And who was she anyway to tell me how to discipline my kid?

    My son marched onto the stage ... the only child still in school uniform.

    He was upset. But as soon as the parade was over and the kids were enjoying their orange slices, he'd recovered.

    But me? Not so much.

    I knew that while Justen stood there in his blue polo, every person in that audience saw the invisible sign hanging around his neck: "Bad Mom" and thought: Obviously, if Justen's mom had her act together, he would be sporting his George Washington costume.

    Have you ever been there? Overwhelmed by the shame of failing as a mom?

    I tried to hide my failures, hoping nobody would see my weaknesses. But what I've learned is that when I'm fearless enough to admit that I don't have this mom thing completely down, I'm finally humbled enough to admit my need.

    Second Corinthians 12:9 reminds us that God's "grace is sufficient" and that His "power is made perfect in our weakness." Which means the weaker we are, the more we experience God's power.

    So, how do we allow God's strength to overpower our weaknesses?

    Have grace for other moms.

    And I mean a ton of grace. I'm talking, "I'm giving you a look of solidarity, mom whose child just ended up in the principal's office for saying a bad word because his friends dared him to. I realize it could just as easily have been my kid."

    The phrase "My child would never ..." needs to be banished from our vocabularies. I can promise you that every mom's kid has done something shame-producing. And every kid's mom is sure she's the only one who is failing.

    Have grace (and some mercy) for myself.

    Years ago, I would fall into the "bad mom pit of despair" when one of my kids threw a fit in public. I would kick myself for days because I wasn't a better mom with kids who said, "Yes, Mother" and "May I help?"

    But as my friend Kim would say, "Have you been to Target lately? There is a meltdown happening in Every. Single. Aisle."

    One meltdown is, well, a meltdown, not a report card on your parenting.

    Beg God for help.

    Perhaps we turn quickly to God for the big stuff. But do we seek Him out when we forget the George Washington costume?

    I, along with two friends, actually did start The Bad Mom's Club simply because we were all feeling like failures at the same time. Don't you love it when God gives you company in your pit of despair?

    When one of our kids is "going through it," whatever "it" may be — bad attitudes, bad behavior, bad choices — we have two other moms ready to listen, to pray like it's their own kid, and when we ask for it, offer advice.

    Because that's what it's all about. Admitting our weakness, holding it up to God, and letting His blanket of grace cover it.

    Dear Lord, I pray that I would look for Your grace in my strength and in my weakness, so that everyone who sees the good and the ugly in my life knows that I live each day with Your power sustaining me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 40:29, "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." (NIV)

    Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV)

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When you're in that Bad Mom pit, who do you turn to?

    How can you encourage another mom who is hanging out in the pit with you today?

    © 2014 by Kathi Lipp. All rights reserved.

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

  • Blog Summary for May 2014

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

    Shane Harper on Living Out the Gospel

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

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

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

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

    Read the full interview here.

    Michael W. Smith - Behind the New Album

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

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

    Read the full interview here.

    Question and Answers with Nick Vujicic

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

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

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

    Pulling No Punches - an interview with Lecrae

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

    Read the full interview here.

    A Q&A with Capital Kings

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

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

    Read the full q&a here.

    All or Nothing with Mike from MIKESCHAIR

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

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

    Read the full interview here.

    Matt Maher. On Being Christian.

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

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

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

    Read the full interview here.

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

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

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

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

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

    Read the full interview here.

    Kari Jobe - Pioneering New Roads in Worship

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

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

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

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

    The Life, Legacy and Music of Bill Gaither

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

    Read the full interview here.

  • Below Paradise - an interview with Tedashii

    John

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    John:               So it was the same guy?

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

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

    Tedashii:       Yes, very much so.

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

    Tedashii:       Thank you man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tedashii:       Praise the Lord.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tedashii:       Yeah.

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

    Tedashii:       Yeah, amen.

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

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

    John:               Awesome.

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

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

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

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

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

    John:               It is what it is.

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

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

    Tedashii:       At church.

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

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

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

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

    Tedashii:       Yes, yes.

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

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

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

    Tedashii:       Here we go, good.

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

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

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

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

    Tedashii:       Thank you man.

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

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Proclaim the Good News | Mark 16:15
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