• ABOUT
    Did you know?
    All of our earnings go to Christian charities.
    Click to learn more about us!
  • SHOP
    View the latest sales and promotions going on now!
    When you shop, you give.
  • GIVE
    See our latest Giving Challenge.
  • GROW
    Our blog shares devotionals, interviews, contests & more—all to help you grow in your faith.

  • Christmas is Coming

Family Christian

  • Motivated By Love

    Posted on August 7, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

    Love is the highest and best motivation. Like beauty pageant contestants, faith and hope accompany love as the top three finalists, but love is crowned the winner. It reigns because it brings out the very best in the lover and the one being loved. Similar to an invisible force field, love protects us from ourselves and compels us to give ourselves to others. It generates goodwill and garners trust. Yes, love is the pinnacle of the Lord’s expectations because it points to Christ.

    Love is loyal when most are disloyal. Love steps up when some step away. Love believes the best and doesn’t think to assume the worse. Love looks out for the interests of loved ones above its own needs. Love loves when unloved, love loves when lonely and love loves when loved. Love loves the unlovely, the unconcerned and the underutilized. Love looks for potential where impatience sees disappointment. Love is the Lord’s lubricant causing relations to run smoothly.

    The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6

    What is your primary reason for relating to people? Is it to be loved or to love? Fortunately, when we are free to love without expecting anything in return, we are fulfilled by love’s fruit. Indeed, the glorious grace of God does not stand still when you run to love one starved of compassion. Hallelujah, your gift of love invites the Holy Spirit to shed His love across the landscape of your heart and soul. Like kudzu the seeds of love grow in places we cannot fathom.

    Furthermore, make sure your motivation for love is inspired out of your intimacy with your Heavenly Father, as you commune with Christ. The more consistent your love relationship with Jesus, the more capacity you have to love. To the extent you are loved well by the Lord, you will love well. The world’s noise drowns out the gentle words of Jesus, “I love you,” but in your daily quiet time you hear and feel His presence. God’s love motivates you to love with intentionality!

    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to love motivated by Your gracious and giving love.

    Related Readings: John 15:12; Romans 5:8, 10; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 3:6; 1 John 4:7-21

    Post/Tweet today: The more consistent our love relationship with Jesus, the more capacity we have to love. #motivatedbylove

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with 1 Corinthians

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

    Posted on August 7, 2013 by John van der Veen

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

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

    John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four adult children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda. They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their fifteen grandchildren.

    John is type of author that evokes emotion in the reader. Some try to avoid his books and others can't stop reading them. His prayer would be that emotion would drive one to a specific place - the foot of the cross. Or, simply put, the Gospel of Jesus.

    In his new book, Strange Fire, John lays out a call for the Church to repent of it's "casual" approach to worship. After reading Strange Fire, one can understand that worship is a serious matter. God is to be enjoyed for sure, but in the direction that He gives.

    In our recent conversation, I asked Dr. MacArthur about his new book and what I found is a man still living under conviction. While in his mid 70's, there is a fire that burns in this man. Strange it is not. For it's a passion for the glory of God.

    John, I am curious, when you set out to write a book, who do you write your books for? Are you writing for a particular group of people? Are you writing for your church? Or are you just writing for the evangelical community altogether?

    John M.: Yeah, primarily, I'm writing for the broader evangelical community; in particular, the pastors and leaders and influencers. When I write a book, particularly a political or issue-oriented book, I do that for the benefit of the church: to make a truth clear to the church, to warn the church. So the audience is typically the broader evangelical community with a focus on those in leadership to help them understand the issues and the impact that they're having on the church.

    John: So, would you say that you're writing in response to something that's happening in church culture, or are you kind of thinking, "Hey, maybe this is what could be happening in church culture, so it needs to be addressed…"?

    John M.: You know more often than not, John, I react. I look at my books, or many of them anyway, as kind of a correction, a clarification, some discernment applied to an issue in the church that the church needs to be aware of. That might be more frequently my motivation but not exclusively. There are times when I think the church just needs clarity on a doctrine or an issue, and so I’ll write more from a positive affirmation side. That would be the lesser of the common motive, though, as usually I'm looking at the church feeling concerned about the direction, the lack of understanding or the church's exposure to something that is dangerous--something the church needs to understand more clearly to fulfill its ministry. So, I'm usually coming off of something that I think needs clarity or needs correction.

    John: Before we jump into your new book, "Strange Fire," I'm curious, John, have you ever written anything that you wish you would not have written? Have you ever changed a viewpoint on something that you would have liked to go back and refute?

    John M.: I would say no. I've never written anything that I would like to get back. I think the Lord really prepared me through my training and upbringing with a sound framework of theology so I kind of have the borders pretty much in mind for the truth and sound doctrine. Obviously, I've understood things in a clearer way. There are certain verses I would interpret differently now. There are some details maybe in handling the word of God that I might express differently. There's been a lot of refinement and a lot more clarification, but there's really nothing through the years that I would say would reach the level of "I wish I'd never written that."

    John: So, you have a new book coming out called, "Strange Fire.” I am curious, is this a follow-up to "Charismatic Chaos"?

    John M.: It is definitely in the same category and the same genre. It is addressing the charismatic movement, but it isn't that book. It isn't like that book, "Charismatic Chaos," which by the way is still in print--I just received the final word on the publication of that book in Chinese. So that book has been consistently in print since it first came out. But it addresses the same movement; only it addresses that movement in its current form. The "Charismatic Chaos" book is ... I don't know how many years old, but it's 15 years old or more, and the movement has morphed and changed and gained momentum on a global level. So while the same issue is addressed, which is the charismatic movement, this is a completely independent book that has nothing to do with the prior book. This one addresses the movement in a way that is consistent with its present form and, of course, since the time that I wrote that book, the prosperity gospel has just gone like a wildfire and so that's an element, and there are other elements as well that have changed.

    John: "Charismatic Chaos" was and is a fantastic book, and I have recommended it many times to many of my friends and I'm sure you have seen many comments by people who are being challenged by it. So hopefully we will see the same thing with "Strange Fire" as well.

    John M.: I will say this John, the book through the years has had an amazing ministry in helping people come out of that movement, and I would say that is the manifest impact of that book, letters upon letters, tens of thousands of them through the years coming to our ministry, the people in multiple languages reading that book, and coming out of that movement. This book is directed more at the leaders of that movement, the purveyors of that system, false miracles, false prosperity gospel, misrepresentation of gifts and all of that kind of stuff. This book really goes at the leadership and exposes the movement at that level, as well as its aberrations on a popular level. So, I'm praying that it will be an indictment whereas the "Charismatic Chaos" book was not so much an indictment of the leadership, but that it will also at the same help people to come out of that movement to the truth.

    John: You start "Strange Fire" with a story, the fantastic story of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron. They are both priests, as you know, part of Israel. They, as you clearly point out, understood the teachings of God, were highly regarded, etc., and then the unbelievable happened, they went within this context of worship for them to present a, in a sense, sacrifice to God, and they did it in a wrong manner. God responded by sending fire and consumed both of them, both of these brothers. My question John is, do you think to some extent, the greater evangelical community, or at least maybe the charismatic community is in danger of doing the same thing?

    John M.: I think the charismatic community does the same thing. I think it offers strange fire, that's the point I make. In the ninth chapter in that same context, an offering was given to God appropriately and rightly, and God burned up the offering, and immediately after that, the offering was made inappropriately and God burned up the offers, and what that does tell us is that God feels very strongly, even judgmentally, against false worship. That is, worship which dishonors him; and I think the charismatic movement is filled with that.

    Now, I understand, we're not living in Old Testament times. God doesn't open up the ground and swallow up false prophets. God doesn't send a bear out of the woods to shred young men who mock a prophet. Obviously, God doesn't bring judgment the way he brought judgment in the Old Testament era; but he has the same attitude, and while judgment may not come in a temporal way, it will come, because God feels exactly the same about unacceptable worship. In fact, if you go back to the Ten Commandments, the first commandment and the second commandment are about no other God and how we come to God, how we approach God. The Old Testament is clear that we are to fear God and that we are to worship Him in a way that is consistent with His decree and His will and His commands.

    So, I just think--and it's a sad thing--that these charismatic churches and charismatic groups are full of people who do not understand that they can't play fast and loose with this kind of supposed worship. They can't say the Holy Spirit is doing something He's not doing, or saying something He's not saying. They can't ascribe to God fake miracles or fake revelations and make up things and say that God said them and the Holy Spirit said them.

    This is the most serious kind of conduct, negatively speaking, that any human being can commit. It is to blaspheme God, it’s an affront to God. I say in the introduction of the book that Jesus said the leaders of Israel had attributed the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan, and I draw a parallel, kind of an inverse parallel, that the modern charismatic movement attributes the works of Satan to the Holy Spirit. There are so many things that are obviously not of God at all that are being attributed to the Holy Spirit. This is very, very serious, and that's why the book doesn't hold back because the seriousness of dishonoring approaches to God demands a serious confrontation.

    John: So my mind goes in a couple of different directions here and there based on what you just said. Is God adhering to His forbearance then, as He approaches the Christian community, the charismatic community?

    John M.: Well, first of all, yeah, we have to understand that God is always forbearing, and He doesn't give us what we deserve when we deserve it. We are all alive because of His grace, and God by nature as Savior, even temporally, He withholds his judgment, He is merciful, He is gracious. I think many of these people aren't Christians, they're false teachers, false prophets, charlatans and frauds, and many of the people that follow them are nonbelievers who are deceived and duped, and certainly the Lord withholds judgment on them. Obviously, their judgment is the judgment of eternal condemnation when it does come.

    But even among believers, you know, there are many sins that believers can commit and do commit, and there are many unfaithful believers who don't have the ground open up and swallow them or who aren't struck down by God, although that can happen because we know from the New Testament, there is a sin of the death and there can be a sin in the life of the believer that will cause the Lord to take him home.

    But I think that's correct; I think God is patient even toward his own, and that's one of the functions of pastors. Paul, you remember, said to the church in Acts 20, "I have not ceased for three years to warn you with tears and to warn you that of your own selves perverse men will rise up, will lead you astray and from the outside wolves will come in with deceptive teaching." Paul writes his letters to churches and continually talks about error, and he said to the Galatians, "Having begun in the Spirit, are you perfected in the flesh? Please don't fall into legalism." All of those epistles have warning sections. Thessalonians, you know, warns about misunderstanding the second coming and believing lies. That's just part of ministry.

    So, we would say that while the Lord is forbearing with His own people who truly belong to him, it is the role and duty of pastors and leaders of the church to expose the false teachers, to expose the false doctrine and to preach sound doctrine. In fact, you shouldn't even be a leader in the church unless you are capable of exposing error. According to Paul's standards for leadership, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, you have to be able to recognize error, expose it for error, and teach sound doctrine. That's part of being a leader in the church. It's not necessarily popular in this kind of environment where everybody calls for tolerance and acceptance. And nobody has screamed louder for that than the charismatics, because they have to have that in order to succeed. They have gotten what they wanted, but it's true that the Lord is patient, especially with His church. But that raises the importance of those who are leading His church to speak the truth and warn the people.

    John: In the book, you suggest a few questions to help test the authenticity of true works of the Spirit. You ask the readers to ask five questions. One, does it exalt the true Christ? Two, does it oppose worldliness? Three, does it point people to Scripture? Four, does it elevate the truth? And five, does it produce love for God and for others?

    Now, when I am reading those questions, my thought is, to some extent, we could have a pastor or a leader within the charismatic movement, being asked those questions on one side and John MacArthur being asked those questions on one side and both of them and looking at the acts of what's happening in the charismatic movement would answer those questions in the affirmative. Does it exalt the true Christ? They would answer yes. Does it oppose worldliness? They would say yes. How does someone within a Christian community approach then these two conflicting viewpoints and say, "Well, wait a second here, you both can't be right. I hear someone on TV telling me that what they're doing is truly of God, and yet I have MacArthur on one side telling me no, what they're doing is not of God, it's of the devil." How do we reconcile that, John?

    John M.: Those five questions basically came from Jonathan Edwards, and he was using those five things to evaluate the legitimacy or illegitimacy of certain things that were happening in the great awakening, and in every case it all depends on how you define the terms. If I ask the question, "Does it honor Christ?" the guy can say, "Of course, it honors Christ." A Mormon can say Mormonism honors Christ, A Jehovah's Witness can say Jehovah's Witness ministers honor Christ, but that begs a definition of Christ. Who is Christ? And what does honor Christ? That is the compelling issue.

    For example, when Kenneth Copeland says that Jesus on the cross became a sinner, died and went to hell, and was punished for three days, that's heresy. He may ask somebody, do charismatics honor Christ? Does Kenneth Copeland honor Christ? Sure, off the top of their head, they would say, “Yes,” but when you look more deeply, to say that Christ became a sinner and went to hell to pay for sin for three days and then God raised him, that does not honor Christ.

    So, all those questions then have to be defined. The terms in all those questions have to be defined. Before you can answer the question, "Does it honor Christ?" you have to show who Christ is, what Christ has done, and what the Bible says honors Christ, and then see if based upon the biblical definition of honoring Christ, they are honoring Christ; so in every case, a superficial answer, we expect that. We expect them to say, "Oh yeah, this demonstrates love for God, this demonstrates love for others." But upon closer examination, when you compare how the Bible defines those terms and what the charismatics do, it is not hard to answer the question.

    John: So, context defines the meaning here.

    John M.: Context and definition is everything. Sure, you could say to a Muslim, "Do you love God?" and he could say, "Yes," but he better talk about who you're talking about, what God you’re talking about and what you mean by love. So yeah, all those words beg for explanation, and in the book, those questions have a very carefully laid out biblical context in which they have to be answered.

    John: Yeah, they do, they do.

    John, the question was asked once of a TV preacher, "Why do amazing miracles like people being raise from the dead, blind eyes being opened, lame people walking again happen with greater frequency in places like Africa, and not here in the U.S.? So now I'm asking you John, would you agree with that statement, and then how would you answer that question?

    John M.: I would answer it by saying who said that and based on what evidence? I have absolutely never seen any legitimate evidence of anything like that going on anywhere in the world. People being raised from the dead claims, sure. People have made the claim that that has happened, that they have seen that happen, but there is literally no evidence, no genuine evidence for things like that. You have near-death situations where people come near to death and maybe are revived, we would all understand that, but nobody goes to a funeral and raises somebody out of the casket after they have been embalmed.

    So, you know, those kinds of claims are basically meaningless. They’re as meaningless as all of these claims about people going to heaven and seeing Jesus and seeing the Holy Spirit as a blue fog and Jesus riding a rainbow horse. That's why Paul said to the Corinthians, "I was caught up to the third heaven," but it's not profitable to talk about that, because it's not verifiable. They love the unverifiable. They love to make claims that no one can ever substantiate. People have done vast studies trying to track down the supposed miracles of well-known healers and all the evidence has come in through the years that there's just nothing there.

    John: What do you hope happens? I mean you kind of answered this at the beginning, but what do you hope happens as this book launches, as it goes out into the Christian community? Just what do you hope the response is going to be?

    John M.: First, I hope that those people who are sitting in these environments and know something is wrong but have been intimidated, that they have open minds and know this isn't right. That they know they're dying of cancer, they've got heart disease, they're going through a divorce, they're struggling with sin, they're not getting rich, and they're questioning why the guy at the top of the Ponzi scheme pile has a jet and two Mercedes and they can barely exist—or even can't exist. I hope those people who are full of anxiety and doubt will find reason to run and reason to flee the error and see and expose it for what it is.

    Secondly, I hope people will understand the danger of the influences that they're under. When Jesus was denouncing the Pharisees, he said they produce sons of hell. It’s an amazing indictment of those that the populous of Israel felt was representative of God, and what Jesus said is they don't produce sons of heaven, they produce sons of hell. I think it was more on Jesus' mind at the end of his ministry, in the final discussion he had before the cross with the disciples and the populous of Jerusalem that they flee from false teachers because they have such deadly influence. So, I hope people will see the corruption. If you start with Charles Parham from whom the movement came and see that he was arrested for sodomy and you just progress through the scandals of the movement, I hope it exposes the corruption that's at the top of the movement.

    The third thing that I would hope and pray for is that the movement would receive such a blow that it finds it difficult to recruit. And that's asking a lot because it's a big wide world and most of the Christian world doesn't even know I exist, but I would love to have this book slow down the growth and then obviously I would hope that even those that are fully convinced in the movement and fully convinced leaders in the movement, God might see fit to rescue them from it.

    John: We're going to jump off of topic of the book here. The tagline for "Grace to You" is Unleashing God's truth, One Verse at a Time. You have been a proponent for expository preaching, obviously for a long time. I'm curious, do you believe that's the only way to proclaim Scripture?

    John M.: Well, I believe initially the only way to proclaim anything from the Scripture is to interpret it correctly. So let's just say that however the sermon comes out, whether it's a theological sermon, or a sort of exhortational sermon, or an exposition of a given passage, or whether you're dealing with a biblical theme, the end product of what you preach has to come from rightly dividing the word of God. So, it's not that every sermon has to be a sort of word-by-word, verse-by-verse exposition, certainly as tight and as defined maybe as I would do it, but when you say this is what Scripture teaches, you can't truly say that unless you've rightly divided the truth.

    So, even when I preach, say, a message on a theological theme, a biblical theme, a doctrine of Scripture or give an overview, the message at the end of the day has to reflect the Scripture rightly interpreted. So, in that sense, all preaching has to be expositional. Sound theology is the product of accurate exposition. I prefer Bible exposition. I think it's the right way to preach because it's the only way that covers everything, and I don't think God simply gave us big ideas. I think He gave us truth down to the very smallest phrases and words, and if you're going to get the full richness of Scripture, that's the way you're going to get it.

    John: Do you think to some extent by avoiding expository preaching, it has allowed growth for the charismatic movement? I mean, do you think that's why to some extent everything that "Strange Fire," the reason why you wrote that book is because of the fact that expository preaching has not been held in high regard?

    John M.: If expository preaching dominated the church, and if that expository preaching was accurate interpretation of Scripture, the movement couldn't survive. That's absolutely correct. All false doctrine survives in an environment of ignorance or tolerance, and in evangelicalism in our day, you have a lot of ignorance, a lot of people who just think about church growth and whatever, and not about the truth in its detail. And you certainly have the personal kind of movement in Christianity, which conveys the idea, “What does the Bible mean to me?” and whatever I think it means and feel it means, and whatever the Lord shows me it means, that's what it means.

    So you not only have no exposition of Scripture based upon a scientific pattern, but you don't even have Hermeneutics, you don't even have rules for interpretation. If the Lord shows you what this means intuitively, like a pain in your stomach or a notion that pops into your head, now you've got an alien approach to Scripture. So, whether you have the Bible interpreted intuitively or interpreted personally or not interpreted at all, of course then anything and everything flourishes.

    Interested in reading John's new book? Click here for more information.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Worship, John MacArthur, Kenneth Copeland

  • Moments Like These

    Posted on August 7, 2013 by Wendy Pope

    Wendy Pope

    "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." Hebrews 13:15 (ESV)

    My eyes caught hers as I was leaving the room. The somber look on her face revealed her heavy heart. I gave her a questioning look to which she simply shook her head "no." We'd been praying for her to receive some good news, a "yes" to an opportunity she'd been working hard to get. The call had come; she'd been denied.

    I recognized her pain. Its name: rejection. Like my friend, I waited for a similar call, only to be turned down too.

    Perhaps you have met the unwelcome intruder, rejection, as well.

    You work hard to earn a promotion, only to be over-looked. You aim to be a loving wife, yet your husband still leaves. Well-intended friends assure us with words like, "God's plans and timing are perfect." With great compassion they tell us, "Keep trusting God." But sometimes, when rejection hits hard, we need a boost to our trust. We need something when we're in the pit. Moments like these are made for praise.

    Praise heals brokenness in a way words alone cannot. When we praise through our pain, God supernaturally empowers us to do what seems impossible: rise above our circumstances. Our praise redirects our focus on Him rather than our rejection, and reminds us that God always welcomes us into His presence.

    Praising God is easy when life is full of happiness and success. However, when we're dealing with rejection, praising God can be difficult; it can feel like a sacrifice. It's not necessarily easy to offer a heart of thanks when we feel like we don't have much to be grateful for. However, the writer of Hebrews advises us to "continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips" (Hebrews 13:15b). Just like fruit is sweet and pleasing to our taste, praise is sweet and pleasing to the Lord.

    Praising through the pain (and if we're honest, sometimes through the self-pity) seems to take strength we don't have to give. But the author of Hebrews 13:15 tells us our ability to praise in hard moments comes through Jesus.

    As we tap into His power, our sacrifice of praise will generate more strength to praise, which will generate more praise. It is a beautiful cycle! Praise lifts our eyes from the rejection and sets it on all we have in Jesus: peace, comfort and acceptance.

    Later that week I texted my friend to see how she was doing. She'd taken time alone for praise and the pain of my friend's rejection had begun to ease. Did her troubles disappear? Was her rejection turned into acceptance? No. But her sorrow was turned to joy as she focused on praise, that was sweet and pleasing to her Lord.

    Dear Lord, thank You for supplying all I need all the time. You even give me strength to praise. What an awesome God You are! Help me to remember the truth I learned today when rejection comes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    What is your typical response when dealing with rejection?

    Today, sit alone and praise the LORD. Praise until praise generates more praise.

    Power Verses:
    Psalm 7:17, "I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High."

    Psalm 21:13, "Be exalted, O LORD, in Your strength! We will sing and praise Your power."

    © 2013 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Hebrews

  • Do God’s Will

    Posted on August 6, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

    The fortitude to press forward in the face of resistance is the mark of a steady saint. God’s will is momentarily celebrated on the mountain top, but most of the time is lived climbing a rocky face or regaining balance along a slippery slope. Traversing up or down requires perseverance. Yes, it’s reassuring to walk with someone who has plodded along a similar path. They know when to go boldly and when to wait patiently. God’s will normally works out in a round about way.

    What is the will of God for you right now? You can’t go wrong doing the next right thing. Don’t be overwhelmed with what needs to happen six months from now, rather focus on living today to its fullest. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with faith and wisdom for today. Daily obedience leads to weekly goals, leading to monthly objectives, leading to quarterly milestones and finally leading to annual accomplishments. Doing God’s will today leads to doing God’s will tomorrow.

    And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:27

    For example, if you are a husband or wife begin each day praying for your spouse to feel loved by their Heavenly Father and loved by you. If you are a parent pray the same for your child. If you are single ask the Lord to give you a singular focus to trust and obey. Stay pure by being washed daily with the cleansing power of prayer and God’s word. If you are a supervisor at work ask those you serve how you can help them. God’s will is fully obeying Christ’s commands.

    Your Heavenly Father sympathizes with your tension over two conflicting options. He wants you to use this test to lean into His heart and mind. Maybe there is a third option He wants you to discover through the wise counsel of a trusted confidant. Make sure your motivation is not to run away from a problem or conflict, but to persevere as the Holy Spirit reveals what to do next. As you wait out an uncomfortable circumstance the reward of God’s promise awaits you. You do God’s will by doing the next right thing. Walk close with Christ and He will lead you in His will!

    Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
    1 Thessalonians 5:13

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me with thanksgiving into the next steps in Your will.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 20:7; Mark 3:35; Romans 1:10; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

    Post/Tweet today: As you wait out an uncomfortable circumstance the reward of God’s promise awaits you. #doGodswill

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Hebrews

  • Mandisa - Finding Freedom by Overcoming

    Posted on August 6, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Coming off her most successful album ever, Mandisa returned to the studio to record her new album, Overcomer. Her previous album, What If We Were Real, has sold over 270,000 albums and featured the breakout radio hits “Good Morning,” “Waiting For Tomorrow,” and the #1 hit, “Stronger.” The American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee continues to be a voice of encouragement and truth to women facing life’s challenges. Mandisa also continues to have unprecedented media exposure for a Christian artist including two recent appearances on Good Morning America. 

    I sat down with Mandisa at a local coffee shop to talk about new music, coffee vs. tea, family and what it means to be an over-comer. What follows is a real conversation. Mandisa, some would say is a true artist. She is that for sure, but she is so much more. She is a warrior in a huge battle. She is a fighter - fighting for the truth of the Gospel. That can be summed up with one statement from her, "There is joy unspeakable!"

    John:               I’m reading a quote, and I’m not sure where this was, maybe on your promo sheet or something, but you said, “I recorded both the song ‘Overcomer’ and the album to fuel faith and empower people; to remind those facing a battle that all for the strength and power they need is readily available to them. We are all overcomers.”

    So, my question is, why do you think people struggle with not seeing that identity themselves?

    Mandisa:       Because we are natural people. We have a supernatural heritage, but we’re natural people. We tend to only see our circumstances and not look beyond our circumstances. I was reading in Judges 6-8, which is the story of Gideon, and it was fascinating to me. If you look at the snapshot of who Gideon was and Judges 6, and then if you look at the end in Judges 8, it’s almost like two completely different people. He was really kind of riddled with fear; I just think it was a stronghold of his. When the angel came to him and said, “Oh, mighty man of valor, the Lord is with you,” Gideon’s initial response was, “Well, if the Lord is with me, then why is this happening?” That’s so typical of us, isn’t it? We hear that the Lord is with us but then we look at our circumstances and say it doesn’t feel like the Lord is with me. Once Gideon started to believe what God said about him, he started walking it out. It took him believing what the angel of the Lord was saying to him to make him really started walking as a mighty man of valor. It was a process.

    I’m convinced that when people start believing what God says about them, they’ll start walking it out. But God, He requires the faith at first. That’s why He says time and time again, “Believe Me, trust Me.” I love the man in the Gospel as He says, “I believe; help my unbelief.” God honors that prayer; it’s like, “Lord, I really want to believe and I believe you a little bit but help me in the areas where I don’t so much.” I think when we pray that, God says, “Okay, thank you for finally asking me.” Wham! “Here you go!” [laughs]

    John:               When somebody comes to you and says, “Yeah, but you have it all together.”

    Mandisa:       Ugh! Please. [laughs]

    John:               They may say, “I’m just a single mom raising three kids,” or “I’m a college student with the whole world ahead of me,” or whatever, and yet they can’t see anything going on in their lives spiritually. How do you say, look at Gideon or look at the man in the New Testament who said, “Help my unbelief”? What is your secret? Have you found a set of steps or something?

    Mandisa:       Totally. I say look at them and look at me. My last album was called What If We Were Real? That’s because God really sent me on a journey of taking the mask off. It was the mask that I would wear to try to tell the world that I’ve got it all together. He taught me to really let people see me as I truly am because I’ve found… I don’t know, I think so often in the Body of Christ we drive up to church, get in an argument with our family in the car, and then drive up and hit the church door and we’re like, “Hi. I’m blessed and highly favored.” We put on this veneer like I’ve got it all together and I actually think that God calls us to live more transparently, to live more vulnerably and to let our brothers and sisters in Christ see us as we really are. One, because in that way we can help one another know that we’re not alone; and two, it helps us to become more than what we are or were to start with.

    So, my last album was a process of coming to understand that, and I have just learned to be very transparent--almost to a fault on my social media sites. I posted earlier this week about a moment where I had to confess to somebody at a store—it’s a long story, you can read it on my Facebook [laughs] —I had to confess to somebody at the store that I lied to them and [groans] that is just never easy to do! But I did it because, well, the Lord told me to and he convicted me and the less you listen to the conviction of the Lord, the more you get numb to it. I just want to always follow the conviction and to repent when I need to and to receive God’s grace and forgiveness and to keep it moving.

    I just try to make it a point of letting the world know I do not have it all together.  I’m on this journey just like you are and let’s do this together, let’s learn from one another.

    At the same time, you have to recognize that you’re more than what you currently see. When God looks at us, He sees us as he created us. He sees us covered in the blood of Jesus, not as what we see when we look in the reflection in the mirror.

    John:               Is it scary sometimes when you get that vulnerable with people?

    Mandisa:       I think it used to be; it’s not so much anymore. It’s been a process, but I can thank Simon Cowell, in part, for that [laughs], for kind of putting me on blast, you know, on American Idol years ago. It helped me to not live hidden and not live hiding who I really am. Him making fun of my weight on national television put my weight story out there for the world to see, and that’s the main area where I was the most timid of letting people really see what was inside. So when Simon threw me out there, I was kind of forced out there, but it was a blessing in disguise because I feel like I’ve really learned a lot through it. I’ve helped several brothers and sisters along the same journey know that they’re not alone and that they—and I’m struggling just like they are—we have everything we need to fight and to come in victoriously.

    John:               Total sidebar, but do you still stay in contact with some of those people from those days?

    Mandisa:       The contestants I do.

    John:               Who won that year?

    Mandisa:       Taylor Hicks. He is in Las Vegas right now, and I know I’m a little bit biased, but I think that we had one of the more successful seasons. If you look at our Top 10, you’ve got Catherine McPhee on an NBC show, Kelly Pickler was just on Dancing with the Stars, and Chris Daughtry is a superstar. So many of the people on my season are doing really well, so that’s one of the great things about social media.  I can always tweet them and Facebook them and keep in touch with how they’re doing. Then when I get to their cities, I can look them up and say, “Hey, let’s go grab some coffee.” But no, I don’t hang out with Simon Cowell on a regular basis. [laughs again]

    John:               So let’s look at this: Each of your records seem to tell another chapter or story in your life; adding, maybe, another layer of who you are. When you put those songs together or create that album, are you thinking of Mandisa? Are you thinking of your personal friends… or your fan base? When you make a record, who’s that for?

    Mandisa:       I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question and I like it!

    My albums have been a journey of my life. True Beauty was first and that was coming right off of doing American Idol and really learning not to define myself by the standards of the world but by what God says about me. Freedom was when God started chipping away at the things in my life that I’ve been bound by, mainly my food addiction, and I began really letting Him teach me that true freedom is not the fact that I can eat these scones that are right behind me, but that true freedom is knowing that I don’t have to and knowing that I have the power to resist those scones and the chocolate cookies or whatever is tempting me.

    The third was What If We Were Real? That record was God chipping away at the layers and letting me show the world who I really am, and with this one, it was a combination of me looking at my life and how I’m overcoming not just the weight struggle, but also lots of other areas in my life.  I’m overcoming … I think for a long time I was very miserable being single. I call myself super-duper single because I think once you hit 30 you’re not just single, you’re super single. (Laughs)

    I’m just saying, once I hit 30. (laughter). I think I was so miserable in that for such a long time, and I feel like God has been helping me to overcome depending on a man to complete me. I believe that I’m called to be married; I believe that I’m going to meet my husband one day, but saying “I’m going to live my life right now and not just wait for the moment when I get married.” That’s a big overcomer story for me.So, I was thinking about myself in those areas and then I was thinking about some friends of mine. One in particular, whose name is Keisha, was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant and was undergoing chemo treatments while she was seven months pregnant. When I looked at her story, I went, “Wow! You were in the middle of this battle and had the greatest outlook!” I could just see how God was going to use this as a testimony. I was like, “Keisha, you’re an overcomer and we’ve not even seen the end of this battle.” For me, it’s about really studying the Word of God and coming to understand that an overcomer is somebody who has not even conquered their circumstances yet.

    The Bible describes an overcomer as, first of all, if you have the Holy Spirit inside of you, the Bible makes it really clear that those who believe that Jesus is Lord, are overcomers, because Jesus is an overcomer. Then, of course, in John 4:4, it says that the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world. So, it really isn’t about circumstances; it’s not about feeling like we’re an overcomer.  We’re an overcomer because God says that we are. Like I said earlier, once we believe that, I think that’s when we’ll start walking it out. But we have to believe it first.

    That’s what this album is, is it’s convincing both myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ to believe that you and I are overcomers. That we need to and can trust God, and that the One who is inside of you is greater than the one who is of the world. You can beat whatever it is that you’re going through, even though beating it may not look like we think it does. Keisha’s doing really well with her cancer. She’s had a double mastectomy and is still going through more treatments, but her baby was born perfectly healthy. We don’t know what the end is going to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s overcome this; she may overcome it by seeing Jesus face to face sooner rather than later. Or she may overcome it by God completely healing her, but what we know is that because Jesus lives in her, she’s an overcomer regardless of how we see the circumstances working out.

    John:               Is this record more personal for you?

    Mandisa:       I think all of my records have been personal.  This one is different in that where I am in my life is different than all of my other past albums. I just feel like I’m in a great place of contentment that I’ve never had before. I love being single now; there are many benefits. Let me tell them to you… (laughs)

    On Mother’s Day, I got a last minute flight to Charlotte where I got to support my friend Lisa who was speaking in her Church. She was speaking about something that was really difficult for her, and as I booked those flights with my miles, I was like, “If I was married and had kids, I probably couldn’t have hopped this flight at the last minute and gone to support her.” I can take my money and use it to benefit causes that are important to me. I can spend as much time in my bed as I want to and I get the whole bed to myself. I love my bed; I named my bed Rufus because I love it that much.

    I have the ability to do that without having to worry about somebody next to me pulling my covers, I love that. I think more importantly, I can spend as much time with the Lord as I want to. I can wake up on any given day, sit there in my bed, Rufus, and talk to the Lord all day long and study the Word and fellowship with my friends. You can’t really do that when you have different devotions to your children or to your husband.

    John:               It’s different.

    Mandisa:       It’s a different kind of a calling, but for right now I’m just appreciating that I have those things. So, yeah, in one area, that’s important, and I have a song, “I’m Praying for You” that I wrote with Chris August. That is a song to my future husband—who is not Chris August, by the way. (laughs) Let me just make that clear!

    So, I long for that day, but I’m not putting my life on hold. And I’ve got a lot of great workout songs on this album, just because that’s been important to me in the last few years. More than anything, there’s a lot of worship songs this time around because I’m just so loving the Lord and just so thankful for so much that that came out in my music. I’ve got a lot of songs that are like, “God you don’t have to do another thing, I just want to worship you because you’re that good.”

    Yeah, it’s different from my other albums. I think a lot of my other albums were more like, “Lord, when?” and “Help me,” and “I can’t get through this!” So now this one is a little bit more like, “Thank you, Jesus! I know that I can get through this!”

    John:               “Dear John”… Can you tell us about that song?

    Mandisa:       Oh, gosh! Do you have Kleenex ready? (laughter)

    John:               We can get some. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay too.

    Mandisa:       No, I’m happy to talk about it. Although I’ve never been able to talk about it without crying.

    John is my brother. He is not a Christian, and I really want him to be. And the reason I want him to be is not because I want him to live a life of rules and regulations. It’s because I know the abundant life that I have from a relationship with Jesus, and I simply want him to have that same abundant life. We’ve talked many times about faith. But right now he’s enjoying his party lifestyle, and he sees a lot of hypocrites—people who say they believe one thing and then their lives reflect another. So I think that’s just kind of been a way that the enemy has blinded his eyes. I pray for him on a regular basis and I have a lot of people praying for him. All of my Facebook and Twitter people know. Natalie Grant is a great friend of mine, and she has an alarm that goes off at nine o’clock every single day to remind her to pray for John. Here I go with the tears… (laughs)

    So, I played “Dear John” for him on Fourth of July weekend. It was the first time he heard it, and his response was, “You know, that’s a great song, Disa.” And, of course, my response that I wanted was, “What must I do to be saved?” and I know that that day is going to happen; it just hasn’t happened yet.

    So “Dear John” is a song that I wrote, if I were to write a letter about my desire for him to live that abundant life in Jesus and then if I were to put that letter to music, that’s what “Dear John” would be. I am praying first for his salvation, and hoping that as he listens to that song, he would put it on repeat without even knowing why, that he just keeps playing it and calls me up and says, “Okay, I’m ready.” Secondly, I’m also praying for every unbeliever who listens to it.  I just … I’m asking God to flood them with grace and forgiveness. I think so often people think that it is about, I don’t know, a list or something of things that you have to do. My brother’s enjoying partying and he likes going to bars and he likes women, and I just think that he probably has some shame there, but he’s just kind of enjoying that. But if I could just convince him, you don’t know what you’re missing! Jesus is literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me and what you think you’re getting from these bars and alcohol and women, it does not even come close to the joy and the freedom and the satisfaction you get from a life with Jesus.

    So I’m praying that for him and I’m praying for every unbeliever as they listen to it that they’ll just receive a flood of forgiveness and grace. Third, I’m also praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ who have loved ones in their lives who don’t know the Lord, that God would just rise up like faith to talk to them, to maybe write their own Dear John letter and say “Hey, one of my favorite artists, Mandisa, has this song that I really want you to listen to,” (laughter) but before you listen, let me tell you about what Jesus means to me.

    I don’t know, I can just imagine people sending a letter with that song and then their loved one calling them and saying, “Okay, I recognize that you want this for me because you love me, so let’s talk about it.” I’m just praying that God opens up doors for conversations about Jesus to be had through this song.

    John:               Very good. Okay, so let’s see. We’ll kind of change gears a little bit. So talk about the record. Any new guest vocals?

    Mandisa:       Yeah, lots of guest vocals.

    John:               Is Chris on it as well?

    Mandisa:       He is, yes. I wrote with Matthew West. We wrote a song called “The Distance.”

    John:               Okay.

    Mandisa:       I wrote with Plumb, we actually wrote “Dear John” together.

    John:               Does that mean that Matthew is then singing with you?

    Mandisa:       Matthew was doing the background on “The Distance.”

    John:               Okay.

    Mandisa:       I wrote “Dear John” with Plumb, she’s singing background on that. I wrote “Praying for You” with Chris, he’s singing background on that. Then, there are a few people who aren’t singing on the album, but we wrote with… Israel Houghton on a song called “At All Times.” He lives in Houston, so we didn’t get those vocals. Then Cindy Morgan and Britt Nicole wrote a song that I did not write on called “Where You Begin,” and they’re not singing on it but they wrote that song.

    So, yeah, lots of guest appearances on this album and they’re not only some of my friends, but they’re also some of my favorite artists. So it’s just been neat to be able to come together on these.

    John:               That’s great! That’s cool.

    Are you a book reader? You are a book reader; what are you reading right now?  That’s okay if you mention like three or four.

    Mandisa:       Okay. I’m reading Captivating by John and Stacy Eldredge, just because as a single woman that’s a great book for me to have. I’m also reading through The 5 Love Languages because there’s kind of a new relationship in my life. I don’t know where it’s going to go but, shhh. (laughter)

    John:               And it’s not Chris August.

    Mandisa:       It’s not Chris August.

    Female:         He didn’t hear that part. (laughter)

    Mandisa:       I think it just kind of helps to know how people are wired. I’m really into my friend Tam here; she does radio at Capitol with me and we’ve been talking all day long about personalities and how different kinds of people communicate with one another. I’m just into stuff like that. So I’m reading The 5 Love Languages, as I mentioned, and I’m realizing what my love languages are and are not. I think it will really help me to be able to show love to whomever I marry; but not just in a potential marital relationship, but with friends and family and coworkers too. So I’m reading that. Then, I’m also reading through the Bible; my Church is reading through the Bible, the Scriptures both in the Old and New Testament, and I’m using the voice translation, which I absolutely love.

    Those three things I’m reading right now.

    John:               You are an author as well.

    Mandisa:       I’m working on a new one [book].

    John:               Really? Wow! When does that come out?

    Mandisa:       We’re just in the process; we’re meeting with publishers now. I have my preference, but we want to do an overcomer book. We want to do an overcomer book where people would compile a bunch of overcomer stories because I’m just convinced that when people tell their story in their testimonies, it helps them because the Bible says that we overcome by the word of our testimony. But it also helps people to hear it so I want to hear people tell their stories of how they overcame cancer because when people are going through cancer to read something like that, fuels their faith. So I want to compile these powerful stories about people in the middle of their battles, and also at the end of the battle. So, we’ll see.

    John:               What kind of music to you listen to now?

    Mandisa:       I’m a big CCM fan; the thing I love about CCM music, which stands for Contemporary Christian Music for those who don’t know, is that it comes in every style. You’ve got Christian Hip Hop and Rap and Country and Rock and Polka, probably! I don’t know. (laughter) I love that you can get all these styles, but the thing I love most about Christian music is that it’s not just something that makes you feel good, that makes you want to get up and dance, there’s a purpose and a meaning to it, and it helps you connect with the Lord. I love worship artists. My favorite worship artists are Israel Houghton and Jesus Culture, Meredith Andrews. I love the more current, more pop, hip hop styles. Capitol Kings I’m loving now. Then more pop artists like Britt Nicole and Natalie Grant. I don’t know; I love it all! If you look at my iPod, you’ll see a little bit of everything, but it’s pretty much all Christian music.

    John:               Last question, because we’re going to end here at three o’clock.

    Female:         Okay, we can leave a few minutes late too, because we came so late.

    John:               Well … What are you most excited about in 2013 besides Overcomer coming out?

    Mandisa;       I think the Hits Deep tour. We did it last year. It is tobyMac’s tour. He brings out a bunch of artists that are all my favorites. Last year it was Britt Nicole and Group 1 Crew were on it, but Britt and Blanca from Group 1 Crew are in baby mode right now, so they’re not on it this year. But we’ve added Colton Dixon who was on American Idol as well and is my label mate, and Capitol Kings who I just mentioned. I love them, they’re just really current. Then the people who were on it last year as well, like Brandon Heath, Jamie Grace and Chris August and Toby and myself. I cannot wait; it’s literally all of my favorite artists in one night.

    John:               Is that this fall?

    Mandisa:       It is. It starts in November and goes through December. Then in October I’m doing some more shows with Brandon Heath. We’ve been touring all year together; we did a 3-in-1 tour with Laura Story, and then we did a few shows called the Brandisa tour (laughs), because there was a rumor that he and I were dating so we just sort of embraced the name Brandisa. We are not, we are not dating.

    John:               Who started that rumor?

    Mandisa:       He did. (laughs)

    John:               Oh, he did?  (laughter)

    Mandisa:       He went on a national radio station and said that we’re dating. I was like, “Brandon, look, I know it’s all kind of fun and games, but as a single woman you are messing up my game by telling the world that we are dating!” (laughter)

    So we set the record straight. There’s a video on YouTube of him clarifying that we’re not dating. But, yeah, we’ve been touring together all year long.

    John:               So we need to pray for a husband for Mandisa, and for her brother.

    Mandisa:       You can pray for continued contentment for Mandisa and then the  husband will come whenever God is good and ready. (Laughs)

     


    This post was posted in Music, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, TobyMac, Britt Nicole, Matthew West, Brandon Heath, Jesus Culture, Group 1 Crew, Chris August, Israel Houghton, Mandisa, Capital Kings, Colton Dixon, Meredith Andrews, Jamie Grace, Plumb, Natalie Grant, John Eldridge, Stasi Eldridge, Gary Chapman

  • My Goodness

    Posted on August 6, 2013 by Sheila Mangum

    Sheila Mangum

    Sheila Mangum

    "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalm 23:6 (NIV)

    It was well into the second quarter of the high school basketball game when the senior captain of the home team showed up late.

    Just that morning his mother unexpectedly passed away from a sudden hemorrhage. She'd been in remission after a five-year fight with cervical cancer when she took the fatal turn.

    Some of the team had been at the hospital with their grieving friend. Although they had an important game that night, the guys wanted to cancel it. Brokenhearted, the senior captain encouraged the team to play.

    You can imagine everyone's surprise when this young man came out to root for his team.

    His coach asked him if he wanted to sit on the bench with his teammates.

    "No," he replied. "I want to play."

    Game rules prevented anyone not on the pre-game roster to play unless the opposing team was granted a technical foul that would give them two free throws. It was a tight game, but his coach willingly traded the points to comfort his player.

    But that is not where the compassion stopped.

    The other coach wasn't interested in the free throws. He wanted to let the brokenhearted player just play. With no penalties. This coach and the referees argued over the rules until the referees won with, "Rules will not be broken."

    So, after a brief conversation with his coach, the visiting team's senior captain took his place on the free throw line.

    Giving his coach an understanding nod, he dribbled the ball and threw it two feet. The crowd stared in wonder as the ball rolled off the court. The second free throw landed at his feet. He had purposefully missed guaranteed points.

    This gesture of sportsmanship ignited a standing ovation. Applause roared throughout the gym. The crowd witnessed a rare act of kindness birthed out of the goodness of the visiting coach and captain's hearts.

    We don't often hear about people taking hold of opportunities to demonstrate such graciousness. But every day we can see God's goodness if we simply take the time. Psalm 23:6 tells us that "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

    Before the brokenhearted player even arrived at the game, God's goodness followed him, ready to show up when he needed it most. Goodness tapped two coaches on the shoulders. Goodness whispered in the hearts of a group of teenagers.

    God's goodness is here for us as well. We find it in His daily care and love, especially in times of hardship. But we have to "get in the game" to see it. If we're checked out of life, not spending time in prayer, or not actively seeking to recognize God's goodness, we'll miss it. True, His goodness might not always seem as evident as a team opting out of free points in a basketball game, but God's goodness is all around us.

    Could His kindness and love be the encouraging word or hug from a friend? Perhaps it's peace that comes unexpectedly. Or maybe it's the conversation with the grocery store clerk that brought a smile to your face.

    This young man who lost his mother probably had no idea how he was going to ease the pain that surrounded him. You may be wondering that very thing as well. This is why God promises, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). God wants to be closer to you than the pain. One way He does this is by following you with His goodness and showing up through the hands and hearts of others.

    I cannot tell you who won the last Super Bowl. I don't know who the Major League's MVP is. There's no way I can spout off the NBA lineup. What I can tell you about is the day God's goodness followed a crushed young man into a gymnasium during a high school basketball game in Milwaukee and made His goodness known. I can tell you he played the rest of the game, scoring ten points that led to his team's victory.

    But most importantly, I can tell you that God's goodness is following you. Will you get in the game and look for it?

    Dear Lord, I praise You for Your goodness. Open my eyes that I will fully see Your marvelous ways. Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    God's goodness is following you and wants to be closer to you than the pain. Look for His goodness to show up for you.

    Who will you demonstrate God's goodness to today? How?

    Power Verse:
    Psalm 3:3, "But you are a shield around me, O LORD, you bestow glory on me and lift up my head."

    © 2013 by Sheila Mangum. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Psalm

  • Hold on to Hope

    Posted on August 5, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

    Faith creates hope, so where faith is conceived hope is birthed. Yes, hope is the daughter of faith. Those who profess to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior possess hope. Hard times try to hinder hope’s comforting company, but it is unhindered where faith in God is the focus. Those who hold on to hope are happy. Where faith peers hope makes clear. Where there is a wall, hope finds a door. Where there is darkness, hope looks for a light. Hope expects Christ to come through.

    What is hope? It is confidence in Jesus Christ, period. Confidence He is faithful. Faithful to follow through with His promise to provide us peace in the middle of our turmoil. Faithful to answer our prayers in His most productive process. Faithful to give our children what they need as long as they look to Him. Faithful to facilitate financial resources when we steward well what we already have. He is faithful by His restorative grace to heal relationships severed by sin. Hope bursts forth in possibilities when we embrace the promises fulfilled by the Lord’s faithfulness.

    You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. Job 11:18

    Since your security is in your Savior Jesus who has conquered sin, sorrow and death, hope is your wise weapon. Your Heavenly Father holds you in the palm of His hand, therefore nothing can reach you lest your divine protector gives permission. The Holy Spirit is your guide, thus you have a trusted leader who directs your path. “Your hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.” Your two-handed grasp of God includes His double fisted hold on you!

    When hope is deferred avoid rejecting God and giving up. Wait on the Lord and hope in Him. He helps you when you feel helpless. He empowers you when you feel powerless. He encourages you when you feel discouraged. He gives joy when you feel joyless. Hope never disappoints. It gives life and a reason to live. If you let go of hope, your gracious Lord doesn’t let go of you. Like Mount Everest, your hope is unmovable, so hold unswervingly to your living hope: Jesus!

    We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to hope in You when all seems hopeless.

    Related Readings: Psalm 33:22; Proverbs 13:12; Lamentations 3:21-29; Romans 4:18; 1 John 3:3

    Post/Tweet today: Like Mount Everest, your hope is unmovable, so hold unswervingly to your living hope: Jesus! #holdontohope

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Wisdom Hunters and was tagged with Hebrews, Hope

  • Matt Redman to Release "Your Grace Finds Me"

    Posted on August 5, 2013 by Family Christian

    Acclaimed worship leader and two-time GRAMMY® winner Matt Redman announces the release of his new live album Your Grace Finds Me due September 24. The forthcoming release from sixstepsrecords follows his heralded 2011 project and its RIAA certified gold anthem title track, 10,000 Reasons. This year alone "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" has won two GRAMMY®  awards, a Billboard Music Awards and was named ASCAP's Christian Music Song of the Year. Continuing the momentum from “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” is the new album’s lead single “Your Grace Finds Me” which drops at radio on August 2.

    Redman shares about Your Grace Finds Me and the inspiring new songs:

    Redman recently finished recording the 12-track project at Passion City Church’s ‘LIFT: A Worship Leader Collective’ in Atlanta, GA. The event was hosted by Louie Giglio and GRAMMY® winner Chris Tomlin and included worship leaders from all across the country. The record follows suit with 10,000 Reasons, which was also recorded at the annual LIFT conference. This fall, Matt Redman will embark on a European tour along with Martin Smith.


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Louie Giglio, Martin Smith

  • When You Have a Choice to Make

    Posted on August 5, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie Eller

    "And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21 (ESV)

    According to recent statistics, I made 5,000 decisions today. Seriously?

    Well, I made a decision to get out of bed. I made a choice to put on my tennis shoes and run at 6 a.m.

    I chose peanut butter Cheerios™ over oatmeal. I decided which bills to pay. What to make for dinner. Whether to answer a phone call. Which clothes to wear. Whether the plants needed watering or if they could wait another day. I chose to fill up the small car instead of the gas-guzzler.

    I may have made more than 5,000 decisions today!

    Some of our everyday choices are random, others weighty, but many of our decisions are choice points. Choice points are seemingly insignificant decisions yet they lead us in one direction or another.

    I choose whether to react in anger, or respond with understanding to my husband.

    I choose whether or not to create drama with a friend who hurt my feelings.

    I choose time with my Heavenly Father, or push that time to another day ... again.

    I choose whether or not to say those words that cause my child pain.

    Recently I was on a mission trip and the team was exhausted after nearly six days of intense travel. We had missed a train and stood on the platform in the moonlight. It was nearing midnight and cold and wet. Our next ministry event was early in the morning.

    The coordinator walked over. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I didn't mean for it to work out this way."

    There I stood with a choice to make.

    I could share my frustration. I could explain that my sleep tank was on empty. I could say nothing, while sighing with a martyred expression. Or I could choose to override my fatigued irritation and be gracious.

    As she waited for my reply, a gentle voice softly spoke to my heart: "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

    I knew it was definitely the leading of the Holy Spirit, just as Scripture promised. Yes, I was exhausted, but I reminded myself what a privilege it was to be there. Ease and comfort were not readily available to Jesus, and losing a little sleep was nothing in comparison to anything He went through. The Holy Spirit nudged me to recognize that everyone around me was just as tired as I was. He led me in the way to respond.

    "I'm fine," I said. "In fact it's been an amazing day and I can't wait to see what God does tomorrow."

    She grabbed me and pulled me in a huge hug. "Thank you, Suz."

    I wish I could say I handle every choice I have to make that way, but sometimes I fail and gripe, nit-pick, am critical and grouchy. It's my prayer that I'll remember how much my choices matter. You see, they don't just affect me; they affect those within the vicinity of my decisions.

    In the 5,000 decisions you make today, take a moment to pause before deciding. Ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance and counsel. And choose to follow as He leads the way.

    Dear Lord, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all my choices, and it makes me cranky. Today as I make my 5000 decisions, walk with me, remind me of how my choices affect others and help me follow Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:

    Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Keep a journal this week of choice points. Note those that lead you in the wrong direction. Are there common themes?

    If you were overtired, how can you implement rest?

    If you were trying to live a packed life with your spiritual tank unfilled, will you stop and fill it up?

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 16:9, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (ESV)

    Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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


    This post was posted in Daily Devotion, Proverbs 31 and was tagged with Isaiah

  • Hitting a "Home Run" with Carol Matthews

    Posted on August 5, 2013 by AlexMosoiu


    Carol Spann Mathews is an award-winning television and film producer whose work has been featured in theatres nationwide and on major television networks ranging from ESPN to the Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN).

    Carol began her career more than 20 years ago in television marketing and advertising for clients including CITGO, Donald Trump Resorts, Sprint and Wilson Sports. She has since produced multiple television series that have aired on ESPN, EOE (ESPN Original Entertainment) and The Family Channel, as well as educational home entertainment for international brands like the "Dummies" publishers.

    Driven by a passion for faith and family entertainment, Carol has also produced numerous successful collaborations for major faith-based networks like Daystar, Inspiration and TBN—including TBN's top-rated show, "360 Life." Her resume also includes nationally syndicated documentaries such as "Death and Beyond" and the Angel Award-winning program, "Hymns," which uncovers the remarkable stories behind beloved hymns like "Amazing Grace."

    In 2011, Carol transitioned into feature films as executive producer and producer of "Home Run." The inspirational film, which celebrates the freedom and hope offered by Christ, premieres in theatres nationwide in April 2013. Prior to its theatrical release, "Home Run" was named Best Feature Film and Best Inspirational Film at CBA's Resonate Film Festival.

    That's when I caught up with Carol. It was the story behind Home Run that has intrigued us all. It's not just another baseball movie. It's much more than that.

    Alex:               Hi, Carol.  Can you tell me how you got started in the entertainment business.

    Carol:              I got started in the entertainment industry really with commercials and advertising first. I started with church commercials essentially in the faith community. I worked on church films, 35 mm filmed commercials that were syndicated to churches around the country, and then I went from there to longer form programming.  I worked on a couple of documentaries; one about near death experiences that was televised on what was at the time The Family Channel and other cable networks. Years later we did one on famous hymns, the stories behind “Amazing Grace,” “It is Well with My Soul,” and “Just As I Am. “

    In my career, I also kind of shifted and went to work at a production company that did work primarily for ESPN. I did behind-the-scenes videos for their original movies, and a couple of their television series. That was a really great learning experience for me. Eventually, I left there and went back to doing faith stuff.  There’s no replacing the joy and purpose you feel when every day you go to work, and you work on something where the outcome affects people’s lives, so I stepped back into that with doing television work. While Home Run is my first feature film, I’ve been doing television and productions for about 24 years.

    Alex:               Wow! How does working on a Christian project, whether it’s a movie, a TV show, or those kinds of things, differ from working on a secular project? You mentioned it changes people’s lives, but speak more to that.

    Carol:              I think whenever you go to work every day, it’s invigorating to the day if you’re working on something that has a purpose beyond the moment it’s seen. If you could trigger a thought inside someone, if you could give them a perspective of the kingdom that they never had before, open their minds and hearts to something, it puts gasoline in your tank. You have energy to go to work every day. If it’s just for a momentary entertainment, I personally am not called to that, so it’s not as motivational personally.

    Alex:               That makes sense. How did the idea of Home Run come about?

    Carol:              The original concept belongs to a guy named Eric Newman. It was very simply a baseball player that returns to his small town. He’s a bad boy type and he goes to the small town and hooks up with kind of a mentor in the town, and he gets better. He sees the error of his ways and transforms, and this mentor was the one that claimed him to the Lord. It changed when we started believing that God was guiding us to do a film about addiction, so we just shifted our main character’s problems a little bit, and then when we hooked him with Celebrate Recovery, we realized that instead of having a mentor, a guy that kind of preaches at him, we decided to use the story to celebrate recovery to kind of propel our character forward. That was sort of the genesis of that concept of Home Run, and that was 2010, a long time ago.

    Alex:               Wow!  When somebody sees the movie, what do you want them to take away from it? What are some of the themes?

    Carol:              The main thing is that change is possible, that no matter what has happened to you, no matter what decisions you’ve made, you don’t have to stay in shame. It’s about the fact that you don’t have to continue to wrestle with that bad habit, and that your past doesn’t have to dictate your future. God can take those things and not only heal you, but take those very places of shame in your life and use them to glorify Himself and help others. I think that’s the most amazing thing. It is just the idea that God will take the places where we’ve fallen, and if we give it to Him, He not only heals us but He’ll allow us to use that to help others. So that change is possible, that our lives can be different from what they are right now in the areas that we want them to be.

    Alex:               That’s a very powerful thought. One thing I love about the movie is Scott Elrod’s character, Cory, after he has his little mishap and he gets kind of sent to the minors--not to the minors exactly, but he gets sent to coach the team. He eventually joins Celebrate Recovery, and you kind of watch him go through the journey. A piece of me, while I was watching it was thinking, man, I hope this just doesn’t… I hope he doesn’t just find Jesus and everything’s okay, and he gets his girl back and everything. I love the fact that you kept realistically portraying the struggle to overcome. Some people are delivered instantly, but others, it takes awhile; so I thought that was a very realistic portrayal.

    Carol:              Thank you.

    Alex:               How did you guys come to the partnership with Celebrate Recovery? What did that look like, and how did you integrate that into the script so well?

    Carol:              It was just one God thing after another. In my church, we have Celebrate Recovery, and every now and then--I knew very little about it--but every now and then on a Sunday morning, somebody from that ministry would get up and tell their story. And every single time that story was told in our church on a Sunday morning, it was so clear that God was at work in that ministry. It was just inarguable that you were hearing about the hand of God. I thought how great would that be to have story after story that I got in the movie, right? Where people are moved and responding to stories like the ones I heard in my church. So that’s the beginning.

    I started investigating, and next thing you know, I’m having breakfast with one of the Celebrate Recovery state reps, and she just happens to be very close friends to the founder of Celebrate Recovery out at Saddleback. That just gave me favor every step of the way. I’d love to tell you it was a really complex set of circumstances, but honestly, it was just one thing after another God just kept putting in our path. Even I was able to see the signals!

    Alex:               [Laughs] It’s amazing to see the level of engagement that people have with Celebrate Recovery. It’s the kind of ministry where you can be open and honest and transparent. You walk in going, I’m screwed up and I need help, and I don’t need to wear a mask because clearly, I can’t do it alone or else I wouldn’t be here; so it’s a very…

    Carol:              Yes. You just worded it so perfectly. You just worded it perfectly. The very first time I went to Celebrate Recovery was after I had breakfast with the state rep.  I’m like, can we use Celebrate Recovery in our movie? She was like, well, have you ever even been to a meeting (laughs)?  I was like, uh no; so I went to one, and consider this: I’m in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which for me is the heart of the Bible Belt. I mean, some cities fight for it, but we’re at least a contender.

    The Baptist church here in town is a longstanding large kind of pillar of the Southern Baptist community here in the town. This is where the Celebrate Recovery that she was a part of was. I’m there in that church, and the senior pastor of the church gets up, and in the Celebrate Recovery normal operation, you introduce yourself while you introduce the thing that brought you to Celebrate Recovery. I’m a grateful believer in Jesus who struggles with, whatever your thing is, alcohol, drugs, eating, abuse, whatever. Then you say, my name is.

    Here’s the senior pastor; he gets up, and he says, “Hi. I’m a grateful believer who struggles with deep-seated anger and lust, and my name is Seth.” I thought to myself, all right. This is different because the senior pastor revealed his struggles… and you know, he stood up there to make announcements. I mean, he was up there for no big reason, but the fact that the senior pastor is able to say he struggles with anger and lust, you know? I just think what possibilities opened up in that room that night for first comers like myself because the senior pastor was faithful enough to say his stuff. Does that make sense?

    Alex:               Oh, absolutely.

    Carol:              Anyway, I love Celebrate Recovery for that, and I knew, after just attending Celebrate Recovery a few times, that the script was going to change exponentially because Celebrate Recovery wound up being more beautiful and more impacting than I realized.

    Alex:               You guys released theatrically, and it had a good theatrical run, and it’s coming out on DVD here in late July. What do you hope that God does with this project?

    Carol:              There are so many hopes and expectations. My hope is that people don’t see it just as a movie or one-time experience, but as a tool--that they see the DVD as a way to do multiple things. For instance, perhaps there’s someone they love who is really struggling with addiction. That would be the most obvious thing, right? They might give them the DVD. Or maybe there’s somebody who is having trouble with some other life issue, and that person feels like “this is it.” You know, that this is the end for them and that they’ll never get better. They’ll always struggle, and maybe they get the DVD.

    Or maybe the DVD could be used because people are really looking for more authentic relationships in church. You know, we don’t mean to, but our church culture has propagated this thing that we have a hard time being real with each other because we feel like somehow or another, we’re going to be indicted for not being really “good” Christians.

    I don’t think it’s been ill intended; I just think it’s an outcome of people trying hard to be a good witness for the Lord. Consequently, what we’ve created is an atmosphere where people don’t feel like they can say, “I’m really struggling here.” Even worse, they feel like they’re all alone. They feel like they’re the only ones, because no one’s talking in church. So they’re not saying the things that are troubling them, like “I really want to leave my husband” or “I’m having an affair.” They’re not telling anybody because they’re thinking if anyone knew they had feelings or thoughts like, they would never speak to them again. They might be cast out. The reality is lots of people are struggling in our church pews; and if we started talking to each other, we would begin to see that one of Satan’s most paralyzing lies is that you are all alone. No one else in this church would understand; because if he can keep us in a secret and in our shame, then we are debilitated from being what we’re supposed to be in the kingdom.

    Alex:               That is very true. Let me ask you one other quick question before we go. You guys did a tremendous job on the casting. Tell us a little bit about how you got to work with those cast members.

    Carol:              Okay. These are such important stories to me because they are ... it’s just like we tripped and fell into the most amazing cast ever, but we went … David Boyd and I, we had a great casting director. He narrowed the field for us, and David Boyd, the director, and I went to Los Angeles, and we sat in a room during a cattle call, and the actors and actresses came in and auditioned. In a series of three days, we cast the movie. We had no idea how much God was in it until the stories began to unfold, and the actors began showing up and doing their thing, and we realized we could not have asked for more with our actors.

    We got David Boyd because of the beautiful script. Because of David Boyd, we attracted better than the normal quality of actors for this genre and for our budget. These actors wanted to work with David because he’s amazing. We were able to get people that typically we wouldn’t be able to afford, so we were blessed, blessed, blessed by the Lord in terms of casting.

    Alex:               Yes, and it definitely showed on the screen. It sounds like, I guess, in summing everything up, you guys had an idea of the kind of movie you wanted to make, God showed up and messed up all your plans, and Home Run ensued.

    Carol:              That’s exactly the truth (laughing). I love the way you sum things up. I’m going to start sending you things and then ask you to sum them up for me.

    Alex:               Do you know what, though? That’s a great testimony for all of us that we all have gifts, and talents, and opportunities, and God calls us to start moving in a direction; and then if He wants us to go in a different direction, the key is to be obedient to it, and let go of our plans, and use the gifts and talents He’s given us, and return them back to Him, and see what He does with it.

    Carol:              Amen to that! I never even planned to be in film. I never planned it. I would say to people, “Oh, film. Television is so much better because it’s so much faster,” and I’m right, but I just laugh because the Lord’s like, “Oh, whatever, Carol.  You’re going to be doing a film.” Yes. Amen to all that that you said, and thanks so much for interviewing me. I want to say one more thing. The DVD, using it as a tool; I do believe that there … my little boy at the time he was five went through a super hero phase, and he wore a facemask everywhere he went.

    When I tell this story in front of audiences, I say, my son; and then I always say he’s 18. Is that weird (laughing)? I am an old mom. He’s seven now, but he was five, and he was wearing a cape and mask everywhere he went, I mean everywhere: grocery stores, restaurants, whatever.  One day at the park, he was playing, and he was saving the world from impending doom. An older kid looked at him and said, “You’re not real.” This was so mean, right? I said to Sam, “Oh dude, I’m sorry he said that,” and Sam said to me, “That’s okay, mom. I don’t think he knew I knew that.” Right? I love that story.

    I think that there is a world of people outside the church who look at the church and say, “You’re not real.” The fact of the matter is, they don’t know we know we have problems. They don’t buy that once you come to Jesus, all your problems go away; and most certainly, any believer will tell you that they don’t.  We still are working out our issues, but we have a hope, and a grace, and a love, and a Father who’s helping us work them out. We’re not doing it alone. The fact of the matter is we’ve unintentionally put out there, again, this sort of Pollyanna look that if you come to Jesus, all your troubles melt away, and they don’t buy it.

    I think about using the DVD and handing it to our friends with addictions, and handing it to our friends that have something happen to them in life, and they feel they’re a lesser person for it, or giving it to friends that are sexually promiscuous or whatever. I love the idea of showing it to people who don’t know the Lord because it shows them a beautiful part of the body of Christ, and it’s the part of the body of Christ that is healing, and honest, and open, and transforming; and people really can change. I’ll tell you what, the world wants to believe in that type of Jesus, and I love that Home Run shows it to them.

    Alex:               Yes, and we’re looking forward to getting as many DVDs out in people’s hands as possible. I do think that taking that message into your home is probably a little more non-threatening than necessarily going to the theater, so I think this is going to have a huge impact, not only here at home but all over the world. We look forward to seeing what God’s going to continue to do. Thank you very much for your time, Carol.

    Carol:              Thank you. Thank you so much for believing in it.

    Alex:               Absolutely. We’re standing in agreement that God’s going to do something big.

    Carol:              Amen. Amen to that. Thank you guys so much. It’s a privilege talking to you. I really appreciate it.

    Alex:               Thank you, Carol. Bye-bye.

    Carol:              All right. Bye-bye.

     


    This post was posted in Movies, Interviews, Alex Mosoiu and was tagged with Featured, Home Run, Carol Matthews

Items 861 to 870 of 1931 total

Helping you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith
Who doesn't love free shipping!? At Family Christian, you can qualify TWO ways:

1. To your door (just $50 minimum)*

No coupon required! Simply add $50 worth of merchandise to your cart and select the "Free Shipping" option under "Shipping Method." Easy as pie.

* Valid on merchandise totaling $50 or more before taxes. Please keep in mind this is valid on domestic ground shipping to addresses within the U.S. only, not valid toward international delivery. Additional charges apply for express shipping. Terms subject to change without notice.

2. To your store (no minimum order required!)*

At checkout, select "Ship to your local Family Christian store" and enter your zip code to find our closest location. Not sure if there is a Family Christian nearby? Find your local store now.

* Valid on select merchandise only
Loading... Loading...