• Join our Kids Summer Reading Program

Family Christian

  • The Bitter Root

    Posted on October 29, 2013 by Wendy Blight

    Wendy

    "See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (Hebrews 12:15 NIV)

    How dare she ask this of me?

    I reread her email, which only fueled my fury. Rather than reply immediately, I decided to forward the note to my husband for his advice. Any words I would've written to her at that moment would not have been kind.

    Bitterness took root as I typed a note to my husband, spewing out my frustration. When I finished, I reviewed my message with great satisfaction. I'd expressed myself well to a safe person. Then I pressed send.

    In that moment, I glanced at the "to" box. I was horrified when I realized I'd hit "reply" instead of "forward." My heart sank. All my hurtful words and anger were now en route to her, not my husband.

    I felt sick. What should I do? I picked up the phone and called my husband at work. We both agreed I needed to email her, explain what happened, and ask forgiveness. It was the hardest email I've ever written.

    Her gracious response astounded me. She thanked me for my apology and closed her response with these words, "I forgive you, so let's just put this behind us." Her words of forgiveness melted the bitterness that had consumed my heart just an hour before. I'm sure she was hurt. My words were harsh. Yet she chose to overlook and pardon my offense.

    It's easy to forget that we have choices when we're offended. We can surrender our hurt or hold on to our hurt. We can extend grace or harbor bitterness.

    Bitterness is like poison that infects our lives. The author of Hebrews compares bitterness to a root that overtakes our hearts and causes trouble in many other areas of our lives (Hebrews 12:15). Although our feelings of bitterness, anger, and resentment may seem justified, they are not. Instead, they're hurtful and destructive—to ourselves as well as to the person who hurt us.

    God's Word teaches us to forgive and instructs us not to let the sun go down while we're angry. When we do, we give the devil a place to work in our hearts and relationships. Instead of allowing the enemy room to plant relational weeds between us, my friend chose forgiveness, extended grace, and prevented a bitter root from taking hold.

    She became a living example of the apostle Paul's words to the believers at Ephesus: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32). Her wise example helped me move beyond my anger. My friend's gracious decision modeled humility. Her choice to forgive salvaged our friendship and changed how I react toward others who offend me. From that day forward, I've prayed that God's grace would flow through me, leaving no room for bitter roots.

    Dear Lord, search my heart. See if there is any bitterness in me. Lead me to forgiveness. Enable me through the power of Your Holy Spirit to let go of all bitterness and to extend Your amazing grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.

    Related Resources


    Remember
    Choosing forgiveness is the only way to prevent a bitter root from taking root in your heart and growing.

    Reflect
    Is there someone against whom you harbor unforgiveness? What is it that keeps you from being able to forgive this person?

    Respond
    Review the verses shared in this devotion. Prayerfully ask God what your next step is with this person. Ask Him to equip you to take that first step, and then take it.

    Power Verses
    Colossians 3:13; Romans 12:9

    Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

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

  • Humble and Gentle

    Posted on October 28, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Mark 1:7, 10

    Jesus was introduced by a humble man and a gentle dove. One came from earth as a reminder of the need for our confession of sins, and the other came from heaven as a reminder of God’s forgiveness of sins. City and country people came to be cleansed of their sin. Fiery spiritual revival spread across the villages into the towns, as John and Jesus were lightening rods for the Holy Spirit’s energy. Indeed, their humble and gentle attitude invited the Trinity’s trust and favor.

    We are drawn to preachers and teachers who proclaim and teach truth from a humble heart and a gentle spirit. Truth is convicting enough without the pride of man adding insult to injury. Yes, with humility we can say something hard with a smile and still solicit the trust of our friend. Our gentle words carry with them the blessing of God’s Spirit. Humble men and women point people to Jesus, not to themselves. Gentleness gets people to God. Here they feel His love and approval.

    Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I (Jesus) am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

    Do you submit to God moment by moment so the fullness of His Spirit bears the fruit of humility and gentleness in your life? Union with your Lord brings out His best in You. Because He is gentle, you become gentle. Since He is humble, you become humble. You grow in support of your relationships by being available to satisfy their needs. Patience is your fuel for gentleness and prayer powers your humility. Your Heavenly Father is well pleased when you grow in these.

    God graced the globe with a gentle and peaceful dove. We felt His love as He pronounced His pleasure in His son Jesus.  Like Noah, who knew the storms were over when the dove’s beak clenched an olive branch, so Jesus was God’s olive branch to mankind’s mishaps. Grace is God’s rainbow of redemption to a world flooded with fear. Glory in the salvation of a forgiving Trinity. Rejoice, we are invited into the humble and gentle community of the Father, Son and Spirit!

    Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9

    Prayer: Lord Jesus, grow my spirit by the power of Your humble and gentle Spirit.

    Related Readings: Genesis 8:11; Joel 2:28; Acts 11:16; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:2

    Post/Tweet today: Patience is our fuel for gentleness and prayer powers our humility. #humbleandgentle

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

  • Free Wallpaper for Your Mobile, Tablet or Computer - November

    Posted on October 28, 2013 by Family Christian

    Ahhh, November.

    It's the time of year that we all love. It's the cool mornings, followed by refreshing days, followed by cool evenings. It's the month where there seems to be a great aroma in the air. Either pumpkin spice... peppermint... bonfires... amazing baked goods... It's a month that just smells wonderful.

    It's the in-between month. Helping us move from October and it's too much candy to a time to be thankful. A time to remember. Ahhh, November, we are glad that you are here.

    Look below for some free wallpaper to decorate your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. These are completely free to download. Just right click on the size that you need and you will be all set. To find out which size you need, click here.

    Both images are taking from our Coupon Calendars that we sell online and in our stores. Click here to find the Growth in Faith Calendar and the He Refreshes My Soul Calendar.

    Facebook 800 x 600 1024 x 768 1280 x 720 1280 x 800 1280 x 960 1600 x 1200

    Mobile 1440 x 900 1600 x 1200 1680 x 1050 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1200

    Facebook 800 x 600 1024 x 768 1280 x 720 1280 x 800 1280 x 960 1600 x 1200

    Mobile 1438 x 900 1600 x 1200 1680 x 1050 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1200

  • Behind the Album with Mandisa

    Posted on October 28, 2013 by Family Christian

    Coming up her most successful album ever, American Idol alum and three-time Grammy nominee Mandisa returns with Overcomer. Produced by Christopher Stevens and David Garcia, Overcomer showcases her powerful vocals and pop-leaning hooks that blend effortlessly through all 11 tracks.

    With caution-to-the-wind melodies weaved throughout the record, anchored by emotional songs like her open letter to her brother in "Dear John," Overcomer may be Mandisa’s most impactful release to date.

    To read our exclusive interview with Mandisa, click here.

  • When You're Not Sure You Belong

    Posted on October 28, 2013 by Suzie Eller

    Suzie

    "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Romans 8:16 (NIV)

    The moment we found out a beautiful gift might be coming to our family will forever be etched on my heart. My daughter and son-in-law were about to receive something they had desired for over three years.

    We'll never forget the day they heard they'd been chosen by a birth mother to receive the gift of her child. A whirlwind erupted as we all came together to create a nursery and buy the necessities. Five days later a perfect little baby boy was born, and Josh and Melissa brought their long awaited, beautiful miracle home.

    Walking with them through the adoption process made me treasure even more these words in Romans 8:15: "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father" (NKJV).

    Initially, we didn't know the baby's name, what he might look like, or even his ethnicity. We didn't know how old he would be, or whether he would be a bubbly little boy or a sweet baby girl. All we knew is that long before my daughter and son-in-law held him in their arms, we loved him.

    Now that the gift of this precious baby being adopted into our family is a reality, his parents are changing diapers and slogging through sleep-deprived nights. It's not easy, but he is worth every bit of sacrifice they're making.

    No matter how exhausted they are, Luke is still wanted. Still treasured. Still loved. Still a miracle in every way.

    Sometimes we may look at God and wonder if we are a bother. After all, we're a work in progress. We get busy and forget to treasure our times with Him. We promise ourselves we'll grow spiritually and then lose our temper with a loved one. Why would God choose to love us, even when we mess things up?

    The answer appears in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Perhaps today you struggle with accepting God’s love. You don't have to fear rejection, because you are adopted. God loves you just like Josh and Melissa love their son Luke, but in a God-like measure.

    Romans 8:14-16 promises that God's love for you is irrevocable. You are signed, sealed, and officially His child. Today, as His adopted child, ask the Holy Spirit to gently remind you one more time of Whose you are and how very loved you are by Him!

    Dear Lord, You are my Abba Father! Today I place all fear aside and place my trust in You. I walk into Your arms where I am welcome. Thank you for adopting me. Help me to rest in the assurance of knowing I am Your child Amen.

    Related Resources:


    Reflect and Respond:
    Write down Romans 8:14-16 and place it where you can see it every day. Read it out loud until it becomes anchored in your spirit.

    If Abba Father says you are His, that's the final word. How does that change the way you view your relationship with God?

    Power Verses:
    2 Corinthians 6:18, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (NIV)

    Galatians 3:26, "So in Jesus Christ you are all children of God through faith." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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

  • Due Diligence

    Posted on October 27, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.  Luke 1:3-4

    Simply put, due diligence is a process of gathering the facts. It is designed to validate assumptions and expose wrong thinking. Due diligence is necessary for wise decision-making. You go through due diligence when you buy a house. You explore comparable home prices in the neighborhood to affirm or deny the asking price of the house for sale. A home inspector is probably hired to check out the nooks and crannies. He is an objective third party that looks for roof leaks, foundation damage, electrical hazards, safe plumbing, and the overall sound structure of the home. His or her harvesting of information is vital to the final decision of the home purchaser.

    In some ways, you apply due diligence to a prospective husband or wife. You observe his attitude toward his parents. You look for love and respect. The same can be said for their reverence of God. Are they submitted to Christ and in love with Him? First impressions may be positive, but more is required to be a wise decision-maker. Due diligence can take time, depending on the complexity of the issue or the deal. When hiring someone, you look at past career success and the opinions of references. A credit check reveals a lot about the responsible—or irresponsible—handling of money. Purchasing a business requires a lengthy process of poring over financial audits, researching market trends, interviewing employees and customers, and defining the criteria needed to value the enterprise. Due diligence is required in all levels of life to be a wise steward. So what has been the extent of your due diligence on God?
    God deserves a thorough investigation, and your intellectual integrity requires a due diligence on God. Then you can have peace of mind knowing you objectively examined all the facts that relate to God. You may read books written by former atheists, such as C.S. Lewis, that document their struggles with truth and lies surrounding God. Their life experiences become a road map for your own search. More importantly however, is to read and research the Bible. Let the Scriptures stand alone. Do not depend on the conjecture and assumptions of others who may or may not be objective in their evaluation of Holy Scripture.

    Read the Bible with an open mind and ask God to speak to your heart through His Word. Yes, use sound rules of interpretation such as context and cultural implications. It is necessary to understand the immediate audience for whom the Bible was intended, but consider Scripture’s timelessness. What applied yesterday, often applies today. The commands and principles of the Bible transcend civilizations and centuries.
    In your due diligence of the Bible, explore the prophecies of the Old Testament. Consider the predictions that occurred hundreds of years before Christ and were fulfilled with mind-boggling accuracy. His place of birth, His method of death, and His provision of salvation are all embedded in the text. Study closely the life of Christ; begin your due diligence in the book of John. Jesus claimed to be God and the only way to God. If that is true, then it holds life-altering implications. Do not let the bias of another lead you down the path of least resistance. Your due diligence may very well lead you into a divine encounter.

    The Bible says, “For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways…”
    (Isaiah 58:2a).

    Post/Tweet: Intellectual integrity requires a thorough due diligence on God. #doesGodexist

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

  • A Humble Husband

    Posted on October 26, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7).

    A humble husband has a hungry heart for the Lord and seeks to follow Christ’s commands. He submits to His Savior Jesus before he expects submission from his wife. A humble husband hears from God before He seeks to direct his family. It is from a position of humility that his prayers are not hindered; indeed, heaven hears and answers.

    Furthermore, a husband who walks in humility is considerate and caring of his wife. He makes her feel special daily, especially on her birthday, wedding anniversary, and special days in between. Humility is respectful and loving, always watching for ways to honor God’s gift—his wife. Love and respect are twin traits of humility that tower over pride.

    A humble husband is quick to admit he does not know everything; thus, he values his wife’s opinion and advice. Before a major decision, he leads his bride in prayer to their heavenly Father for His wisdom and direction. She is comforted knowing that he, as the spiritual leader of the home, is accountable to almighty God. Humility invites trust.

    A humble husband sees Jesus as his model of humility that leads to obedience. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). Humility follows Jesus wherever He leads.

    Powerful prayers flow from the heart of a humble husband. On his knees he engages the enemy on behalf of his family. He understands his responsibility to represent God well in the home. His attitude toward almighty God strongly influences his wife and children’s attitude toward the Lord. He totally trusts the Lord and leads his family to do the same.

    How is your heart? Is it haughty or humble under Christ’s authority? Have you accepted your role as the spiritual leader of your home? If so, engage with your wife as joint heirs of God’s gracious gift of life. Learn to love her like the Lord loves her. Admit your wrongs, ask her forgiveness, and serve her well—so your prayers will prosper for God’s glory.

    “The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again…. Love her as the Lord loves’” (Hosea 3:1).

    Do I humble myself daily before the Lord and my wife? Does she normally feel love and respect from me?

    Post/Tweet: A humble husband submits to His Savior Jesus before he expects submission from his wife. #humblehusband

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

  • Protect Your Family

    Posted on October 25, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.“Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matthew 2:13

    The Lord protects His children. He protects them from those with evil intent. He reveals the unrighteous motives of unscrupulous men and women. He protects His loved ones from temptation. But when they are tempted, He provides a way of escape. He protects His followers from themselves. He surrounds them with objective counsel. Wise ones tell them what they need to hear in love, not what they want to hear. God protects what is precious to His heart.

    There are defining moments which require the prayerful protection of our family. It may be a financial temptation to borrow too much money. This materialistic burden forces us to work too much to the neglect of our spouse and children. So, contented expectations reject detrimental desires to grow our lifestyle beyond our means. Perhaps our family needs us to radically curtail the calendar, so we are free to be a family. Yes, we get under God’s protection to rest in Him.

    May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you. Psalm 25:21

    Moreover, your integrity is an instrument of the Lord’s protection. Your good name is like a tall imposing black cast iron security gate that the enemy cannot scale, lest it is breached by your bad behavior. Your character is a thick walled citadel of Christ’s protection that rests on the hill of His help. Like money, the worth of your integrity compounds over time. It protects you from people assuming the worst, instead they assume the best. Your integrity protects your family.

    Furthermore, your Heavenly Father protects you with His love and faithfulness. The goodness of God, like a fortified castle, provides safety from unseemly souls. His love only leads you to places where He is with you. His faithfulness does not falter or default. Nations can fail to pay their debts, but the Lord God Almighty is 100% dependable. Thus, keep your family trusting in Jesus. When your family is under God’s authority they are under His protection. His grace guards your home!

    May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Psalm 61:7

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me into Your protection and away from my impulsive actions.

    Related Readings: Joshua 24:17; Psalm 12:5,7, 20:1, 91:14; Malachi 2:16; 2 Thessaloinians 3:3

    Post/Tweet today: Your integrity is an instrument of the Lord’s protection. Your good name is like a tall imposing security gate. #protect

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

  • God's Unfolding Story In the Life of Laura Story

    Posted on October 25, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Now Martin is thankful he's alive;
    The doctors said he might not survive.
    That was seven years ago...
    What a miracle.

    And now there's this new baby girl
    And with one breath she's changed our whole world.
    Some say she looks like dad,
    But she looks like grace to me.
    Your grace to me.

    You're the God of every story,
    You see each tear that falls.
    We may not understand but one thing is certain.
    You are faithful, You are faithful.

    It’s one thing to write compelling, heart-stirring, emotionally rich songs of worship, praise and honor to Christ. People have been doing it for centuries, forming the backbone of faith traditions the world over.

    It’s another thing entirely to bare your soul, share your vulnerabilities and risk criticism and career success by challenging the mold and daring to say that God is not necessarily a God of happy endings.

    Instead, He is the God of every story. This is what Laura Story is learning day by day.

    On her new album, God of Every Story, Laura becomes the most vulnerable. In Great God Who Saves and Blessings we certainly heard the heart of who Laura is, but it was within the established relationship of artist and listener. With her new title, she attempts to bring those walls down, bridging the separation.  God of Every Story is an album where we don't just see Laura's heart in some sort of abstract way - from a distance, but she asks us to join her in seeing what God is writing in Laura's life.

    Mountains high. Valleys low. The ebb and flow of life. The daily grind. The spiritual high. Often in our own lives we get frustrated with the minutia of all that is around us. Be it the piling laundry, the undone devotions, the angry spouse, the undisciplined children... LIFE. Laura, in her tender way, gives us a glimpse into how a family deals with life. No pat answers. No this-problem-will-be-solved-in-a-30-minute-sitcom-on-TV type of thing. This is the real life. How do we deal with the here and now?

    John: Laura, you started your musical career with a band called Silers Bald that was signed with Essential Records.

    Laura: Actually, I left them six months before they landed the deal with Essential.

    John: Oh, you did?

    Laura: So, part of me was thinking … We did this process eating cheese food out of the back of a van and all of a sudden they get a record deal and I’m thinking, “Man, I really missed out.” But the truth of it was I feel like God let me leave right before all that happened just because I was supposed to finish school.

    I had gone to school part time for probably six years and I needed to go back and do one full year on campus in order to finish it up. It’s just something I had been meaning to do and I probably would have never done it if it hadn’t of been for me leaving that band.

    John: So you were part of this indie band out of the Carolinas and then you finished school and you started working at your church as a worship leader, is that correct?

    Laura: Well, not really. I finished school and wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I had gotten reconnected with my high school sweetheart, Martin. I played bass guitar for Silers Bald and then I met Andrew Peterson through that and I went on the road with Andy for a couple of tours. I continued to play bass, I was in a bluegrass band, I was kind of doing a few different things. Then Martin and I got married, so I did about a year of college ministry with him. That’s when we got the call from Perimeter Church and that’s where I have been serving for eight years now.

    John: You came out with your first record and it did incredibly well. “Mighty to Save” certainly was a song that you helped both catapult you on radio. Then you came out with Blessings and shocked the world again by having your song being played on mainstream radio. What has that been like since that has happened?

    Laura: Well, it’s been a little bit crazy, John. It’s been a wild thing. The thing with recording “Mighty to Save,” was just that it was so much fun because there was this church in Australia that was writing these fantastic songs that a lot of churches in the U.S. had been playing, but not all of them. So it was nice to get to be one of the artists who helped get those songs here to the states and to the church here in the United States. That was huge in and of itself. Then the thing with “Blessings,” was just that God used me as a songwriter to share about truly one of the most personal things that I’ve walked through with my husband and the fact that as I was processing everything with Martin’s health.

    What that’s looked like over the past few years is that I process all that through song form and all of a sudden it ends up on the radio. It was the most honoring thing, yet it left me… well, it’s a pretty vulnerable song. But what we found is the more honest we’ve been before God about our doubts and our questions--and admitting that sometimes faith is just an obedience thing, where you just trust God even when it doesn’t make sense--the more we are honest with other people about our feelings, the more we see God’s faithfulness in using those stories really to bless others. And that’s been a beautiful thing. It’s been such a beautiful thing to see how the trials that we’ve walked through (which we’re nowhere near the other side of), God has used through song-form to reach a lot of other people in the midst of their hard journey.

    John: When you have a song like “Blessings,” you talk about the vulnerability of something. Has that opened up a door of conversation with people that perhaps you would have not been able to talk to five years ago about?

    Laura: Oh, absolutely. I meet people at my concerts that don’t listen to Christian music. That never heard of me before, but someone at their workplace that was battling cancer would send them the YouTube link of a video that someone made with this song as a background. And all of a sudden, they end up at this event and they’re hearing this thing called the gospel. That there’s a God that is bigger than the here-and-now and that He has a plan for our lives that’s bigger than the pain we’re walking through in this life. The fact that we’ve been able to talk to people about that, that really weren’t interested in spiritual things at all, that’s just a pretty amazing thing.

    John: Yes, for sure. When you set out to write a song, Laura, do you feel like you’re writing a song to yourself, or do you have people in mind? Do you have your family in mind, or your church in mind? Do you have the faces that you see while you’re out touring in mind? Who do you write your songs for?

    Laura: That’s a great question. I’d say that it’s a little bit of both. Sometimes I’ll write songs just as a worship leader at my church. Like this past Easter, my Pastor was in a servant series and I knew exactly what kind of closing point it was going to be and I thought, “Man, I wish there was a song out that really could just allow people to soak in that truth that he’s going to land on right here.” So, I start looking through songs and kind of feel like God is saying, “No, no that’s a song you’re supposed to write.” And so, one of the new songs on my record is song called “You Gave Your Life For Me,” and it was written out of necessity. They needed a song in church that Sunday about that very truth, so a lot of times it is having the church in mind and it’s having other people in mind.

    There’s another song on my new CD called “Forgiven,” written for that girl in the very back row who doesn’t feel worthy to be in church. She doesn’t feel worthy to ever experience the love of Jesus. It’s a song declaring the heart of forgiveness and the grace of God, and the more you get into that song, you realize that each of us is that girl on the back row. None of us are worthy of God’s grace. And not to get too deep into the different songs on the record, but all of them are written for other people, yet they’re all written for me as well in a way. A lot of times people have this misconception of songwriters, that we have mastered this truth and now we’re going to bless everyone with it.

    That’s usually not the case--at least with me. It’s usually the truth of God that I’m struggling to believe myself. Those are the truths that God will sneak into these song formats and I myself sing them each night. Not as a truth that I’ve mastered, so much, that I want to share with others, but a truth that God is wanting to seep into the depths of who I am. The truth that God wants to be an anchor for my soul, and so I share it with other people, as one theologian said, “One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” That’s very much how I feel. I’m just another follower of Jesus trying to hang on to His truth in the midst of life’s trials. So yes, all the songs I’ve written, they’re for other people but they’re also always for me.

    John: Then there’s “God of Every Story.” You do look at those individual faces to some extent, and at the same time, you keep yourself in mind recognizing that there is this greater story going on. How did you come to the point of saying, “Okay, God, you are involved in every story going on here?”

    Laura: Well, that song is kind of a funny one how that came about. At the very beginning, before I had written any songs for this new CD, I came to Ed Cash, the producer, and said, “I want the whole CD to be called God of Every Story. And, I want to write a song called “God of Every Story,” and I want the whole CD to be about how every story finds their ultimate purpose within the context of God’s overall story. And if I’m trying to find purpose in my individual story, I’m just going to be frustrated because all of our lives are meant to be lived out like that bigger picture, that bigger story. So I came into it saying that, but then we never did it. We just wrote all these other songs and it ended up being a sweet CD.

    When we were at the very end of it and had two songs left until we were done, all of a sudden, Ed said, “Yes, it does feel like we were supposed to write that song called ‘God of Every Story.’” Literally, we wrote it probably a week before we turned the CD in and it so captured the theme of the whole CD that we actually, at the very last minute, changed the name of the whole CD to God of Every Story. So, I guess that’s kind of what the CD is about. It is about all of our individual stories, whether it’s those really fun, joyful chapters or the really hard, grueling chapters. In every single story, in every life out there, our stories find their greater purpose in the context of a bigger story. It’s this beautiful story of redemption when God is in the process of redeeming all people in all things. I know that’s probably too big to even talk about. I hope I’m giving you something helpful.

    John: It is and it is a huge story or a huge concept to behold, but I think as people are reading this blog, Laura, obviously everyone’s struggles in finding identity. And if they recognize that God is doing something in their life, hopefully they will be able to find themselves in Him.

    Laura: Yes, and the song “Blessings” was such a good example.

    John: Yes.

    Laura: That song was written by a wife struggling with her husband’s disability. It’s just as simple as that. Although I found people think it was some huge thing, it was nothing like that. It was just a life struggle with her husband’s disability, struggling with the unanswered prayer’s that I’ve prayed for the past 10 years. And being honest with people about that and I also suddenly just saw God through this beautiful thing, where he has used this song to help people mourn the loss of children.

    John: What was the writing and recording process like?

    Laura: Writing and recording this record, honestly, was a fantastic experience. I got to work with Ed Cash, who’s someone I have been friends with and done ministry with for the past 16 years. So it was kind of a natural thing that we would get to be working on a record about God being the God of every story because our families’ stories have been so intertwined just because of our relationships. And also, because he and I are both storytellers as well as worship leaders. So, it was just so easy to work with him and it was a great experience. There were a lot of wonderful co-writing experiences and yet some of those experiences on that album were just of writing some songs in my car by myself. Those real tender moments just alone with the Lord, it probably is the best experience making a record I’ve ever done in a long time.

    John: How is this different than Blessings? What do you feel like God is teaching you at this point in your life and how does that relate to the songs or theme of this record?

    Laura: The last record, Blessings… I like the record, but the song “Blessings” seemed a little out of place from the rest of the record. I tried to really figure out what it is about the song “Blessings” that seemed to stand out, not just in my heart, but seemingly in the hearts of so many other people. What I’ve been realizing is that I wrote the song “Blessings” from just such a vulnerable place. I was willing to tell a story that isn’t a finished story. It’s not a story where I understand every component of the story. It’s about God being faithful and blessing us in the midst of our open-ended stories.

    It’s not a story with Martin and I and his perfect health; it doesn’t have a tidy bow on it. It’s still very much playing out right now. And writing “Blessings” from that place of authenticity and vulnerability was a new experience for me. But in this new record, I really sought to write from that same place and even writing some songs about the new stage of life I’m in, which is being a mom. There’s so much about being a mom that impacted my songwriting. You know, writing about a father’s love for his kids that I understand a lot better being a parent now.

    John: Tell us the story behind the title track “God of Every Story.”

    Laura: “God of Every Story” is a song written about this life lesson I’m learning of seeing God in the midst of every story. Not just in my story, but in so many stories I’ve been privileged to hear over the past couple of years since the release of “Blessings.” It seems like I was unaware of how many people really felt that same way of struggling and pressing on believing that God is faithful and God is good in the midst of hard circumstances. And after hearing all of these stories, I became more convinced than ever that God is in the midst of every story--both in the joyful and in the hard chapters--and not just that He’s in the midst of every story, but that He has purpose for every story.

    A lot of times I feel like we get hung up in trying to find out the purpose for why things happen in our lives. As you look to the Scriptures, you see that God doesn’t necessarily promise us that our lives will make sense. He doesn’t promise that our stories will always have happy endings in and of themselves, but the thing He does promise is that our stories find their greater purpose in context of His story of redemption. It’s not so much that we’re supposed to figure out why this happened to us, but more, how might God use what’s happened to bring glory to Himself and to further His kingdom.

    I play a good many roles in my life. Worship leader, songwriter, artist, mom, wife of a disabled husband. And often I find myself trying to play the extra role of God. I find myself trying to take on tasks I was never meant to do. Not necessarily trying to part of the sea of Atlanta traffic, but I find myself trying to manipulate situations that are out of my control. That’s not just blasphemous; it’s futile. I would be a terrible God. I’m barely a decent me. I hate to appear that I’m needy, but I am a needy person because God created me that way. I’m learning just to submit and honor His role as God in my life.

    That’s the journey…the heart…the transparency that makes God Of Every Story more than just another album or great collection of songs. It’s more than eloquent words to an infinite, omnipotent, omnipresent God.

    More than another happy ending…

    More than just another story.

    It’s every story.

  • My Super-Sized Reactions are Hurtful

    Posted on October 25, 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer

    Glynnis

    "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9 (NIV)

    My teenage son took an extended mission trip this summer with a friend. It was the longest we'd been apart. By the time he returned home, my mama's heart was looking forward to spending time alone with him.

    I envisioned it all-he would have missed me and be overflowing with stories. We'd lounge on the couch, talking and laughing, going through his photographs.

    The night he returned we planned a welcome-home celebration with the family of his travel friend. Holding plates of chips and salsa, munching on tacos and sipping icy soda, the night was wonderful until I overheard my son making plans to work out the next day ... with the same friend he'd just spent two months with.

    The wise-mama in me, the one who'd worked hard to come to terms with her children wanting to be with their friends more than her sometimes, tried to keep me quiet.

    But the hurt-mama in me ignored that good advice as something prickly started growing in my heart. Trying to appear jovial but still wanting to make my point, I said, "I might not let you out of my sight ... ha, ha, ha." The potentially awkward moment was laughed off. At least I thought it was.

    Later my son kindly asked, "Mom, please don't make a big deal if I want to work out tomorrow, okay?"

    Knowing in my head he was right, I promised, "I won't." I gave him a tight squeeze before he headed to bed exhausted.

    Collapsing in a chair, weary from an emotionally tiring day, I should have been overflowing with gratefulness. However, the prickly response I'd felt earlier started to grow again.

    Based on one comment about working out, I started to build a case. Well, if he'd rather be with his friend, then I'll let him. I won't say anything. In fact, he can just go spend the entire day with his friend. I'm not going to ask him to spend any time with me, that's just what I'll do!

    Staring across the room, tears banked like an infinity pool, threatening to overflow. Hurt and indignation swirled for a few moments.

    Thankfully the wise-mama didn't completely abandon me. Before my wayward thoughts could go further, I recognized the need to get to the bottom of my super-sized response. For heavens sake, my son only wanted to work out. Why was I acting so out of sorts?

    Digging into my thoughts and emotions, I realized I was hurt because my son hadn't met my expectations for how his return would be. The simple truth was he hadn't worked out in two months. It had nothing to do with his feelings for me-yet my reaction selfishly made it about me.

    Then clear as could be, I "heard" God speak to my heart: Can you love someone who doesn't meet all your expectations?

    Pondering this question, I had to acknowledge the many times I don't meet the expectations of others. I'd certainly let God down many times, and I hadn't met my son's expectations that day either. So why was I expecting him to meet mine?

    My unfair expectations led me to an unfair interpretation of his motives, which led me to a potentially hurtful reaction. My desire was to love my son; my super-sized reaction would have sent an entirely different message.

    Proverbs 17:9 say, "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." The only offense that day was made up in my mind. Yet the truth of this verse applied.

    The next day ushered in a fresh chance to react in a loving way. Having set aside unrealistic expectations, I was able to enjoy time with my son. And he was able to work out with his friend and come home to a much more gracious mama.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me in spite of the fact that I'm not perfect. You continually see the best in me. Help me to see the best in others and stop super-sizing my reactions. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Do your feelings get hurt often by others? Dig into your thoughts and emotions to determine why.

    Can you love those who don't meet all your expectations?

    Power Verses:
    Colossians 3:13, "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV)

    1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

Items 871 to 880 of 2133 total

WHAT WE'RE ABOUT

“to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” James 1:27 NIV

Our heartbeat is to help orphans and widows in need, as our Father calls us to do.
And with every purchase you make, you’re making an amazing difference in their lives.

Loading... Loading...