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  • Jesus Calling

Family Christian

  • Laura Story - God of Every Story

    Posted on July 11, 2013 by Family Christian


    Talented worship leader and songwriter Laura Story is best known for her inspirational hit “Blessings” and co-writing “Indescribable,” a Chris Tomlin anthem. With only two albums to her credit, she’s already an award winner several times over. “Blessings” was certified Digital Gold and nabbed a 2012 Billboard Music Award, GRAMMY® and helped Laura to four Dove Award wins.

    Now, with her third studio album, God of Every Story, Laura returns to that deep place of vulnerability before the Lord and honesty with herself. Award- winning producer Ed Cash helmed the deeply personal project, and their shared Carolina roots led to the incorporation of acoustic and epic instruments into this worshipful pop album.

    Lyrically, God of Every Story draws from Laura’s own life. Her husband’s brain tumor early in their marriage led the young family down a painful path she wouldn’t have chosen, but one that deepened her faith and her music. The resulting songs show God’s love and grace intersecting with real life. The album is a wonderful reminder that despite our questions or circumstances, we continue to praise Him because we know He is the keeper of the stars.

    Listen to a snippet of Laura's new single here

    "It was hard to know where to start after my last album. The song Blessings started as a diary entry and God blew us away by using it in the lives of so many around the world. And as I began to write for my new project "God of Every Story", I went back to that deep place of vulnerability before the Lord, and honesty -- with myself. The path God has led our family down is not one I would have chosen for myself. It has been much harder than I had envisioned, yet it has required deeper faith than I ever thought myself capable of. And that's what God of every story is really about: It’s trusting that the same God who orchestrates the rising and the setting of the sun each day pays the same attention to every detail of my life. It’s believing that at the end of the day, we will look back on this amazing God story that is my life and view it as a beautiful sunset, where the blues and reds, the laughter and tears, all meld together to show the faithfulness of God in a way that makes us stand in applause."

    "God of Every Story" is a collection of songs about where God's love and grace intersect with our real life situations. It’s about God working all things together for good and love always winning. It’s a celebration of God's faithfulness, even when we don't always understand His plan this side of heaven. Yet we praise Him because He is the keeper of the stars, the One who holds all things together and always, always, deserves our worship.

    One of my favorite things about making this record was the privilege of working with Ed Cash. Ed and I met when I was a sophomore in college and being both from the Carolinas, we love exploring how acoustic and more folky instruments can be used in contemporary Christian music. Ed did a great job both pulling from my roots as well as stretching me to new places creatively.

    - Laura Story


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Chris Tomlin, Laura Story, Ed Cash

  • Saying Yes to God

    Posted on July 11, 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa TerKeurst

    "Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel ..." Ephesians 6:19 (NIV)

    Have you ever had one of those amazing thoughts of something you want to do? Your heart beats wildly for a few minutes—or even a few days—and you think to yourself, I'm going to do this!

    But then the reasons you can't start coming. They suit up, start marching, and aim their weapons of discouragement right at your heart. In the end, that amazing thought becomes a fleeting thought.

    And you think to yourself, yeah, it was a dumb idea. Then, as quickly as the stir of passion started, it fades. Too many of us live in the depressing, washed-out shades of a thousand faded passions that might have been.

    Because we're afraid.

    We'd rather stay safe and under the radar than go big and possibly flop.

    But every now and then someone rare comes along. They would rather die than say, "I wish I would have ..." Instead, they grit their teeth, lift their raw souls to God, and scream above all the naysayers, "I will! With God, I will!"

    That's my pastor.

    I have never seen someone so willing to FEARLESSLY make known the mystery of the gospel. He walks, talks, eats, sleeps, and breathes Ephesians 6:19, "Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel ..."

    My pastor had a crazy thought fly into his brain to do an old-school revival for 12 nights in a row. A revival that wouldn't be about one church and one preacher, but would be about THE CHURCH with many preachers. One that would be all about getting the hope of Jesus to the masses.

    It was a good idea. But it was a crazy idea. What about the expense? What if it burned out the staff? Would people really show up for all 12 nights? So many questions begged the idea to just fade away.

    But my pastor didn't let it fade. He didn't let it die. He ignited it. Not because he didn't feel the pull of fear, but rather because he pressed into God and chose to be unafraid.

    This crazy thought turned into an amazing reality—a full-blown revival. Twelve straight nights. Twelve amazing messages. Twelve passionate preachers. One awe-inspiring purpose—to fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.

    My husband and I had the privilege to attend much of this revival in person. And though I'm a woman of many words, I can't possibly begin to describe what God did.

    There was an igniting of souls that happened and extended all across the globe. People came to know Jesus. People got baptized. People found hope again. And people saw what can happen when one person dares to say, "I'm going to say yes to God's wild invitation. I'm going to do this!"

    You may be thinking, my yes can't affect others like this. I don't have that kind of influence. But we cannot even begin to understand the plans God has for us. There is always a far-reaching ripple effect when a woman says yes to God. We don't have to see the spread of the influence to know it's there. The power of saying yes to God is beyond anything we could ever imagine.

    Dear Lord, thank You for the examples of great men and women You have placed in our lives. May we humble ourselves as we learn from their courage to say yes to Your call. Give me the strength and courage necessary to take that next step in Your will for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    For more encouragement on your journey of walking in obedience check out Lysa TerKeurst's new book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God Devotional, releasing August 1! Click here to pre-order your copy.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think of an example of someone who has chosen to say yes to God no matter what the cost.

    What can you learn from their example of faith and radical obedience?

    Power Verses:
    2 Corinthians 1:20-22, "Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God's Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete." (MSG)

    © 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. 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 Ephesians

  • Trial Period

    Posted on July 10, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Daniel 1:12

     

    People can be skeptical about the sincerity of some Christians. They still simmer over a bad church experience perhaps being put on the spot, even embarrassed by well meaning worshipers. Perhaps they were wounded by the unintended consequences of Christ followers who were insensitive to the insecurities of the guest to their church. Needless to say, they are cautious about making any kind commitment related to faith. They want to try before they buy.

     

    Therefore, we are wise as followers of Jesus to build bridges to unbelievers. We can create environments for them to experience our acceptance and the truth from God’s word. Dinner in our home, an exploratory Bible study at church or a fun event with other friends gives seekers a glimpse of God’s grace. Yes, those who have yet to taste the grace and forgiveness of Jesus are testing us to see if we will live out what we believe. Love gives us high marks from the marginal.

     

    Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

     

    Furthermore, you can prayerfully invite non-Christians to taste and see that the Lord is good. Give them an appetizer of encouragement in Holy Scripture before you ask them to digest a doctrine or two. Be careful not to choke a friend who is hungry for God with too much truth. Indeed, the Lord works with everyone at their own tempo. We may have a wonderful plan for their life, but Jesus has the best plan for them. Give your friends and family space to experience faith at their pace.

     

    Lastly, have you experienced the Lord in a personal relationship with Christ? If not, seriously consider embarking on this journey with Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead your heart in the way of wisdom. Your spiritual growth is a process of tests and trials. Don’t give up on God, rather use  trial periods to live out the truth of your convictions. Trial periods are for the lost and saved. Yes, God works through trial periods to prove Himself worthy of utter abandonment to Himself!

     

    I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. Proverbs 4:11

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me grace to enter into a trial period and go deeper with You.

    Related Readings: Hebrews 6:5; James 1:2-3; 1 Peter 2:3; Revelation 2:10

    Post/Tweet today: Don’t give up on God, rather use trial periods to live out the truth of your convictions. #tests

    © 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 Daniel

  • Dara Maclean - New Album - Wanted

    Posted on July 10, 2013 by Family Christian

    Dara Maclean is scheduled to release her sophomore album, Wanted, on September 24. The album’s title track and lead single grabbed early attention jumping seven spots at radio to No. 30 on NCA chart this past week. Produced by Paul Mabury (All Sons & Daughters, Hillsong, Meredith Andrews), Wanted is the eagerly-awaited follow-up to Maclean’s debut album, You Got My Attention.

    For Maclean, both a passionate artist and advocate for the International Justice Mission, an organization that is pioneering the fight against human trafficking, this album is much more than just a compilation of songs. “This album is for those broken, the lost and the ones in need of rescue. It’s for me and it’s for them, whether ‘they’ are next door or half way across the world. This record is a reminder that through God’s grace and redemption, He has made us good enough, He sees us as ‘blameless.’ We’ve been forgiven and we can find the peace, satisfaction and rest we’re looking for in Him,” said Maclean. “This record is my mouthpiece to raise the volume of the already screaming heartbeat of the Father, crying ‘Set My People Free.’ When life hits in the hardest ways, and you need peace and you need an answer, let’s take Him at His word and together learn about truth, discover sustaining hope and put all of our trust in the only answer, God.”

    “She genuinely cares for people and has a story to tell; she genuinely wants to see people changed,” said Mabury. “I heard a girl singing at the beginning…now I hear a woman singing.”

    Sonically, Wanted reveals Maclean’s musical upbringing and love for powerful, soul-steeped vocalists from Etta James to Lauryn Hill.  This influence can be seen throughout the album that infuses her soaring vocals with modern pop and soul melodies thanks to the help of multi-talented producer Mabury. “Paul knows the world of worship and he’s a songwriter, a producer and one of the best drummers that I’ve heard,” said Maclean. “He is also extremely well-versed in the music that moves me. He has this backbone of soul and took the time to ‘get me’ and wanted to make music that was true to that.”

    During the past two years Maclean, who embraces song writing equally as much as being a vocalist, wrote heavily in preparation for this album. She co-wrote each of the 12 tracks on Wanted and loved getting to write with some of her favorites including Paul Mabury, Jason Ingram (Brandon Heath, Bebo Norman), Dave Barnes (Blake Shelton, Bebo Norman) and Cindy Morgan (Amy Grant, Mark Schultz).


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Mark Schultz, Hillsong, Brandon Heath, Bebo Norman, Dara Maclean, Dave Barnes, Amy Grant, All Sons & Daughters, Meredith Andrews, International Justic Mission, Blake Shelton, Cindy Morgan

  • When You're Angry at God

    Posted on July 10, 2013 by Micca Campbell

    Micca Campbell

    "LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me." Psalms 30:2 (NIV)

    As I waited for my husband to return from surgery, I began to worry. It was taking longer than the doctor had said it would. Since over 80% of my husband's body had been burned during the house fire, I feared the surgery would be too much for him.

    My worst fears were confirmed when the doctor walked into the waiting room, still in his surgical clothes, and knelt down beside my chair. My heart began to pound as he explained that my husband had gone into cardiac arrest and though they were trying everything they could to resuscitate, they feared they had lost him. Immediately, I cried out for God to save him.

    I still remember my desperate plea: God, I realize if my husband lives he most likely won't keep his arms. I understand what that means. He'll never hold me again or play ball with our son. But I don't care, God. Please let him live!

    As the clock ticked down, there was no response. After some time, it finally hit me: he had already left me.

    After the funeral was over and the people were gone, I realized I was alone, a new mother, and a 21-year-old widow. I was very angry God had allowed for things to turn out this way.

    One desperate night, when the pain was more than I could stand, I cried out, Why, God? Why did You take him away from me? Oh, God. I need to know, why!

    Have you ever been angry with God?

    We've all made requests to God that didn't turn out like we had hoped. When that happens, it's easy to become confused about Him. We start to wonder if He heard us or just said "No" to our prayer. What we are certain of is the anger we feel toward the Lord's ways.

    It's important to express our upset emotions to the Lord. But we have to view our circumstances through the lens of God's grace: everything He does is without fault and is always right. Look at Psalm 30:2, "LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me." Rather than ignoring our pain or not sharing our anger with God (which is silly because He already knows), we should confess our anger and seek His healing.

    When I was completely honest with God that night, what happened next took me by surprise: God showed up!

    I can only explain it like this. Just as a mother runs to her screaming child, God, the Father, ran to me—His child. I didn't see Him with my eyes or touch Him with my hands, but I knew He was with me. It comforted me. This encounter with God became a turning point in my healing. I realized God understood my frailties and feelings ... and He was big enough to handle them.

    If you're angry with God, tell Him. Lay your heart open before God. Acknowledge that even while you don't understand what's happened, you trust He can make everything work out.

    It took me a while to see how my circumstances could be used for God's glory and my good. I didn't get my husband back, but I did get a closer relationship with God. A few years later, I re-married, had two more beautiful children, and began a ministry of comfort. God also healed my heart from the pain of loss and the scars anger left.

    I'm glad I was honest with God when I cried out in anger to Him. You will be too.

    Dear Lord, there is so much hurt and anger inside of me. I'm tired of living this way. I'm giving it to You to heal my hurt. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    This devotion was taken from Micca Campbell's book, An Untroubled Heart; Finding a Faith That is Stronger than All My Fears.

    Find refreshing hope and healing in the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women, filled with God's truth and 366 devotions by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team.

    Reflect and Respond:
    How do you feel when God doesn't respond the way you hope? Are you ready to share those feelings with God? Why or why not?

    Power Verse:
    Psalms 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (ESV)

    © 2013 by Micca Campbell. 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

  • Beautiful Baptism

    Posted on July 9, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4

     

    Baptism is beautiful to behold because it is an example of God’s great love pictured in the death and resurrection of His son Jesus. The Lord Jesus walked courageously in the shadow of death’s valley. He died, was buried and all hope seemed to die with Him. His death darkened His disciples’ faith. However, by the glory of the Father, Christ was raised from the dead, never to die again. Hope was alive, because Jesus was alive. Baptism celebrates Jesus Christ’s triumph over death!

     

    All who are spiritually dead in sin, walk in the shadow of a scary death. The valley of despair is lonely without the Lord. However, we can die to our self without having to die in our sin. When we choose by faith to crucify ourselves with Christ, we die to our old way of living and thinking. Death to self brings life from our Savior Jesus. The great exchange of our old life with Christ’s new life makes death a pass through to paradise. His resurrected life empowers our new life.

     

    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

    Has baptism followed your spiritual comprehension and true belief in God? Yes, baptism before belief is a counterfeit claim. Thus, make sure the order of your baptismal ordinance follows your genuine faith. A baby’s baptism can be a dedication by parents to raise their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but it is not an illustration of the infant’s conversion. Believer’s baptism is a public and bold declaration of death to self and raised to walk in newness of life.

    Lastly, the Lord Jesus modeled for us the way of baptism. He humbled Himself in the presence of the public to pronounce His allegiance to His Heavenly Father. As He prayed, He was affirmed by Almighty God. Therefore, your baptism is a spiritual act of service that causes your Heavenly Father to smile. He is well pleased with your public profession of faith. An obedient faith that leads to baptism is an authentic faith. When immersed, God’s love immerses your soul!

    When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased. Luke 3:21-22

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for my beautiful baptism that pictures Your great grace.

    Related Readings: Matthew 28:19; Acts 8:36-38; Romans 7:6; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21

    Post/Tweet today: An obedient faith that leads to baptism is an authentic faith. #baptism

    © 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 Romans, Baptism

  • Camp Comes to DVD This August

    Posted on July 9, 2013 by Family Christian

    Word Films announces the August 27 nationwide DVD release of the inspirational film “CAMP.” Inspired by true stories from camps for abused and neglected children, the film’s writer and director, Jacob Roebuck, tapped into real-life events to acknowledge the power of the camp experience and the opportunity it provides to give unconditional love to those seemingly forgotten children who need adults in their lives.

    “CAMP” is the story of a deeply troubled boy, Eli (Miles Elliot, “The Mentalist”), and an apathetic investment advisor, Ken (Michael Mattera), who get paired together at a summer camp for foster kids and discover the meaning of unconditional love. “We are excited for the opportunity to share the story of CAMP,” said Roebuck. “We want to entertain audiences, but we also hope they are inspired to get involved in the lives of abused and neglected kids in their communities. We are thrilled to work with Word on the video distribution of the picture. Not only do they bring a first-class distribution team for mainstream and Christian markets, they also understand the heart behind the film.”

    This inspirational film has received outstanding early acclaim from critics in addition to the Dove Foundation’s “Family-Approved” Seal:

    “This is a wonderful film about healing the wounds of your past... We are pleased to award this movie our Dove ‘Family-Approved’ Seal for ages 12 and over.” - The Dove Foundation

    “Most of the time, movies and television shows spotlight the lighter side of youth camps, but CAMP goes deeper to bring viewers face-to-face with the transformation that happens in the lives of children and even the adults that volunteer. It is incredibly heart affecting, even through the real-life interviews that play during the credits.” - DeWayne Hamby (Christian Retailing, White Wing Messenger)

    “Hollywood loves to entertain us. But CAMP does more than entertain – it inspires. It beautifully illustrates the huge impact the small sacrifice of a week’s time can make in the life of a child in foster care.” – Julie Gumm, best-selling author of “Adopt without Debt”

    Roebuck received inspiration for the film when he joined a summer missions trip and had the opportunity to help abused and neglected children through a program called Royal Family Camp. Once there, he felt the call to help the children he met that so desperately needed contact with loving and caring adults. A portion of the proceeds from the film benefit Royal Family KIDS, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit that serves as the nation’s leading network of camps for abused, neglected and abandoned children.


    This post was posted in Movies and was tagged with Featured, Camp

  • Dancing with Daddy

    Posted on July 9, 2013 by Sheila Mangum

    Sheila Mangum

    "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever." Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV)

    My father was an alcoholic. Sadly, the disease consumed him and when he couldn't find a way out, he committed suicide. His death affected my life in so many ways, and I missed his presence regularly. But one of the hardest times was at my wedding.

    My wedding day was not what I had dreamed of. I glanced over to where my father should have been and saw an empty chair. The beauty of the father-daughter dance and him giving me away was a moment I would have treasured and framed.

    But there was no photograph of our dance or of him handing me to my husband. Those pictures and memories were stolen from me. My wedding dress hid my vulnerable heart and my flowing veil covered my sad eyes.

    In my brokenness, it felt like my father, by his suicide, abandoned me. I thought I was different because of the shame and loss and never really had a sense of belonging. In many ways, I felt like an orphan. Thankfully, I still had my mother who encouraged me that our faithful God would send someone into my life at the times when I needed a father figure.

    My mom was right. God did send a father to take my dad's place. He arranged for someone to care for my needs, to nurture my wounded heart and be the solid foundation that a girl needs in a father. He sweetly sent someone who would not abandon me.

    God didn't hand-select a pastor, uncle, in-law or godly man whom He trusted to show me love the way I needed. No, God sent Himself as a Father to me and my crippled heart. He fulfilled what He promises in Psalm 68:5, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling" (NIV).

    The Fatherhood of God has created a healthy, trustworthy relationship with me that would never have happened if He hadn't helped me overcome the sadness of the loss of my earthly father. He saved me from my doubts and insecurities.

    God has been so very faithful to give to me what the years my childhood of insecurity and immaturity stole from me: wisdom and discernment. He's promised to restore back to me everything that's been stolen, even the memory of a father-daughter dance.

    The Bible describes in vivid detail the beauty that is to come for those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus. Revelation 19:7 says, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready" (NIV).

    There is a wedding where my Father will be. His presence will be known. His seat will be filled. His love will surround the place where there will be no tears or pain. At the wedding of the Lamb, I will finally have a dance with my Daddy.

    I will take the hand that created me (Colossians 1:16). I will hold the palm that has my name written on it (Isaiah 49:16). He will lead me to all righteousness, just as He has taught me through life (Psalm 23:3). I will look into the eyes that are watching me now (Psalm 145:20). I will be held in the arms that I have run to so many times (Proverbs 18:10). I will be face-to-face with the One whose love has never failed me (Psalm 31:16). I will dance with my Father on that day.

    Do you need a Father who never will leave you? Do you need security, love and devotion? Your Heavenly Father is the One who holds your heart safely in His capable hands. You are His most treasured possession. He wants to nurture you. Ask God today to heal your heart with His Fatherly love and set your hopes on eternity and a future dance.

    Can He have this dance?

    Father, You are trustworthy, true to Your Word and truly extravagant in Your love. You will never leave nor forsake me. Thank You for Your care for me. Amen.

    Related Resources:

    A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God's Promises by Renee Swope

    The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write this on a note card and place it where you can see it:

    You are MY daughter and I adore you. I watch your every move and direct your every step. I have a future planned and purposed for your good. Your heart is safe with Me. I promise. May I have this dance?

    Love,
    God

    Power Verse:
    Ephesians 1:5, "He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will." (NIV)

    © 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

  • Holy Communion

    Posted on July 8, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd Bailey

    The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

     

    Christ calls His children into holy communion by remembering His sacrificial death on the cross.  The night He was betrayed, He explained the significance of what was about to happen. His body would be broken, so broken humanity could be healed by His sinless sacrifice. His blood would be poured out as a pure offering, sin’s final payment for all who breathe God’s free air. Yes, holy communion is a holy encounter with Christ. Sincere saints take seriously this grand gift of grace.

     

    We are privileged as followers of Jesus to experience Jesus in the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. We do not enter into this holy moment as a passive ritual, rather we are intentional to engage in intimacy with the Almighty. In prayer we see the mingled blood of our Lord flow from His side, thus, by faith in Him we enjoy His forgiveness. We remember His remarkable pain, His legs disjointed by Roman soldiers, so our pain and suffering could be laid on His bruised body.

     

    But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5, NKJV

     

    Oh what gratitude and joy flood our hearts when recount the wonderful cross of Christ! What seemed like just another crucifixion among thousands, turned into God’s megaphone to mankind announcing His love. So, in solemn thanksgiving we taste that the Lord is good when we partake of the bread of brokenness. We humbly drink the new covenant cup of grace and remember that the death of our Lord Jesus gives life. The cross proclaims the pardon of sin for all who believe.

     

    Lastly, are you prayerful in your preparation and participation with the Holy Eucharist? Do you search your heart to see what sin may be active in your actions or passive in your motivations? The Holy Spirit reveals what’s right with Jesus and what’s wrong with us when we remember His righteous act of redemption. Never get over what God has done for you in allowing the sacrificial death of His son. Remember Him and remember how far He has brought you by grace.

     

    Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24, NKJV

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, remind me of Your great love when I take Holy communion with You.

    Related Readings: Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 10:29

    © 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, Communion

  • Holley Gerth. On a Mission to Inspire Others to Dream.

    Posted on July 8, 2013 by John van der Veen

    Holley Gerth is a bestselling writer, certified life coach, and speaker. She loves connecting with the hearts of women through her blog and books like You're Already Amazing, You're Made for a God-Sized Dream, and Opening the Door to Your God-Sized Dream. She's also cofounder of (in)courage and a partner with DaySpring Cards. Holley lives with her husband, Mark, in the South.

    I sat down with Holley to talk about how she began her career in the card industry and how that lead to encouraging so many people around the world.

    What I found is a lady who is more interested in having a cup of coffee with her followers than anything else. Holley is a passionate woman who is on a mission to point others to Christ.

    John:                Let's just talk a little bit about Holly and where you’ve come from. You're from Arkansas, right? Have you always been a Southern girl? What kind of inspired you to start writing?

    Holly:               Okay. I'm originally from Texas, which is like a whole different country, really.

    John:                It is.

    Holly:               My grandparents had a Christian bookstore when I was growing up in South Texas. I was the little kid with a big stack of books in the back room. I always dreamed about being a writer when I grew up. That's how I got started and began loving words.

    John:                Were there particular authors that you were kind of drawn towards when you were working at the store?

    Holly:               I was too young to work. I was in elementary school. I remember even in fourth grade, I had Kevin Leman's Birth Order Book. I was analyzing all my little friends on the playground. I would just go straight to the adult Christian living section and pull out whatever I could find and just read and read and read.

    John:                That's pretty funny. Does Kevin know or that he inspired you?

    Holly:               I don't think so.

    John:                No? Have you ever met Dr. Leman?

    Holly:               No. I haven't.

    John:                I think he's published by the same company that publishes you, isn't he?

    Holly:               There you go.

    John:                Maybe someday... That's pretty cool.  How did you come to know the Lord?

    Holly:               I was raised in a Christian family with, the grandparents having a Christian bookstore. I grew up learning about faith and Jesus. I remember just one time being in, it was actually in my grandparents' house, and they have a little Gideon Bible, my grandpa is really active in the Gideon's. I remember just kind of flipping through it. For whatever reason, that was the moment for me. I was about seven, I remember praying and just saying, "Okay Jesus, you know, I'm yours." I got baptized the next Sunday and have had ups and downs in my faith, especially when I went off to college. I had a little rebellious streak for a while. I was fortunate to have a family that was always a part of it.

    John:                 After this and being influenced by Dr. Leman and others, is this when you gave writing a shot?

    Holly:               Yes. Where I really got my start writing was at DaySpring Cards, a subsidiary of Hallmark. When I went off to college, just before Christmas break my freshman year, the DaySpring sales rep went to call on my grandma at their store and she said, "I have this granddaughter who wants to be a writer." You know nanas are irresistible, so the DaySpring sales rep, "She can send some things to us." I did that, clueless at 19 years old and all. But they actually did accept my writing samples and I connected with their editorial team and freelanced when I was in college and interned. Then I spent about nine years there as an editorial director.

    John:                That's pretty wild to think about the fact that your cards or what you have written have inspired and encourage probably thousands of people all over the world. That's pretty spectacular. From DaySpring then you kind of transitioned to taking a stab at writing?

    Holly:               Yes, I started a blog around 2008 when all of that was ramping up, and I loved being able to engage with readers in that way. Then a coworker of mine, Stephanie Bryant, and I co-founded the website (in)courage, with an “I” instead of an “E”. We're at DaySpring and DaySpring was like, "I don't know what you crazy girls are doing, but go for it." We were thankful for that, that they let us go ahead and do that as part of our jobs. That took off in ways that we never expected, it was a God thing.

    I always wanted to write books, but it felt like God was saying it's time to take that step at that point. I always thought I'd be at DaySpring and just felt called to transition into something new. My last day at DaySpring was on a Friday and Revell offered me a three-book contract on the following Monday, that I didn't even know was coming. That was a pretty good confirmation.

    John:                That sounds like a God thing. That's pretty awesome. Your first title ... I don't remember the title of your first book.

    Holly:               You're Already Amazing.

    John:                How did it feel transitioning from one avenue to another?

    Holly:               I had also written two smaller devotionals and published those. It was fun to actually do the kind of books that I read growing up, the longer chapter books. I love the team at Revell. Jennifer Lee, my editor, was awesome. There were a lot of times I was scared in the first go around, and she would say, "It's going to be all right Holly, just keep writing." I loved that.

    By that time, I had also got licensed as a counselor, and certified as a life coach. My life was just full of all these different voices of women, whether it was online through my blog, or face-to-face in a counseling office, or in a lot of other ways. I felt like the conversation was already going and so having a book come out of that just kind of felt like the next natural step. It's really just about what all women struggle with and how God's truth sets us free. It was really fun to take all of that and put it into a book.

    John:                When you write a book, do you think about writing for your audience, or do you feel like you're writing because this is what God has told you to write about?

    Holly:               I would say both. I always say I feel like the first reader of whatever I write, because I feel like that's how God speaks to my heart. My job is first to listen and then just listen to my audience also. I always say on my blog that I'd love to have coffee with all my readers. That's what I think of when I'm writing. It's just what would I want to say if this reader was right across from me and being able to listen to what she is saying is really helpful. I feel like my books really are, in a lot of ways, a conversation between my readers and I.

    John:                Do any of your readers try to take you up on that?

    Holly:               Yes. (laughs)

    John:                Have you?

    Holly:               Yes. Last night we did an event at a store. I got to have coffee with a lot of my readers and it was so much fun. Yeah, if I Facebook, "I'm going to be in ____" like we were in Southern California last week and readers were like, "I live there, let's have coffee." Whenever I can, I do because that's what I love the most, just hearing the hearts of women and being able to be a part of their lives in that way.

    John:                That's great.

    Holly:               Yeah. The coffee helps, too.

    John:                Coffee helps too, nothing wrong with that. I think it's very biblical. (Smiles) Your new book is entitled You're Made for a God-Sized Dream. Want to talk a little bit about that? What's behind that?

    Holly.               Yeah. I felt like I got to go on a God-sized dream journey in the whole transition through launching (in)courage and my work at DaySpring, and then getting to write books. I wanted to come alongside other women, who maybe knew what they were called to do, but were just feeling a little scared to step out, and really equip them to make that transition into their dreams. That's what that book is about. A God-Sized Dream isn't really about size at all; it's about what perfectly fits your heart because God created it for you.

    I love saying to women, "You know what, you can be a dreamer wherever you are. If you're called to stay home and raise your kids, awesome. That's a God-sized dream. If you're supposed to move to Africa and do a non-profit, awesome. That's a God-sized dream, too." Just saying, whatever it is that God's asking you to do, go ahead and say yes. I know it's going to be scary and hard, but it's also going to be amazing and full of joy and it's going to change the world. That's just what that book is, coming alongside those women who are just stepping into that dream that God has for them.

    John:                What do you say with you being a licensed counselor, how do you respond to a lady who comes up to you and says, "I feel like God has a dream for me 'here,' but yet I'm stuck 'here.'" What would you say to that person in attempting to fulfill something that they feel that they've been called to, but feel there are barriers there?

    Holly:               They're in a different season. I would say to start with whatever you can do today. Even last night, I talked to the ladies and I said, "You know what? A dream can happen in 15 minutes a day. So, if you're chasing toddlers and you have 15 minutes to sit down and write one page, that's enough." Dreams are always about a process. It's not about the finish line. It's about the journey along the way.

    Really the best part of a God-sized dream is just going on that adventure with Him. You don't have to wait for that. He's always willing to meet you, every single day, wherever you are. You can get up every day and say, "God, I'm going to pursue this dream. Whatever that looks like today, whether it's five minutes or I get to do it full time, because what I really want out of that dream is more of you." I tell them, "You don't have to ever delay. It's not probably going to be everything you'd like to be doing or that you might be doing one day, but there's something that you can do today." It's really just about living fully engaged and awake.

    John:                What is God teaching you right now, Holly?

    Holly:               God is teaching me that He's never going to stop asking me to get outside of my comfort zone.

    John:                What does that look like?

    Holly:               I think just ...

    John:                Can you share?

    Holly:               Yeah. I'm an introvert.

    John:                Really?

    Holly:               Yes.

    John:                I can't tell (jokingly).

    Holly:               On like the Meyers/Briggs, I'm like 90% introvert. I love being with people, but it's outside of my comfort zone a lot of the time. I feel like this journey is just very much about dependence on Jesus. I say the Help me, Jesus” prayer a lot.  "Help me Jesus. Help me Jesus." Every day, I just pray that He would give me words that are perfect for His daughters. "Give us this day, our daily bread," and "He's the Word," and "He's the Bread of life." I just have to continually go back and say, "I got nothing, but I have you and that's enough."

    He continues to expand, books do well and things, and new opportunities arise. I tell women, "The fear never goes away." That's just part of it. That's what keeps us leaning in and saying, "Okay, I can do this with you Jesus, but I could never do it on my own." I think that's a lesson I just keep continuing to learn.

    John:                Do you ever have a down day?

    Holly:               Yes.

    John:                HA! It doesn't sound like you do.

    Holly:               (laughing) Yes. I absolutely have down days, right? Mark as my witness (Her husband Mark is sitting, nodding his head in agreement). Yes. I get overwhelmed. I get scared. I struggle with depression and anxiety. Every once in a while, I just get up and I think,  "Oh, I don't want to do this anymore," or I'm having a really bad day and my life's a mess and I don't know what I'm doing and these people on my blogs seem to think I have it together in some way, and I don't. I try to tell them that, again. I think that's part of it. We all have down days. None of us are perfect. We all have struggles and we're not home yet. That's not going to go away until we're in heaven. I think it's knowing that we can be used by God even in those times when we feel inadequate or we're really depressed or something hard is happening in our lives. That's really comforting to me that He can use us in spite of us. That's a really reassuring thing to know.

    John:                I'm always amazed on how liberal God's grace is towards His children knowing how much He knows about us. Even when we feel that life is going great, He still sees all the crud in our life. He still says, "Yes, you are the one that I have chosen to be my child, my bride." Pretty spectacular. Do you have a favorite Bible passage that you continually go to?

    Holly:               I tend to have one that I focus on for each book. With this book, it's Matthew 19:26, "All things are possible with God." I love that because "with God" means it's a partnership with Him. That verse doesn't mean I can do whatever I want and God will make it happen. It means that if we partner with Him, and we're seeking His purposes for our lives then nothing is impossible for us. That's really reassuring to me that I can just show up and say. "Okay, I'm willing to be used and God will work out the rest and make His purposes happen.

    John:                What are your big goals for the rest of this year?

    Holly:               The rest of this year? I have another book coming out in September, a devotional companion to this book.

    John:                Is that finished yet?

    Holly:               It's Opening The Door to your God-sized Dream, it goes along with the most recent book that's coming out.

    John:                That's great. That's awesome, Holly. I appreciate you coming in here, bringing me coffee and taking the time to chat with us today. I'm excited to see what God has in store for you.

    Holly:               Thank you. I appreciate that.


    This post was posted in Books, Interviews, John van der Veen and was tagged with Featured, Kevin Leman, Holley Gerth, Dayspring

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