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  • Praise the Lord - City Harmonic

    Internationally acclaimed band, The City Harmonic presents their highly anticipated sophomore album, Heart, featuring 14 songs that are underscored by the cinematic and communal aesthetic prominent in all of the band’s music. Reflecting the lives lived by the band members since their full-length debut, Heart shifts from the dream of what could and should be to the complexities of how to follow the true humanity of Christ’s example in the world.

    The album places Christ at the center while delving into themes of grace, discipleship and being and becoming truly human, all the while giving the listener permission to sing out in hope, in hurt. At the core of the new album is the first radio single, "City on a Hill," which is steeped in the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5.

    Check out their new video below:

    What do you think of their new song?

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    Powerful songs of praise
  • Am I On Camera?

    Chrystal

    "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them ..." Matthew 6:1a (ESV)

    My eldest son recently turned nine. Like most kids, he was excited to be officially "bigger." He walked around on his special day with his chest pushed out and his head held high.

    After a full day of justifiably being the center of attention, my son told me that because he was nine, he was going to wash the dishes.

    His dishes.

    He proceeded to go to the sink, squeeze the dish detergent and squirt a generous amount of soap on a dirty plate. He then proceeded to rub and scrub with vigor.

    I grabbed a glass of water and rested my hip on the side of the kitchen counter to watch my birthday boy work. He scrubbed on that dish for more than a minute.

    That dish wasn't just clean, it was sterile, sanitized and thoroughly decontaminated.

    Then my sweet boy turned to me, cocked his head slightly to one side, donned a puzzled face and asked, "Aren't you gonna take a picture of me and put it on Instagram?"

    I almost spit my water in his face with laughter, shock and a bit of confusion.

    My son was doing a good thing with the desire to broadcast his good thing to the world. Apparently, being "on camera" was an important part of his good works.

    So I took a few minutes to explain the importance of doing things for the right reasons and not performing for the applause of others.

    And then I was convicted.

    Convicted because sometimes I do the same thing.

    How many times have I served others, not just because it was the right thing to do, but because it also lent claim to a bit of self-righteousness as others watched me do it?

    How many times have I put forth more effort to show kindness or compassion to people inside the walls of my church than to those living within the walls of my home?

    How often do I aim for excellence when someone is watching but forget to aim consistently for excellence simply because my God is always watching?

    And He's always most interested in my heart.

    The Bible is clear. God doesn't want my good deeds to be aimed at gaining the applause of people. He wants me to have a pure heart and motives undergirded by a desire to live a life pleasing to Him.

    Even if no one else is watching.

    When my little boy got busy washing his dish, my heart was overjoyed because I thought he was showing growth and maturity by doing a good thing — simply because it was the right thing to do!

    When his true motives were made clear, I realized there was still mothering work to be done. My precious son still has room to grow and mature. And that's OK.

    In my Christian journey there will be times when I will need work. There will be times where my heart is not quite right or my motives are not necessarily pure. I still have room to grow and mature. And it's OK.

    And that's OK if you do, too.

    The good news I've learned as I grow in Christ is that my heart can change. God is a loving Father who is interested in my heart and willing to take the time to teach me. He's willing to go the distance, guiding me along the path to spiritual maturity.

    The interaction with my son reminded me to do a "heart check."

    Even if no one is watching, when I'm not "on camera," I should always be conscious of the story my actions tell about my heart.

    Dear Lord, I desire to have a pure heart and pure motives, but if I'm honest, sometimes I miss the mark. Help me be aware that You are ever present and to live as though You are watching. Where I have developed the habit of keeping up appearances, teach me what it means to live for an audience of One. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: When was the last time you joyfully served others when there was no applause?

    How does your treatment of people outside your home compare to the treatment of the people down the hallway?

    How much excellent effort do you put forth if no one is there to see how hard you work at the task at hand?

    Power Verse: Psalm 101:2, "I will be careful to lead a blameless life — when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

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

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  • Weary But Strong

    Boyd

    Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well...Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’” John 4:6, 31-32

    Life has a way of wearing us down. Constant digital connection exhausts our emotional energy, saps our attention span, and depletes our physical strength.  There are especially intense cycles of life that require a robust infusion of spiritual strength. Training our children can be overwhelming, starting a new job may require a radical learning curve, and health or relational issues tend to tire us out. Our physical weariness is an opportunity for invigoration by the Spirit.

    Jesus, while hungry and tired--looked outside of Himself to the inner hurt of another human being. His body was exhausted, but His spirit came alive to do the will of His heavenly Father. Indeed, it’s in our weakness that we can engage the strength of doing God’s will. By God’s grace we can convert our physical cravings into spiritual energy. Stamina comes to souls surrendered to God’s will. Faith feasts on food unavailable to unbelief. Yes, we can be strong in our weariness.

    “If you are a man given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, For they are deceptive food” (Proverbs 23:2-3, NKJV).

    Physical appetites need not consume us. Hunger, thirst, and sexual appetites are desires meant to drive us to the Lord, not away from the Lord. The soul rules over the body, not the body over the soul. If we are preoccupied by our physical needs, we lose touch with our affection for our heavenly Father. This is why determined soldiers are able to persevere through painfully adverse elements to win the battle. Disciplined athletes keep their bodies in submission, so they can reach their goals. So, in our weariness--we are strong, as we default to the habit of carrying out God’s will.

    Furthermore, like Jesus--we are wise to regularly take time to stop and rest. We sit down so we can refresh our soul, not bloat our body. We pray for those we can engage in conversation about Christ. Spiritual discussion can clarify our thinking and change our behavior for the better. So, we ask God who needs our intentional investment of time: a single mom, a troubled teenager, a successful executive or homemaker? Strength in our weariness comes from doing God’s will.

    “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, use my physical desires to move me toward doing Your will.

    Related Readings: Proverbs 13:4, 16:8; Matthew 21:18; John 6:27; 1 Corinthians 1:25

    Post/Tweet today: Stamina comes to souls surrendered to God’s will. Faith feasts on food unavailable to unbelief. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Stand Strong from Nick Vujicic

    Nick

    I am a bully’s dream, no doubt about it.

    No arms. No legs. No defense.

    Born without limbs for reasons never determined, I was blessed in so many other ways. My greatest blessing was a loving and supportive family. They sheltered and encouraged me for the first years of my life. But once I left the protective shelter of family for the hallways and playgrounds of elementary school, I felt like I had a target on my chest that said, “Bullies, aim here.”

    I felt alone in my fear of bullies, but I wasn’t alone. And neither are you.

    If you’ve been bullied, the first thing you need to understand is that their attacks, taunts, and mean acts aren’t really about you, any flaws you might have, or anything you might have done. Bullies have their own issues. They pick on you to make themselves feel better, to vent their anger, to feel more powerful, or even because they can’t think of anything else to do.

    I know it’s lame, but it’s true.

    When I was a teenager, I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out why bullies picked on me. There was one guy in particular who really got inside my head. He bullied everybody, but for some reason I took it personally. I obsessed over his motives. Finally I realized that his bullying wasn’t about my problems. It was about his.

    You may have a bully who has had the same impact on you, getting inside your head, knotting your stomach with stress, and tormenting your dreams because you can’t figure out why you are the target. I’m here to ease your mind and lighten that burden. Your bully’s motives don’t matter. You do.

    Your safety and your happiness are important to me and everyone else who loves and cares about you; so instead of focusing on why a bully is picking on you, let’s focus on helping you feel secure and happy again.

    Does that sound like a plan? I think so!

    But before we move on, I want you to know that there is no single infallible strategy for dealing one-on-one with bullies. And I certainly don’t recommend you resort to violence if you can help it! Don’t ever let a bully lure you into a fight. If a bully attacks you, defend yourself but get away as fast as you can. If you have any reason to think a bully is going to harm you physically, you need to talk to an adult who can help you before that happens.

    The Bullying Epidemic

    It’s important to understand from the beginning that many people share your pain in dealing with this problem. Being bullied, sadly, is as common as catching a cold or stubbing your toe. I travel all over the world talking to young people about this issue. No matter where I go, bullying is a major topic of concern. Teens in every school in every town and every country tell me they have mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual pain because of being bullied.

    A teen in China told me that he’d tried to commit suicide eight times because of being bullied at school. A cute little Korean girl in Boise, Idaho, came up to me crying after I gave a speech on bullying. She said, “I get teased every day about being Korean because I’m the only Asian in the whole school.” I hear similar stories from bullying victims in Chile, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Serbia, and around the world. Bullying is everywhere, and it takes many forms. Most of us are familiar with childhood bullies who threaten to beat us up, make fun of us, or turn friends against us. Adults may experience bullying in the form of sexual harassment or as discrimination based on race, religion, sexual identity, or disabilities. Bullies can be your boss, coworkers, teachers, coaches, boyfriends, or girlfriends—anyone who abuses his power or position.

    It’s sad to say, but parents can be bullies too. Suicides are a major problem among young people in Asia, and part of the problem is that many teens are under incredible pressure to earn top grades so they can make it into the best schools and get the best jobs for the most pay. Parents naturally want their children to do well, but when a mother and father give love and support only if their child is successful in their eyes, it is a form of bullying. There was one case in which the parents burned their child with cigarettes because her grades were not up to their standards. That’s an extreme case to be sure, but I’ve encountered similar stories around the world.

    The most common bullying experience is being taunted or ridiculed for being “different” in some way. I’m the poster child for this. For most of my life, I’ve been a bully magnet. I’ve heard every imaginable nasty comment about my lack of limbs. Cruel jokes. Even physical threats.

    It didn’t help that my family moved a couple of times when I was in school. We went from one side of Australia to the other, then we moved to the United States and back again. At each new school, I wasn’t just the only kid with no arms and no legs; I was usually the only kid in a wheelchair. When we moved to the United States, I hit the bully-target trifecta: I was the only kid in my school with no arms and no legs, the only kid in a wheelchair, and the only kid with an Australian accent! Different? Me, mate?

    Sure, I stood out from the crowd, and the fact that I was often the new kid without friends made me an even easier target. But I realized early on that bullies would find a reason to pick on anyone. They called the smart kids “nerds,” the tall kids “bird legs,” and the short kids “runts.” If perfect people existed, bullies probably would mock them for being “too perfect.”

    Still, if you are being bullied, it hurts. It’s a terrible experience that often seems like it will never end. As someone who endured it throughout my teenage years and still runs into it from time to time, I want to give you hope and peace. You can rise above and beyond it.


    Excerpted from Stand Strong by Nick Vujicic Copyright © 2014 by Nick Vujicic. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • Easter Fun for Kids

    Resurrection Eggs
    The Sparkle Egg by Jill Hardie
    He Is Risen Plush Bunny
  • Free Wallpaper for Your Mobile, Tablet or Computer - April

    The month of April. Many of us are going to ask the question - "Will April showers... be rain or snow?"

    This past winter has been brutal for many of us. Snow. Ice. Cold. Yikes. It reminded me of the story in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe from C.S. Lewis, where the White Witch has put a curse on the land of Narnia. It was always winter, but never Christmas. Thankfully, Christmas did come for the people of Narnia and in our case, Spring is coming as well.

    This month we also will be celebrating Resurrection Sunday. We really should be celebrating it every Sunday. What a glorious day that is. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthian 15:

    "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

    But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead!"

    Our hearts are filled with gladness! Let us declare to a wearisome world that there is great Hope found in the resurrection!

    Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

    As our tradition, 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.

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  • Trials Come So That...

    Wendy

    "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4, NIV, emphasis added)

    [Editor's Note: Today's devotional might serve as a trigger for some. If that's you, we pray this story encourages you and brings you hope. Please see our note at the end for additional resources.]

    Screams from my living room startled me. Walking into the room, I realized the noises came from the television. On the screen, a man viciously attacked a woman. My instinct normally would have been to grab the remote and change the channel. Instead I stood frozen, my eyes locked onto the scene.

    It took me back 26 years to my little college apartment. To the terrifying moment I found an armed, masked man hiding at the top of my stairs. Without warning, I returned to the feelings and fear I felt that day.

    Something was drawing me back to that moment reminding me of where I once had been and how far I had come.

    Watching the violation on the screen was like watching myself all those years ago.

    My mind snapped back to the present reality of the TV show, where the screen now showed the victim returning home to find a crime scene.

    Another flashback. I, too, had arrived home to find investigators everywhere, dusting for prints, bagging and tagging items, and methodically removing my personal belongings one by one. First, physical, replaceable things ... my bathing suit, sheets, comforter, and towel. And then, personal, seemingly irreplaceable things ... my dignity, security, value and self-worth.

    Following the day I was attacked, fear locked me in a prison and held me captive for nearly 15 years.

    But thankfully that day watching that TV show, fear NEVER took hold!

    In the past when those emotions rushed through me, terror came and I ran wherever I could to avoid being alone with the paralyzing fear. But not that day. After turning the TV off, I boldly and confidently marched up my stairs, jumped in the shower and scrubbed off every one of those emotions.

    Afterward, the Lord impressed these words on my heart: Remember My promise. You have persevered, My child. Perseverance is finishing its work!

    God was speaking His own Word to me from today's key verse, James 1:2-4. Sometimes, God allows trials to test our faith. Our trials, though incredibly confusing and painful, initiate a process that teaches perseverance which deepens and matures our faith in a way nothing else can.

    My life is proof. Not only has God healed me from that horrific day many years ago, but He has turned it into a powerful testimony to bring hope to others and point them to Him.

    If you're in the midst of a trial, be encouraged, sweet friend. Our key verse teaches that God promises to mature and complete you through it. He also promises that you will be more than a conqueror through Christ who loves you. Pay attention to those words. Not a mere conqueror...but more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

    As God washed these truths over me, He spoke this message into my heart:

    Not only can this trial not separate you from Me, Wendy, but with Me ... if you continue to look to Me and trust Me ... I will use it to mold you into the woman I created you to be. Wendy, you will be more than a conqueror so that I can mature you and use you to encourage and help others.

    Before you read further, reread the paragraph above and replace my name with yours. Let God's promises seep deep into your heart. Your trial has purpose. It forces dependence on God. It tests you. It molds you, eventually creating you into an overcomer, with a powerful testimony.

    Trials come so that God can work in and through them to transform us and then use us to bring hope and healing to His hurting people.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for having a purpose in my trials. Open my eyes to see Your hand at work and give me the courage to persevere so that You can mold me into the woman You created me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Are you facing a trial in your own life? What has been your response?

    Spend time reading Romans 8:37 (below) and James 1:2-4 (key verse). What truths do they speak into your trial?

    Power Verse: Romans 8:37, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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

  • Eternal Optimist

    Boyd

    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

    Eternal optimists base their optimism on the eternal, not the temporal. The temporal is consumed with current circumstances, while the eternal experiences eternal security. The temporal is anxious about another adverse event, while the eternal is at peace with Providence. The temporal trusts what it can see, while the eternal trusts in the unseen. Do you glance at the temporal and gaze on the eternal? If so, you are an eternal optimist.

    By faith we see the Lord, who is unseen, and this compels us to obey Christ. Moses experienced this during a time of transition. “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). Your eternal optimism is what gives you the courage to carry on; so do not let temporal pessimists persuade you to lose heart. Stay fixed on your Savior, the author of your faith.

    Eternal optimism exits when fear gets the upper hand. Fear seeks to flush out your faith as irresponsible and irrelevant. However, it is faith that keeps you grounded in God, the definer of reality. The righteous learn to live in the reality of the Lord’s love and leadership. Pain and striving are temporary, but healing and peace are eternal. You can be optimistic, knowing by faith you can be certain of the unseen.

    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

    Lastly, are you a temporal pessimist or an eternal optimist? Are you striving to survive or thriving to succeed? Look to the unseen, and you will one day understand. Engage with the Almighty’s agenda, and your focus will be forever and your results eternally significant. Can your family and friends depend on you to be an eternal optimist? Your hopeful attitude in the eternal gives them reason to be optimists.

    Live and exclaim out loud: “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18).

    Prayer: Where is God calling me to see, with eyes of faith, the unseen, eternal optimism of Jesus?

    Related Readings: Psalm 73:26; Isaiah 51:10–11; Matthew 6:21; John 6:27

    Taken from the March 30th reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 1”

    Post/Tweet today: The temporal trusts what it can see, while the eternal trusts in the unseen. #wisdomhunters

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

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…to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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