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Tag Archives: Featured

  • I Like Giving from Brad Formsma

    Posted on February 11, 2014 by Family Christian

    Brad Formsma

    The giving journey for Tracy Autler started on Thanksgiving Day 1993. Away from her family, living in an apartment on the lower end of town, a single mom to a three-year-old and eight months pregnant, she was relying on welfare and food stamps to get by. While other families were preparing for their Thanksgiving feasts, Tracy would do the best she could with canned food.

    Standing in her apartment and looking at the sparse collection of cans on her shelf, Tracy heard a knock at the door. What in the world? she thought. Who would be coming to her door on Thanksgiving Day? Weren’t people at home with their families, eating turkey and watching football?

    She opened her door and simply couldn’t believe her eyes. Standing there was a man from a local restaurant with a delivery for Tracy: a full Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the trimmings. He said it was from an anonymous donor, and before Tracy could ask any questions, he handed it over and left. Tracy was so overwhelmed that she spent the rest of the day crying.

    Surprised and amazed, Tracy decided she needed to know whom to thank for this extravagant and timely gift. However, she couldn’t fi gure it out. She called her parents, but it wasn’t them. She asked her friends, but no one knew. Tracy couldn’t believe that someone outside her circle of friends and family had noticed her situation and done something about it without drawing any attention to himself.

    Years went by, and Tracy still had no idea whom the mysterious Thanksgiving dinner had come from. In time she moved out of that apartment and began working as a nurse at a local hospital.

    And then it happened. Seven years after that special Thanksgiving meal, a woman named Margot was admitted into Tracy’s care. Margot had multiple sclerosis, and her condition was becoming critical. Tracy remembered Margot from her time on welfare. She had lived in the same apartment building as Tracy. It was clear that Margot didn’t have much longer to live.

    Three days before her death, Margot took Tracy’s hand in hers and, in a frail voice, whispered two words: “Happy Thanksgiving.”

    In that moment Tracy knew who had given her that Thanksgiving dinner. She would never have guessed that Margot—the unassuming neighbor with multiple sclerosis—was behind that generous gift. Tracy still gets tears in her eyes when she tells the story today.

    I’d call that story “I Like My Neighbor.” Margot saw Tracy’s situation that Thanksgiving Day and did something extraordinary—she gave her the perfect gift without anyone asking her to and without asking for anything in return.

    That one gift had a massive impact on Tracy’s life. Moved by the anonymous donor’s generosity, Tracy purposed in her heart to do generous things for other people too. The very day she got off assistance, she took a basket of gifts down to the welfare office for anyone to take. The welfare officer was stunned. Can you imagine the look on his face? Who does something like that?

    And that was just the beginning. Since then, Tracy and her husband have become foster parents and adopted a son. She regularly looks for opportunities to give. The last time I heard from her, she was getting ready to volunteer her Saturday afternoon at the local Humane Society. One of her latest ideas is to leave fi ve-dollar Starbucks gift cards with little notes for her coworkers to fi nd, just to make their day better. This year Tracy and her family made a New Year’s resolution to find one hundred opportunities to give to other people. How inspiring is that?

    What I appreciate most about Tracy is that she doesn’t do her giving to be noticed by others. Since that Thanksgiving Day in 1993, she has discovered the joy that comes from giving. Now she’s hooked. She doesn’t give to make herself look good—she gives because she likes giving. It makes her feel more alive. “It’s how life should be,” she says.

    There is something incredible about giving when it’s our idea. Opening our eyes and ears to the people around us and asking “How can we give?” is a profoundly life-giving and satisfying way to live. One of Jesus’s ideas was that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I have found that to be true. The generous life is the only life worth living.

    Just imagine—what if every single person on the planet woke up and, like Tracy, looked for ways to give? What sort of world could we create through the simple, powerful decision to live generously? Whoever you are, no matter how much or how little you have to share, making the decision to give regularly to others—daily, weekly, or monthly—will enrich your life and change the lives of the people around you.

    When we choose to give, we change, and the people around us change. When we move from awareness to action, miracles happen. When we allow giving to be our idea, a world of possibilities opens up before us, and we discover new levels of joy. If you, like Tracy, get hooked on giving, you’ll find yourself asking, “How generous can I be?” When that happens, you’ll realize that, not only are you loving life more than ever, but you’re also a part of creating a more generous world—a world that is better for all of us. If you haven’t ever experienced the joy of giving, or it’s been a long time, this book will show you where to start. We will walk with you as you take your first steps, and we’ll stick with you as you grow in the art of generosity.

    Or if you’re nodding your head right now, saying, “I’ve known this for years,” then we’re here to encourage you to keep growing and to empower you to spread the joy. We never arrive. I’ve been discovering the joy of generous living for many years, and I still feel as if I’m just getting started!

    The best things in life are like that—they grow and never end.


    Excerpted from I Like Giving by Brad Formsma Copyright © 2014 by Brad Formsma. 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.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Brad Formsma

  • Today's New Releases (2/11/14)

    Posted on February 11, 2014 by John van der Veen



    The middle of February brings out some great new releases. New books, new music and new DVDs. There is enough here for your whole family to enjoy, for personal growth or to give as a gift of encouragement.

    WOW Gospel 2014

    Filled with songs that lived at the top of the gospel radio charts in 2013, this double CD set is chock full of hits, including songs from Hezekiah Walker, Marvin Sapp, Tasha Cobbs, Deitrick Haddon, Lecrae and more. WOW Gospel 2014 is a must-have for fans of modern worship music, and it's perfect for singing along to all year!

    Don't forget the companion DVD as well.

    Grace Unplugged

    In Grace Unplugged, Grace Trey aspires to more than just singing at her church, where the worship leader is her former pop-star father. With the help of Mossy, her dad's former manager, Grace records a cover version of her dad's old Top-10 hit, runs off to Los Angeles and begins to experience the kind of fame she's always dreamed about.

    Stardom offers Grace a hit song - but will the fame be too much for Grace to handle and blind her faith? Or will she rediscover it? Starring actress and musician A. J. Michalka, Grace Unplugged is an inspiring story about chasing your dreams.

    Soundtrack for the movie can be found here.

    The Storm Inside

    The chaos of life can be overwhelming, and women seem to get a heavier dose. Each day comes with its own pressures, heartaches and disappointments that slowly erode the joy, peace and closeness to God every woman needs. Chaos always feels like the enemy as it rages around us and inside us.

    In The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are, bestselling author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh invites you into ten life-changing, hope-filled transformations where hurt and heartache are divinely redeemed into joy and faith.

    In The Storm Inside, you will find strength in the most profound truths - that you are always a child of God no matter how you feel. This simple teaching will be the difference between a life of joy and one of despair. Sheila powerfully reminds us that God offers no guarantee of a life without storms, but He does provide the strength and grace to make it through them.

    Glory

    When a band’s first priority is to declare God’s glory through song, it doesn’t worry too much about fitting into one particular genre of music. Perhaps that’s why some fans have alternating definitions of Kutless, the best-selling rock . . . , no, worship . . . no, rock/worship hit makers from Portland, OR. On the inspiring new studio album Glory, its eighth with BEC Recordings, a perfect balance is struck as lead singer Jon Micah Sumrall, guitarists James Mead and Nick de Partee, and drummer Kyle Peek celebrate with electrifying abandon not their collective identity but the mighty name of Jesus.

    “Our goal with Glory was simply to worship louder and clearer than ever before,” de Partee says of the amped up and sometimes stripped down set. “We felt led to create original songs that could be sung on an acoustic guitar in a Bible study or in an arena with the masses shouting God’s praises.”

    Kutless kicks off 2014 with Glory, featuring the single "You Alone." Continuing their transformation from "new band" to established act that began with 2012's Believer, the album showcases the band's massive range, featuring a more mature tone and stunning performances.

    Crash the Chatterbox

    Inside your head and heart is a chatterbox. Its lies are keeping you from realizing your God-given potential. What can you do about it? In Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God's Voice Above All Others, Pastor Steven Furtick focuses on four key areas in which negative thoughts are most debilitating: insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement. He asks, "What great deeds are in danger of remaining undone in your life because of lies that were planted in your past or fears that are looming in your future?"

    With personal stories, inspiring examples, and practical strategies, Pastor Furtick shows you how to silence the lies and embrace the freeing affirmation of God. You'll learn how to crash the chatterbox - and hear God’s voice above all others.

    City Harbor

    City Harbor presents their debut, self-titled album, featuring their first radio single, "Come However You Are." The duo of Molly Reed and Robby Earle brings a unique creative, organic pop sound, which skillfully showcases their songwriting, dual lead vocals and playing. The songs on City Harbor come from a desire to know Christ and to make Christ known to the world around.

    Besides the new releases, there are plenty of prebuy opportunities as well. New music from MercyMe and Francesca Battistelli. New DVD from VeggieTales and a new movie from Kirk Cameron. Click here to see them all.


    This post was posted in Music, Books, Movies and was tagged with Featured, MercyMe, VeggieTales, Kutless, Francesca Battistelli, WOW, Grace Unplugged, Sheila Walsh, Steven Furtick, City Harbor, Kirk Cameron

  • Crash the Chatterbox from Steven Furtick

    Posted on February 10, 2014 by Family Christian

    Steven Furtick

    Chatterboxing

    I wish I had a little devil on my left shoulder. I could flick him off and tell him to go to hell. Then I could fist-bump the angel sitting on my right shoulder and get on with doing all the things God has called me to do. That would change everything.

    I’d discover an unshakable confidence. It wouldn’t be borrowed from the ever-changing assessments of others. I would instinctively offer my weaknesses as a platform for God’s power instead of typecasting myself as someone God
    couldn’t use due to my endless character flaws.

    I’d be unstoppable because the devil wouldn’t be able to dominate my mind with the kinds of fears that control me a lot of the time. Then I would be able to move forward in faith without being scared of failure or rejection or the sacrifice required to obey God.

    I’d never again be paralyzed by condemnation or bullied by feelings of unworthiness. And at the end of each day I’d go to sleep in perfect peace because I’d be finishing the day with no shame, no regrets, no need to sew any fig leaves to conceal anything.

    I’d be nearly immune from discouragement, because I would stop wondering if the sky was falling every time I faced a new challenge. I’d see my biggest obstacles as my greatest opportunities…and all the other stuff you read on Starbucks cups.

    Unfortunately, there’s no devil on my shoulder.

    What’s worse, there’s no angel either.

    Instead, I’ve got this ceaseless war going on inside my heart and my head. I’m waging it every millisecond of every minute of every hour of every day—nights, holidays, and weekends too.

    ####

    I wake up every day to the crow of the chatterbox.

    Here’s a transcript of my internal dialogue from a recent morning. It’s a real-time example of the kind of chatter that can derail my day before it even gets started. Sometimes over the most ridiculous things you can imagine.

    The thoughts are flying so fast now that I can’t keep track, much less sort them out and put them where they belong. Thinking about these thoughts at all only seems to feed them. That’s why they keep overpowering me, because I keep feeding them. I know this, but it never stops me from doing it. Not this time, not ten years ago, and it won’t be any different ten years from now, I’m beginning to believe.

    This is so stupid. I’m being so stupid.

    It’s only a light bulb.

    A burned-out light bulb has turned into a mini-midmorning meltdown in my mind, and I can’t find the switch to shut it off. The meltdown, I mean, not the light bulb.

    So I’m standing in the shower, and the light bulb is out, and it’s like the sky is falling.

    As soon as I stepped into the shower, I noticed, for the third time, that the middle bulb was out over the sink on the other side of the bathroom. Now that I’m in the shower, stranded, phoneless, how am I going to put in Evernote that the light bulb is out? With my pathetic attention span, what are the chances I’ll remember to replace the light bulb after I get out?

    I definitely don’t have time to change the light bulb—I’m already going to be ten minutes late for this meeting. If there’s no traffic. I’m always running late for meetings. I’m a late person. It’s because I hit the snooze button three times every morning, because I’m spiritually apathetic. Pastor Mickey used to get up at 5 a.m. and spend two hours with God, and he said, “He who runs from God in the morning will scarce find Him throughout the day.” They should put that on a Starbucks cup too.

    Either way, God is gone for the day, and it’s not even 9 a.m. And now I’m running twelve minutes late, and the light bulb is still out.

    I’m screwed.

    And who am I kidding? Even if I had time to change the light bulb, yeah, right, like I have a clue where Holly keeps them. Now that’s really pathetic. What would people think if they found out about that one: the woman changes all the light bulbs around that house! What kind of example am I setting for my kids?

    Did I even pray with the kids last night? the night before that?

    Dunno. But I did Instagram that sunset shot with the kids at the creek last Friday. So there’s that.

    “Cock-a-doodle-do.” The chatterbox informs me that I’m fourteen minutes late…and I suck as a person.

    I’m feeding the machine, and it’s eating me alive.

    And the chatter will continue to race through my mind until I decide to downshift and put things back in perspective: Calm down, Furtick. It’s. Just. A. Light bulb.

    Just like that, if only for a split second, the chatterbox gives way. And I get on with my day.

    Unfortunately, it won’t be long until the chatterbox sounds off again. Probably next time about something much more serious than a light bulb. So much doubt, panic, raw impulse, and bogus conjecture stream through my mind. My
    soul sometimes feels like a Twitter feed where I’m following a million of the most annoying people ever, and I can’t find the Unfollow button.

    ####

    But God is faithful to speak too. His voice rises from the pages of His Word, which is the exact expression of His will. He speaks, not only on Sunday mornings in the sanctuary where the congregation is gathered, but also in the stillness
    of His works scattered across the night skies. His Spirit speaks with promptings that are not audible—often they are much louder than that—always in perfect harmony with the Scriptures and always resounding with perfect wisdom.

    And in every season of my life, God has sent reminders to confirm that He has perfectly designed me and totally enabled me for everything He’s called me to do. Sometimes He’ll do that through a simple picture, song, text, or conversation that rings with affirmation for days.

    Other times, at critical junctures, God has spoken dramatic words of encouragement over my life.

    A few years ago I was on a plane headed home, and I looked out the window during the descent. The sunset seemed to be painting the skyline in neon orange, illuminating the city where I had just moved to start a church. It was a glowing visual that set the scene for God to speak to my heart: This is your city. I’ve called you here to pour out your life for My cause. Be confident, because everywhere you set your foot belongs to Me, and you belong to Me, and together we’re going to take this city for My glory.

    I’m sure my translation of this conversation isn’t word perfect, because you know how tricky cross-cultural communication with God can be. Plus, I can’t find the notebook where I frantically scribbled every word of those impressions. The part I’m sure of is that I heard God encouraging me at a time when I really needed it. We were only a couple of months into getting our new church off the ground. I needed some reassurance, and God delivered.

    And it was His voice piercing through the roar of my doubts that lifted my perspective. It was just enough to keep me moving forward in faith.

    ####

    Now I’d like to ask you a few questions.

    Is it possible to be the kind of person who can be distracted to the point of utter despair by a blown light bulb and still hear God calling you to do great things as you stare down at your city through a sunset?

    Can God’s voice coexist with maniacal chatter—within the same person?

    And how can I silence the voice of the enemy when the enemy is in me? Can you relate to this contradiction?

    I used to think that someone who struggled with the kinds of weaknesses I deal with daily was useless to God. I felt so often like I was drowning in internal dialogue I couldn’t control. It had been the soundtrack of my life for as long as I could remember. I had hoped these problems would finally be fixed when I became a committed Christian. And I hoped for it again each time I experienced spiritual highs along the way in my journey of faith.

    But the beat went on.

    Yet everything changed when I began to realize God has given us the ability to choose the dialogue we believe and respond to. And once we learn how, we can switch from lies to truth as deliberately as we can choose the Beatles over Miley Cyrus on satellite radio.

    Choosing to believe this, moment by moment, and acting on it is the most important habit you will ever develop. It is the key to pressing ahead and doing God’s will anyway, even as you are bombarded with thoughts, feelings, and even facts about why you can’t do it. Why you shouldn’t do it. And why you’ll never be able to do it. Why you’re too dysfunctional, too petty, too immature, too melancholy, too impulsive…

    I’m now awakening to the reality that we can access the power of God’s promises to constantly crash the system of our broken beliefs. I’m learning how to overpower the shouts of the Enemy by bending my ear to the whisper of God’s supernatural truths about my identity in Him and His strength in me. This isn’t something I did once and now it’s over or something I can afford to do occasionally when it’s convenient. It requires constancy. It’s the only way I know to be the father, husband, leader, friend, and believer that God says I already am, the kind of person I am straining to believe I can become. Winning the war of words inside your soul means learning to defy your inner critic. But that’s easier said than done. And I think many times, as believers, we sense we are losing this war. But we don’t know what to do about it because we don’t know where to find the weapons, and we wouldn’t know where to aim them if we did.

    In other words, we feel powerless to crash the chatterbox. And now would probably be a good time to explain exactly what I mean by that.


    Excerpted from Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick Copyright © 2014 by Steven Furtick. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, 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.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Steven Furtick

  • One Nation, Under Attack from Grant R. Jeffrey

    Posted on February 7, 2014 by Family Christian

    Grant R. Jeffrey

    There Is Far More at Stake Than Most of Us Realize

    The United States of America is unique. In the last five thousand years kingdoms, nations, and empires have risen to power, extending their reach and rule over others. But never has there been the equal of the United States in power and world influence.

    America is the only nation that was conceived as a limited republic based on divinely inspired biblical principles. God’s revealed truth undergirds the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

    These documents clearly reflect an intentional recognition of God and His work in the world as well as the necessity of basing laws, liberties, and rights on His revealed moral law.

    In various ways, all of this helped to transform the thirteen colonies that broke away from England in 1776 into history’s most influential and dominant world empire. By the end of World War II, America was unsurpassed in military might and unequaled in technology, manufacturing, economic vitality, and world leadership. The nation that began with New World immigrants seeking independence from Britain replaced the British Empire by virtue of America’s international presence, economic leadership, and military power.

    The American Empire has been richly blessed by God from the beginning, but in recent decades America has given in to forces that oppose and deny God’s intentions for this great nation. The country that has done more than any other to guarantee personal liberties at home and to defend freedom around the world is seeing its power and influence diminish day by day. The American Empire soon will fall from its position as world leader, and its fall will affect every one of us.

    America is being pushed to the brink by economic reversals brought on by decades of unsound economic policy and more recently by an overextended military, a deadlocked Congress, and a federal government that chooses again and again to turn its back on the clear intent and wisdom of the Constitution. In a very short time, the United States will be pushed to the sidelines of world events. The center of power and influence will shift away from the nation that has served since the eighteenth century as the model of democracy and individual freedom.

    All of this is taking place just prior to the emergence of the prophesied Antichrist. Satan’s representative on earth will consolidate his power and first establish his dictatorship over the revived Roman Empire and then over the entire world. The American Empire that rose to power with the blessing of God will be so weak it won’t play a notable role in the culminating events of the last days.

    This is the greatest of ironies. The only nation in history that was intentionally founded as a limited republic based on God’s principles will be powerless to oppose the coming global tyranny of evil.

    The Rise and Decline of the American Empire

    America’s leaders from the start honored God and looked to God’s Scriptures for guidance. The colonies won their independence from England in 1783, adopted a constitution, and enjoyed steady growth in political, economic, and military power. By the early twentieth century the United States was coming to the aid of democratic allies around the world and winning the First World War. Then, in World War II, America accepted the responsibility to defend freedom by waging war in Europe, North Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. At the end of the Second World War, America was the unquestioned, unrivaled leader of the free world. No other world power was positioned to block the threatened expansion of Soviet Russia and Communist China during the Cold War.

    In fact, the United States of America was far more than a powerful nation. It was rising to the status of a world empire. Empires expand gradually as they amass power, extend their reach, and assert their influence over the rest of the world.

    A commentator on global politics, Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff, wrote about the identifying characteristics of the American Empire. “Ever since George Washington warned his countrymen against foreign entanglements, empire abroad has been seen as the republic’s permanent temptation and its potential nemesis. Yet what word but ‘empire’ describes the awesome thing that America is becoming? It is the only nation that polices the world through five global military commands; maintains more than a million men and women at arms on four continents; deploys carrier battle groups on watch in every ocean; guarantees the survival of countries from Israel to South Korea; drives the wheels of global trade and commerce; and fills the hearts and minds of an entire planet with its dreams and desires.”

    Like all great empires, America could not hold the course and preserve the things that made it great. A gradual decline began before the end of the 1950s. In recent years external forces orchestrated a coordinated attack that has hastened the empire’s decline. Soon the American Empire will fall, and the collapse will come rapidly.

    Why Is America Absent from Biblical Prophecy?

    The United States is not mentioned specifically in biblical prophecy. It does not appear by name or by geographical reference in the detailed descriptions of events that will occur during the last-days generation. Jesus Christ will return at the Battle of Armageddon to destroy the Antichrist and establish His eternal kingdom on earth.

    But the one nation in the West that has benefitted from God’s blessing is absent from the prophetic accounts of the critical last-days events.2 There is a strange silence regarding the political and military presence and strategic influence of the United States leading up to the two major prophesied wars. In accounts of the War of Gog and Magog (see Ezekiel 38–39), when Russia and its Islamic allies will attempt to invade Israel and annihilate its Jewish population, there is no mention of America’s involvement. Ezekiel tells us that the Lord will intervene to supernaturally destroy the millions of invading Russian and Islamic soldiers. He will use earthquakes, fire and brimstone, plagues, and even madness to defeat the invading armies to save His chosen people from genocide. Where in all this is America, the declared ally of Israel?

    The Bible’s prophecies are equally silent regarding the role of America in the cataclysmic Battle of Armageddon at the end of the seven-year dictatorship of the Antichrist. The prophetic Scriptures provide significant details regarding virtually all the Eastern and Western nations and their military alliances as they relate to this final war on earth. Since every nation on earth will be involved at the Battle of Armageddon, it is certain that America will be present in some fashion, but the lack of a specific mention of America as a key player indicates that the United States will no longer be a leading power in the world.

    How can this be? The United States invests more in its military defense than the next ten top nations combined. America dominates the world with more power than any previous empire, including ancient Rome and the British Empire at the height of its supremacy. What can explain the lack of any prophetic reference to the American Empire?

    What combination of forces will be capable of draining America’s power in only a few short years?

    A study of history shows that world empires often were defeated by military conquest, but they also are vulnerable to internal forces. For example, while the British Empire found itself on the winning side of World War II, within weeks British citizens voted Prime Minister Winston Churchill out of power. They elected a liberal Labor government that created an enormously expensive and unsustainable welfare state.

    Wealth was drained from the private sector, and the governing Labor Party virtually disarmed the British military. Within three years the ruling regime dismantled the British Empire that had reigned over almost one-quarter of the globe for more than a century. The left-wing Labor Party abandoned the empire by withdrawing from the Commonwealth nations; Northern Ireland was the lone exception. It took only three years for the socialist Labor Party to destroy the legendary British Empire.

    One Nation, Under Attack

    The American Empire that saw its birth in the world’s first experiment in limited representative government has been undermined by international financiers working together with powerful socialist forces both inside America and overseas. These enemies of free-market capitalism are prepared to launch the final stage of a multipronged attack against America.

    Already they have succeeded almost beyond belief in weakening the U.S. economy. For evidence that their strategies are working you need look no further than any newspaper or television news program. They will not stop until they have crippled the national economy, transforming the once-great United States into an impoverished nation with a severely weakened military and no influence on the world stage. A powerless America serves their purposes because it will not be able to resist the movement—being led from within the European Union—that seeks to achieve global governance.

    The developments we will examine in the chapters that follow are deliberate and carefully planned. International financiers and other global interests have recruited hundreds of willing accomplices who occupy the most powerful positions in the federal government as well as officials of the European Union who are more than happy to do the bidding of globalist multibillionaires.

    No longer will there be a freedom-defending global superpower that works for human rights and fights against the military aggression of other nations. There will no longer be a world power that is committed to advancing free enterprise and the prosperity that comes as a result of free-market capitalism.

    One Nation, Under Attack will reveal the blunt truth, and much of it will be difficult to accept. If you love your country, you may not want to believe that your nation’s leaders are selling America to the highest bidder. But it is far better to know the truth than be deceived by the Washington propaganda machine.

    You need to understand what is taking place so you can protect your family’s financial future and safeguard your assets and your property. You need to act now so you will be positioned to withstand the coming collapse of the American Empire. The United States will fall into a state of near oblivion, becoming little more than a helpless bystander, while the most dramatic events in history unfold in Europe, the Middle East, and beyond.

    The Antichrist soon will rise to power and enslave the nations of the revived Roman Empire. Initially, he will rule the member nations of the European Union (EU) as well as a number of Mediterranean nations. Once the Antichrist has consolidated his power over this confederation, he will gain control of the entire world.

    At a time in history when the political influence, economic power, and military force of the United States could be called into service to oppose this unprecedented spread of evil in the world, America will be sliding into obscurity. The fall of the American Empire is already at an advanced stage. In fact, the end of America’s story will come in your lifetime.


    Excerpted from One Nation, Under Attack by Grant R. Jeffrey Copyright © 2012 by Grant R. Jeffrey. 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.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Grant R. Jeffrey

  • Every Man's Battle from Stephen Arterburn

    Posted on February 6, 2014 by Family Christian

    Stephen Arterburn

    Our Stories

    “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of

    any kind of impurity” (Ephesians 5:3).

    If there’s a single Bible verse that captures God’s standard for sexual purity, this is it. And it compels this question: In relation to God’s standard, is there even a hint of sexual impurity in your life?

    For both of us, the answer to that question was yes.

    FROM STEVE: COLLISION

    In 1983 my wife, Sandy, and I celebrated our first anniversary. One sunsplashed Southern California morning that year, feeling good about life and our future, I hopped in our 1973 Mercedes 450SL–the car of my dreams, white with a black top. I’d owned it for just two months. I was tooling northbound through Malibu on my way to Oxnard, where I’d been asked to testify in a court hearing about whether a hospital should add an addiction treatment center. I always loved driving along the PCH, as locals called the Pacific Coast Highway. These four lanes of blacktop hugged the golden coastline and provided a close-up view of L.A.’s beach culture. With the top down and the wind blowing in my face, I found that summer morning a good day to be alive.

    I never intentionally set out to be girl-watching that day, but I spotted her about two hundred yards ahead and to the left. She was jogging toward me along the coastal sidewalk. From my sheepskin-covered leather seat, I found the view outstanding, even by California’s high standards. My eyes locked on to this goddesslike blonde, rivulets of sweat cascading down her tanned body as she ran at a purposeful pace. Her jogging outfit, if it could be called that in those days before sports bras and spandex, was actually a skimpy bikini. As she approached on my left, two tiny triangles of tie-dyed fabric struggled to contain her ample bosom.

    I can’t tell you what her face looked like; nothing above the neckline registered with me that morning. My eyes feasted on this banquet of glistening flesh as she passed on my left, and they continued to follow her lithe figure as she continued jogging southbound. Simply by lustful instinct, as if mesmerized by her gait, I turned my head further and further, craning my neck to capture every possible moment for my mental video camera.

    Then blam!

    I might still be marveling at this remarkable specimen of female athleticism if my Mercedes hadn’t plowed into a Chevelle that had come to a complete stop in my lane. Fortunately, I was traveling only fifteen miles per hour in the stop-and-go traffic, but the mini-collision crumpled my front bumper and crinkled the hood. And the fellow I smacked into didn’t appreciate the considerable damage to his rear end. I got out of the car–embarrassed, humiliated, saturated with guilt, and unable to offer a satisfying explanation. No way would I tell this guy, “Well, if you’d seen what I saw, you’d understand.”

    TEN MORE YEARS IN THE DARKNESS

    Nor could I tell the truth to my beautiful wife, Sandy. That evening, I put my best spin on the morning’s unfortunate event in Malibu. “You see, Sandy it was stop-and-go, and I was reaching down to change the radio channel, and the next thing I knew I rammed into a Chevy. Lucky no one was hurt.”

    Actually, my young marriage was hurt–because I was cheating Sandy out of my full devotion, though I didn’t know it at the time. Nor was I aware that although I’d vowed to commit my life to Sandy, I hadn’t totally committed my eyes to her. I continued in the darkness for another ten years before realizing I needed to make dramatic changes in the way I looked at women.

    FROM FRED: WALL OF SEPARATION

    It happened every Sunday morning during our church worship service. I’d look around and see other men with their eyes closed, freely and intensely worshiping the God of the universe. Myself? I sensed only a wall of separation between the Lord and me.

    I just wasn’t right with God. As a new Christian, I imagined I just didn’t know God well enough yet. But nothing changed as time passed. When I mentioned to my wife, Brenda, that I felt vaguely unworthy of Him, she wasn’t the least bit surprised.

    “Well, of course!” she exclaimed. “You’ve never felt worthy to your own father. Every preacher I’ve known says that a man’s relationship with his father tremendously impacts his relationship with his heavenly Father.”

    “You could be right,” I allowed.

    I hoped it was that simple. I mulled it over as I recalled my days of youth.

    WHAT KIND OF MAN ARE YOU?

    My father, handsome and tough, was a national wrestling champion in college and a bulldog in business. Aching to be like him, I began wrestling in junior high. But the best wrestlers are natural-born killers, and I didn’t have a wrestler’s heart. My dad was coaching wrestling at the time at the high school in our small town of Alburnett, Iowa. Though I was still in junior high, he wanted me to wrestle with the older guys, so he brought me to the high-school workouts.

    One afternoon we were practicing escapes, and my partner was in the down position. While grappling on the mat, he suddenly needed to blow his nose. He straightened up, pulled his T-shirt to his nose, and violently emptied the contents onto the front of his shirt. We quickly returned to wrestling. As the up man, I was supposed to keep a tight grip on him. Reaching around his belly, my hand slid into his slimy T-shirt. Sickened, I let him go.

    Dad, seeing him escape so easily, dressed me down. “What kind of a man are you?” he roared. Staring hard at the mat, I realized that if I had a wrestler’s heart, I would have cranked down tightly and ridden out my opponent, maybe grinding his face into the mat in retaliation. But I hadn’t. I still wanted to please Dad, so I tried other sports. At one baseball game, after striking out, I remember hanging my head on the way back to the dugout. “Get your head up!” he hollered for all to hear. I was mortified. Then he wrote me a long letter detailing my every mistake.

    Years later, after I’d married Brenda, my father felt she had too much control in our marriage. “Real men take charge of their households,” he said.

    THE MONSTER

    Now, as Brenda and I discussed my relationship with my dad, she suggested I might need counseling. “It surely couldn’t hurt,” she said. So I read some books and counseled with my pastor, and my feelings toward Dad improved. But I continued to feel that distance from God during the Sunday morning worship services. The true reason for that distance slowly dawned on me: There was a hint of sexual immorality in my life.

    There was a monster lurking about, and it surfaced each Sunday morning when I settled in my comfy La-Z-Boy and opened the Sunday morning newspaper. I would quickly find the department-store inserts and begin paging through the colored newsprint filled with models posing in bras and panties. Always smiling. Always available. I loved lingering over each ad insert. It’s wrong, I admitted, but it’s such a small thing. It was a far cry from Playboy, I told myself. I peered through the panties, fantasizing.

    Occasionally, a model reminded me of a girl I once knew, and my mind rekindled the memories of our times together. I rather enjoyed my Sunday mornings with the newspaper. As I examined myself more closely, I found I had more than a hint of sexual immorality. Even my sense of humor reflected it. Sometimes a person’s innocent phrase–even from our pastor–struck me with a double sexual meaning. I would chuckle, but I felt uneasy.

    Why do these double entendres come to my mind so easily? Should a Christian mind create them so nimbly? I remembered that the Bible said that such things shouldn’t even be mentioned among the saints. I’m worse…I even laugh at them! And my eyes? They were ravenous heat-seekers searching the horizon, locking on any target with sensual heat. Young mothers leaning over in shorts to pull children out of car seats. Soloists with silky shirts. Summer dresses with décolletage.

    My mind, too, ran wherever it willed. This had begun in my childhood, when I found Playboy magazines under Dad’s bed. He also subscribed to From Sex to Sexty, a publication filled with jokes and comic strips with sexual themes. When Dad divorced Mom and moved to his “bachelor’s pad,” he hung a giant velvet nude in his living room, overlooking us as we played cards on my Sunday afternoon visits. Dad gave me a list of chores around his place when I was there. Once I came across a nude photo of his mistress. On another occasion I found an eight-inch ceramic dildo, which he obviously used in his kinky “sex games.”

    HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS

    All this sexual stuff churned deep inside me, destroying a purity that wouldn’t return for many years. Settling into college, I soon found myself drowning in pornography. I actually memorized the dates when my favorite soft-core porn magazines arrived at the local drugstore. I especially loved the “Girls Next Door” section of Gallery magazine, featuring pictures of nude girls taken by their boyfriends and submitted to the magazine.

    Far from home and without any Christian underpinnings, I descended by small steps into a sexual pit. The first time I had sexual intercourse, it was with a girl I knew I would marry. The next time, it was with a girl I thought I would marry. The time after that, it was with a good friend that I might learn to love. Then it was with a female I barely knew who simply wanted to see what sex was like. Eventually, I had sex with anyone at any time.

    After five years in California, I found myself with four “steady” girlfriends simultaneously. I was sleeping with three of them and was essentially engaged to marry two of them. None knew of the others. (These days, in my class for premarital couples, I often ask the women what they would think of a man with two fiancées. My favorite response: “He’s a hopeless pig!” And I was hopeless, living in a pigsty.)

    Why do I share all this? First, so you’ll know that I understand what it’s like to be sexually ensnared in a deep pit. Second, I want to provide you with hope. As you’ll soon see, God worked with me and lifted me out of that pit. If there’s even a hint of sexual immorality in your life, He will work with you as well.

    FORM FRED: KNOWING WHO TO CALL

    Despite the deepening pit I occupied in my single days, I didn’t notice anything wrong with my life. Oh, sure, I attended church sporadically, and from time to time the pastor’s words penetrated my heart. But who was he? Besides, I loved my girlfriends. No one’s getting hurt, I reasoned. My dad had eventually remarried, and when I visited back home in Iowa, my stepmother occasionally dragged me across the river to the Moline Gospel Temple in Moline, Illinois. The gospel was clearly preached, but to me the whole scene was clearly ludicrous. I often laughed cynically. Those people are crazy!

    After graduating from Stanford University with an honors degree in sociology, I decided to take a job in the San Francisco area as an investment advisor. One spring day in May, I stayed late at the office. Everyone else had gone home, leaving me alone with some troubling thoughts. I swiveled my chair around and propped my feet on the credenza to gaze into a typically grand California sunset.

    That evening, as the sun dipped beneath the horizon, I suddenly saw in full clarity what I had become. What I saw was hopelessly ugly. Where once I was blind, now I could see. Instantly, I saw my deep, deep need for a Savior. Because of the Moline Gospel Temple, I knew Whom to call upon.

    My prayer that day was born out of the simplicity of a certain heart: “Lord, I’m ready to work with You if You’re ready to work with me.” I stood up and walked out of the office, not yet fully realizing what I’d just done. But God knew, and it seemed as if all heaven moved into my life. Within two weeks I had a job back in Iowa and a new life ahead of me. And no girlfriends!

    FEELING GOOD

    Back in Iowa, I began attending a marriage class led by Joel Budd, the associate pastor of my new church. It wasn’t long before I realized that I knew nothing about treating women properly. Perhaps it was because my mom and dad were divorced, and I never saw a loving relationship modeled at home. More likely, however, it was because of my own selfishness and sexual sin. Everything I knew about women came from one-night stands and casual dating relationships.

    I didn’t date during that year under Joel’s teaching. I might have been the only man in history to attend a married couples’ class for a whole year without even having so much as a single date! But just before the twelvemonth mark, I prayed this simple prayer: “Lord, I’ve been in this class for a year and have learned a lot about women, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen these things in real life. I’ve never really known any Christian girls. Please show me a woman who embodies these godly characteristics.” I wasn’t asking for a date, girlfriend, or spouse. I just wanted to see these teachings in practice, in real life, that I might understand them better. God did far more than that. One week later, He introduced me to my future wife, Brenda, and we fell in love.

    Out of our commitment to Christ, Brenda and I decided to stay pure before marriage. She was a virgin–and I wished I were. We did kiss, however, and whoa! Our lip smacking was wonderful! It was my first experience of something I would later discover far more deeply: the physically gratifying payoff that comes from obedience to God’s sexual standards.

    In a song made popular during my senior year in college, the singer mourned about trying to remember how it used to feel when a kiss was something special. The lyrics from the song resonated sadly with me because, at that point in my life, a kiss meant nothing to me. It was a joyless prerequisite on the path to intercourse. Something was deeply wrong. But now, having cut way back, in my experience with Brenda the simple kiss became thrilling again. To an old sex-hog like me, this was totally unexpected.

    As God continued to work in my life, Brenda and I married, honeymooned in Colorado, then settled into a new apartment building on the edge of a cornfield in a Des Moines suburb. Is this heaven? I surely thought so. Time passed, and at first, I was feeling good. While I was once engaged to two women at the same time, I was now happily married to one woman. While I once drowned in pornography, since my wedding day I hadn’t purchased a pornographic magazine. Given my track record, this was remarkable.

    STOPPING SHORT

    I threw myself into my sales career and my leadership roles at church. Then I became a dad. I relished it all, and my Christian image shined brighter and brighter.

    By worldly standards, I was doing great. Just one little problem. By God’s standard of sexual purity, I wasn’t even close to living His vision for marriage. Clearly I’d taken steps toward purity, but I was learning that God’s standards were higher than I’d ever imagined and that my Father had higher hopes for me than I had dreamed. It soon became clear that I’d stopped far short of holiness. There were the ad inserts, the double entendres, the heat-seeking eyes. My mind continued to daydream and fantasize over old girlfriends. These were more than a hint of sexual immorality.

    I was paying the price, and the bills were piling up. First, I could never look God in the eye. I could never fully worship Him. Because I dreamed of being with other women, and rather enjoyed mentally recalling past sexual conquests, I knew I was a hypocrite, and I continued feeling distant from God.

    People around me disagreed, saying, “Oh, come on! Nobody can control their eyes and mind, for heaven’s sakes! God loves you! It must be something else.” But I knew differently. My prayer life was feeble. Once my son was very sick and had to be rushed to the emergency room. Did I rush into prayer? No, I could only rush others to pray for me. “Have you called our pastor to pray?” I asked Brenda. “Have you called Ron? Have you called Red to pray?” I had no faith in my own prayers because of my sin.

    My faith was weak in other ways as well. As a full-commission salesperson, if I lost a number of deals in a row to the competition, I could never be sure if those setbacks weren’t somehow caused by my sin. I had no peace. I was paying a price for my sin.

    My marriage was suffering as well. Because of my sin, I couldn’t commit 100 percent to Brenda out of fear that she might dump me later. That cost Brenda in closeness. But that’s not all. Brenda told me she was experiencing frightening dreams in which she was being chased by Satan. Was my immorality causing spiritual protection to be taken away from her? My wife was paying a price.

    At church, I was an empty suit. I came to church desperately needing ministry and forgiveness. I never arrived ready to minister to others. Of course my prayers were no more effective in God’s house than anywhere else. My church was paying a price.

    I remember listening to one sermon in which the pastor talked about “generational sin”–patterns of sin passed from father to son (Exodus 34:7). Sitting in my pew, I recalled that my grandfather had run off from his wife in the middle of the Great Depression, leaving her with six kids to raise. My father left his family to pursue multiple sexual affairs. That same pattern had been passed to me, proven by my own multiple affairs in college. Though saved, I now found that I still didn’t have this purity issue settled in my life, and I was scared by the thought of passing this pattern on to my kids. My children could be paying a price.

    I finally made the connection between my sexual immorality and my distance from God. I was paying hefty fines in every area of my life. Having eliminated the visible adulteries and pornography, I looked pure on the outside to everyone else. But to God, I’d stopped short. I’d merely found a middle ground, somewhere between paganism and obedience to God’s standard.

    DESPERATION

    God desired more for me. He had freed me from the pit, but I’d stopped moving toward Him. Having seen the prices I paid and my distance from God, I decided it was time to move closer. I expected the journey to be easy. After all, I had decided to eliminate pornography and affairs, and they were gone. I figured I could stop the rest of this sexual junk just as easily. But I couldn’t. Every week I said I wouldn’t look at those ad inserts, but every Sunday morning the striking photos compelled me. Every week I’d vow to avoid watching R-rated “sexy” movies when I traveled, but every week I’d fail, sweating out tough battles and always losing. Every time I gazed at some glistening jogger, I’d promise to never do it again. But I always did.

    What I’d done was simply trade the pornography of Playboy and Gallery for the pornography of ad inserts and other magazine ads. The affairs? I’d simply traded the physical liaisons for mental affairs and daydreams– affairs of the eyes and heart. The sin remained because I’d never really changed, never rejected sexual sin, never escaped sexual slavery. I’d merely exchanged masters.

    A couple of months slipped by, then a couple of years. The distance from God grew wider, the bills stacked higher, and my impurity still ruled me. My faith waned further with each failure. Each desperate loss caused more desperation. While I could always say no, I could never mean no. Something was gripping me, something relentless, something mean. Like Steve, I eventually found total freedom. Since then, both Steve and I have had the chance to talk to men ensnared in sensual pits. Trapped and desperate to be free, their stories grip the heart. Now that you’ve heard my story, maybe you’ll relate to the men in these next few pages as well.


    Excerpted from Every Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey Copyright © 2000 by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey. 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.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Men, Stephen Arterburn

  • The Unstoppable Kirk Cameron

    Posted on February 5, 2014 by AlexMosoiu



    Kirk Cameron wrote, "It's easy to get excited about your faith when things are going well in your life. But when your whole world comes crashing down on you, the questions start: 'Where is God when I need him most? Why do bad things happen to good people?' Unstoppable is a journey, based on a true story, that has become the most personal and transparent project I have ever made regarding my faith."

    I recently had a video chat with the man-formally-known-as Mike Seaver. I wanted to know what was behind his latest DVD, Unstoppable. What follows are his honest answers.

    Alex:               Kirk, tell me how Unstoppable came to be.

    Kirk:                I’d love to. Unstoppable was by far the most personal project that I’ve ever made, and it really started out as something quite different from what you see when you watch the movie in the theaters or when you get the DVD. It actually started out as the story that would have taken place before the Monumental story, the story that I made about the Pilgrims. I was going to talk about the unstoppable gospel and how it landed in England before the Pilgrims to grab the baton and take that on.

    It eventually became something very different, and I think providentially, God brought a very personal story home to me in the form of my young friend, Matthew, 15 years old, died of cancer. That just stopped all production and really refocused my attention on what needs to be unstoppable and that is our faith in God in the midst of our own pain and tragedy and suffering on a very personal level. That really took over the main theme and plot line of Unstoppable.

    Alex:               Lots of things happened with Unstoppable, from being blocked by YouTube and Facebook at the beginning to setting box office records in the way that you released it. Tell us some of the things that God’s done in bringing Unstoppable out. What are some of the things he’s done?

    Kirk:                It’s fun for me to think about the providence of God and his omniscience, and knowing that these kinds of things happen ahead of time and us only finding out about it on the fly. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but when you spend a whole year, making a movie and then YouTube and Facebook block your trailers, so no one can see it, you can freak out a little bit and you think, “What? What happened?” Apparently what happened was, there were a group of people who clicked the spam button or the inappropriate, abusive button there on Facebook and got it ejected from the system. You know there’s a lot of inappropriate videos on YouTube and Facebook, but my movie trailer wasn’t one of them.

    When I put that picture of the gag in my mouth with the Facebook logo over the top of it, that reached about 20 million people and many of you spoke up to Facebook and they quickly reversed the status of the video. So many people saw it, went to the movie theaters that was set records and actually beat big movies like Gravity and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on the days that we were in the box office. It’s almost as though God likes to use things that others intend for harm for our good and his glory. It seems like that’s what he did.

    Alex:               That’s awesome. I know there’s a lot of folks out there that maybe haven’t even had a chance to see it yet; the unusual release schedule, playing as a live event in theaters. There was about 700 theaters throughout the country and set a record for that type of release. As it releases on DVD, what are some of the things … What do you hope that people use this for in their personal ministry? How do you hope that it speaks to folks?

    Kirk:                First of all I want to say that this is very exciting and encouraging to me, to see 270,000 people drive sometimes hours just to get to a movie theater to see a movie about faith, hope and love, to find an answer to a question like, “Where is God when bad things happen to good people?” That’s sending a very loud message to Hollywood about the kinds of movies that many, many people want to see. I’m very encouraged about that and want to just high-five everybody who’s getting up off their couch and not saying, “Uh, let’s let the culture go to hell and count on the rapture getting us out of here before gets real bad.”

    No, let’s go make a difference by getting involved in shaping the culture. Let’s support movies that we like. Let’s talk to our friends about it. Let’s inject the gospel into every area of life, and that’s what you’re doing and what we’re doing together by partnering on movies like this. Alex, I thank you for what you’re doing and what we’re doing in future projects. Actually, I’ve lost track of your question. What was it that you asked?

    Alex:               What do you hope that now that the movie’s more accessible on DVD, that obviously it will get into many more hands? What do you hope God does with it?

    Kirk:                Well, you know how you listen to a music album for the second or third or fourth time and finally say, “Well, wait a minute. I heard the greatest hit on the radio, you know, the one hit that the radio’s playing, but there’s four other songs here that are so great. I never would have known if I didn’t buy the album.” Same thing with a DVD. You can watch a movie like Unstoppable in a movie theater and everything’s going by so quickly that you miss many of the things that are little gems that you see the second time you watch it or the third time you watch it.

    Everything from the theological points about Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the rainbow with Noah’s Ark; these kinds of things will give you an opportunity to really discuss the meatier issues of Unstoppable, to dive deeper in, have conversations about the gospel with someone who’s not a Christian. The question of where is God in the midst of pain and tragedy is universal. Atheists love to ask that question, because they think it will destroy our faith or maybe was destroyed theirs years ago when he used to go to church. Everyone has to wrestle with this.

    The DVD gives you an opportunity to watch this with people and pause and say, “Now, what do you think about that?” or fast-forward to a chapter or get a behind-the-scenes look about what was going on. I actually even got a special deluxe version of this at my website with six hours of study materials. My goal is truly to give you materials to mature your family, to build your faith to strengthen your understanding of the gospel so that you can apply it to every aspect of your life.

    Alex:               That’s great. I got to tell you, you know, you and I talked a year and a half, maybe two years ago and you are telling me what the film is going to be about. You touched on it a little bit earlier that it changed focus a little bit. When I started seeing the promotional materials and you asking the questions in the trailer about, “Where’s God in the midst of suffering?” I had doubts. I’m like, “Is this movie really going to deliver on that strong of a premise?” I got to tell you when I watched it, it very much did for me. The thing that I really liked about it is, it did it in a very different way. It wasn’t a talking head, a drama. It wasn’t a complete fabrication, but it was such a nice mixture of theology, as well as personal stories, which I think makes everything more impactful. Me personally, there several folks that I can’t wait to sit down and watch this with, including some of my neighbors; so very excited about that. Let me … Go ahead.

    Kirk:                Oh, I was just going to say I’m thrilled that you liked it. I was very excited when I made it, couldn’t wait for people to get a hold of it and see it. You know the truth is, when we ask a difficult question like, “Where is God when bad things happen to us,” we can look at bad people, wicked people, and we say, “”Well, they had it coming,” right. You look at a murderer or a rapist and you say, “Wow, you know, that’s justice coming.” We don’t think of ourselves as people who should be on the receiving end of difficulty because we think we don’t deserve things like that.

    When we look into God’s word he gives us the answer to the question. He tells us that God is gracious and kind and everything, including the fact that we can sit on a Google chat session like this with millions of people around the world and talk about movies. That’s gravy. That’s grace. That’s mercy. God’s not giving us what we deserve. If he gave us that, we’d be in hell. What he’s giving us is kindness, patience, and long-suffering. We become so used to that, that when difficulty comes, we don’t know what to do with it.

    God says it’s for our good. It’s for our patience. It’s for our faith and character and compassion, but even though we know that up here, it helps to drive it into the heart when we climb up to heaven’s balcony, so to speak, which is what I tried to do in Unstoppable and give you a big picture view of the story God is writing. Remember he took thousands of years between the time of Abraham and Jesus, between the first Adam, and the last Adam. He didn’t just resolve the sin issue like that.

    He took thousands of years and wrote a story called history where the last Adam comes, and crushes the serpent’s head, but he does it in a way that looks horrible on the surface. He dies on the cross, an innocent victim, but we trust the author now because we know what happens a few chapters later. He busts through the grave. He receives all authority and he pours out his spirit and says, “Now, let’s go finish this job and I’m with you to the end of the age.” When we experience tragedy and we put it in the context of that big picture story, we say, “Let’s trust the author. He’s up to something. In a few chapters, all of this will make sense.”

    Alex:               Amen, amen. Well, you definitely have a zeal. It’s clear that you have a clear message from the Lord, and that you have the passion for serving him. Let me ask you …

    Kirk:                it’s either that or I had too many cups of coffee this morning.

    Alex:               Let me ask you this. How in the world did Mike Seaver end up sitting here on a Google chat talking about the sovereignty of God? How did that whole transition happen for you?

    Kirk:                Oh boy. The short version is, I’d still be an atheist today if it wasn’t for God. Think about that. The truth is, I tell people I’m a recovering atheist and I am because God was kind and gracious to me. I mean, the bottom line is I never really thought about it much. I just thought smart people didn’t believe in a God you can’t see, but the truth is, is that I had a hidden agenda for my atheism. You know the dirty little secret behind atheism is; without God there is no ultimate accountability, so that means there’s no one really up there holding you accountable for what you do in the dark this weekend. Once you understand that you can look around and you begin to see, “Wait a minute. There’s evidence staring me in the face.” It’s the great big cosmic, “Duh” that there is a Creator.

    That’s why everyone from Einstein to fathers of medicine and science and astrophysicists and the smartest folks on planet Earth understand that this is wonderfully and powerfully made. Someone took me to church and I heard a sermon from a pastor named Chuck Swindoll. He convicted me what the gospel. I started asking questions. A good friend gave me a great book, by Josh McDowell called More Than a Carpenter. I started reading the Bible and I became convinced that if I died and found out that there was a heaven, I would not be going, because of my attitude toward the one who made me. I’d never once said thank you and so I prayed; very clumsily, but I said, “God make me the man you want me to be. If you’re real, please show me. Open my eyes and make me who you want me to be.” That was the beginning of my understanding of the gospel and following Christ.

    Alex:               How did that impact your family life, your marriage, your relationships? What change happened as you began to grow in your faith?

    Kirk:                Fortunately, I married an amazing woman. She was Mike Seaver’s girlfriend. I stole Mike’s girlfriend away from him and married her before he could. He had phenomenal taste in women. Chelsea and I have shared our faith in Christ together since the very beginning of our friendship and relationship. With our six kids, we move together as a unit. I would say that the biggest challenge and impact that my faith has had is more in my work. I’m going against the flow of the current here in Hollywood, at least the current current. I think it’s going to change because there are so many people who want to see great movies that honor and glorify God and build up the family that we’re going to be seeing more and more of these kinds of movies.

    When you lose jobs and you are put in the categories of, you’re the bad guy; because you believe in a four thousand year old moral code that has established the greatest civilizations on earth. When you say that you believe in God’s word and that he cares enough to save us from sin, you get put in funny little categories by your peers here. The truth is, it’s challenging, but light doesn’t shine anymore brightly than when it’s surrounded by darkness. God just so happened to make the world in such a way that all the darkness in the universe cannot overcome the tiniest light. I’m one guy out here, but I know there’s millions of the rest of you all over the world and darkness, what’s left of it doesn’t have a chance.

    Alex:   Amen, amen. Obviously, as husbands and as fathers, one of our jobs is to pass that message on to the next generation, and to train up our kids to fight the same battles. Kirk, I hope to see you soon. God bless you.

    Kirk:                That sounds great, Alex. God bless you.

    Bonus video: Kirk Cameron - Christianity is not what I thought


    This post was posted in Movies, Interviews, Alex Mosoiu and was tagged with Featured, Kirk Cameron

  • A God Story in the Writing

    Posted on February 5, 2014 by Family Christian

    This past Thanksgiving, Family Christian had the privilege of being part of something amazing. After much prayer, we felt that God was asking us to step out in faith. To take a risk. To live dangerously for His Kingdom. He asked us to not do it alone.





    With you, our friends, we dedicated the Thanksgiving weekend to build an orphanage in Haiti. We dedicated the profits that were received on that weekend to God's Littlest Angels in Haiti for the Family Christian Angels House - a neonatal and infant orphanage.





    So, thank you for the generosity and selflessness. Together, we raised enough funding for a year of construction on this building. We join God’s Littlest Angels in prayer and belief that God will see this project through to completion!

    "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40


    This post was posted in Missions and was tagged with Featured, Adoption, Orphans, God's Littlest Angels

  • Dare to Drop the Pose from Craig Groeschel

    Posted on February 5, 2014 by Family Christian

    Craig Groeschel

    I Had Been Living a Lie

    One Sunday, I stood before my church, filled with fear. Fear that they would think I had failed them as their pastor, that I had let them down. But I was finally ready to tell the truth—I was sure it was what God wanted me to do.

    I hadn’t had an affair or stolen from the church funds. In fact, my sins were small, everyday things; they were all just hidden from view. From the pews, it looked as if I had become everything and done everything a pastor should—and I worked very hard to keep it that way. I had played the part to perfection.

    And that was the problem.

    I’m going to share the story of an impostor exposed. It’s more than the story of one Sunday morning, though. It’s about how, over a lifetime, a reasonably well-intentioned follower of Jesus can succeed at building an impressive exterior but fail miserably at being the real thing—the person God so lovingly created in the first place.

    You may not like me after reading this book. But on the chance God might use my story to help you put down the masks and reclaim the real you, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

    Factors That Made the Actor

    From my earliest childhood memories, I remember “playing the game.” Maybe you played it, too. I’d try to say the right things at the right times to the right people. When the people or circumstances changed, so did I.

    As a young child, I tried my best to please my parents. In school I made sure my teachers got my grandest act. There’s nothing terribly wrong with that, but looking back, I see that those were just practice runs for what would come later.

    As a teenager I did almost anything for acceptance from my buddies. I partied, swore, lied, cheated, and stole. I thought these things would help my popularity. Whether that lifestyle gained me friends is debatable. What it could have cost me in the long run is not. By the time I started college, I was playing so many different roles that I began to lose track of the “real me.”

    Honestly, I began to wonder if there was a real me.

    At nineteen I became a follower of Christ. And the parts of my life He changed, He changed miraculously. He cleaned house. But in a darkened corner here, a locked closet there, I continued to believe I was better off putting up a front.

    Except now it was a new front, a spiritual one. It was still the same old game, just played out on a different stage.

    Within a few years, I became a pastor. You’d think that becoming “a man of the cloth” (whatever that means) would have shaken the deceit right out of me. But as a young pastor, I simply turned pro. My church members observed my finest performances. And I fooled many of them, but I didn’t fool myself...

    And I didn’t fool God.

    I entered seminary after I had been a pastor for a while. One of my professors taught me many invaluable ministry principles. In fact, I still practice most of what I learned from him, and I’m eternally grateful for his friendship and leadership. However, one of the things he shared with me I now believe was not only wrong, but incredibly dangerous. He called it the “pastor’s mystique.” And he told us ministry trainees that we had to guard it at all cost. “People think they want their pastors to be normal, everyday people,” he used to tell our class, “but they really don’t. They want to see you as superhuman, better than the average person. Church members want to believe your marriage is always strong, your faith never falters, and you are virtually without sin.”

    I hung on every word, soaking up his advice.

    Week after week, my professor returned to his warnings about a pastor’s mystique: “Keep your guard up,” he’d say. “Don’t let them know the real you. Always dress the part. Always talk the part. You’re a pastor now. And you can never let them into your life. Or you’ll regret it.” This sounded logical to me.

    He’d obviously been deeply wounded in his ministry and wanted to help us avoid similar pain. I knew then—and still believe—that he meant well. So I took what he said to heart and continued perfecting my “good pastor” act. I’d smile big at the church members, shake each hand with both of mine, and end each conversation with the pastor’s best line: “God bless you.” Somewhere on my journey, though, I forgot that God called me...not to be like a pastor, but to be like Christ.

    That’s when my spiritual struggles started. I wasn’t living with gross, unconfessed sin—at least not the kind that gets pastors fired. And my motives weren’t bad. I loved Jesus and His people. Every bone in my body desired to make a difference for God in this world. I poured my heart fully into ministry, enduring long hours, boring meetings, grueling classes, temperamental people, and plenty of good, old-fashioned church conflicts—all for Jesus.

    After a few years, I became good at being a pastor. Ministerial words flowed from my mouth. I learned what to say and what not to say. Weddings were a breeze, and funerals were becoming easier. Preaching came naturally, and my counseling skills gradually improved. Most people said I was an “up ’n’ comer,” the kind of pastor who’d rise quickly through the ranks to a bigger church. From the outside, everything looked good. But God doesn’t look at the outside.

    The First of Many Confessions

    One Sunday, after another week of performing my best for God, I stood to preach His life-changing Word. As I approached the pulpit, the truth hit me squarely between the eyes. I hadn’t prayed at all. Not that day. Not the day before. Not the day before that. To the best of my knowledge, I hadn’t prayed all week. And I called myself a pastor. That’s when it dawned on me:

    I had become a full-time minister and a part-time follower of Christ.

    From the outside, I looked the part. “God bless you,” I’d say, followed by the promise, “I’ll be praying for you.” But that was usually a lie.

    Stepping onto the platform to preach that morning, I admitted to myself that I was not a pastor first, but a regular, scared, insecure, everyday guy whose life had been changed by Jesus. And if Jesus really loved me as I was (I knew He did), then why should I go on trying to be someone I wasn’t?

    I stumbled through that sermon, forcing the words to come out. The message was superficial, plastic, shallow...but true. I held nothing back. It was the biggest public risk I’d ever taken. It was also my first authentic sermon. I had preached many times before, but this was the first time the real me made a showing. In the middle of my talk, something started to happen, something new...

    God made Himself known.

    The reality of His presence is hard to describe, but it’s even harder to miss. Some people cried quietly in their seats. Others sobbed openly—not so much for my sins, but for their own. Before I had finished my confession, many gathered at the altar to repent along with me.

    As the tears and words flowed, God’s peace replaced my fear. His assurance pushed away my doubts. Christ’s power invaded my weakness. In that moment, Jesus became as real to me as He had ever been. The Savior was with me...and I believed He was pleased. “Well done,” I felt, more than heard.

    That’s when it all changed. I became a full-time follower of Christ who happened to be a pastor. No more make-believe. No posing. And no playing games. From that moment on, I would be who I am. Or nothing at all.

    Leap of Faith

    Why would you want to read a book about a pastor’s confessions? Maybe you don’t. But then again, maybe if you give Him a chance, God will do something in you that you didn’t expect. Like He did for me. Be honest with yourself. Are you tired of pretending? Living to please others? Acting a part? Doing everything to cover up who you really are? Stop hiding. Be who God called you to be. Live for an audience of ONE.

    Am I saying you have to confess all your garbage in front of a whole church? No. With some issues, that might be what God requires of you. But with more personal matters, it’ll be wiser to divulge them only to a small, trusted circle of friends or a lone accountability partner. But playing the fugitive from truth will never bring you peace. The problem is that it’s easier to stay the way you are—to coast and live an average, complacent life.

    You could avoid risk and keep acting. That’s what most people do. In fact, you’ll often be rewarded for faking it. No one will complain. The status quo is always comfortable. You’ll blend in. Even though you know you were created to stand out. But if you’re sick of shallow, empty relationships—if you’re craving deep, sincere community—then you’re going to have to take a chance. You’ll risk harsh judgments, misunderstandings, criticism. But think about the reward.

    Imagine living in the freedom and holiness of God. Dream about releasing guilt, shame, fear, and doubts. See yourself closer to God—and the people around you—than you’ve ever been before. The choice is yours: Life as it has been, or life as it could become.

    It is my goal to live the most authentic, transparent, vulnerable life a Christ follower can. And here is what I’ve found:

    Some people don’t like me. But that would be the case no matter what, wouldn’t it? On the other hand, others not only like me, they love me deeply. And they don’t love the image I once portrayed. They love the real me who God created. And I love them.

    The more honest I have become with God, myself, and His people, the richer and deeper my relationships have grown. Before, I was always afraid of being found out. I lived in constant fear of exposure—but not anymore. I overcame my fear because I took a chance. And I’ll continue to take obedient, truthful chances.

    This book is all about risks. As you turn each page, you’ll likely experience new discomforts. This road of honesty is the path I chose to take. I won’t play it safe. And neither should you. In fact, you can’t play it safe and please God.

    The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Even when our faith is small, God can do great things. I pray that my confessions will help you take that first step toward living a life free of fear...and secrets...and doubts... and insecurities. A life of honesty. A life that pleases God.

    The life you were created to live.


    Excerpted from Dare to Drop the Pose by Craig Groeschel Copyright © 2014 by Craig Groeschel. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, 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.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, Craig Groeschel

  • A Small Church Known as Hillsong

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by Family Christian


    In 1978, a small church was planted in Australia by newly married Brian and Bobbie Houston. Their humble beginnings were rooted by a Christ-centered vision- one that focused on stirring up authentic praise and worship. They believed sincere worship was so powerful, it could pull heaven to earth in a powerful display of hope and faith.

    Thirty years later, they became the mega-church plant known as Hillsong.

    Thriving in over ten countries across the globe, Hillsong has made world-changing strides in Christ-culture as well as praise and worship music. The Hillsong Creative team consists of hundreds of singers, musicians, songwriters, and production volunteers whose passion is creating and worshipping. Since 1988, they have recorded 18 live albums and several youth albums that are distributed worldwide.

    Their most recent project, Zion, was created by Hillsong United, a musical branch of the Hillsong Creative Team. This group consists of various collaborating artists whose common goal is to musically express the truth and life found in Jesus. The album, Zion introduces a new reality-- one that invites us to step into the extraordinary life Jesus has prepared for each one of us.

    The most distinct song on the album, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” is a breathtaking, cinematic piece that seamlessly displays the purity and intimacy of our response to God’s love for us. The song ebbs and flows like the ocean itself. Sung with ethereal beauty, the words soar over an electronic symphony of blending melodies.

    Experience the Live Version of “Ocean (Where Feet May Fail)” here:

    In this interview, Hillsong United’s musicians talk about the story behind “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”:


    This post was posted in Music and was tagged with Featured, Hillsong, Hillsong UNITED

  • A Godward Heart from John Piper

    Posted on February 4, 2014 by Family Christian

    John Piper

    A Word to the Reader

    One of the reasons I put together collections of short meditations is that my life has been changed as much by paragraphs as by books. Books on one topic are valuable. They let the author explore all the angles of an insight. But where do the insights themselves come from? Usually they come from paragraphs. Even sentences. For reasons
    not entirely explainable, God can make a single paragraph life changing.

    Perhaps some evening your soul is hungry. Not for anything in particular, just a soul-hunger. A longing. Something is needed beyond what television is going to give. Something about God, or about the meaning of your life, or about eternity. You’re tired and you know you probably can’t stay awake to read twenty pages. So you pick up a book that you know focuses on eternal things, a Godward book. And three minutes later you have seen something, and you will never be the same again.

    It may take a lifetime to sound the depths of what you just saw. But the seeing happens in an instant. It’s as if God takes the paragraph in his fingers and uses it to adjust the lens on the eye of your soul, and something wonderful comes into focus that you had never seen before.

    Isn’t it amazing to think about the relationship between God’s focusing fingers and the human activity of writing and reading? You may have read that same paragraph before, perhaps just the other evening. But this time God put his fingers on it and turned the lens just one more focusing notch. What this means is that I should pray as a writer and you should pray as a reader. We should ask God to do this focusing.

    I think of your reading and my writing as a kind of partnership in the pursuit of a Godward miracle. I write, you read, but God gives the sight. What we both want is this miracle of seeing—seeing lifechanging things about God and life and eternity.

    In one of his letters the apostle Paul said, “By reading you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4, author’s translation). But was reading enough? A few sentences later he prayed that they “may have strength to…know the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18–19). Something more was needed than reading. Something from God—he called it “strength to know.” Earlier he had prayed that the eyes of his readers’ hearts would be “enlightened, that you may know” (Ephesians 1:18). Something from God is needed—in answer to prayer. This is what I meant when I said that God takes a human paragraph and puts his fingers on the lens of the eye of your
    soul. The slightest turn and we are made strong with sight. We are never the same again.

    So I have written. And you are reading. And God is ready to act. My words are not Scripture. They are not infallible like God’s words. But my earnest aim in all I write is to be faithful to God’s written Word in the Bible. To point to God and his Son and his works and his ways. My aim is a Godward book in the hope that God will put his fingers on its paragraphs and turn the lens of the eye of your soul, ever so delicately, and bring glories into focus.

    This is how God forms us into his image. “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is our aim: From a Godward paragraph, to a sight of glory, to a Godward heart.

    A very special word of thanks is due to David Mathis, executive editor at Desiring God. David helped me assemble these meditations from all the different places and times where I had written them. After I reworked them for this book, he provided his sharp theological, stylistic, and formatting eye to help me refine them for final release. I admire David’s gifts and love his friendship. Thank you, David, for your partnership.

    I have enjoyed a long and happy relationship with Multnomah Books, especially in bringing my shorter writings to publication. A Godward Heart is a continuation of what we began in A Godward Life, Book One (2001), continued in A Godward Life, Book Two (2003), Pierced by the Word (2003), Life as a Vapor (2004), and Taste and See (2005). I am thankful for this publishing partnership for the sake of spreading what I pray will prove to be life-changing, Christ-exalting paragraphs.


    Excerpted from A Godward Heart by John Piper Copyright © 2014 by John Piper. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, 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.


    This post was posted in Books and was tagged with Featured, John Piper

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