Archive for February 24th, 2012

February 24, 2012

LOUIE GIGLIO TO RELEASE NEW TALK DVD CALLED SYMPHONY MARCH 13, 2012

 

Just weeks before the Passion World Tour hits Vancouver, and alongside the March 13 release of the Passion: White Flag live album, Passion founder and recent GRAMMY ® nominee Louie Giglio will debut the latest in the 900,ooo+ selling Passion Talk Series, SYMPHONY, I LIFT MY HANDS. As seen by over 200,000 people on the 50-city Chris Tomlin “And If Our God Is For Us… Tour,” SYMPHONY, I LIFT MY HANDS is one of Giglio’s most compelling talks and one that left audiences spellbound.

“It’s staggering when we begin to realize that all creation is singing the praises of the One who fashioned and formed the universe,” comments Giglio about this special new series. “Yet, singing stars and earth’s ovation cannot drown God’s desire to hear your voice. In the midst of a miraculous and immense symphony of praise, God is still mindful of you, going to extraordinary lengths to give you life and breath through His Son.”
The Passion Talk Series has received an astounding 7.5 million views on YouTube. To experience a preview of SYMPHONY, I LIFT MY HANDS, click here.
In addition to the release of SYMPHONY, I LIFT MY HANDS, March 13 also welcomes the debut of Passion: White Flag. Recorded live at Passion 2012, the project features sixstepsrecords’ artists Chris Tomlin, David Crowder*Band, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels and Kristian Stanfill, along with the voices of more than 42,000 college students at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. The Passion World Tour will stop in Vancouver on March 23 and features Giglio, along with Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and Kristian Stanfill with future 2012 dates soon to be announced in Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa.
February 24, 2012

AUDREY ASSAD’S New Album Heart Sells Over 7,300 Copies In First Week

 

What a week it has been for Sparrow Records singer-songwriter Audrey Assad, whose critically adored sophomore album, Heart, bowed on Valentine’s Day to across-the-board praise and her highest sales-week numbers to date. Heart ranked in at No. 3 on the Christian Soundscan chart, selling over 7,300 units, giving her a 185 percent sales increase over the debut week of her last album, The House You’re Building. The CD also crowned the iTunes ® Christian & Gospel Albums chart and reached No. 18 on the overall iTunes ® Albums chart. In addition, before Heart‘s release, Rhapsody named it one of their “Most Anticipated Albums of 2012.”

February 24, 2012

THIRD DAY TO RELEASE FREE 4-SONG LIVE EP 1 MARCH 2012

Third Day is getting ready to make all of their Spring Tour shows available as digital audio recordings exclusively available from their website. To launch it, they’ll be making a 4-song live EP available for FREE for a limited time. Today, they announced… “As many of you know, we are always looking to improve our fan’s expierence and come up with new ways to continue to connect with you. Years ago, we had the idea to start recording all of our concerts. Then we thought, “We should share these recordings with people.” So, we started streaming the shows on our website. The one down side to that was that you had to be connected to the internet to be able to listen and could not take the recording with you to listen whenever you want.”
“Well, after lots of work we are excited to tell you that for the spring tour, you will be able to purchase each night’s concert as a digital download on our website! As a little teaser, we will be offering a Third Day Live sampler for free. This 4 song EP will include a favorite performance from the Make Your Move Tour from each of the band members. This sampler will only be available from March 1st – March 15th. Be on the look out for more info on this in the coming weeks.”

February 24, 2012

JUD WILHITE Guest Post: Getting To A Place Of Honesty With Each Other

In the very beginning of the biblical story, right after Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit and ushering sin and death into the world, they realized they were naked and felt vulnerable. That started the first game of hide-and-seek. Adam and Eve tried to hide from God. They were exposed. And they didn’t want God or their partner to see.

This is a perfect illustration of the daunting challenge of becoming honest with God and each other. It’s like getting naked. It’s the deepest form of vulnerability, dating all the way back to seconds after the Fall.

Most of us carry at least two fears about sharing our pain and struggles with another person. One, we fear being exposed, being truly known by our struggles and faults, not just by the front we usually put forward. Two, we fear being rejected. Like Adam and Eve, we think that if God were to confront us in our total vulnerability, he would be appalled to the point of distancing himself from us and punishing us or shunning us.

So we do what Adam and Eve did. We don’t just hide; we try to cover our nakedness. They did it with fig leaves. We do it by pretending we’re not hurting and putting on a happy face despite feeling dead inside. We do it by trying to
make up for our faults with self-righteousness or lying to cover ourselves.

God did not accept the leaf coverings. They didn’t work. But he didn’t reject Adam and Eve. According to the Bible, he covered them himself using animal skins. The message is vivid and clear. We can be covered, but something must die. God’s providing animal skins to cover the first humans’ nakedness is a picture of God’s providing the sacrifice of Jesus to cover our sin.

The lesson is challenging but simple: if we want to experience the joy of unity, of relational connectedness, of the glory of God, we have to risk showing our true selves to God and others, and we have to be gracious coverers of one another with the good news of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.

The beauty of this is that the more reliable we are with grace, the more reliable our communities will be with honesty.

THE PRACTICE OF HONESTY
Getting to the place of honesty with each other can be difficult, but there are few things more rewarding-and healing. There is a divine catharsis in unburdening ourselves of sin and painful experiences. It sets us free and allows the burden to be shared, if not lifted. Why do you think they call it “getting something off your chest”?

Of course, this is a risk. It can be a disaster to fall into the hands of insensitive, insincere, or just flat-out mean Christians. Many times we are reluctant to share what’s going on in our lives because we’ve been burned in the past by gossip, judgmentalism, bad assumptions, terrible theology, or even ambivalence or stony silence. Nevertheless, God calls us to know and be known. He wants us to be a living picture of the reconciliation he offers between himself and us. And we can’t do reconciliation if we don’t get real.

You may want to begin by identifying one Christian you can trust with the difficulties of your life. This person could be an accountability partner, an older believer whose wisdom and insight you respect, or perhaps a pastor, counselor, or therapist. Getting one on one is the first big step toward later sharing with multiple people, perhaps in a prayer group or small group or support group of some kind.

Identify cultures of grace. Are there pockets of Christians where you can see that lives have been transformed by the good news of Jesus, where sin is spoken against but sinners feel loved and cared for and not condemned? Can you see acceptance and belonging? Do you see honesty already taking place? Does the place feel warm and welcoming? Hopefully you have located this culture of grace in your own church or at least in certain groups or gatherings within your church.

When life falls apart, to some extent we all feel like we’re the first to experience it. So I know that tentativeness and unease will be there regardless. But take the risk!

If you lead a small group or community group of some kind at your church, or if you work with a group of volunteers, strive to create a safe place for honesty. This probably means you will have to go first. When someone goes first, it breaks the seal of fear and discomfort that prevents transparency. When someone goes first, it immediately tells others in the group that they are not alone. And we are more likely to get honest with others when we don’t feel as though we are alone. But somebody has to go first.

Will it be you?

God is faithful. He will meet you at every point with the grace you need and the healing you long for. And once you can be honest with him and find in him not rejection or condemnation but acceptance, your fear of people will gradually dissipate, giving you the confidence to get real with others too. You’ll be able to let them see how you are
torn, which will start helping you recover.

February 24, 2012

MARK BATTERSON Guest Post: Learning To Truly Pray

 

I attended the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the Whitehouse this past April and right before walking through the buffet line we paused to pray. I was expecting the typical pre-meal prayer, but it turned into a defining moment for me. A sixty-seven year-old African American pastor began to pray with such familiarity and authority that after he said “Amen,” I turned to Andy Stanley and Louie Giglio, who happened to be standing next to me, and said, “I feel like I’ve never prayed before.”

Have you ever felt that way? Someone prays with such familiarity with God that you feel like you hardly know Him? Or they pray with such authority that you feel like your prayers are impotent by comparison? I wonder if that’s how the disciples felt when they heard Jesus pray. Maybe that’s why they asked Him to teach them to pray in a new way.

I’ve never met anyone who felt like they prayed too much or prayed too effectively. All of us feel like we fall short when it comes to prayer. But that’s exciting because it means there is potential for improvement. There are new dialects, new tactics, new dimensions to be discovered. And if you transform your prayer life you transform your life. Why? Because the transcript of your prayers ultimately become the script for your life. We write the future with our prayers. Or in the words of Walter Wink: “History belongs to the intercessors.”

The Legend

A few years ago, I was reading through The Book of Legends, a collection of stories from the Jewish Talmud, when I discovered the true legend of Honi the Circle Maker. It forever changed the way I pray. I pray more. I pray with more faith. I’ve learned how to pray circles around my dreams, my problems, my family, and most importantly, the promises of God.

A devastating drought threatened to destroy a generation–the generation before Jesus. The last of the Jewish prophets had died off nearly four centuries before. Miracles were a distant memory. And God was nowhere to be heard. But there was one man, an old sage who lived outside the walls of Jerusalem, who dared to pray anyway. His name was Honi. And even if the people could no longer hear God, he believed that God could still hear them.

With a six-foot staff in his hand, Honi drew a circle in the sand. Then he dropped to his knees and raised his hands to heaven. With the authority of the prophet Elijah who called down fire from heaven, Honi called down rain.

Lord of the Universe, I swear before your great name that I will not move from this circle until you have shown mercy upon your children.

Then it happened.

As his prayer ascended to the heavens, raindrops descended to the earth. The people rejoiced over the rain, but Honi wasn’t satisfied with a sprinkle. Still kneeling within the circle, Honi lifted his voice over the sounds of celebration.

Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits, and caverns.

The sprinkle turned into such a torrential downpour that the people fled to the Temple Mount to escape the flash floods. Honi stayed and prayed inside his protracted circle.

Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of benevolence, benediction, and grace.

Then, like a well-proportioned sun shower on a summer afternoon, it began to rain in perfect moderation. Some within the Sanhedrin threatened excommunication because his prayer was too bold for their taste, but the miracle couldn’t be repudiated. Eventually, Honi the Circle Maker was honored for “the prayer that saved a generation.” The circle he drew in the sand symbolizes the power of a single prayer to change the course of history. It’s also a reminder of this timeless truth: God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.

The Challenge

We have not because we ask not, or maybe I should say, we have not because we circle not. We give up too easily, too quickly. If God has given you a dream, you need to keep circling it in prayer. You can’t just pray. You need to pray through. You need to work like it depends on us and pray like it depends on God.

Prayer is the difference between fighting for God and God fighting for you. Some of you have been fighting so hard. Maybe it’s time to pray hard. Then God will fight your battles for you.

I’m convinced of this: your leadership potential is directly proportional to your prayer capacity. You can’t do anything until you pray, but when you start drawing prayer circles around your dreams and God’s miracles, all bets are off. With prayer, all things are possible.

You tell me: is there anything more important or more powerful than prayer?

If the answer is no then let’s pray like it.

Start circling!

February 24, 2012

BRITT MERRICK Guest Post: Learning To Spend Time With Jesus Instead Of Just Doing Ministry

February 24, 2012

KATIE DAVIS Guest Post: When God Tells One Is Enough

I was angry because I believed, and still believe, that the God who created the universe did not create too many children in His image and not enough love to go around. And I wanted to do more. I wanted to help them all.

God whispered that one is enough. He assured me that He would hold the others while they wait for someone to come along and give them their milk and their medicine. He doesn’t ask me to take them all but to stop for just one, because, as I do it for one of “the least of these” I do it for Him (see Matthew 25:40). I felt deep in my spirit that He was teaching me to care for the one person in front of me. Stop for the little boy with white hair and scabs covering his body; stop for the baby girl with feces covering her dress, so weak that she can’t hold up her head. Stop and love the ones right in front of me and trust Him with the rest. He whispered that it would be okay and that I didn’t have to be angry, I could smile because one less baby was hungry, and that was good enough for that day.

This is a lesson He has continued to teach me. And it is sometimes hard and ugly. Because every time I stop for that one sick child, that one hungry old man, that one new baby girl, my mind races with the statistics of how many more I am not touching, not feeding, not saving. God whispers every time, though, that this one is enough. It is enough that this one is feeling His love and that love is eternal. Eternal.

Today, that anger is gone, though sometimes I still have to sit with the Father in my sadness and brokenness over all the hurt in this world. Sometimes I still have to cry to Him and ask Him why innocent children must suffer and beg Him to move people to action. Still, we as a family just love the ones with whom God has entrusted us as best we can. We let Him hold us as we hold the little ones He has given us to look after. We do what we can do, and we trust Him with the rest.

When I have a rough day, or several rough days in a row, as I did around the time Patricia joined our family, I can easily forget why I do what I do. I used to repeat to myself, “Do not forget in the darkness what you have been promised in the light.” When my days are dark and difficult, I am tempted to look around and think, Why? Why do I do this? Why would I take one more child? Why would we live with less so we can give to others more? Why did I leave family and friends to go to a land of strangers? What am I doing here?

I do not usually forget the answer to all these questions: “For Jesus. Because He called me to this and because He gave His life for me.” This means that it has been granted to me, it is my privilege, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him (see Philippians 1:29). That suffering is not alone, but is with Him, and oh, what a privilege it is just to be able to be in His presence, to share that with my sweet Savior.

This is what it means when I say I do it for Jesus. He loved me first; I love Him back. And sometimes it hurts. But even then it is pure joy to even be considered worthy to share in His suffering. That is the promise: not that He is sorry that it hurts, but that He sees; that He knows; that He is here with us.

I think of various “ones” with which I have been blessed.

I think of Michael, who is back at home with his stepmom, healthy now, but maybe still mistreated. God knows that, in Uganda, as a single woman I cannot legally adopt a little boy, so how my heart could be so knit to his?

I think of a girl named Gloria, whose brain was so damaged from her high fever she may always be in a vegetable-like state. God in His infinite wisdom knew that had I been there a few days sooner, this potentially lifelong damage could have been prevented.

But then I think of fourteen little girls who have a home and food and a mommy, and who know Jesus. I think of sixteen hundred Karimojong children, modern-day lepers in Uganda, singing about God’s love for them and leaving the school with their bellies full. I think of four hundred sponsored children who sometimes show up on Saturday in new clothes because their parents can finally afford to buy them a new dress or shirt, now that Amazima provides for all their basic needs (food, education, medical care).

I see thousands of deep brown eyes and feel thousands of little brown hands and I know that even on the hardest day, stopping is worth it. A life changed is worth it, even if only one. God’s love made known is worth it, even if only to one. I will not save them all. But I will keep trying. I will say “Yes.” I will stop for one.