We think it is all about our initiative and our effort, when in fact that is the worst way to live the Christian life.

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BRANDON ABOUT THE BOOK LIFEBLOOD article from http://lifebloodinus.com/

Why did you decide to write this book?

I was living in a cabin on a lake, and I had relocated my office to a garage. I was writing a daily column while working in an area surrounded by boxes and fishing gear. One of my columns that summer was about being driven — how it’s important to keep pushing yourself. Since I typically write about leadership and management, it seemed like an interesting topic, because many leaders in business tend to drive forward under their own power. Companies like Facebook or Google initially started because of one or two people promoting a crazy idea.

That got me thinking about Jesus, and about my own Christian life. One thing led to another, and I found myself writing an entire chapter of a book. I wanted to write about how Christians often try to do the same thing as entrepreneurs in business, that we push and push and push. We think it is all about our initiative and our effort, when in fact that is the worst way to live the Christian life. It ends in failure and burnout. I felt a tug on my own heart, that I was the one making all of the decisions in my life about how to be a good Christian. It wasn’t working. So I decided to write about how God has propelled me instead, those Holy Spirit moments when it’s obvious that the only way to “succeed” spiritually is to let God do the driving.

Why did you decide to write about marriage, and friendships, and community?

They say to write about what you know. In my “day job” writing a column for Inc. Magazine and Fox News Network, I tend to cover topics that are well within my own expertise. I was a corporate manager for about a decade, and I write about those experiences often. For many years, I tested products and reviewed them, so I still write about gadgets. But there’s one area where I’m more personally experienced than any other, and it is in living my own Christian life for the past 30 years. I’ve seen how God has worked in my marriage, in friendships, in the workplace — it’s amazing to see his hands of grace guiding me.

Who is your audience?

I’m glad you asked! I do have a reader in mind, and it is someone who is struggling to move forward spiritually. I guess that is all of us, in a way. Even the most spiritually mature person in the world is not always moving forward o finding great spiritual success. We might experience periods of tremendous growth, but then we stall out. We might finally confront an inner demon, only to see another one pop up out of nowhere! I know how this all works. Lifeblood is really intended as a message to struggling Christians, and the main message is to realize that it is the Holy Spirit inside of you who brings about real change and growth. In many ways, the message is to relax. To stop worrying so much. To let God have all of the control.

Why is this book worth reading?

I realize there are many, many books available — most of them are probably more interesting! The one reason to read Lifeblood, though, is to hear a message of hope that you can live victoriously and without the guilt of feeling as though you have to be in charge of your own spiritual destiny. Lifeblood is not intended as a “self help” book but a “Jesus help” book. It’s a total transformation in how we view our Christian lives, how we make decisions and how we advance spiritually. It is not under our own power. It is by him and through him.

 

About John Brandon: John Brandon is a well-known reporter and columnist for Inc. magazine, Fox News Network, Christianity TodayRelevant magazine, and many others. For ten years, he worked as a corporate manager in the Information Technology field. After 9/11, John’s employer (who became nervous about the world economy) fired him. At the advice of his wife, he became a writer and has since published over twelve thousand articles in seventeen years. Over ten million people have read his thought-pieces on leadership, productivity, mentoring, and technology for Inc.com. He lives in Minnesota with his wife, Rebecca, and has four children, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren. This is his first book.

 

About Lifeblood: Lifeblood is what flows through us when we first find Christ; but as time goes on, we start to grow stale in our spiritual life. Not simply a how-to book, Lifeblood is about getting back to the basics of Christianity and making life-altering communion with Jesus possible every minute of the day. Tapping in to your lifeblood starts with you; but it will flow to your friendships, marriage and family, church, work, and even your community. Lifeblood is available for pre-order https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/lifeblood-tapping-into-jesus-as-the-true-source-of-renewal/

Dealing with Sin

From the CLC Bible Companion

By his death, Jesus dealt with the sin that has so devastatingly disrupted the life of God’s world and its fellowship with him.

UNDERSTANDING SIN

The early Christians expressed their understanding of the significance of Jesus’ death with a simple summary statement: “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). This short summary, however, called to mind a whole world of meaning from the Old Testament, which helped the first Christians to understand what Jesus had done for them. For a start, Jesus had done something about “sin”.

  • A history of sin.

In the Old Testament, sin was not a vague term referring to general moral failings, as it is sometimes used today. Sin could only be named as “sin” within a particular context: the context of relationship with God. God had established the world as a place where humans could flourish in life as they remained in constant, obedient fellowship with him (Genesis 2:15-17). But, no sooner had this relationship been established, than humans stepped outside its boundaries by disobeying God’s command (3:6), and so losing the blessings of life with him (3:16-24). From then on, sin was always “lurking at the door” (4:7), disrupting the peace of God’s creation, and turning humans away from him.

Throughout the Old Testament, God called a particular people to come back into fellowship with him. He rescued the nation of Israel from slavery in the land of Egypt so that there would once again be people who would enjoy life as he had intended. He made a covenant with them, committing himself to them and asking them to commit to him. To help them live constantly within this covenant, he gave them the gift of a law, known as the Torah, which described the kind of life that remained within the boundaries of his covenant. Obeying God’s Torah was not supposed to be a heavy burden, but a joyful delight – it affirmed that God wanted his creation to be blessed. As Israel stayed close to him, they would show the rest of the world what God’s life-giving holiness looked like (Exodus 19:5-6). However, sin was still “lurking at the door”, and the people of Israel were quick to go out to it, and let it into their midst. Time after time, sin disrupted God’s covenant, and turned his people away from him.

  • A definition of sin.

Simply put, sin is missing the way of life that God intends. Within the context of Israel, this way of life had been clearly described by God’s good commands in the Torah (see Psalm 119, a song of praise to God for his law). Sin in Israel, therefore, was to disobey God’s law and step outside his holy way of life. It could happen deliberately, as God’s people intentionally turned away from him, or unintentionally, as they were simply caught up in the waywardness of the world around them (see Leviticus 4). Importantly, sin is not simply an action – failing to live up to a list of do’s and don’ts – but an attitude of the heart: human life that is out of step with God from the very centre of its being.

  • The result of sin.

The Old Testament had many different ways to describe the consequences of sin, all of them negative. It caused banishment from God’s blessing (Genesis 3:24); it created uncleanness that spread like a malicious virus through society (see Leviticus 5:2); it brought guilt and shame and despair (Psalm 6:1-7); it grew unchecked into whole systems of evil and injustice (eg Amos 1–2); and it resulted in the ultimate banishment from God’s presence – death. God’s constant judgement about sin was that it had to be removed if people were to live. If it were not removed, then they would die, both now and eternally.

UNDERSTANDING SACRIFICE

The first Christians proclaimed that Jesus had “died for sin”. The background to this was the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. Through sacrifice, God had provided a way for sin to be dealt with, so that his people would not be swept away by his judgement about sin and its disastrous consequences, but rather be restored to life and fellowship with him.

  • The sin offering.

Leviticus 4:1–5:13 describes the procedure for presenting a sacrifice for sin to God. To us today, the amount of bloodshed involved in these sacrifices may seem excessive, but in the ancient context where animals were sacrificed by all societies in their thousands and millions, God’s instructions were in fact restrained and gracious – there was a standard procedure and by following it closely the worshipper could know that they were back in fellowship with God. They did not need to sacrifice for the same sin twice. The procedure was clear: if a person sinned, they were to bring an animal to the priest, confess the sin and lay their hand on the head of the animal as it was slaughtered. This signified that this costly sacrifice had died in the place of the sinner. Blood was sprinkled inside the sanctuary, signifying that God had accepted the offering and the carcass of the animal was completely burned up. The sin had been removed from the sinner, so that it could no longer riddle the fellowship of God’s people with its devastating consequences. The priest would declare the sin “forgiven”, which meant that God and his people were once again “at one” (atonement, Leviticus 4:20,26,31, etc.). The death of the sacrifice meant the life of the worshipper.

  • The Day of Atonement.

Once a year, all Israel observed the Day of Atonement, on which the whole nation was cleansed (Leviticus 16:34). Central to the proceedings were two goats. On this day alone, the high priest entered the Most Holy Place, with a bowl of blood from one of the goats. He came out of the Most Holy Place and made atonement for each area of the sanctuary in turn, in order to show clearly that forgiveness and cleansing had been initiated by God himself (16:15-19). Then the high priest laid hands on the second goat and confessed over it all the sins of Israel. It would be sent out into the wilderness, where it would die, signifying that God had removed sin from the people completely – the goat had borne it away (16:22). Free of sin, God’s people were re-established in their relationship with him, and could go in peace to live out his covenant in their lives. Once again, a sacrifice had died in order to let God’s people live.

JESUS, THE SACRIFICE FOR SIN

The first Christians understood Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sin against this Old Testament and contemporary Jewish background.

  • The sacrifice of the new covenant.

Jesus’ death brought God’s covenant with Israel to its climactic end (Romans 10:4) and ushered in a new, better covenant. The old covenant, which included the sacrificial system, had been intended to cleanse Israel from their sin so that they could demonstrate to the nations what it meant to live in intimate fellowship with God. But throughout their history, God’s people had struggled to stay in fellowship with him, time and again being overwhelmed by sin and its consequences. The constant sacrifice of animals was not working – sin was still rampant among God’s people.

The writer of Hebrews had grasped the profound significance of Jesus’ death. Unlike the sacrifices in the temple, which had to be offered time after time because they never really cleansed the worshipper (10:4), Jesus “has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself ” (9:26). Jesus was the reality of atonement, of which all the Old Testament sacrifices had just been shadows and anticipations (“sketches of heavenly things”, 9:23). His sacrificial death had brought about a new covenant relationship with God.

  • The universal sacrifice.

As part of the new covenant, Jesus’ sacrifice was not just for Israel, but for the whole world. John the Baptist had said, recalling the imagery of the Day of Atonement, that Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Certainly, he had been crucified as a direct result of the sin of those who rejected him; but in a profound sense, he had died with the weight of the whole world’s sin on his shoulders. The world is the sort of place where the Son of God, who brings only grace and truth, can be crucified (John 1:10-11,17). But because of Jesus’ sacrifice, it is also the sort of place that can be freed to live with God.

  • A liberating and cleansing sacrifice.

As Jesus explained to his disciples at the Last Supper, he was going to his death to bring about the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). He would bear the devastating agony of sin’s true consequences in his own body, so that others would not have to. At the moment he died, the curtain into the Most Holy Place in the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:50-51). The way in to fellowship and new life with God – the way that had been blocked by sin – had now been opened for all (see Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 10:19-20; 1 Peter 3:18). But also, as pictured by the Day of Atonement, God’s cleansing power could sweep out of the temple into the world. Through Jesus, all can be cleansed and purified, so that they may worship God with the life he always intended (Hebrews 9:14).

Jesus’ sacrificial death is, in fact, central to his announcement of the kingdom. Without being set free from sin, it would be impossible for his followers to share in the life of God’s promised kingdom. Without a sacrifice for sin, God’s judgement about sin would remain over them – their lives would end in death (Romans 6:23). However, because he died “for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3), bearing them away in his own body (1 Peter 2:24), people who come to him are set free from sin to live in God’s new covenant, looking forward to the fulfilment of their salvation in his new creation. Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sin enables a great, gracious exchange to take place: he took our sin, so that we might share in his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:21-26)!

 

About The CLC Bible Companion The CLC Bible Companion is an all-in-one guide to the Bible that is both a comprehensive reference book and an exciting companion. Its goals for you are to: Know Jesus Christ, Discover the Contents of the Bible, Explore the Truth of the Bible, and Believe and Experience the Message of the Bible. The CLC Bible Companion is on special promotion for a limited time, you may purchase the CLC Bible Companion for $10.00 while supplies last. (retail price $29.99 for hardcover) To learn more about the CLC Bible Companion and purchase, please visit: https://www.clcpublications.com/deals-discounts/

 

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Knowing Jesus 1

“Music appeared on my bedroom wall as I was lying in my bed before dawn”

Denice Rippentrop, Composer – March 2018

From the Pen of Composer Denice Rippentrop

It was in the late 1970s that I first trusted in God’s divine Son, Jesus the Christ, as my Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of my sins. I believed in the death of Christ on the cross to pay for my sins, the resurrection of Christ to provide life everlasting, and Christ’s gift of salvation, which can only be received by faith, apart from works or merit on my part. My life changed miraculously!

A few years later I heard a poem by Amy Carmichael for the first time. It was called “No Scar?” and I heard it on a radio program. Amy’s words moved deep into my soul as a picture came to my mind. I saw the scars on my Savior’s hands, feet, and side—and it tore into me. To think that He has these scars and I have none. I was so taken by this scene in my mind I could hardly breathe.

At that point, I searched endlessly for every poem and book by Amy Carmichael. I was so moved by the deep meaning of her words—written in a style unique only to her—as well as her display of vocabulary and the images portrayed in her words. Her utter devotion to Jesus Christ came through in her every word. She loved beyond herself. She never took her eyes off the cross of Jesus Christ and His eternal, unending love.

In 1987 I was at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota working on my master’s degree. My synthesis was composing music to eleven Amy Carmichael poems, ending in a concert of these works. The concert was given at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Shoreview, Minnesota under the direction of Bonnie Doole. My daughter Tammy gave a reading on the life of Amy Carmichael. I still can hear her presenting this reading. She gave an outstanding presentation.

After that concert I continued to write sacred and secular choral works. Much of my writing has been impacted by one of my composition professors, Dr. Jody Rockmaker. Throughout the years I have received many honors and commissions and have given numerous performances of my music.

Alison Beck, pianist

Then, nineteen years after the concert in 1987, music appeared on my bedroom wall as I was lying in my bed before dawn. At first, I thought I was dreaming. There were several pages, and the first three pages had three music staves showing a solo voice and piano. The music appeared two more mornings; but this time, Amy Carmichael’s name was written in the top left-hand corner and my name was written in the top right-hand corner. I asked God to show the music again if this was from Him. And, my Holy Father did. I knew I had to write it down.   

The Holy Spirit led me to Amy Carmichael’s book If. One by one, the fifteen Amy Carmichael statements that I was to write music to were shown to me.

“If at the Moment,” the first song on my CD If (What Do I Know of Calvary’s Love?), is the music I saw on the wall the first morning. The text says:

“If the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and in the power of Him who works in us to will and to do, keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.”

Vanessa Libbey, vocalist

As Amy Carmichael said of her book If, “[These statements] are not meant to be read one after the other. Perhaps only one “If” here and there may have the needed word.” As you listen to the CD, I ask that you give each song the time it needs to reach the depths of your soul, as Amy so desired.

Vanessa Libbey, the vocalist on the CD, is a classically trained soprano. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Luther College and resides in New York City.

Alison Beck, the pianist on the CD, earned her master of music degree in piano performance from the University of North Texas. She resides in New York City.

The recording took place at Avatar Recording Studio in New York City from April 18­–20, 2017.

 

All lyrics in If (What Do I Know of Calvary’s Love?) are from If by Amy Carmichael, ©1938 The Dohnavur Fellowship. Used by Permission of CLC Publications. May not be further reproduced. All Rights Reserved.

About If by Amy Carmichael: Amy Carmichael questions whether we allow our doubts and disappointments to hinder our faith, or do we really know Calvary’s love? In a series of statements and common situations, a Christ-love of forgiveness and strength is meant to mend our hearts and encourage others, because of what He has already done. Purchase the book with a CD featuring words from If performed by Vanessa Libby, soprano soloist, and Alison Beck, pianist. https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/if-by-amy-carmichael-cd-bundle/

 

About Amy Carmichael: Amy Carmichael was the eldest daughter of a large Christ-centered family in Millisle, Ireland. She was impressed at an early age that “nothing is important but that which is eternal.” This understanding proved to be the foundation for her service to the Lord among the mill workers of Ireland, the Japanese briefly, and then in India where she began her ministry to children in 1895 and where she remained until her death in 1951.

Five Ways Your Church Can Avoid Wallpaper Worship

By Danny Byram, author of Wallpaper Worship: Why Church Music Sounds Better, Fewer Are Singing, and What to Do About It

So, what is wallpaper worship? It is very easy to spot. Just walk into a church, grab a coffee, and find a seat. When the music starts, you are free to sit and sip, stand and watch, roam the sanctuary, find someone to visit with (if the volume allows), or skip it altogether and get a coffee refill in the lobby. Wallpaper worship is the religious equivalent of music in a store or a dentist’s office. It is great music, but it is not designed for participation. Wallpaper worship is meant to simply be listened to or observed as it is performed. Worshippers who come to participate are not actually able to because it sounds so good, so slick, so produced, and so well-performed that you don’t want to mess it up by actually singing along with it. The vibe communicated from the platform is “Just sit back and relax; we’ll do this for you.”

In his classic book Worship is a Verb, Robert E. Webber states, “[Worship] is not something done to us or for us, but by us.” Webber’s view, like the view of so many frustrated worshippers today, was founded upon a principle that was at the heart of the sixteenth-century Reformation. That principle touted a new and radical idea: Believers should be able to express their beliefs and their worship of God freely, openly, and corporately without any priests or clergy doing it for them. Today we are in a pre-Reformation cycle of wallpaper worship. Our ability to perform music and speak publicly has become so formulaic that church has become akin to a museum or concert hall. All you have to do is show up and assume the role of an audience.

Here are five ways your church can avoid the common trap known as wallpaper worship. (Some of what I have written is to leaders and some to those being led. Feel free to pass these five principles along as is appropriate for your situation.)

  1. Cast a vision. Church leaders need to decide what kind of church they will lead. Will yours be a typical wallpaper worship church, or will you make the changes necessary to encourage, facilitate, and promote participation? To simply say the church wants congregants to participate will never accomplish it. Specific changes need to occur from the church leadership in order to bridge the gap between the people and the platform. Many worshippers have experienced the discouragement of trying to articulate to leaders their desire for change, only to be dismissed as out of touch. For instance, one church I know trains their ushers to hand out earplugs if people come to the lobby to complain about the volume of the “show.” One of the leaders of that church made it clear to me that if people don’t like it, they can find the door. Casting a vision for participation involves more than lip service. It takes sincere action to gently bring congregants into the fold of participation. An attitude from leaders of “It’s not our fault if they don’t participate” is a cop-out and a justification for wallpaper worship. If you’re part of a church that refuses to cast a vision for participation, then find one that will.
  2. Use your binoculars. When I was producing and directing the Promise Keepers stadium events for men (events that filled NFL-sized stadiums around the nation in the mid-1990s), it was difficult to know if the attendees in the upper sections at the far end of the stadium were connecting with what was happening on the platform. From the opposite end of the stadium, the platform looked like the size of a postage stamp. I would step out from the stage side producer’s tent and look through binoculars to spot those in the far-off upper section seats to see if they were as engaged as the men sitting in chairs on the field in front of us. If we were losing participants from music or a speaker that was not engaging, we would change what we were doing until we saw 100 percent participation. Only by looking through “binoculars” can one see to what degree a platform is or is not connecting with those it is supposed to be leading. Proverbs 27:23 says, “Know well the condition of your flocks.” Pay attention. If people are not participating, the effectiveness of the leadership is questionable.
  3. Try painting in more than one color. Have you ever been to an art exhibit or a museum where all the paintings are in one color? How tedious would it become to view paintings throughout galleries and hallways that are exclusively in blue? When we plan and execute worship services in one narrow style, we are painting in one color. Try using a capella. Calm down the instruments and let the people sing and hear themselves sing. Try using a responsive reading where people hear their voices reciting Scripture aloud and in unison. Try an unplugged, acoustic set of music once or twice a month. Try using a live, classical, sacred piece somewhere appropriate to your service order or content. Why does everything have to be one style, one sound, one means of expression? Music listeners of all ages today access more styles and cultures of music than ever before through Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube. But in today’s church, only one style seems to be allowed. The colors of the artist’s palette are many. Try painting with more than one.
  4. Earn the trust. I once read on a popular worship blog, “The more they sing with you, the more they will trust you.” My experience with producing large and small worship events for decades is the opposite: The more they trust you, the more they will sing with you. Congregants are conditioned by the culture of the church. If the people in the pews sense the worship service is simply a performance to be observed, they will be reluctant to participate—even if given the chance in an a capella song. Leaders need to earn the trust of those they lead. Trust is earned over time by casting a vision for participation and letting congregants hear themselves; it is even earned in the unplanned ambiguity of following the Spirit’s leading.
  5. Be familiar. There is more worship music being written and released today than ever before. Most of it is unfamiliar, even to the select people who listen to Christian radio stations in their cars every day. Musicians tend to think they need to be teaching or performing all the latest material. This is a ruse and it leads to nonparticipation. The more that is new, the less they will know. Do the new stuff, but also use familiar songs that are dear to congregants young and old—songs and worship elements that have stood the test of time and personal devotion. Most of what is heard today will not be around two years from now. A gracious and trusted shepherd leads the sheep with a familiar rod and staff. Leaders have an obligation not only to lead the sheep beside still waters but to actually let them drink. They will be comforted knowing that their shepherd has their best interests in mind. Trust will result. Participation will follow.

Throughout history, wallpaper worship has cycled in and out. It thrives in times of prosperity but disappears in times of struggle or persecution. Whether you are a leader or a worshipper being led, it is time to bridge the gap between the platform and the people. Worshippers today are frustrated when they are not led in worship and feel they are being used as an audience. But take courage: When the bride is frustrated, the Bridegroom pays attention. “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him” (John 4:23).

Danny Byram teaches a one-day workshop called “Wallpaper Worship Removal: The Tools and Tips for Encouraging a Participating Congregation.” Book a workshop by contacting dbminc1@gmail.com.

 

About Danny Byram Danny Byram is an independent Christian recording artist and worship leader who has performed on five continents. Known by US military chaplains as “The Combat Musician,” Danny has given outreach concerts for the United States military community on over one hundred installations since 1987. He also produced and directed the Promise Keepers stadium events and the FamilyLife marriage arena events. With his breadth of experience in worship, performing arts and leadership, he lectures and conducts workshops on worship in colleges, churches, and military chapels throughout the world. To learn more about Danny, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/daniel-m-byram/

About Wallpaper Worship In Wallpaper Worship, Daniel Byram makes the comparison between today’s church worship and wallpaper—meant to emphasize the design of its surroundings, but not meant to be engaged with. Through an examination of personal worship experiences, the history of worship, and examples of biblical worship, Byram unpacks this analogy. He shares how to awaken our identities as corporate and individual worshippers, and passionately participate in the God-ordained activity of worship.

Wallpaper Worship will be released in Spring 2018. To order a copy of Wallpaper Worship or learn more details, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/wallpaper-worship-why-church-music-sounds-better-fewer-are-singing-and-what-to-do-about-it/

“It is always easier to face our wounds when we know there is a cure.”

“It is always easier to face our wounds when we know there is a cure. The wounds of Jesus do just that. Jesus’ wounds are not for religious people but for wounded people.” – The Seven Wounds of Christ by Fred Hartley

In The Seven Wounds of Christ, author Fred Hartley shares how Christ’s wounds on the cross represent the fullness of His atonement and how, individually, each wound corresponds to a distinct healing for us. Using straightforward scientific explanations, real-life stories and biblical truths, Hartley teaches that no matter the depth of our wounds, the wounds of Jesus go deeper—and His wounds are for our healing.

The Seven Wounds of Christ by Fred Hartley will be offered at 40{b94810839c75fbf9946a0c847ecfc8f47f918cc4312a47127586fab8fdbcec81} off until Easter. Order your copy here: https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/the-seven-wounds-of-christ-where-skeptics-cynics-and-seekers-find-unexpected-healing/

Download a free sermon series on the Seven Wounds of Christ: https://lilburn4jesus.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/7-Wounds-Sermon-Series-Wounds-1-4.pdf

Real surrender is hard. So to be truthful, I really didn’t love the idea of writing this book.

Question and Answer with Surrender‘s author John Stanley.

John Stanley

John Stanley serves as a pastor on staff in the worship ministry at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. An internationally recognized composer, arranger, music producer, percussionist, and drummer, he has been part of the professional music scene for over a decade and has worked with multiple award-winning artists, producers, and songwriters​. John desires to connect people to God’s Word through written and spoken truth, while encouraging individuals into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. John and his wife, Sarah, live in Houston with their two children.

Q1: Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a PK (pastor’s kid) and a native Texan. I grew up with a passion for soccer, which radically changed to music in my teenage years. I didn’t fully commit to music until I was seventeen years old. I went to college for music but left early to pursue music as a career. Starting as a drummer, that pursuit has taken shape into much more as I’ve developed into a composer, arranger, songwriter, and music producer. I love creating music!

I’m on staff in the music ministry at Second Baptist Church in Houston. This church is where I met and married my wife (I fell up a mountain with her!) and where we are raising our family. I love Second and what God is doing through His people here! It is an amazing community.

My wife is the most remarkable woman on earth to me, and I am definitely that “over-proud” dad! HA!

Interesting Fact: English was one of my worst subjects in school. I expound on this in the book!

 Q2: How did you come to faith?

I came to know Jesus when I was six, when I asked my father to pull over so I could pray and ask Jesus into my heart. From then on, it’s been a wild ride! I couldn’t make it up if I tried. Christ is my foundation and my hope. The different roles He’s called me into as a husband, father, minister, musician, music maker, and author are a product of my relationship with Him. I truly feel His joy in every one of these roles and callings.

Q3: Can you tell us about the experiences and inspirations that led you to write Surrender?

The writing of Surrender has been a long journey and it’s taken about seven years. It all started with a simple divinely planted desire to write a book, but the subject was not clear. However, on the river journey I call life, God has taken me on a course that has been all about surrender. So, once the ideas began to churn within, the direction became clear rather quickly.

Real surrender is hard. So to be truthful, I really didn’t love the idea of writing this book. But I’ve felt deeply compelled to write because I believe that as followers of Jesus, surrender is the greatest strength to our witness. No matter what circumstances lie ahead and no matter what line of work we are in, we can be a witness and a bold light—and surrender opens that door of confidence with strength. If every believer took the calling of surrender with the utmost priority, I sincerely believe we’d see a radical difference in our world by the impact of our influence across every landscape.

This world is calling out for authenticity, for people to be real, but we’ve been deceived to believe something different. Surrender brings us to our most authentic self in Christ and proclaims God’s abundant faithfulness, despite the raging white water that life can bring.

Q4: Can you tell us the story behind the subtitle of your book (Learning to Navigate Life’s Deep Waters with Christ as Your Guide)?

When I was twelve my parents took my brother and me on a white-water rafting trip. They used this adventure to teach us a valuable life lesson: Life is like a river. You’ll have your calm serene moments, and then you’ll have raging white water. As followers of Jesus, we’ve been given Christ as our Guide to navigate us through the waters ahead. We have a choice: Surrender to the commands of the Guide or trek the river on our own. One way will end in catastrophe. The other way will bring life and victory.

Q5: What are some experiences you would like to share with the readers about the process of writing this book?

Through the journey of writing this book, my wife, children, and I have rafted through some terrifying waters. But we’ve also journeyed through some joyous, fruitful waters that got our adrenaline pumping and rejuvenated our outlook on life. As God is our victor and true Guide, He has faithfully led us through every twist and turn. From dealing with chronic pain, the struggle of pregnancy with our firstborn, and painful and devastating family events that could’ve easily brought destruction, to exciting and nerve-racking musical endeavors, enriching and profound ministry opportunities, and wonderful and awe-striking life experiences . . . it’s been a journey!

All these things have led to the inspiration behind the pages of this book. Being a first-time author has been a bit of a “wow” experience for me. Writer’s block is a very real thing! Frustrations can easily get to you. Finding the time to write, and yes, even rewrite, amid a whirlwind schedule was rough. But what God started He has been faithful to move forward and keep alive. Words are not adequate to express my thankfulness to Him for all He has done and will continue to do.

Q6: What are your favorite books or authors you enjoy reading?

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. This is just an amazing, inspiring book. Anyone who is married, engaged, or dating and thinking about marriage needs to read his book. I love the “BE” series by Warren Wiersbe. He is the author who has probably had the most impact on my life. His commentaries are rich in knowledge and wisdom, but easy to understand. I also enjoy the occasional fictional read.

Q7: What are some things that can hinder us from surrendering? What are your words of encouragement to people who are dealing with those things?

I believe the greatest detriments to surrender are fear and lack of commitment (which is attached to idolatry). Fear will stop you dead in your tracks, and you must be prayerful and diligent in your discernment to know if that fear is healthy or unhealthy. Any fear that drives you away from God is unhealthy.

Lack of commitment and idolatry are other hindrances. Many of us are willing to speak the words that sound right. As a PK, I can talk the talk all day long. But when my actions don’t line up with what’s coming out of my mouth, that declares my commitment. I can tell my wife and kids I love them every day but never do anything to show it. What do you think that would say to them?

Commitment is two-part: saying and doing. We all have roadblocks to the priority we should put on our relationship with Christ, and we’ve allowed some of those roadblocks because of idols we hold dear: work schedules, activities, hobbies, “stuff,” laziness, the influence and popularity of our peers (that doesn’t just die when we get out of high school). We can let the culture of our surroundings dictate our behaviors, rather than allow our behaviors and priorities to be governed by our commitment to Christ.

I’ve heard it said many times, “You don’t understand my working environment or who I’m around. I’ll lose relatability. I’ll lose connectivity.” That speaks volumes about where an individual finds their identity, and it also traces itself back to fear. If we were to take a step outside our perceived reality and truthfully look into our earthly relationships, we’d probably see that this is a lie we’ve come to believe. People want us to be real with who we are and the core truth of what and who we value. Authenticity counts big, especially today in a world where so many authoritative public figures are falling away because of lies and immoral behaviors driven by deception.

Do you want to be real and the most authentic you? Then, as a follower of Jesus, dig into the relationship. He’s your Creator, so from that relationship who you really are will emerge. That version of you will be the best version of you. Pursue the kingdom of God and His righteousness (see Matt. 6:33). Let everything else be influenced by that pursuit. Let the cards fall where they may. Be intentional. Be diligent. Influence and inspire.

Q8: Have you had difficult times surrendering? Please share with us your experiences.

Stepping away from college to pursue music as a career was tough indeed. I was taught my whole life that the only way to success is by getting a college degree. When that’s been ingrained in you from childhood, you better believe that when God begins to move you in a different direction, it’s incomprehensibly scary.

My mother is an educator. My father has two master’s degrees. My brother graduated from college and has become a “Top 40 Under 40” influencer in his field. Taking that path of surrender into dark and deep waters was very difficult. I dealt with shame from family and friends. I felt like I was constantly having to prove myself upon any new endeavor. But, God set a destination ahead and began to guide me there.

I had two choices: Obey and follow His lead or go my own way of what I believed to be “right.” I really don’t even want to consider where I may have ended up if I chose my own way. I’ve not yet reached the destination in full either. I see the river of life as an expedition with God, my family, and me, and it will continue until I depart from this earth. However, I’m excited to see what other adventures await and what discoveries we uncover along the way.

Q9: What do you hope for your readers to gain through Surrender?

Life change—seeing life from a different perspective. I want them to see the beauty that comes from surrender through every circumstance; and, I pray this book brings some clarity on what that looks like. I’m hopeful some questions are answered, and I’m hopeful people will say goodbye to fear and feel embraced by God’s rest and peace as they do so. I’m hopeful readers will take the plunge and trek the river wild with true commitment, tear down any idols that could get in the way, and enjoy the ride!

Q10: Any last thoughts to the readers?

One evening at the dinner table, my son looked at me and said, “Okay Dad . . . tell me about life.” My daughter eagerly looked on. My mind scrambled through my thoughts for a quick response, “Life is a gift,” I said. Today, if you were walking around our house, at any random moment of the day you might hear my son say, “You know what you guys? Life is a gift!” It’s a great reminder because it really is.

I pray you’re blessed by this book. Enjoy the adventure of life! Where God leads may not be what you had envisioned, but I promise it will be the perfect fit for how He molded you in your creation so that you may have the greatest impact on those He wants you to influence. Life is like a river, and God is the perfect navigator. Grace and peace to you.

 

 

In Surrender, John Stanley encourages readers in the call upon every Christian’s life to daily die to self and surrender—in salvation and in every single circumstance. Expertly weaving together Scripture, personal anecdotes, and a white-water rafting story, John explores what a truly surrendered life can look like, and how that provides a new outlook on what it means to live a satisfied, joyful life. To learn more about the book and order a copy, please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/surrender-learning-to-navigate-lifes-deep-waters-with-christ-as-your-guide/

 

 

About CLC Publications: CLC Publications (formerly Christian Literature Crusade) is the English language publishing house for CLC Ministries International. Headquartered in Fort Washington, PA, CLC has published books for the Deeper Christian Life for over 50 years. Our focus has been to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message. Some of our better known authors from the past include Watchman NeeCorrie ten BoomAmy CarmichaelAndrew Murray and Roy Hession. As a part of CLC International, our books are sold and distributed in countries all over the world including but not limited to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India, the West Indies, and the Philippines. We are committed to being a significant part of fulfilling CLC’s international purpose of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ.

“I’ve had a 33-year close relationship with a man I’ve never met.” – The Story Behind the Calvary Road Study Guide

Author of the Calvary Road Study Guide, Stephen McCary Shares his story.

I’ve had a 33-year close relationship with a man I’ve never met. Let me explain.

In the mid-1980s, as a 35-year-old struggling to find joy in the Christian life, my pastor recommended to me The Calvary Road by Roy Hession. It seemed to be perfect timing for this former workaholic who had become a “churchaholic” after salvation. I was so grateful for God’s intervention in my life, and for the restoration of my family, that I wanted to do everything for the Lord. I became a Sunday school teacher, a deacon, a member of the evangelism team . . . you name it, I was willing.

But like an animal caught in quicksand, the more I worked for Jesus the deeper I sank into the fruitlessness of SELF. God met me through the pages of The Calvary Road. I began to realize the difference between obedience and surrender. An obedient heart will not necessarily produce a surrendered heart; it often produces a prideful heart. But, a surrendered heart will most often lead to an obedient heart.

The key element in my understanding came from Roy Hession’s teachings regarding surrender, humility, and transparency. I learned that walking in the light (see 1 John 1:7) appears in the mundane, everyday walk of life. What rest I experienced! This rest was not complacency, but genuine rest in God’s leading me to that which He directed me to do. It was not cultural expectations from man or from church, but a sensitivity to the voice of God through His word. Oh, I didn’t get it overnight, but I was on the road—the Calvary road.

Over the next fifteen years, my copy of the book was so worn and marked up that it was like a personal journal, containing truths I had learned and convictions I had experienced. It became my go-to book when discipling other men. Evidently, and unbeknownst to me, many at our church saw me as an ambassador for Mr. Hession, a man I will only meet one day in heaven. In 1999, a fellow pastor asked me to teach The Calvary Road in a twelve-week format at our church. Upon completion, a ministry assistant suggested that I send the weekly homework to CLC for their consideration as a companion study guide to The Calvary Road.

CLC Publications published the first edition of The Calvary Road Study Guide in 2000, the fiftieth anniversary of the first printing of Mr. Hession’s classic! What an honor to have my name associated with such a life-changing book and with such a humble man of God, Roy Hession. I can’t wait to meet him!

 

About the Calvary Road Study Guide: This study guide by Rev. Stephen McCary is designed to be a chapter-by-chapter open discussion of the biblical truths taught in the 2016 updated edition of Roy Hession’s classic volume on the crucified life, The Calvary Road. Stimulating questions, Scripture readings, and fill-in-the-blank exercises will help you drive the message of The Calvary Road deep into your heart and life. To order your copy please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/the-calvary-road-study-guide/

About the Author: Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Steve McCary was married to Pamela Meyer McCary for forty-five years before her death in 2015. They have two children and four grandchildren. At age thirty Steve surrendered his life to Christ; and, at age forty, he was called to shepherd a local church. He retired in 2017, after twenty-seven years. Today he provides part-time counseling and is an executive coach with WeAlign, LLC. In October 2016, Steve married Gwen Owens McCary, longtime family acquaintance and mother of three. They enjoy spending time with their family and ministering together in the community. To learn more please visit https://www.clcpublications.com/authors/8230/

The Calvary Road: Do you long for revival and power in your life? Learn how Jesus can fill you with His spirit through brokenness, repentance and confession in this updated version of Hession’s classic, The Calvary Road. In the course of eleven chapters, Hession emphasizes the need for personal revival in life with Christ. https://www.clcpublications.com/shop/calvary-road-2016/

About CLC PublicationsCLC Publications (formerly Christian Literature Crusade) is the English language publishing house for CLC Ministries International. Headquartered in Fort Washington, PA, CLC has published books for the Deeper Christian Life for over 50 years. Our focus has been to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message.  As a part of CLC International, our books are sold and distributed in countries all over the world including but not limited to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India, the West Indies, and the Philippines. We are committed to being a significant part of fulfilling CLC’s international purpose of making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations so that people may come to faith and maturity in our Lord Jesus Christ. To learn more please visit: https://www.clcpublications.com/about/

Finishing Strong: Stuart and Jill Briscoe in a Focus on the Family Interview

We are glad to announce that Stuart and Jill Briscoe have been recently featured on Focus on the Family for their book Improving with Age. The Briscoes who’ve partnered together in ministry for most of their nearly 60 years of marriage, encourage listeners to maximize every season of their life for God’s glory. Speaking to those in the second half of life, the Briscoes remind you that you’re never too old to be useful in God’s kingdom and that He always has a purpose for you.

You can listen online here: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/finishing-strong-pt2