Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man

Billy Graham Candid Conversations

In Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man, Sir David Frost gives a remarkable look at the personal side of a world-renowned preacher and author. For 30 years, Billy Graham and David Frost fascinated television audiences with their conversations about God, the Bible, and Graham’s decades-long ministry.

Pre-order your copy of Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man for $10.79!

 

Exclusive sneak peek

Some time ago Billy Graham said, “A marriage should be made up of three people: you, your spouse, and God. Christ should be the foundation of a Christian marriage right from the beginning. A lasting marriage starts during courtship. I would say to a young person who is beginning to think about marriage: ‘Yield this whole area of your life to Christ, and trust him. Don’t take your cue from the world: realize that marriage is a lifetime commitment. You shouldn’t go into it with the idea you can always get out of it if things don’t work out. And realize that true love is not selfish.’”

When I asked Billy what it takes to make a marriage work, he expanded on this basic premise of self-sacrificial love.

Frost: You and your wife are a terrific example of how to stay in love. What would you say makes a marriage work?

Graham: I think to have a successful marriage, you need two very good forgivers. They have to learn to forgive each other. And I think the most difficult period of marriage is probably the first five years of adjustment. That’s very difficult. After about five years there develops an understanding so that a couple can communicate with each other without ever saying a word. And I know that in my own case, I suppose it’s been at least fifteen years since my wife and I have had a cross word between us. I mean, we think alike, we believe alike, and we desperately love each other. I love her far more now than I did when I married her. And I believe she loves me.

And also learning to accept the faults of each other. I think that Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, “I’ve learned to accept the faults of my friends.” And I think you can establish a friendship or marriage relationship when you learn to realize that no one is perfect, that we do have little faults.

And then thirdly I think . . . there must be spiritual affinity. There must be something more than the physical or the material. There must be a spiritual understanding in a marriage. And if there isn’t this spiritual oneness and understanding, I think the marriage is in danger, because it must have a strong rock upon which to build. And, of course, when two people can face a problem as we all have and can pray about it and talk about it in a spiritual dimension and face it that way, of course their possibility of settling that problem is far greater.

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Learn more about Billy Graham and his life as an evangelist, Christian father, grandfather, and as an influential public figure. Pre-order Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man and get your copy when it releases!

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5 Practical Ways to Show God’s Love

how-to-pick-up-a-stripper-and-other-acts-of-kindness-serving-people-just-as-they-are

Sometimes we complicate love.

Who should we love? When should we love? How should we love?

Love can be really simple; in fact, it usually is really simple. It doesn’t need to be grand. We don’t need to reach the masses every time we extend a helping hand. Love spreads like wildfire. We only need one small act of practical love to ignite something powerful.

Here are five simple ways to love people today:

1. Show up

This is step one, and I think it shows love more than we give it credit. Just show up to be with someone—be present. Time is valuable, and when you give your time to people, they feel loved. You don’t need to do anything extravagant, you simply need to be together.

2. Talk to people

Talking with someone lets them know they’re noticed. Try to say “good morning” and smile at the first 20 people you walk past each morning—regardless of if you know them, they’re looking down, or it’s awkward. Ask people what they love in life. Ask them to share their passion with you. Notice them! It shows love.

3. Welcome well

I think to single best way to love someone is to let them know they’re welcome—as they are. You nearly always see Jesus love this way in Scripture—most famously when he shares meals with people who are all over the map spiritually.

Welcoming people makes them feel at home—belongingness pairs with belovedness.

4. Become low

You can also love by serving. Do the jobs nobody wants to do. Clean the bathroom. Do the dishes. Help a friend move. There are a million ways to become low and love through serving.

Jesus models this for us in the Word by washing his disciple’s feet.

5. Listen hard

As you may already be aware, we have two ears and one mouth. We can love by listening to people. People feel loved when they feel listened to.

The book How to Pick Up a Stripper and Other Acts of Kindness, by Todd Stevens, provides a beautiful example of practical ways to love others. The story details a dancer who has come to know Christ, left the strip club industry, and is now serving to love and reach other strippers.

From feeding the homeless, to Easter egg hunts for special needs children, to ministering in a strip club, How to Pick Up a Stripper and Other Acts of Kindness provides more exciting ideas for showing God’s love in practical ways. Get it now for $9.99!

 

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Choose from Over 95 New Audio Books: Learn on the Go!

Vyrso BlogLogos Bible Software has just added more than 95 audio books to its collection of over 40,000 digital Bible resources. What does this mean for you? For starters, now you can finally catch up on your reading list! On your daily commute, pop in Blue Like Jazz and transform the same tired trip into a riveting spiritual journey. Or as your standing in line at the store, listen to Beth Moore and discover the freedom of surrender in Breaking Free. Some of life’s greatest wisdom is found in books. But when you’re busy, it’s hard to find time to read without putting life on hold. Audio books let you discover insight for your life without breaking up your rhythm. We’re listening all the time—why not listen to something meaningful? Pre-order your audio books today to get the best possible price!

Logos’ audio books sync across all platforms—so you can pick things up from your desktop, right where you left off on your phone or tablet. On iOS devices, you can also adjust the reading speed to match your own pace (1x, 1.2x, 1.5x, and 2x).

Here are four new audio books available through Logos:

1. Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church

The gospel is not simply something we have in common with our fellow believers. It is the means by which the church exists. The church exists to live out the reality of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection—and not just in doctrine. We are the visible expression of the invisible reality. Matt Chandler, Eric Geiger, and Josh Patterson explore the beauty of a Jesus centered church, and provide practical steps toward shaping your church into a creature of the Word.

2. Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know

Dr. John Maxwell’s books on leadership have sold more than twelve million copies and been translated into more than 50 languages. Now you can explore the timeless principles that have become his trademark style—while you drive, exercise, or work! In a concise, straightforward style, Maxwell focuses on essential and time-tested qualities necessary for true leadership—influence, integrity, attitude, vision, problem-solving, and self-discipline—and guides you through practical steps to develop true leadership in your life and the lives around you.

3. My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today’s Language

This is the bestselling devotional in the world—and now you can listen to it anywhere. Millions of Christians worldwide have been influenced by Oswald Chambers. This updated edition is narrated by Michael Card—award-winning singer, author, and teacher. Even if you’re intimately familiar with the wisdom found in My Utmost for His Highest, this edition is a powerful listening experience you’ll turn to again and again.

4. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Jesus said his followers would abandon everything for the gospel. How many followers of Jesus can really say that they take up their crosses daily? In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider how we have manipulated the gospel to fit in with the American dream. He dives into what Jesus said it looks like to be a disciple and uses the dramatic account of a “successful” suburban church to show what it means to get serious about the gospel. Radical won the 2011 “Retailers Choice Awards” for both ‘Audio’ and ‘Christian Living: Spiritual Growth.’

Save the most when you pre-order Christian audio books today, and start learning on the go!

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5 New Books to Read this Summer

the-pastors-kid-finding-your-own-faith-and-identity

Summer isn’t over. If you’ve already blazed through your summer reading list, or even if you’re still putting it off, now is the perfect time to jump back into reading with fresh titles.

Some amazing books aren’t even out until the middle of summer anyways! We’ll help you keep up with what’s coming out and when.

Here are five new Christian books releasing this summer:

1. The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity

John Piper is a nationally renowned pastor and bestselling author. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to grow up with a popular pastor as your father? John Piper’s son, Barnabas, wrote The Pastor’s Kid to share what it’s like to grow up as a pastor’s kid. Discover the pressures, challenges, and joys of having a pastor for a dad, and find out what a pastor’s kid needs above all else.

Learn more about the plight of a pastor’s kid: check out our exclusive interview with Barnabas Piper.

Released July 1!

2. Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us

Charis—the Greek word for biblical grace—is the foundation of Preston Sprinkle’s passionate study of the Old Testament. As a professor at Eternity Bible College, Sprinkle enlightens his college students on the message of grace from Old Testament stories. See just how every character and event of the Old Testament is doused in grace. We see harlots being hugged, there are Pharisees being forgiven, and bad people getting big breaks. Charis gives biblical context to this abstract gift of grace.

Released July 7!

3. Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together

Technology, the internet, and social media are some of the best and worst things to ever happen to humanity. They allow us to connect and contact friends and family worldwide, and yet somehow these same tools are creating loneliness. Erin Davis writes Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together to bring awareness to this 21st century dilemma. She’s traveled nationwide to discuss our technology-induced loneliness to bring you this encouraging and helpful book.

Releases July 18!

4. Crucible: The Choices That Change Your Life Forever

Change can be tough to swallow. Phil Tuttle and Chris Tiegreen suggest that life’s biggest changes often begin with a choice. God sends us to crossroads to shape and strengthen us. In Crucible, Tuttle and Tiegreen examine the story of David and the choices which transformed him into a man after God’s own heart. Crucible offers fresh perspective for life’s big decisions.

Releases July 29!

5. Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity

Even as a pastor’s wife and the author of five Christian books, Jen Hatmaker discovered that she was too preoccupied with doing church to be the church. Caught up in consumerism, she needed an interruption to see the life her family was called to live. Follow her family’s messy journey, and find the inspiration to start your own.

Releases July 31!

Check out all of Vyrso’s newest titles and stock up on your summer reading!

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4 Simple Ways to Beat Busyness

crazy-busy-a-mercifully-short-book-about-a-really-big-problem

Life isn’t meant to be merely survived—and neither are your work weeks.

But at times, we become overwhelmed by our busyness, and when we finally slow down enough to take notice, we find we feel like a fish out of water fighting for a more natural environment. Beat the unnecessary busyness and find a balance with these four simple tips:

 

1. Know your roles: quit and simplify

It’s essential to clearly define what’s important in our lives: what are we living for? Even better, who are we to living for?

What are the roles you desire to play? You could want the role of a loving father or mother, a writer, an artist, a worship or ministry leader, a change-maker for a certain cause, or even a welcoming friend. But here’s the key: narrow down your roles to the ones that are most important—and you should be able to count them on one hand.

Once you know your roles, quit the stuff that doesn’t relate—drop it all. Knowing what and who you are living for allows you to filter incoming investments. It gives you the ease and freedom to say no to the requests that don’t mesh into your purpose.

2. Know your tendencies: plan accordingly

After identifying what and who you’re living for, it’s important to know your natural tendencies. What are the things you always put off? Are you someone who always gets tasks done, but never gets hobbies done? Or, are you a person who gets hobbies done but slacks on tasks?

This is important to note because there’s a simple way to fight this: do the important stuff you have a tendency to put on the back burner before you do anything else.

I used to never get around to the stuff I loved—but I always finished the “have-to” dos. When I started to wake up earlier in the morning and do all the stuff I loved first, I found I still got around to all the tasks—just like I always had in the past.

3. Know you need rest: get away

Breaks aren’t for the lazy; they’re for the wise. We must know that we need to escape at times—we need rest, even from doing work we love.

A good way to make this happen is to schedule time for you to get away and bring nothing but the people you love, a reflective mind, and an open heart. Leave any distraction at home—even your cell phone. Go and just be quiet, in shalom.

4. Know your materials: take on one task at a time

It’s hard to focus on one thing when you’re thinking about 20 things, so physically eliminate cues to other tasks that can distract you. We’re horrible multitaskers, believe it or not, and the decision to engage more than one thing decreases the quality of our work.

There are concrete ways to do this—it’s not a mental game. Do you work on a computer? Close everything not related to the task at hand, like your email and your Internet tabs. Does your task require a cell phone? Put it away until you’re done—don’t allow for a buzz of distraction.

Above all, remember this: you’re created to be incredibly loved—not incredibly busy. Our intimacy with God requires our genuine belief in this.

Here are some resources to equip you in your battle against busyness:

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Never Too Late to Be Found: Treating the Wounds of Hurting People with Grace

Lost and Found

Today’s interview is with Sarah Jakes, a businesswoman, media personality, and author of the new book Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life. This memoir is a captivating look at Jakes’ journey, including her struggles with being a teen mom and the daughter of T.D. Jakes—a high-profile preacher. This honest and vulnerable story is a reminder that God can turn even the deepest pain into his perfection. Download her memoir and call to action, Lost and Found, today!

1. You said your story is “not always pretty.” What prompted you to share the life lessons you have experienced in Lost and Found?

I never set out to write a book. When I first started writing my blog, I started it as a source of healing for me. I started it as a place to release the pain I was going through dealing with infidelity and still fighting for my marriage. I started the blog as a place I could just tell my truth, and the more I blogged, the more people responded. I then realized that by being transparent and sharing my struggles, I was able to inspire other people, and together, we all started to dream again.

2. What have been some of the detours in your life?

I have faced a few detours in my life: having my son at age 14, getting married and divorced young, and even some of the choices I’ve made. But what I learned through it all is that the detours may make things more difficult, but they don’t make things impossible. I thought I couldn’t achieve success in my life because of past mistakes. I thought I had to create a perfect picture to present to God in order for him to use me, but what I found out what exactly opposite. God is using my life as an example to others that no matter how “lost” they may be, they can still be “found.”

3. In what ways do you mean you were “lost?”

I spent many years focusing on who I didn’t want to become. I knew because of the statistics that come with being a teen mother, I would have to be determined if I wanted to break the mold. I focused so intently on who I didn’t want to become that it became the only thing I could see. Unintentionally, I became everything I hoped I wouldn’t be. The most difficult thing about being lost is knowing you should have been somewhere else. I started grieving that I could never be that person, then one day decided I still had time to find my way.

4. How did living in the public eye affect you during these challenging times?

It was certainly challenging to go through some of the things I went through under the spotlight of the public eye. My father was continually rising. He was one of the most influential pastors in the country, so it certainly made it more difficult to be his daughter, 14 and pregnant. I still remember the murmurs of the people in the church and the shame I felt as they would talk about me as they passed by. It was even more challenging to go through a divorce with the public spotlight once again on my personal life. One thing I am really hoping people get from this book is that we need to treat the wounds of hurting people with grace, rather than infecting them with judgment.

5. You mention that the birth of your son “saved” you. Will you please explain that?

I loved my son more than I loved myself. His life grounded me. No matter how tempting becoming complacent seemed, I couldn’t deny that even if I didn’t feel like I deserved more out of life, I knew that he did. He and his sister, Makenzie, constantly remind me that I can’t stay lost. I want them to have the best possible start in life and I know that begins with loving myself and God, who gave them to me, fully.

6. How did you become found again?

I had to humble myself enough to admit I was lost. We get forced into playing this game where we all pretend to have it together, but suffer silently. I opened up little by little to the people who were in my life when I once felt the most whole. It was their reminder of who I used to be that made me miss myself. I missed laughing from the heart and smiling from the soul. I retraced my steps back to when I felt the most peace and updated it to fit my new reality.

7. You write, “No matter how lost you feel, it’s not too late.” Will you please explain what that means to you?

It is never too late to be “found.” As long as you still have life, you have another chance to get it together, to change your life, and to be found. Too often, we focus on our deficiencies, what we don’t have, or what we lack! It is time for us to stop focusing on what we don’t have and start focusing on what we DO have. We also allow people to put boundaries, expectations and definitions on us. I believe that we can revolutionize the way we do things, if we revolutionize the way we think. Who says a divorcée can’t be an author? Who says a teen mom can’t be successful? I say I can, and I say I will!

8. In the foreword, your father writes that you have become “a tool fit for the Master’s use.” In what ways do you partner with your parents in ministry?

I oversee the women’s ministry at The Potter’s House of Dallas, which is a church led by my parents, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Mrs. Serita Jakes. I also serve as the senior editor of eMotions, our digital magazine. I occasionally serve as a television host on The Potter’s Touch and a speaker at our conferences. It is amazing how God works because I also wanted to work with and support my parents, but I didn’t think I could because of my past mistakes.

9. How is Lost and Found more than a memoir, and who is it for?

Lost and Found is more than a book—it’s a call to action. It’s an opportunity for us to be more aware of the ways we engage one another, or more aware of the ways we treat each other. It’s an opportunity for us to be transparent and bare our scars, but it’s also an opportunity for others to handle them with care. Lost and Found is an opportunity for people to learn that no matter how bleak the situation is, they still have another opportunity to get it right.

Lost and Found is for everyone. It’s for teen moms who are trying to navigate motherhood and carve out a future for themselves and their children; it’s for men and women who are trying to redefine their lives; it’s for people who have failed at something in life and need the courage to try again. Lost and Found is for anyone who has ever felt lost at some point in their life. In a nutshell, it’s for everyone, and my hope is that it will inspire everyone who reads it to truly start living, celebrating, and enjoying their lives.

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Learn to dream, laugh, and hope again with Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life, Sarah Jakes’ inspirational new book. Get her story today!

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Recovering Redemption: Revealing Our Weaknesses As a Church

Matt Chandler

Today’s interview is with Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church, which has grown from just 160 people to over 11,000. Chandler is also president of Acts 29, a worldwide church-planting organization, and has authored several books, including The Explicit Gospel and Creature of the Word. His latest book, Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change, is written with a pastor’s intensity and a counselor’s discerning insight, and it takes you deep into Scripture as you evaluate your personal weaknesses, anxieties, and points of shame. With this book, Chandler will show you how to find confidence, contentedness, and freedom through Jesus Christ.

1. What inspired you to write Recovering Redemption?

We wrote the book Recovering Redemption because of what we saw in the lives of people here at The Village Church, and in my travels and interactions with others: there seems to be a disjoint between people’s external struggles and their ability to track that back to heart-level issues. Recovering Redemption is about creating a biblical pathway to help people see that the issues they struggle with externally almost always have heart-level roots that need to be addressed. We’ve learned that people tend to spend all their energy and strength working on external issues, when in reality it’s the internal issues getting solved through the person and work of Jesus Christ that leads to victory.

2. How has The Village Church benefited from the lessons taught in Recovering Redemption?

When I first got to The Village Church, I had in mind a specific type of church I wanted us to be. I come from a background where there was some abuse and some neglect, so I always found a lot of Christian circles unsettling. It seemed like the church lacked an ability to be honest about weakness, and it wasn’t a safe place to be honest about struggle. So I really wanted to, as best I could by the power of the Holy Spirit, show from the Word of God that the people of God should be open and honest in their struggles.

A lot of times, our weaknesses are part of how God chisels and moves and grows our confidence in him. When I started preaching on the confession of sin and the safety found in confession, I realized that the amount of hurt, fear, anxiety, shame, and addiction in our church was overwhelming. We set out to create a discipleship program specifically for the person who was stuck in these cycles of what we called “secret sin.” From there we built out our recovery ministry.

3. Has the church lost the beauty of redemption? How?

I think the church loses the beauty of redemption the moment we think there is no more sin, no more error, to be redeemed from. I don’t think we need to fear the future, but there’s definitely an increased marginalization of believers that could cause us to say, “There is no error that we need to be redeemed from,” if we’re not rooted deeply in the gospel and the Word of God.

I think Christian history will show that—the moment we remove the atoning work of Jesus Christ from the equation, the moment preachers are motivational or inspirational speakers, rather than the heralders of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, you lose redemption all together . . . because there’s nothing to be redeemed from.

4. What kind of struggles does Recovering Redemption address?

We address fear and anxiety, guilt and shame, anger and lust, and doubt. We tackle the gamut of issues, even explaining the process of forgiveness and reconciliation, when to do that, and when to forgive but not necessarily reconcile.

5. Some churches have difficulty determining how to help people recovering from substance abuse, divorce, anger, etc.  What does Recovering Redemption have to say about this? 

I think some churches struggle with helping people in those situations because they’re difficult; they take time and are messy. I don’t know where it came from, maybe even the pit of hell, but at some point there began this idea that the church was to be this really pretty group of people. We should always be moving toward maturity, but if the church continues to see converts to Christianity, that means there are always babies around, and anyone with children knows that a house full of children is not always neat and orderly. There’s almost always a mess somewhere that needs to be addressed, training that needs to take place, conversations that need to be had. When you’re dealing with men and women who are struggling, there is an inherent messiness to all that. I think that some churches find it easier to pretend that the mess isn’t there. It’s not helpful for anyone. It’s not helpful for the people in that church who think they’re clean, and it’s not helpful for those who need to hear the good news of Christ: forgiveness and grace. That’s why it’s difficult.

What I hope Recovering Redemption does is help churches create environments where it’s OK to not be OK, while simultaneously saying it’s not OK to stay there.

6. How do we experience more of God’s love? 

Experiencing and understanding the supremacy and beauty of Jesus Christ is what ultimately conquers and overcomes the other desires of our hearts. There will be some variance in how we go about it, but here’s what should be true about everyone: we should be rightly seeing Jesus Christ for who he is and what he’s done. Once we see Jesus for who he is according to the Scriptures and understand who we are—and are honest with ourselves about who we are—we can begin to marvel at God’s long suffering with us, his grace and mercy toward us, and his love of us despite us. In that moment, we can begin to see and savor Jesus like we’ve always wanted to.

7. What’s the difference between guilt and shame, and how can we free ourselves from them?

Guilt is almost always tied to an infraction of some kind. We’ve broken a rule, so we’re guilty. But shame doesn’t necessarily work like that. In fact, we can feel shame when there is no breaking of the law at all. We can feel ashamed of where we live, or what we drive, or our education level.

Another reality is that shame can combine with guilt; breaking a rule can lead to not just guilt, but shame over the infraction. This is because shame is almost always built around identity and how I see myself. And the answer to both guilt and shame is found once again, no surprise, in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus has taken our guilt upon himself on the cross and absorbed God’s wrath toward our guilt fully so that there is not condemnation found against us. In fact, in Romans 8, Paul asks who can bring a charge against God’s elect—who can even charge me? Because my sin and guilt have been paid for, it’s not that I’m innocent as much as it is I’m forgiven and justified completely. So that takes care of guilt, and then shame can vanish when I understand God’s delight in me as his child. Not only have I been forgiven, but I’ve also been adopted and been called son. To understand God’s delight in me does a lot to eradicate and destroy shame in a way that nothing else can.

8. What do you most want to say to the church?

The thing that really burns in my heart for the big-C Church is that there isn’t anything past the gospel. So it’s the message of Christ’s wrath-absorbing death and his victorious resurrection that saves us, keeps us, and sustains us in and out of every season that comes. If you drift from the gospel, if you move on to something that you may perceive to be more important, then you will leave the safety of the ship God has given you for the storm or the calm sea that is meant to protect you, shelter you, feed you, and care for you.

Ultimately, let’s not move away from the gospel—let’s drop our anchor there and preach that message over and over and over again to ourselves, to our congregation, to our home groups or small groups. Let it inform the mission, let it inform our marriages, let it inform how we parent, let it inform how we fight, let it inform how we engage the world around us, but let us first and foremost be known as gospel people.

* * *

Discover your areas of weakness and how to transform them into pivot points for growth and freedom: get Matt Chandler’s latest book, Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change, on Vyrso today!

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How to Revive a Dying Church

Replant

You’ve seen them everywhere—squashed in between the latest superstores, crumbling on the outskirts of the neighboring subdivision, and hiding behind tall grasses off the freeway. There are old churches scattered all throughout urban areas in the Western world that are either being slowly forgotten or have already faded into the background. Replant is the story of how those local churches can be saved—from the inside out.

Instead of a five-step guide to church revitalization, Replant describes two drastically different leaders—Mark DeVine and Darrin Patrick—who took it upon themselves to revive a dying Kansas City church and return it to its former glory. This book aims to help pastors and leaders “take risks for God’s glory, to raise your gaze to what is possible, to challenge what is comfortable, so that God’s plan A—the local church—advances.”

The book begins with DeVine, a professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, being assigned the new position of interim pastor at First Calvary Baptist Church—a classic church equipped with a beautiful sanctuary of ornate woodwork, colorful stained-glass windows, commanding organ pipes, and several decades’ worth of neglect and congregational decay. Upon seeing the church, DeVine instantly felt compelled to restore both the building and its congregation:

“The church of Jesus Christ is not a building; it is people. But First Calvary’s magnificent sanctuary was not just a building either. It commanded a historic and still-strategic outpost on the frontier of gospel advances namely within one of the increasingly secular cities of America, which are now among the fastest-growing mission fields on the planet.

I found myself unable to contemplate this declining flock with nonchalance. At stake were not mere bricks and stained glass, but the advance of the light against encroaching spiritual darkness.”

DeVine then took it upon himself to unseat the “cartel” of four long-time church members inhibiting growth, and connect First Calvary with the thriving church of a former student—that of Darrin Patrick, vice president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and pastor of The Journey. What happens once these two churches join forces? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out, but what I can tell you is that this story is one that pastors all over the world can relate to and learn from. It examines how churches suffering under the burden of shrinking congregations, crumbling infrastructure, and lack of morale can once again be revived for the glory of Christ.

“All contexts—suburban, rural, and urban—need new churches. But there is a special need for new churches in cities. By planting and replanting churches in urban centers, we have a strategic opportunity to influence the entire world, because the entire world is coming to live in, work in, and visit cities.” —Darrin Patrick

Discover their story for yourself: download this new book, Replant: How a Dying Church Can Grow Again on Vyrso today.

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The Plight of the Pastor’s Kid: John Piper’s Son on What Needs to Change

The Pastor's Kid

Today’s interview is with Barnabas Piper, an author who explores the connections between ideas, faith, and people. He writes weekly for WorldMag.com and The Blazing Center blog, and he has contributed to Leadership Journal, Tabletalk Magazine, RelevantMag.com, The Gospel Coalition blog, and DesiringGod.org. He is also the son of bestselling author and popular pastor John Piper. In his first book, The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity, Piper addresses the challenges of being a pastor’s kid (PK) first hand. With empathy, humor, and personal stories, he addresses the pervasive assumptions, identity issues, and accelerated scrutiny PKs face. Get his brand-new book for just $8.44 on Vyrso today!

1. What challenges have you faced as a pastor’s kid, and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge was an internal one. I grew up knowing all the answers about all things biblical. I knew so much I could fool the people asking the questions into thinking I believed with all my heart. The problem was I didn’t know the difference between what I knew and what I truly believed. I didn’t really overcome this, per se, so it fell apart on me. I went through a really hard time where my spiritual hollowness and the sin that had grown in my life left me broken. It was in that place of spiritual emptiness that I finally saw Jesus as the powerful, personal, beautiful savior he is. Then all those truths I knew began to come to life, like a black-and-white picture turning to vibrant color.

2. A recent Barna Group report found that 40 percent of pastors’ kids have experienced times when they seriously question their faith, and 33 percent are no longer active in the church—why do so many pastors’ kids abandon their faith and church?

People often have the assumption that a PK should not struggle with his or her faith because of dad’s spiritually influential position, but that dehumanizes PKs. We struggle like our peers do (and the statistics bear that out). The most significant difference between PKs and our peers is the intensity and secrecy of much of the struggle. PKs often don’t feel free—because of our parent’s position—to question or search openly, so the doubts get bottled up until they overflow.

3. What can the church do to support pastors’ kids?

A couple big things come to mind. First, let them be normal kids. Do not expect anything of them that you wouldn’t expect of the car salesman’s kids or the painter’s kids. Too often PKs are expected, even subtly, to be better behaved, more knowledgeable, more mature, better leaders. But we’re not. We’re kids who were born to people in ministry.

Second, don’t scrutinize them—befriend them. You might not even know you’re doing it, but I guarantee that you know 100 times more about the PK than you do that random kid in the fourth pew. When you approach the PK and ask, even innocently, about something you wouldn’t rightly ask another kid about, it just adds to the pressure on him because he knows you’re watching. Instead make it a point to get to know PKs as who they are, as individuals, the same way you would want someone to know you as a friend.

4. A recent study found that 42 percent of pastors wish they had spent more time with their kids—how can today’s church leaders make more time for their children?

It takes intentionality and a commitment to the reality that their kids are their first calling, not their church. Every pastor will have to pour long hours into the church and will miss some significant family times. That’s the nature of on-call work that serves others. But pastors need to aggressively limit those times. Maybe it means finding a way to rotate availability with other church leaders (lay or staff depending on church size and context). Maybe it means telling people “no” or “later” when they call. Or maybe it means not answering sometimes.

The other big thing is making sure you’re really present in your kids’ lives. Converse with them, know them, and let them know you. Spend time doing what they love and include them in what you love. (This means get a hobby besides reading and studying; those aren’t kid-friendly or group activities.)

5. Many pastors’ kids turn away from the church after spending most of their childhood in the front-row seat of church politics and drama. Should we be sheltering our kids from church conflict? Why?

Pastors can’t shelter their kids from conflict. It’s impossible. Kids are too smart and aware for that and conflict is too constant, even if it is trivial. What pastors can do is show their kids the profound nature of grace and forgiveness, and of loving others. They can also honestly talk their kids through (when they’re of a good age) the nature of the conflict to help them learn to navigate such matters with godly wisdom. Some situations are so toxic that the kid will get burned. Many, however, are opportunities for the PK to learn much about relationships, ministry, and what grace looks like in action.

6. What is your greatest hope for this book?

I want to see God use this to restore broken pastor-PK relationships. I want to see PKs who have struggled with pressure, faith, and identity issues find hope and a direction through something I wrote. I hope to see pastors take stock of their ministry and parenting and make some changes. Some might be encouraged by what they read; others might feel like it’s a gut punch. I’m OK with either so long as it leads to a closer relationship with their kids. And I want to see church members learn to support and care for their pastor’s family better.

7. What was it like growing up with John Piper as your dad?

He was my dad, the only one I’ve ever had so all the good things and bad things of having a dad fall to him!  He is a devoted dad, a consistent and moral man who can be implicitly trusted. What people read in his books or see in the pulpit is who he really is, albeit a bit quieter at home with fewer arm gestures. I love my dad, and we work through our differences in the healthiest ways we know how.

If you’re asking more specifically about growing up with a “celebrity pastor” as a dad, that didn’t really become full blown until I was in my teens and in college. I didn’t always respond well. I got annoyed at people’s fascination with him and the intrusions into my life, especially at the Christian college I attended, but I’ve come to realize that I’m in no position to not show grace. And most people have good motives about it and kind hearts—they’re just a tad invasive with their good motives sometimes.

8. What’s next for you?

The big thing is that I’m working on is another book, set to be released in the summer of 2015 from David C. Cook. It’s about what it means to believe. I’ll continue to write regularly for WorldMag.com and The Blazing Center and to cohost The Happy Rant podcast.

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Whether you’re a pastor, a pastor’s kid, a church member, or someone who wants to help struggling people grow—this book is for you. Discover how to relieve the pressure felt by PKs and learn to share the one thing they need more than anything else: get The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity on Vyrso today!

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Wisdom Is Learned

Seeking Daily the Heart of God

Today’s guest post is by Boyd Bailey, author of the Wisdom Hunters devotionals—on sale for just 99 cents each—as well as the founder of Wisdom Hunters Inc., a ministry that’s impacted people in over 86 countries through a daily-devotion blog and devotional books.

“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity . . .” —Proverbs 1:1–3

There is a definite educational element to wisdom. It does not happen in a spiritual vacuum or without intellectual effort. Those who excel in becoming wise learn to educate themselves in the ways of wisdom. They read the Bible and other writings that define wisdom, with a filter of faith in God. There are wise sayings outside of Holy Writ, but beyond the context of Christ, wisdom drifts into a cheap imitation in worldly wisdom.

Therefore, for wisdom to be the most meaningful, it must incubate and grow in a teachable and humble heart. A seed of corn does not germinate on the surface of hard soil—in a similar ecosystem, seeds of wisdom bring life and insight to a heart moistened by heaven’s righteous rain. Lifetime learners understand the need to always gain wisdom. Moses, upon a foundation of faith, was educated in wisdom in preparation to become one of God’s chosen leaders.

“And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).

However, it’s from an unselfish motivation and a humble attitude that the Lord’s wisdom is able to transform a life. Wisdom is not for personal gain, but for the propagation of Almighty God’s agenda. A once wise man becomes a fool, when he uses divine insight for individual advantage, instead of the good of the group. What is God teaching you? How are you growing wise in your parenting, marriage, and decision-making skills?

Educators in wisdom are all around—pray for your pastor to sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer, so his mind might be molded by the Holy Spirit’s insights and instruction. Look for wisdom from faithful saints who penned timeless words, while they worked through their suffering and triumphs, as disciples of Jesus. Wisdom comes from PhDs, village preachers, and everyone in between. Wisdom abounds where the wise are found. Remember, the less you talk, the more wisdom you gain—as you listen to learn.

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance . . .” (Proverbs 1:5).

So, be a student of your Savior Jesus’ wisdom and you will never lack for knowledge. Wisdom is what attracts your children and grandchildren to want to be with you. The wise age well—like a robust wine—while fools flounder in insecure ignorance. Wise Christians are continually educated in wisdom, so that they can prayerfully educate others.

“. . . so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known . . .” (Ephesians 3:10a).

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For a limited time, save on 11 inspirational devotionals by Boyd Bailey, founder of Wisdom Hunters.

Get all 11 titles for just $10.89!

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