A Devout Muslim’s Powerful Journey to Christ: An Interview with Nabeel Qureshi

Seeking Allah

Today’s interview is with Nabeel Qureshi, a former devout Muslim who was convinced of the gospel’s truth through historical reasoning and a spiritual search for God. Since his conversion to Christianity, Qureshi joined the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias ministries, and has dedicated his life to spreading the gospel through teaching, preaching, writing, and debating. In Qureshi’s first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim’s Journey to Christ, he details his emotional journey from Islam to Christianity, while setting forth powerful arguments for Christianity. The book offers both a personal account and scholarly research, and aims to break down the barriers between Christians and Muslims—download it today on Vyrso.

1. What are the biggest factors that keep Muslims from converting to Christianity?

The environment and community they’ve been raised in keeps them from converting. For Muslims, Christianity is shameful, so to become a Christian would be dishonorable.

Also, for Muslims, believing Jesus is God is a sin. In fact, it’s the biggest sin there is. When I told my mom I’d converted, she said she’d rather I was an atheist or a homosexual. This belief precludes them from ever thinking about Christianity.

2. You said Christians’ reputation also keeps Muslims from converting—what sort of reputation do they have in the Muslim world?

Within Muslim culture, especially in places where there aren’t many Christians, Christianity is seen as a religion for lesser people, for people who need a crutch—who need forgiveness, and status. Especially in Pakistan and Indonesia, Christianity is viewed as a religion for lower-class people. Also, the Koran views the Trinity as polytheistic, so if you’re a Christian, you’re a polytheist. This isn’t the view all Muslims have, but it is in places where there are few Christians—like Pakistan, where my family is from.

3. How can Christians better understand and reach out to Muslims?

By spending time with them and being good witnesses. Everyone thinks other people are the same as them, so we transpose our character and feelings on other people. But not everyone thinks like a Westerner; this is why we have to build relationships. And this is why Christ spent time with the prostitutes and tax collectors—so he could relate personally to them, and that’s what Christians need to do too.

We need to show Muslims that Christians are loving, are intelligent, have thought through their faith, and honor God. Words won’t fix our reputation, but witnessing will. To reach Muslims, you must build relationships and friendships so they have a corrected image of what the gospel is.

4. What led you to first start pursuing Christianity?

I’d been challenging a Christian friend, telling him that the Bible wasn’t trustworthy and the Trinity was blasphemous. But throughout our debate, he gave me strong arguments for Christianity, and I began to see the strength in his case. He then asked me if I’d ever applied the same level of skepticism to Islam, which I hadn’t. When I began to apply the same critical criteria to my own religion, I realized the case for Christianity wasn’t just strong—it was the strongest. That’s when I began to accept the gospel.

5. In what ways are Islam and Christianity similar?

Christianity and Islam have two of the most similar views out there. They both believe in one omnipotent, omniscient creator; they both believe this creator established morality and that our eternal life is based on our sins, which send us to hell or heaven; they believe in angels and demons, and that there are holy scriptures that have been sent to us. We also share many of the same biblical characters—Adam, Eve, Abraham, Job, Noah, and many more—they’re all in the Koran.

They also believe in Jesus’ miraculous birth, his ability to perform miracles, and that his return to earth will initiate the final days. So superficially, Christianity and Islam are quite similar.

6. In what ways are Islam and Christianity most different?

In their understanding of who God is. In Christianity, God is your unconditionally loving father. He’s the most humble being in the universe, he’s willing to suffer for our sake, and he makes a way to heaven for everyone. That’s not the case for Islam. For Muslims, God is very conditional, he’s not willing to lower himself and enter the world, he’s unknowable, and unlike Jesus, he doesn’t live within you. This ultimately means he’s a more arbitrary God who chooses who to forgive and who not to forgive; he can send anyone to hell or heaven.

For Christians, we are children of God. We do things out of love for him—not to earn his favor. Whereas with Islam, most of what’s done is to please God and earn his favor so you don’t go to hell.

7. What are Christians doing wrong when it comes to Muslims?

If the Christian message is true, then the reason we’re here on earth instead of heaven is so that we can proclaim it. We are here to know him and to make him known. It’s not just a thing we can do—reach out to Muslims—it’s why we’re here: to love our God with all our hearts, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

We need to put aside our comforts and keep our eyes on God’s mission—to spread his name. And frankly, we’ve only sent one missionary per every million Muslims, and that’s shameful. We’re not reaching out to Muslims ourselves, so the Lord is sending immigrants here, so love them and share the gospel. Don’t just love people to convert them. No—God loves us because we’re his children. Love the Muslims in your life because that’s what God wants us to do—and that’s our whole purpose for being here.

8. What was your experience like being raised Muslim in the US?

We were very proud to be Muslim. We believed we had the truth, and that Christianity was false. We felt like a small group of people who had the truth amongst a sea of darkness. And looking at the immorality in culture and TV—like promiscuity, adultery, and immodesty—we set ourselves apart from that. I was taught to always tell the truth, to be the best student, and to be the best in everything I do, so we were proud to be Muslim.

Obviously, being Muslim in the US was difficult at times—9/11 and Desert Storm, especially. After 9/11, people broke the windows of our mosque. In Desert Storm, my aunt got punched in the stomach and my grandpa was refused service at a gas station. But we viewed all of this as suffering for the sake of the truth.

9. What do you hope to achieve with your book?

I hope to accomplish two things: one, to help Muslims understand the gospels and why they’re true, and two, to help Christians understand Muslims and love them as their neighbors and as themselves. I want my book to serve as a bridge to start sharing the gospel.

* * *

Learn more about Qureshi’s powerful story and how Christians can effectively reach and understand Muslims: download Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus on Vyrso today.

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Stop Trying to Tame God: Rediscovering Dangerous Christianity

Yawning at Tigers

Today’s interview is with Drew Dyck, managing editor of Leadership Journal, a publication of Christianity Today. He’s written more than 100 articles for Christian and secular publications, and is the author of Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith . . . and How to Bring Them Back. His latest book, Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying, releases May 13 and explores our dangerous attempts to domesticate our holy, awe-inspiring God. Yawning at Tigers directs people away from a “safe” harbor of sanitized Christianity into a deeper understanding of God’s majesty—pre-order it on Vyrso today!

1. You’ve said that this book “was born out of a deep burden.” What burden led you to start writing?

I worried we were losing sight of God’s holiness. Listening to the language we use in Evangelical circles is what tipped me off. We love talking about God’s love, but we don’t talk much about his holiness. Most of our worship choruses could be sung to God—or a girlfriend. Sermons drip with assurances of God’s affection but rarely seem to mention his holiness, let alone his wrath. We relate to God, it seems, almost entirely on therapeutic terms. Since many people find God’s majesty and holiness disconcerting, we gloss over those attributes and focus exclusively on love. Don’t get me wrong—we need to be reminded of God’s love. But something is missing. That’s why I wrote this book.

2. What is the danger of the church teaching a safe, one-sided God?

Without God’s holiness, we can’t understand the gravity of sin. And without an understanding of sin, there’s no need for forgiveness. You can’t proclaim the full gospel while teaching a one-sided God. Our worship also suffers. We lose the awe of God. We no longer marvel at his greatness and grandeur.

3. What has your experience been like walking away from a tame and shallow faith into a deeper relationship with Jesus?

I’m as guilty as anyone of domesticating God, of choosing to live in the shallows rather than following Jesus into the deep. The times I have let go, when I’ve resisted the impulse to edit God, it’s frightening and invigorating. When I live with an awareness of both God’s love and holiness it brings a new depth and sobriety to my worship. This isn’t some buddy I’m engaging; it’s the Lord of heaven and earth, the one who Isaiah says, “dwells in unapproachable light.”

4. Why do you call God “dangerous” and “untamed?”

Because he can kill you. He can bring judgment in this life and the next. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Some assume he’s talking about Satan, but theologians agree he’s talking about God. God’s the only one who can destroy both body and soul. I’m not saying we should sit around just waiting for God to zap us. Paul assures us there “is no condemnation for those in Christ.” But for those who continually defy God, he is the ultimate enemy—omniscient, omnipotent, inescapable. He pursues in love but there comes a time when he pursues in judgment. We shouldn’t forget that.

5. How does the millennial generation fit into all this?

Millennials are skeptical of institutional religion, but they’re still thirsty for transcendence. But we’ve sidelined God’s transcendence and focused almost exclusively on his immanence. We’re seeing some young people gravitating to historical traditions. It’s not just because they like “smells and bells.” I believe it’s because they find a sense of the sacred there that is missing from most of contemporary evangelicalism.

6. How can today’s church redirect its course to focus on a more authentic and reverent understanding of God?

I believe it starts with a commitment to teach “the whole counsel of God.” Today nine out of ten sermons are preached from the New Testament. There’s nothing wrong with preaching from the New Testament, but I fear that ignoring the Old Testament is often a way of circumventing passages that portray God in a way that makes us uncomfortable. I also think we need to change the way we worship. There needs to be more reverence and sobriety in the way we approach God. Contemporary worship tends to be loud and celebratory, which is fine. But I think we need a little more of what the hymnist Isaac Watts described: “A solemn reverence checks our songs, / And praise sits silent on our tongues.”

7. For the younger generation of parents, teaching your children the “fear of the Lord” seems outdated and harsh. How can parents and children start accepting this fear as something healthy and necessary?

I have two young children, so this is something I think about a lot. We evangelicals pride ourselves on our high view of Scripture, but as soon as it comes to teaching the Bible to children, we’re quite content to mangle it. This usually involves extracting dubious moral lessons (the story of Joseph was about being nice to your brothers) or twisting the meaning of a text to avoid sin or judgment. In the children’s Bible I have, Jonah goes to Nineveh to tell the Ninevites that “God can’t stop loving you!” Well, kind of.

So we need to teach the Bible honestly. That doesn’t mean we get unnecessarily graphic. If someone dies, just say they died. You don’t have to get into details—but don’t say they went to sleep. Ultimately though, I think the best way to teach children the fear of the Lord is to model it. A lot more is caught than taught, as the old expression goes. And when they see a reverence for God in their parents’ faith it makes a big impression.

8. How does understanding God’s otherness and holiness help us engage culture?

I’m convinced the model for engagement is found in the very nature of God. The divine otherness and intimacy provides the clue for how we can relate to outsiders with both conviction and love. We are a “peculiar people,” citizens of a kingdom that Jesus said was “not of this world.” Yet we’re not called to withdraw from the world. We’re called to love people, and you can’t do that at a distance. So we dive into the needs and hurts of the world while maintaining our distinctiveness, which is precisely what God did in the person of Jesus.

9. You say that prayers for safety are not found in the Gospels. Is it bad to ask God for safety?

No, I don’t think it’s bad to ask for safety. Asking God to protect us and our loved ones is wise. But when petitions for safety dominate our prayer lives, it’s a sign our spiritual house is not in order. In Acts, when the disciples were threatened, they prayed for boldness, not safety. Praying for safety is okay, but if we’re too focused on our safety, we become paralyzed with fear and fail to carry out God’s mission.

10. What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

A renewed appreciation for both God’s holiness and love. I hope it deepens their worship and inspires them to pray. I know that’s asking a lot of a book, but I believe if we open our eyes a little wider to God’s holiness, a lot of things start to change. We begin to see God for who he truly is and understand who we truly are. We gain a greater appreciation for his love, because we get a glimpse of how far he’s stooped to redeem us. We rediscover the awe of God.

* * *

Learn to enter into a genuine and reverent understanding of Christ, and leave behind benign and predictable Christianity: pre-order Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying on Vyrso today!

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Winning the War against Depression and Anxiety: An Interview with Perry Noble

Perry Noble

Today’s interview is with Perry Noble, founder and senior pastor of NewSpring Church, a multicampus church whose mission is to reach 100,000 people in South Carolina with the gospel. Noble’s first book, Unleash! Breaking Free from Normalcy was a New York Times bestseller. His second book, Overwhelmed? Winning the War against Worry, gives a candid account of Noble’s personal struggle with depression, and offers key insights into unlocking the chains of anxiety and despair, and living a joyful life focused on Christ.

1. In just 12 years, your congregation has grown to more than 30,000 people—what makes your church unique?

Honestly, this is a really hard question to answer. Our average attendance is 32,500 people, and we don’t believe there’s one specific thing that’s been the driving force in our growth. We believe God is working through people who work in our church. We can’t say it’s just all God because that implies that God is absent in other churches who aren’t growing like we are, and we don’t believe that’s true at all.

When we started NewSpring, we wanted a church where we could be excited about inviting our friends and family, and they would feel comfortable coming. Now 14 years later, we’re still focused on getting people excited about inviting friends and family to church, and we have a vision to reach 100,000 people for Jesus across the state of South Carolina.

2. On your blog, you never shy away from voicing your opinions on controversial subjects, like affairs within the church, treatment of homosexuals, and oft-ignored sexual sin. How do you stay motivated to continue sharing your concerns when there are so many outlets for critics to tear you down?

I honestly think one of the biggest problems in the church today is that it’s obsessed with answering questions no one is asking. Most people just aren’t struggling with understanding deep theological issues, and because of that we want to engage people like Jesus did—meeting them where they are and bringing them to where they need to be in a relationship with him.

People will always get offended—it’s inevitable. The question we have to ask is: would we rather offend religious people or lost people? When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, he offended the religious people at the same time he healed a lost person. I will take that trade any day of the week!

3. You started preaching about your personal struggle with depression about two years ago—what was your congregation’s reaction?

I was overwhelmed (in an awesome way) with an amazing amount of encouragement and support by my church when I shared my struggle with depression. Through sharing my experiences, I also realized this was something a lot of other people were dealing with. We did a series in 2012 called Overwhelmed, and it was by far one of our most viewed series online.

4. You’ve said Americans are “the richest and most depressed people in the world”—why do you think that is?

I think people are searching for fulfillment and meaning through their own efforts—jobs, money, cars, kids, hobbies—whatever the next big thing might be. The reality, though, is we’ll only be truly fulfilled when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. So often, when people struggle with depression, their knee-jerk reaction is to get medicated—what are your thoughts on this?

I think if someone is legitimately struggling with depression they need to ask for help immediately. For so long, I thought I should be able to pray away how I was feeling or snap out of it and if I did tell anyone what was going on, they would think I was a bad Christian or didn’t really love Jesus. That’s just not true and only by speaking up and asking for help was I able to see this. I don’t think anything is wrong with medication if it’s something a doctor recommends. If you needed medicine to fix your heart you would take that, so why wouldn’t you take medicine to help fix your brain?

6. So many Christians are feeling weighed down by depression and stress—what can the church do differently to help people?

Depression is a very real issue and it has impacted everyone—either it’s happened to us or someone we know. I think the church needs to talk about this issue and help people understand what the Bible says about overcoming fear, anxiety, and stress. The church should be a place where people meet Jesus, find hope, and have the courage to ask for help!

7. You’ve said, “Four of the godliest people in the Bible struggled with depression.” Why is it that churches don’t address this more often?

Depression is dark and lonely, and there is a misconception that Christians shouldn’t struggle with depression; if you love Jesus, you should just be able to pray it away. But that’s just not true!

Many times, if things are messy, the church doesn’t want to talk about it.

8. How can we use pain for our benefit?

In most cases, people will identify with your pain more than they will your success. Sharing stories of your past and where God has brought you from could help someone take the next step with Jesus. If God can use my pain for someone else’s progress, then I want him to use it!

9. What’s the number-one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

My hope is that this book brings people to a place of victory where they are hopeful, not despairing; peaceful, not anxious; and free, not overwhelmed! Depression, anxiety, and fear are very real struggles, however, in Christ we can overcome it! I am living proof that it is possible to overcome being overwhelmed.

* * *

Stop being held back by life’s everyday struggles, and learn to overcome stress and anxiety. Get Perry Noble’s new book, Overwhelmed? Winning the War against Worry, and discover how to live a joy-filled life that’s free of depression and focused on God.

 

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

A Look into A Christian Author’s Process: An Interview with Travis Thrasher

Travis Thrasher

Travis Thrasher is a critically acclaimed author who has written over 25 books. His work runs the gamut from supernatural thrillers to love stories to helpful resources for writers. He’s worked with filmmakers, musicians, and pastors; and one of his latest books, Home Run, is based on the major motion picture starring Vivica A. Fox and Scott Elrod. Download Home Run for just $4.99 on Vyrso today!

1. Many of your books feature broken people on their path to redemption. Where does the inspiration for these stories come from?

I have no idea. Because my life is pretty much perfect and I’m this glorious shining star . . . Oh wait. No, I get brokenness. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. But who hasn’t? I’m attracted to broken people. To me, the best stories out there are people who end up having nothing and finding peace there. Maybe some kind of hope. And to me, my faith is the only hope that I can point toward.

2. What inspired you to write Home Run?

I was fortunate enough to be contacted by David C. Cook Publishers and asked to do the novelization for Home Run. Some people don’t know what those are. Simply put, a novelization is when they make the movie first, and then follow it up by having someone like myself write a novel based on the screenplay. A lot of the big movies out there have had novelizations.

3. What was the process like to adapt the motion picture into a novel?

The first step was meeting with two of the producers on the film (Carol Mathews and Micah Barnard) to hear about the heart and the soul of the movie. Carol gave me free license to really do whatever I wanted with the story. They trusted me with their baby, so to speak. I was very honored by this and really tried to match their passion with the novel.

I feel with novelizations, the screenplay is the Bible. You start with that and then build outward. I tried a few things but eventually landed with the right tone and feel.

4. Tell us more about the research process for this book—what did it entail? Did you spend significant time watching baseball?

I would have been a lot more comfortable writing a story about a pro football player, to be honest. But Home Run is about a man who happens to play pro baseball—it’s not all about that. But I did immerse myself in all things baseball so I could get even little things right. It was like cramming for a final the night before. But I’ve been doing that my whole life!

5. What is your favorite writing process, and why? What’s the most difficult part of the writing process, and why?

I love trying different things out. Like in the Home Run novel, I thought of adding these little poetic things between chapters, which I called interludes, that feature glimpses into the main character’s life. It’s sort of a map that shows how he got from being this little kid with a mean father to becoming a mean drunk himself. I didn’t know if this would work out but everybody liked them.

I don’t find any part necessarily difficult. The tough part is writing something that you feel is wonderful and nearly perfect, only to have an editor come back and tell you otherwise. You have to trust them however. Every book I write teaches me a little something more about the art of writing a novel. It’s never easy, but it’s a wonderful thing to be able to do.

6. You have a new book coming out in May; could you tell us more about Marvelous?

Marvelous is the first in a four-book young adult series called The Books of Marvella. The premise is this: what if God spoke to a teen girl and told her she would end up dying for someone else. And what if you were the boy who fell in love with this girl?

7. In your new book, you make the switch to teen fiction. What pulled you to this genre?

I wrote another series for teens called The Solitary Tales. I really love that genre. Maybe because those years were so impactful on my life, for better or worse. Maybe it’s because I still think like a teenager sometimes. A lot of people have encouraged me with my first young adult series, so I decided to do another. I love these stories.

8. Do you have any tips for potential authors trying to get published?

Develop regular routines. Write as often as possible. Finish what you start. Don’t give up. Realize there are more publishing opportunities now than ever before. But also realize everybody is writing and publishing books. Have thick skin and remain persistent.

* * *

Thrasher’s powerful book, Home Run, tells the story of an alcoholic baseball player forced to face down his demons and find redemption in Christ—download it today for free! Then preorder his latest young adult novel, Marvelous, for 35% off!

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Chip Ingram Talks Tips for Pastors and Reaching the Unchurched

Chip Ingram

Today’s interview is with Chip Ingram, senior pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California, and CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge—an international teaching and discipleship ministry. Ingram has written 14 books, and has a massive online and radio audience—reaching about one million people every week. Some of Ingram’s best-selling books include Good to Great in God’s Eyes: 10 Practices Great Christians Have in Common, God: As He Longs for You to See Him, Finding God When You Need Him Most, and more! Pre-order his latest book, Culture Shock: A Biblical Response to Today’s Most Divisive Issues on Vyrso today!

1. Over the last 25 years you’ve pastored churches that range from 500 attendees to 5,000. Now you reach over a million people a week—how has your preaching style changed over the years?

I’ve always been committed to teaching through the biblical text, but after a thorough study, I play a game called “spiritual jeopardy.” If this biblical text is the answer, what question does it currently address in our world? As a result, many of the series I teach seem topical because of the titles and introductions; but, in fact, they’re an exposition of the Bible addressing the very specific issue in the twentieth century that was being addressed in the first century.

2. If you were to give pastors one piece of advice for successful ministry, what would it be?

I would encourage pastors to first and foremost make their time with God their number-one priority regardless of demands, and to invest in their families as their first congregation above all else. After that, I would encourage them to hear God’s voice and boldly and courageously communicate the truth by their life and word in a winsome manner. I often tell pastors they should have their resignation in a top drawer somewhere; and by that I mean we must fear God more than we fear man and be willing to address difficult subjects even if it means we lose our job.

3. As the senior pastor of Venture Church in the Bay Area, your ministry is housed in a place of spiritual darkness. What obstacles has your church faced, and how did you overcome them?

About 96 percent of the people in our area don’t attend church. They aren’t anti-God as much as they’re oblivious to his existence. It’s a very multicultural area where God is not on people’s radar; instead, making money, upward mobility, and a successful education is their focus. To overcome these obstacles, we’ve made prayer a priority. We’ve sought to equip every individual Christian to be a minister of the gospel in their network and workplace. We’ve created ministries that meet the needs of marriages and families, since this is a huge need in our culture. We’ve also actively ministered to the community by transforming a public school with 1,500 volunteers, feeding the poor, and seeking to tangibly demonstrate the love of Christ. We still have a long way to go, but God has blessed our efforts and shown himself to many people.

4. What advice do you have for other church leaders ministering in unchurched regions?

It may sound trite, but I would encourage them to take prayer seriously and seek to love their anti-God community from the heart the way Jesus loves them. Often we present the lifestyles and belief systems of those in environments like this, and the big issue is God changing our heart first. Second, there is no substitute for tangible, specific good works that communicate the love of God. I suggest that churches discover their community’s biggest need and organize and fulfill it with no strings attached.

5. Throughout your 25 years of ministry, what powerful story sticks out most in your mind?

In the early days, I wasn’t convinced that giving time to Living on the Edge was a good investment. At that point I personally didn’t listen to the radio very often and I wondered about the value of its impact. About three months after the ministry began; I received two emails that changed the course of my life. The first was one from a woman in the San Francisco area on her way to abort her baby. I don’t know what message she was listening to, or how God used it, but she wrote me to tell me that she was listening to my voice and God spoke to her to keep her baby. I remember reading that letter and tears streaming down my eyes realizing a life was saved and God really does use radio and Internet for teaching.

The second story is a bit more dramatic and God used it to bring me to a point of making Living on the Edge a priority in my time and energy. A woman who discovered that her husband was involved in an incestuous relationship in their home wrote me a letter that I will never forget. She was completely devastated and determined to kill herself. She knew a train came by a certain intersection each day at a certain time. She pulled up to the intersection and pushed the radio button to its loudest volume as she saw the train coming at a distance; preparing to pull out in front of it to kill herself. As the volume grew louder and louder on the radio she heard my voice saying, “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!” It was a message on perseverance from the book of James and God used it to cause her to abandon her plan of suicide. About a year later, she wrote me another letter and talked about the counseling, forgiveness, and restoration that occurred in her family. Our God is a redemptive and all-powerful God and when I heard that story, I set my face like flint to do whatever God would call me to do with Living on the Edge.

6. How can people get involved with Living on the Edge?

There are three ways to get involved with Living on the Edge. First, you can receive our teaching by radio, XM satellite, the Internet streaming, podcasts, and on CDs and books. Second, you can participate or lead a Living on the Edge small group. Our passion is that our teaching would inspire people to get connected in community, do life together, live out their faith, and make a difference in the world. We have about 25 small group DVDs offers help people grow spiritually in a variety of areas. Third, we have a church-wide campaign called “True Spirituality,” which takes an entire church through Romans, chapter 12 and provides an experience that sets the bar for “what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ” and how to grow. We also provide training for small group leaders within our resources and also at our website. For business leaders, we have a unique discipleship experience called PrimeMovers that helps them discover their God-given destiny and leverage their platform of influence and affluence for the glory of God.

10. You’ve written 14 books—which one are you most proud of, and why?

There are two books that I’m most encouraged by for two different reasons. God: As He Longs For You To See Him is a book on the attributes of God that grew out of 30 years of reading A. W. Tozer and J. I. Packer and studying key passages about the character and nature of God. I literally read a portion of Tozer’s book every week for the first 10 years of my Christian life, and at least once a month for the next 15 to 20 years. I believe everything in life centers around a proper view of God. Taking what I learned over 30 years and giving people practical ways to digest it and get an accurate view of God, is one of my greatest joys.

The second book is True Spirituality: Becoming a Romans 12 Christian because it’s been a lifelong journey to discover what it means to be a disciple and give people some practical means to live that out. Watching that happen in churches across America and across the world has been deeply humbling and very encouraging.

7. Your ministry talks a lot about “r12” Christians—what do you mean by this?

An “r12” Christian is a biblical profile of an authentic follower of Christ. It’s first and foremost based on grace and mercy as outlined in Romans chapters 1 through 11. It identifies what a disciple looks like in the five relationships of life: God, the world, yourself, believers, and unbelievers. It provides a specific game plan in each of these relationships that moves the concept of discipleship to a relevant and measurable lifestyle of authentically becoming a follower of Jesus.

  * * *

Learn from one of today’s most well-respected teachers and pastors. Shop Chip Ingram’s most popular titles on Vyrso today

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

The Most Important (and Surprising) Aspect of Your Finances: An Interview with Mary Hunt

Mary HuntMary Hunt is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 books—selling over one million copies in total. Hunt is also the founder and publisher of Debt-Proof Living, a popular organization that helps people all over the world get their finances in order. Today only, get four of Hunt’s books for 70% off with Mary Hunt’s Financially Savvy Woman Bundle—part of Vyrso’s Money Makeover.

1. There are so many facets to a person’s budget—savings, tithing, budget shopping, etc. Is one more important than the others? Why?

Giving is number one. That’s because it’s the antidote for greed, which is the killer of all budgets. Greed is so rampant and so deadly; giving releases God’s supernatural intervention in your finances. If people would only truly believe that God means what he says.

2. What are the biggest issues you see with Christians’ views of money?

That God rewards his children in whom he finds pleasure with great wealth and multimillion-dollar homes and luxury automobiles. I don’t believe that God wants us to be rich. But he wants to pour out blessings on us so large we can’t hold them all; but these blessings aren’t for us to keep, they’re to give to others. If I have enough money to build a ten-million dollar mansion, should I do it? I don’t think so. I believe the Bible teaches that God will supply our needs and the desires of our hearts when we delight in him, and he wants us to be good and faithful stewards. He is looking for money managers he can trust to be distribution points of his riches. God blesses us to bless others.

3. You once pulled yourself out of six-figure debt—how did you find the motivation to stick with a new financial plan?

I really didn’t have the option to not stick with it. We didn’t have any credit and received notice that our home was going into foreclosure. That’s how far out of control my life had become. So I couldn’t rely on credit. I’d really come to the end of the road. Sticking to it was a matter of survival—the only choice I had. The big surprise for me was that my new commitment to giving and saving quieted two things I’d always struggled with: greed and fear. Giving was the antidote for greed; saving quelled the fear. Repaying the debt brought a new kind of satisfaction that was lasting, not the passing euphoria I’d get when wildly spending. It was amazing. The more we paid back, the more determined I became to keep going and pay more and more until those balances all reached $0.

4. The average American has over $15,000 in credit-card debt. What’s the first step someone should take to get out of debt?

Stop adding to it. Remove the temptation. That means hand off all of your credit cards to a trusted friend. Next, you have to face it. The who, what, when, and where of every single debt. Look them squarely in the face. No more denial. Know what you owe. I guess that’s more than one step . . .

5. A lot of children are being raised by parents who’ve made major financial mistakes—what’s the best way to teach our children how to effectively manage their money when we haven’t set good examples for them?

First, get rid of the idea that if you haven’t been perfect with money, you’ve lost your right to teach your children. That would be like saying if you ever got in trouble as a teen, you’ve given up your right to become a good parent. You don’t have any obligation to reveal the entirety of your financial past (or present) to your children. Teach them! Start now. Teaching teaches the teacher. They’ll keep you on your toes for sure. Allowing your children to make their own financial decisions, while still under the safety net of your home and parental authority, is the only way I know of to teach them to become financially responsible adults.

6. What can Christians do to change their attitudes toward money to help prepare for a healthier financial future?

First, pray for wisdom. Be willing to be a good and faithful steward. Every day is a test in trust. God is testing you to see if he can trust you. Will you hold tightly what he gives you to manage? Or will you pass the test with open hands, wisely taking care of your needs and then giving to others. The more you give, the more God will give you to manage, knowing he can trust you. You simply cannot out-give God.

7. Seventy-seven percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck—how can someone with so little money start saving?

Start with $5. And make it the very first $5 right off the top. You will not miss it if you put it away in a safe place that’s out of reach. Just keep doing it. Then increase it to $10. You’ll find so many places where money has been leaking out of your life to make up for what you are saving. Money in the bank changes everything, and it can start with just five bucks. It changes your attitude.

8. What does a well-rounded financial future look like?

Regular giving and saving. No unsecured debt. A healthy emergency fund so you can fund your own emergencies instead of relying on credit. Anticipating irregular expenses like property taxes and car repairs by planning ahead and saving up for what you know is coming in the future. Living an understated lifestyle, caring for others. An absence of greed and fear. Preparing for the future but not hoarding and not living in fear.

* * *

Start getting your finances in order today! Learn from bestselling author and highly sought-after motivational speaker Mary Hunt with today’s Money Makeover bundle: Mary Hunt’s Financially Savvy Woman Bundle. Get 70% off four of Hunt’s books:

  • Debt-Proof Living: How to Get Out of Debt & Stay That Way
  • The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement: How to Save for Your Future Today
  • The Financially Confident Woman
  • Raising Financially Confident Kids

Get all four books for just $18.99!

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

What Christians Are Doing Wrong with Money: An Interview with Dani Johnson

Spirit driven success

Today’s interview is with Dani Johnson, an internationally renowned financial expert who’s been interviewed by Oprah, Good Morning America, and Forbes. In just two short years, she went from a homeless cocktail waitress to a millionaire, and since then, she’s traveled the world equipping people with proven and easy-to-follow strategies for financial success. Download Johnson’s powerful books, including Spirit Driven Success and Grooming the Next Generation for Success, on Vyrso today!

1. Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. We take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later. Yet the average American has over $225,000 in debt and less than $500 in savings—what are we doing wrong?

Everything! We’re working too much, and we’re working hard instead of smart. I used to be like all of those people until I had a heart attack at age 24 and a nervous breakdown at age 25. I was so consumed by this culture’s definition of success, I worked as though I were a slave to my business and a slave to money. I had to learn the biblical skills that took me from 100 hours a week down to 20, and I tripled my income. Since then, I’ve trained hundreds of thousands to do the same. We cannot work, live, act, walk, and talk like the majority of Americans, otherwise we’ll be just like them! You have to learn a new way of living, thinking, and doing everything in life.

That’s why it’s so important to learn the skills on our website and in our books and training materials. They get results. We’ve taken hundreds of thousands of Americans, just like the ones you mentioned, who are now debt free, making more money, having more fun, enjoying their lives, enjoying their spouses, and enjoying their kids. They will never go back to the way they used to live, just as I will never go back to the way I used to live.

2. What’s the biblical definition of financial success, or is there such a thing?

There are 2,500 verses in the Bible that talk about money. There are 220 that talk about salvation. I think God has a LOT to say about money, but most people only know the few negative Scriptures. They don’t know about the thousands of very pointed and positive verses concerning money, the very specific ways God tells us exactly how to make money, and how to create wealth.

Financial success is not being owned by money, being controlled by it, worrying about it, fretting about it, and being anxious about it. If you chase money, it runs from you. If you work with excellence and diligence, and you prosper where you’re planted, it comes to you. If you increase your skill, according to the Bible, skill brings success. If you increase your skill, then you make more money. It comes to you when you don’t chase it. The Bible says diligent hands produce wealth. It also says lazy hands will go hungry. Most people do not bring excellence, diligence, and higher skill sets into the marketplace, which is why they end up trapped in poverty.

There are principles about money you must learn if you don’t want to be broke, average, and mediocre. They are God’s principles. There are billionaires on this planet who use God’s principles, but they don’t walk with him. Wouldn’t it be great if all believers knew those principles? Imagine the orphans we could all feed together! Imagine how many of the elderly and the sick and the widows we could help! Imagine how we could spread the gospel even further if we understood those principles!

3. What’s the number-one obstacle Christians face when trying to achieve financial success?

Excuses. Excuses are a result of ignorance. Most Christians believe in a “lottery god” or a “poverty god,” which has been preached from the pulpit for hundreds of years. The poverty god says it’s wrong to make money, and if you want to be meek, then you have to be poor. That is not scriptural. Meekness is a condition of the heart, not a condition of the bank account. The lottery god is the most newfangled god everyone seems to be following. That is the “All you have to do is pray, and the money’s going to fall out of the heavens” god. This produces laziness, and it violates all of God’s financial principles.

The lottery god and the poverty god both end up stuck in poverty. If you follow the one true God’s biblical financial principles, you will succeed. But ignorance produces excuses, and excuses will keep you broke.

4. Many kids who grow up poor and abused end up raising their children in the same environment. How were you able to break this cycle and forge your own path?

I refused to be like my parents. Initially, because of my resentment and bitterness toward the way I was raised, I made the vow, like most people do, that I would never be like my parents and would not raise my children in the way I was raised. Initially, that was my motivation. But then the Lord made it clear that this was not enough, that I needed to fully forgive my parents for the way they raised me and the things they allowed me to see. And I needed to forgive myself for becoming like them. I had to learn new skills because I was trained to fail emotionally, relationally, socially, physically, financially, and spiritually. I was trained to fail in every area of my life because of the example my parents set and the training they demonstrated.

Business taught me if you want to succeed in something, you’ve got to learn new skills and strategies from people who are succeeding in those arenas. So I studied the Bible and people, and I applied what I learned. Therefore, I am not in the same place where I started. You can learn the same strategies and skills I learned, and you can change your finances, relationships, and improve every area of your life by using the same time-tested biblical strategies.

5. In just two years, you went from a homeless cocktail waitress to a millionaire—how did you achieve something so amazing in such a short time?

A year and a half before I was homeless, I invested in some business training, which I put to work by starting a business that began out of the trunk of my car and a payphone booth. Even though my first business had failed and resulted in homelessness, I got very serious about helping my clients reach their goals. I focused on giving the best possible service I could, and that resulted in great success. I also developed new strategies and methods which led to my clients referring others to me daily, and helped them succeed in their businesses, careers, and finances.

6. You’ve said that everyone is born with talents and abilities—what’s the best way to discover what those are and capitalize on them?

Quit focusing on and coveting other people’s talents and abilities. Everyone wants someone else’s strengths, but wanting someone else’s strength isn’t going to give it to you. When we covet other people’s talents, we’re saying “God, you made a mistake when you made me.” In reality, he formed you in your mother’s womb, and he put talent in you for your purpose and for your life. But most people, with all of their insecurities, just don’t want what they have; they want what somebody else has. This keeps them from being all they were wired to be.

I used to be that way. I started with nothing. I couldn’t read, I was terrible with people, I didn’t have any friends, and I was the “least likely” to succeed. And then I stopped focusing on what I didn’t have, and became grateful for what I did have. And bam! Never in a million years did I think I’d be a nationally syndicated TV and radio host, in business for 25 years, and a bestselling author. I did this just by using simple strategies a third grader could use. God knows what he made you for. As soon as you embrace it, you’re going to love it! You’re going to shine and excel, and your life will shock you.

7. Starting today, what’s one change a person could make to start achieving financial success?

Take the money you would normally be spending in foolish places and start attacking your debt, or invest that money into things that will make you money instead of buying things that will keep you stuck, broke, and in debt. You can learn new skills and strategies that will help you make more money than you ever thought possible and help you get promoted in your profession. One thing you can do today is go to DaniJohnson.com and start taking advantage of all the materials we have available for you. Become a student, and you will get results.

8. You have a personal mission to donate a million dollars every month to provide food and shelter to children around the world—what inspired this mission, and how can everyday people help?

When I was homeless, no one helped me and I’ve realized why: I had never helped anyone. But God completely transformed my heart. He put a passion in me to not only help others succeed financially and personally in their families, but that we, together as an army, take a portion of everything we make to help provide for kids in our country and abroad who are abused, don’t have food, don’t have the ability to get to school, and would stay stuck in another generation of great poverty if we didn’t intervene.

So I would love for you to let me help you succeed financially, and then you and I will take $1 out of every $10 we make, and transform villages of homeless kids. Let’s transform the lives of orphans, and help them find a “forever family,” and help them to grow up with an education, go to college and be able to then turn around and help their families and other orphans. You can do this by going to KingsRansom.org or calling 888-291-7123.

The Bible says if we ignore the cry of the poor, when we cry we will also be ignored. You want to make sure that when you cry, he hears you. So answer the cry of the poor right now.

* * *

Discover the keys to financial success: download Johnson’s transformative books today! Get Spirit Driven Success for just $9.59 and Grooming the Next Generation for Success for $10.19.

 

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Frank Viola on Today’s “Shallow Faith” and the Real Meaning of Church

Frank Viola

Today’s interview is with Frank Viola, an author, speaker, and avid blogger at FrankViola.org, which has about 80,000 monthly readers. Viola has helped thousands of people around the world deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including Jesus Manifesto, Pagan Christianity, and Jesus: A Theography.

1. You’ve said one of your goals is to help set Christians free from “the overall shallowness of the Christian faith today,”—that’s a pretty gutsy statement. What led you to this position?

When I was in my early 20s, I had been part of 13 different denominations, several different Christian movements, and many different parachurch organizations. They all helped me for a time, but I quickly moved on because I knew deep down inside that there had to be more—more to the Christian faith, to Jesus Christ, and to the church than what I was seeing and experiencing.

That led me on an odyssey to really know Jesus and to experience what the church was and meant to the early Christians.

I can tell you today—some 20 years later—that Jesus Christ is beyond what most of us have ever imagined. He’s more exciting, more amazing, and more electrifying than what most preachers have told us.

And so is his bride, the ekklesia, when she functions the way God made her to function.

When I say things like that, some people don’t know what I’m talking about. So I encourage them to listen to a talk I gave at a conference a few years ago called “Epic Jesus: The Christ You Never Knew.” I receive emails from Christians in their 20s regularly telling me that this talk brought them to their knees (and to tears). It’s been a game-changer for many.

I am humbled by such comments because what I say in that message is what changed my own life as a young man:

1. “Jesus Christ is ALL, everything else is commentary.”

2. “Everything wears out except for Jesus Christ.”

If you’ve been captured by the sight of Peerless Worth, you’ll understand and resonate with those two statements.

2. What does “church” mean to you?

I prefer to use “church” the way that the New Testament authors understood it, rather than how it’s been molded and shaped in our day.

For the New Testament authors, “church,” which is a poor translation of the Greek word “ekklesia,” was simply a local group of people who gathered together regularly. That local group shared their lives together, laid their lives down for one another, and loved each other in uncommon ways.

Specifically, “church” is a community of Jesus followers who are learning to live by the life of Christ (which indwelt them) together and who were expressing that life visibly to others.

It is for this reason that the “church” in the first century was one of the most exciting things on the planet. And it shook the Roman Empire to its foundations.

The beautiful thing is that what I’m describing here isn’t armchair philosophy or bloodless theory. For the last 25 years, I’ve had the privilege of living in and planting these kinds of New Testament–styled communities, and it’s been beyond amazing for me and for the people who were and are involved.

3. How does the modern conception of “church” compare to biblical principles?

I believe it compares poorly, and that’s one reason why one million Christians leave the institutional form of church every year in America and why 1,500 to 2,000 pastors leave the clergy system each month.

In our book Pagan Christianity, George Barna and I explained how the free-wheeling, Christ-saturated, life-giving, face-to-face, community-driven, every-member-functioning, barn-burning, caring-for-one-another, first-century church devolved into a predictable “show” led by a pastor and a worship team for two hours every Sunday morning where God’s people are mostly passive spectators and hardly anyone in the congregations knows one another.

This isn’t the case for some institutional churches, but it’s commonplace for many—if not most—of them.

That’s not to say that attending a Sunday-morning church service is wrong or bad. It’s just not what the New Testament means by “church.”

I often tell people, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been in a New Testament–styled, open-participatory church meeting that’s led by Jesus Christ through his every-member functioning body.” When I experienced such a meeting for the first time at age 23, it blew my circuitry and wrecked me for life.

4. What do you believe today’s evangelical culture needs to work on most?

There are two things:

1. Many Christians who are in their 20s and 30s agonize over figuring out God’s will for their lives. I’ve experienced this agony myself when I was in my teens and 20s, and it was because of wrong teaching. I was taught, like many people today, that finding God’s will for my life is like a train track. But I discovered that idea is wrong. It’s more like a parking lot.

I’ve written a free ebook about it called Rethinking the Will of God. I’m thankful that this ebook has set many Christians free.

2. Christians loving one another, not in pious rhetoric, but in reality. To love someone, according to Jesus, has nothing to do with feelings. It’s treating other people the same way we want to be treated in every circumstance (compare Matt. 22:39–40 with Matt. 7:12).

Consequently, if I love you, I won’t gossip about you, I won’t ascribe evil motives to your heart, I won’t cast aspersions upon you, I will think the best of you, and I won’t entertain slander against you. And if I have an issue with you or a concern about you, I will go directly to you . . . because that’s how I’d want to be treated by you.

We live in a day where Christians are slashing one another’s throats online and in person even, and it kills the testimony of Jesus.

5. If we’ve been subjected to a “shallow faith” through today’s church, how can we ever be sure we’re following and worshiping Christ appropriately?

I believe it will have these marks to it:

1. It will be in harmony with the Scriptures. It won’t follow tradition or what’s “popular,” but it will stay true to the radical nature of the New Testament.

2. It will not contradict the historic statements about Jesus in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.

3. People will detect the scent of Christ on your life. There will be life, his life, displayed in some measure. Namely, you will find yourself treating others the same way you want to be treated in every situation.

6. When it comes to studying your Bible, what books or resources do you find yourself using most?

Some of my favorites are:

7. Do you have any new books or projects we should look out for?

Yes, my discipleship course “Learning to Live by the Indwelling of Christ” opens March 1 for two weeks. You can check it out and join the waiting list here.

I also have two books coming out. One is about five people in the Gospels who will tell the story of how they met Jesus. It’s going to be a moving book. I also have another one that comes out next year which discusses what Jesus is doing now . . . between his ascension and his second coming. You can keep up with my library here.

* * *

Learn more from provocative blogger Frank Viola—download his books on Vyrso today:

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

A Look into 50+ Years of Marriage: Glorifying God and Getting through the Hard Times

Bob and Emilie BarnesToday’s interview is with Bob and Emilie Barnes. The Barneses have been married 58 years, getting married when Emilie was a senior in high school and Bob was just graduating college. From the very beginning, the Barneses made the Bible the authority in their relationship. Through the years, they’ve raised two children, battled cancer together, and published a combined total of nearly 100 books on organizing your life, growing closer to God, and building a happy, Christ-focused marriage. For today only, get their devotional, Together Moments for Couples: Devotions to Draw You Closer, along with three other marriage resources, for our Wedded Bliss Bundlepart of Vyrso’s 10 Days of Love! 

1. Bob, after 58 years of marriage, what’s your best piece of advice for husbands who want to make their wives feel loved?

Emilie and I have always said, “Men are strange and women are weird.” I’ve spent 58 years trying to figure her out, and one of my biggest pieces of advice is to realize that your wife’s thinking process is different than yours, so men—don’t expect her to be like you.

God has given her unique qualities that are intentionally different from mine: her strengths strengthen my weaknesses, and my strengths cover her weaknesses. Someone once asked me if it was hard to be in competition with Emilie and I replied, “No, because we don’t compete with each other; we complement each other.”

I know that if I love her and tell her often that I love her she responds in a positive fashion. I’ve also found out that our children are made to feel secure when they hear me talk to their mother like that.

Women also love to know they’re secure in their relationship. Show me a confident woman and I’ll show you a woman that’s secure with her husband. Husbands should express their love daily. You can never tell a wife often enough that you love her.

2. Emilie, what’s your best piece of advice for wives seeking to make their husbands feel loved?

Show your husband RESPECT, RESPECT, RESPECT. Inside each husband is a 12-year-old boy. He might look mature, but inside he’s still looking for approval. You might say, “I’ll show him respect when he deserves it.” That’s not how it works. As his wife, you should be his number-one cheerleader. He wants to know that his wife respects his leadership and wants the best for his family.

I’ve always tried to only say positive things about him when I’m with other women. In fact, one year I bought him a Superman T-shirt and laid it out on the bed when he retired for the evening. He was so amazed that I thought he could fly. Often when things get strained, he’ll remind me that he’s Superman.

And don’t forget—long after your children have grown up and left home, your husband will still be with you, so make sure the two of you are still friends.

3. How has our society’s perception of marriage changed over the years, and how has this helped and hindered how we approach dating and marriage?

Never in our life time could we imagine that our country would be so divided over the word “marriage.”

Today our culture has attempted to make marriage old fashioned and out of style, and those who believe in the biblical ideas of marriage are out of touch. Today’s culture wants to do what pleases them for the moment, without taking into account what the consequences might be. The road is cluttered with lives that have been destroyed by not trusting in God’s principles. They have been sold a bill of goods on what Hollywood has portrayed as the truth, rather than believe what God had in mind for his people.

Thank God there are still people who want to believe in God’s plan for marriage and those who want to live out his plan for their lives.

4. What’s your best advice for maintaining a relationship that glorifies God?

Here are a few that have been effective in our relationship:

  • Ephesians 5:21: “Submitting to one another . . .” We are in this relationship to serve—not to be served. When difficulties arise, it’s usually when selfishness sets in and one of us wants to be served rather than to serve.
  • Ephesians 5:33: “. . . let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” There are two action words for a healthy relationship: for the husband it’s to LOVE your wife, and for the wife, it’s to RESPECT your husband. It isn’t always that simple, but it’s certainly a good beginning.
  • Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths . . .”  If we say we love each other, we must treat each other accordingly. I’ve always tried to encourage Emilie to become the woman that God created her to be, and she’s treated me the same. One of our guiding principles of communication is, “You never have to apologize for words never said.”
  • John 11:4: This was our theme verse when Emilie was going through her bone marrow transplant in Seattle. It reads, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

5. You dedicated Together Moments for Couples to the families you met at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. What did you learn from the other couples battling cancer, and what did you learn about your own relationship?

We seldom grow during the peaks of our life—it’s the valleys that let us grow. The cancer journey tested me, regarding how big my God was and how much I really wanted to serve my wife.

Any valley of life will test your relational level. The valleys test you to see what you truly believe, they strengthen your prayer life, and they bring your family and friends closer together. The power of prayer comes alive during these times.

We were in Seattle for five months. Those individuals and family members became a community and family. We were able to pray with them, to smile when they got good news and to cry with them when the news wasn’t so good. Most of them were treated and able to go back home for local treatment, however, we lost three good friends who passed away while being treated. Some were ones with great faith and some had no faith.

We continued to grow in our faith and truly recognized that God had a plan for our lives. And it was for our good (Jeremiah 19:11).

6. How have you two overcome the difficult times in your relationship?

We have not overcome our difficulties, but we are overcoming them. Scripture has been such a powerful resource for us. Having a community of fellow believers hold us up in prayer, great medical professionals who have provided us with medicine, and a tight-knit family who are our biggest fans have all helped.

There are also simple gestures that help: a note in the mail, a short phone call, a dish of food left at the front door. These actions also gave meaning to those around us. They had the opportunity to serve someone besides themselves.

We all have difficulties in relationships, but I have to say that our difficulties have been so small compared to many of our friends. God has been so gracious to us and we have been so blessed. I find that four words have helped us not let the little things become big: THANK YOU and I’M SORRY.

7. What sets Together Moments for Couples apart from your other books?

This book encourages couples to come together and read one thought a day, discuss how to implement it in their lives, and pray a simple prayer.

Many of our books deal with the individual audience, but our couples books try to encourage the husband and wife to spend devotional time together and grow closer. It’s a time where mom and dad come together and communicate, and usually that time branches out into other topics concerning their lives.

8. Between work, kids, family, and life’s everyday distractions, how can couples make daily prayer and devotions a priority?

You have to make time together a top priority and stick to it like you would a business or social appointment. We’ve learned over the years that people do what they want to do, so devotions must be a top priority for both of you. It may take shape in a lot of different ways, so be flexible depending on your stage in life.

Emilie and I can testify to the importance of coming together on a frequent basis to share God’s Word. It gives you a time to slow down and quiet your spirit and soul. We all need to be reminded to slow down and know that he is God (Psalm 5:1–3).

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Rick Warren Exclusive Interview: Why Your Health Needs to Change—Today

Rick Warren Headshot

Today’s interview is with Rick Warren, lead pastor of one of the largest and most well-known churches in America—Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. Warren is also the New York Times bestselling author of the hugely successful book, The Purpose Driven Church, and The Purpose Driven Life—which has sold more than 30 million copies, making it the best-selling hardcover book of all time. In Warren’s latest book, he partnered with some of today’s leading health experts to design The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life, which offers an innovative approach to healthy living that includes five key areas: faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends.

1. In the first chapter of The Daniel Plan, you mention you were not setting a good example for caring for your own well-being. What role does a lead pastor have in the health of his or her congregation?

I grew up in a churchgoing family, went to a Christian college, and attended two seminaries; yet, I had never heard a single sermon on the importance of staying fit. So I started studying the Bible to learn what God had to say about health. One of the teachings is that God made my body—it’s a gift. I’m supposed to take good care of it. The Bible says God made your body, Jesus died for your body, and so he expects you to take care of your body.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says Jesus went into every village preaching, teaching, and healing. I say that preaching is evangelism, teaching is education, and healing is healthcare. Jesus didn’t only care about getting people into heaven. He cared about spirit, mind, and body, and we, as pastors, should too. To me, healthcare isn’t simply helping the sick get well, but helping the well not get sick. Through The Daniel Plan, we are repositioning health as a spiritual stewardship.

2. Saddleback Church lost a combined 250,000 pounds last year. What was it like to take part in and lead that kind of transformation?

The concept for The Daniel Plan all started after I was baptizing over 800 people over a four-hour period. As I lifted each person in and out of the water, I realized that so many people are overweight, including me! If I wasn’t prioritizing my health, how could I ask my congregation to do it? I decided to do something about it. I stood in front of my congregation the next Sunday and confessed that I had been a poor steward of my health and asked for forgiveness. Although I only gained two to three pounds a year, I had been their pastor for 30 years! I invited people to join me and get healthy. I thought maybe a couple hundred people would respond, but was blown away when over 12,000 people signed up that very day!

Working with Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, we created The Daniel Plan and implemented it at Saddleback Church in 2011. The initial results were amazing—throughout the first year of The Daniel Plan, over 15,000 people collectively lost over 250,000 pounds. Beyond my church congregation, people from over 190 countries participated online. I believe the response was so large because The Daniel Plan provides you with all you need to become healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Beyond food and fitness, you’re offered a gracious approach to health, along with practical resources to get well spiritually in your relationships, and in your mind—mentally and emotionally.

3. You use the term “secret sauce.” Can you give a brief description of what the recipe is?

The Daniel Plan is a healthy lifestyle program founded on biblical principles and focused on The Essentials: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends. The essentials of Faith and Friends are what we call the secret sauce that makes The Daniel Plan so effective. The program benefits are accelerated when done in a supportive community of friends because God designed us to thrive in relationships. With the support of God and your group, you have far more than willpower helping you to make positive changes so you can be consistent and sustain your new healthy lifestyle.

4. Do you see The Daniel Plan as a book only for Christians, or do you think this can be a book used for evangelical purposes?

While we may have different motivating factors, everyone wants to be healthy. There is no doubt that faith is a primary component of The Daniel Plan, but the program has factors anyone can implement.

We have seen great results at our own church but it can also be used by a variety of religious congregations. Most people don’t realize that every weekend, as many as 130 million people go to church. That’s more than a third of the nation. There are 335,000 churches in America. Imagine the potential impact if health became an issue in even a ­portion of them.

5. For anyone who reads The Daniel Plan, what’s the most important thing you hope they learn?

My ultimate goal is for all individuals to live the life they’re intended to live. People drift through life and let things happen to them, or go by design and say, “This is what I’m intended to do.” The Bible is very clear that God has a purpose. But even if you know that purpose, you can’t fulfill it if you’re out of shape.

* * *

Learn to honor God with your body, and start living a healthy lifestyle: get Rick Warren’s latest book, The Daniel Plan, on Vyrso today!

Comments:   |  Leave a Comment...

Copyright 2014 Logos Bible Software. All rights reserved.