You DO Matter to God!

matter
Have you ever wondered if you really matter to God? If out of all the people in the world, He really notices and cares about you in particular? If you are truly unique and valuable in His eyes?

Guess what??? You DO matter to God! You matter to Him so much that He went to great lengths to pursue you and bring you to Him, willingly giving His very best so that you could be His!

At one point, you were without hope and without God in this world (Eph 2:12). This was not the way God wanted things to be. He so desired a relationship with you that He sent Jesus (who was God in the flesh), specifically to make a way for you to get to know Him. He didn’t spare His own Son, but gave Him up for YOU (Rom 8:32)! He did this not only for the world at large, but also with you in particular in mind! Would He really have done this if you didn’t matter to Him???

Want further proof that you individually matter to God? Check out Ephesians 1:4-5! These verses say that before the world was even created, He chose YOU to be holy and without blame in His eyes (Jesus made this possible at the cross)! They state that God decided in advance to adopt YOU, and make YOU a part of His family! These verses offer proof that God does indeed value you, and care about you specifically, as a individual who has been created in His image (Gen 1:27)!

Know that you DO matter to God. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise! If you ever doubt it, just spend some time in His Word, and you’ll find plenty of proof that it indeed is true!

American Idol and the Music Industry with Colton Dixon

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Lifest – Oshkosh, WI

Before Colton Dixon performed at Lifest, I got to chat with him about what he took away spiritually from American Idol, the pressures of the music industry, and how he’s seen them affect people. To see what he had to say, check out this video from Generation Arise’s YouTube channel (Generation Arise is my site geared specifically towards teens and young adults)!

Colton Dixon finished in 7th place on the 11th season of American Idol. He has gone on to establish a career in the Christian music industry. With many devoted fans, Colton Dixon has a great platform to encourage others in their faith through his music!

Colton Dixon’s most recent album, Anchor, is all about distractions, and focusing on your relationship with God.  While touring, Colton discovered how easy it can be to get distracted on the road, even just by the little things that will steal your time if you let them. Sometimes in ministry, you can begin to count the time you spend ministering to others as your time with Jesus, and Colton realized he wasn’t getting the personal time that he needed with God, which was necessary as an anchor in his life.

Colton Dixon’s single, “Through All Of It,” has done extremely well. Colton did a social media campaign in support of the single and its message, encouraging people to send in their stories of how God has been with them through all of it – both the joy and the pain. What he didn’t tell them was that a few of the stories were going to be selected to include in the music video for the song! It is his favorite video that he’s been a part of. Lots of other people like the song and video too, and it blew up on social media! The video released around the time of the tragedy that took place in Charleston, so Colton Dixon dedicated it to the people of the city.

For Colton Dixon, American Idol proved to be a crash course in the music industry, aiding many different aspects of his career, such as teaching him how to do camera interviews and work the stage, and helping him with his communication skills and confidence. It presented him with a great platform, which he’s thankful for.

Ever wondered how Colton Dixon began styling his hair the way he does? It’s actually a result of the rules of a private school he attended, which required his hair to be trimmed above their eyebrows, behind his ears, and above his shirt collar. Colton started putting it up with lots of gel, so if he shook his head it would stay in place, meeting the dress code. Thus, his trademark hairstyle was born!

Colton Dixon grew up in a Christian home. He accepted Christ at the age of 7. That was the beginning of his story, and since then, he has seen God move in his life. He’s wanted to do what he’s gotten to over the past few years ever since he was 13. He says the first time he tried out for American Idol, he wasn’t ready, but then when he wasn’t looking for anything was when it happened. He also says that his desire has shifted from wanting it to be about his career and fame to wanting to win souls for the Lord – a goal that his music clearly portrays!

If you love Colton Dixon’s music, then you’ll want to be sure to check out his upcoming EPs, Calm and Storm, which feature remixed versions of fan favorites. The EPs will be available September 11, both separately and together as 1 full length album!

Christian Music, New Record, and God’s Not Dead 2 with Duncan Phillips of Newsboys

Duncan of Newsboys

Lifest – Oshkosh, WI

Earlier this month, Newsboys performed at Lifest (which took place July 9-12 in Oshkosh, WI). Before the show, I had a chance to chat with Duncan Phillips, Newsboys’ drummer, and discuss common perception of Christian music, the new record the Newsboys are putting together, and God’s Not Dead 2. To see what he had to say, check out this video from Generation Arise’s YouTube channel! (http://generationarise.com/ is my website geared specifically towards teens and young adults.)

Fun Fact About the Members of Newsboys –

  • Lead singer Michael Tait grew up as a pastor’s kid. He had 8 siblings – 3 brothers, and 5 sisters.
  • Drummer Duncan Phillips uses Insanity to get in a workout. (Although I’m sure he already gets a pretty good workout any time the Newsboys perform!)
  • Sports are what goes on the tv in the Newsboys’ tour bus, and keyboardist Jeff Frankenstien loves hockey in particular! He plays it with other team members in Nashville, where he lives. His last name is on the back of his jersey, but people have a hard time believing it’s for real, and wonder “Who’s that guy?”
  • Guitarist Jody Davis doesn’t like down time, so he has taken to building guitars, which Newsboys have used in their shows. Zane Guitars let him know they wanted to do an artist model with him!

newsboys and me

 

Embrace God’s Grace

Embrace God's Grace

Sometimes, in the body of Christ, we get this idea that grace is good and all, but we need to start focusing more on living right, and getting rid of the sin in our lives. In so doing, we can end up pushing off to the side the very news that makes the gospel so good – the fact that we are made right with God not because of the good or bad things we do, but because of what Jesus did for us at the cross.

In Galatians 2:21 Paul says that he does NOT set aside God’s grace, because if we could become righteous through the law, then Jesus died for nothing. Think about it – we often do the very thing that Paul spoke against. We shift all of the focus onto our own actions, and forget all about God’s amazing grace. We think that it’s up to us to keep God’s commands the best that we can, and that His grace us just there to make up for the rest. In so doing, we rob the revelation of grace of much of its amazingness.

If we choose to believe our standing with God is based on what we do, then according to Scripture, Jesus may as well never have given His life for us. The truth, however, is that we NEED God’s grace – every moment of every day. We aren’t perfect. We mess up in more ways than we even realize, and we can never be right with God by trying to do it on our own. When we place our trust in Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf, however, something wonderful happens – we receive right standing before our Heavenly Father than can never be taken away from us, or in any way debased by anything we do, because it is based not on us, but on our Savior.

Sin is wrong. It shouldn’t be something we want to live in, but the answer isn’t trying harder. The answer is to accept God’s grace, and allow it to transform us, causing us to become more like Him. Will you do so? Instead of setting God’s grace aside, will you embrace it, and let it change you from the inside out?

7 Ways to Grow in Your Relationship with God

relationship God

Do you desire to grow in your relationship with God? Do you want to draw closer to Him? Have you ever wondered how to actually go about doing that?

Your relationship with God is like any other relationship in the sense that the more time you spend with Him, the more you will get to know Him. Here are some ways you can spend time with your Heavenly Father, and get to know Him better –

  1. Read His Word. It’s kind of stating the obvious, but we can sometimes forget to simply open the Bible. Remember, we don’t read it just to make God happy. We read it to get to know Him, because it tells us all about Him!
  2. Spend time in prayer. Prayer is simply having a conversation with God. Like any conversation, in involves both talking and listening. Tell Him what’s on your heart, then take time to listen for what He has to say to you!
  3. Start a prayer journal/notebook. Some people have an easier time focusing on talking to God if they write their prayers out. Why not give it a try?!? You can also write down what you feel that God is saying to you, and people’s names and needs to help you remember to pray for them.
  4. Turn on worship music, and have your own time of worship. For some people, music can really help them to connect with God. Maybe you’re one of those people! If you enjoy worship at your church or youth group, have your own worship time during the week!
  5. Have a Bible study/prayer time with a friend. You can encourage each other in your relationship with God!
  6. Memorize your favorite scriptures. Are there certain scriptures that encourage you? Memorize them, so that you can bring them to mind whenever you need encouragement!
  7. Spend some time praying in the Spirit. When we pray in tongues, God’s Spirit is praying through us – sometimes either in a way we wouldn’t have known to pray, or about things we wouldn’t have known to pray over. Make sure to pray in tongues as a part of your prayer time! (For more about praying in tongues, click here!)

Most of all, ask God on a daily basis to give you a greater understanding of who He is, and of His incredible love and grace!

5 Movies That Will Encourage You in Your Faith

This summer, check out these 5 must-see films that will encourage you in your faith!

GNDAvatarGod’s Not Dead – College freshman Josh Wheaton refuses to sign a paper stating that God is dead, as instructed by his professor. As a result, he is given the task of proving that God indeed is not dead. God’s Not Dead is all about taking a bold stand for your faith, even in the face of adversity! (Extra note – God’s Not Dead 2 will be released next spring!)

GU_Avatar1Grace Unplugged – Grace Trey struggles with wanting to live life her way, pursuing her own dreams. When an opportunity presents itself, she leaves her old life behind her, and faces the excitement, pressures, and temptations of budding stardom. In spite of it all, she is left feeling empty, and discovers that only her Heavenly Father’s love can truly fulfill her.

DYB-DoYouBelieveInTheCrossDo You Believe? – Do You Believe? (which it looks like will be coming out on dvd in August!) follows the lives of a dozen different people from very diverse backgrounds as they grapple with the most important question any of us will ever face – “Do you believe in the cross of Christ, and if so, what are you going to do about it?”

FTG_desktop5_800Facing the Giants –When the head coach for Shiloah Christian Academy is faced with near defeat in various areas of his life, a new coaching philosophy and outlook on things completely changes both his life, and the lives of football team he coaches. This movie was made a few years back, but it still has a great message for us today! It demonstrates how God blesses those who seek Him, and how He proves Himself faithful, even in the worst of circumstances!

fireproof_desktop3_800Fireproof – Catherine and Caleb’s marriage is going up in flames, when Caleb’s dad convinces him to take the 40-day Love Dare challenge. Can their marriage be saved? The movie shows how marriage isn’t just fun and games, but is about making a real commitment to someone to love them, and keeping that commitment, even when it isn’t easy. It will change the way you look not only at marriage someday down the road, but also how you view dating, which is all about finding the person that God has for you to marry.

Does Your Faith Affect Your Use of Social Media?

social media

As Christians, our faith in Christ should affect every part of our lives. Did you ever consider how it should affect your social media interaction? Next time you’re using a social media app or site, such Facebook or Twitter, as yourself these questions –

How do the books, movies, bands, and celebrities I’ve liked or followed reflect upon me as a believer? What you spend time watching and listening to, and who you support, has a lot to say about what you value. What do the pages you’ve liked or followed say about you, and who you are as a Christian?

What am I really posting? What are the songs you’re sharing really saying? Is the language you are using honoring to God? Are you posting jokes with questionable humor? Make sure your statuses line up with the kind of thing Philippians 4:8 says we should be thinking about!

Do I show God’s love when I interact with others on social media sites? Is what you’re posting going to hurt someone else, or make them feel left out? Ask God to help you to show His love to others, even on social media!

How will what I’m posting influence others who may look up to me? Chances are you have someone in your life who looks up to you. What kind of an example are you setting for them online?

Here are a few ways you can social media in an encouraging manner –

  • Post a favorite Bible verse you come across.
  • Loved a worship song at church this weekend? Share it!
  • Share something you are thankful for.

In God’s Army

army again

You are in an army – God’s army! Like soldier in the army, you have an enemy. Ephesians 6:12 describes that enemy. It says that we fight not against other people, but rather against the powers of darkness in the heavenly realms. In other words, our enemy is the devil – the one who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, leading to their sin of disobeying God by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The devil loves to deceive us still, to this day. Maybe you’re familiar with his lies – that you’re not good enough, that no one cares about you, or that you don’t really matter all that much to God. The lies he uses vary from person to person, but they are all lies, just the same.

The good news??? Like any soldier, you have been given armor and weapons to use against the enemy. They are listed in Ephesians 6:13-18, and they come from knowing what Christ has done for you, and who you are in Him! Further good news???  The devil is a defeated foe!

Colossians 2:15 says that Christ disarmed principalities and powers, and that He triumphed over them at the cross! Jesus won the victory over the devil over 2,o00 years ago when He gave His life for us, and rose again. Because we belong to Him, the victory He won is ours as well!

The devil likes to try and act like he hasn’t really been conquered. He wants to deceive anyone and everyone who will listen (which is where the weapons and armor mentioned in Ephesians 6:13-18 come in). When your enemy tries to lie to you, remember that he has already ben defated, and no loner has any right to do so.

You’re in an army. You have an enemy. The victory over that enemy is already yours, because of what Christ has done!