An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Jonathan and Emily Martin

This is the third interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted’ Life. This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture (Our first two interviews featured authors Jaquelle Crowe and Claudine Broussard).This third interview features Jonathan and Emily Martin. They are a “travel-sized” couple who is passionate about God’s Word. They travel along with their two kiddos sharing songs full of God’s Word with various groups across the country with their ministry called “the Word in Worship.” Their heart is to write songs and devotions for those who dare to believe that God’s Word is beautiful, powerful, life-giving, and helpful.

Jonathan and Emily, the Lord has clearly blessed you with the musical talent and the avenue to minister to others through songwriting and singing. How did you both come to recognize how the Lord had gifted you?

Martins: We’ve both been singing from an early age – it was various influencers (parents, teachers, etc.) in our lives that noticed gifts and talents and then encouraged us toward them when we were younger so that we could continue to grow and develop in those areas.

How does understanding all of life as a stewardship from God play a role in your ministry?

Martins: The mindset of stewardship has been key for us in how we think about our ministry and music. We didn’t give ourselves the ability to sing or write – we’ve developed those gifts over time, but we believe that God, our Creator, is the one who gave us these gifts – and we believe that He gave them to us for a reason. He gave them to us for a specific role He would have us play in His Kingdom and for His purposes. Our job is simply to be faithful with what He’s given to us and to trust Him with the rest. As we’ve tried to steward the gifts as we know how in each season, we’ve seen Him continue to be faithful in leading and giving direction on how to use the gifts and life that He has given us.

As the Lord has entrusted you with the opportunities to serve others through music, what does ministry life look like for the Martin family?

Martins: We travel a lot! Haha. But we honestly love the travel – God has just wired our family that way. Even our kids! We seriously see little ways that God has specifically designed them to fit with the calling He has for our lives. A lot of folks ask and wonder how we possibly could do this with kids – and we just kinda shrug and smile at the faithfulness and provision of God. Obviously, that all could change at any moment – but we just try to take it day by day. Stewarding well what we’ve been given today. We love not only getting to share our songs and God’s Word in various venues – but ministry life also looks like a lot of writing, creating videos, and finding ways to continue to connect with those we meet at our events.

You share the phrase “the Word in Worship” sums up your passion in what you do. Could you explain why this phrase states so well your music and ministry?

Martins: We’re just passionate about God’s Word and we write songs for those who dare to believe that His Word is beautiful, powerful, life-giving, and helpful. We can so often wrongly start to think that God’s Word is dull and boring – but it’s not! As artists and songwriters, we just love taking what God is teaching us in His Word and then putting it into song. Songs help us remember things. Songs also are like a new canvas for understanding – allowing us to infuse emotion behind the words. Where just words might not hit home – maybe words set the right melody might stir hearts! That’s our hope and prayer as we share our songs. God’s Word is powerful without us – we just want to faithfully share what we’ve been given in ways that He has equipped us to best share. We also just really love worship – not just musical worship, but whole-life worship, and we feel that the Word really helps us to understand WHAT worship is. Lastly, we truly believe and have seen for YEARS that framing our times of singing with the Word is powerfully effective. It’s like a one-two punch. 🙂 So often, our singing seems disconnected from the Word we’re hearing – but we really believe in narrative and themes in our worship services – not just singing for the sake of singing. All of these passions are what fuel the heart of our ministry.

As you write and record your songs, is there one particular song you would consider your favorite? Why?

Martins (Jonathan): Ooh! This is a hard question! I would say that my current favorite is a new song that we’ve written called “Trust In Him”. It’s on a project that is releasing this May (2018) – it’s my current favorite because it’s simple and a reminder to rest in God alone, which is something I need to constantly remember.

If somebody would be interested in finding out about, connecting, or supporting the ministry of Jonathan and Emily Martin, where would they go?

Martins: Our website is a great way to connect with us and our ministry. You can visit it at www.thewordinworship.com.

Counseling Under the Cross: Author Interview with Bob Kellemen

Last month, I (Theron) shared my decision to begin biblical counseling training. This personal ministry is a great need in many churches today. A working knowledge of church history is essential in the life of a church as well. Both come together in Bob Kellemen’s newest book, Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life. The book releases on September 11, 2017, by New Growth Press. Just in time for the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Counseling Under the Cross shares scores of powerful vignettes, Luther quotes, and real-life narratives that illustrate how Martin Luther provided biblical counseling to hurting and struggling people. The following author interview with Dr. Kellemen provides a great introduction to the book.

  1. You began and ended your education with Martin Luther. Since he lived some 500 years ago, our listeners might be interested to hear more about that!

Bob: I attended a Lutheran kindergarten. Then, some thirty years later, I completed my PhD dissertation at Kent State University, writing on Martin Luther as a Case Study in Christian Sustaining, Healing, Reconciling, and Guiding. And in almost all 14 of my books, I quote Luther. Truly, Luther has been a spiritual companion for my entire life.

  1. In Counseling Under the Cross, you say that Martin Luther reformed your life and ministry. How so?

Bob: As for my life, BL (Before Luther) I applied justification to my life—I knew that God the Judge forgave me because of His Son’s death on the cross that paid for my sins. However, I wasn’t really grasping reconciliation. I pictured it like this: The Judge said, “Forgiven!” Then he sent me out of his court room, not wanting me in his life. Luther helped me to grasp reconciliation, which we could picture like this: God the Judge takes off his judge’s robes, puts on his family attire, and, because of Christ, invites me into his family. Because of Luther, I now hear God saying to me not only “Forgiven” but also “Welcome home!”

As for my ministry, people often ask me what biblical counselors most impacted my counseling. I’ll mention modern counselors such as David Powlison, Steve Viars, and Ron Allchin. But then I’ll say that the person who has most influenced how I apply the gospel in counseling is Martin Luther. To learn how…you could read Counseling Under the Cross!

  1. Many people, when they think of Martin Luther, think of the great theologian-reformer. Yet you say that it was Luther the pastoral counselor who motivated Luther the reformer. In what way?

Bob: In his own life, Luther struggled to understand how to find peace with God. After many failed attempts at gaining favor with God by works, Luther finally realized the truth of salvation through Christ alone by faith alone through grace alone. He then spent the rest of his life helping others to come to the same saving realization. He nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg because he had a tremendous pastoral concern that people were being led away from grace/faith and led toward works as the means for peace with God.

  1. You explain that Luther struggled greatly with depression, anxiety, fears, and even with what we might today call “OCD.” What were Luther’s struggles like and how did he find peace and hope in the gospel?

Bob: Luther lived in terror that he could never satisfy a holy God—and he could not—in himself. He was tormented daily with fears of death and damnation. When Luther came to realize that Christ already satisfied all of God’s righteous requirements, Luther found the peace he longed for. Luther taught that if we deal with life’s greatest fear/anxiety—whether God accepts us—then we can face all of life’s lesser (but real) anxieties and fears. Grace grants peace.

  1. Counseling Under the Cross is filled with scores of pieces and stories of Luther’s pastoral counsel. Which stories are most meaningful to you?

Bob: It’s almost impossible to choose from among so many stirring examples, so I’ll highlight a “category” of care. In the book, I share numerous vignettes where Luther counseled grieving people. We often think of Luther as the fiery reformer. But he also had such a tender heart for hurting people. He encouraged people to grieve honestly, deeply, and candidly. He entered their pain and loss, and then he directed them to the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Grieving people found in Luther a compassionate spiritual comforter.

  1. Counseling Under the Cross has scores of direct quotes from Luther’s letters of spiritual counsel. Which quotes of note are most powerful in your thinking?

Bob: This is another difficult question because there are almost 600 direct quotes from Luther in Counseling Under the Cross. On my website, I selected 95 Quotes of Note (since Luther had his 95 Theses). Here are links to those 6 posts:

Here are two of my favorite quotes…

  • “You say that the sins which we commit every day offend God, and therefore we are not saints. To this I reply: Mother love is stronger than the filth and scabbiness on a child, and so the love of God toward us is stronger than the dirt that clings to us. Accordingly, although we are sinners, we do not lose our filial relation on account of our filthiness, nor do we fall from grace on account of our sin.”
  • For who is able to express what a thing it is, when a man is assured in his heart that God neither is nor will be angry with him, but will be forever a merciful and loving Father to him for Christ’s sake? This is indeed a marvelous and incomprehensible liberty, to have the most high and sovereign Majesty so favorable to us. Wherefore, this is an inestimable liberty, that we are made free from the wrath of God forever; and is greater than heaven and earth and all other creatures.”
  1. Martin Luther counseled his mother and his father. What were the issues and how did he minister to his parents?

Bob: It’s always difficult to counsel family members. Yet, Luther counseled his mother and his father with such humility, respect, graciousness, empathy, and care. In most of these vignettes with his parents, Luther was counseling them when they were near their deathbed. He respected their fears, empathized with their feelings, and tenderly reminded them of their gospel hope in Christ.

  1. Luther faced many losses in life, including the loss of a child and the loss of his parents. In Counseling Under the Cross, you explain that Luther grieved deeply and that he gave Christians permission to grieve. How so?

Bob: Sometimes we have the false notion that if we are truly spiritual, then we won’t grieve the loss of a loved one. Luther taught that the failure to grieve was actually a sign of a lack of Christlike love. So he commended people for grieving, he gave examples of his own great grief, and most importantly, he shared scriptural examples of holy grief.

  1. One of the most powerful messages of Counseling Under the Cross is the four-fold message Luther taught about our salvation in Christ alone. What is that four-fold message and what difference does it make for our lives and ministries today?

Bob: In Christ, the Father says to us, 1.) “Forgiven!” (Justification). 2.) “Welcome home!” (Reconciliation). 3.) “Saint!” (Regeneration). 4.) “Victor!” (Redemption).

What difference does it make? We are to preach the gospel to ourselves every day so that we understand who we are in Christ and so we then live out that newness through Christ. I say it like this in one of my tweet-size chapter summaries:

Daily behold in Christ’s gospel mirror your gracious Father saying to you:

“Forgiven! Welcome home! Saint! Victor!”

  1. If Luther was talking to pastors today, what counsel would he give them about pastoral counseling?

Bob: “Do it!”

We think we are too busy to counsel. We think we are ill-equipped to counsel. We think we should just preach (the pulpit ministry of the Word) and not counsel (the personal ministry of the Word). Luther was busy—and he still counseled. Luther never had a course in “pastoral counseling,” but he still counseled the Word. Luther was a preacher, but he was also a pastoral counselor.

So, “Pastors, just do it! Speak gospel truth in love.”

  1. You end each chapter with a tweet-size summary. So, what’s your tweet-size summary of Counseling Under the Cross?

Bob: I’d use the sub-title of the book as the foundation for that tweet. Here we go:

Richly Apply the Gospel to Each Other’s Daily Lives: “Forgiven! Welcome home! Saint! Victor!”

If you are interested in reading more of Bob’s work, you can find his blog here.

An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Claudine Broussard

This is the second interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted’ Life (Our first interview featured author Jaquelle Crowe and can be found here). This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture. This interview features Claudine Broussard. Claudine is a young writer from the East Coast. She is the co-author of Seeking Jesus: Stepping into a Life of Bold Surrender, Freedom, and Deep Joy (you can read our review of the book here). As copywriter/designer at Forward Marketing, she partners with churches and businesses to amplify their message. When not writing, she can be found playing Celtic and classical music, devouring a good book, or vending at a farmer’s market.

Claudine, would you begin by sharing your testimony of how you came to saving faith in Jesus Christ? Who and what did God use in your life to point you to Christ?

Claudine: I’ve been so blessed to grow up in a Christ-centered home. My parents created a climate saturated with joy, love, and the truth of God’s Word. One of the mottos we live by is, “When the doors of the church are open, you should be there!” Because of their faithfulness in taking me and my siblings to church, I encountered the gospel at an early age.

When I was just 3 years old, I recognized my need for a Saviour. My dad and I sat on white plastic lawn chairs as he explained the gospel to me. After he finished, I prayed to accept Christ as my personal Saviour. A weight of guilt was lifted off my heart. We walked up the stairs together to tell my mom, and she told me that the angels were having a party because of my decision (Luke 15:10). I remember being filled with new joy and jumping up and down in excitement. I’m so thankful for how God used His Word and my parents’ faithfulness to reach me with the gospel at a young age.

You have co-authored a book with Jason Homan, Seeking Jesus: Stepping into a Life of Bold Surrender, Freedom, and Deep Joy. Oftentimes, people pit surrender against joy. To surrender oneself makes for a life of drudgery, not joy. How do you take a different approach in this book?

Claudine: I can definitely relate to the struggle to surrender completely to God. There have been seasons in my life when I covered my ears to block out the voice of God. With one hand, I held Him at arm’s length. With the other hand, I clutched my goals and dreams in a tightly closed fist. I refused to surrender to His will. Yet a nagging sense of guilt, of things left undone, dogged my steps.

At the heart of my struggle was a lack of trust in God. I did not believe that He was truly good, truly wise, and truly generous. I feared what He would do with my life if I gave Him everything. What if I ended up as an old maid or a missionary to Fiji? (My apologies to any missionaries to Fiji 🙂 ) Yet, time after time, God patiently spoke to my heart. Not with a harsh command, not with a lengthy lecture, but with a gentle call to surrender. His Spirit would move in my heart, convicting me of my rebellion. Sooner or later, I would choose to surrender.

And I discovered a fascinating truth. Surrender to God gives me both freedom and real joy! Instead of trudging miserably through a swamp of disobedience, I can walk freely and happily down the path of His will. In our book, we explore what it means to truly surrender to God. Serving God is an amazing adventure, and it’s definitely not a life of drudgery. He is absolutely good and incredibly generous. Yes, it can be very difficult to surrender to God. But there is no sweeter place to be than in the center of His will.

In chapter 2 of Seeking Jesus, you share the story of how God used your time at Bible camp to call you into Christian ministry. How does learning to submit to God relate to the biblical concept of stewardship?

Claudine: The foundational truth behind both stewardship and surrender is that we belong to Christ. Often, we struggle to surrender because we have an incorrect perspective. We have assumed ownership of the time, talents, and treasures that belong to Someone else. When God asks us to surrender something, we feel that He is asking for a personal favour. “After all, it’s mine!

Yet, as a Christian, I know that my life is not my own. It was bought with the precious blood of Christ. Stewardship is not a favour I give to Him. Rather, it is a privilege that He gives to me. For the years I walk this earth, I get to borrow this body—to read with these eyes, sing with this voice, and write with these hands. I get to use His stuff, spend His time, and employ His gifts. To be a faithful steward of these, I need to submit to His plan for my life.

With a call into Christian ministry, how did you come to the realization God had given you the skill and platform of writing? How have you stewarded this talent?

Claudine: In the spring of 2015, Pastor Jason Homan started Forward Magazine, an online magazine for conservative Christians. I enjoyed reading the first few issues, but the headline that caught my eye read, “We need your help!” The editor went on to request article and photo submissions. I thought, “What if I submitted something? Could I write something good enough to be published?”

One afternoon, a wave of inspiration flooded my mind. I sat down and wrote an article on rosemary—how its fragrance reminded me of the fragrance our lives can be to the Lord (2 Corinthians 2:15). I found it both challenging and delightful to capture in words the beauty of a simple idea, a transient impression. I nervously submitted my article to Forward Magazine, and I was so happy to see it in print.

Over the next year, I wrote several more articles for Forward. I gratefully realized that God had given me a gift and a love for writing. After I overcame the initial writer’s block, I absolutely loved the creative process. Words gave me power—to express, to create, to paint a bare-bones idea in a thousand different hues. With words, I could shape ideas and define truth.

Last summer, God provided a part-time job which has grown to include writing for church blogs, marketing, and graphic design. In the fall, Jason Homan approached me and asked if I would like to co-author a book with him. We began last October and released our book, Seeking Jesus, on June 7. Throughout those months of writing and editing and marketing, I experienced the grace of God and my need for Him in a deeper way than ever before. God has been teaching me not to rely on my gifts, but rather to rely on Him. His grace is more than enough for my need.

Young people today are sometimes portrayed as entitled beings. However, as Christians, we know we are not our own (Romans 14:7–8, 1 Cor. 6:19–20). How does the understanding that we exist to glorify God and live for Him impact your writing?

Claudine: I am simply a steward of the hours, resources, and abilities He has lent me. Each starry night I gaze upon, each melody that lingers in my ears, each sentence I type—these are gifts of His grace. Without Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5). I cannot touch a life with pixels on a screen. I cannot write words that matter. I cannot discern what my readers need right now. But the glorious truth is this…He can, and He wants to use me! God doesn’t need my help to carry out His plans. He could progress a lot faster without my stumbling efforts. Yet because He loves me, God wants me to be involved. What an incredible privilege and joy it is to live for the glory of our Saviour! For He is so worthy.

An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Jaquelle Crowe

This is the first interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted Life. This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture. This first interview is with Jaquelle Crowe. For those of you who may not be familiar, Jaquelle Crowe is a gifted 19-year-old writer and speaker from eastern Canada. She is the editor-in-chief of TheRebelution.com and a regular contributor to desiringGod.orgThe Gospel CoalitionUnlocking the Bible, and Beliefnet. She is the author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway), which releases this month.

Jaquelle, thank you for your willingness to take part in this interview. Before we discuss your first published book, I would like for you to share with us your story as a writer. First, what gave you such a passion for writing? Along with that, when did you start to get serious about your work as a writer?

Jaquelle: My love for writing really started with a love for storytelling. As a little kid, I was constantly making up elaborate stories with my dolls (even before I could write) and as I got older, this naturally led into a love for writing these stories down. Non-fiction was something I dabbled in throughout elementary school but got passionate about the summer I turned 12. This was when I started a blog (largely from the encouragement of my parents) and began to record reflections of what I was learning in God’s Word and in his world. I was captivated by the art of making beautiful sentences and drawn to the capacity of non-fiction to tell truth compellingly.

I started to get increasingly more serious about writing when I was 16 and formally decided to pursue it vocationally when I was 17. Shortly before I turned 18, God provided an idea for a book and an incredible literary agent – and then a few months later, he provided a publisher and a book contract!

Now, here you are at 19 years old with your first published book, This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms Our Teen Years. What were your motivating factors in writing a book on this subject?

Jaquelle: For me, the desire to write a book existed before the idea of what book to write. Because of that, I found myself routinely asking, “What kind of book should I write?” And eventually the question turned into, “If I could only write one book, what would it be?” And I realized it was this: a book for fellow Christian teenagers who wanted encouragement and instruction on how to follow Jesus as a teen. This was the book I wanted to read. Since I started the book at 17, it was (and still is) deeply relevant for the stage of life I was at.

Furthermore, I knew so many teens who were pursuing holiness or wanted to pursue holiness, and they were left to read books by adults and for adults. I also knew teens who were struggling in their Christian walk, who wanted to read something written for them, something robust but not exhaustive, something theological yet practical, something fun but deep. They wanted something specific – a book on how the gospel transforms the season of life they’re in right now.

Your book is said to be a “deeply theological and yet practical and accessible book on how the gospel radically transforms every aspect of the teen years”. As a young adult and as a youth pastor, this book timely. Even for teenagers who profess to trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, there seems to be a disconnect between their life as a Christian and their relationships and habits. Why do you think that disconnect exists?

Jaquelle: I think culture plays a big part in this disconnect. They’ve subtly fed teenagers the lie that Christianity is not transformative. You can call yourself a Christian and do whatever you want.

Sadly, I think the church has played a part as well. There are often stunningly low spiritual expectations for teens – it’s thought that if they’re coming to church and showing some positive interest in Christianity, they’re living a gospel-centered life. But this is in radical opposition to the demanding, self-sacrificing, totally revolutionizing message of the cross.

In D.A. Carson’s endorsement of your book, he remarks, “In a culture where many young people feel entitled and struggle through the swamps of victimization, Jaquelle Crowe calls her fellow teens to Christian discipline…in response to the gospel of grace.” Based on your study of and meditation on Scripture, how does the gospel counteract an entitled mindset?

Jaquelle: From beginning to end, the gospel is a message of grace. It’s a story of us getting what we don’t deserve. We never deserved mercy, forgiveness, redemption. We never even deserved creation. We exist purely and solely because of the goodness of God. Entitlement is a self-focused framework that rejects this truth, that hates grace, and that boasts in itself. I really believe it’s an enemy of the gospel.

Where many young people are tempted to buy into an entitled mindset, you seem to work from an entrusted framework. One of the posts on your website sums it up, “That the day you hold in your grasp doesn’t belong to you. That your time is not your own. That every minute you breathe, every morning you wake up, every day you live is God’s. That you are only a steward of the time God has given you, and that you are entrusted to care for it well.” How has understanding this biblical truth affected your teenage years?

Jaquelle: The realization that my time is not my own completely changed the lens through which I viewed my teen years. I only have one life, one youth, and one fast and fleeting opportunity to make it count. I’m accountable to God for how I use this life, this uniquely precious resource he’s given me, and that means I don’t have the “freedom” (if we could call it that) to live for myself. I must live for his fame. I must use this life for his glory. It has to be about him, not me. And that perspective organically changed what I watched, what I read, how I treated my family, what kinds of friends I had, what I bought, how I dressed, how I spoke, and how I viewed things like dating and school and work.

The biblical concept of stewardship comes up not only in your life generally; it also comes up in your writing. As God has entrusted you with a gift, you are equipping and entrusting others to use the gifts God has given them. You are the co-founder of a program for young writers that you lead with Brett Harris called “The Young Writers Workshop”. Could you share with us what this program is about?

Jaquelle: Absolutely! The Young Writers Workshop is a monthly membership program for any writer aged 10-25 (from writing novices to publishing pros). We create exclusive content to motivate, encourage, and equip young writers to accomplish the individual goals and dreams they have. We interview experts, teach mechanics and skills, critique writing and book proposals, host Q&A events, facilitate a private online community for young writers, and lots more.

Brett and I firmly believe that writing is a powerful tool to serve God and that young writers have a unique capacity to wield this tool well. In the Young Writers Workshop, we teach them how to do that – write well and reach others for the glory of God.

Hope for the Trafficked: Hope Center Indy

February 23, 2017 marked END IT Movement’s fifth annual ‘Shine a Light on Slavery’ Day, which aims to generate global awareness surrounding sex slavery. Raising awareness is not the ultimate purpose of the day, though. Awareness must lead to action. This starts with men and women being rescued from sex slavery and human trafficking. Yet, more must be done. With that in mind, I am excited to share with you the ministry of Hope Center Indy, an aftercare center for women who are caught in sex trafficking.

Chances are if you have seen a movie like “Taken”, you are aware human trafficking exists but your understanding may be it is a third world country issue. In other words, sex slavery is something which happens only overseas in places like Africa or Europe. The sobering truth is not only is it occurring in the United States but even in our backyards. Last month, the Indianapolis Star ran an article stating, “In 2016, authorities identified nine children from Hamilton County, all girls, who were purchased by adult buyers for sex, often in hotels in the Castleton area. The youngest victim was 11 years old.” Human sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise and it has been said by 2020 human sex trafficking will be the largest criminal enterprise in the world. It is a local and a global concern.Hope Center Indy

Awareness is needed. Rescues are needed. Aftercare is needed. It is this third element Hope Center Indy seeks to provide. Hope Center’s mission is to be a “Christ-centered program to help develop the personal and professional life of women who have been rescued from sex trafficking in order for them to re-enter society with confidence, health, and technical skills needed to succeed.” They are a Christ-centered program because it is what Jesus Christ has done for them in the gospel that drives them to provide help and shelter. The services of Hope Center Indy are needed because, sadly, even for those women who are rescued, they are still at risk of becoming re-victimized. Due to the psychological hold on them from their trafficker or pimp, they may fall back into what they are used to. Because of this heart-wrenching concern, Hope Center Indy’s desire is to not only shelter women in the state of Indiana who have been victims, but their hope is to provide care for those who come from far away. The reason Hope Center would receive victims from farther out is because the farther a victim is from the trafficker or pimp, the less likely she is to return to that lifestyle. Therefore, while many may be aware of the problem and the need for rescue, an equally important need is to provide aftercare for these women.

Care and compassion are needed for victims of sex trafficking. They need long-term care and healing because of the complex trauma they have been through. They cannot be placed in a 30-day program and be expected to be healed from the torture they have faced. Pastor and Hope Center Indy Founder Hubert Nolen understands this. That is why he started Hope Center Indy, to provide a context where these women could get back on their feet and fulfill God’s call for their life. These women will be mentored by HCI volunteers who will serve as motherly- and grandmotherly-like figures, helping to work with the girls in skills such as crafting, exercising, and gardening. Much more could be said. This is just a snapshot of what Hope Center Indy is doing. If you want to know more, check out their website.

As the pieces continue to come together in making Hope Center Indy a reality, I (Theron) urge you to consider how you can support and get involved with this wonderful ministry. Hope Center Indy has the potential to be the largest housing for sex trafficking victims, with the possible capacity at 166 women.

So how can you contribute to this ministry?

  1. Pray. First and foremost pray for the end of sex slavery. Pray for the victims who are being rescued and for those who aren’t. Pray for organizations like END IT and Hope Center Indy as they seek to rescue and care for victims.
  2. Volunteer. Fill out a volunteer form on HCI’s website and see where you can serve as part of the volunteer team for Hope Center Indy.
  3. Give. While Hope Center Indy loves to connect and network churches in giving, they do welcome individual giving. If you interested in giving financially, please click here.

Simply put, join Hope Center Indy in providing hope for the trafficked!

Thank you to David Nolen, co-founder of Hope Center Indy, for the interview and tour of the center.

Interview with Dr. Mark Eckel on Movies

As a child, I remember gathering with my family and indulging in our time of watching an array of Christmas movies. Now, as an adult, I do the same but with more intentionality. I do not passively sit down and lounge but, rather, I actively listen, reflect, and examine the movies and their ideas. You may ask, “What has changed?” My answer: A class with Dr. Mark Eckel. Dr. Eckel has organized his thoughts and brings his wisdom to written form in his book When the Lights Go Down: Movie Review as Christian PracticeI recently had the honor of interviewing Dr. Eckel on his book. Get your popcorn ready for this one!

  1. Dr. Eckel, first off, what message do you hope the reader will take away from When the Lights Go Down?
    Ruin movie-watching forever. I’m serious. This is the statement, accompanied with a smile, my students—high school to grad school—will tell you about my teaching on movies. Often Christians consume film without thinking. My teaching-writing over the years is to create a framework of thoughtful engagement of cinema and the arts in general.
  1. When the Lights Go Down is not necessarily set up like your typical book. What made you choose such a structure and why did you choose the themes you did?
    Short attention spans. We have become a visually oriented culture. My approach to popular writing of all types utilizes a similar technique: less is more. Brief and to the point is what I have in mind for each section. People can jump to those ideas which most interest them including short essays, reviews, stories, and interviews.
  1. For each section/theme of the book, you featured an interview pertaining to the topic. Why did you decide on using this element and what do you believe it contributed to the book?
    Experts abound. There are so many more people that know more than I do! I endeavored to find various folk who not only have an interest but also a depth of insight into a particular area. All the interviewees are Christians who come from varied backgrounds. Diversity is important to me.
  1. You say, “Stories may draw us together, but movies make us sit down together” (Eckel 17). How important is this communal aspect to movie review as Christian practice?
    Culture is committed to ‘self’. The Christian view of life and things is that we live life together. A community relationship is imperative for The Church. We need to learn together so that we can better practice wisdom, provide love, and promote apologetic-evangelism: an attraction to true Truth.
  1. In your discussion on “guidelines”, you speak to the responsibility of training the young to live lives of wise discernment and part of our training them is “to interpret what we see on the screen” (Eckel 69). How crucial is this for the young who are growing up in such a technological age?
    Culture promotes emotive responses. Our world cares for what is wrapped in a passionate perspective devoid of reason, logic, or rhetorical nuance. Yet, the believer bears responsibility to demonstrate careful consideration for ideas. Authority is found in words coming from a person. Responsible interpretation is necessary for all ideas, authorities, and words, including those we find in film.

Dr.-Mark-Eckel

  1. Often, it seems we approach watching movies in a passive state. You concur with this problem “that we tend to believe unconsciously” (Eckel 101). If movie watching for Christians should be active, what are a couple of practical steps to begin towards that mindset?
    Read the book before watching the movie. Come prepared to interpret a movie. Read movie reviews from multiple sources. Watch interviews of the screenwriter, director, or producer to know the origin of the idea for the movie. Consider film summaries from imdb.com or rottentomatoes.com so that you know what to expect. Most important of all is to create a framework of comprehension from which to evaluate movies from a Christian point of view: the purpose of my book.
  1. In contrast to Christians who demonize watching movies, there is also a temptation to go to the other extreme. You rightfully claim, “Scripture should always interpret cinema” (Eckel 122). How can we keep the balance?
    “Tension” is my word to describe living in this life. Scripture clearly teaches we are created with dignity being made in God’s image. The Bible is just as clear that we are permeated by sin through every aspect of our lives. These twin truths define both believer and unbeliever. Movies deal with the tension all people feel in this life between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood. We can learn a great deal from folks who interact with these tensions on screen.
  1. One of the more provocative sentences in the book asserts, “Preaching in the sanctuary and stories in the theater—the two should remain separate. Hollywood has its own preacher” (Eckel 239). As I am sure you get some pushback here, can you elaborate more on your stance?
    Movies often preach the filmmaker’s point of view. And I hate that. Some character will make some social commentary, literally preaching their take on homosexuality, gun control, abortion, immigration, or health care. If you tell a good story, you won’t have to preach. This goes for “Christian” movies too. Preaching The Word of God should take place in my local church, not the local movie theatre. [See my essay in the book entitled “Breaching”.] I watched a fantastic movie this past weekend entitled “Frontera.” The story is about illegal immigration, cultural identity, prejudice, law enforcement, and family. The story made me cry. It was not a liberal diatribe about love-no-matter-what. Nor was it a conservative attack on ethnicity. The story was layered and nuanced so that people could accept both love with justice. My comment to everyone (Christian and non-Christian filmmaker) is the same: just tell the story.
  1. Throughout the book, you end each section with a list of questions. You close the book by giving the challenge: “So take out your notebooks. Let’s get started” (Eckel 255). Do you have a particular story of someone who has taken that sort of challenge to heart?
    Oh my! There are so many more stories! I receive comments all the time from students who say the same thing: I’m now teaching my children what you taught me. There is no better response to a person’s life-work than that the ideas and ideals are passed on to other generations. So the interview ends where it began: my students’ stories. What I taught during our class times then, ripples through lifetimes now. I did not set out to “ruin watching movies forever.” I did set out to have my students think biblically about all things.

I am serious when I say, “If you know people who are Christians and love to watch movies, this is the gift for them!”

Getting to Know You: Kasey Clark

kasey-clark[This is the third interview in the Getting to Know You series, featuring an interview with the Weekly Word devotional contributors. The contributor we are getting to know this time around is Kasey Clark.]

Tell us a bit about your family.

Last year I had the supreme privilege of marrying my high school sweetheart. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, so when I was in high school I decided that I was going to marry this woman. Because she is the absolute perfect complement to all my weaknesses, after college we finally got married. We live in Fishers right in the middle of both of our families. My family is less than 10 minutes north and her family is less than 10 minutes south. We love living so close to them.

What church do you attend and in what ministry areas do you serve? What are your hopes for future ministry?

I am currently on the leadership team at New Circle Church in Downtown Indy. I support the lead pastor by helping preach when he is out of town. I also develop the Community Group study guides each week.

Where have you (and/or) where are you receiving education and training for ministry?

I graduated from Crossroads Bible College with a Bachelors degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. I am beginning a Masters of Divinity at Indianapolis Theological Seminary this fall semester.

What are hobbies and things you like to do for fun?

Basketball is the sport that I love, so I play at my local gym as often as I can.

Do you have a favorite band or type of music?

My 2 favorite groups and songs right now are Citizens & Saints – “You Have Searched Me” and Sojourn Music – “The Day the Sky Went Black.” I am also a huge fan of hip-hop done by Christians: Lecrae, Social Club, and Andy Mineo are a couple of my favorites.

Other than the Bible, what book has had a great effect on your Christian life?

The book that has had the greatest impact on me is Desiring God by Dr. John Piper. This book toppled my ideas about God and his sovereignty, and gave me a lot of Scripture to build my new ideology about God on.

What passage of Scripture has impacted you most in this season of your life?

I have absolutely loved Psalm 33, especially vs. 3-4, 10-11, and 20-22:

3) Sing to him  a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4) For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
10) The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11) The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
20) Our soul  waits for the Lord; he is our  help and  our shield.
21) For our heart is  glad in him, because we  trust in his holy name.
22) Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

How can people be supporting you in prayer?

I have started a new job as the High School Bible teacher at Traders Point Christian Academy. I would love prayers as I attempt to impact students with the truth of the gospel in an academic setting.

Getting to Know You: Nelson Poynter

[Getting to Know You is a monthly series, featuring an interview with the Weekly Word devotional contributors. This month’s interview is with Nelson Poynter.]

Tell us a bit about your family.

I have a beautiful wife, Christiana, and two lovely daughters, Olivia, 23, and Allison, 16.

What church do you attend and in what ministry areas do you serve?

Currently we are on a sabbatical of sorts. We are in a season of rest and healing at Post Road Christian Church and looking forward to opportunities to serve there in the future. In the past, we both have served in many areas in the church. I have served as Elder, Small Group Leader, Preacher, and Teacher in various churches and Chris has served in women’s and children’s ministries.IMG_1636

What are your hopes for future ministry?

My hope is to serve as a pastor where I can use and grow my spiritual gifts in order to grow the church from within and from the outside. I love to teach, preach, visit the sick, and comfort the broken-hearted. I see it as an opportunity to share the love of Christ with as many as I can in practical and applicable ways.

Where are you receiving education and training for ministry?

I am currently a first year, full-time student at Capital Seminary and Graduate School, pursuing my Master of Divinity degree.

What are hobbies and things you like to do for fun?

I love to walk, hike, listen to, play, and compose music as well as read, write, and reflect on many things often.

Do you have a favorite band or type of music?

My musical pallet is broad; covering many areas such as: Jazz, Classical, World, Progressive, Irish Folk, Surf Music, Hymns and Rock from Buddy Holly to Boston.

Other than the Bible, what book has had a great effect on your Christian life?

There are several that fall into this category. Picking one, I would say The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

What passage of Scripture has impacted you most in this season of your life?

Again, several fall into this area for many reasons, but I would say The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

How can people be supporting you in prayer?

You can be praying for me in that I would have obedience, passion, focus, and purpose in my studies, my home, and where ever the Lord may place me for the sake of His Name.