The Gift of ‘Something More’

It is that time of year! For high school and college graduates, it is a time of celebration. For parents of those graduates, it is a time of bittersweet joy and sadness. For both, it is a time of change. This time of change and growth into adulthood will bring new experiences and opportunities. Yet, it may also lead to thinking about the point of life. What is the purpose of my life? What is it that makes me get out of bed in the morning? Even if these graduates are not considering these questions now, somewhere down the road they will. That is why, if you know a high school or college graduate and are looking for something to give them, then consider giving them the gift of Something More. In the book Something More: Finding the Joy and Purpose of Life, Theron St. John shows how believers and skeptics alike desire to live happy, meaningful lives. In a short 50 pages, he shares the problem and solution to this common pursuit of purpose and joy. The book helps the young adult see their need to trust Jesus and to treasure Him above all! This book is a great evangelistic tool for parents and adults to use in reaching young people with the gospel. The discussion questions at the end of each short chapter work well for discipleship meetings. If you are interested in purchasing the gift of Something More for a graduate, you can order it for cheap on Amazon. If you would like to purchase a signed copy from Theron himself for $7 flat (US only), then you can either use the “Ask the Answer” page on this site to reach him or you can e-mail Theron at entrustedbygod@gmail.com.

Endorsements for Something More

Chrissy Colgrove, Women’s Director, Campus Outreach IUPUI

Something More: Finding the Joy and Purpose of Life is very easy to read, enjoyable, clear, and to the point. The content of the book is simple enough for a nonbeliever to understand, but has depth to challenge the believer. I even think it could work really well broken up in sections and used in an evangelistic Bible study as separate articles with questions!”

 

 

Claudine Broussard, co-author of Seeking Jesus

“Theron lays the groundwork by describing what we pursue to find happiness and purpose. Then, he takes the reader back to Eden and points him to the only One who can satisfy us. Packed with relatable stories and targeted toward young people, it is a wonderful tool for sharing your faith with friends and family.”

 

John Minion, College Student

“I believe Something More is a book that is both edifying to the believer and potentially enlightening for unbelievers. Theron challenges unbelievers to re-evaluate what is presumed to be sources of happiness, joy, and satisfaction. He reminds believers of our rest in Christ–by his death–we are justified and have peace with a holy God.”

5 Reasons I’m Grateful I Went to the Philippines

“A long time coming.” That is how I would frame my initial thoughts as I look back on my trip to the Philippines last month. For nearly the last decade, I’ve known Antonio Ner, a dear brother in Christ who serves as a missionary in the Philippines. For that same length of time, he has encouraged me to visit him and his ministry, expressing this desire numerous times. Yet, it was not until this summer I finally resolved to go. I’m grateful I did. Along with eight other people from my church, we traveled to the Philippines to spend a week observing Antonio’s ministry, witnessing the work he does, and coming alongside and serving with him and his wife as we were able. As I continue to reflect on my trip, there are many things I could share but I would like to share 5 reasons I’m grateful I went to the Philippines.

  1. I’m grateful because this trip brought to mind the power of God and partnership in the gospel.

    Living in the midwest section of the United States, the Philippines is literally half a world away. It takes more than a day to travel from where I live to arrive in the Philippines. Then, imagine once you have finally arrived, the next week has been planned out to serve and observe. When you consider the trip we went on in these terms, it does not sound like something that would ever pop up on a vacation brochure. That is because if you are looking for comfort, this is not the place to find it. However, if you are looking to grow in your faith and be more conformed to Jesus Christ, this is one of the opportunities that will draw you. But you will not have this goal in mind unless the power of God is in your life. That happens through a relationship with Jesus Christ and being conformed into His image. At the same time, the power of God is so mighty, as it was on this trip, because it was complemented with partnering in the gospel. When I read Philippians 1:3-5, which says, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel”, I think of Antonio Ner and the ministry leaders he has with him. I am truly grateful to have met them all.

  2. I’m grateful because I went with a great team from our church.

    As I am thankful for my new Filipino friends in the faith, I praise God for the team that the Lord sent from our church. This trip was my fourth international short-term ministry trip (the previous three being to Haiti from 2012-2014), and I am always amazed at the team God puts together. With each group, I’ve noticed we have been a people made up of different economic backgrounds and different personalities. That’s because what unites us is not our backgrounds or our personalities; what unites us is the gospel. I’m grateful for the different personalities and characters that went on this trip, which includes John and Jo Glover, Rob and Joanna Yeend, Cristian and Braden Monroe, Bill Skinner, and Brandon Sutton. I am especially grateful for the two teenagers who went, Cristian and Braden, as the trip served as an intense discipleship opportunity with their youth pastor.

  3. I’m grateful because I was encouraged and challenged by Antonio’s ministry.

    As a youth pastor, too, I was encouraged and challenged by Antonio’s ministry. One of the consistent themes of Antonio’s ministry is how he equips the youth and sends them out to serve in ministry. During our Saturday morning time in the villages, we were witnesses to the youth who lead in these ministries. As we helped serve these impoverished villages food, we heard these young people sharing truths from Scripture to these kids in their respective villages. What a blessing to see the upcoming generation invested in the gospel!

  4. I’m grateful because I was touched and convicted by the heart of the Ner family.

    I could go on and on how Antonio’s ministry has encouraged and challenged me, but what really has left an imprint on me is the heart behind the ministry of the whole Ner family. To know this entire family is a blessing. His wife, Liza, has a true servant’s heart and is such a sweet woman to befriend. Where most believers would run from a troubling situation with the excuse they are involved in ministry, Antonio and Liza run to the troubling issue, because they realize that it is the ministry. From the street ministry to using any and every opportunity to share the gospel, they are representatives of being sold out for the cause of Christ. My prayer coming back is I might use the conviction I feel to grow in my heart for the lost and share my faith with the opportunities I get.

  5. I’m grateful because Jesus is Lord over all the earth, from America to the Philippines.

    The reason I share my faith in the first place, truthfully, is because I serve a God who has saved a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (see Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9-10). He is not sovereign over merely part of the world but over all the earth. His Lordship extends from one side of the world to the other. In our conversation, Antonio’s daughter, Princess, put it well when she said, “It amazes me how we all were born and raised on both ends of the world but we all have one heart to serve God and his people.” I am amazed as well. I am in awe in the grace of God in saving me and I am grateful to God for having me go on this trip! Friendships have been formed and family members in the faith have been met. I only hope that my next trip to the Philippines won’t be a long time coming but a time coming soon!

New Growth Press’ Spirit of Giving Family Devotionals Giveaway

For active families, reading the Bible together can feel overwhelming. However, family Bible study doesn’t have to be complicated! With just ten minutes a day, parents have enough time to pass on the most valuable treasure the world has ever known.
Start off the new year resolved to study the Bible together. New Growth Press has you covered and is giving away a family devotional package every family will want to win!
In this third and final Spirit of Giving giveaway of the Christmas season, New Growth Press is giving away THREE gift boxes of family devotionals (retail value of $148 each). From December 3-8, you can enter to win one of family devotional boxes.
Here is the LINK for you to ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY: https://promosimple.com/ps/daa7/spirit-of-giving-family-devotional-giveaway.Each gift box includes one copy of the following family devotionals written by Marty Machowski:
Children love stories, and the parables provide a wonderful opportunity to engage their imagination and help them understand and live out the good news of the kingdom of God. After teaching a parable, Jesus often said, “Whoever has ears, let him hear.” In other words, “This is important, so you better listen up,” and what could be more important than the good news of the kingdom of God? This family devotional provides a unique opportunity for parents to help their children “listen up” and hear the gospel as Jesus himself shared it.
Wise Up is designed to connect the teaching of Proverbs to God’s larger story of salvation. Children will learn that Solomon’s wisdom, life, and failures all point to “something greater than Solomon”—they point to Jesus. The goal of this devotional is to present the wisdom of Proverbs against the backdrop of the gospel to show children that real wisdom comes only as we depend on Jesus for daily help and forgiveness.
Long Story Short guides families through the Old Testament stories and is designed to cultivate honest and powerful discussion about the Bible, which is the catalyst for change in children’s lives. Through 78 Old Testament stories, Long Story Short explains God’s plan of salvation through the Old Testament, focusing on the hero of Scripture and important biblical truths without being corny, confusing, or condescending.
Suited for children from preschool through high school, this gospel-focused book is full of ten-minute devotions to continue the gospel story that began in Long Story Short. The consistent and short structure helps children walk through the life-changing truths of the Christian faith in the New Testament—without overwhelming them. Through 78 New Testament stories, Old Story New does the hard work for moms and dads. Simple discussion questions (and answers!) for each day’s devotion help children understand and connect with Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, and the birth of the Christian church.

This beautifully illustrated storybook captivates young readers with the heart of the gospel. The Gospel Story Bible points to Jesus, helping families and kids identify Christ as the hero of every story. While it’s easy to forget Jesus in the midst of frantic schedules, family squabbles, and conflicting priorities, Machowski reminds families of God’s plan of salvation in Christ, which is continually on display throughout the Bible. Ideal as a storybook for your preschooler, a devotional for your grade school student, a refresher for the adult believer, or an introduction for the new one, The Gospel Story Bible is also a companion to Long Story Short and Old Story New.

In addition to these books for the entire family, the winners will also receive a new book of devotionals just for parents, and New Growth Press’ latest parenting book.

In this uplifting and faith-strengthening devotional book for parents, Marty Machowski encourages parents in the midst of trials. Full of Scripture, testimonies of faithful parents, and insightful meditations, Parenting First Aid equips moms and dads to run to God and trust his ability to do what they can’t. The easy-to-use format provides encouragement to turn to God in the midst of family difficulty. While God does not promise happiness and ease in parenting, all can find comfort in God and peace beyond understanding through the Scriptures and meditations found in Parenting First Aid.

Every family is unique, which is why Child Proof explores the need for parents to cultivate personal and intimate care for their children as modeled in God’s individual, personal, and fatherly care to his children. This child-rearing book lays a foundation of parenting by faith and progresses by teaching readers how they can know their own kids well and raise them accordingly. By discussing particular issues moms and dads might have in family life, Lowe demonstrates how formulas aren’t the answer, and parenting with biblical wisdom is best for a proactive rather than reactive approach to parenting.

In case you don’t win the prize pack, sign-up for New Growth Press’ e-news athttps://newgrowthpress.com/ to receive information about their Countdown to Christmas discounts so that you can order copies. Be sure to follow them on social media as well where they will be sharing daily deals throughout the Christmas season (facebook.com/ngpbooks | twitter.com/newgrowthpress | instagram.com/newgrowthpress).

Announcing DIAMONDS 2019 Online Conference

A few months ago, I shared with you a review of an honest and hopeful book for teens facing illness, particularly chronic illness. The author of this book, Sara Willoughby, is a teenager herself who deals with chronic illness. In the book she shares her heart with her fellow readers, encouraging them to trust in God and His plan even in the midst of their illnesses. Just as He’s Making Diamonds is a reminder God is not done with us yet, the announcement that follows reveals Sara Willoughby is not done yet either. Read about the big news from Sara below:

Blessings,! My name is Sara Willoughby. Maybe you know me. Maybe you don’t. I’m the author of He’s Making Diamonds: A Teen’s Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness, and I’m also the host of . . . well, you’ll see. I’ve been working on something for a loonnnggggg time, and even harder, I’ve been keeping it a secret! But at last, today is the day. I get to tell you. You get to know. We can be happy together. Are you ready?

The big announcement is . . . drumroll . . . (I’m serious, are you doing a drum roll?) . . . an online conference for chronically ill Christians.

Isn’t it exciting? I’m so grateful to the person who shared the idea in the first place. You are very wise, girl. But let me explain a little more to make you fully understand how much fun this will be, okay?

Where: The conference will be held live online. So you can watch from wherever you can find wifi . . . even if health issues force you to be stuck in bed.

When: It will run from Friday, January 25th, through Saturday, January 26th.

What it costs: The conference is completely free. We know that many facing long-term sickness struggle with medical bills and other financial burdens, and we don’t want this to be one of them. Your heart and soul need care just as much as your body does, but sadly it’s often neglected. We don’t want that to be the case.

Who is presenting: We have an awesome line-up of speakers if I do say so myself. People like Vaneetha Rendall Risner, Kristen Wetherell, Sarah Walton, Esther Smith, Isabella Morganthall, Emily Ryan, Stephanie Kehr, yours truly, and others! (Not to mention that Joni Eareckson Tada will be popping in to say hi.)

Who this is for: When I mentioned this to some friends, one of them asked a very good question. He said, “Is this exclusively for Christians with chronic illness?” And no, anybody and everybody is welcome to come. Yes, Diamonds 2019 is targeted to Christians facing long-term sickness. And that will help guide our topic choices. However, that doesn’t mean no one else can be encouraged by it. Caregivers, family, and friends will also enjoy it. And even if you don’t have any connection with illness at all, here’s the thing: the same truths we need in illness, are the ones we need in any trial. Packaged differently, but at the core, it’s the same. So if you or someone you know is going through a difficult time, please come. We want to help equip you to fight, even when the battle is long and hard.

Why we are doing this: We know that so many of you feel so alone. You struggle with questions you don’t think you should have. You battle fear and discouragement. We’ve been there. We want to offer you life-giving hope. We want to refresh you for a weekend — providing truths you can hold on to when the going gets tough — so that you can fight that the child of God that you are. With confidence and hope.

How do you register: Does this sound like something you or someone you know would be blessed by? Well, here’s the good news: registration officially opens today! You can be the first to claim your spot. And remember, it’s completely free. Just follow this link: sgwilloughby.com/diamonds-2019/.

Can’t wait to see you there!

No Greater Joy: Entrusting the Truth to Youth (Videos)

As I approach my fourth year serving at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church as the associate pastor of youth and families, my heart swells with gratitude. It has been a delight to see the growth of and in the youth of the church over the last few years. It has been fun to attend their sporting and school events. Yet, my greatest joy is entrusting biblical truth to these youth. As John the Apostle says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). There is no greater joy than seeing youth place their faith in Christ and grow in His grace. This has truly hit home for me the last few weeks at Blue Ridge. This past week I witnessed one of the teenage boys, Zack Yeend, take the step of publicly professing through baptism the work God has done in his heart to bring him to saving faith in Jesus Christ [you can watch the footage of his baptism in the video below].

Witnessing the work God has done in Zack’s life to bring him to this point has been a true blessing for me to watch as the pastor over youth and families. Another blessing has been to implement 2 Timothy 2:2 in some of the other youth of the church. In 2 Timothy 2:2, the Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” The week before Zack’s baptism, the youth of the church served on what we call “Youth Sunday” (the 5th Sunday of a month). While this was not the first time we planned a “Youth Sunday”, this one was special. (For one, three of the youth, along with their leader, wore stylin’ bow ties…okay, that is not what made it special ;)) One of our pre-teens, Lucas Thurman, led the congregation in prayer after the youth took up the offering during the service [you can watch the footage of Lucas’s prayer in the video below].

The joy of seeing the youth of Blue Ridge walk in the truth of Scripture came to full fruition as two of the young men stood before the people of God sharing the Word of God. Cristian Monroe opened our worship service as he read Scripture and prayed. His brother, Braden Monroe, then blessed the congregation by preaching a message from John 8:51-59 entitled “What is the Most Important Question?” [you can watch footage of Cristian’s Scripture reading and prayer and Braden’s sermon in the video below]. As these two young men shared biblical truth with the congregation of Blue Ridge, I was left humbled at what God has done these last four years. He has called youth to Himself for salvation and has grown them by His grace to serve them. What they have heard from me as I have shared the Word of God with them they are now sharing with others. For me, there is no greater joy than sharing biblical truth with these youth. And, now, I am humbled they are sharing biblical truth with our church!

Not Just a Millennial Problem

Gone are the days of Mayberry. A town made famous from the 1960’s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry exemplified the culture of its day. For instance, the viewer could guarantee come a Sunday morning scene, the bulk of this town would be in church. That was typical of Mayberry’s day. But this has ceased to be the case. No longer do people attend church services on Sunday mornings simply as an act of cultural acceptability. Plenty of people would prefer to sleep in on Sunday in the luxury of their home than to sacrifice their Sunday by listening to a sermon message. For these people, they must be convinced why attending church service on a Sunday morning is worth their time. This reality is especially the case among Millennials, those born roughly between the years 1980–1995. Even for Millennials who grew up in the church, many have left it if for no other reason than that they only went at their parent’s command living under their roof. For Christians, this is a problem that clearly needs a solution. However, it is not the only problem. There is another problem that persists, one in which the blame is laid mostly, if not solely, on Millennials. It is the issue of entitlement.

Not Just the Millennial Generation

With entitlement, a person clings to their rights, believing there are things they inherently deserve. They downplay their role of responsibility. They do not seem to show gratitude to those who serve them and grumble at the smallest inconvenience. When they are told, “No!” they make a scene because they think they ought to get special treatment just because of who they are. The person who lives with an entitled mindset views life through the lens of personal preference, not sacrificial service. Understanding that, the issue of entitlement is not just a problem for the Millennial generation. It is a problem for all generations.

Millennials, Mayberry, and Motives

This means the mindset of entitlement can be as much of an issue for the Millennial generation as it is for the Mayberry generation. The subtlety of Mayberry’s problem with entitlement is it comes with a mask. Because the days of Mayberry featured church attendance as the cultural norm, there may be a temptation among some, though not all, from that time to believe they do not fall into the trap of entitlement because they give up their Sunday mornings for church. What they do not realize is the marker of the entitled mindset is not defined by merely looking at what you do with your mornings but what is going on in your motives. A person can attend church weekly their entire life but if they perform that act with the belief they have earned or deserve heaven, then they have been deceived into an entitled mindset. If a person serves in church leadership but lives a life marked by constant personal preference instead of sacrificial service for the glory of God and the good of others, then they are operating from an entitled mindset. The problem of entitlement may appear more pervasive among the Millennial generation but can penetrate the Mayberry generation just the same.

Seeing the Solution

We, the Millennial and Mayberry generations, have a problem. By God’s grace, Jesus Christ provides us with the solution. As God-in-the-flesh, He did not cling to His rights but gave up His divine rights so that in becoming a servant He would be our Savior (Philippians 2:6–7). Because of His life, death, and resurrection, we are given the free gift of eternal life in Him (Romans 6:23). As sinners, we earned the payment of death. As our Savior, Jesus extended to us eternal life. God’s grace gives us the very thing we do not deserve. We are not entitled to the grace of God. It has been extended to us in Christ and we have been entrusted with this great gift. The problem of entitlement is solved by seeing the person and work of Jesus Christ. So, whether you are living as a Millennial or longing for the days of Mayberry, check your heart to see where tendencies of entitlement may be. Where there is a desire for personal preference over sacrificial service, confess your sin to God and see Christ’s person and work as your hope of salvation. Entitlement is a problem of all generations just as Christ is the hope of all generations, including the Millennials.

Better Than I Deserve

It is a question we are asked nearly every day and, if we are honest, answer without any real thought. We answer half-heartedly, almost out of repetition. When someone says, “How are you today?” We say, “I am doing okay,” or “I am doing well,” even if we are not. We need to learn to share honest responses. More than that, as Christians, we ought to make it a habit of giving a biblical response. No phrase fits better in reply than these three words: Better than I deserve!

What We Deserve

Far from being a filler for conversation, better than I deserve captures a precious truth about the Christian life. It is the reality for the person who has been saved by the grace of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 6:23 sums it up beautifully, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” A wage is a payment we have earned from the work we have done. It is something we deserve. A gift, on the other hand, is something we are freely given from someone willing to extend it to us. It is not given because we inherently deserve it. The truth of Romans 6:23 tells us what we deserve is death for the work we have done, namely sin. Thankfully, the verse does not end there. It goes on to show us that God, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, extends to us His grace, the very thing we do not deserve. For all who repent of their sin and trust in Jesus alone for salvation, they will receive the gift of eternal life.

Better than We Deserve

The death we earn because of our sin is more than just a physical passing. It is a spiritual separation from eternal life with God. That means another day of life and another moment of breath is better than we deserve. Another week of work and the ability to study for school are reminders we have it better than we deserve. Yet, we tend to forget. We lose sight of the grace God has given us and we begin to view life through an entitled lens. We believe we deserve to get what we want when we want it. If we do not receive the pay raise or gain the recognition for our accomplishment or achievement in school or life, we grumble. We forget the truth of Romans 6:23. But when we reflect and remember this truth, our attitude will begin to change. As God’s word convicts us of our sin and shines the light on salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, our grumbling for what we believe we deserve will turn into gratitude because we have it better than we deserve. We are not entitled to anything good but are entrusted with the good we have by and from a gracious God!

In the Word and With Our Words

To truly give such a response does not come naturally. Our hearts are not typically inclined to respond in this manner unless we have made it a habit to intake God’s Word. Only as we study and meditate on His Word while we delight and depend on Him in prayer will our affections penetrate our attitudes and actions. When we spend time in the Word, God will transform our words. So, as you spend time in God’s Word this week, how will you let it impact your response when someone asks you, “How are you today?” By God’s grace, after my time in the Word, my reply will be, “Better than I deserve!”

The Morning of Our Mourning: A Poem

One of the hardest realities of life is losing a loved one to death. Followers of Christ are not immune to this. By that same virtue, believers also are not told they should not grieve. As those who recognize death has entered the world because of sin, we have reason to grieve. Yet, as those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, our grief is not like the world’s grief. Because Jesus has defeated death, our grief is coupled with hope. Hope in Jesus because of His resurrection. Hope in Jesus for His return. While there is a time for mourning, we know that true morning is coming. The following is a poem I share in honor of loved ones who have passed into glory and for those family members who grieve such losses.

The Morning of Our Mourning

We grieve your loss with hearts that are broken

We cling to Scripture where God has spoken.

The house of mourning is a better place to be,

Because it reminds us of the death we’ll all see.

The living take these moments to heart,

As they watch loved ones die and depart.

With death, we all struggle how we are to cope,

As Christians, we have Jesus and grieve with hope.

In our lamenting, we long for what is true,

With God, every morning his mercies are new.

In this life now, our sorrows give way to mourning in the night,

But in the life to come, in morning, God will make all things right.

There will be no more death, crying, or pain,

As we find joy in Jesus, death is gain.

My Mother’s Most Precious Gift

Mother’s Day provides us with the opportunity to express our gratitude toward our mothers and to celebrate them for who they are. For those who have given so much, we show our appreciation by giving to them. Oftentimes, this comes in the form of cards and presents. These gifts serve to encourage mothers. However, a mother’s most precious gift is not merely a card that can be written nor is it a present that can be wrapped. A mother’s most precious gift is a gift she longs to give to her children and a gift she hopes to receive from them: a testimony of a sincere faith in Christ.

Two Shining Examples

As the Apostle Paul nears the end of his life, he writes to his son in the faith, Timothy. The words he shares with him are found in the book of 2 Timothy. After a brief introduction, Paul gives thanks to God for his son in the faith. Paul’s prayer is filled with remembrance of close relationships. Paul is reminded of his close gospel partnership with Timothy, longing to see his son in the faith again. Yet, even though Paul sees Timothy as his son in the faith, the Apostle knows the immense impact blood-related family members have had on Timothy’s Christian faith. Two shining examples are mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:5, Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. What this passage demonstrates can be summed up by the influence of a grandmother and the impact of a mother on a son’s life.

The Testimony of a Sincere Christian Faith

The effect these two women had on Timothy’s life go beyond generalities. Listen to what Paul reminds Timothy of in 2 Timothy 1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well”. What Lois passed down to Eunice and what Eunice passed down to Timothy was a gift they had been given and they hoped Timothy would receive and give as well: a testimony of a sincere Christian faith. These women knew they could not force Timothy to trust in Christ alone for salvation, but their words and lives could speak truth into Timothy’s life. As Timothy witnessed such a testimony, he would see something he desired. As God softened his heart to the gospel and opened his eyes to his sin and need for Jesus, Timothy trusted in Christ alone for salvation and was indwelt with the Holy Spirit.

My Mother’s Gift

This testimony of a sincere Christian faith is the most precious gift a mother can give to her children and receive from her children. I thank God my mother has given such a gift to me. To witness her enduring faith in Jesus through hardships and trials, I have seen what it means to trust God even when life hurts. To watch her daily dependence on God when things don’t make sense has been an encouragement to me in my walk with Christ. As she has given to me the most precious gift she can, my prayer is I would give the gift of a testimony of a sincere Christian faith in return.

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.