Three Questions with Shaun Groves

Several weeks ago, a fellow blogger (and awesome musician) Shaun Groves posted an invite to ask him any three questions in order to spread the word about his latest musical genius Third World Symphony .  (Really, this album is beautiful genius! You can take a listen here. The video above tells a little bit of the story behind Third World Symphony.) I jumped at the opportunity to dig a little deeper into this man’s heart and head and understand someone I have such great respect for a little better.

Shaun’s had a few things going on his life these days, which makes his taking the time to answer these questions super special to me (did I mention my love language was quality time? P.S. this doubles as a shameless plug for comments! 🙂 )

So here were my three questions:

 1.  Strings Attached Ministries next event is on  the topic of prayer and action.  How do you feel these two disciplines intersect? Do you find that intersection reflected in your music?

You know, Cari, I’ve read a great deal about prayer – enough to know I know very little. It is perhaps the most puzzling and frustrating aspect of my relationship with God. How does it work? Why pray when God knows everything already? When is taking action a lack of faith in God’s ability to act on my behalf?

I’m thankful that God did not give us a plan or procedure but a Person, Jesus Christ. Spending time in prayer is spending time with Him. It is one aspect, I believe, of “abiding in Christ.” Essential since apart from Him we can do nothing right? But as far as the nuts and bolts of how or why prayer works? Well, I just don’t know. After volumes read and hours of sermons heard – I don’t know.

I do think that prayer does not negate our need to often take action. Sure, sometimes God’s answer is “wait” or “not yet.” But so often we find in action the opportunity to answer our own prayers, or the prayers of others, by using the gifts and resources He has given us to meet the needs He has caused us to take notice of. I try to remember that God’s calling is often at the intersection of need and ability. Hunger. Injustice. Poverty. These are needs I have the God -given ability to meet. So I am called to do so.

What good is it, James asked, to tell someone you’ll pray for them in their need when you could meet that need and answer their prayer instead?

 

2.What do you feel is your greatest challenge when leading corporate worship?

 Our Christian culture here in the West is very music-focussed, whereas biblical worship had nothing to do with music at all. The word “worship” is translated from 16 different Greek and Hebrew words and not one means “music.” So, how do I, as a singer guy, lead singing but at the same time communicate that worship must be more than music, that Church and faith can exist without music? That’s a challenge for me. How do I sing well without making singing the main thing for anyone else?

3.  What is (currently) your favorite Bible passage and why?

Proverbs 30:7-9 is a dangerous prayer at the center of my new record and of my life right now. In it Agur asks God for only two things. That’s remarkable in itself isn’t it? Only two things?

He asks that God keep him from believing lies.  And, second, that God would give him neither wealth not poverty.

He explains that if he becomes wealthy he will likely lose his dependence upon God and believe that he himself is god of his life – that all he has and does is his own doing.

But, he says, if he becomes poor there is another equal danger – he may steal in order to survive, not trusting God to provide him daily bread, and so dishonor God.

So, he prays that God give him only what he needs – no more and no less. Daily bread and God – that is all I need, he says. I wish that were always true for me. I pray that it is more and more.

 

Wow! That is good stuff! Do you see why I am such a fan?! My hope is to one day get to work face to face with Shaun during one of our community wide worship conferences, but for now I’ll have to live with soaking in his words of wisdom from my playlist and through my computer screen.  Stop by his blog, stay a while. Read his heart…it’s there for us to see and be blessed by.

 
Shaun Groves is a communicator who’s known by a lot of titles: Singer/songwriter. Speaker. Blogger. Husband. Daddy. Friend. He feels and thinks deeply and laughs easily. And he’s helping Christians discover what they were saved for, and being a voice for children around the world, desperate to be saved from poverty.

Book Review- People of the Book by Kathi Macias

This book arrived just as I was finishing leading the first retreat of a five part retreat series called Practicing Your Path. I was worn out and needed some light reading to distract me. This is the first book I’ve read of Kathi’s and I must say that I will be reading more.  While this book was so well written that it was both easy and enjoyable to read, it’s message certainly wasn’t light.  There’s meat there and a lot to think about.  I will be reading the rest of the series! Two thumbs up!

Here’s what Kathi had to say about things:

People of the Book is the fourth and final book in your Extreme Devotion series. Each book is set in a different country, with the theme of first devotion and commitment to Christ above all else running through all four. How is People of the Book different, and who/what inspired you to write this book?

People of the Book was the most difficult of the four Extreme Devotion series books to write, but it is also the strongest when it comes to a call to personal commitment to Christ and to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. With each of the books, I began drafting the manuscripts through Internet research, since I had never lived in any of the four countries and had only visited one of them. After the original draft, I worked with someone who either currently lived in the country or who had recently spent many years there. People of the Book was the toughest because the Saudi women I connected with via the Internet were understandably apprehensive about associating with me. Most, in fact, were terrified to do so. I was therefore quite pleased to meet a young woman named Dolly Dahdal here in the States who, until just a few years ago, had spent the majority of her life in Saudi Arabia and understood perfectly why I had chosen to write this book. We shared a passion to help expose the fallacy of “honor killings,” a horrific crime perpetrated primarily against women and girls who in some way bring “dishonor” on their Muslim families, and Dolly was a major contributor to the authenticity of this book.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of this story?

Eighteen-year-old Farah, who lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, wants nothing more than to develop a deeper, more meaningful devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and she pursues that goal throughout the holiday. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself. At the same time, her only brother, Kareem, who has never liked Farah, actively seeks an opportunity to expose her for the sham he believes she is.

Meanwhile, Farah’s seventeen-year-old cousin, Nura, has begun to frequent an online chat room where former Muslims gather to discuss their new faith, based on their belief that Isa is much more than a Muslim prophet—He is actually the Son of God. While there, Nura becomes acquainted with an American girl of Muslim ancestry—now a devout Christian named Sara—and a friendship quickly develops. However, Sara has problems of her own due to her fifteen-year-old brother Emir’s involvement with a gang.

The lives of Farah, Nura, and Sara ultimately dovetail until each finds herself at a place where her faith is put to the test. Will they remain faithful to the end? Will God protect and keep them safe in the midst of persecution and treachery? Or will they be required to pay the ultimate price for their faith?

Kathi, how did you get into writing? Has it always been your passion, or is it something you came to later in life?

I’ve always wanted to write, for as long as I can remember. I was an avid reader even before I started kindergarten. I wrote a short story in third grade that the teacher liked so much she showed it to the principal, and they decided to turn it into a play for the entire PTA. I was hooked! One day when I was about 13, I was walking home from school with my then boyfriend (now husband), Al, and I told him I’d be a writer some day. He often reminds me how blessed I am to have been able to do what I dreamed of all my life.

I understand you’re running a special contest that has to do with this book. Can you tell us about it?

Not only are there several opportunities to win a copy of the book on various blog sites included in this tour, but I’m giving away the entire four-book series at the end of the tour to someone who leaves a comment on one of the blogs, so be sure to check them all out and leave comments on each one!

In addition to writing, you are a popular speaker at women’s event, writers’ conferences, and various venues around the country. How can people find out more about you, your writing and speaking, sign up for your weekly devotional newsletter (in English or Spanish), and/or just view your many book videos, etc.?

They can find me at one of my websites (http://www.kathimacias.com;http://www.theTitus2Women.com) or on my Easy Writer blog athttp://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com. There is a “contact” button on my Kathi Macias website if they’d like to send me a message. I always respond to all my emails!

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speaker Services (www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com).

Review – Between a Rock and A Grace Place by Carol Kent

If you are struggling with the question “Why, God?”- run…don’t walk to get this book. Carol’s story is heart wrenching and compassionately told, and full of nuggets of hope and grace in an ugly, fallen world.  I could not put this book down.  A definite must read.

Here’s a little video to introduce the book and Carol’s story, and a  short interview with Carol.  I hope you enjoy!

What are “grace places,” and how can hurting people in need find them?

All of us experience tight spots when life turns out differently from our dream. When we face the overwhelming obstacles of life, we can experience the last thing we ever expect—the sweet spot of grace. Grace places have a variety of forms, but some include:

  • Receiving love when we don’t deserve it
  • Finding safety in the middle of a fearful and uncertain experience
  • Being comforted by friends and family (people who are extensions of God’s love)
  • Experiencing the embrace of God when we have run out of strength and courage

“Grace means the free, unmerited, unexpected love of God, and all the benefits, delights, and comforts which flow from it.” (R.P.C. Hanson)

How important are contentment and gratitude in finding grace and peace?

My son, Jason, is teaching me that I need to choose contentment and thanksgiving in all things. As an inmate in a maximum-security prison, all of his personal items must fit in one small one-foot-high and one-and a half-feet-deep and two-and-a half feet long steel lockbox. He has learned to live comfortably with very little, which brings him a surprising sense of peace.

When I was visiting him one weekend I asked how he holds on to hope in the middle of a life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence. He said, “Mom, I have a gratitude list. Whenever the clouds of depression try to discouragement, I get out a piece of paper and write down everything I have to be thankful for. I’m thankful I have two parents who will be my advocates for as long as they live. The average number of years a lifer gets visits is five years and then no one comes anymore. I’m also thankful I can be a missionary on a compound that houses up to 1,700 men.” I’m learning from Jason that I find contentment when I choose to be thankful and when I invest my time in helping other people.

There is a theme of surprise throughout the book. What is one of the greatest surprises you’ve had?

The powerful story of Tammy Wilson and Matthew Ben Rodriguez is in this book. Tammy contacted me after I spoke at an event she attended because my son is incarcerated in the same prison where Matt, the man who killed her mother thirteen years ago is incarcerated. She had been praying for someone to lead Matt to Christ and asked if Jason would try to meet him. It turned out that Jason and Matt were already friends and this amazing story is one of forgiveness, redemption, and restoration that can only be explained in the supernatural dimension.

Between a Rock and a Grace Place releases 10 years after your son, Jason, was sentenced to life in a maximum security prison and includes excerpts from Jason’s letters. Can you tell us how he’s doing now?

He has just taken his 8th group of men through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course and he will be facilitating a biblical counseling class on marriage and family this fall. He has a prayer group of twelve inmates who fast and pray for the needs of each other and their families. Prison is a depressing, dark, and sad place, but Jason is living for things that will outlast him.

When you received news about Jason’s clemency hearing being denied, how did you respond?

I wailed like a baby, sobbed, felt angry, hurt, and disappointed in God. Then we saw Jason a day after this devastating news. He was calm and very much at peace. He hugged me as I wept and said, “Mom, this case isn’t about having the best attorney or about having the favor of Florida’s top executive political leaders. If I am ever allowed to walk in freedom in this lifetime, it will be because God miraculously opened a door that was closed.” My son helps me to develop an eternal perspective and that day he comforted me.

What advice do you have for those who are stuck between a rock and a grace place?

In the middle of your own hurt reach out to someone else who needs help worse than you do. When you involve yourself in meeting the needs of others, you discover an unexpected freedom on the inside. Corrie ten Boom once said, “What did you do today that only a Christian would have done?”

As a result of your journey, you and your husband have founded the nonprofit organization Speak Up for Hope. What are the goals of the organization, and how can people get involved?

Our vision: To help inmates and their families adjust to their new normal.

Our mission: We exist to provide hope to inmates and their families through encouragement and resources.

Please go to http://www.speakupforhope.org for a list of practical ways individuals, churches, and organizations can help with specific projects. Our goal is to live out the truth of Prov. 31:8-9: “Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice. Stand up for the poor and destitute!”

Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of Between a Rock and a Grace Place?

I would love for you to visit my web site at www.CarolKent.org, browse through the various events and other resources available. You may also join me on my Facebook page, please click here.

About the Author

Carol Kent is the bestselling author of When I Lay My Isaac Down and A New Kind of Normal. Carol is an expert on public speaking, writing, and on encouraging people to hold on to hope when life’s circumstances turn out differently from their dreams. She lives in Florida with her husband Gene.

Carol Kent is a popular international public speaker best known for being dynamic, humorous, encouraging, and biblical. She is a former radio show co-host and has often been a guest on Focus on the Family and a featured speaker at Time Out for Women and Heritage Keepers arena events. She has spoken at The Praise Gathering for Believers and at Vision New England’s Congress. She is also a frequent speaker at Women of Virtue events across the country.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by Zondervan in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services atwww.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire

Recently, I ran across a woman who wrote a memoir about her life as a Christian witch.  As a former Wiccan, this caught my attention.  Escaping the Cauldron is an open and honest look at the world of the occult and how Christian’s are being drawn into that world.  It is a fantastic resource and a fascinating read. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a friend or relative who is involved with or drawn to the supernatural/occult. Below is an interview about her book and what she hopes to achieve through it.

What is the book about?

The book is part testimony of how I went from committed, albeit legalistic, Christian for twenty-nine years to witch, medium, and ghost hunter for eight years before God restored my faith and life. It details my personal struggle with trying to be “the perfect Christian” while being drawn to the Occult from childhood. The book is also a Biblical study that examines the current pop-cultural interest in the occult (in particular ghosts, hauntings, and mediums) and how this interest is affecting Christians as well as their beliefs about the supernatural.

Why call it Escaping the Cauldron?

This is actually the first book in a series, What Christians Need to Know about the Occult. It is a series of collections written from my former experiences as a witch, medium, and ghost hunter. This book is primarily about ghost hunting, mediumship, and the paranormal but I chose “Escaping the Cauldron” as the main title because witchcraft was truly my entry into the arena of occult interest and exploration including such things as divination, psychic ability, spirit guides, mediumship, ghost hunting, etc.

What do you think is the most important chapter of the book?

I think there are many important chapters but “Spiritual Warfare” and “How Should Christians Respond?”are the two which take everything discussed in the previous chapters bringing it all together, helping the reader understand their authority in Jesus Christ and leading the way to a ready defense for any kind of paranormal or supernatural event they may experience in their life as a Christian.

What do you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hope to inform and equip Christians with information about the occult. Additionally I pray the church will begin to acknowledge the presence of the spiritual world around us and listen to people who come forward with stories or claims of paranormal experiences without dismissing them immediately. When the church refuses to listen or offer any Biblical assistance, many people are forced to seek help elsewhere. This generally means seeking out ghost hunters, mediums, and psychics. I also hope to encourage Christians who may be questioning their faith to seek a deeper relationship with God, especially if they are stuck in a form of legalism. Our answers truly can be found in Jesus Christ.

Where is the book currently available to purchase?

The book is available in paperback and Kindle editions at Amazon. The book is also available in paperback and e-book editions at my blog site: Kristine ReMixed at www.KristineMcGuire.com and Lulu Publishing.

How are you available to the Christian community?

I write a daily blog, Kristine ReMixed at www.KristineMcGuire.com, on a variety of topics including faith, marriage, prayer, spiritual gifts, and the occult. I also work with my husband through Big Fish Ministries at www.BigFishMinistries.com, ministering through speaking with him at church and para-church events about marriage, facilitating seven day or special event prayer rooms, helping the homeless, etc. I am also available to speak at any youth, women’s, or church events on a variety of Christian topics.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the author in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.