Archive for the tag “Family Christian Stores”

Max Lucado’s Before Amen – SPONSORED POST


book of the year

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing

Family Christian gave me the opportunity to review Max Lucado’s book, before amen. Not only did I jump at the chance to review it, I was excited to! before amen is Family Christian’s 2015 Book of the Year!!! Congrats Max!!! (or is that Mr. Lucado….Mr. L….M.L.?)

Andy Mineo, on his new album Never Land, said it best, “I talk about You more than I talk TO You.”

Countless Christians walk into churches on Sunday where that line is very poignant. Charles Spurgeon, the 19th century preacher, called the basement of his church the powerhouse of the church. That is where the “praying without ceasing” happens. Spurgeon explained it this way, “If the engine room is out of action, then the whole mill will grind to a halt. We cannot expect a blessing if we do not ask.”

Matthew 6:9-13 – “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Max Lucado brought out before amen, a study on the Lord’s Prayer given to us by Christ in Matthew 6:9-13. The really cool thing about this book is that it breaks down the Lord’s Prayer into simple, understandable nuggets that each Christian can put into practice.

Max calls his version of the Lord’s Prayer the Pocket Prayer. It takes each line of the Lord’s Prayer and places it in simple language. How often have we thought about the Lord’s Prayer and certain lines such as “forgive us our debts…” and said, “My only debt is my mortgage. Is the Lord going to forgive my mortgage?” He takes those lines that many people can get hung up on and breaks into simple terms. For example, for that section above, he calls it “Forgive me.”

He starts introducing us to the Pocket Prayer by saying that he is looking at God through the eyes of a child. We need to get to a place of being God’s child before we can truly understand what it means to pray with faith and power. Children are simple. They don’t speak eloquently or in long-winded fashion. They pray simple, direct prayers.

And that is the definition of Lucado’s Pocket Prayer.

It is to break down the mysticism and fear regarding prayer and turn it into a simple, child-like action of love and faith.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Prayer should not be something we need to schedule time in our day to do. It should guide our day.

food book pic

Prayer should not just be there to talk to God when we need Him the most. It should be the comfort that is with us each and every minute of the day, good times and bad.

Mimi hospital book

Max wants each and every person to know that prayer is simple. It is reaching out in child-like faith to our Daddy. He wants us to realize that is what Jesus was doing when He called out to Abba…father, daddy. If we think of God as daddy, then that changes how we speak to Him. we begin to speak in simple and direct terms.

When my son was 5 and wanted a toy or piece of candy, he would tell me, in no uncertain terms, that he wanted that candy. He didn’t come up to me and say, “Hey daddy, I am thinking of a 5 letter word, starts with ‘c’ and ends with ‘y’.”

But that seems to be what a lot of our prayers sound like.

Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Max is trying to teach us to be direct. Be specific. It isn’t that God needs to hear it to issue it, but it is that we need to hear ourselves say exactly what we need in order to understand when the blessing comes. How can you know you have been blessed if you don’t even know what it is you want God to bless you for?

The overarching message of this book is that prayer is simple and we shouldn’t be scared of it or avoid it.

I do have a small criticism of this book, however. The Pocket Prayer is a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer. It is very easy for people to read that all they have to do is utter the 20 words of the Pocket Prayer and their day is sealed. Prayer is a little more involved than that and in each individual chapter around the words of his Pocket Prayer, Lucado goes into more detail that brings the reality of what the prayer is about.

Overall, before amen is a great addition to any Christian’s library. This is especially true for those Christians who are constantly mentoring new believers. This book is a wonderful teaching guide to prayer for a new believer.

1 John 5:14 – And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

It even has a study guide that will allow the mentor and disciple to spend time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in accountability to each other.

If you would like to find this book and the materials to run a study group around it, you can locate everything on the Family Christian site here.

Max Lucado is the preaching minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, TX. He has published 31 books over the past 29 years. Max, and his wife Denalyn, have three grown daughters.

*SPONSORED POST* We Are Leo’s “Fightback Soundtrack” album

This is a sponsored post. Family Christian stores was kind enough to send me a CD of We Are Leo’s new album in return for this post. Even though it is a sponsored post, these views are completely honest. I LOVE We Are Leo!

Very rarely does an album come along in which every song on it is so very well done that you don’t want to skip any. In my experience with Christian music, I can only think of a few other albums that would be able to earn that description. Magdallan’s “Big Bang” and Abandon Kansas “Ad Astra per Aspera” are two of those albums. We Are Leo’s “Fightback Soundtrack” is another one of those albums.


Each song on this album could easily be found on the radio. There is not one song that falls short. Each of the songs is so well put together that it reminds me of brush strokes on a canvas by a famous painter. Each stroke ignites passion and fire. Each note played brings people to dance. If you love to dance, check out Yours4sure, Epic, and Fire Inside You as well as the title track.

With the release of Fightback Soundtrack, We Are Leo unapologetically sings words of hope and healing to teens and young adults who live in this dark world. Take these lyrics from the title track:

This is the aftermath

of a broken world

called Planet Earth

And life, is a Love Story

on a battlefield

Where the lines get blurred

This song, and many others on the album, go on to give identity to this generation. It is a battle cry to fight back against the injustice and lies that come with being human. It is a call to the youth to rely on God for strength. We can hold our heads up high as travel this broken world with the love of Christ as our guide.

This is an album for dreamers. Keep dreaming.

This is an album for believers. Keep believing.

Live the faith that God will provide you what you need to put the pieces back together in this life for yourself and others.

I have been blessed to know David Duffield and We Are Leo since we saw them back in 2010 as a family. the concert we saw was awesome and, in talking with the band afterward, we started discussing how to get them out to my church to play a set. Unfortunately that didn’t happen (maybe one day). Here is a picture from when my family and I first saw them in 2010.


But since then, We Are Leo has traveled all over spreading the love of Christ to a generation that so sorely needs that love. They have a unique way expressing God’s love. They live it out. It is evident in the lyrics they sing and the life they live.

If you want to find this album, you can locate it here:

Sponsored Post – Lecrae #ANOMALY Tour

This is pretty much part 2 to my blog posts about Lecrae’s ANOMALY tour. A few months ago, Family Christian Stores gave away some tickets to see Lecrae and guests for a handful of bloggers. As my kids have grown up on his music, I felt the desire and need to be there. God shined on me that day because I was one of the bloggers selected. Family Christian Stores provided free tickets to the concert in return for a single blog post and some pictures of the concert. And before I get into the concert information, Family Christian Stores is doing a fundraiser to help end human trafficking. Look up #FCchallenge to find out more info, but they are looking to raise $150,000.  And during November 22-30, the earnings from shopping at Family Christian Stores will go to Destiny Rescue, an organization that helps fight human trafficking.

TicketI felt it very important to write a follow up post.

Lecrae has been a very ubiquitous name over the past year. He has been a feature article in many of the Christian and secular magazines. He made his acting debut in a movie. He has a new album.

He has a LOT of press out there about him.

And not all of the press is good press.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 – but test them all; hold on to what is good

I, myself, have found myself at time speaking negatively about some of the projects or lyrics that Lecrae has posted.

I read an article tonight by a very respected Christian organization that claimed that Lecrae HAS become ashamed of the Gospel.

But tonight’s concert reinforced in my mind that Lecrae is still very much sold out to Christ, although his approach to music and media has changed.


Let me explain.

As I read the lyrics to the songs in Lecrae’s Anomaly album, I found that in a lot of the lyrics, Christ is missing. Where once Lecrae was unashamedly Christian in his approach to music, now he is hiding that Gospel a little.   Songs like Welcome to America, Nuthin’, and Dirty Water are all missing the redemption that comes through Christ. They start with a powerful message about society, and how it is screwed up, but that is where it stays, and, in my opinion, dies.

LecraeThere is no doubt that musically Lecrae is at the top of his game. But lyrically, I believe he lost a lot since Rebel was released in 2010.

And this message has transcended to his interviews. While still being touted as a Christian rapper by the Christian community, Lecrae has started the shift away from associating himself with the Christian title on his music by claiming more than once in a recent interview that he is a “rapper who is a devout Christian.” There is a big difference between being a Christian rapper and a rapper who is a Christian. Subtle on the outside, but significant on the inside.

This change from Christian rapper to rapper who is Christian opens up the world for topics for Lecrae. It allows him to push the edge a little more. It allows him to make his music the way a mentor works with a disciple, messy.

There is nothing “clean” or “pretty” about the Christian faith.

It is very messy.

What is it that Paul says about becoming all things to all people? Oh yea,

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

But Lecrae’s controversies are not why I am writing this article. I am writing it because last night I went to his concert. And, SPOILER ALERT, the concert was great!

But I need to give a quick disclaimer, while I thought the concert was very good, the venue for the concert was not. I went in with my girlfriend and 4 kids ranging in age from 11 to 15. When we got there, the only seats we could find were on the second level behind a bunch of people the kids could not see any of the concert. I felt really bad for them because for 3 hours they had to look at the back of peoples’ heads.

But the concert itself?


Psalm 150:6 – Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

It started with DJ Promote (@DJPromote). He took the stage and set the scene for the rest of the night. The graphics that were flipping on the screens behind him danced in sync to the music that he was spinning. Kicking off with a rave sound, he ended his set with some high energy hip-hop.

DJ PromoteAfter about a 10 minute intermission, Andy Mineo (@AndyMineo) hit the stage. I have to admit that I really didn’t think I would enjoy his show. I’ve been listening to a lot of his music lately on Pandora and just wasn’t that impressed.

But I was sorely mistaken!

20141102_203624Andy Mineo put on a show that was hands down amazing! He played mostly songs off his new EP, Neverland. They were hard hitting, gritty, and downright awesome. He even had special guest Trip Lee show up. For those who don’t know, Trip now lives in DC and is the pastoral assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

Andy Mineo and Trip Lee

My daughter looked at me after Andy’s set and said, “I need his album!” So off we went to pick up his Neverland CD and so far she has listened to it at least 3 million times.

After about a 20 minute intermission, Lecrae (@Lecrae) took the stage. He walked the audience through a movie of his life. From a teenager whose dad was gone to the drugs to abortion with his girlfriend. Just when you felt the sadness creep in of hopelessness, Lecrae ends this half of the set with a video of him under water and emerging a new creation.


Once that was finished, he did a set for those out there who were with their significant others. He did an wedding party soundtrack with some remixes of those songs we all loved to dance to followed by a few of his own songs. The highlight was when he came upstairs to rap. He took a small stage that was about 20 feet from where we were standing. It gave us the best views all night and was one of the best parts of the concert.


Overall, musically, the sound was amazing. The crowd was engaged and everyone seemed to know all the songs and enjoy the track list.

But I want to finish this with one final piece. This has been publicized as a Christian concert. With all of the controversy surrounding Lecrae lately, I was worried that I would be walking into a theological nightmare.

But that wasn’t completely the case. Yes, not every song was a worship song, but Lecrae drove the message home that Christ is sitting on the throne of his heart. And while both DJ Promote and Andy Mineo didn’t really lead the listener to the risen Christ, Lecrae did a decent job of doing just that.

There were no deep theological points brought up in his monologues. Just simple comments about where his life was before he accepted Christ and what has happened since he accepted Christ.

I do want to challenge everyone to research the theology behind Lecrae, Andy Mineo and DJ Promote. It is important to know the message that you, or your kids in my case, will be getting when they hear the music.

But right now, I can say that I feel comfortable letting my middle and high schoolers listen to Lecrae.


Lecrae’s Anomaly Tour – Throwback to the Future

A few years ago I had the opportunity to take my kids to a concert. As a single dad who only has his kids part time, I can’t be sure of what they are listening to when they are not with me so I like to make sure they have some modern-day Christian equivalents of the music they hear in the halls of the public school. Enter the now defunct Purple Door festival. I packed my kids in the car and made the 3 hour journey north and got set up on a blanket not far from the stage.

One of the first musicians out that first day was Lecrae.

When that bass dropped and the music was kicking my kids looked at each other, jaws dropped, and they both rushed the stage. For the next hour they were enveloped in a human ocean of kids twice their size as they were dancing to the music. The only time I saw one of them was when my daughter came back to get my phone and take pictures of him on stage.

Lecrae Purple DoorEver since that day, one of son’s favorite Christian artists has been Lecrae. In 2010 we purchased the Rebel CD. Clearly for the next two years his favorite song was “Go Hard or Go Home.” Before every soccer game, we had to put that CD on as we drove to the game and play the song over and over again, each time getting more and more riled up before the game. It gave me some great opportunities to talk to my kids about how we are to go hard for Christ. How we don’t know just how much time we really have with people so that we need to make the most of it and ensure they hear the Gospel message.

In 2014, Lecrae’s new album is out and it is amazing! It is titled Anomaly.

Lecrae has said that an anomaly is something that deviates from what is normal or expected. He has not always fit in. His values go against the typical hip-hop culture. He feels that “success is being what God has called us to be and fighting to the death to live that out.” And if you are wondering if a Christian artist can see success in an evil world, well, just look at the simple fact that Lecrae’s Anomaly album just hit #1 in Billboard’s Top 200.

Lecrae has been very successful. I’ve seen his concerts go from about 50 people backstage waiting for him to too many to count. He went from a fairly underground hip-hop artist to one who is respected by most of the secular hip-hop industry. Lecrae is an anomaly. He doesn’t fit into any of it. But he has made an impact through the power of the Holy Spirit in all of it.

Lecrae Bringing the Worship

When Family Christian Bookstores posted the opportunity for me to go to see Lecrae’s Anomaly concert, I had to make sure I was there! Now the concert isn’t until November 2, so you can expect to see another post about the concert with some photos and video clips.

In the meantime, there are some things I want each of my readers to do. It is response time, Christians.

First, check out the tour schedule here.

See if you can get to a concert. You will not only see Lecrae, but also Andy Mineo and DJ Promote. I guarantee you will be blessed. When one hears Lecrae, they can’t help but KNOW the power of the Holy Spirit is in that man. As people who may never have heard the Gospel start singing about the risen Christ, there is no doubt in my mind that people will be getting saved!

The next thing I would like my readers to do check out The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Thursday 9/18 at 11:35 PM. He will be sharing some of the music of Anomaly, an album that is deep with emotion and hard with its beats.

Finally, I will ask all of my readers to pray for Lecrae and everyone on his team. Being a leader is tough enough. Being a leader in a very public forum is even tougher. Being a public figure in the hip-hop world and proclaiming Christ is impossible to do without the prayers of the saints. Keep Lecrae in prayer. That he will never stray from the Gospel message of the Bible. That he will keep Christ first in his songs, in his shows, and in his life. That he will be protected by the evil one during this tour and bold enough to shake the footholds Satan has put around the cities he is going to play in.

And to Lecrae, thank you for repping the kingdom of Christ. Every time I hear your music, I hear you valuing Jesus and in your videos I see you valuing Jesus in the way you rep His name. God be with you Lecrae as you head on tour.

Family Christian has sponsored me to write this through sending me to the concert. But even if I didn’t get free tickets to go, I would still be heading to the concert anyway because my family loves Lecrae’s music and message.

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