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What I want my life to be about

While I feel far from this at times, this is what I’m striving for and where I want to see my life change:

Made to Make a Difference with Max Lucado

For the past few months, our creative team at Bluefish TV has been in the process of creating three video-driven youth Bible studies with Francis Chan, Max Lucado, and Doug Fields. In early August, the studies released and it’s been so neat to see the final outcome. I had a blast writing copy, editing, finding real-life stories, and networking with some really great people on this project.

Made to Make a Difference was the Bible study we worked on with Max Lucado and his daughter Jenna. This study in particular is so unique as it challenges students to get beyond themselves and to step out and make a difference in the lives of others.

Here is a 2 minute glimpse into the study. I get chills every time I watch it. I hope you’ll pass the info along to anyone you know involved in the lives of youth.

Newest Bible Studies: Prodigal Perspectives, Keep Climbing, & Why Jesus?

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One thing I love about being a writer for our Bluefish TV Bible studies is the faith journey I get to take in the process of writing. It’s often that I’m experiencing something on the topic I have to write about (crazy how that works out).

Prodigal Perspectives with Chris Seay is a study that blew me away in the process of writing. I had never truly studied the Parable of the Prodigal Son within its proper context and culture. I was amazed at how in my life, I have been both the elder son and the younger son and that I’m in desperate need of the Father and his grace. The dramatic monologues performed by actor Jason Hildebrand are so powerful. This study is my favorite this year. You’ll have to take a look at the trailer to see what I mean (click on the purple title).

Keep Climbing with Todd Phillips. In the time-frame I had to write the leader’s guide, I was going through a few mountains of my own in life: my Dad’s surgery on his brain tumor and the difficulties of being sleep deprived with a newborn baby while being heavily involved in full-time ministry, work, and my husband’s schooling. It was neat to see how God helped use what I was going through to write the study. I’m not so sure I could have written it the same without going through those trials.

Why Jesus? with David Nasser is a study that David himself wrote and that myself and our publisher Jackie edited. It was filmed on the streets of Israel and answers the tough questions people about Jesus and why they should follow him. I don’t really have words to describe this study because it’s just so amazing.

It’s rare that really any of our team knows the exact impact that our work has on people’s lives, but that’s probably a good thing. The impact is up to God. It’s his kingdom and his work. We just get to be a part of it. And that is what makes it all so awesome.

Amena Brown: Resurrection

This week, I’ll be taking a break from writing on my blog to post a few video clips that our Bluefish producers have created. I’m excited to spend this week taking a step back to reflect on all that our Savior has done for us and will continue to do.

I hope the videos posted this week will strengthen your faith and encourage you in whatever you’re facing today.

The voice behind this 2-minute video is spoken-word artist, Amena Brown.

RightNow Conference Highlights

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Kay Warren, Lonnie Smith, Matt Chandler

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me and Donald Miller

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Kari Jobe, Lonnie Smith, Amena Brown

I feel like I’ve been saved all over again. Well, that’s what I told Jeremiah on the last day of the RightNow Conference.

The theme of our conference: Trading in the pursuit of the American Dream for a world that desperately needs Christ, spoke to me in so many ways and I don’t want to live my life any other way than to be a “trader.”

Here are a few highlights, nuggets, and take-aways I got this past weekend:

1.) I am selfish and don’t naturally think of others every day, so I must make a conscious effort to trade in my selfishness to help others who need physical healing and help, but most of all, who need the gospel.

2.) Even Francis Chan has wanted to quit. If someone like him can admit that, we should too. Leadership and ministry is a difficult, messy, but well worth it road.

3.) Living for and following Jesus requires a dangerous surrender. Kay Warren encouraged us on Fri. evening to surrender our life to the cause of Christ and to be willing to die for it. Her boldness inspired me and I don’t think anyone left that room unchanged that night.

4.) Matt Chandler’s passion for the gospel is unmatched. He helped us to get the gospel right and I can’t even begin to describe the magnitude at which the Holy Spirit uses him when he teaches God’s word.

5.) Eating Bar-b-que with Kari Jobe and her band. Jeremiah and I had a good time getting to know Kari and her band during dinner. Kari led our worship at the event and it was beautiful and God-exalting. Hearing her sing Revelation Song, Healer, and I Live to Worship You live was the best. She was a joy to meet in person. Check out her music at karijobe.com!

6.) Getting to see Brian Mosley, Marc McCartney, Lonnie Smith, Natalie Drew, and all our video producers in action. Brian is my boss and the Founder of Rightnow. Marc is our Dir. of Events. Lonnie is the Dir. of Church Relations. Natalie was in charge of all the details of recruiting volunteers and tons of the behind the scenes stuff. Every day in the office, I see their passion for our generation, but this weekend I got to see it on stage and among thousands of leaders. It was awesome!

7.) Spending an hour with Anne Jackson over pizza. We had so much fun talking about writing, her upcoming book, marriage, and things we struggle with. It was great getting to know her husband Chris as well (aka her road manager for the trip). Just in one hour, I felt like I’d known her all my life. Now I know why the world is so crazy about her!

8.) Getting a personal note from Kay Warren, and her book Dangerous Surrender. I received a very sweet note from Kay along with her book. I never had the chance to meet her though until after I got the book. She told me someone told her about me. I was shocked and humbled and right now I really want to thank whoever did that. :)

So the conference is over and now we are packing all the video and content from the main sessions into the upcoming RightNow Leadership Development Kit. We have lots to do and are so excited to get the experience out to many more leaders.

What stirs your affections?

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869617_84392121We’re interviewing Matt Chandler this weekend at the LeadNow conference here in Dallas. I was preparing some interview questions yesterday and was stirred by some things he’s said in an article with Leadership Journal. At The Village Church where Matt pastors, he believes that sanctification begins by answering two questions: What stirs your affections for Jesus Christ? And what robs you of those affections?

Those questions reminded me of my post from Monday on simplicity. I think the bottom line of what I wrote on that post deals with my own affections. And most importantly, what things might be robbing me of putting my full joy and delight in Christ alone?

In the LJ interview Matt goes on to say that “Many of the things that stifle growth are morally neutral. They’re not bad things. Facebook is not bad. Television and movies are not bad. I enjoy TV, but it doesn’t take long for me to begin to find humorous on TV what the Lord finds heartbreaking…”

I appreciate Matt’s honesty in that he’s not exempt from certain affections that could stifle his growth either. It doesn’t matter if he’s a pastor of a renowned church. The reality is that he’s human. And no one is exempt.

I was reading this morning in Proverbs 4 and in verse 23 it said to “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

I was reminded once again of where I’m placing my affections. What am I allowing myself to see with my eyes, hear with my ears, believe in my heart, ponder in my mind, and then what do my actions reveal? If someone were to take a sneak peak inside my heart, will they see that my deepest affections are for Jesus?

I hope so.

It goes on to say in verse 26 to, “Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.”

It’s a challenge to watch over my heart and the path that I tread each day, but the command is there for protection so that the fruit of my life will be what God wants- not my own fleshly desires.

I’m excited to see if Matt will hit on this at the conference at some point. I’m hoping he will!

Are you a trader?

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SGT_LogoThe term “trader” has infused where I work for quite a while. In 2000, my boss Brian Mosley founded the RightNow Campaign to help 20s and 30s connect to opportunities here and abroad to put their faith into action. The mission of RightNow is simple: To help our generation trade in the pursuit of the American Dream for a world that desperately needs Christ.

Every year, we put on the Rightnow Conference and it’s coming up in less than two weeks. This year’s theme is The Mission of the Church Matters. The line up includes pastors and authors Donald Miller, Francis Chan, Mark Batterson, Kay Warren, Matt Chandler, George Barna, and more.

I’ll be working at the conference, scribbling away on my note pad to prepare to write the curriculum for our upcoming RightNow Leadership Kit we’re producing. I absolutely cannot wait to soak in what these guys have to say.

Bluefish TV, the RightNow conference, and our new site SmallGroupTrader.com all stand under the umbrella of the RightNow Campaign’s mission of trading in the pursuit of the American Dream. Every thing we produce is to help others put their faith into action.

So that’s a little background info you may or may not have wanted! Now that leads me to expound a little more on Small Group Trader.

Our name was originally called Small Group Exchange but we decided to narrow our focus more to the idea of being a trader because Small groups aren’t an end to themselves- we’re calling small groups to battle against the “me-centered” way of thinking (that we all struggle with at times) by trading it in for the the missional call of Jesus – to care for the homeless, minister to the sick, and share Christ’s love with our neighbors.

I’m super excited about this change as it gives us a more clarified mission to strive for as a ministry, calling others to live out Jesus’ command. A nice home, car, clothes, savings account, etc. are good things that God wants me to enjoy, but it’s the pursuit and striving for them that I have to question. I have to constantly ask myself: Am I living for the dream or pursuing what really matters for eternity?

As the Content Editor for Small Group Trader, I can’t wait to see where this site goes and how small groups across the country will be impacted by this mission. If you’re a small group leader, small groups or community pastor, have thoughts you want to share on leadership, or have been impacted at all by being in a small group, let me know.

Step out and share your story. Be an encouragement to others who are trying to fulfill God’s mission for their lives.

You can email me at editor [at] smallgrouptrader [dot] [com]

How are you being a trader with your time, talents, and treasures? Are you willing to give up the pursuit of the American Dream for a world that desperately needs Christ?

Marriage: Built to Last #2

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marriageI used to think I was perfect- until I got married. Okay so not perfect, but maybe close to perfect.

And it’s hard to believe in December we’ll be celebrating four years of marriage. It’s truly a gift from God and today, I respect and love my husband more than on the day I committed my life to his. He’s my best friend and soul-mate, and I couldn’t live with without him. But I’d be lying if I told you that our marriage isn’t hard work. And that it doesn’t require living intentionally and loving biblically.

Well for a while now, at Bluefish TV, we’ve been working on a small group bible study series called Marriage: Built to Last that I wrote about a few posts ago. We got the kit back from the manufacturer last week and I’m blown away by how well the stories, teaching, and spots have come together.

What I love most about what we’ve produced is the stories from real-life couples. They are transparent to the core and share about real life issues like expectations, communication, conflict, and sex and intimacy. I also say “to the core,” meaning that these couples get down to the dirty, ugly details of their marriage. Some of them expose their pride, anger, pornography, past baggage, affairs, control issues, spending habits, unhappiness and more.

I’ve never really seen such brutal honesty. But it’s so neat to see that through that authenticity, God can really work and it’s evident He has in their marriages. He can replace that pain and brokenness with joy and life and put couples on the path that leads to a marriage built to last.

Head on over to Bluefish TV and watch the trailer to get a sneak peak into the series. Thank you also to my friends Zech and Kim Lumpkin and Chase and Elizabeth Hammon for sharing your stories with couples across the country.

Marriage Interview w/ Dave Ramsey

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Brian & Phil with Dave Ramsey

Brian & Phil with Dave Ramsey

This morning, I walked into my office and to my surprise the book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey was on my desk. I giggled under my breath because my boss Brian and our VP of Video Production Phil were just in Nashville last week to interview Dave Ramsey himself.

I opened the flap and there it was. Dave’s signature in black ink that said To: Samantha. Romans 12:2: “Transforms!”

For a Monday morning just barely awake, this was the best gift ever. Dave had given Brian and Phil some books to bring back. Brian knew how much I loved Dave and the impact he’s had on me and Jeremiah with finances. Through Financial Peace University, Dave’s helped bring us into the light in understanding money and making wise decisions. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve seen parts of our journey in beating debt. (also more posts under the Finance category).

Dave’s interview will be featured in a DVD series we’re creating at Bluefish called Marriage: Built to Last. Dave’s story along with Kurt Warner and Josh Hamilton are the high profile interviews a part of the series. Chip Ingram is going to do the biblical teaching in the series and we’ve shot around 20 real-life marriage stories. Maybe I’m biased, but I think this series is going to be one of the best marriage resources out there and I think you should get it whether you’re married or not!

I can’t wait to see the rough cut of Dave’s interview and to dive into this book.

Man on the Street: Who is Jesus?

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crossFor Bluefish, we recently did some man on the street interviews here in Dallas. The interviews will go into our upcoming youth series about the tough questions we have about Jesus with David Nasser. I’m working on host copy (the words that our host will say to introduce segments in the series). Mac Powell with Third Day is going to be our host (I’m a big fan). Mac and David are good friends and have done a lot with the Glory Revealed album together.

Here are some of the comments we got off the street:

Our question: Who is Jesus?

I don’t really have an opinion of Jesus I believe that religion was created to control the masses.

He was a dude lived back in the day pretty awesome he had a beard.

Jesus is a person that existed that continues to enrich the lives of people everyday.

I think that he is a pretty cool guy he had a peaceful philosophy I think he’s misinterpreted by a lot of people.

He is the Savior of this world.

I don’t know because I don’t really believe in him so I don’t really think anything of him.

I mean he could have been a real person I mean I am sure he was I mean I am sure he was just good at what he did or something.

I kind of feel that Jesus is a modern day scapegoat.

Jesus is God I think, yeah, I just learned that.

Jesus was a man from what I figure.

He was just kind of a guy with a really unique positive message that kind of gave a lot of people a lot of hope.

He probably existed but I don’t believe he was the Son of God or anything.

Who is Jesus? is the one question that we all must come to terms with. Our destiny depends on who this figure in history was. What sets Christianity apart from any other religion is the Resurrection. If all Jesus did was live on this earth, claim to be God, die on a cross, but never rose from the dead (to prove He was God), our faith would be pointless.

The resurrection proved that He was God. Josephus, a Jewish historian, wrote about it. Archeology proves it. Over 500 eye witnesses after his resurrection proves it. Disciples who turned from cowards to courageous leaders for the gospel proves it. Prophecy upon prophecy fulfilled proves it. The list goes on.

We just simply cannot get away from dealing with Jesus and what he means for our lives. He was either a Liar, a Lunatic, or was Lord as C.S. Lewis coins it and it’s a choice we have to make. Is Jesus fully God and did he die on the cross for me to save me from my sins? Do I believe that God loves me unconditionally, right where I’m at?

Who do you say that He is?

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