30 episodes

Jason Reynolds is a journalist, blogger and podcaster who interviews Christian authors, musicians, actors and other creatives. A good cup of coffee will make his day.

Followers of the Cross Followers of the Cross

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0, 2 Ratings

Jason Reynolds is a journalist, blogger and podcaster who interviews Christian authors, musicians, actors and other creatives. A good cup of coffee will make his day.

    Aaron Shust Goes Live

    Aaron Shust Goes Live

    Aaron Shust has achieved another first.
    The award-winning CMA artist has released his first live recording album, “Love Made a Way.”
    It is his eighth album overall. His label, Centricity Music, wanted the live recordings.
    “That’s petrifying,” he said. “There’s something inviting and welcoming about going into the studio, and if you make mistakes, you just do it again. And so there’s something exciting about a live record.”
    Shust’s awards include Songwriter of the Year at the GMA Dove Awards in 207 and Song of the Year for “My Savior My God.”
    However, with his background as a worship leader, live performances are his favorite part of the music process.
    “Writing and every part of the process has its own joy.”
    When worship music is performed with people who join in, “Heaven is listening to the praise. That makes the performance extra special.”
    Cameras were used to capture the making of the “Love Made a Way” CD. That in itself was daunting, Shust said, because he saw his facial expressions live. He also had just lost his voice the weekend before, but overcame that challenge.
    “I was trying to remember the chords.”
    The album was recorded in The Tracking Room, a Nashville icon located close to Music Row and where One Sonic Society filmed a black and white video. To differentiate the Shust recordings, his crew set up the stage on the opposite end of the room.
    Some of the songs are new, while others are Shust classics.
    The track list is:
    1. Heartbeat (Live)
    2. My Hope is in You (Live)
    3. Belong (Live)
    4. You Redeem (Live)
    5. Ever Be (Live)
    6. God of Brilliant Lights (Live)
    7. Cornerstone (Live)
    8. Death Was Arrested (Live)
    9. Resurrecting (Live)
    10. My Savior My God (Live)
    11. Lead On (Live)
    “You Redeem” was the first single off the album.
    More information is at aaronshust.com.

    • 19 min
    A Christian in the White House

    A Christian in the White House

    A new book provides a fascinating insight into the world of former President Obama’s outreach to faith-based communities.

    Michael Wear is an evangelical Christian who served in Obama’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the White House during the president’s first term. Wear directed faith outreach during the 2012 re-election as well.

    Wear also is founder of Public Square Strategies LLC, a consulting firm aiming to build bridges between secular and religious institutions with shared goals.

    The story of how a young college student became a White House staffer is told in “Reclaiming Hope,” published by Nelson Books/Thomas Nelson. The subtitle is “Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America.”

    Wear writes about how through a series of coincidences he basically walked up to then-Sen. Obama in a hotel and asked for a job with the future presidential campaign. Wear, a college student at the time, persistently stayed in touch with Obama’s staff throughout the 2008 campaign.

    He told me his contributions to the administration included bring people together “who wouldn’t have been in the same room” talking about feeding the hungry and how the church can help the unemployed. The Faith Based Office put him in touch with “people on the ground” who were doing good things.

    Wear talks about how the 2008 and 2016 Republican campaigns missed the boat by not reaching out to faith communities and how President Trump did.

    He also talks about hope at the intersection of faith and politics and poses some challenging thoughts for Christians.

    • 24 min
    Grayson Reed Launches Walk Album

    Grayson Reed Launches Walk Album

    Family and music are both a way of life for Christian duo Grayson/Reed, and they wouldn’t have it any other way as they have found a certain balance in their lives.

    Husband and wife duo Molly Reed and Mike Grayson are releasing their new CD “Walk” on Jan. 13, 2017, just shy of their fourth anniversary in February.

    Molly granted me a telephone interview in early January to talk about “Walk” and other topics.

    Up until forming Grayson/Reed recently, Mike and Molly worked in separate musical careers. Mike was lead singer for MIKESCHAIR for 13 years, where he released three full-length albums and five Top 5 radio singles. Molly was a member of duo City Harbor and is a popular songwriter, having penned hits for a variety of crooners from Marie Osmond to Amy Grant to Francesca Battistelli.

    They have a 2-year-old daughter, Grailey. Molly said that she and her husband had wanted to do music together but did not know how or when it would happen. When they were pregnant, they didn’t wan to be separated by their careers so they took a leap of faith and trusted the Lord with their future.

    That led to the Grayson/Reed duo.

    “It’s been incredible, just getting to do music together as husband and wife,” Molly said.

    They drew from a deep well of family experience to write “Fight For You,” one of the six titles on “Walk.” Some inspiration also came from a video of Eugene Peterson and Bono talking about an alleged lack of authenticity in Christian music, according to a Grayson/Reed press release.

    The song draws from the couple’s marriage and fighting through the hard times that come with any relationship, Molly said.

    Modern culture presents a distorted view of love in which it’s OK to run away when a relationship becomes difficult, Molly said in the press release.

    “But the reality of love and a God-ordained marriage is you fight through those moments together, and you fight for that person and for their heart,” she said.

    Response for “Fight For You” has been great. She said one person said they were leaving their spouse, driving away, when the song played, and they changed their mind. Another said it would be the first song at their wedding.

    The title track, “Walk,” is a sassy, stimulating vocal that talks about how Christians must walk the walk in their faith, or “living out what I speak about … a little more action,” the song states.
    Molly was quick to point to the track “Bloom,” which was written for their daughter, to tell her to pray and always rely on God and know He’s there. The song talks about how the world will try to break you, but urges you to not let the world steal your hope.

    Molly also said she is grateful for the duo’s fans.

    “Thank you to anybody who checks us out,” she said.

    The website is graysonreedmusic.com. There is information about their tour and links to social media.

    • 12 min
    A Messy, Exciting Faith

    A Messy, Exciting Faith

    A new author wants your worship life to be the opposite of boring.

    John Hambrick is part of the leadership team at Buckhead Church, part of North Point Ministries in the Atlanta area. He’s also the author of the powerful new book “Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life” by David Cook publisher. The foreword is by Andy Stanley.

    Hambrick is speaking out against Christians getting stuck in a rut. It doesn’t matter if your pastor gives boring sermons. It doesn’t matter if the music is dull. Jesus was always in motion. Hambrick writes that if Jesus were boring, the Pharisees would not have killed Him.

    Hambrick said, in an interview, he coined the phrase “Move Toward the Mess” at his church. Most of the ministries there were already moving toward the mess. He decided he needed to write about the concept.

    Most Christians would rather stay in their comfort zone, he said. “We started to realize if you want to follow Jesus out into the world … that’s what you’ve got to do. There first mess that God starts to move toward is mine. I struggle with things. fMy life is sometimes messy, relationally and spiritually. I think there’s a side to all of us that would prefer to stay in our comfort places.”

    One of his favorite stories in the book follows the life of a couple named Leroy and Janelle, who are famous in Atlanta for “Hot Dogs and Prayer.”

    In December 2005 they moved to the Capitol View area of Atlanta. They hoped to flip a house. Then the economy tanked. The neighborhood got worse.

    The couple decided to do something for God’s Kingdom. They picked the worst area in the neighborhood — a corner with a brothel, crack house and halfway house — and set up a weekly ministry called “Hot Dogs and Prayer.” The couple offered to pray for people who accepted free hot dogs. The drug dealers, prostitutes and other locals laughed at them while accepting hot dogs. Then, slowly, some began to ask for a prayer.

    The stories that really broke the couple’s hearts, Hambrick said, were from the sex workers, who “without exception were mostly girls who had been molested” at age 6 or earlier.
    Today, Leroy and Janelle have a ministry called Serenity Steps for those sex workers.

    “They’re having a significant impact,” Hambrick said.

    You don’t have to move to the inner-city to make a difference. So Hambrick asks people, “What would it look like to move toward the mess in your context?

    “Move Toward the Mess” has discussion questions that would make it great for small groups or individual study.

    The book is available from major booksellers. More information is at http://www.johnhambrick.net.

    • 15 min
    NFL WIDOW FEASEL ON CONCUSSIONS

    NFL WIDOW FEASEL ON CONCUSSIONS

    The widow of NFL center Grant Feasel is sharing her family’s story to help warn others about the dangers of sports-related concussions.

    Cyndy Feasel lost her husband Grant in 2012 to cirrohsis of the liver due to alcoholism, which was connected to a degenerative brain disease called CTE. The CTE in turn was caused by a lifetime of receiving concussions from playing football.

    Cyndy shares her story in a book by Nelson Books titled “After the Cheering Stops: An NFL Wife’s Story of Concussions, Loss, and the Faith That Saw Her Through.”

    The couple, which had three children, divorced about a year before Grant’s death, ending 29 years of marriage. They made peace shortly before his death.

    “If I’d only known that what I loved the most would end up killing me and taking away everything I loved, I would have never done it,” Grant told Cyndy weeks before his death.

    Cyndy calls Grant’s issues a “slow fade.” She did not realize the extent of his brain injuries until his death; CTE can only be diagnosed by performing an autopsy on the brain, she said. The damage happened over the course of his lifetime of playing football.

    To understand their marriage, you have to start at the beginning of their relationship, she told me. They met while attending Abilene Christian University — he was a Southern California guy on a full football scholarship and she was a Texas gal.

    Their first date was a blind date, but she had already seen him around campus. At 6 feet, 7 inches, he was the tallest man she had ever met — and handsome. The two Christians had a great deal in common.

    “I knew he was a different kind of guy,” Cyndy said. “A beautiful mind.”

    Grant loved poetry, music and art. She had never known another guy on a first date to be into those things.

    Grant was a gifted football player — and extremely intelligent. He won every academic award and was an academic All-American. He was accepted into every dental school in Texas but chose to put off a medical or dental education to play football. He was drafted by the Colts.

    “We were kids in our early 20s,” she said. “One percent of people in the world would get a chance like this. Who wouldn’t take it, right?”

    Cyndy calls those the good years. They traveled a lot and met lots of people. Grant worked hard and she was a stay-at-home wife. However, even before then, she worried about the physical toll the game took on Grant.

    He had a concussion in his senior year of college. He blew it off. That served as a red flag to Cyndy, whose sister had fractured her skull in a serious fall. But people didn’t really talk about concussions at the time.

    Grant would later suffer another serious concussion within the last five years of his NFL career during a game at Mile High Stadium in Denver. He went back into that game despite experiencing tunnel vision. Other symptoms included nausea and head pain. However, there was no sports concussion protocol in the 1980s and 1990s.

    I asked Cyndy if pro sports organizations are doing better about dealing with concussions.

    “I’m trying to wrap my mind around all of how big this picture is,” she said in response. Grant played football from age 8. “I think they’re talking about it more and there’s more awareness. But parents and people cheering the NFL games … I don’t think everybody understands the visual the brain is like gray Jello. I never dreamed the brain is made out of a soft substance like butter. If I had known that, I would have begged Grant on bended knees not to play.”

    Grant’s brain was “jiggled” around in every play every day from age 8 to age 32.

    “I think the NFL knows it and I think they know there’s a huge problem,” she said. “I think it’s all driven by money. It’s like a gladiator game, and I think we forget that it’s a human face.”

    Cyndy said she posts frequ

    • 27 min
    Nimrod Rebels Against God

    Nimrod Rebels Against God

    Pastor Lucas Miles is in the early stages of producing a historical documentary of Nimrod, a person from the ancient world who is mysterious but very relevant to people today.

    The Book of Genesis says Nimrod was responsible for building the Tower of Babel. Jewish tradition backs this up, Miles said.

    Nimrod also was responsible for the creation of Ninevah and Babylon. The word “Nimrod” means something like “We will rebel.” Miles said he believes “Nimrod” was more of a title than a real name, but he does believe this was an actual person.

    Jewish tradition believes the Tower of Babel was not only a tall building but a revolt against the flood of Noah’s Ark. The builders believed that the building would protect them if God sent another flood; however, God had promised not to do another worldwide flood.

    “This was a group who did not trust God,” Miles said.

    Nimrod also is connected to the ancient Greek and Egyptian religions as well as freemasonry and even Islam. It is believed that Nimrod’s body was cut into pieces and spread throughout the land. Legends about his life sprang up in different cultures such as Babylon, Ninevah and even among the Philistines. His legend was turned into a “god,” possibly including the Egyptian sun god and Horace. He may have been connected to Apollo or Zeus, Miles said.

    “Almost every ancient people group has a story that relates to Nimrod,” he said. “He was a vile guy, one of the first dictators, one of the first socialist dictators in how he constructed the cities.”

    Nimrod is even connected to Baal, the false god who plagued the Israelites in the Old Testament. That could be because Nimrod is credited, in some legends, as having slaughtered an ox or bull, which is connected with that false god. That legend says that when Nimrod died, he became a giant bull.

    One form of Baal’s name had Allah in it, Miles said. The early roots of Islam are not spoken of within their religion now, but it is connected with Baal/Nimrod, he said.

    “Nimrod was the first type of anti-Christ,” he said

    “We’re tracing this, bringing in experts,” he said. There will be re-enactments like you would see on the History Channel. There is no distributor yet, but the ones he has spoken to have given good feedback, he said.

    The filmmakers hope the audience will draw their own conclusions “and evaluate their own lives and what they’re putting their trust in,” he said. He hopes they can grow a deeper relationship with God.

    Miles recently returned from Africa where his film team shot a documentary for the Oasis Network for Churches in Kenya.

    Miles is the author of the book “Good God,” which shows how God can be good in the midst of a sin-sick world. Free study guides are available for the book. Contact Miles’ team on social media or by email or online: info@oasisgranger.com or GodGoodthebook.com

    — Jason Reynolds

    • 14 min

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