What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Family Worship”? Do you picture you and your kids sitting around the living room lighting candles and singing Kumbaya? Maybe you see yourself and the family cruising down the highway singing at the top of your lungs. Or visiting a neighbor that is sick? Or even spending time together volunteering at the food bank. How about a dance party that breaks out in your back yard? It could even be the few minutes before bed time that you take and pray together.
A little over 9 years ago when Michelle and I found out we were going to have a baby, we joked that we would have the kid who didn't like music or entertaining. Boy were we wrong! There is not a minute that Gabriella isn't singing or dancing! Gabi is an amazing gift from God and He has blessed her with a huge personality, incredible talent and a passion for people. She is a light that brings joy and a smile to the face of everyone she meets.
Even at the young age of 9 Gabi is such an incredible part of our ministry to kids and families. She has also begun to use her gifts to encourage people and share God's love through her own acting and singing. She, with her mother's help, has started a fun, little video blog each Monday where she takes a Bible verse and talks about how we can apply it to our lives. Here is her latest "Monday Minute."
Remember, God has given each one of us special and unique gifts and it doesn't matter how old or young you are, God can use you! All you have to do is be available! God can use you at your school, office, home or neighborhood...wherever you are!
If you haven't already, you can follow Gabi and her journey on Facebook and Instagram (both of which are run and monitored by Michelle, not Gabi) to keep up to date on her latest projects and one of these days you will be able to say "I knew her when..."
I wanted to take a few minutes this week and let you know about an amazing company based right here in San Antonio that is making a global impact. Our good friends, Lisa and Louis deBonoPaula, have created a unique product that is being used in elementary schools, churches and businesses around the world. Spirit Sticks are a small, simple and lasting way to encourage participation, reward success and serve as a reminder of achievement.
We have created Spirit Sticks and key rings unique to JGB and use the sale of these items to help fund our I Am Courageous ministry's donation of encouraging and uplifting music to kids fighting life threatening disease.
Take a moment and watch this short video that will give you a little insight to where Spirit Sticks came from and the desire to create a fun, unique and memorable product.
You can purchase the JGB Spirit Sticks at any of our live events or on our website www.JustinGravesBand.com/store and to learn more about how to place a custom order for your school, church or business visit www.SpiritMonkey.com Thanks for hanging out with me today!
(On a side note, I am the one who produced and created this video for Spirit Monkey! If you need a simple video to highlight your ministry or business, feel free to contact me! Justin@JustinGravesBand.com)
This weekend we get an extra day off. We invite our friends and family over and grill hamburgers and hotdogs. We put on our red, white and blue and enjoy hanging out at the pool, lake or river as we celebrate our freedom.
Our freedom, however, was not free. Our freedom has cost much more than most of us could ever imagine paying. So this weekend as we celebrate our freedom, our country and what make the U.S.A. great let us all pause for a moment and remember the countless men and women who have fought and continuing to fight to keep us safe, secure and FREE!
Jesus told the people who had faith in him, “If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” - John 8:31-32
As we travel across the country leading worship we get to see and do some exciting things. One of our favorite things to do is take some family time and find points of interest along our route. One of the things we have discovered that we love to experience is Presidential Libraries. We all enjoy getting a peek into history and learning more about the people who have lead our country, and the person in our family who loves it the most is Gabi! She enjoys finding out about the presidents family and what their favorite food was and why they wanted to become president. It is as wonderful experience for all of us!
Recently we had the privilege of visiting the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and it was fascinating! Michelle and I did not know much about Nixon other than the Watergate scandal, and even that we weren't too familiar with! As we “walked through history” we learned all about President Nixon, his family and how he grew up and were also able to tour his boyhood home! Just a few steps away from his family's home is his gravesite. He and his wife, Patricia, are buried right there on the grounds. We paused for a few moments to reflect and honor President and Mrs. Nixon when I noticed the epitaph on Mrs. Nixon's gravestone. It reads... "Even when people can't speak your language, they can tell if you have love in your heart."
I cannot say for certain if Mrs. Nixon was a Christ Follower, but we did learn on the tour that she had an incredible heart for people and love experiencing different countries and cultures. One thing she obviously understood was that people have a strong desire to be loved.
In my opinion, the phrase on her gravestone speaks to the very heart of Christianity. We can see this same idea in Paul's letter to the Corinthians where he says in 1 Corinthians 13 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Paul goes on to tell us that love is patient and kind, it is not self seeking, proud or boastful. That love rejoices in the truth and always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. He finishes up chapter 13 telling us, “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
There is another quote that Mrs. Nixon's epitaph reminds me of from St. Francis of Assisi. He said “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” I believe that Mrs. Nixon understood this idea and that she was a wonderful example of how we can express love, God's love, to everyone. Express His love to people who may be different than us, have different values than us, a different ideas than us, or who may even speak a different language than us.
You see God's love isn't earned, it is a free gift, and we are called to share that gift with everyone!
I hope you will be inspired by Mrs. Nixon like I have been. I want to challenge you (and me) to let God's love shine though you this week so that everyone you come in contact with will be able to “Tell that you have love, God's love, in your heart.”
Thanks for hanging out with me today! I would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page!
Just over a week ago I had the privilege of going "Over the Edge" for Make-A-Wish of Central and South Texas. (See my previous post "Over the Edge" for more details) I wanted to give you an update on my experience and the money raised that will bless these amazing fighters.
It was amazing! Right from the start the Make-A-Wish team was there to greet us and make us feel like a part of the team and safety, of course, was their number one priority! We arrived early so we could make sure we knew what we were in for and to cheer on the other's who were rappelling. It was an awesome sight to see people dangling off the side of the building knowing that I will be up there very soon.
As we waited we were able to meet some of the kids who had been given Make-A-Wish trips. It was so encouraging to meet these brave kids and their families!
As I got to the top of the building, all strapped into my harness and looking down on the people below, who looked like ants, I realized what I had gotten myself into and I was very excited for my turn! Once I was hooked into the ropes and standing on the edge of the building, I was so encouraged to hear my family and friends cheering me on from below.
It took me just over 15 minutes to make it 38 stories/480 ft. to the bottom. Exhausted, sore and full of adrenalin, I was grateful to be back on solid ground! After I was unhooked, I got to take a picture with a Make-A-Wish recipient and was greeted with hugs and cheers. It was an experience I will remember the rest of my life and I am so honored to have been chosen to go Over the Edge for Jaxon's F.R.O.G. Foundation!
Make-A-Wish was able to raise just under $500,000 to grant 98 wishes and we were also able to raise $1000 for I Am Courageous! We are so excited to continue to encourage these brave fighters and their families through uplifting music! And YOU were a part of that! YOU are the ones that help us make that happen. Every time you purchase a Spirit Stick, an I Am Courageous t-shirt, or donate to I Am Courageous, YOU are helping make a difference in these families lives! We could not do it without you! Thank you for your generosity and believing in the ministry God has called us to!
Here are a few more pics of the Over the Edge event. Thanks for hanging out with me today!
Considering the crazy challenge I have ahead of me this weekend (see blog "Over the Edge"), I had to stop for a minute today to share something very cool. We received an email the other day telling us that there is a church near Manchester, England that is using our song “Strong and Courageous” with their children's ministry! This is not the first time we have received an email like this, but most of the time I forget to share this exciting news! We also know of a kid's ministry in Russia, ministries in Cambodia and the Philippines, churches in Australia and people all across the U.S. who are using and singing this song! How crazy is that!?!
We never imagined what we thought was just a silly little song written for a Sunday morning would have such an impact. We receive emails and notes through Facebook fairly often letting us know how this song has helped a child or family going through a tough situation. People tell us that this has become their family theme song, that it has helped them through a difficult time, or that it has encouraged them to overcome something that they didn't think they could conquer.
It is such an incredible blessing to know that people are using our music and, even though we may not know where, that God is using our songs to uplift, encourage and impact lives all across the globe.
If you don't know our song “Strong and Courageous” or just want to hear it again check out the video below!
We would love to hear how "Strong and Courageous" has encouraged you! Please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page and tell us your story!
Thanks for hanging out with me today!
I would consider myself a little bit of a dare devil. I love that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I'm about to do something that is a little daring, a little scary, and a WHOLE lot crazy!
This coming Sunday I get to do just that! I have the honor of representing Jaxon's F.R.O.G. Foundation at the Make-A-Wish “Over the Edge” fundraiser! (You can learn more about it HERE.) When our sweet friend, Lenzie, contacted us and asked if Michelle or I would be interested in rappelling down a 38 story building, Michelle quickly said “Sure! Justin will do it!” My first thought was, “Yeah, that's great! I would be happy to do this! I've been rappelling before, no big deal.” Then Michelle reminded me that I would be rappelling from a 38 story building. Wait...WHAT! 38 STORIES?!? That's over 450 feet in the air!! When I realized what I had agreed to and caught my breath, I became very excited about being asked to go “Over the Edge” for Jaxon's F.R.O.G Foundation! This annual fundraiser helps Make-A-Wish grant wishes to kids from Central and South Texas who are fighting life threatening disease. We know many families who have benefited from this amazing gift and I am so excited to help raise awareness and funds to continue bringing hope to these brave fighters and their families!
The coolest part about this event is that it falls right in line with our very own “I Am Courageous” ministry! This is the ministry that was birthed out of the Murata and Davis families generosity as they shared our music, especially our song "Strong and Courageous," with other kids and families going through treatment at the same time as their children. Music is such a powerful tool and can lift your spirit, give you hope and encourage you in your journey and that is exactly what we wanted to do for these precious kids and their families. To date we have donated over 1,000 I Am Courageous CD's to kids all across the country. We currently have 600 CD's ready to donate that we are raising funds for. It only takes $5 to send one of these CD's to these brave kids and we are asking for your help! In conjunction with the “Over the Edge” fundraiser, we are also trying to raise $5,000 for “I Am Courageous." It won't be hard to reach our goal if everyone simply donates $5 or $10. That small gift will help send these amazing kids music that will lift their spirits and encourage them to be “Brave, Strong and Courageous!” Check out the flyer below to see how these funds will be used and then share it with your friends! With your help we can make a difference, give hope and let these families know that they are not alone in their fight! We only have one week left for this fundraiser so help us spread the word! Go to www.JustinGravesBand.com/IAmCourageous-home to learn more about this ministry and donate today!
I will give you an update and share some of the pictures from my adventure in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
Thank you for your help! Sing it with me now..."I'm gonna be brave, I'm gonna be strong and courageous!"