Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interview with Babbie Mason

1. What inspired the book, Embraced By God?
The journey to writing Embraced By God is a very personal one. During the pastor’s sermon one Sunday, he said, “Turn to your neighbor and say, ‘I’m God’s favorite.’ That thought intrigued me. I wondered how I could be God’s favorite. How could I find a favored place in God’s heart in light of personal doubts, faults, and failures? I’ve never doubted God’s love for me. As a preacher’s kid and pastor’s daughter, I accepted Christ as Savior very early in life. I’ve known mostly all of my life that God loves me, but I don’t think I ever really considered or fully understood how deep and unconditional God’s love really is. I searched the scriptures and found a great promise in John chapter 17:23. Jesus is not only praying concerning us, He is praying for us. And He prays that we would know that God loves us as much as He loves His own Son Jesus.” That’s mind-boggling to me--that the God of the universe could love me this much. He loves me as much as He loves His favorite, beautiful, spotless, blameless Son, Who sits at His right hand. And because Christ gave His life for me, my sins are forgiven. My debts have been paid. He calls me His friend. I’m beautiful, spotless, and blameless before God, Who loves me as if I were an only child. In a few short months I’ll celebrate my Year of Jubilee, fifty years of knowing Christ as Savior and Lord. This revelation has altered the course of my life. I’ve determined that if I could be so profoundly changed by this wonderful truth, then I suppose that the lives of others could be impacted as well.

What do you mean when you say we are “God’s favorite”?
God’s great love, grace, and favor are not just for a chosen few. It’s for all of us. According to 2 Corinthians 5:21, “Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could become right with God”, (NCV). Jesus brings us into right standing with God. No longer are we separated, alienated or estranged from God, but joint heirs with Christ. He sees us without a single flaw, blemish, or imperfection. We are no longer rejected because of sin, but accepted in the Beloved. Often throughout the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, people groups were identified by the land from which they came. The inhabitants of Canaan were known as Canaanites. The residents of Midian were called Midianites. The people of Moab were called Moabites and so on. I’d like to think that as people who inhabit the land of God’s great favor, we are therefore called, Favorites. If you are a child of God, through faith in Christ, you are no longer a stranger, a foreigner, or an outsider. You are an eternal resident in the land of God’s great favor and a member of His forever family. It’s time we stake our claim and receive our rightful inheritance as children of God.

What lies do we believe?
The lies the enemy uses against us are numerous. Satan finds an area of weakness in our lives and he uses it against us. He will use any means possible to keep us from believing the truth and enjoying the freedom that comes from personally knowing God’s great love. Our enemy will convince us that we are damaged goods and that we are of no use to God or His Kingdom. He will tell us we are hopeless, helpless, and we have nothing going for us. Our adversary will lead us to believe that we have no talents and nothing to contribute. He will tell us that no one loves us and that we are unlovely and unlovable and not worthy of God’s love or anyone else’s love for that matter. John 8:44 says Satan is ‘a liar and the father of it.’ It’s imperative that we know the truth of God’s Word so we can combat the fiery darts of the enemy’s assaults against us. The only way to dispel the lies of the enemy is with the truth of God’s Word. Hide it in your heart so you will not sin against God, according to Psalms 119:1

What is the Embrace Project?
As I began to incorporate God’s love into every area of my life, God began to affirm His love for me with music. One song came, then another, then another. Pretty soon I had an entire collection of songs. God impressed me to record these songs on a music CD then create a concert to lead women into worship. “Embrace, A Worship Celebration For Women” was born. Embrace is a 90-minute concert with a purpose. In an atmosphere of worship and an attitude of joy, I invite women to step away from life’s responsibilities, to breathe out, to let go of the challenges they face and receive the love, validation, and comfort that every women needs. At every Embrace concert, women experience awesome worship music, God-honoring testimonies, the fellowship of Christian sisterhood and a huge dose of encouragement, all in an atmosphere where women can encounter the unconditional love of God.

I’ve had the privilege of being a part of women’s ministry from the local church to the national stage for a long time now. And wherever I go, I meet women who are in desperate need of encouragement. Women are discouraged, depressed, and defeated and we really need to know that we matter to God, and that He has a great big plan and we’re all in it. “Embrace, A Worship Celebration For Women” was created to give women the opportunity to bask in the deep-end of God’s love and receive healing for our hearts. Embrace provides a worship experience where women can bring their mothers, daughters, girlfriends, and neighbors for a concert with one focus--that is, to remind women of how much we are loved by God. The event is packed with fun, excitement, and great worship music, while honoring friendships and celebrating Christian sisterhood. A unique ingredient in this event is the participation of women volunteers from the host church and community who may read a selected scripture or sing in the women’s mass choir. By the end of the worship celebration, women are invited to give their hearts, their lives, and their issues to Christ.

How does the book help us learn this lesson?
When I was a kid, I took piano lessons for many years. I committed time and application to the process of learning to play. Some days when I was studying difficult pieces written by Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven, I wanted to give up, quit, and go outside to play kickball with my friends. But I kept going (with some “positive” reinforcement from my mother, who would hear nothing of that!). Over time I started to realize progress. Our walk with Christ is no different. We learn these lessons by walking them out day by day. We put them into practice. Some days we want to give up and throw in the towel. But we must remember that quitting is not an option. As we learn to live loved, we allow the love of God to influence every facet of life--the good, the bad, the best, and all the rest. Some days it will feel awkward and unnatural. Other days, you experience great joy realizing God’s presence. Regardless of what’s going on, every day of this Embraced By God life, we trust what we know to be true. God loves us as much as He loves His own Son Jesus. As a matter of fact, He loves us as if we were the only one to love. There’s no doubt, the power of this truth can transform a life.

What's the difference between Who and Whose we are, and why is important to celebrate this?
Our world is in an identity crisis. When we don’t know who we are, we wander and meander aimlessly and go, as the proverbial phrase says, looking for love in all the wrong places. Oftentimes we stay longer than we intend to stay and pay more than we intend to pay. The woman at the well learned this personally. So did the woman caught in the act of adultery, and so many other people in the Bible. But their stories are great examples of lives that can be totally altered when one encounters Christ. No matter a person’s circumstances, God’s love is far-reaching and it can reach to wherever you are. When we know who we are in Christ, we’ll no longer be plagued with questions like, “Do I matter?” When you know Christ personally, you can know with confidence and assurance that God created you with a specific purpose in mind. The gifts and talents He gave you didn’t just happen randomly. Everything about you is intentionally planned. You are not an afterthought, an “oops” baby or illegitimate. You are a complete and miraculous expression of God’s great love here in the Earth, born on purpose and for a purpose.

Concerning Whose we are, Jesus gives us a place to belong. He brings us into the Family of God. We should resemble our Father in all that we do and say. I love using the term “God’s favorite.” Often throughout the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, people groups were identified by the land from which they came. The inhabitants of Canaan were known as Canaanites. The residents of Midian were called Midianites. The people of Moab were called Moabites and so on. I’d like to think that as people who inhabit the land of God’s great favor, we are therefore called Favorites. If you are a child of God, through faith in Christ, you are no longer a stranger, a foreigner, or an outsider. We are eternal residents in the land of God’s great grace and favor and members of His forever family.

We know how much music is a strong influence in your relationship with Christ; how does writing a book affect your relationship with Christ?
I thoroughly enjoy the writing process. While writing books and writing songs may achieve the same end, to inform, inspire, or emotionally impact people, each takes on a slightly different process. A song is set to time and rhyme and is experienced in an average time of about 3-4 minutes. With a book, the reader can stop to laugh, ponder, and enjoy each colorful detail. That’s why music is so important, because it enhances and supports all the themes in the book Embraced By God. I consider the Bible as the definitive text. Writing Embraced By God has taught me so much about God’s great love for me. Through countless hours of study, research, and prayer, I have gained a greater confidence in God’s love for me. I’ll never again ask the question, “Does God love me? Or “Does my life matter?”

Tell us about a time when you did not feel embraced by God and how you overcame that.
I can honestly say, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know God loved me. But often in my Christian experience as a young child, my relationship with God was driven more by a dreadful fear than by love. There have been numerous times when I felt I didn’t qualify, that I wasn’t worthy, or that I fell hopelessly short. One time in particular, when I was in college, I hung out with kids that were not Christians. When I was with them, in order to feel accepted, I went to bars and experimented with alcohol, trying to find a place to belong. Then on Sundays I fulfilled my duties as the pianist and choir director in my father’s church. Peer pressure led me to compromise my walk with Christ. One day in the college cafeteria where I was enjoying a cup of hot soup, my lunch hour was interrupted by conversation with a friend. When I came back to my soup, it had begun to turn lukewarm. The oil in the soup rose to the top, forming little globules of grease. My stomach started to turn queasy as the plastic spoon surface turned oily and an orange ring of grease formed around the styro-foam cup’s surface. Right there at the lunch table the Lord used this lukewarm cup of soup to show me what a life of compromise looked like. I was reminded of Revelation 3:14-15. “I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or not. So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” God got my attention that day. I decided to quit playing games and get serious about my walk with Christ.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading Embraced by God?
Through the truths found in the Word of God and my own personal experience, I hope to help the reader gain a deeper assurance of God’s love. Some might find it easy to conclude that God loves the next person more. But the word of God assures us that His love is not just for the next person. It’s for all of us. It’s for the woman who is stuck in a loveless marriage. It’s for the single mom trying to make ends meet. It’s for the teenager who wonders what life is all about. It’s for the man who wonders if he matters. The book gives the reader the opportunity to sit down each day over the course of 21 days to celebrate God’s amazing love. At the close of each day’s reading session, there’s a nugget to think about, something to pray about, a scripture to meditate upon, and an application to practice. In a few months I’ll celebrate 50 years of knowing Christ, and this love revelation has caused a love revolution in my own life. I’m hopeful the same thing will happen for people as they engage in this 21 day encounter.

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