Mark Hall, lead singer of US Christian band Casting Crowns, has written a book to be released alongside their new album, called 'Thrive', by the same name. Aimed at teens in particular, Hall draws on his own experience as a follower of Jesus and a youth pastor to give teaching on how to take the next step in faith.
The idea driving the book is that Christians so often don't fully enter into the freedom of life that Jesus offers. "You can do more than just survive your life, you can thrive!" says Hall.
"For years I've used Psalm 1 to show students the idea of what a believer looks like. We can spend our entire lives trying to define God with what makes sense to us...But that's not the picture that the Bible paints of our God.
"God didn't put you and me here just so we can survive through hard times. He put us here to thrive, to dig deep and reach out".
Mark uses the imagery of a tree and its roots to show how important it is to be rooted in faith through prayer and Bible study, but how equally integral it is to then use that grounding to reach out and touch others with the Gospel. His concept is this:
Dig deep into the roots of our relationship with Jesus. This helps us to understand who God is and who we are in him. We dig in to know God.
Reach out to others. This helps us to show the world that we belong to Jesus and that Jesus is God. We reach out to make God known.
The book gives stories and testimonies from the young people Hall pastors, and gives examples of how the principles set out in the book can be applied to real life situations. He wants to show young people that to live for Christ is to enter into the full joy of a relationship with God, and is choosing life to the full.
"God isn't a mystical figure in the heavens who plays a mischievous game of hide and seek. He is a personal God who invades your life through the person of the Holy Spirit and longs for you to 'feed' the life of Christ in you with his Word and with prayer and then allow the results to reach out into other people's lives," Hall writes.
It's an important message, and one that is delivered with grace and humility. Though he's talking to younger readers, Hall at no point suggests that he has it all figured out. Instead, he documents his own pitfalls and struggles, the things that have held him back, the grace of God that's kept him going and the mountains that are still in front of him.
"When you truly surrender your will to his, seek his heart, hear his voice and respond to his nudges, you thrive," says Hall.
"It doesn't take long to realise that life is radically different and you're no longer just surviving. Suddenly, life resonates with a deep-seated – almost inexplicable – joy and peace that flow from a Father who is well pleased".
Thrive will be released on February 11th 2014.