Jim Denison on How Brad Paisley and His Wife Are Changing Lives

Keith Urban won Entertainer of the Year at last night’s Academy of Country Music Awards. Thomas Rhett and Kacey Musgraves won Male and Female Artist of the Year.

But, in my opinion, the most significant achievement in country music came earlier in the week.

Brad Paisley and his wife, Kimberly, broke ground on a Nashville grocery store that is unlike any I know. Customers will walk through the aisles selecting fruit, vegetables, cereal, and other groceries. Then they will check out at the register.

However, no money will change hands.

The Paisleys partnered with Belmont University, a Christian university and Brad’s alma mater, building the store next to the school’s ministry center. They hope to serve three thousand impoverished people a year.

Their Christian faith is on clear display in a way that will impact lives far beyond Nashville.


Many years ago, I attended a church growth conference led by Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in California. His approach was not at all what I expected.

I assumed Rick would talk about his church’s leadership structure, ministry organization, and marketing strategy. Instead, he spent most of the conference discussing the importance of spiritual health—for himself, his leadership team, and their members.

He explained his passionate focus on spirituality this way: “All healthy things grow.”

Plant a tree in your backyard, water and fertilize it, protect it from bugs and other adversaries, and it will grow. It’s designed that way by God.

If we’re looking for a way to impact our world for Christ, a strategy that will help our churches and personal ministries be more effective in our secularized culture, let’s take Rick’s advice. Let’s focus on our spiritual health. And then let’s watch healthy things grow as we impact our culture with God’s love.


I’m reading through the book of Acts in my personal Bible study and was greatly encouraged this weekend by a story we don’t discuss much.

In Acts 8, an angel directs Philip to the road “south” from Jerusalem to Gaza (v. 26). The Greek word for “south” can also mean “noon,” the more likely translation in my opinion.

Everyone knew that the road to Gaza led south. God sent Philip to that road at noon, during the heat of the day, a time when hardly anyone traveled it. It was a “desert” road, sparse and forbidding.

We often wonder at the time why God sends us where he does.

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