It’s a Dark World

How Do You Continue to Find Jesus with Matthew West

What would you say if someone asked you, “How do you continue to find Jesus in the darkness, in the pain and all the things that we as a world are struggling with today?” That’s the question Family Life Radio asked during a conversation with Matthew West.

In the backdrop of a world marred by adversity and uncertainty, many of us struggle to keep our faith anchored. Whether it’s global challenges or personal tribulations, these storms can often cause us to question our capacity to stay steady.

Joking, Matthew smiled and said, “It’s too early for this question.” But then in his own honest and straightforward way, he shared some powerful words that can encourage you today.

“The world is a rough place is an understatement – at best. There’s no doubt. I wish I could say I could give you like a super Christian answer about how I cope with the darkness and hard times in our world. I could project, as a as a professional Christian, who sings about Jesus and make everybody think, Wow! He’s really got a handle on things.”

  1. Be honest in your struggles.

“Ever since I wrote a song called ‘Truth Be Told,’ I have that little nagging voice in the back of my head that says, maybe be honest about how you’re not so cool, calm and collected, when the world has gotten turned upside down.”

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He emphasized the importance of honesty with our fears and anxieties. Admitting our fears and struggles can lead us to seeking help and comfort from God.

“When the world for shut down and our tour buses were parked, I was kind of panicking. I remember being glued to the news, and they had that little death toll climbing. I’d just wake up every morning riddled with anxiety about it.”

Matthew points out he never had panic attacks before, but after experiencing neck pain, he went for an MRI. He said, “I’m not claustrophobic, but suddenly, I had a full-on panic attack.” He said it happened a few more times and caused him to wonder to himself, What is wrong with me?

     2. Turn to God in Times of Fear

Drawing from the Biblical story of the disciples in the storm, Matthew points to the importance of turning to Jesus in moments of great distress. “I remember I found comfort in the story of the disciples getting into a boat with Jesus. The storm came and Jesus was sound asleep. The disciples followed Jesus, the miracle worker, the Messiah, the one they’d seen do unbelievable things, but when a storm came they weren’t cool, calm or collected. They weren’t like Tom Brady in the huddle. Right? They were freaking out.”

We can find grace in that part of the story. The Bible says the disciples were sure they were going to drown (Matthew 8:23-27). “So, there wasn’t even a part of their mind that was like – we’re good because we got Jesus.” Matthew continued, “They freaked out, and then they chose to seek out the One who they knew could save them. And what did Jesus do? He calmed the waters. Right?”

We can also find peace in our turmoil by turning to God.

No matter how challenging our circumstances, God has the power to bring peace. “I am trying to be like some kind of Christian singer who is an authority on spiritual matters, and then I’m like I’m freaking out.” Matthew admitted. “I felt like the Lord showed me that Scripture in a new light. … Sometimes my human instincts is going to be to freak out. Let me bring that to You then. Let me seek out the One who I know can calm the storm around me and within me.”

     3. Recognize Grace for the Moment

Grace is the promise of a new beginning and the hope that can sustain us through every second of life. Recognizing and accepting this grace can provide comfort and encouragement during difficult times.

“We need grace for every moment,” Matthew said. “It’s funny; I joke with my audience just sometimes on stage. I’ll ask how many people are coming to see my show for the first time. It’s always way more people than I want. Because they’re like, where you been on my life? I tell them, ‘Well, let me tell you about myself.’ And I joke that I googled myself one time. I did some research, and I found the word grace is in more of my lyrics than any other word.”

“I think about grace for the moment, like one of my personal mission statements.”

“I write and sing songs about what I know I need, what I know I don’t deserve and what gives me hope to wake up every morning.”

Matthew continues, “GRACE is the answer to all three of those. It’s the promise of the new beginning. It’s a promise that my first instincts might stink, but there is grace for the moment – grace for every second — and that’s the hope I have. That’s why I sing, because other people need that message too.”

In the grand scheme of our faith journey, our struggles and fears are temporary, while God’s grace and love are eternal. This divine grace is the reassurance in Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (NIV).

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More Blog for Show: Kankelfritz & Friends

Reach out to the Comforter

Comfort for the mourners

Several big box stores offer unprecedented warranty coverage for everything they sell. They ardently stand by their products with a goal to create lifelong customers. For every television, used rug or three-year-old broken bicycle replaced, they sell millions of dollars of consumable, irreplicable goods. For instance, no one returns that pizza or hotdog they ate completely. These stores are clever enough to know, if they give a little, they’ll get so much more from the customer in return.

Matthew 5:4 carries a similar connotation. In a period of mourning, we often find ourselves feeling hopeless. You may feel like it is pointless to carry on when something or someone you’ve held so dearly is no longer with you. It could be a job, a purpose, a pet, a marriage or the death of a loved one. Jesus does not provide great detail within this beatitude. He does not clarify circumstances or state specifics. This beatitude is all about implication.

Jesus implies no matter what you are experiencing, no matter how much pain and suffering you have endured, you never have to surrender your hope. In fact, in the face of mourning there is a new hope which rises by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Much like a rose forming from a crack in the concrete, despair gives way to anticipation.

With every breath, every sunrise and every

conversation you inch closer to the blessing of The Comforter.

It’s important to recognize Matthew 5:4 doesn’t say “Blessed are those because they mourn.” This statement would feel cruel, callous and cold-blooded. No one feels blessed when they experience loss. We ask “why” and when we don’t get an answer, we ask it again.

And again.

And again.

We look internally and externally to see if we could have avoided the loss. Sometimes we feel responsible, other times we feel powerless, but we always feel the pain we wish we could push aside for brighter days.

Some people handle mourning well. They may:

  • Surround themselves with supportive friends.
  • Join a support group.
  • Honor the memory of the loss or lost loved one.
  • Stay active.

Others handle mourning unhealthily. They:

  • Eat excessive unhealthy food.
  • Spend exorbitantly to mask the pain with temporary joy (i.e. retail therapy).
  • Isolate.
  • Play the blame game.

Those who mourn are not blessed because they mourn. They are blessed because of a promise. They are blessed because there is an exchange in the waiting. There is someone who is willing to take all the hurt, pain, questions, fear and doubt and exchange it for grace, peace, hope and love.

Jesus, The Prince of Peace, calls you to filter your pain through the Upside-Down Kingdom of God like water through a filter. He begins to remove the impurities, and you emerge from your pain with greater clarity and contentment.


Who knows?

It’s an unexplainable, supernatural act, but we see it time and time again in the Scriptures.

  • “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 ESV).
  • “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 ESV).
  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3 NIV).
  • “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5 ESV).
  • “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life” (Psalm 119:50 ESV).

We know we will experience trouble in this world. We know that trouble will hurt. Pain and loss are unavoidable. Mourning is a part of the fallen state of humanity.

And, if we know all these things to be true, we are blessed because we can prepare for our comfort. We can look for it. We no longer see grief and suffering as the end game. We linger for but a moment and then lift our eyes to see where our help will come from. (See Psalm 121:1.) We look for help because we have a promise that help is on its way.

The Comforter is on His way.

You are blessed because as a child of God you:

  • Have hope in the promises of God.
  • Your pain is not permanent.
  • Your season is not a sentence.
  • Mourning is simply the rocky road on our way to perfect pavement.

You can step into His presence and find the heavenly equivalent of a big box store waiting to take your fragile, broken, sorrowful state and exchange it for something new.

Prolific writer, Rabbi Earl A. Grollman once stated, “Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love.”

Why does love cost so much? Because it abounds. Love has no end. It has no limits. If love had an end, when a person you love passes away, you’d no longer feel pain or sorrow. Your affection and love would pass with them, but we know this is not the case. We feel even more when they leave because our love continues, but we no longer have a way to express this love to them.

When you step into love you step into a limitless commodity. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s because of His great love for us we are not consumed (Lamentations 3:23 NIV). It’s because of His love we can have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV). Love is God’s greatest gift to us!

It’s also because of His great love that He will comfort those who mourn. He will not stand idly by and let His children suffer alone without coming to their rescue. It’s who He is, it’s what He promised and it’s the reason you are so very blessed.

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can read it here!

Because of you, Family Life Radio stands in the gap!

Dr. Randy Carlson

  • Resiliency in action refuses to be shaped by what’s going on in the world, but instead allows what’s in you to shape how you respond to your circumstances. 

We want resiliency in our lives. It’s also something we want for our kids and grandkids. We want them to grow up in this difficult time and have spiritual resiliency at the core of their being. We want them to having confidence that God will hold them together when things get tough. When things get difficult, they can come back to the core values and God-given beliefs in their life. 

Resiliency is the combination of: 

  1. supportive relationships, 
  2. positive experiences, and
  3. adaptive skill building* 

We believe that your Family Life Radio stations and Intentional Living have been put on the earth for this time and season of your life to stand in the gap between the good times and the challenges in your life. We want to be there to encourage, equip and inspire others to grow in Christ. 

So many of you have called over the years, to share in support of the ministry, and we share so many stories of you telling us how God used Family Life Radio and Intentional Living when you were going through a difficult season. “You were there with me during the …”

  • “loss of my son ….”
  • “death of my husband ….” 
  • “loss of that job ….” 
  • “difficult diagnosis.”

That’s why we exist. 

Our mission and statement of faith corresponds with those three things. At the core of our mission, we are to affirm faith, offer hope and help to equip people to live an intentional life in Christ.

  1. Supportive relationships are necessary to affirm faith. 

Every day, through our messages and content, we strive to affirm that your relationship with God matters. God says I will never leave you. I will never forsake you (Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5). Perhaps you have been abandoned in life or rejected by people. People may have let you down for lots of reasons. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. 

Your relationship with God is eternal. Truly knowing that He would never leave you, matters. It will make a difference in your life. Even if you find it difficult because maybe you didn’t experience that kind of love growing up, choose to recognize that God loves you; He cares for you.

When we affirm each other’s faith, it’s a powerful thing. 

  • Build resilience in the life of your family by reminding them God loves them. 
  • Affirm their faith by sharing scriptures that demonstrate God’s intentional love for them. 

     2. Find ways to offer hope by sharing positive experiences. 

We offer hope as we share stories in all we do. You hear positive experiences of people in their relationship with Christ. And we learn and grow together as other people share about something they’ve gone through, and it encourages someone traveling a similar road. 

  • If you get a diagnosis of cancer, you want to hear from people who’ve been through that because they bring you hope.
  • If you’ve gone through a divorce, you want to talk to people who’ve been there and have seen God’s provision. 

We have a great cloud of witnesses around us (Hebrews 12:1).

I imagine saints of old that we read about in Scripture, peering over the edge of heaven witnessing our lives, cheering, encouraging and offering us hope to keep going. I encourage you not only to continue to hear the stories of Christians and experience the stories from Scripture of changed lives, but you can share your story to build resiliency in the lives of others. 

The stories from your own life of how God has provided for you, strengthened you and been with you are important positive experiences that give the gift of hope.

     3. Adaptive skill building equips people to live an intentional life in Christ. 

According to the Harvard research study on how to build resiliency in our kids supports the benefit of helping them to learn adaptive skills. It’s vitally important to know how to adapt to life. That’s really what our mission is at Intentional Living – to figure out what pleases Christ and do it.

Jesus asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. Allowing Him to be at work every day in your life is vital to building spiritual resiliency. As you continue to grow and change, that relationship is foundational to victory. It is what allows you to stay steady and firm in what matters most. 

Together, we are helping people develop spiritual resiliency for their life by affirming faith, offering hope and equipping people to live an intentional life in Christ. It’s a passion of my heart, and the heart of our mission to see people come to Christ and then live a victorious life in Him by living intentionally every day.

*National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2015). Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience: Working Paper 13.

Read Part One Now!

Staying Focused

How you respond to life situations is a byproduct of what you’re focusing on

By Evan Carlson, CEO & President

The story of the 12 spies that God asked Moses to send into the promised land to explore the land is a perfect example to illustrate how you can stay focused during your own Canaan moments.

The Israelites have already left Egypt. They’re roaming around the desert. They get to the edge of Canaan. It’s like they could just taste the promised land. And God says, “Send in twelve spies (not eleven, not thirteen) to explore the land” (Numbers 13:1). 

After exploring the land for 40 days, the men returned to Moses, his brother Aaron and the whole community of Israel to report what they had seen. They showed them the fruit they had taken from the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:25-27). 

I can imagine them holding up the fruit. But …. There’s always that but. “But the people who live there are strong, and their cities are large and walled. We even saw the three Anakim clans. Besides that, the Amalekites live in the Southern Desert; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites are in the hill country; and the Canaanites live along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River” (Numbers 13:28-29 CEV).

Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it” (Number 13:30 NLT)! 

“But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. We can’t go up against them. They’re stronger than we are. So, they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites. The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there” (Numbers 13:31-32 NLT). 

It sounds like Lord of the Rings or something that crazy.

“All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them, we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought to” (Numbers 13:33 NLT).

Our differences distract us.

Have you ever noticed when your mind is focused on something and you’re certain you have found the answer, and then suddenly, somebody interjects their thought and you’re not certain that you have the answer anymore?

Stay Focused

In my family growing up, vacation was calm. We’d get up when we got up. We’d have a light breakfast. We may do something today, or we may not. My mom’s going to read a book in the corner. We may hang out at the pool. But in my wife, Kelly’s family, vacation is a sport and I lose every time. 

If we’re going to do Disneyland, we’re going to be there from the time the gates open until the gates close. You should buy your new shoes because you’re going to walk until you can’t walk anymore.

We can all relate to the differences in views when it comes to Covid, masks, vaccinations … and differences can sometimes jam you up. Someone starts talking about something and you’re like, “Wait. Hold on. How did we get here?”

Different viewpoints can cause distractions. And in this Canaan moment, you had the twelve spies going through the land, checking everything out. They saw milk and honey like God promised, and they also saw the giants. Caleb and Joshua, they were like, “Bring it on. God said it; we’ve been promised this land. Let’s roll.” 

And the other ten spies saying “Hold on. We saw something totally different than you saw. We saw these guys that were huge. We saw enemies on every corner.” They saw things that put absolute terror in them, and it jammed them up. 

Joshua and Caleb said, “Look, I’m not listening to you guys. This is what God’s Word has to say.” 

In order to fix your focus, you need to think about your response.

Your response in life is a product of your focus.

Let’s just talk about this real practical here. How can you have the same people going through that same exact journey with two different responses, both facing the same cancer diagnosis?  One is depressed, unable to overcome their fears and anxiety. The other is full of hope, full of peace and full of God’s strength. It’s all about what they’re focused on. 

Stay Focused

If you look back at the story about Joshua and Caleb, it doesn’t say in the Bible that the 10 spies went rogue. God told Moses to identify spiritual leaders within each of the 12 tribes. It wasn’t as though Caleb and Joshua were necessarily spiritual giants and the other ten were not. It’s easy to think these guys didn’t believe in God, that they were weak in their faith, but that’s not the case. They just didn’t have their focus right. 

You think about that popular vote thing. If Joshua and Caleb just decided to cave to the popular vote, that would be a totally different story.

Now, God eventually did what He was going to do through Joshua and Caleb because they stayed faithful to Him. We have faith, but oftentimes we get jammed up in our lack of focus. We believe in Christ. We believe in His saving grace and have faith that He can do it. He can overcome, but what are we focusing on that’s getting us sidetracked?

So maybe today you’re standing on the edge of something. Maybe you’re facing a Canaan moment in your health. Or maybe it’s something related to family. Is it relationships? When you’re standing on that edge, what choice are you going to make? Are you going to lean into to the hope of Christ? Or like so many, in this case, the majority – the ten that decided to go the other direction.

Read the second blog in this series.

Read the third blog in this series.

Too far gone for God’s love? Think Again!

God’s love is Perfect, we are NOT. He is extravagant and merciful. Listen as Pastor Kevin Butcher of Hope Community Church in Detroit shares with Peter and Shannyn!


God Makes a Way // Mercy Me

Being out of work with no income because of being hit by a drunk driver can be discouraging, but Janice reminds us God makes a way!

That’s why she starts dancing in the car when she hears the MercyMe song Even If when it comes on Family Life Radio. It reminds us God will be with us regardless of what life on this earth has to throw at us. Psalm 25:5 talks about that : Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

You are a Warrior! // Hannah Kerr

God gives us the strength to keep our hope in Him even when our circumstances seem bleak. He empowers us to fight the battles that will come our way. That’s the message behind Hannah Kerr‘s new song “Warrior,”. and she shares a few thoughts about staying strong and fighting hard in this clip. Check it out now.

Warrior – Hannah Kerr


Staring down the face of fear
Gotta keep breathing
When the negative is all you hear
Gotta keep believing

‘Cause in the dark there is a light
Your truth it keeps on burning bright
Brave enough to fight the fight
And shout the battle cry

You’ll never stop me I’m a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger
Faith is my shield His love is the armor

I’m a warrior (I’m a warrior)
I’m a warrior (I’m a warrior)
I’m a warrior (I’m a warrior)

Every scar on my skin
Is a beautiful reminder
Of a moment when I didn’t give in
And I walked through fire

‘Cause in the dark there is a light
Your truth it keeps on burning bright
Makes me brave to fight the fight
And shout the battle cry

You’ll never stop me I’m a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger
Faith is my shield His love is the armor

I will keep the hope alive
I will find the strength inside
I will keep the hope alive
I am a warrior, I will survive
I will keep the hope alive
I will find the strength inside
I will keep the hope alive
You’ll never stop me I’m a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger

You’ll never stop me I’m a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger
Faith is my shield His love is the armor

I’m a warrior (I’m a warrior)
I’m a warrior (I’m a warrior)
Jesus make me Your warrior

I will keep the hope alive
I will find the strength inside
I will keep the hope alive