Why Do We Care What Everyone Thinks?

Everyone thinks this about you.”

They’re all talking about you.”

“You make everyone feel” __________________.

“Everyone thinks you should”_____________.

These types of phrases can be negative or positive.

We love it when the context is everyone thinks you’re wonderful! They’re all talking about how you make everyone feel so good and everyone thinks you should do more to let people know about the great things you’re doing!

But what about a negative context when everyone thinks you’re not wonderful. They’re all talking about you because you make everyone so uncomfortable and everyone thinks you should change your ways and keep to yourself!

When I was starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, and then when other churches wanted to know how to start one and God chained me to the computer to write the Woman to Woman Mentoring resources, I heard both negative and positive comments. That was twenty years ago. If I had listened to the negative, there would be no Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry today; but likewise if I had let the positive puff me up instead of just encourage and motivate me, I don’t believe God would have blessed this ministry. Yet even as I sit here writing to you, I see a confirming email come in from a church telling me they started the ministry last year and they’re so thankful for the resources. To God be the glory. Only God starts an international life-changing ministry and keeps it going! We can’t do anything without Him, but with Him all things are possible.

Positive or negative comments; let’s look objectively.

Receiving Negative Comments

 

No one can speak for everyone. More than likely there’s a group with a perception about you, which could actually only be two or three people.

We hear sweeping comments in the news today, and it’s easy to transfer similar all-inclusive conversation to our private lives. Especially, when someone wants to convey something negative. Everyone sounds more impressive, meaningful, and authoritative.

Words are easy to release, but impossible to retrieve!

Hurtful words and connotations are like an arrow to the heart. They penetrate our identity, our purpose, our character. As our curiosity fuels thoughts of who is “everyone,”  our anger and defenses go into high gear. We want to know why people are thinking or saying these things about us. We’re hurt. People are gossiping about us, which never comes to any good!

A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Prov. 16:28

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. Prov. 20:19

Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. Prov. 26:22

Remember Paul is talking to the church at Corinth here:

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 2 Cor. 12:20

It takes two to gossip—the gossiper and the listener—so beware of becoming an accomplice to sin by listening to gossip. Our role as Titus 2 women is “to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good train the younger women.” (Titus 2:3)

So consider the following when you hear an “everybody” negative comment about you. Believe me when I say, I haven’t always done this on the spot, and sometimes need to give myself time to pray and put everything into perspective.

  1. Rather than trying to defend yourself or lashing outSay a quick mind prayer, stay calm, and ask God for wisdom. Ask yourself before responding: Why do I care what these people think?
  2. Question: “Really, everyone thinks this?”
  3. Ask: Why are they telling you this? Steer the conversation away from everyone to one-on-one.

My point:

We worry too much about what other people think about us and not enough about what God thinks about us. He’s the only One we’re concerned about. Consider if there’s something you should search your heart about and act on and if not, let this go. If there is something, then take it to the Lord. And be watchful of not doing an “everyone” comment yourself.

Don’t replay the encounter or comments over in your head, so Satan gets a foothold in your mind. It’s best to forgive, pray, and carry on. Easier said than done? I offer many helps and tips in my Bible study Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community.

Receiving Positive Comments

But what if all those “everyone” statements are positive building us up and making us feel good about ourselves? Well there’s certainly nothing wrong with encouragement, but again, we have to remember a couple of truths:

No one knows what everyone is speaking and they can’t speak for them. Hopefully, there are many who agree with them, but “everyone” is still an encompassing sweeping generalization.

If we think that we’re just fine because everyone likes us, then we might miss some areas we do need to change and improve, because after all . . . everyone thinks we’re great.

And we know what that leads to—pride—taking credit ourselves, instead of praising God giving Him the glory and honor He deserves. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:18)

There will always be areas in our life we need to improve, change, sanctify, ask God for wisdom. We can be grateful for approval of how we’re living and serving the Lord, but I guarantee that if you’re living out loud for God, everyone is not going to like you. If everyone does, do an internal check and see if there are areas in your life you’ve compromised to be liked by everyone.

When Paul was accused by the Jewish high priest Ananias, some of the elders, and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against him before the governor, Felix for doing nothing more than sharing the Gospel, Paul told them in his defense: “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16). That should be the goal of every Christian, don’t you agree?

Sadie Robertson of the Duck Dynasty Family, who I’ve written about before, recently gave an amazing “sermon” to a college group and challenged those millennials who might be leaving their values and faith behind because they want to fit in: “Worry more about your relationship with Jesus than your reputation with people you don’t even know.” Here’s the link and I recommend you listen to it with your kids or college age youth groups. It’s excellent!

So I close with a modification of Sadie’s advice:
Worry more about your relationship with Jesus than your reputation with everyone!

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 2 Peter 2:12

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If you would like to know more about the Prayer and Launch Team for Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing September 12, please contact me soon.

Why Does God Want Women Mentoring Each Other Through Life’s Change?

While chatting with several women at the July 4th church potluck, the conversation turned to menopause. The women were going through it now and struggling with the changes in their bodies. I have to admit, I’m so glad to be on the other side of that season of life, even though I did go through all the symptoms again when I was on Tamoxifen after breast cancer. My friend’s discussion of menopause symptoms brought back memories of never knowing how many nightgowns I was going to go through in a night or wondering if my face and neck would suddenly turn red and blotchy while speaking.

But I also remembered a conversation I had with an elderly woman in our church about menopause when I started Woman to Woman Mentoring twenty years ago. You can be sure in my new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, there’s a chapter on menopause! Here’s a sneak preview into that chapter:

When I started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, an elderly woman said she felt the church let her down when she went through menopause. Someone in “the church” should have prepared her for the body and emotional changes she would experience. Since I was a few years away from menopause, I made a mental note, because if this was so important to her, it must be a season mentoring should address.

Then I went through menopause! I called everyone I knew my age to see if what I was experiencing was “normal.” I finally found a Christian book on menopause, which I later gave to another clueless menopausal friend.

When I told my girlfriends lamenting menopause about this, they eagerly asked if I still had the book?! I said no, but it’s definitely a season covered in Mentoring for All Seasons. Menopause is one of those seasons where one woman can share from her life experience what helped her and be there to pray and encourage a younger woman going through “the change.” You’ll laugh, cry, and truly relate to author, speaker, and a dear friend of mine, Pam Farrel, who shares about her own midlife years and how she became a mentor to many women by starting a “seasoned sisters” group.

Another friend who shares in Mentoring for All Seasons about being mentored during early parenting years is now also in menopause, and she’s started a Facebook group called Menopause Maidens.

We know that life is full of change in every season, but God has given us the tools to help each other through them. We just need to be willing to do what he asked of us in so many places in the Bible: reach out and mentor each other. I was incredibly blessed to have sixty-five women, including some of you, share mentoring stories—both mentees and mentors—in Mentoring for All Seasons. These women had experienced the blessings of mentoring, as mentors and mentees, and wanted to encourage other women that they can do it too, and it’s a fabulous blessing! I also give God’s perspective from Scripture to use in mentoring and tips in how to mentor and be a mentee in all seasons, along with sharing biblical M&M relationships.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecc. 3:1

I could use your help in spreading the word, however you feel led!

  • Pray for God to take Mentoring for All Seasons from coast to coast, from woman to woman, to equip them to do what He has asked of every Christian woman. Not just to be a mentor, but to seek a mentor also. We’re always coming out of a season to mentor from that experience and going into another season where we need a mentor!
  • Share with your friends, church, women’s ministry, social media, blogs, websites. It’s now available for pre-order on Amazon. You can read more about the content of the book there and order a copy for yourself and be the first to receive it on release day, September 12.
  • Tell me what ministries we should share this book with? Do you have a contact or know who we should contact?
  • Do you have a blog where I could be a guest blogger or you would post a review?
  • What other ideas do you have?

If you’ve followed me on this Monday Morning Blog for very long, you know God has given me a passion for evangelism and mentoring. Many women become believers, but they have no idea how to live the life. Or they hit a difficult season and feel alone or distanced from God. You know this was never God’s plan. So won’t you help me turn my small contribution into a revival of women mentoring women!

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, before you know it, he brings us alongside others who also go through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4, The Message

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

In reflecting on the many women in my life who have helped me through all kinds of seasons . . . I’ve been blessed to have many women speak into my life and influence me in different ways. From the way I entertain using their examples of hospitality to my deeply, personal involvement in my friends’ lives, I have had beautiful, courageous women of faith who were there to teach me and train me. They helped me with my floundering anxieties as a young mother, supported me as friends during my children’s busy school years, and many are faithful friends who have stood by my side in ministry for decades now. Where would I be without these generous hearted friends? I’m grateful I’ll never have to know. Joneal Kirby, founder of Heartfelt Ministry, endorser and shares a story in Mentoring for All Seasons.

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Available for Order and on Kindle

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. (September 12, 2017)

She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet at:

womantowomanmentoring.com

www.facebook.com/Janetthompson.authorspeaker

http://www.linkedin.com/in/womantowomanmentoring/

www.pinterest.com/thompsonjanet

https://twitter.com/AHWministries

5 Ways to Have a God-Glorifying Small Group

Last week as I was shutting down my computer, I noticed a Facebook tag from my dear friend and fellow author/speaker, Pam Farrel. Pam leads a group called Seasoned Sisters, and you’ll be able to read all about how she started this mentoring group for women going through midlife in my new book Mentoring For All Seasons when it releases in September this year! Pam shares in it several stories about being mentored and being a mentor during transition seasons of her life.

Several months ago, Pam told me her Seasoned Sisters group wanted to read and discuss my latest book that Pam endorsed, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. They purchased the books, and then I got a message from her that more women wanted to join the group as the word got out how much they were enjoying my book. You know how this encouraged me and warmed my heart since my vision for Forsaken God? was for Christians to make a change for God in our culture by simply remembering how good God has been to them in their own lives. There are discussion questions after each chapter for group study, and the book isn’t just for women: it’s for all Christians!

So back to last week’s Facebook tag. Pam was meeting with her Seasons Sisters and they sent me a live video to say “Hi” and tell me what Forsaken God? has meant to them. Several comments: “Very timely! I don’t want to watch the news; I just want to read this book.” “Forsaken God? will put the headlines in perspective and give you God’s view.” Here’s the short video for you to watch yourself.

One woman said she had given the book to a waitress. I was blessed and encouraged. If you read last week’s blog post 10 Ways to Change Our Culture, you know my heart for motivating Christians to take a stand for God in their sphere of influence. I’m praying some of you thought there was at least one way you would apply to your life.

The Value of Small Groups / Bible Study Groups / Life Groups

Small groups or Bible study groups or life groups, whatever your church calls them, are the perfect place to mature in your faith and encourage each other to take your faith public, as we’re told to do in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

My husband and I met in a small group at Saddleback Church. He was the co-leader of a business group that included men, women, couples, and singles. It was my first experience in a small group, but Dave and I have been leading small groups and support groups (such as Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter) ever since. Sometimes we lead together, other times he might lead a men’s group and I’ll lead a women’s group. We’ve led groups at a mega church like Saddleback, and at the small church in the mountain community where we now live. Our favorite groups are couples groups.

Like every small group, some of our groups ran smoothly with everyone committed, and others had problems that we had to address for the good of the group. Here are five key areas where God taught us through trial and error how to have a small group that glorifies Him and enriches the spiritual life of all the group members.

  1. Create a safe place with confidentiality – Do members of your group feel like the group is a safe place where they can share openly without condemnation, criticism, or worrying that what they say will leave the group?

Prayer time can unintentionally become a gossip session. Members should feel confident that prayer requests or comments made during the meetings are not discussed outside of the group, without permission from all individuals involved.

Spouses should not share stories about each other without receiving permission, whether or not their spouse is present. To keep the group accountable in this area, when a spouse starts to talk about his or her spouse, the leader can say something like, “That sounds like a hubby [or wife] story. Hubby [or wife], do you want us to hear this?” And if he or she says no, then nix the story.

  1. Don’t Try to Fix Each Other – Are members trying to solve each other’s problems or give unsolicited advice?

Members shouldn’t try to speak into each other’s life unless asked to do so. Often a member just wants to share a difficult situation and is solely looking for compassion, understanding, and prayer. The group should listen respectfully, and possibly offer constructive and empathetic comments from their own experience, as long as those thoughts are biblically sound, and above all, encouraging. No quick fixes or “you shoulds.”

Sometimes members with difficult issues can dominate the entire meeting and that might be appropriate if someone is in an immediate crisis. But if this becomes a pattern, the leader/facilitator gently suggests that the member might benefit from speaking with pastors at the church or offer to talk privately and pray with him or her after the group.

  1. Set Clear Expectations and Request Commitment – Is everyone committed and giving priority to meetings and communicating in advance when they aren’t going to attend? Do all members have clear expectations of what they’re going to receive from the study, and are they in concert with the group?

Will it be a social fellowship group vs. a Bible study group, or a combination of the two?

Commitment and making meetings a high priority is imperative. Members shouldn’t have an “I’ll-be-there-if-I-can” attitude. Your goal is to become a spiritual family growing and doing life together, respectful of each other’s time and efforts.

There’s nothing more discouraging as a leader than to prepare for the group and then start receiving the phone calls and emails, often at the last minute, that members aren’t coming. One way to share the commitment and ownership of the group is to pass the facilitating of the group among the members. So it’s not always a leader/members group, but a group with everyone having a part in facilitating the meetings.

Make sure you have a group covenant that clearly states the purpose of the group and allow everyone an opportunity to express his or her expectations. This is also a good place to reemphasize confidentiality and commitment expectations.

  1. Maintain Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit—Do you spend enough time in the Word and let the Holy Spirit lead or are you rushing through studies to reach a goal?

Regardless of the focus or purpose of the group, everyone must be reading from the Bible every meeting. Members need to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer during the meetings and during the week for spiritual growth to occur.

It’s important to end at the agreed expected time so people can plan, but don’t be overly concerned how much material is covered each meeting. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and expose just the right discussion for growth in everyone’s life.

  1. Encourage Active Group Participation – Is everyone doing his or her outside study material between meetings and participating in the discussion? Do some people never talk and others do all the talking?

It’s important for the health and growth of the group that everyone comes prepared if there is homework or reading between meetings, and that each member has an opportunity to participate in discussion.

A good way to engage people who tend to be quiet is to ask them to read a Scripture, and if it applies to a study question, that’s an open door to read their answer. Or to prevent them from feeling pressured to respond first, after some initial group discussion on the question, the leader/facilitator can invite their input. These suggestions also are effective in preventing the group from relying on the same group members for answers and discussion.

Small groups are vital to the spiritual growth and maturity of a church congregation, whether the church is large or small. It’s easy to get lost in a large church and not feel accountable, but a small group makes a big church small. In a small church, like where we are right now, small groups expand the ministry and teaching during the week and can make a small church seem like a large extended family.

What other things have you found to be a problem and/or helpful in keeping your small group effective and maturing together in Christ?

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All my books have discussion questions for groups. I’ve also written a Face to Face Bible Study Series for women. There are seven in the series and each one is a perfect length for summer study. Or there’s a First Place 4 Heath Bible study God’s Best for Your Life.

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Good News Trumps Fake News

A shrewd person conceals knowledge,
but a foolish heart publicizes stupidity.

Proverbs 12:23 HCSB

Fake news has now become a part of our vocabulary. Our president uses the term frequently and at his February 16 press conference, he came up with a new term, “very fake news.” The flailing and failing media struggles to convince an unbelieving public that they’re reporting factual news. However, with fake news, rather than actual journalistic factual reporting, permeating the media the public has become skeptical of all news. The average person cannot decipher through the rhetoric of reporters’ personal biases and the sensationalist negative headlines to determine . . .

  • truth from fiction
  • facts from prejudice
  • honesty from lies
  • reporting from essays

I’ve been saying fake news is just old-fashioned propaganda, so I decided to look up a definition and what do you know, I was right. Wikipedia describes fake news with words like: hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news. They said social media is often the means to drive it and the purpose of fake news is to mislead readers for financial, political, or other gain.

The Bible warns against spreading fake news:

A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. Proverbs 21:6 NIV

With the exception of a few media outlets like Fox News—where most newscasters are conservative and some are Christian—and Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), the majority are an opposition force with the universal purpose of creating anger, doubt, unrest, and turning the American people against President Trump and his Administration. As President Trump has told the press, their tone is mean, hate-filled, and negative.

What opposition force would want to stop President Trump from fulfilling his campaign promises? I receive a newsletter from Hal Lindsey Ministries and he summarizes in his February 17, 2017 newsletter the opposition President Trump faces:

You thought you saw opposition during the election campaign. I believe that nothing then compares to what we will see now that President Trump actually has the power to fulfill his campaign promises.

I think his attempts to do the things he was elected to do will be opposed by the Left and by the Washington establishment with such ferocity and vitriol that it will stun most of us. Not only will the President and his allies be fought every step of the way by the Democrats and the liberal Left, but they will be resisted by establishment Republicans, the mainstream media, the crumbling European Union, many Muslims, the globalists who seek the elimination of all borders and national sovereignty, and millions of Americans who only get their information from the established media.

I think he will also be sabotaged by leftover elements of the Obama administration who remain in the intelligence and law enforcement agencies and will certainly be resisted by millions of federal bureaucrats who oppose any reduction in their numbers or their benefits.

Unlike any other President in the last 100 years, President Trump will also have to deal with public and behind-the-scenes opposition from his predecessor. Breaking longstanding tradition, President Obama has remained in Washington and set up shop within two miles of the White House. Returning to his roots (did he ever leave them?), he is back to community organizing and practicing the politics of division. He is actively building an organization, complete with professional staff and organized training programs, for the sole purpose of preserving his “legacy” and furthering the far-Left agenda he promoted in his second term.

There is so much more at work here than just domestic politics. I believe we will see a battle between the forces of evil (this is not hyperbole) and the forces of good (I would go so far as to say the forces of righteousness) that will require all of our determination to fight and willingness to intercede in prayer that we can muster.

The Good News Trumps the Fake News

 

Praise God in this era of “very fake news,” we have the Good News! We know the truth. We can use the litmus test—the Word of God—for discerning who is telling the truth and who is lying. No one can fool us, persuade us, or pass a law to make us believe that right is wrong and wrong is right. If you read your Bible, talk to God, and just as Hal Lindsey said, have a determination to fight and a willingness to intercede and pray for truth to prevail . . . no weapon formed against our mind can prosper.

Here are some tips I hope will help you that help me focus on the Good News and eliminate the fake news!

  1. Do not watch any of the fake news channels or read the news! Their angry, belittling, negative language and headlines tell you they’re biased. Instead of reporting facts, they try to persuade you with their opinions. Even when not fake or fiction, the reporting is slanted.
  2. Do not open an online article, social media article, blog, or read a media article with a sensational, negative, or critical headline.
  3. Don’t react the first time you hear a story. For example, I didn’t want to believe that Obama was creating a “shadow government” to oppose the current government. I found it too appalling to think he would stoop that low, so I waited until I checked out enough reputable sources and his website to accept it was not fake news.
  4. Spend more time reading and studying the Bible, the Good News of God, than you do listening to fake news perpetuated by Satan. Nothing about God is fake. Fake news perpetuates false information to profit someone else. Fake news will harm you even though they make it seem like it benefits you. God only speaks truth, so fill your mind with His truths instead of the world’s lies. You will sleep better at night and live in peace.
  5. When you hear someone stressing over fake news they’re believing as truth, use that as an opportunity to share the Good News with them. Share how to discern lies from truth. I find it’s a great time to share a Scripture and pray with someone over the situation. Pray the Armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:10-18).
  6. Pray for President Trump and his Administration. His job is to focus on Making America Great Again, and as Hal Lindsey said, our job is to do what the Good News tells us to do, pray. Intercede for our president and for our country.
  7. Pray for the Trump family. On February 18, Melania Trump introduced her husband before he gave a speech to thousands in Orlando, Florida. She quieted the crowd with “Let’s pray.” And then, to the shock of those in attendance and the media, she recited the Lord’s Prayer! I was ecstatic, but I knew she would receive criticism from those she called the “opposition,” to whom she said, “I will stay true to myself.” Yes, the liberal left haters attacked her, but I’m sure Mrs. Trump paid no attention because she obviously knows the Good News, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Our First Lady quieting the crowd before she prayed.

I’m always so happy when someone writes to me that they’ve turned off the fake news and started spending time focusing on the Good News. When I’m in times of trouble, I like to pray and personalize the Book of Psalm, so I personalize the psalms for President Trump. I’ll close with showing you how to intercede through a psalm for him.

Here is how you might pray and personalize Psalm 31 for President Trump.

In you, Lord, let President Trump take refuge;
let him never be put to shame;
deliver him in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to him,
come quickly to his rescue;
be his rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save him.
Since you are his rock and his fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide him.
Keep him free from the trap that is set for him,
for you are his refuge.
Into your hands commit his spirit;
deliver him, Lord, his faithful God.

We detest those who cling to the worthless idol of lies and fake news;
help him trust only in you the Lord.
Let him be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you see his affliction
and know the anguish of his soul.
You have not, and will not give him into the hands of the enemy
but will set his feet in a spacious safe place.

Be merciful to him, Lord, for he is in distress;
his eyes may grow weak with sorrow,
his soul and body tire with grief.
10 Do not let his life be consumed by anguish
or his years by groaning;
strengthen him emotionally during all the personal attacks,
keep him healthy and strong.
11 Because of all his enemies,
He is the utter contempt of many of his neighbors, liberals, Democrats, and other politicians
and an object of dread to some of those who were his closest friends—
those who see him and his family on the street and in public places now flee from them.
12 He is forgotten by some who he once held dear as though he were the enemy;
He has become like an untouchable no longer in their favorable circles.
13 For he hears many whispering or screaming and protesting in the streets,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against him even, from within the government, and the former administration
and some plot to take his life.

14 But help him trust in you, Lord;
Let him say boldly, “You are my God.”
15 “My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant Donald;
save me and keep me in your unfailing love.” Amen

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What Does It Mean to “Love Your Neighbor” During an Election or Anytime

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

While walking and praying this past week, the Lord put Matthew 22:36-40 on my heart and impressed on me to write a blog post tying it into the November 8, 2016 election. I wrestled with the thought and wondered if He really meant I should write it after the election, when some might be reading this post happy and others upset about the results. I’ve been vocal on social media, trying to encourage Christians to take a stand for the conservative Republican platform in the election and imploring everyone to look at platforms not personalities of the two candidates. One person said she tried not to take a particular side, but to follow “Love your neighbor.” There it was again. I’ve learned that when God really wants me to do something, He doesn’t let up until I get it.

I thought about how often this verse is taken out of context instead of the complete, “Love your neighbor, as yourself.” It’s sometimes used in chastisement or even as a rationalization for accepting sin.

What Does the Greatest Commandment Say About “Love”?

Matthew 22:36-40 says the first thing we’re to do is love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul—love His Word and His ways more than anything else in the world! Everything in us strives to please God first: honor the way He wants us living with a pure heart and mind as the Holy Spirit indwells our soul. God’s standards . . . His Word and His Ways . . . govern every decision and choice we make, every thought we allow in our mind . . . yes, every vote.

Then the second commandment is like it . . . we do the same thing with our neighbor . . . but we don’t just love our neighbor, we love our neighbor as ourselves . . . the same self that loves God with all our mind, heart, and soul. We don’t love our neighbor by the world’s words and ways, but by God’s Word, His Ways, and the Holy Spirit.

Thus the cultural rub. When Christians apply the world’s definition of “love your neighbor” . . . tolerate your neighbor’s sin, just love on them or you’re judging them . . . we aren’t loving our neighbor as ourselves or according to God’s Word, His Ways, and the Holy Spirit. Consequently, many Christians “love their neighbors” straight into hell, without ever telling them about heaven. Not loving or caring about them enough to go to the hard places of talking about good and evil, sin, repentance, forgiveness, and eternal life with Jesus.

The most loving thing any Christian can do is tell someone about Jesus and share the Gospel.

Love them enough to tell about eternity in heaven and the reality of hell.

Meet them where they’re at, but don’t leave them there.

Aren’t you glad someone stepped out of his or her comfort zone to tell you about Jesus and help you make changes in your life and ask Jesus for forgiveness? I am. Otherwise, none of us would be Christians today. I would still be wallowing in my backslidden life if Greg Laurie had not loved a whole group of “neighbors” and asked us “Are you ready to die tonight?”

Christians shouldn’t just love ourselves to heaven, we should love our neighbors to heaven too!

How Did Jesus Love His Neighbor?

For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 1So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:5-11 NLT

It’s not easy confronting someone with their sin, but when we don’t, we’re condoning it. We do need to establish a relationship first, then share the Gospel and help them confront their sin, ask for forgiveness, and change their ways. Three biblical examples of Jesus loving his neighbor and introducing them to Himself come to mind.

  • When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He asked her for a drink (relationship); He told her about living water and eternal life (shared the Gospel); asked about her husband and she admitted she had no husband (confession). He told her he knew she had had five husbands and the man she was living with was not her husband (confronted her sin). He didn’t send her back home to live with her boyfriend, He told her the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). She became the first woman evangelist, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ (John 1:4-42)
  • To the woman caught in adultery who he rescued from being stoned to death, He didn’t say: Well they’re all sinners too, we all sin, so no big deal. I don’t condemn you so just be more careful next time. He told her “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:2-15)
  • Zacchaeus was a fraudulent tax collector. When Jesus saw him he said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (Relationship) People were upset at Jesus for going to a “sinner’s” house, but Zacchaeus realized his sin (confronted with sin, he repented) and “Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come to this house.’” (Luke 19:1-10). Salvation not just to Zacchaeus, but to everyone in the house . . . you know Jesus shared the Gospel while he ate with them.

I wrote a blog post that might help with Balancing Grace and Truth.

What Does Love Your Neighbor Have to Do with the Election?

two-platforms

So how does this all tie into the election? Let’s look at the top five moral issues of two completely different political platforms that clearly delineate God’s way versus the world’s way—two different Americas. Ask yourself is this what it means to “love my neighbor like myself?” Is this what I want for myself . . . my family . . .  my neighbor? Is this what God wants for His people, for America?

A Christian can’t straddle the line between the two platforms. You must take a stand for right versus wrong, good versus evil. Some “neighbors” will listen and some like the “progressive liberal atheist” lesbian couple supporting Clinton who told me they want to spend eternity in hell together, or the atheist supporting Clinton who would not answer my question asking if she knows where she will spend eternity—will not listen.

If you love your neighbor enough to hope that someday he or she will know Jesus and be in eternity with you, then you must choose the platform that will allow you to freely share the love of Jesus with your neighbor. As I look at these platforms, it’s clear to me there’s only one choice. If you’re reading this after election day, admittedly it’s going to be harder, but we still must honor Matthew 22:36-40.

  1. Sanctity of human life

Democratic

Democrats seek to repeal the 1976 Hyde Amendment so that federal funds can be used to pay for abortions. The platform says, “We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers.” Democrats support ratification of UN efforts that affirm “the reproductive rights of women” globally.

Republican
The GOP asserts the sanctity of human life and affirms,The unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.” The party supports a Human Life Amendment making clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth, and it salutes states that require informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods and clinic regulation.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should give them the right to murder their unborn baby He created?

  1. Marriage

Democratic
Democrats applaud last year’s Supreme Court ruling that “LGBT people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love.”

Republican
The GOP platform condemns the Supreme Court’s rulings that removed the ability of Congress and the people to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The GOP urges the reversal of those decisions, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage?

  1. Religious freedom—Acknowledging God

Democratic
The Democratic platform says: “We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.” The party opposes a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the country.

Republican
Republicans affirm that religious freedom in the Bill of Rights protects the right of the people to practice their faith in their everyday lives. The platform endorses the First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect faith-based institutions and individuals from government discrimination.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should condone and legalize sin forcing pastors to perform gay marriages or be punished as we’ve seen with bakers, florists, photographers; students shouldn’t be allowed to use God’s name or Scripture in commencement speeches; Christian businesses like Hobby Lobby should be forced to pay for abortions?

  1. Federal Judges

Democratic
The platform says: “We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, and will protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.”

Republican
The GOP platform states: “A critical threat to our country’s constitutional order is an activist judiciary that usurps powers properly reserved to the people through other branches of government.” The GOP supports the appointment of justices and judges who respect the constitutional limits on their power and respect the authority of the states.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should allow unrighteous judges to make laws beyond their constitutional limits that enforce and legalize sin?

  1. Israel and Jerusalem

Democratic
The platform states: “We will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel. … While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Republican
Republicans express “unequivocal support for Israel,” pointing out that it is the only Middle Eastern country with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The GOP recognizes “Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state.” The party opposes the U.N.’s treatment of Israel as a pariah state.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor would mean that America should aid the enemies of our ally and God’s chosen people of Israel?

These five platform issues came from Billy Gramham.org Democratic and Republican Party Platforms. More issues are described on their website.

I hope you take the time to read the platforms before you vote and don’t get caught up in the media rhetoric, because the answers to the above questions will be what we live with in the future, and depending on the results of the election, every believer must remember:

In God we trust, not in man or woman.

You can still make a difference. The article I wrote for Crosswalk.com might be helpful You Don’t Have to Make Movies or Get Elected to Change Culture.

If you received this post by email, leave a comment here.

Love Your Body—Why Are We So Angry?

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

As if we didn’t have enough diseases to try to avoid, the current election has created a new one—Political Anxiety Disorder or Election Stress Disorder—hospitalizing many people across the nation. They’re so upset about the outcome of the election affecting their lives, that they’re having panic attacks and all the physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • Pounding heart, sweating.
  • Headaches, stomach upset, or dizziness.
  • Frequent urination or diarrhea.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Muscle tension, tremors, and twitches.
  • Fatigue or insomnia.

“Anxiety weighs down the heart.” —Proverbs 12:25a

“So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body.”—Ecclesiastes 11:10a

Anxiety Can Lead to Anger

If you receive my monthly About His Work Ministries email newsletter,* the opening article this month was “When Things Are Out of Control.” I received more comments on that article then I have from any article I’ve written all year. When things happen that we don’t like or don’t want to experience, but can’t change, it makes us anxious and we can become angry. Anger is a legitimate feeling and reaction, but what we do with that anger can damage our health, our body, and our relationships.

Unbridled anger results in bitterness, hardening of the heart, and often an offensive attitude that expresses itself in vile words and/or aggressive behavior. While there may be a quick release of angry emotion, if the root cause of the anger continues it eats away at mind, body, and soul, and others become victims of the residual fallout.

As the election progresses, I’ve had the most angry, vulgar, mean, vicious lashing out comments I’ve ever experienced on my blog posts and Facebook posts. It’s alarming that people live with such angry, bitter thoughts in their minds and hearts and use hurtful, X-rated words in their daily lives. I’m sure when the election is over, they’ll find something else to be angry about and their health, both physical and mental, will suffer.

Today it’s almost impossible to have a debate without it turning into a disagreement.

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.”–Psalm 37:8

Where is the Anger Originating?

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.”—Ephesians 4:26 NLT

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”—Proverbs 14:29 NLT

Do you know the media outlets design the news to raise your blood pressure, anxiety level, and anger meter? They purposely create headlines to generate a negative response. The media wants you to engage angrily with either the person or situation their reporting on—they want you mad. Occasionally, they’ll throw in a feel good story, but usually it’s SENSATIONAL “BREAKING NEWS” not substantiated or factual . . . just hearsay, opinions, or “maybes” . . . and you walk away worried . . . angry.

As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!”—Proverbs 25:23 NLT

I write articles for an online Christian magazine, and they’ve discovered that the more negative the title, the more people read the article. Christians are being conditioned right along with everyone else.

Physical Signs of Anger

What does anger do to you physically? Some symptoms are . . .

  • clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth.
  • headache/migraines.
  • stomach ache.
  • increased and rapid heart rate.
  • sweating, especially your palms.
  • feeling hot in the neck/face.
  • shaking or trembling.
  • dizziness.
  • stress which can cause anxiety.
  • increased blood pressure leading to heart disease.
  • eating disorders.

You could pick from the above list, or add to it how you feel when you’re angry or someone around you is angry. Next time, take note of how your body reacts. Or better yet, learn to control your anger and remove yourself from an angry environment or situation.

What Can We Do About Anger to Help Our Bodies?

  1. Our anger may stem from feeling out of control. We don’t think we can make a difference or change our circumstances, but we can. When you’re doing something about a situation and you feel a sense of hope and purpose . . . your anger subsides. I’m going to refer you to a post I wrote for Crosswalk for how to make a difference one person at a time: You Don’t Have to Get Elected or Make Movies to Change Culture.
  2. In my Bible study Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community, I discuss the damage anger can do to our bodies if we don’t learn how to deal with it:EuodiaSyntycheCover72dpi1-200x300

Anger is an emotion felt in the moment that requires quick resolution. Many horrific acts occur and hateful words hurl in a “fit of anger.” You cannot retrieve actions or words.

            Uncontrolled raging anger makes us, and everyone around us, miserable. Pastor Doug Fields, likes to describe anger in terms of “outies” and “inies.” An “outie” is someone who spews out anger and doesn’t hold anything back. You know exactly how mad outies are and they want you to know. Often outies are over their anger once they have their “verbal vomit,” as Pastor Doug calls it, and they’re ready to move on. The problem with outies is the potential for people to be hurt, and even maimed, during the verbal, and maybe even, physical outburst.

            Inies on the other hand are the ones that profess they aren’t mad. “Everything’s fine.” they say, maintaining a thin smile while stewing and brewing inside. They may stuff down their anger for a long time while it burns, churns, and turns to bitterness. Inies find quiet, sly, unexpected ways to express their anger, or some never let go—the anger eats away at them physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the rest of their lives. Other inies only can hold their anger inside so long until the pressure builds into a sudden and violent explosion—the fallout being lethal to themselves and anyone in the vicinity.

            So how do you have healthy anger? Here’s the “ABCD” steps to take:

Acknowledge—that you’re angry.

Breathe—take a time out and step away from the source of anger.

Call on God—He knows what you should do regarding the source of your anger—ask Him.

Defuse—release your anger to God.*

*Excerpt from Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:7

stay-calm

*If you don’t receive my online newsletter, contact me or sign up on the website.

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How To Stand Against Cultural Opposition & Disunity In The Church By Erica Wiggenhorn

 An Unexplainable Life book cover

Erica Wiggenhorn, author of An Unexplainable Life: Recovering the Wonders and Devotion of the Early Church, is our guest blogger and Erica and I both have a heart for the church today to learn from the church of the past to impact our current culture. In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I trace the mishaps of the Israelites and how we can learn from their mistakes and forgetfulness of God’s goodness. Erica traces the biblical conflict that started right from the beginning of the church and offers solutions of how to confront inevitable conflict in the current church that is sadly influencing our culture away from God and the church. I’ve also written about resolving conflict biblically in Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community.

Enjoy and pray about Erica’s post below.

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One of the very first things I noticed about the early Christian church is that trouble started right away. The church was barely a week old before issues arose.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since the Christian church is made up of people—flawed, imperfect human beings. Yet we are somehow shocked today when issues occur within the church. We shake our heads in disbelief when believers disagree with one another, or are outraged when others come against the church because we don’t condone their lifestyle or support their beliefs.

The church should expect opposition within its walls and without. By living in a false mentality that the Christian church will perpetually function in peace and unity, we are deceived into not dealing with it. We think something is wrong. But what if we opened up the pages of Scripture, realized that there have always been issues, and therefore actively prepared for them? What if we intentionally wrestle and pray through difficulties before they even arise?

Disagreement and opposition are nothing more than the enemy’s plans to thwart the church. Here are just a handful of accusations that came against the early Christian church within weeks of its inception:

  • Prejudice
  • Favoritism
  • Insurrection
  • Governmental and social unrest
  • Hypocrisy
  • Deceit

How many of these do we see today? Nothing has changed, friends. But what if we changed, went back to the beginning, and prayed specific, powerful prayers like the early believers did?

How Should We Respond? What Should We Do?

“You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one’ … Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” (Acts 4:25-26, 29)

Look at what God did as a result of this prayer: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31)

God gave them a visible demonstration that His power was mightier than Rome’s greatest emperor! The early Christians didn’t cower in the corner wringing their hands because they faced opposition. They confronted it head-on by addressing the One powerful enough to help them overcome it! They prayed to God. The early Christians in the book of Acts realized that regardless of what they faced, God was on their side and the church was going to continue.

God has warned us that we need to prepare for disagreement and opposition. We need to prayerfully decide how we are going to respond to difficult issues. We need to study the Word of God so we are aware of our enemy’s schemes.

We need to realize that trouble is often our greatest indicator that our enemy is threatened and God is at work. And as we study, pray, and come together with other believers wrestling through issues and injustices, the Holy Spirit will move with power—wall shaking power—and give us everything we need to continue to spread the news of Jesus! Two thousand years later, the gospel is still spreading!

Next time you feel overwhelmed by cultural opposition—pray. Next time you’re discouraged by disunity within your church—pray. Even before either one happens—pray, because it’s going to happen. Make sure you’re ready.

For more information about her latest Bible study, An Unexplainable Life: Recovering the Wonder and Devotion of the Early Church, and Erica’s Every Life Ministry click here.

Now It’s Your Turn

What is your general response when disunity occurs within your church?

How do you specifically pray for your church’s protection against cultural opposition?

What is one key way to prepare ourselves for opposition within our church or from without?

You can comment below or if you received this blog by email comment here.

Book cover photo

TRUMPET BLAST . . . Remembering God’s Goodness!

trumpetLest you think I’m blowing my own horn today, blowing the trumpets was an ordinance God gave in the Old Testament before going into battle and, “Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God” (Num. 10:10).

So today, I’m blowing the trumpet and sounding the cymbals as I rejoice over the release of my “offering” tomorrow, February 9, 2016! This is a day I’ve been anticipating for almost 10 years …the release of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

ForsakenGod.inddWhy did I have to wait 10 years? Because God’s timing is always perfect and He knew that today, our world would need this book like never before. Our culture is spiraling into an immoral abyss and it’s time for Christians to take a bold stand: A stand for what we believe, why we believe, and who we believe in—Jesus Christ!

Satan worked long and hard to try to keep this book from being published. I had a short time to write it and encountered many hardships, but God prevailed. Then we went through 11 covers before we all agreed on the one you see here, which I love.

In today’s culture, Christians are always going to be going against the crowd—or at least they should be. Let me caution that if you don’t find yourself frequently going counter-culture, you may be vacillating in the middle between the culture and Christ. Doing the cultural splits is never comfortable, productive, effective, or redemptive.

Christians must stand firm and be all-in for Christ; there is no other way that is pleasing to God.

Today, I’m sharing with you the origins of Forsaken God?. The book’s Preface will explain my passion for helping Christians remember God’s goodness in their own life, so they can lead a lost world back to God.

“The only way for evil to triumph is for good men [and women] to do nothing!” —Edmund Burke

Let’s do something together to defeat evil! I’m praying that God will take Forsaken God? to the ends of the earth. My husband smiles knowingly when I say that, but I’m asking you to help me with a grassroots effort to do just that! I’m not looking for book sales, I’m praying for changed lives. I hope you’ll join me in a mission of remembering the goodness of our Great God and sharing those memories with a lost world to give them hope for a new future.

If we don’t remember what God has already done, we won’t believe what he is capable of doing in the future. Memory builds faith.–Forsaken God?

Ok, here’s the promised Preface to Forsaken God?:

PREFACE

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. —Ps. 27:13

“We have sinned with our fathers … [and] … did not remember…” (Psalm 106:6-7). Then prod your memory and wake up immediately. Don’t say to yourself, “But God is not talking to me right now.” He ought to be. Remember whose you are and whom you serve. Encourage yourself to remember, and your affection for God will increase tenfold. Your mind will no longer be starved, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your help will be inexpressibly bright”—Oswald Chambers

Our nation is ridiculed abroad and morally crumbling within. We are in trouble. We have turned our back on God. —Franklin Graham

God put this book on my heart at 5:45 P.M. (CT) May 31, 2006, while having dinner with dear friends Les and Pam Barnhart at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Nashville, Tennessee. I had salmon (my favorite food) and they split a chicken Italian pizza. How can I remember this occasion so specifically, in such detail, and why is it important? Well, let me tell you the story ….

I was on business in Nashville where the Barnharts lived then, so we went out to dinner together. At one time, Les had worked for me in Southern California when I managed an insurance agency and since our families shared the same Christian faith, we developed a deep friendship, a kinship. We kept in touch over the years so it was a delight to have quality catch-up time with this godly couple.

During dinner, our conversation turned into a discussion of how quickly we forget God’s goodness when the next crisis arises. I pointed out how we readily criticize the Old Testament Israelites, who repeatedly forgot God’s goodness, but aren’t we the same today? We had just paid the bill and the receipt was lying on the table. As we discussed humanity’s historical pattern of forgetting God’s goodness, Les took the receipt, turned it over, and wrote on the back, “How Good is God? I Can’t Remember ….” Sliding the receipt across the table to me, he suggested, “This would be a great topic for a book!”

I took the receipt and put it in my purse for safekeeping. When I returned home, I started a folder labeled “How Good is God? I Can’t Remember …,” and clipped the dinner receipt to the front of the folder. I added to my folder Scriptures or articles reflecting the theme of forgetting God’s goodness or ways to remember his goodness. Over the years, the folder expanded with notes, Scriptures, and stories as I awaited God’s timing to write this book. Several times seemed right, but God knew I needed more research and experiences to share with you. God’s timing is always perfect—a vital aspect of his goodness to remember and never forget.

How Good is God? I Can’t Remember . . . evolved into the book you have in your hand—Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. I don’t expect that after reading Forsaken God?, your mind will retain God-incidences with the same clarity and detail as I remember the origins of this book. However, if you start saving important documents and mementoes, writing in a prayer and praise journal, taking pictures, sharing your stories and testimony, memorizing Scripture . . . you’ll be well on your way to remembering God’s goodness throughout your lifetime and passing memories on to the next generation. That’s what I’m praying for you. That’s what I think God meant at 5:45 P.M. (CT) on May 31, 2006 at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Nashville during a meaningful discussion with fellow believers! That’s what I remember and will never forget, so…

I’ll write the book on your righteousness,

talk up your salvation the livelong day,

never run out of good things to write or say.

I come in the power of the Lord God,

I post signs marking his right-of-way.

—Ps. 71:15-16 The Message

You can see why I dedicated Forsaken God? to the godly couple I mentioned in the Preface: “Pam and Les Barnhart for inspiring the vision for this book and faithfully championing me.”

Pam and Les BarnhartThe Barnharts

Here’s How You Can Help Me Take This Book to the Ends of the Earth!

  1. Order Forsaken God? from Amazon, Christianbook.com or my website.
  2. Read and review on Amazon and Christianbook.com to encourage other readers. You can put the same comment on both sites of how the book spoke to you.
  3. Share with your Bible study or small group, church, pastors, friends, family, book club . . . your sphere of influence. There are questions after each chapter for group discussion.
  4. Take a picture with the book and post on Instagram and social media, like Facebook and twitter. My twitter name is @ahwministries. Or if you don’t like pictures, just post something about the book on social media.
  5. If you have a blog, could I send you a guest blog post? Contact me please.
  6. Pray with me for God to take Forsaken God? to the ends of the earth. Pray for Him to use His book to turn the pendulum back to a culture that respects, honors, and remembers the goodness of our Great Creator and Father of our nation and our world—God!

Any other ideas please contact me. I cherish your support and help.

Blog contains excerpts from Forsaken God? used with permission.

If you received this blog by email, comment here.

Caught Between Gay and God

The Bible

I’m back after taking a brief blogging sabbatical in June. We had a wonderful family reunion and then I headed off to Orlando for the Advanced Writer’s and Speaker’s Conference and the International Christian Retail Show. And that’s where I was when I heard the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage. The room swirled around me and I felt nauseated. How could this have happened? Why were five judges allowed to try and overrule The Judge? How could they make a legal ruling on a moral issue? What was God feeling about all of this? What should Christians do? What should I do?

So many questions without answers, except for the ones about what should Christians and I do? We should stand firm on the Bible even though there are those who try to twist the Bible to support their opposing views. God showed me that the gay community calls heterosexuals “straight” and here’s the definition of straight from Roget’s Super Thesaurus:

  1. Unbent, undeviating, linear, direct, square, aligned.
  2. Honest straightforward, frank, candid, upfront, forthright, trustworthy, reliable, sincere.
  3. Undiluted, pure, whole, unmodified, unmixed.

So stay straight and undeviating in your faith, aligned with God’s “undiluted” Word.

If heterosexuals are straight what are homosexuals? Often they are meandering, mixed up, confused, off track, and  lost their moral compass. They may turn to the gay lifestyle because of something in their past. No one is born homosexual, but circumstances in their life might lead them to seek refuge in the gay community and they need our help, love, and guidance in straightening up their life from the twists and turns it’s taken. What they don’t need is for us to twist, bend, and expand Scripture to make it support the culture’s view of homosexuality.

You Probably Know a Person Sinning Sexually

Most people today know someone who is living in sexual sin. Maybe it’s a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, a niece or nephew, a sister or brother. Maybe it’s one of your own children. Sadly, our culture now normalizes many of these sexual sins—hooking up, sex outside of marriage, living together, getting pregnant before marriage .. or maybe no intention of marrying, transgenderism…. While adultery still seems acknowledged as a sin and unacceptable, the gay agenda is becoming accepted and now the courts have had the audacity to legally change the definition of marriage to include a relationship outside of God’s design. But no law can change the laws of God. There’s no right way to do the wrong thing!

Today’s culture not only tolerates sexual sin, it accepts and celebrates it. So what are you to do about that person you know who is choosing a sinful, immoral sexual lifestyle, when the majority of society has decided it’s no big deal? You love that person and you want to continue the relationship, even though as a Christian you feel convicted that something isn’t right about this. You want to support them, and try to convince yourself that because it’s your child or loved one who has chosen sin, it’s really not all that bad.

Many of you are torn between love for your friend or relative and love for God’s Word? If that’s you, ask yourself some hard questions: How could I confront them about the sin and help them find their way to God’s forgiveness? How could I let them wallow in the dark, knowing that for those who have accepted the world’s ways over Jesus’ ways, they’re going to end up in eternal fire instead of eternity with Jesus? How could I ever forgive myself for not praying for them to change their ways? How could I go before Holy God with a clean heart knowing that I might have enabled my friend or loved one’s sin rather than loving him or her to the cross?

A friend recently posted this on Facebook “I am finding so many Christians waffling in their beliefs because they have become more concerned with the approval and appeasement of someone they know and love rather than being more concerned with that person’s eternity.”

This is exactly what I’m seeing too and it’s breaking my heart. I wonder if Christians who have changed their profile picture to a gay flag, realize that they’re waving a flag that says a professed Christian now has decided to oppose God’s ways in favor of the world’s ways? How will they explain that to God when they meet someday? How will they tell Him that the applause of men meant more to them than the applause from heaven?

How could anyone interpret “Love your neighbor as yourself” to mean loving your neighbor’s sin? Does anyone love himself or herself more when sinning? Is anyone happier when he or she sins? Do you celebrate your sin and even try to get it legalized?

What About the Person Who Claims to be a Christian but Also Persists in Sexual Sin or Approves of Same-Sex Marriage?

Last week, I attended the International Christian Retail Show and picked up John Bevere’s Good or God? It caught my attention since my new book coming out in March is How Good is God? I Can’t Remember…. Here’s an excerpt from Bevere’s book:

“Have you encountered someone who professes to know Jesus Christ, and has done so for some time, but lives as if he or she has never met Him? Why is this? This person is simply not experiencing the process of transformation. They are not being changed into His likeness.

Paul prophesied that our days will be difficult. Interestingly, he wrote that these stressful times will not result from persecution for our faith, as in his day, but from professing Christians who don’t keep the words of Jesus.

Paul clearly stated, “They will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power (2 Timothy 3:5 TEV). These professing believes are deceived, for they will be “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7 TEV)…. Many such “believers” attend churches, conferences, worship nights, Bible schools, and connect groups. They love learning but remain unchanged in character and behavior.

Here’s the bottom line: only those who walk in holiness can see God—can enter His presence. Jesus couldn’t have made it any clearer when He said, “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me … I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:19, 21).

Jesus stated that only those who keep His commandments are the ones He will make Himself apparent to. They will be the ones who see Him, who enter His presence and thereby come to know Him intimately. This privilege is not promised to all believers, only to those who pursue obeying His Word—those who pursue holiness.”

A good word from John Bevere to those who profess to be Christians but are living in sin instead of holiness or are enabling and cheering on someone living in sin. If I just described a Christian you know, here is what believers are called on to do…

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. (Galatians 6:1-2)

Our Story

Lest you think I don’t know what it’s like to have a loved one choosing to sin, or haven’t been there myself, I wrote a book sharing the journey of praying for my daughter who was living with her boyfriend … something I had modeled to her when I was in my backsliding years running from God. Now, you may say that it’s no big deal anymore with so many people choosing to live together…but I beg to differ with you. Sin is ALWAYS a big deal no matter how many people are doing it. Majority never trumps morality.

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I had rededicated my life to the Lord and thought Kim would follow in my footsteps, but she didn’t. I had a hard choice. I loved my only daughter with an unconditional love, but I could not love what she was doing. I never condemned her, but I never condoned her chosen lifestyle. I did nothing to enable, celebrate, or support her choice.

Instead, I loved her like crazy with an unending mother’s love, kept communication open, and prayed every single day for her out of God’s Word. I prayed Scripture over her and for her. That didn’t make her happy, and she wanted nothing to do with my faith. But that didn’t daunt me. Knowing that she was not a believer and was going to hell, kept me on my knees every day for six years. Today we share our story together in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter and in person, and she always thanks God and me that I never gave up or gave in to the sins she was committing.

Do you love your friend or relative enough to stand in opposition to their sin and stand in the gap for their salvation? You will be accountable for how you answer that question. I pray you choose eternal life for them, it’s the most loving thing you could do. Ignoring their sin, condoning their sin, and celebrating their sin, loves them straight into hell, which is real. We’re all going to die and go to either heaven or hell. What kept me on my knees for my daughter was a recurring dream of her calling out to me from the fiery pit asking me why I didn’t tell her where she was going? I knew that I would continue to expectantly and persistently pray for her until my final breath. Praise God, I got to witness her transformation into the godly woman she is today.

For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment. And God did not spare the ancient world—except for Noah and the seven others in his family. Noah warned the world of God’s righteous judgment. So God protected Noah when he destroyed the world of ungodly people with a vast flood. Later, God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment. 10 He is especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire, and who despise authority.—1 Peter 2:4-10 NLT

Here is an example of how I prayed Scripture:

I pray that my daughter Kim will know the truth and that the truth will set her free. (1 John 8:32 )

Lord my daughter Kim has lost her footing and been swept off her feet by lawless and loose-talking unsavory people. Please grow her in grace and understanding of You, our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:28 MSG)

I pray that in all ways Kim will submit to you and you will make her ways straight. (Psalm 3:6)

There are 40 Days of Praying Scripture in the Appendix of Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter which would apply to anyone you are praying for and there are also stories from praying mothers of lesbians and other sexual sins.

Stand Strong

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/june-web-only/here-we-stand-evangelical-declaration-on-marriage.html?utm_source=ctweekly-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=11212054&utm_content=366195810&utm_campaign=2013&start=1

If like me, you’re speaking out against the immoral atrocities taking place in our culture and getting a push back from professing Christians, the Holy Spirit reminded me that this is what Moses and Jeremiah must have experienced. Or Paul when he saw the churches who professed to know Jesus and follow Jesus, turn to sinful and immoral ways. How he pleaded, begged, professed his love with them in 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Romans, Galatians, Colossians and left those pleadings and counsel for us to read and apply today…and yet look at how far we’ve fallen away. Yes, grace can cover a multitude of sins … but grace and mercy comes after confession, repentance, asking for forgiveness from Jesus, and a sincere change of heart to go and sin no more!

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. 1 John 1:5-10.

If you received this post by email comment here.

Here are additional posts you might want to read. I wrote the one on Balancing Grace and Truth last year.

Balancing Grace and Truth

These 35 Companies Just Told America Exactly What They Think About the SCOTUS Gay Marriage Ruling

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags

Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

A Surprise Prophetic Word about the Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

I Will Not Be Ashamed!

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The media would have you think that surveys are proving the Christian population is diminishing, but you know better than to believe everything you read and hear. We live in an era where liberals are intent on demoralizing, demeaning, and denouncing Christians and everything we stand for and believe. Their strongest tactic is trying to shame us and use the power of words and name calling to threaten us into backing down from our faith and God’s Word.

But I hope you stand with me and the apostle Paul who said to his mentee, Timothy:

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

—2 Timothy 1:8 NLT

Vine’s definition of ashamed: “A strong feeling of shame preventing a person from doing something.”

If God wants us to do something and the Holy Spirit prompts us—regardless of how “politically incorrect” or unpopular it might be, we need to stand proud of our Lord and Savior and follow the Great Commission He left for us to live out. We need to stand together against the pressure of this world to shame us—no matter how many names they call us, laws they pass to quiet us, or how unpopular we become personally … our job as Christians is to speak and live the Gospel.

The Christian World is Not Shrinking

Reality is that the true Christian population is not shrinking—Christians who would never back down in the face of adversity are actually increasing. What is shrinking is the gap between those who call themselves “Christian” hoping for a free ticket to heaven while following the world’s ways, and those who identify with Christ and are willing to follow Him wherever He leads, even if it means suffering for the Gospel, as Paul did.

Both Jesus and Paul were rivals to the accepted culture of their day and everything they did upset the social order. Why would we think it so strange when we encounter the same reaction and persecution?

Pseudo-Christians are looking for a gospel they’ll never find: one that allows them not to make waves and keep their faith “private.” As that becomes more impossible, their faith becomes weaker and they fall away. Those “so called” Christians become lesser in number.

But to those who have the courage to be unpopular for Christ no matter what—their faith becomes stronger and their stance against the wrongs of this world becomes bolder. Yes, praise God, the true Christian population is increasing. Again just like Paul tells Timothy, these Christians will:

With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 10 And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.—2 Timothy 1:8-10

There’s Only One Kind of Christian

God shields every Christian who believes in living out the Bible—and only the Bible. A new term has caught my attention: “Bible-believing Christian.” I shake my head every time I hear it because there is no other kind of Christian. If you don’t believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, call yourself anything you want, but don’t call yourself a Christian because that’s blasphemy and heresy.

God ordains the steps of every Christian. We need to be using what He has given us in the time that we have here on Earth. God had a reason for saving us. So when we speak up for God, He gives our words power and He infuses us with courage. Holy people love God and others and tell the truth about God to everyone.

Liberals use the argument that Jesus loved everyone so Christians should love everyone’s sins. But they’re twisting the word “love” to mean what they want it to mean. To use “love” to justify sin is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught.

It’s true that Jesus loved the world and that’s why He died for everyone to have freedom from sin—sins that God hates. Jesus didn’t go to the cross so we could keep on sinning, but that we could live a life free from sin. That’s the true loving Gospel. Sharing the love of Christ and the Gospel with someone is the most loving thing you could do. Because …

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.–Hebrews 10:25-27

Sin is Sin Even When Our Family is Doing It

I know firsthand that one of the hardest things as a parent is to watch our children choose to sin. I wrote a book about Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter so I know the heartbreak of feeling like you can’t do anything to stop them. But you can love them and pray for them. The most unloving thing you can do is enable them by overlooking their sin, indulging their sin, or trying to convince yourself that their sin isn’t really that bad. The most loving thing you can do is love them unconditionally, but don’t love their sin and help them turn their eyes to Jesus. Never give up on that quest!

Remember, every murderer is someone’s child, but that doesn’t make murder OK. Every alcoholic is someone’s child, but alcoholism is wrong. Every thief has parents, but stealing is a sin. If your child is indulging in alternate lifestyles, having sex outside of marriage, or experimenting with any transgenderism or homosexuality—it’s all sin. God doesn’t make any mistakes. He made girls as girls and boys as boys and he created girls to fall in love with boys, get married, and then have sex. The most loving thing you can do for your sinning child is to pray for him or her to seek Jesus, ask for forgiveness, change their sinful ways, and live a righteous life.

It’s painful and it takes courage, but my daughter is so glad that I loved her so much that I never gave up praying for her and today that’s our testimony together.

Christianity is the Only All Inclusive Faith

When the world says that Christians are “exclusive” that only shows ignorance of Christianity, the most “inclusive” religion in the world. Jesus is available to everyone. He died for everyone, but sadly, not everyone will accept His loving free invitation to eternal life with Him.

I leave you with a scenario that says it better than I can:

A young boyfriend and girlfriend were in a tragic accident and died. They’re looking down on the scene:

Girl to boy: “I have to leave you now.”
Boy: “I want to go with you wherever you’re going.”
Girl: “I’m going to be with God, but you didn’t accept him so you can’t come with me.”

Boy: “Did you know this?”

Girl: “Yes …”

Boy: “Then why didn’t you tell me?”
Girl: “I was afraid I would lose you.”

Who are you afraid of losing here on Earth, who someday you’ll have to say goodbye to forever? Don’t be ashamed to share the Gospel. Someone’s eternal life depends on it.

I derived parts of this blog from Pastor Brian Smith’s message at Crouch Community Church May 17, 2015. I wanted to say a huge “Amen” after every sentence. Thank you Pastor Brian for being a student of the Bible and preparing your congregation to be bold for Christ.