Should Christians Be Political?

I had little response to last week’s blog post, Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity so I don’t know if . . .

  • You didn’t read it?
  • It was too long?
  • You think purity is impossible today?
  • It was too sensitive a subject?
  • I tried to cover too much territory?

I don’t know unless I hear from you, but since none of you unsubscribed, I’ll carry on with another topic on my heart throughout the election and continues into the firestorm that has erupted since President Trump’s Inauguration.

Some say Christians shouldn’t . . .

(a) Express political views or participate in politics

(b) Speak out on politicized moral issues

Here is my discussion and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Christians Need to Run for Political Office and Get Involved in Politics

Prayer is the heartbeat of every Christian’s life. When we pray heaven hears our voices. James 4:2 tells us that we have not because we ask not. We pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven, but then God expects us to be His hands and feet on this earth doing His will. We come out of our prayer closets, clothed in the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18) and go into action representing God to a lost world. That might be figuratively turning over the money-changers booths like Jesus did in the temple, or calling out the “Pharisees,” or like Jesus, Paul, and the disciples confronting sinners and sharing the Gospel. Or like Paul, mentoring the churches when they fall back into old sinful ways or are easily misled by false teachers.

Stay close to God through prayer, seek His will, and then do His will.

The disciples didn’t stay in the Upper Room. They prayed and with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, went out into the world.

Churches and Christians have allowed the government to politicize moral issues in our country, complaining and lamenting, but doing little to stop the takeover. Christians have an obligation to seize any opportunity to reclaim those moral issues and rights for the good of our country and generations to come. I’m speaking specifically about issues like:

  • The legalization of abortion—58 million babies murdered since Roe vs Wade—moral not political
  • Our tax dollars funding barbaric abortions through Planned Parenthood—moral not political
  • Marriage redefined by unelected Federal Judges—moral not political
  • Teachers allowed to talk about Mohammad and Gandhi, but can’t mention Jesus—moral not political
  • A football coach fired because he kneels after a game and prays—moral not political
  • Schools required to allow men to go into girls bathrooms—moral not political
  • White House lit up in gay pride colors—moral not political
  • Removing God from the public square in a country founded on Judeo Christian principles—moral not political.
  • Requiring all Americans to endorse, legitimatize, and participate in LGBT practices—moral not political
  • Calling sin, sin is “hate speech” and intimidating pastors—moral not political.

I could go on. You get the idea. If we had elected another liberal progressive Democrat, and Christians continued to remain silent, we would have had little recourse but to lament even more loss of our religious moral freedoms, as Clinton clearly said Christians would have to change our faith and beliefs.

But that didn’t happened. Evangelicals rose up and said enough is enough. We chose a candidate, who while imperfect and not the devout Christian candidate we were looking for, he heard us and promised to restore and protect our freedoms. And in his first two weeks in office, President Trump started doing exactly that:

  • Defunded Planned Parenthood in other countries
  • Nominated a Christian Conservative for Supreme Court Justice
  • Took action in Congress to repeal the Johnson Amendment to restore the right of pastors to preach the Bible. They were losing the religious freedom to call sin, sin.

Tony Perkins was on the mark when he said, “The United States would look much different today if it wasn’t for the pastors throughout American history who cried out for social justice. Since the birth of our nation, pastors and churches have been at the forefront of shaping public policy and debate. That is where they need to be today. What would America look like today had the Rev. Lyman Beecher [Harriet Beecher Stowe’s father], a leading abolitionist, or Dr. Martin Luther King been muzzled by the IRS. It would have been a much, much different country than what we see today.”

Now the naysayers are still saying President Trump is not a Christian, but only he and God know where he is spiritually. I refer you to my blog Why Aren’t All Christians Extending Grace and Forgiveness to Trump. He has surrounded himself with a Cabinet of many Christians, a born-again Vice President, and here is the point of this blog . . .

The oxymoron and dichotomy I hear is that …

We want a Christian president and Christian politicians in DC and local government, but we don’t want Christians talking about or participating in politics?

We don’t think Christians should campaign or try to get people to vote because that’s too political?

We want laws that are moral, ethical, and pursue God’s values, but Christians aren’t willing to run for office?

We pray Christians are elected who will uphold God’s ways, but we don’t think Christians should be political! Say what?

If we want Christians in government, we need to pray for men and women to answer the call to take on political roles, and then we need to get behind them with prayer, campaign support, energy, finances, our voices, whatever it takes to get them elected. Not criticize them as having a profession unworthy of a Christian, but encourage them because they want to make a difference in the jungle of politics. A light in the darkness.

Maybe God is calling you to run for office!

When Franklin Graham made his Pray for America tour and went to every Capitol in the nation, he encouraged Christians to run for public office because we need believers championing Christian values at every level of government. Ironically, as government keeps touting a separation of church and state, government is invading the church. President Trump understands the original intent of the Constitution, and he is giving us back our religious freedoms. We need to make sure we never lose them again!

Satan is Dividing Christians, Not President Trump

I’ve never been a “political person,” but I am a spiritual person, and I’ve watched over the last eight years how the progressive liberal agenda has steadily worked to take God out of America by invading our government, our schools, our universities, and sadly even some of our churches. When Obama ran for President the first time, he participated in a presidential candidate debate held at Saddleback Church where Pastor Rick Warren asked him and John McCain if they believed marriage was between a man and a woman. Obama said he did. In his second term, same-sex marriage was legalized and Obama lit up the White House in LGBT colors and was working hard at forcing every American to accept transgender men in women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, starting in our schools!

After writing Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I knew this last election was a spiritual battle more than a political battle. Just look at the obstruction and chaos the liberal Democrats have created in the streets and in D.C. Listen to their language, read their signs, hear the bleeps during the protests and the confusion when asked if they even know what they’re protesting.

Watching the National Prayer Breakfast last week, I heard one of the speakers say he was sure there were secretly ordained pastors in the House and Senate: “saints in Caesar’s household.” I thought how sad they had to stay secret. Probably because they would be devoured by the lions.

I see headlines, even in some Christian magazines, that say President Trump is dividing Christians. That’s not possible. Only Satan can divide Christians whether it’s in a church, a marriage, a friendship…. Christians have the same unifier: Jesus Christ. The One and Only Lord is who we all pray to, talk to, put our faith in, have residing in our heart.

He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.

President Trump said the five words that touched his heart the most on the campaign trail were, and still are, “I am praying for you.”

As a Christian, you should be praying like crazy for President Trump’s success because that’s America’s success. Pray for him to mature in his faith. He’s rough around the edges. He has a big job ahead of him, and as he said in his own words in a CBN interview I heard, “I need God and prayer now more than ever because my decisions are life and death.”

I encourage you to listen to the Annual Prayer Breakfast. It was a blessing to see Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate leading the event and praying together. They talked about a group of them—Republicans and Democrats—getting together for prayer every morning and at a weekly Bible study group. The Chiefs of Staff have a Bible study on Wednesday, and the 100 staffers meet on Fridays for Bible study. Barry Black, the Senate Chaplain who gave the Keynote, said Democrats and Republicans meet together, hold hands, and open and close those groups in prayer. They may go upstairs and oppose each other politically, but unite spiritually.

I would pray the world would see that same spiritual unity in us. Our hope isn’t built on whether we’re Democrat or Republican, black or white, whether you like President Trump or not . . . they should see that we place our faith and our hope in the Word of God, the Holy Bible, and Jesus Christ, Our Lord. We stand together as Christians One Nation Under God.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NLT

Please also read a blog I wrote for Crosswalk.com You Can Disagree and Still be Friends

Have you heard Reba McEntire’s New Song? Here’s the video. You’ll enjoy it. Back To God

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Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

My goal for 2017 is staying aware of God’s presence and listening to His warnings. The word the Lord gave me: “Revival.” Today is Love Your Body Monday, and I want to talk about reviving sexual purity.

  1. Last Friday was the March for Life— the rights of the unborn. For the first time in history, a Vice President addressed the crowd and talked about “Life is winning again in America! Society can be judged by how we care for our most vulnerable—the aged, the infirm, the disabled, the unborn. Science is illuminating when life begins!”
  2. Six days prior was the “Women’s March”—the right to kill the unborn by abortion. Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty described that march: “I was blown away by the vulgarity and the young children there!” I discussed that march in last week’s blog, which I encourage you to read if you haven’t: Some Women Are Still Like Eve: Believing the Serpent.

Two marches embodying two opposing concepts:

  • good vs evil
  • life vs death
  • peaceful vs angry
  • a body as God’s creation capable of creating and sustaining life, vs self-rights to use “my” body to create and kill life

In last week’s post, Eve and Adam ate from the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world. They immediately knew they were naked. (Genesis 3:2-3) Let’s continue:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

20 Adam[c] named his wife Eve,[d] because she would become the mother of all the living.

21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.

Satan was watching and saw God say:

  • Eve would become the mother of mankind
  • Nakedness should be covered
  • Man would always know good from evil

Satan already knew he could easily deceive man. The stage was set for Satan to do his work as ruler of this world in each of the above areas:

  1. Destroy humankind by having them kill each other in wars, murders, riots, terrorists, and abortion–sanitizing it with a name like “Planned Parenthood.” Slow propagation through infertility, normalizing LGBT lifestyle, redefining marriage, and creating gender confusion.
  2. Exploit and pervert sex, promote promiscuity, adultery, pornography, provocative seductive clothing, immorality, and lust, using media, marketing, entertainment, and Hollywood as the vehicle to idolize, romanticize, and normalize sin to each generation.
  3. Start a political liberal progressive atheistic movement that demonizes purity, virginity, celibacy, monogamy, Christianity, and the sanctity of life—remove God and the Bible from the public squre.

Time has proven that what one generation does in moderation, the next generation does in excess because Satan goes after the children!

Satan’s tactics have worked. Christians talking about abstinence or purity  . . . are laughed at . . . called prudes, dreamers, delusional, judgmental, preachers, and worse. Many give up even trying. Pastors don’t talk about the hazards of sex outside of marriage . . . the moral, sinful, and physical consequences on our bodies . . . God’s precious holy temples.

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh. 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:15:20

Why aren’t pastors telling young people and congregations that when you have sex with another person you become one with them? Hook ups, one-night stands, date sex,  living together, casual sex . . . every person you EVER had sex with . . . your souls united because that’s how God made us “the two become one flesh (Gen. 2:24) in sex.  God meant for it to be in marriage. Satan the great Deceiver would say, God didn’t really mean that. Yes he did.

Let’s Start a Pure Body Revival

One woman wrote to me: My mother gave me birth control pills at 13 so I wouldn’t get pregnant with all the low life boys I would have sex with in my passage into womanhood.

That broke my heart. We need a sexual revival in our country. Let’s start educating our young men and women. Parents, churches, mentors teachers taking the time to teach kids what really happens spiritually when you have sex, not just the physical mechanics, but share verses like those above and ones on purity and holiness, do Bible studies together, and talk about why God wants His people to only have sex in marriage. Explain that sex is not a natural or expected part of a relationship unless you’re married, regardless of how the movies or TV depict it, or what your friends are doing.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word. Psalm 111:9

In Forsaken God? I wrote, “Young people need to hear how to use the Bible as a benchmark to distinguish truth from lies. They don’t need condoms and birth control pills and talks on safe sex; they need to know how to make choices based on eternity, not just avoiding maternity.”

Sexual revival applies to all ages and it won’t be popular, but we can pray for God to empower us and give us the opportunity to spread revival in our sphere of influence. Our culture ridicules men and women who vow celibacy until their wedding night. Rampant casual sex—hook ups, dating sex, friends with benefits, living together—reduces sex to lust, not love. The world, deceived by Satan asks, “What’s love got to do with sex?” Even many Christians choose to be a part of this world rather than set apart and pure for God who tells us “So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the Lord your God.” –Lev. 20:7 (NLT)

Single moms and single women this means you too. You must set the example and role model for these young women and girls and for your daughters and sons. I was a single mom and I’ve been on both sides of this discussion. Yes, I was a virgin when I married my daughter’s father. We didn’t have birth control pills when I was a teenager. My mother wasn’t a religious person, but she told me emphatically that sex was for marriage. Sex can make babies. White wedding dresses are for virgins, and no boy or man is worth forfeiting that one-time sacred privilege. I believed her, and I waited, and I’m glad I did. She set a moral compass for me and I stuck to it.

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share how my moral compass shifted in my divorced, single years and I did not set a good role model for my daughter. I’m here to tell you that Satan is a liar. God made our bodies to glorify and honor Him, and praise God He is the God of many chances. For those who feel it’s too late, they aren’t a virgin or are too sexually impure so what difference does it make, God is the God of renewal. We can come before Him and ask for forgiveness for our past, repent, rededicate our life and go and sin no more just like the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well.

Satan makes the sinful life look exciting and enticing, but anyone who has come out of the dark into the light will tell you loving your body the way God loves your body is the only way to a joyful, peaceful life.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7

Many will think I’m idealistic and sexual revival is impossible. I’m not naïve enough to think women and men are going to stop having sex outside of marriage, but maybe some will. The theme of this year’s Walk for Life was the Power of One. They stressed the importance of reaching the next generation, which is my passion too.

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

I want to share two books: both from the Robertson family of the Ducky Dynasty TV Series. The Robertson’s are vocal about their faith and belief in Jesus Christ and family.

Sadie Robertson was seventeen when she wrote Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to her Values and I included this quote in my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten

When you put your relationship with God first and you also have a great relationship with your family, you can risk having people get upset with you for standing up for your beliefs. You can risk being rejected because of your values, and you can even risk losing a boyfriend if the relationship is not going in a godly direction. You can risk looking or acting different from other people. You can do these things because you know you will be okay without them. You know God is with you and for you, and I hope you can also know your family is standing beside you, but even without your family’s support, you can know that God is there.

Jase Robertson wrote in Good Call: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Fowl about his decision as a teenager to remain sexually pure until marriage:

One day after hearing my buddies talking about sexually transmitted diseases and asking my dad about it. I don’t remember the specifics of his speech, but I would never forget the last thing he said. “Son you keep that thing in your pocket until you get married and you’ll never have to worry about it.” He told me. The timing of our conversation was perfect when it came to my staying sexually pure.

I eventually came up with a plan of action. On the first date, I would share my faith with the girl and declare my intention to wait until marriage before having sex. In a way this held me accountable, and it also got rid of any girls who had a quick roll in the hay in mind. I also decided to stay away from the “second look”—noticing a good-looking woman, then dwelling on her for a second, more lustful look. I tried to notice the beauty and feel the attraction to a woman but ultimately pursue their spiritual makeup. . . . God changes us from the inside out, and that helps us look at other people the same way.

Jase did stay sexually pure. He and his wife Missy were both virgins on their wedding night. With God all things are possible!

We need to build a new culture of purity, a new culture of life. A new normal.

Let’s make purity popular again!

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

share-odb-2017-01-30

An article I wrote for Crosswalk that might be helpful Have You Forgiven Each Other for Premarital Sex?

If you’ve had an abortion, I recommend Pat Layton’s book Surrendering the Secret.

For more thoughts on Revival of Titus 2 Women see this month’s About His Work Newsletter.

A Bible study I wrote for First Place 4 Health goes into depth about keeping our bodies, minds, souls, and spirits pure and holy: God’s Best For Your Life. Study on your own or as a group.

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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.

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Love Your Body—Be Brave!

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

I’m back! Did you miss me? For the first time since starting the Monday Morning Blog when I launched my website January 2013, I took a three-month sabbatical to finish writing my latest book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Those who have followed my blog, know that in the past I’ve blogged right through writing books or invited guest bloggers—which by the way still requires me to edit and post, so there’s work and time involved. But this new book had a very short writing window and I had lots of travel and some health issues requiring medication, so I decided to love my body and prioritize my energy and time limits. Not that I don’t love writing to all of you, and it was anticlimactic every Monday morning not reading your comments, but I knew you would understand.

I’m Writing a New Book and I Need Your Stories!

Mentoring for All Seasons is in the editing process now, and thanks to many of you, there are amazing stories from both mentors and mentees from every season of life from tweens to aging! I know this book will bless you and it will be available fall 2017. I’ll keep you posted as the publishing process progresses.

Looking at the calendar and seeing that this is the last Monday of the month—where did September go—I realized I would be starting up the blog again with Love Your Body Monday! I knew then the Lord wanted me to share with you a post I had planned on writing later . . . but during my walk this morning, God said now was the time for two reasons:

  1. My next book—yes, you read right—God has put another book on my heart based on brave women of the Bible encouraging women of today to be brave. I’m NOW receiving stories of times God has asked or challenged you to be brave spiritually, physically, emotionally, or in any way. I would love to share your story in my next book, so contact me for more information.
  2. Elizabeth Vargas recently shared her testimony on TV and has a new book on being an alcoholic—last night hubby and I watched the 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer and Elizabeth Vargas that we had DVR’d, since it aired originally while I was still finishing my book.

I’ve always admired Elizabeth’s news anchor reporting and how confident she seemed. She’s articulate, classy, attractive and was doing well in a male-dominated profession. Several years ago, I was sad to hear her announce that drinking, mainly wine then, had gotten out of control and was interfering with her family and work, and she had sought help. I was surprised, but applauded her acknowledging her addiction. I had no idea that her battle with all alcohol had continued until in her own words: “I was nearly fired from my job. My husband left me while I was in rehab, I hurt my kids tremendously, and I nearly lost my life.”

If you follow my blog or Facebook, you know my thoughts on drinking alcohol. It’s a recreational drug, and in my backsliding years I drank so I know exactly what alcohol does. It destroys families, marriages, leads to death, health issues, and tragedies, misbehavior, loss of inhibitions, and is a disastrous role model for children and grandchildren—and yet alcohol lines the shelves of family grocery stores and is in many home pantries or out in plain view on kitchen counters and wine racks.

And just like Elizabeth Vargas, most “moderate drinkers” are in denial and justify their drinking as: being able to handle it, not hurting anyone, takes the edge off, relaxes me, only drink socially, like the taste, everyone drinks a little . . . even my friends from church . . . until as Elizabeth found, “I drank moderately for 20 years. It wasn’t until my 40s that I fell off a cliff.”

In an interview with Elizabeth, Dorri Olds wrote in 20/20 Anchor Elizabeth Vargas Talks to The Fix About Anxiety, Alcoholism, and Recovery: “When Diane Sawyer and Vargas did research for their recent 20/20 special, they learned that 63 percent of female alcoholics suffer anxiety. Being postpartum or perimenopausal puts you at even higher risk for self-medicating with alcohol. And women with anxiety issues are twice as likely to relapse.”

Is that you or someone you know? Postpartum? Perimenopausal, or menopausal? Anxious? Worried? Overwhelmed? Do you or they have a glass or two or three every night that started out after the kids were in bed, but now starts while fixing dinner or early afternoon . . . or after the kids leave for school? Are you or they hiding how much you/they drink? Do you/they drink and then drive . . . with children in the car? If yes to any of these or similar questions, you/they need help.

In the 20/20 interview, Diane Sawyer listed trigger points to drinking such as tired, angry, lonely, hungry . . . and Elizabeth says hers is anger. Diane asked what she does now, and Elizabeth said she picks up the phone and calls someone. A mentor would be so helpful. A brave step.

What Should a Christian Do?

Here’s where many of you will disagree with me, and that’s certainly your freedom . . . a word tossed around a lot lately . . . but it’s also my freedom to say my opinion. Elizabeth Vargas cannot be around alcohol anywhere; she lives one sober day at a time. How many women in your sphere of influence might be in that same situation and you don’t know it? I’m saddened when I hear of Church moms, women’s, Bible study, or small groups going out for “drinks” or having wine and alcohol when they get together in the name of the Lord. How many “Elizabeths” might be among you who are too embarrassed to get up and leave, and you’ve just contributed to their temptation and possible downfall . . . you’ve caused them to stumble. Or maybe you’re the “Elizabeth.”

tell-time-generic

Is this really how you want to teach your kids to tell time?

I’ve seen this “How To Tell Time” sign tossed around Facebook with many women, including Christians, “liking” and laughing about it. Mommies who are responsible to help their children tell time . . . putting this sign up in their homes for impressionable kids to infer that the way to tell time is . . . you sit with a coffee cup and Bible in your hand in the morning and a wine glass and wine bottle in your hand at night. What kind of message does this send to your children? Or if Elizabeth Vargas walked into your home after “coffee time,” she would have to politely leave:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone [including your children, grandchildren, seekers,new believers, addicts, unbelievers] to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

Being Brave Often Requires Vulnerability

Elizabeth has written a memoir to help others who might see themselves in her story and get help before they lose everything like she almost did; she did lose allot including her marriage and time she can never recover being the mom she wanted to be to her children. Vargas said she would die for her sons. “I love them more than anything in the world. I would do anything for my children. But I couldn’t stop drinking for them.”

elizabeth-vargas

I chose to talk to you, my followers, today about Elizabeth Vargas’ story because of her vulnerability, not only in her book, Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction, but also in the 20/20 interview on National TV, which was an extremely brave act of courage. The woman we see in the interviews about her addiction and her new book is not the woman we all saw anchoring the news for years . . . even as far back as 911 and before!

On Amazon, the description of the book uses the word brave: “From the moment she uttered the brave and honest words, ‘I am an alcoholic,’ to interviewer George Stephanopoulos, Elizabeth Vargas began writing her story, as her experiences were still raw.”

The night before the interview with Olds, Elizabeth said, “I asked my son last night, ‘Why do you think I’m writing this book?’ He said, ‘Because you’re brave and want to help people.’ I hope people will be kind.”

As the 20/20 interview closes, Elizabeth said she has a “favorite saying” . . .

When you pray to God, there are three answers:

  1. Yes
  2. Not Now
  3. I have something better for you.

In another interview when asked what helps her stay sober, she said mediation and prayer. To Diane Sawyer she said, “When I lay in bed at the end of a good day, I say, ‘Thank you God for this day.’”

To read a blog I wrote Love Your Body—Don’t Drink Alcohol

For the full 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer and Elizabeth Vargas

To share your Brave story with me for my next book.

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

It’s good to be back!

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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

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Guns N’ Bibles

Woman with sword of the spiritMy husband and I give participants of our small groups, family, and friends a handout for Preparing for War from the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18. Periodically we’ll ask:

                  “So are you putting on the armor of God we told you about?”

Almost universally, the response is a shrugging of shoulders and “No, we’re not . . . .”

When we were first married, I studied spiritual warfare at Fuller Theological Seminary with Dr. Charles Kraft, and my husband went through a Neil Anderson course on spiritual warfare. God knew the spiritual battles we would incur in our years together, so He equipped us both with the understanding that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

God warns that the only way for Christians to fight this inevitable spiritual battle is to Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

We are cautioned to Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

No Weapon Formed Against Us Can Prosper

Bible_Gun

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On  the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.                2 Corinthians 10:3-4

This blog post is not about owning guns, but it is about Christians choosing a gun over the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17).

  • Believers who fear man more then they fear Satan.
  • Believers who put more faith in a gun’s protection then faith in God’s protection.
  • Believers who pack a gun, but don’t unpack their Bibles.

Jesus didn’t protect himself with a rock, a sword, or a knife. He fought evil with God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit, the only weapon He ever used. But sadly, today many of Jesus’ disciples know more about guns then they know how to use the only offensive weapon in the armor of God, the sword of the Spirit. They’re going out every day into the world spiritually naked without the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit securely prayed in place (from Ephesians 6:10-18).

And Satan gloats. If he can get Christians focused on trying to defend and protect themselves more with man’s weapons than fighting him with God’s weapon, Satan wins.

Do You Have a War Room?

Many saw the movie War Room and I’m sure were impressed with the power of prayer portrayed in this movie. But how many went home and set up a War Room? When I told my 7 year-old granddaughter the name of the movie, she wasn’t sure she wanted to watch it because she thought it would be a war movie. After our family watched it together, I asked her: “Do you know what a war room is now?”

Sienna: “A room where you pray,” she said confidently.

Friends, I hope you realize the mighty power of Jesus we have within us is not just fictional in a movie. Miss Clara in War Room understood how to use that power. She stood up to the assailant demanding her purse at knife point and told him in the “name of Jesus” to put down his knife. And he did. But some will say that’s just in the movies. . . . Maybe not.

Let me share with you a real-life “Miss Clara” story that happened last week to one of my Facebook Friends, Terri Gillespie. I asked Terri if I could share her story with you and she said absolutely.

*****************

Jan 10, 2016 on Terri Gillespie’s Facebook Post

Yesterday, at 1:26 pm I was robbed at gunpoint.

As I type these words, it still feels surreal. And as I process the event, I realize how easy it would be to turn this into a political issue, or a statement on the darkness of this world, but it was so much more than that.

First, what happened: My friend, Cathy and I were traveling back from our writing retreat at the Jersey shore. We decided to stop in Vineland, NJ for some lunch and shopping. We had a lovely experience with the young woman who helped us—she was a Christian and Zionist—and walked back to my car with our purchases.

My vehicle was packed with our bags and other packages from a weeklong retreat. Our clothes hung from the backseat carrack.

I couldn’t find my cell. I opened the back door on the driver’s side, placed my purse on top of a suitcase, and leaned over to search for it.

I asked Cathy to call my cell to see if it was in my purse. I felt something tapping me on my back and thought it was the clothes hangers. Finally, the phone rang in my purse, just as I felt the tapping again. I straightened and turned and there was a young man with a gun. He made sure I saw he had a gun. I remembered thinking two things. One: “Oh man!” Two: “Do glocks come in silver?”

He motioned toward my purse and whispered something. I hesitated, then reached for my little wallet. I remembered a scene from the movie War Room and I turned toward him and said, “Jesus loves you. He wouldn’t want you to do this.”

Cathy asked me if I had found my phone yet. I assured her I had. Thankfully, because of the curtain of clothing hanging, she had no idea what was going on. She only heard bits and pieces of my side of the conversation.

I pulled all the cash from my wallet—$12.00—and handed it to him. I apologized it wasn’t more. He rolled his eyes and asked for my car keys. I whispered, “You’re taking my car? You’re leaving us stranded?”

He motioned the gun toward Cathy and said he would kill her.

I said, “No, please. She just got over cancer. She almost died.” But, I handed him the keys.

I either repeated what I said, or I said that Jesus loved him. Perhaps, both. I tried making eye contact with him throughout. His gaze was mostly everywhere but on me. At this point, he looked briefly at me, then looked down. Cathy told me later that I kept saying Jesus loves you.

The young man handed me back the keys. He paused as though not sure what to do next. I thanked him and patted him on the shoulder and repeated one last time, “Jesus loves you.”

He turned and walked away.

Shaking, I shut the door, opened the driver’s side door, and started the car.

Cathy asked me if I was okay. I think I said something like, just a minute. Frankly, I was afraid that the young man would change his mind and return, so I wanted to get out of there.

Finally, I was able to tell Cathy what had just happened.

Cathy prayed as I drove back onto Highway 55. We thanked the Lord for His protection. We prayed for that young man that God would touch his heart and change his life from that moment on. We prayed for miles and miles. We talked, then prayed some more.

I was so grateful—am so grateful. Grateful for God’s protection of my friend and me. Grateful for the young man’s mercy and that in the midst of evil plans, he made the right choice to stop. Grateful that my friend did not have to see all this happening. Grateful to be able to go home and hug and kiss my husband.

*****************

Terri goes on to explain that she did report the crime, then she adds: “This morning when I first awoke, I remembered to forgive the young man and prayed again for his salvation and that his life would change for God’s glory. I’m sure there is more for Cathy and me to process and I would appreciate your prayers for us and our families as we do this; but please, as you pray, please remember this young man. Pray for him.”

When I asked Terri if she thought they would have all walked away unharmed if she had a gun, her answer was telling:

Do I think the outcome would have been different had I been armed? Yes. And that’s why I was glad I wasn’t. It really forced me to be totally dependent upon the Lord.

Several Facebook comments:

You were saved by using the Word of the Lord – may we always remember that they are mightier than any sword (or gun).”

“He was truly “disarmed” in the Spirit.”

Here’s a picture of my War Room. Let’s flood social media with pictures of our War Rooms and Sword of the Spirit.

My War Room

                   My War Room

My Weapon, The Sword of the Spirit

My Weapon, The Sword of the Spirit

We Have the Same Power!

A couple booked a wedding on our farm. Dale and I prayed that the Glory of the Lord would encounter them. I walked into the bedroom where the bride and bridesmaids were getting dressed and asked if I could pray a blessing over the wedding and marriage. The bride looked at her bridesmaids inquisitively. She said, “Sure.” They gathered close. I put my hands on the bride. I asked JESUS to encounter their hearts… At the first WORD of JESUS-tears streamed down their faces like I’ve never seen. There’s POWER in the NAME of JESUS! I prayed in boldness that the couples offspring would boldly declare Christ as Lord and be warriors for HIM. When the prayer was finished, she held her womb, with tears rolling and hugged me. One day EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue confess that He is LORD!I Don’t EVER be afraid to be bold with His NAME!—Facebook Post from Sharon Glasglow shared with permission

We hear songs like “There is Power in the Name of Jesus”, but how often do we tap into that power within us? The words from Jeremy Camp’s song, “Same Power,” ring so true for all Christians:

SAME POWER

I can see

Waters raging at my feet

I can feel

The breath of those surrounding me

I can hear

The sound of nations rising up

We will not be overtaken

We will not be overcome

I can walk

Down this dark and painful road

I can face

Every fear of the unknown

I can hear

All God’s children singing out

We will not be overtaken

We will not be overcome

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave

The same power that commands the dead to wake

Lives in us, lives in us

The same power that moves mountains when He speaks

The same power that can calm a raging sea

Lives in us, lives in us

He lives in us, lives in us

We have hope

That His promises are true

In His strength

There is nothing we can’t do

Yes, we know

There are greater things in store

We will not be overtaken

We will not be overcome

Greater is He that is living in me

He’s conquered our enemy

No power of darkness

No weapon prevails

We stand here in victory

Jeremy Camp and Jason Ingram © 2015 Stolen Pride Music (ASCAP) (admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Sony ATV Timber Publishing / Open Hands Music (SESAC) (Admin. by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LL

Dear ones, I’m not so naive to think we will ever have a society without guns, but I am passionate about the number of empty War Rooms in the homes and hearts of fellow Christians. We may never have a government that turns completely to God to guide our country, but that doesn’t mean that the body of Christ can’t join forces in utilizing the greatest power that ever lived, and lives within each of us: the Name of Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

Breastplate of righteousnessI leave you with these important questions to ponder:

  • Do you believe you have the “same power” that rose Jesus from the grave?
  • Are you ready and equipped to use the power of Jesus within you?
  • If so, I beg you to daily clothe yourselves and your children in the Armor of God and set up your Prayer War Rooms! Arm yourselves with God’s Word, the Bible, and be ready to go into action.

Your life and the lives of those you love could depend on it.

Here are links to two versions of Praying the Armor of God that I have on my website Prodigal Support page:

Simplified version of Putting on the Armor of God Daily

Armor of God Personalized and Expanded

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

Also a reminder that my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten releases February 9th. Amazon is taking pre-orders now. Order today to be sure they don’t run out on the 9th.

ForsakenGod.indd

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Is Your Soul At Rest?

McCall Retreat

Our “Cabin” for Crouch Community Church Women’s Retreat

This past weekend our church had its annual women’s retreat in the beautiful setting of McCall, Idaho. We stayed in a retreat cabin on the lake and the weather was spectacular! We enjoyed early morning walks, kayaking, amazing meals out on the deck overlooking the lake, skits, karaoke, making new friends, and all the “slumber party” things we girls love to do.

But mostly we fellowshipped together, enjoyed worship time, the teaching of our speaker Phyllis Cook, and a Sunday morning devotional led by new friend, Athena Crowley. What a treat it was for me to just “be” and not have any specific role except to enjoy and refresh. I prayed that God would give me divine appointments and something to share with you today.

God is so faithful!

Divine Appointments

Have you ever prayed for divine appointments? I think God loves it when we do because He can really show up big time and He gets all the glory. I’ve written before about praying for divine appointments and how God has answered them for me in amazing ways and He didn’t disappoint this weekend:

1. The retreat speaker, Phyllis Cook, and I had never met so when we started talking she asked my name. When I said “Janet Thompson,” her face lit up in recognition, “I have one of your books.” She went on to explain that while a friend of hers from Israel was visiting, she wanted to buy Phyllis a book for her ministry at Meridian First Baptist Church where Phyllis’ husband pastors. Phyllis and her friend went to the local Christian bookstore and the friend chose my book The Team That Jesus Built and bought it for Phyllis. Phyllis and I marveled that God brought us together and we took this picture for Phyllis to send to her friend in Israel.

Phyllis Cook and me

Retreat speaker Phyllis Cook and me looking straight into the bright beautiful morning sun!

2. I felt God impressing on me to speak to a woman at the retreat, but I couldn’t find the appropriate time. The last morning, I said, God if You want me to do this You’re going to have to intervene. He did!

3. Our last meal, I sat next to a woman I had not met. We started chatting and I learned that she and her husband had just moved to Garden Valley in the summer. She heard about the retreat when they visited our church and decided to come. I invited her to our couples Bible study group and she was excited for them to join us.

4. I loved the gluten-free, honey, organic, pumpkin muffins that were on the snack table. Someone said that “Athena” made them. I had not met Athena, but as we started talking, she said, “Oh, you’re the author I was told to meet. Could I talk to you over dinner and discuss the book I’m writing?” We enjoyed a dinner of great food and “author” conversation.

Athena Crowley and me

Athena Crowley and me

 

Finding Rest for Your Soul

When I called home Friday night, hubby prayed that I would have a time of rest and refueling as I prepare for a very busy fall of speaking and writing.

In God’s perfect providence, Phyllis Cook, our retreat speaker, chose Matthew 11:28-30 as her topic for the weekend:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The first night she talked about verse 28 as God’s invitation to rest, refreshment, and peace. Ahhh just what my husband had been praying for me.

The next morning, she helped us focus on verse 29 to find inner peace from Jesus’ example of gentleness, humbleness, forgiveness, and a servant attitude.

Her last session explored the paradox of taking on a yoke to find rest! Phyllis pointed out that Jesus’ yoke of humility is far lighter than trying to bear the yoke of pride and all of its manifestations.

Phyllis had us look at the yoke of pride. Are any of these weighing you down?

  • Complaining against God
  • Lack of gratitude
  • Anger, moodiness, impatience, rudeness
  • Perfectionism
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Seeking independence or control—my way
  • Devastated by criticism
  • Defensiveness or blame-shifting
  • Not having close relationships
  • Competitiveness that always has to win or be first (I added to this to the her list)
  • Can you think of more?

Here’s how Phyllis explained Jesus’ yoke of humility. Do you see why it’s light?

  • Trusting God’s character
  • Not questioning God
  • Focus on Christ
  • Lots of prayer
  • Thankfulness
  • Willing to wait, long suffering
  • Good listener
  • Serving
  • Teachable spirit
  • Repentance, asking forgiveness
  • Close-relationships
  • Letting others win or go first (I added this to her list)
  • Can you think of more?

I was at peace all weekend and felt an incredible sense of rest in my soul and my spirit. Even when my mind wandered to all I had to do when I returned home . . . including writing this blog . . . I couldn’t conjure up a single moment of anxiety!

Arise and Go About His Work

My soul being at rest does not mean it’s time to stop speaking and writing. Contraire! It means I continue on About His Work with renewed energy and focus. Our Sunday morning devotional by Athena Crowley, the sweet woman I mentioned above who made the delicious pumpkin muffins, confirmed God’s call on my life . . . but this was not just a call to me. This was a call to every Christian!

Athena read Song of Solomon 2:10-13

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

From this passage, Athena shared that we are to arise from our “winters” of:

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Our Own Interests

Because it’s springtime in our souls! God is calling His people into into a closer relationship with Him so that we can go out and share the light of His glory to others who need more of Him in their life . . . or don’t yet know Him.

The world is full of so many who are stumbling in darkness. God calls every Christian to be His flashlight to help the lost find their way into the light of His glory. If our light is going to shine brightly, we need to refresh, renew, and refuel!

Is your soul at rest?

Can you choose humility over pride?

Are you ready to arise and be God’s flashlight?

If yes, then start praying now for those divine appointments where God will use you in a lost and lonely world.

 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

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A Glimmer of Hope for Your Prodigal

Watching child struggle through life

 

“Moms, you know how it feels when you see any glimmer of hope in your prodigal.” —A praying mom

Moms of prodigals will identify with that glimmer of hope. I know I did.

Praying Mother Alice’s Story

I recently received an email from a mom who had shared her story in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help, & Encouragement for Hurting Parents. On page 178 in the chapter “Confronting Our Own Mistakes,” Alice said:

*My daughter, Liz, has chosen to cut off her relationship with me. I made many wrong choices that hurt her. I’m so sorry and have apologized many times, but Liz refused to forgive me. I’m saddened by the wall she’s built to protect herself from being hurt emotionally again.

My guilt over Liz plagued me; I felt captive by her refusal to forgive me. I’ve beaten myself up for not being the perfect mother and not saying or doing the right things. Truth is I make mistakes all the time. I hurt people—not intentionally—but it happens when I’m thinking of myself and not of how my words and actions affect others. With God’s help, I’m working on changing that part of my character. In the meantime, I continue praying that God will soften Liz’s heart so she’ll be able to forgive me and any other person who has hurt her.—Alice

Alice sent me her heartbreaking story of the estrangement from her daughter eight years ago. I know many who identify with her pain and regret and the deep desire to restore her relationship with her daughter and to receive her daughter’s forgiveness.

Last week, I received an email from Alice with the subject line: Update on Prodigal Daughter “Liz.” Following is Alice’s update shared with her permission. I hope Alice’s openness and vulnerability encourages those of you who are still praying for a reunion with your prodigal.

The separation started 27 years ago when my “prodigal daughter” had completed college. She didn’t need my financial support or close personal connection anymore.

The separation gap widened four years ago when Liz told me she needed a break!

The break I imagined was time for her to sort things out that were plaguing her: divorce negotiations that dragged on, the decline of her dietician business with fewer clients, stress of raising a son as a single mom, and then there was “me.” I was the mother she felt was not there for her as a teenager when she was having major issues with her stepfather. It turned out that Liz wanted a permanent “break” from me.

My heart ached to see her and talk to her. That wasn’t an option open to me. What I could do during these past four years was to pray and wait until my daughter was ready to connect again. I prayed for a softening of Liz’s heart. I also prayed God would help me understand why my middle daughter wanted no part of my life.

As I wrote in my journal recently, I asked the LORD to give me a better understanding of what I was dealing with. He answered me with a clear example of my daughter as a person encased in ice—unable to move, feel love, or reach out for help. Liz was stuck in a frozen place where anger, resentments, and bitterness imbedded her mind and heart. She could not free herself.

My son sensed my pain of rejection and separation from Liz. Out of his compassion for me and the desire to have his nephew, Bobby, know his grandmother, he arranged a luncheon meeting at a restaurant this month to celebrate my 76th birthday. As the date grew closer, I prayed more intently that I would keep the attention on my daughter, her son, and my other two grown children who were to attend. I wanted to let our get-together be all about them—not me.

On the day of the family meeting, I brought peace offerings. I baked my grandson’s favorite Christmas cookies and took several pages from a photo album that had elementary school pictures of my three children when they were Bobby’s age. It turned out to be an “ice-breaker.”

As we met, my heart pounded then rejoiced when Liz was friendly toward me and open to conversation. After lunch, as Liz and I made our way to the restroom, she said that her son, Bobby, wanted to see me more and she was sorry that it had not happened before. She invited me to come to her home this coming Christmas for a few days to bake cookies with her son. Words eluded me but my heart sang for joy.

It took my prayers, the efforts of my only son, and the desire of Liz’s little boy—my grandson—to spend time with me that brought about a change of Liz’s heart. “And a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

Never Stop Praying

You’ve heard me say it before, and I know it’s so hard to do when your heart is breaking and you don’t see any change in the situation, but never stop praying for your prodigal. Alice prayed for 27 years. I prayed for six years for my prodigal. Previous blogs from prodigal Alycia Neighbours related how long her parents prayed for her return: Never Stop Praying for Your Prodigal! and After the Party for the Returning Prodigal.

As Alice said above, many times prayer is the only thing you can do when everything else is out of your control. In the chapter on Praying Biblically in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, Alice told how she prayed scripturally for her daughter, which is how I also prayed for my daughter. It’s simply personalizing and paraphrasing God’s Word as a prayer back to Him (See 40 Days of Praying Scripture for Your Prodigal on page 313). Here’s how Alice said she prayed Scripture:

*I’ve learned to pray for my daughter by praying back the Scriptures to God. For example, I pray Ezekiel 36:27-29 for Liz’s heart to soften and for her to return home: “God, give my daughter Liz a heart of flesh to replace her heart of stone toward spiritual things. Through Your Spirit, move her to follow Your decrees and carefully keep Your laws. Help Liz to return home. Allow her to live in the land You, God, gave to her spiritual forefathers; may she be Your child, may You be her God. Save her from all her uncleanness.”

What has helped you maintain a “glimmer of hope” while waiting for your prodigal to return?

*Excerpts from Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help, and Encouragement for Hurting Parents.

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After The Party for the Returning Prodigal . . .

Last month, Alycia Neighbours wrote a guest post, Never Stop Praying for Your Prodigal. In that article, Alycia shares her prodigal daughter testimony that touched many of my, and her, blog followers.

 
I opened that blog explaining that in my book, Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, Alycia’s mom, Chris Adams. shares the story of praying for her prodigal daughter. While I was writing the last chapter of the book, Alycia reunited with her family and I was able to include an excerpt from Chris’ journal of their reunion.

 
I asked Alycia if she would share what it was like when she returned after being gone for eight years, and how her twin-sister Amanda, felt about her return. Today Alycia and Amanda share with you the emotional rollercoaster of welcoming home a prodigal. As I read Alycia’s article, it confirmed everything I wrote in Section Five of Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, “Welcoming Home Your Prodigal Daughter.” Remember, that everything in the book, as well as Alycia’s suggestions, also apply to a prodigal son.

Alycia Neighbours prodigal home cartoon.= website

The prodigal has returned. Hugs, parties, and fatted calf are over—and now everyone sits back wondering, what next?

Not Everyone is Celebrating

In the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-31, Jesus tells the story of the brother who wasn’t happy watching all the celebration over the return of the “black sheep.” After all, he had been there all along, probably comforting his family, picking up the missing brother’s slack, and being the good reliable son.

I can’t tell you much of what happened after that Scripture story, but I can tell you that when I returned home as a prodigal, it wasn’t all parties and celebrations. It was hard for all of us. Major trust had been broken that needed restoring. There were hurt feelings that needed soothing. Anger needed releasing; forgiveness was going to be a long road.

I had changed. I was different. I was humbled.

I wasn’t trusted. I had set off a grenade in my family and things weren’t going to just fall back into a normal pace—despite my desperate desire to be back in my family.

My twin sister was thrilled I was found, after she had made many dead-end searches; but at the same time, she was furious that I was home

“It was trust. I didn’t trust that she wouldn’t run again, and then I am left with my parents destroyed AGAIN. She had run all her life. She had lied. What made this time so different? I couldn’t trust her, no matter how normal she seemed to be. I was the one always there for my parents. I did most everything right. Why were they so willing to accept her back? I was angry at her actions and her trying to prove she was a different person. She was missing for eight years, but she had been running long before that. I don’t know the pivotal point that made us closer again; but sometimes we fight (because we are sisters) and that anger and fear comes back.” – Amanda Dugger, my twin sister

Amanda and Alycia small

Amanda and Alycia

Restoration Takes Time

I couldn’t tell you the pivotal moment either. It just happened over a span of about seven years. It took years of being true to my word. The only time I ran was from my abusive husband; but this time, I ran to my family. I didn’t do everything right; there are many things I wish I could have had the foresight to see so I didn’t trip up again.

Many times since returning, I have had the urge to run again, but in a different direction. Now I run to my family and to God. Those I trust, believe in, and love.

There is a plot twist though. When my parents adopted Amanda and me, we had an older sister who remained with our biological family. I tracked her down, along with the rest of my biological family. I ended up hurting her too because I was hurting and needed to lash out at someone, and she was in my path at that moment. Presently, all relationships have been restored, but we will likely always be working at strengthening and learning to fully trust.

Twins and older sister

What I Want You To Take Away From My Story:

• Trust and restoration is possible, but it will take time. Be patient and honest with your feelings. Communication heals hurt. Your prodigal will want to prove herself/himself, but she/he is hurting too.
• Establish acceptable boundaries from the moment your prodigal comes home. Let her/him know what behavior is expected and not permitted.
• Expect the restoration process to be time consuming and emotionally consuming. Prayer is the only way to combat unexpected feelings that arise.
• Siblings and other family members affected by the prodigal should be encouraged to reunite on their own timetable. We all arrive at trust when it feels right and we feel God’s nudge.
• Just like the prodigal in Scripture who came groveling to his father, your prodigal is probably humbled, ashamed, and emotionally distraught over her/his actions. Show compassion because just like your heart is broken, hers/his is too. At first, be gentle even when you don’t feel like it. Later, you can discuss the tougher subjects. Just love your prodigal.
• Triggers that caused them to run in the first place may make your prodigal feel the need to run again. Try right away to identify these triggers, respect that they are an integral part of your prodigal’s psyche, and work as a team to acknowledge, validate, and work through the triggers so she/he can feel secure that she/he has truly found her/his way back home.

__________________________

Thank you again Alycia for your openness and willingness to share your story to help other parents and prodigals. You can read more of Alycia’s story in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.

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Love Song Couples Getaway–Trip Two

Anna and Jason Huff Jerome

 

“We met so many great couples, created a closer bond with two couples – adding to several from last year. For us… It’s renewing, rejuvenating, rewarding, re-energizing in all levels. We love these trips.”—Rachelle Souza, after attending several Love Song Couples Getaways

If you follow me through my newsletters, Facebook, and blogs, you know that my husband Dave and I went on our first Love Song Couples Getaway last year in Maui. You might enjoy reading the blog I wrote about what led us to go on this amazing trip and the blessing it was to us as a Christian couple. I also wrote blog posts describing “The Wonders of Prayerful Handholding” describing how our holding hands to pray while on the trip led to making new friends, “God We Need Friends,” many of which we’ve kept in contact with even though they live in different states!

Trip Two–2014

The last night of the Maui getaway 2013, they announced the Bahamas as an addition to their 2014 trips. Dave was out of his seat signing us up, and we’ve been budgeting and saving all year.

Well, we just returned from yet another amazing Love Song Couples Getaway encounter with each other and with God in the Bahamas! Again, we made new friends from all over the USA, even met couples from Idaho, and renewed friendships from last year.

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, was our keynote speaker, and if you ever get a chance to hear him in person, he’s an awesome communicator  . . . and funny. His messages were biblical and practical. He shared with us how his early years of marriage were not as blissful as he had anticipated and how their differences almost split them apart until he learned three key questions:
1. Honey, what can I do to help you?

2. How can I make your life easier?

3. How could I be a better husband (wife)?

When Dr. and Mrs. Chapman learned how to serve each other, their marriage soared. We had the pleasure of also meeting the delightful Mrs. Chapman, who accompanied her husband on the trip.

Dr. Chapman talked about the 5 Love Languages, but he also told us about the 5 Apology Languages, Dealing Effectively with Our Failures, Learning to Forgive, and The Grace of Anger. Every topic was applicable to your marriage or any relationship.

Me with Dr. Gary Chapman

Magnificent Worship

Mac Powell of Third Day, Brandon Heath, and John Micah led our worship time and performed concerts that had us on our feet singing and pleading for more, while they also shared parts of their lives with us. They sang to us on the beaches of Paradise Island as the sun rose over the ocean, during a Blue Lagoon beach outing, under the stars during sunset, in a restaurant after a sunset catamaran cruise, and in the ballrooms of the Atlantis Hotel. Their powerful messages, voices, and instruments flooded the heavenlies above Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Brandon HeathMorning Worship with Brandon Heath

Just Kids Again

The Atlantis has the most elaborate array of water slides and adventures in the world. Hubby Dave and I relaxed on the Lazy River floats; and yes, we ventured onto a double tube scary slide that switch backed quickly through a dark tunnel and spit us out under a shark tank! Once was enough for that one!

Hubby and me on the ferry to a beach day at the Blue Lagoon

We renewed our friendships with Calvin and Lisa from Ohio, Karen and Jim from North Carolina, and Ron and Janelle from Illinois—couples we met last year in Maui—and had a great time meeting and making new friends from all over. The Atlantis is such a huge property, if we encountered a couple more than once, we knew it was a divine appointment. We’ll keep in touch with many of the couples we met.

Lisa and Calvin

Ron and Janelle from Illinois

Return to Maui…

Last year in Maui, we made some dear Southern California friends who opted to go back to Maui this year. We’ve been seeing pictures all week on Facebook from that Hawaiian paradise where they also enjoyed Gary Chapman, along with Pastor Greg Laurie, Bart Miller of Mercy Me, Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real, and Leeland. Here they are having fun and fellowship in Maui . . .

Photo: Davis isn't too old to ride on the handle bars!  But it does take the rest of us to hold him up there!

What’s My Message?

Yes, we had great fun and relaxation, but both years our vacation with The Love Song Couples Getaway has also been a time of refreshment for our own ministry and marriage, as well as an opportunity to share a little glimpse of heaven with other believing couples.

If you’re married, I would encourage you to getaway to a couple’s retreat that fits your budget and schedule…well you might have to stretch both…but your marriage is the earthly replica of Christ’s relationship with the church. Dave and I are now on a fixed income and we sacrificed to make an investment in our marriage and spiritual walk to go on these trips. The sacrifice was nothing in comparison with the blessings we received.

If you’re single, find a spiritual retreat or conference to getaway from the franticness of life and spend time with fellow believers and the Lord. Is your church having a retreat or conference or is one coming to your town? Go!

Pastor Jim Wright of Mountain Church Medford, Oregon, was another speaker at our Bahamas and Maui Getaways, and he challenged us to ask ourselves:

 “Do you live with a sense of divine destiny?”

Next to his following comment, I wrote the word Mentoring:

“Learn from the experience of others. You don’t have to learn everything the hard way. Only God can give victory! Choose to remind each other that we are totally dependent on Jesus to live life to its fullest, not just exist.”

Go for it! Live life to the fullest in Christ and help others learn to do the same.

“The trip may end, but the friendships we made with you all continues! That’s the biggest blessing of these trips!” —Vanessa Garcia speaking of friendships we all made on our first Love Song Couples Getaway to Maui

If you missed last Monday’s Love Your Body blog, I wrote about how to eat healthy while on vacation. Next Monday, I’ll share more Love Song Couples Getaway pictures of beach baptisms and the story of my granddaughter’s baptism.

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