How Do You Know You’re A Christian?

Talking about who is a Christian is a sensitive subject that sets me up for being called judgmental, Pharisee, legalistic, and a new one, “fundie.” I had to look it up because I had no idea what it meant:

fund·ie ˈfəndē/

noun

noun: fundie; plural noun: fundies

  1. Britishinformal

a fundamentalist, especially a Christian fundamentalist.

Well there you have it. Maybe you learned a new term too.

Saying You Are a Christian Is Not Good Enough!

I’ve been called many things, which I’ll be talking more about next week, but I’m distressed with how people casually call themselves a “Christian,” without really knowing what that designation means. Some believe they’re a “Christian” if they simply know about God or believe there is a God. Attend, serve in, or raised in church, attended a Christian school, have Christian parents, own a Bible, or even live in America. No heart change by personally asking Jesus into their heart and seeking forgiveness for their sins or having a relationship with Jesus and believing that salvation comes through Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross and resurrection. No casting off the old way of life for the new life in Christ, but still buying into the world’s ways. Yet, still thinking of themselves as Christians.

These in-name-only “Christians” often claim to be more “enlightened” then born-again Christians, saved by grace–who confess our sins and ask Jesus to forgive us and come into our heart. We make a commitment to live in a relationship with Him. Christians who depend on God to help us live by the principles in His Word hidden in our heart. We have the assurance our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life when our time comes to meet Jesus for eternity. We live in complete confidence and faith because Jesus is alive in our heart every day, and that’s what we celebrate next month at Easter. No question. Jesus is alive. We know that’s what it means when we say we’re a Christian!

Let me share with you four examples I encountered this week of the confusion in so many people’s minds of what it means to be a Christian. How is this happening? Why is it not clear to people? An immigrant understands the requirements to American citizenship and calling himself an American. How many have no idea how narrow the gate is into heavenly citizenship as a Christian? What does Jesus want you and me to do about this? Jesus wants none to perish.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matt. 7:13-14

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

  1.  Example: I am a Christian and so is my wife, although she is much more likely to describe herself as a feminist.

I’m sure there are Christian women entrapped by the feminists movement. But if being an activist takes priority over being a Christian, that’s a crisis of faith. If a woman identifies with the feminist movement instead of Christ, she’s replaced Christianity with feminism, or perhaps never knew Christ as her personal Savior. Here are several discussion points if you know a Christian feminist:

  • Research the background of the leaders of the feminist movement. None are Christians! They belong to other “isms,” and organization, but none profess to follow Jesus so why would you follow them?
  • Would you wear the “pink knitted hats,” carry the signs made for the marches, and chant the protests in or around your church?
  • Jesus loves the little children and He does not want one to perish. The central focus of the feminists is abortion. Some women in the marches were carrying signs that said Jesus’ mother Mary should have had an abortion. You can’t pick and choose what part of their agenda you want to endorse. How can you overlook these things as a Christian?
  • Jesus made Eve to be a helpmate to Adam, not to compete with or emasculate him.
  • Look up the goals of the feminist movement and try to justify them with Scripture.
  • Research Scriptures on how Christian women are to conduct themselves, even when they don’t like someone.
  1. Example: I go to a Christian church every Sunday and during Lent I go every day. I went to religious schools and my parents are Christian.

You’ve heard the saying that standing in the garage doesn’t make you a car. Going to church, even going every day and going during Lent, Christmas or Easter, doesn’t make us a Christian. Going to Christian schools, having Christian parents, reading Christian books, even reading the Bible, or being baptized doesn’t make us a Christian. It’s a personal decision that no one else can make for us, and Jesus is clear when He says we must be born again. I wonder how many people who call themselves “Christians” have actually asked Jesus to come into their heart, experienced that change of heart, and been spiritually born again.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. John 3:3

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

  1. Example: I attend church regularly and volunteer there. I believe in separation of church and state and we should keep God out of our politics, as our forefathers intended.

Attending church and serving is wonderful, but works doesn’t make us a Christian. And we can’t keep God out of anything. God is omnipotent. He has all the power over everything. We don’t tell Him what to do or where He can go. But even many believers think: I trust God with eternity, but I make my own decisions down here.

  1. Example:As a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not sit here and be persecuted,” Brazile said. “Your information is totally false.” —Donna Brazile in an interview with Megyn Kelley regarding the validity of the WikiLeaks emails that Brazile gave candidate Hillary Clinton’s camp debate questions.

March 17 the headlines were Brazile Admits She Forwarded Town Hall Questions to Clinton Camp after almost a year of denying —lying—even when leaked emails were evidence that she had cheated. But even worse, she tried to evoke Jesus as her alibi! Some would say she’s now making amends by confessing. Looking closer at the “essay” she wrote for Time Magazine, she only admits to passing along “topics,” not the specific questions, which the leaked emails show she did. The focus of her Time essay is blaming the Russians and Donald Trump, so it’s back to Eve in the Garden. Never does she humbly ask for forgiveness from the American people or from God. No sign of true repentance, which one would expect from a “Christian woman.” As one reporter said, there never is any guilt assigned. Every Christian knows confession is only complete when you humbly take full responsibility for your mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and repent . . . not shift the blame.

We don’t know Brazile’s faith background, but she may have used “Christian” in the interview to get Kelley to back off because the perception is that Christians tell the truth. She also claimed “persecuted” when she was actually receiving an opportunity to admit the truth.

In a Fox News panel discussing Brazile’s Time “confession,” Meghan McCain mentioned she was disappointed because Brazile had offered to pray for Meghan if she ever needed it. Our witness is always on trial as Christians.

Perhaps political zeal was too big a temptation when so many thought Clinton would win. But as happens so often when we defy God’s ways, it backfired. As God brings Donna Brazile to mind, pray she will truly repent and not just regret she sent the emails, but seek forgiveness.

For there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. Matt 10:26

I suppose the litmus test for knowing that you’re a Christian is when you can confidently—no doubts—answer the question the Gideon’s asked us in church this morning: Where are you going to spend eternity?

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3

But these are written that you may believe[a] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.—John 20:31

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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

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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?

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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.

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Who Will Stand in the Gap?

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” Ezekiel 22:30

It was greeting time at church, a friend hugged me and said, “Thank you for standing in the gap!” She was leading the Women’s Bible study reading my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. I wanted to say back, and also say to everyone who has left similar comments on my Facebook timeline when I’ve taken a stand for God on difficult or controversial issues—“Join me.” God calls all Christians to be His hands and feet on earth. That’s why we’re here. Why aren’t we ALL standing in the gap? Why are some silent or taking a noncommittal position at a time in history like our parents and we have never seen before— choosing between two radically different Americas!

Morals versus Politics

A few, not just the liberal progressives, have accused me of being “political” and even “hypocritical.” I have never been a political person, but for the first time since I could vote, I see this election as so much more than politics. America, the only country founded on the freedom of religion, now has a platform called “progressive liberals” who are trying to remove God from our country. The only thing progressive about the Democratic agenda is they’re progressively moving our great country towards Satan and away from God. Towards hell . . . away from heaven. Towards evil . . . away from good. We are becoming a country where immorality reigns and is legalized, and those believing in morality and the Bible are penalized and punished.

The church watched government gradually and successfully infringe on our religious and moral rights…and did nothing. The Supreme Court legalized abortion. The Supreme Court took prayer and God out of schools. The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. These are not political issues…these are moral issues. How have we let what God deemed wrong be deemed right? Why didn’t we put up a bigger fight?

As Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall (Ezekiel. 22:30), said to the group of evangelical leaders he met with when he decided to run for president: “If you don’t mind me saying so, YOU GUYS HAVE GONE SOFT.” He’s right. Dr. Lance Wallnau in his book God’s Chaos Candidate:Donald J. Trump and the American Unraveling, which I encourage you to order and read quickly BEFORE November 8, wrote, “Trump gave nervous evangelicals a gift that many of them lacked—the gift of boldness.”

Trump is the first political candidate I’ve ever heard say boldly without hesitation, as he did in the third debate, that he is against abortion, late-term abortion is horrific, and he would appoint conservative Supreme Court judges who would try to overturn Roe vs Wade. Every other candidate, even the evangelicals, have always danced around the topic of abortion wanting to get everyone’s votes.

“But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. The field is the world, and the good see stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one. ” (Matthew 13:25, 38)

Be Bold for Christ While We Still Can

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29

In Forsaken God?, I wrote about the need for Christians to be bold for Christ, long before there was an election or any indication of who the candidates would be:

“Can you imagine the revival if Christians actively influenced the culture to remember God? My challenge to you is together let’s start a bold and brave movement to create a God-centered culture that remembers the magnificent goodness of our great God in our homes, communities, and churches.

Being Bold About Your Faith

We live in a culture where vocal minority factions lobby to remove God from every public place, ceremony, and conversation. They reject God’s ways, which can only mean accepting Satan’s ways. There is no in-between—support God’s ways or Satan’s ways … the secular world’s ways. The two will never meet or overlap—no straddling the fence between two polar opposites.

Christians, the silent majority for years in America, are watching our majority-ranking decline due to passive apathy. Letting a lost world lose God! Read the Gospels, Jesus wasn’t silent or passive and he confronted sin and Satan! It’s long past time for Christians to get noisy about the only right way—God’s way. People say I’m bold about my faith and it surprises me that’s considered an unusual trait … because shouldn’t every Christian be bold? Our faith isn’t a secret to hide; it’s the answer to the world’s woes. Unfortunately, Christians often worry more about offending the world than offending God.

Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity: “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12). Today’s culture calls it unloving to confront untruths or lies, but that’s a ploy of the enemy. The Bible says, Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). Nothing could be more loving than helping someone find eternal life and freedom from the bondage of sin. Love without truth is cowardly. Truth without love is powerless.

Who do you know who is trying to straddle the fence between the world’s ways and God’s ways, or walk too close to the edge of temptation? Where has God been nudging you to be brave and bold about your faith? It will require getting out of your comfort zone, but comfortable isn’t God’s way. You won’t be “politically correct,” but that wasn’t Jesus’ way.”*

Who Will Stand in the Gap?

“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

I am boldly supporting the conservative platform! Not for political reasons, but because we stand on the brink of the annihilation of conservatism and religious freedom in or country. Franklin Graham went to all 50 state Capitols to pray for our country and this election because he has 10 grandchildren directly impacted by the results, and he said if he died next year, he will know he tried to make a difference. I have 11 grandchildren and echo his heart. If you’re even considering voting for the progressive liberal platform, I have two thoughts for you to consider:

  1. You are siding with a group that has written on my Facebook timeline, the worse filthy, hateful, and vulgar language I have EVER seen or heard! Even as I’m writing this sentence, a “progressive” began posting terrible, vulgar, evil, awful things on a post about Mike Pence. I couldn’t delete the vulgarity fast enough, and had to block the person. This comes from both progressive men and women. If you don’t believe me…here’s one mild comment, the rest are far too vulgar… but it’s a window into what a vote for Hillary stands for and the progressive thinking. I simply asked, “What do you have in common with Hillary?”

“I am a progressive. I believe in a universal health care, I don’t believe in discrimination or segregation of any kind. I believe that all US citizens should be able to vote regardless if they are imprisoned or don’t have a Drivers License. I believe in Science and I believe that humans are destroying the planet, and it’s our duty to protect it. I believe that woman have a choice but after birth you need to protect society from deadly diseases. I believe that the top 1% have been given a free ride since Regan silently paved the road to destroy middle class. I believe the education is more important than anyone’s right to own assault weapons. I believe that Obama will arguably be one the best Presidents in history and I do believe that if you feel differently, then you’re a person that hates Gays, Color, or any nonwhite religious person. And that Hillary represents more of what the last 8 years, which is the only choice.”

  1. Hugh Hewitt who has taught Conservative Law for 20 years, says in God’s Chaos Candidate:

“If Hillary Clinton wins, the Left gavels in a solid, lasting almost certainly permanent majority on the Supreme Court. Every political issue has a theoretical path to SCOTUS, and only self-imposed judicial restraint has checked the Supreme Court’s appetite and reach for two centuries.

That restraint will be gone when Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first appointee is sworn in. Finished. This is not hyperbole…I know what a very liberal Supreme Court means: Conservatism is done. It cannot survive a strong –willed liberal majority on the Supreme Court. Every issue—EVERY—issue—will end up there, and the legislature’s judgments will matter not a bit.”

Your Children Need to Hear the Truth Boldly from You

“Living counter-cultural isn’t easy and many children succumb to believing a fake gospel that seems easier and less confrontational. No one likes being the brunt of harassing name-calling: intolerant, homophobic, old-fashioned, legalistic, or rigid. Even conservative is spewed with disdain. These kids are afraid to offend someone by talking about God or worry they won’t have an answer when challenged as to why they’re Christians.

It’s no wonder they’re confused and apprehensive. Satan is hijacking high-profile liberal pastors and several mainline denominations who expound that: the Bible isn’t inerrant or relevant, God is a myth, Jesus is a legend, and the church needs to catch up with the culture. Essentially, they’re atheists trying to mask themselves as “progressive Christians,” as if they’ve discovered the true, open-minded Christianity that doesn’t need the Bible. Wolves in sheep’s clothing—straight out of Titus 1:15-16. Culture never trumps Scripture. Even if you’ve been a member for years of one of these denominations or churches that now succumbs to this unbiblical, satanical teaching—run—leave immediately, and take your family with you.

The “liberals” defiantly ignore Jesus’ warning that Christians are in the world, but not of the world. And Jesus didn’t come to conform to the culture; he came to reform the culture. Jesus loves all people, but he hates sin—that’s why he went to the cross. Not so we could keep on sinning, but because, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Whoever doesn’t believe these truths cannot claim the cherished name of Christian.”*

Depending on the results November 8, and the choices we make as a country, we could have a massive revival, or we could reap what we’ve let Satan sew in our country while we slept and let our walls fall as a nation. We could admit, “Yes, we’ve forsaken God, but we’ll stand in the gap and turn our country back to God.” Or God could say, you had your chance and “There will be no more delay!” (Rev. 10:6).

*Excerpts from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten available from Amazon or signed on our website.

I highly recommend quickly ordering God’s Chaos Candidate: Donald J. Trump and The American Unraveling by Dr. Lance Wallnau. You can read the first chapter for free at www.GODSCHAOSCANDIDATE.com

gods-chaos-candidate

We are still offering a special price until the end of October for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

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5 Tactics Satan Uses to Invade Your Church

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Twenty years ago, when the Lord led me to start the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, I left the business world to go into full-time lay ministry. It was a delightful surprise to discover people would donate their time without expecting payment in return. I expected it to be easy leading Christian team members who would all agree and serve willingly and peacefully.

It was a crushing blow realizing that Christians don’t all agree and get along peacefully, and many of the same divisive issues I encountered in the business world, prevail in the church. I had much to learn and pray about as a ministry leader, and it still disturbs me. The enemy tried to invade and destroy Woman to Woman Mentoring, but praise God it’s still going strong in thousands of churches around the world today. But I had to learn how to identify the divisive tactics of the enemy and how to fight against him. I went straight to the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, where versus 10-12 instruct Christians 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. For 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 6:17 says the only weapon we have against Satan’s invasion is God’s Word, the Bible, the Sword of the Spirit. So it’s no surprise that Satan has managed to remove the Bible from schools, and recently, some pastors have devalued God’s Word saying it’s outdated and irrelevant to today’s culture. Yet, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

Since the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden, Satan’s sole purpose has been to destroy God’s kingdom on earth and overtake the world with evil, and his tactical invasion is succeeding, not just in the world, but also in the church. Satan has methodically and effectively:

  • Changed God’s definition of marriage. Certain denominations embrace gay marriage and gay clergy, and it’s dividing their churches.
  • Legalized the killing of unborn babies and selling their body parts—many of whom might have been Christian leaders, presidents, pastors, evangelists, parents, had the cure for cancer, and loud voices in the wilderness.
  • Removed God, prayer, and Bibles from schools.
  • Eliminated God from the public square.

And what has the church done to stop any of this? Very little.

Instead of the church influencing culture, the culture is influencing the church.

So is it any wonder that in this current election battle, we see Satan zeroing in for a strategic blow: destroying unity in the church body and causing bitter divisions among evangelicals and conservative Christians.In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I warn of Satan’s impending invasion of the church if believers, who comprise God’s church, don’t take a firm stand against the devil’s schemes (Eph. 6:18):

Satan won’t like you making a concerted effort to remember God. Satan wants you to forget God’s goodness. Let that sink in a minute. If you forget God and his role in your life, then Satan has you just where he wants you. Satan’s target is believers. He doesn’t care about those who love the world because he already has them in his grip. He focuses on luring believers to love something else more than they love God. Satan wants to break God’s heart. Unfortunately, he seems to be succeeding in many areas. If he can get believers to look to the world’s ways, and forget God’s ways, Satan smirks.

Five Tactics Satan Uses to Destroy Churches by Invading Holiness with Worldliness.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” —John 10:10

Secularism

In a Washington Post article, Michelle Boorestein quoted Pastor Rick Scarborough, who has spent 20 years trying to politically mobilize evangelical voters: “Evangelicals are so divided….It’s because we are living in a growing age of secularism that is forcing itself on people who hold traditional values . . . . Some frame the split as Christian pragmatists vs. Christian idealists.”

No one, not even Satan, can “force” secularism or pragmatism on people who hold traditional values. It’s a choice.

Satan is hijacking high-profile liberal pastors and several mainline denominations who expound that: the Bible isn’t inerrant or relevant, God is a myth, Jesus is a legend, and the church needs to catch up with the culture. Culture never trumps Scripture. Even if you’ve been a member for years of one of these denominations or churches that now succumbs to this unbiblical, satanical teaching—run—leave immediately, and take your family with you.*

These “liberals” defiantly ignore Jesus’s warning that Christians are in the world, but not of the world. And Jesus didn’t come to conform to the culture; he came to reform the culture.*

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. —Romans 12:2

Selfishness

The center of all divisiveness is selfishness and pride. We want things our way, the way we think is right. The church often doesn’t agree on what Christ wants for His church.

Adults in churches usually divide into groups such as seniors, empty nesters, young adults, singles, marrieds, which is fine for small groups or Bible studies; but when those groups think more about their own wants and needs than what’s best for the church and the future of the church, it’s selfish. The church laments that they’re losing the youth, but are they willing to make the selfless effort to save them?

The church is failing to reach out to the next generation with a message relevant to the world they live in today; but the secular world is ready and waiting for them. The next generation is falling away from the church in droves or erroneously choosing a pseudo-gospel of compromise and feel-good theology. Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.*

Many churches don’t want to change the way they’ve always done things. Selfish pride is at the root of arguments, dissension, hurt feelings, gossip, complaining, refusal to change . . . and God hates pride, which means that Satan loves it.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.—1 John 2:16

Sin

How many in congregations today are living a sinful life without feeling any pangs of remorse because the church isn’t confronting them? How many pastors are afraid of retaliation if they call homosexuality, living together, adultery, abortion, lying, or cheating a sin? Satan is the father of sin and he has done well when the church cowers in fear of being called judgmental, haters, prejudiced. Why did Jesus have to endure the painful cross for forgiveness of our sins, if the church now refuses to call sin, a sin?

Jesus loves all people, but he hates sin—that’s why he went to the cross. Not so we could keep on sinning, but because, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). If a church doesn’t understand how to love the sinner without embracing the sin, it may either abandon the sinner, or avoid confronting the sin and thus condone it.

Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!Matthew 18:7

Scandal

Many pastors, church leaders, and prominent Christians succumb to moral or financial failures. Churches don’t always have, or enforce, a system of accountability and mentoring at every level of leadership. Or some church staff may think they’re safe and above needing such protective measures, and that’s right where Satan wants them with a target on their back.

When one of these Christian leaders, or someone in their family falls, the media, and many Christians and fellow pastors, are quick to voice opinions and denounce them publically. The church may not respond biblically, which is why nonbelievers characterize Christians as the only group that “eats its own.”

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.—Galatians 6:1

Social Acceptance

Many voices are screaming louder than the church, which in its attempt to be culturally relevant, may widen the road that Jesus said is narrow. Political correctness and ideological inclusiveness, overshadows biblical truthfulness. The church should only seek the exclusive acceptance of, and answer to, the Head of the Church—Jesus Christ.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.—John 15:19

Sensationalism

Cultural Christianity creates an entertainment church, emphasizing popular people more than Holy God. Churches try the latest trend rather than leading from the Holy Spirit. Parishioners often want a pastor who doesn’t challenge them. Concert-style worship can detract from the purpose of musical worship—inviting in the Holy Spirit and drawing close to God, an atmosphere Satan hates. But Satan loves it when earplugs accompany the bulletin, little children plug their ears, and only those on stage sing because the music is so loud parishioners can’t hear themselves or each other.

Many churches today are dark inside, pitch black with a few strobe lights. Bible verses project on a screen because it’s too dark to read a Bible, so many people don’t even take a Bible to church. Oh how Satan loves that because he knows they’ve put down their swords—the Word of God.

Repeatedly, the Bible tells us to come out of the dark and into the light. Underground churches have to meet in the dark, and maybe only have one Bible to share with everyone; but we own Bibles and we can still lift the blinds, throw open the windows, and let the Son shine in so others can see us coming back to the heart of worship.

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. —Eph. 5:8-9 NLT

What Should the Church do to Combat Satan’s Divisive Tactics?

Believers must agree to stand together united as the Christian church—led by Christ and based on biblical truths—and fight Satan using prayer and the Sword of the Spirit—the World of God—as our battle plan and strong fortress.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. —Jude 1:17-21

Otherwise, If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Cor. 1:10).

How do you see Satan using these tactics in your church?

*Excerpts from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten

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Take Hold of the Faith You Long For By Sharon Jaynes

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Sharon Jaynes is an author/speaker friend of mine with an awesome new book Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go. Move Forward. Live Bold. Sharon shares my passion to mentor women in living faith-filled lives and living boldly for Christ. I know you will enjoy her blog post below where she shares vulnerably that she once was stuck between wanting to live for Christ authentically and not superficially. Isn’t that what we all want? I know I do.

Take Hold of the Faith You Long For

Sharon Jaynes

I was alone, or at least I felt that way. Women huddled in happy clusters chatting about first one thing and then another. Some propped babies on their hips. Others clutched Bibles in their hands.

Most wore smiles on their faces. I wore one too. But it wasn’t a reflection of what was in my heart. The upturned lips were simply the camouflage I wore to blend in—to avoid being found out.

That I wasn’t really all that I was cracked up to be.

What I really wanted to do was run and hide. On the outside I was a well-put-together church mom with cute shoes and snappy jeans, but on the inside I was a little girl cowering in the far recesses of the playground hoping no one would notice me.

What’s wrong with me? I wondered. Why don’t I feel the joy these other women feel? What holds me back from experiencing the confidence and assurance they seem to experience?

Why do I continue to act like the same old me, struggle with the same negative emotions, and wrestle with the same old sins?

I wonder if you’ve ever felt that way?

The problem was I was stuck. Yes, I had professed Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I knew I was going to heaven when I left this earth.

But I had a niggling feeling He meant something more than heaven when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Have you ever watched a circus performer on a flying trapeze? The aerialist swings out, swings back, and then usually on the peak of the third swing he takes hold of another bar or performer.

That’s when the fun begins as backflips, somersaults, and triples twists wow the crowd.

But what if, when the trapeze artist took hold of the second bar, he refused to let go of the first?

He would be left hanging in the middle. Stuck. That would not be the greatest show on earth.

And that’s where many of us spend our lives…stuck…dangling over “life to the full” but never quite letting go of what holds us hostage to a mediocre “less than” faith.

I know it’s where I spent many years…until God challenged me to take hold of the truth and make it mine. Her name was Mary Marshall Young–and older, wiser woman in my church. One day she challenged me to learn about my true identity in Christ.

Then she did something even harder…she challenged me to believe it…to take hold of it and make it mine. And that made all the difference.

The apostle Paul wrote, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).

And in order to take hold and make our own everything that Christ has taken hold of for us and placed in us, we need to let go of everything that keeps us from doing so.

If we would grasp and make our own what Jesus has already done for us, and what He had deposited in us, our lives would look very different than the tepid faith of the average churchgoer.

God’s power, provision, and purposes are for “who so ever will” (Mark 8:34 KJV).

Will what? Will let go of all that holds you back from experiencing the abundant life of the adventurous faith and take hold of truth that makes it so.

So here’s what I’m challenging you to do:

  • Let go of insecurity and take hold of your true identity as a child of God.
  • Let go of the scarcity mentality that says that you’re not enough and take hold of God’s abundant promises that say you have everything you need.
  • Let go of crippling bitterness and take hold of radical forgiveness.
  • Let go of shame-filled condemnation and take hold of grace-filled acceptance.
  • Let go of weak-kneed worry and take hold of sure-footed confidence.
  • Let go of comparison to others and take hold of your God-fashioned uniqueness.
  • Let go of debilitating discouragement and take hold of your next assignment
  • Let go of timid reluctance and take hold of bold believing.

I know that’s a tall order, but I know you can do it. I’m here to help you get there.

It’s what God wants for all of us.

So today, let’s ask ourselves if we’re hanging on to something that God is calling us to let go of. Shame? Resentment? Condemnation? Unbelief? Ingratitude? Bitterness? Unforgiveness? A false sense of who we are?

If He brings something to mind, let it go, move forward, and live bold.

The faith you’ve always longed for is just a decision away.

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Sharon Jaynes is a conference speaker and author of 20 books, including her latest, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go. Move Forward. Live Bold. Her passion is to mentor women from all walks of life by equipping them to live fully and free in Christ. To learn more visit www.sharonjaynes.com or www.takeholdthebook.com.

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Love Your Body–Try Something New

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

All my life I haven’t liked Brussels Sprouts! They’re one of the few foods I’ve never acquired a taste for….until a few years ago!

When we were receiving organic fruits and vegetables from Bountiful Baskets, it was always a surprise what I’d find inside the box, and was I surprised to see a bag of Brussels Sprouts! Ugh, I thought. Who can I give these away to? But instead of giving them away, I asked my Facebook friends if they had any great recipes, mentioning that I don’t care for cooked cabbage, but I’ll eat it raw in fish tacos or coleslaw.

One of my FB friends posted a recipe for Chopped Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad. What? You could eat Brussels Sprouts raw? That thought had never entered my mind, but I try to eat as much raw as possible since that’s the best way to get all the nutrients.

This recipe had cranberries, blue cheese, and toasted pecans. How could I go wrong? And it was Super Bowl Sunday, so why not make it and try it out at the party we were attending. So I put those cute little round cabbage balls in the food processor and walla, it looked just like shredded cabbage. I tasted it…and oh my! What a different taste than cooked. I knew right then I was going to LOVE this salad–as did everyone at the party!

For those of you who shop at COSTCO, they’ve got a delicious fresh salad with cabbage, kale, Brussel Sprouts, and other goodies you mix together with a delicious salad dressing. I have some in the refrigerator right now!

So what’s the moral of my raw Brussels Sprouts salad story? As I was enjoying the delicious salad, the Lord reminded me that there were probably many other things…not just food…that I thought I didn’t like because I had only looked at them from one perspective.

How about you? Is there a person you don’t get along with? A food you’re sure will never touch your lips? A place you think you could never live? (As a native Californian, I would have never in a million years expected I would be living in the rural mountains of Idaho).

A color you would never wear? What’s on your “never-ever” list that you’d be open to looking at from another angle? What might you be missing if you didn’t?

Many people avoid God and Christianity because they’ve had a bad experience, and like me with Brussels Sprouts, they’re positively, absolutely convinced it’s not for them. Could you help someone in your life see God from a different perspective?

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!–Psalm 34:8 NLT

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Interview with Teen Role Model Sadie Robertson of God’s Not Dead 2

View More: http://meshalimitchellphoto.pass.us/sadie-robertson-finals

When hubby asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, at the top of the list was having a party with my grandkids and going to see God’s Not Dead 2, which opened in theaters April 1. We would have attended opening weekend, but we live in the mountains with no movie theaters, so birthday Saturday was our first chance to see it and we were not disappointed. It’s a riveting movie acting out many of the cultural issues addressed in my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. Both the movie and my book are wake up calls to Christians to stand up for our values, morals, and freedoms in a world that is quickly removing God from the public square. Here’s a quote from the Introduction to Forsaken God?:

Today, society marginalizes, neutralizes, and denies God—forgotten by a culture forsaking him. It’s time for Christians to step up, speak out, and seize opportunities to defend God, as Franklin Graham warns, “Before we lose our country!” Exerting boldness for God requires drawing from our own memories of God’s goodness—sharing with a disparaging world the greatness of our God and the things we’ve seen him do. We’ll be swimming upstream in a sinking culture, but some will reach out to Jesus for the salvation life preserver and will survive.

Today’s culture wants to silence any mention of God or Jesus. Our forefathers in the faith and in our nation would be aghast at a 21st Century world where evoking the name of God or Jesus, or saying you’re a Christian, could possibly get you fined, expelled from school, fired, sued, incarcerated, or even executed. Yet, the world still acknowledges the memory and existence of Jesus every time they say or write the date—the number of days since Christ walked the earth. Sadly, the general populace doesn’t know, or has forgotten, the significance and origin of today’s date. (Pages 21-22, Forsaken God?).

In the section on Mentoring the Next Generation in Forsaken God?, I also include a quote from then 17-year-old Sadie Robertson, as an example of a role model for the next generation. I have been impressed with Sadie’s spiritual maturity and willingness to go against the popular trends of her generation, as does her whole family. I featured an interview with Sadie in About His Work Ministries December 2014 Newsletter, discussing her book, Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Values (Howard Books, 2014).

So I was excited to learn that Sadie plays “Marlene,” the best friend of the main high school character, “Brooke,” in God’s Not Dead 2. When I saw an interview that Sheryl Young of Ratio Christi did with Sadie prior to the opening of God’s Not Dead 2, I wanted to share it, with Sheryl’s permission. You might remember that on January 11, 2016, I featured another blog post by Sheryl Young of Ratio Christi: Left for College, Returned an Atheist. It had such a great response and was a revelation to many.

Meet Sadie Robertson

Sadie Robertson is now eighteen and a member of the Duck Dynasty family featured on the A&E TV series. But she is her own accomplished person and a young woman of prolific talents. She attends Ouachita Christian Academy in Monroe, Louisiana where she wore jersey #15 for the girls’ basketball team in her sophomore and junior year. Her team stats appear on many high school sports statistics websites. In conjunction with fashion designer Sherri Hill, she designs clothes under the label “Live Original,” that encourage a stylish, yet modest, wardrobe for teen girls.

She also sang with country star Alison Krauss for her family’s album, “Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas” (2013). The following year she moved from singing to dancing and took Second Place with professional dance partner Mark Ballas on Season 19 of “Dancing with the Stars” despite remaining modestly costumed and insisting on dance routines that were not as “sexy” as many others on the reality show. I wrote a blog about how Sadie Let her Light Shine on Dancing with the Stars.

Then the big offer to appear in the movie God’s Not Dead 2. That’s where the Ratio Christi interview begins:

Q: What led to you being cast as “Brooke’s” friend “Marlene” in the movie?

A: My parents (Willie and Korie Robertson) were in the first movie, and the producers wanted to continue the legacy. They felt the character was a lot like me, and when I read the script, I had no doubt about doing it.

Q: Did you create a “backstory” for your character – i.e., what motivates her and prompts her to support Brooke?

A: Yes – as Brooke’s best friend, she was the one go-to friend in high school, no matter what Brooke was going through. She was there to encourage her.

Q: Did you have a chance to meet or spend time with all the actors, or the apologetics experts like J. Warner Wallace or Lee Strobel, who weren’t in your scenes?

A: No, I didn’t meet everyone – I was only on the set for three days! But I did get to be with Melissa, Jesse, and Hayley. They were all great, and it was a wonderful experience (Melissa Joan Hart as the main character “Grace,” Jesse Metcalfe as Grace’s attorney, and Hayley Orrantia as “Brooke”).

Q: What did you think of the court scenes in the movie where the witnesses were giving evidence about the truth of the Christian story?

A: Even as a lifelong Christian, I learned a lot from the movie, especially about the true origin of the phrase “separation of church and state.”

Q: Were there any discussions among the cast about how the script was a parallel to real-life occurrences in society today? 

A: Yes – we knew that at the end of the movie they were showing the cases that have happened. I didn’t realize how big the problem is!

Q: Why is it important for both Christians and non-Christians to see this movie?

A: People will be motivated. They’ll fear less, gain strength, and learn so many things like I did. I didn’t know some of these facts. If you are not a Christian – go anyway – it’s a good movie, and you’ll learn some real information from history you may not know.

Q: How can this movie help people who are struggling with expressing their faith to others?

A: The movie gives you courage to know God will take you all the way through something. I liked how Melissa (“Grace”) was praying on her bed.

Q: Have you or a friend or teacher ever experienced anything like the bias portrayed in the movie?

A: No. I went to a private school. But I have seen other kinds of punishment and ridicule, and I feel it all relates to this situation.

Q: The issue of Christians being able to voice their faith in public has become huge for your strong Christian family. When did you first feel driven to get involved?

A: It was actually before that – I was thirteen and away on a sports trip. Everyone wanted to party while being away from parents, but I never did. I made the decision not to go with the world, but to go with God. I felt His presence and knew He was worth it. After that, I got baptized. When you surrender and let God in, you know how good He is.

Q: Have you had a special teacher in your life who encouraged you in your faith?

A: Yes – my favorite teacher – she would ask if she could pray for us and listen to us – even in chemistry class. She led us by example and showed how important faith is.

Q: Ratio Christi teaches apologetics to Christian students so they can combine faith and reason to support their biblical worldview. Have you ever studied apologetics?

A: Our private school system used Christian books with science and history supporting the Bible.

Q: What do you think is the biggest concern on your Christian peers’ minds today?

A: Their biggest concern is what other people think about them – what are people going to say? They need to know that things will come and go but they can rely on God.

Q: You took Second Place on “Dancing with the Stars” with no dance experience! What encouraged you to go on the show?

A: Crazy! My grandma really wanted me to do it. I was scared but I learned a lot about myself and what I am able to do.

***

Go see God’s Not Dead 2 while it’s still at movie theaters and stay until the very end . . . after the credits, after the list of lawsuits, even after the screen goes black for a moment, for a sneak preview of the topic for God’s Not Dead 3!

See the trailer at the movie’s main website.

If you haven’t seen the original, God’s Not Dead, rent it or stream it… now. My grandchildren love to watch it  over and over!Some of the same characters are in God’s Not Dead 2!

Both movies are important to audiences that value religious free speech in American society. The fictional situations are based on real-life incidents and court cases, as illustrated by the long lists of actual lawsuits noted at the end of the films. How realistic are the court cases?

See Ratio Christi’s interview with attorney Erik Stanley of Alliance Defending Freedom.

***

Photos courtesy of Grace Hill Media and Pure Flix Entertainment.

Interview with Sadie Robertson, originally Posted on Mar 31, 2016 by Sheryl Young. Content in blog does not necessarily represent Ratio Christi’s views.

If you’ve seen God’s Not Dead 2, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you haven’t seen it yet, let us know what you think about it when you do, and remember to stay to the very very end. You won’t be disappointed!

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

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Love Your Body–Beat or Treat High Blood Pressure

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Today is Love Your Body Monday, following the most important Sunday in a Christian’s life: Easter! The day that Jesus defied death for believers and rose from the grave to offer everyone who believes in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, confesses sins, and asks for forgiveness—eternal life in heaven with Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, Jesus overcame permanent death for believers, but we still must face the death of our physical bodies.

During my first breast cancer treatment, I witnessed to my atheist radiation oncologist: “Dr. your mission is to provide longevity and stave off death for a while for our earthly bodies; my mission is to help people know the Great Physician who provides eternal longevity and life after we are finished with our earthly bodies.” I think he got it.

Our earthly bodies are a gift from God during the years He gives us to make a decision for Christ, and then were are to live out that decision and help others come to know Him before their, and our, earthly bodies return to dust. Did you ever think of life in that context? We are here for God’s purpose and pleasure, not our own. Therefore, we must treat our bodies as a precious gift and instrument of God.

Sometimes, we treat our bodies like we do own them. We’ve all heard, “It’s my body. I’ll do what I want with it.” This erroneous thinking is also behind the “women’s rights” propaganda. And that’s all it is…lies and misunderstanding from those who the evil one blinds.

We don’t have any rights over our bodies, God does! He creates us, numbers our days, and makes no mistakes.

Satan says, “Your body is your own.”

God says, “I knit you together in your mother’s womb.” (Ps 139:13 paraphrased)

Satan says, “Eat whatever you want if it makes you happy.”

God says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)

What a novel thought: eating and drinking for the glory of God. What a praise it would be to God if before putting anything in our mouths, we asked ourselves, “Will this glorify God by keeping my body healthy or will this dishonor the amazing temple he has entrusted to me?”

How to Beat or Treat Hypertension

In January, we talked about Love Your Body—Prevent or Reverse Type 2 Diabetes. Today, I want to mention another illness that could be prevented or treated by proper diet and exercise: high blood pressure. I am amazed at how many people take medicine to lower their blood pressure. High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and most processed, packaged, and processed foods are very high in sodium. Even if you never salt your food, if you eat these foods regularly, you are taking in higher levels of sodium than are healthy for a normal body.

According to the Mayo Clinic, here is a definition and risk factors of High Blood Pressure also known as Hypertension:

High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Blood pressure is determined both by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

High blood pressure has many risk factors, including:

  • Age. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Through early middle age, or about age 45, high blood pressure is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after age 65.
  • Race. High blood pressure is particularly common among blacks, often developing at an earlier age than it does in whites. Serious complications, such as stroke, heart attack and kidney failure, also are more common in blacks.
  • Family history. High blood pressure tends to run in families.
  • Being overweight or obese. The more you weigh the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls.
  • Not being physically active. People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction and the stronger the force on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also increases the risk of being overweight.
  • Using tobacco. Not only does smoking or chewing tobacco immediately raise your blood pressure temporarily, but the chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls. This can cause your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure. Secondhand smoke also can increase your blood pressure.
  • Too much salt (sodium) in your diet. Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
  • Too little potassium in your diet. Potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells. If you don’t get enough potassium in your diet or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much sodium in your blood.
  • Too little vitamin D in your diet. It’s uncertain if having too little vitamin D in your diet can lead to high blood pressure. Vitamin D may affect an enzyme produced by your kidneys that affects your blood pressure.
  • Drinking too much alcohol. Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Having more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women may affect your blood pressure.
  • Stress. High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only increase problems with high blood pressure.
  • Certain chronic conditions. Certain chronic conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.

Everything on the above list except for age, race, family history, and certain chronic conditions are controllable by us! Several of these controllable areas, we’ve talked about previously on Love Your Body Monday!

Weight Loss: Love Your Body—Maintain Weight Loss and Love Your Body—Break the Food Strongholds and Love Your Body—Weight Loss is Not the Goal

Become more physically active: Love Your Body—Use Technology to Lose Weight

Drinking: Love Your Body—Don’t Drink Alcohol

If you smoke, you need to stop smoking.

We will talk in future blogs about eliminating stress.

Reduce Sodium intake: Love Your Body–Read Labels  discusses the importance of reading labels on food you purchase. You can look for sodium content on the label per the serving they indicate, which might only be a half cup or 5 pieces. You need some sodium, but if you have high blood pressure, your doctor may want you limiting to 1500-3000 mg a day, which can add up quickly just in natural food. So you must read labels for sodium content and avoid obviously salty food. Here is a great article on how sodium effects high blood pressure, recommended intake of sodium, and high-sodium foods to avoid: Salt and High Blood Pressure.

saltshaker

At our house, I don’t put a saltshaker on the table, and I use very little salt in cooking, but rely on fresh herbs and salt-free seasonings for flavor. Both my husband and I have normal blood pressure. Sometimes visitors ask for the saltshaker without even tasting the food to see if it even needs salt! Is that you?

bananasIncrease potassium and Vitamin D: Here is a good article on nine foods that can reduce high blood pressure and increase potassium and Vitamin D in your diet: Nine Foods That Reduce High Blood Pressure.

Let me stress that the ideal is to avoid having an illness or “condition”. Taking preventative measures—instead of waiting until you have a problem that you could potentially sidestep– could prevent having to take medications, which always have side effects. And isn’t that just like everything in life: proactive always trumps reactive.

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