10 Ways to Change Our Culture

When it comes to making a change in our world, we often feel . . .

  • Who am I to make a difference? I’m only one person.
  • What does it matter what I say? Who listens to me anyway?
  • I don’t have a platform. How would I get my voice heard if I did try to make a change?

Have you had similar thoughts? I did. Twenty years ago, I wasn’t thinking about making a difference in the world’s culture—just in my world. Then during the journey of starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry and watching lives changing—one woman at a time—I realized I was making a difference. These mentors and mentees were making a difference. One woman mentoring another woman was having a ripple effect out into the culture.

You too can make a significant change in our culture today. God never forces us to do anything, but He created us with gifts and a purpose, and when we use our God-given talents for His glory, things change—for the good—in our circle of influence, our platform.

In the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16), Jesus tells us to shout the Good News to everyone who will listen. That means in our jobs, activities, sports, shopping, playing, parenting . . . whatever we do, wherever we do it . . . joyfully let others know that God is at the center of our lives. Someone is noticing. Someone sees a difference in how we live our lives, and that changes things.

Celebrities, Sports Stars, and Politicians

Movies stars and entertainers have changed the culture mostly in a negative way by making it fashionable to have babies with whomever they’re dating, normalizing living together without getting married, wearing revealing clothes, swearing and using vulgar language—both men and women—doing things in movies we would never let them do in our living rooms. They have influenced our culture by lowering the moral and sexual standards for society. And in today’s volatile political culture, the majority of them are liberal progressives, and those who aren’t are blackballed.

Gospel-sharing movies are beginning to get some traction at theaters, many started by grassroots Christians who want to make a difference in today’s culture. We need to support them. It’s upsetting to hear Christians armchair criticize other Christians who are stepping out to make a difference for God, especially when the critics aren’t trying to make a difference themselves!

Sports figures and teams have become idols. We recently watched one football player dishonor our National Anthem and young high school football players followed suit. Time Magazine included him in the most influential people of the year! 2016 Olympic swimmers lied and falsified an assault story in Brazil, and yet one of them ended up on Dancing with the Stars! Instead of being good role models, again we see the culture influenced in worldly, ungodly ways, while sports figures honoring God are ridiculed. Still it was refreshing to hear many Olympians praising God.

People don’t trust politicians. Many will change the culture for good, but others make changes that starkly contradict our Christian beliefs and values. The media blasts and tries to silence politicians who agree with a conservative agenda because the vast majority of culture today is liberal.

We’ve seen the liberal agenda invade the Federal and local government, and we feel helpless watching the sanctity of life and marriage destroyed by laws legalizing sin. We cry out to God and to each other at the atrocities; but we hang our heads thinking we can’t do anything. But that’s when the real work begins. There’s more to changing culture than just voting in our candidates! We still have control of where we spend our money, our time, and how we use our voice and influence.

You Can Change Culture

It’s time for Christians to step up, speak out, and seize opportunities to defend God and change our culture back to one that respects and honors virtue and morals. We need a revival, which doesn’t start in government, it starts in the church with the people sitting in the chairs and pews. That’s you and me!

Christianity has come under attack by the media, the government, and the entertainment world for several generations, so today’s generation has formed prejudices and perceptions based more on the worldly lies of Satan than on the truths of God. We need to proclaim the Good News of Christ because many have only heard the distorted lies of Satan.

10 Ways You Can Help Change Our Culture

  1. Speak Up

Today, society marginalizes, neutralizes, and denies God—forgotten by a culture forsaking him. Wherever and whenever you hear someone speaking disrespectfully of God, kindly let him or her know you’re a believer and explain why and what you believe, and would they please speak respectfully of the most important person in your life.

  1. Mentor—

I receive so many stories from women of all ages desperate for someone spiritually older to share their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. They’re begging for mentors as Titus 2:1-8 instructs spiritually older Christians to help spiritually younger men and women learn how to navigate life and make choices that honor God. If more Christians became mentors, we would see less violence, rage, poverty, divorce, single-parent families, abuse, abortion . . . the list goes on. Titus 2:5 says we mentor so “no one will malign the word of God.”

  1. Use Social Media

As an author and speaker, I have a large social media presence, and I boldly comment from a Christian perspective. A young mom approached me at church and thanked me for my Facebook posts. She said I always wrote something on my timeline just when she needed it or when she needed perspective on a current topic.

Then I received an email from a mom saying she found my tweets, Facebook messages, and blog posts helpful in her life. The list goes on. I have no idea how many lives I may be touching and changing through social media, but I try to always include something about God in today’s culture, and hope it sounds doable to my readers to duplicate.

Pick one form of social media, establish a following, and get a dialogue going for cultural change.

  1. Blogging—

I also write a weekly Monday Morning Blog. Not everyone likes to write, but a blog reaches multitudes. Whatever your passion is—sports, gardening, building, cooking, parenting—write about it and add something in your post to help the reader make positive cultural changes in his/her life or environment.

  1. Parenting

Your children are the future of our country and will define the culture for decades. They look to you for guidance and direction to set their moral compass. Talk about the difficult issues they face. Know what the culture is saying and doing and teach them how to identify twisted doctrine and counter it with the truth. Give them the tools they need to be change agents in the culture. Help them be leaders, not followers.

  1. Teach Sunday School or Help in Youth Ministry

One of the most important roles in the church is teaching and training the next generations. These children and youth are the future who will determine if the church remains true to God’s Word, the Bible, or casts it aside to accommodate the falsehoods of the culture. They must go into the world not only knowing about Jesus, but also knowing Him in a personal relationship they wouldn’t give up or give away for anything.

  1. Support Business that Champions Christian Values—

Businesses are succumbing to the liberal cultural pressure to market and financially support the LGBTQ agenda. We have a choice where we spend our money and our time. If you know a business supports something you don’t agree with, don’t spend money there. It’s that simple. There are plenty of other places to eat and shop—especially those owned by Christians.

If a movie is full of violence, sex, and vulgar language . . . don’t see it. Go to opening weekend of a Christian movie. Businesses, television, the movie and sports industry . . . notice when revenue declines.

  1. Run for a Local Office

We need more Christians and conservatives in government! If you feel called, run for office and be the voice in the wilderness in your community that fights for the sanctity of life, morals, freedom of speech for all, and laws that honor God and the Constitution.

  1. Remember God’s Goodness

When we remember how good God has been in the past, we share it with others. Today’s millennials, and those younger, don’t know a world where you can openly pray, talk about Jesus, and take your Bible to school. When “gay” meant joyful, and the rainbow only stood for God’s blessings. Where marriage was only between a man and a woman, and kids didn’t have two dads or two moms. It’s our job to tell them that the culture we’re living in today is not God’s way, but we can find our way back to His ways.

  1. Prayer—

God hears the prayers of His people: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Jesus changed the culture, and He was only one man, whose fame came after his death, but he left a band of followers to keep up His work of changing the worldly culture.

“As Christians, God calls us to live holy lives: separated to God, separated from the world, and separated for God. Our responsibility is to help a generation that thrives on conforming, want to conform to God’s standards! Don’t think you can’t make a difference. You can. Sure, you can’t transform the whole world, but you can make a difference in your world.”*

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

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Messy Journey, Offering the Prodigal a Way Home by Lori Wildenberg

I always teach that mentoring the next generation starts with our own family. But what do you do when your children or grandchildren are walking with the world instead of with God? As many of you know, parenting prodigals is dear to my heart and prompted me to share our family’s journey in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents.

Today, my author friend, and licensed parent and family educator Lori Wildenberg offers practical grace- and truth-filled ways of navigating your relationship with a detoured child whether they are rejecting faith, dabbling in sin, or wholeheartedly embracing sinful behavior.

Lori knows the heartache of having a rebel child. Her new release Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home is for parents walking the difficult road with a wayward child. Be inspired to drink the deep waters of peace as you draw closer to the Father of all prodigals. There is hope. After all, their struggle isn’t really with you, it’s with God.

 

MESSY LIFE by Lori Wildenberg

“When her parents discovered she was pregnant, they kicked her out.”

This single mom has defied the odds. She is raising her child, going to college, and working to support the two of them.

Not easy.

I don’t know the details of this woman’s story. I have no clue as to the relationship she had or has with her parents. I don’t know all the times of trouble that led up to this separation.

But…

I do know a number of families in a similar situation who chose to do life differently. They chose to support their unwed pregnant daughter and help her in her time of need. Three of the girls kept their babies. All three are now married (not to the baby daddy), another girl miscarried (now married with kids), and a fifth made an open adoption plan.

During the most difficult time in their life, each young mom knew her parents were there for her. Each woman in the middle of the mess knew she could count on her parents to help stabilize the shaky ground. All girls are now thriving.

As daughter’s of Eve and sons of Adam, we make decisions that are not in our best interest, ones that are not God’s best for us.

Humans have a wandering propensity.

Some young people stray due to an unwed pregnancy, sexual sin, porn, substance abuse, or a rejection of faith. When we have a prodigal, sometimes we are to let ’em go (see Luke 15) and other times we are to chase after our lost sheep (see Luke 15).

Either way, we need to keep the bridge built so our prodigal is able to return.

I have a child who, for a season, stepped away from the family. It was the most painful thing I have ever endured. There were times I chased her down like the shepherd and other times I waited like the dad.

I cried. I prayed.

I was a mess. I was weak.

God was strong.

Praise God, He brought her back to us.

I am thankful I kept the drawbridge down so she could cross it.

If your young person has taken a detour from the way in which he should go, keep the bridge open.

Don’t destroy it, build it.

During a messy life, lay down the planks of unconditional love: grace, humility, mercy, forgiveness, honesty, and truth.

Build the bridge and yes…they will come.

Back.

“Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”
Luke 15:6b (NIV)

Where is God calling you to build or rebuild a relational bridge?

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

Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a life time. She is a licensed parent-family educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. She has written 4 parenting books with Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home published by New Hope as her most recent. She is a parent consultant, national speaker, and lead Mentor Mom over at the Moms Together Facebook Community Page. Lori is a contributor to a number of on-line magazines. Every Monday you can find her blogging about faith and family. Mostly, Lori is wife to Tom and mom of four. The Wildenberg’s home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her hubby, four kids plus a daughter-in-love, and Murphy the family labradoodle.

Find Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home at Amazon.

Additional Books:
Raising Little Kids with Big Love (for parents of toddlers- 9)
Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love (for parents of tweens-young adults)

www.loriwildenberg.blogspot.com

www.loriwildenberg.com

www.facebook.com/momstogether

www.facebook.com/1Corinthians13Parenting

www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com
https://twitter.com/LoriWildenberg

https://pinterest.com/loriwildenberg/

Instagram: LoriWildenberg

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Some Women Are Still Like Eve: Listening to the Serpent

Have you ever wondered why Satan approached Eve and not Adam in the Garden of Eden? Why didn’t he go up to Adam and start challenging him about whether or not God really said they shouldn’t eat from the tree of wisdom? Let’s review Genesis 3:2-10 NLT:

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

When the shrewd serpent, AKA Satan, showed Eve how beautiful and delicious the fruit was, and she wouldn’t need God, Eve caved. Husbands want to please their wives. Since that day, the Devil has made it his mission to get women and men to choose evil over good, Satan’s ways, not God’s ways. Already owning the world, Satan goes after the Christians he loses who turn from their evil ways, repent from their sins, and choose to follow Jesus Christ. Not deterred, Satan still dangles that forbidden fruit in the form of lies, sin, temptations, pride . . . anything that makes us feel we don’t need God, just like when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-10).

Jesus used Scripture to fend off Satan. If we’re not grounded in God’s Word, we’re easily deceived and distracted by the Deceiver, the Ruler of this world. Mothers have a huge influence over their children’s beliefs: what they watch on television, the video games they play, the amount of time they spend on electronics, the friends they keep.  A real and present danger is the lure of the secular world on women, and thus goes the next generation.

Since November 8 when the progressive liberals lost the presidential election, they have desperately tried to delegitimatize Donald Trump’s presidency. Refusing to accept defeat, they plotted a “Women’s March” in Washington DC the day after Inauguration Day. Supposedly, these women were marching for “women’s rights,” which were never clearly defined.

The rally featured speeches from activist Gloria Steinem, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, Democrat Elizabeth Warren (a fierce supporter of Hillary Clinton wearing a Planned Parenthood scarf) Madonna, actresses Ashley Judd, America Ferrara, and Scarlett Johansson, and director Michael Moore, among others.

Michael Moore . . . what does he have to do with women’s rights? Nothing! Then a group of largely women senators and other politicians took the stage.

In an article by Meghan Keneally, Good Morning America, titled “Politicians, Activists Rally Crowd at Women’s March in Washington,” Keneally noted: “With the timing and sheer number of people involved, it comes as little surprise that there are various causes attached to the march, which was largely billed as a demonstration in support of women’s rights and civil rights but for many has clear political undertones connected to the inauguration of Donald Trump.

This was obviously not a march for all women’s rights, since they barred all Pro-life groups!

This was also not a grassroots movement by a grandmother in Hawaii like the fake news media would have you believe. This was a well-planned Democrats’ attack aimed at President Donald Trump. So only Satan, the father of lies, could lure women, many bringing daughters, into marching for “women’s rights,” when it was actually political activists needing a big crowd to support their own agendas.

Even when asked why they were marching, most women quoted political election rhetoric, liberal media points, or didn’t have a clear answer. Satan’s trademark is confusion.

Women were the pawns of political interest groups, while supposedly protesting Donald Trump’s treatment of women. Ironic!

Maybe the women missed the fact that Donald Trump appointed Kellyanne Conway as the first woman presidential Campaign Manager and now Counselor and Advisor to the President? She broke a glass ceiling.

Some said they marched because of something Trump said over eleven years ago and publically asked forgiveness for and I wrote a blog about. Instead of granting him forgiveness, they knitted pink hats as idols to memorialize the vulgar word they’re protesting, and now demeaning slang words for women are freely rolling off their lips, yes including their young daughters. And Satan laughs!

So hypocritical when many at the march were yelling vulgarities, had obscenities on signs, and were listening to someone like Madonna give a profanity-laced, vulgar talk saying she thought about blowing up the White House. Does anyone see the dichotomy there? These women brought their daughters to hear Madonna who demeans women as sex symbols in her songs and costumes, has a filthy mouth, and talks of bombing the White House! She is a disgrace to womanhood and not a role model for our daughters. And the liberal anti-Trump Hollywood “stars” act in R rated movies exploiting women, participate in explicit sex scenes with other actors, and use vulgar language in movies and call it “art.”

Maybe they think President Trump is a racist? Really, what has he said that’s racist? He wants to help the inner cities and protect America from terrorists and illegals invading our country. He has many black pastors advising and supporting him. Were they marching against that?

Oh maybe they were marching against possibly losing the right to murder their babies, even up to the day before delivery? Ah Satan the tempter again: Did God really say life starts at conception? Did God really say thou shalt not kill?

Abortion never was or will be a woman’s right. Sex is a right and a choice, but it is not a right or choice to kill an unborn baby for convenience, pleasure, or wealth. Only Satan would tell a woman abortion was a right. But every unborn baby does have a right to life!

Could they be marching about losing Obamacare, because they might lose free abortions or birth control while the cost is skyrocketing and strapping families, businesses, and doctors are overwhelmed with paperwork? There will be a replacement for Obamacare and there are safe clinics that help women get medical checkups and provide help with pregnancies. It’s Satan’s lie that women will lose health benefits without Planned Parenthood.

Exactly what real “rights” were they marching for?

Women love getting together for a cause and climbed on planes, buses, and vans, but listening to them shout obscenities, wave signs with vulgarities, and denounce a newly inaugurated president wasn’t unifying. It isn’t God’s way. It is Satan whispering in their ears: God’s ways don’t work in today’s culture. Your rights are more important! God’s irrelevant in 2017. You don’t need Him. It’s all about you.

And that brings me to my heartbreak: I know Christians were marching.

The liberal progressive activists, who sponsored that march, stand for everything that opposes the Bible and God.

They didn’t open or close in prayer. There was no praise music. Not one pastor spoke. They only mentioned God’s name in vain. Instead they promoted hate, creating unrest, division, disruption, disunity, and denouncing a freely elected President.

Christians don’t support abortion of precious babies, the liberal progressive agenda of same sex marriage, the demonizing of Christian values, the denial of male and female genders, the removal of God from the public square, or the denouncing of Israel  . . . so what would draw a Christian woman to a march like this?

Here’s what Christian women should grab their sneakers and their daughters and hit the streets to march against: sex trafficking, child prostitution, childhood cancer or any cancer, selling drugs to youth and drug addiction, bullying, abortion. March for Pro Life, to help single moms or for women in countries who really have no rights because American women have amazing rights!

I believe that anyone who would turn out for the liberal “Women’s March” is looking for role models and mentors in all the wrong places. They are listening to the mainstream media and following the culture. The church needs to step up and provide mentors, guidance, and the Truth from the Word of God not from the world! Why are Christian women listening to Hollywood? Madonna? Gloria Steinem? Michael Moore? The same serpent that deceived Eve?

President Trump cannot turn America back to God. It’s time for the women of the church to get involved. How many of you know a woman who marched who you could have counseled? Wake up Christian women. God is calling you to get involved!

I hope you will share this post and pray about how God is calling you to be part of a revival. The doors have opened with President Trump’s and the conservative platform’s victory. Now we must do our part because the battle has just begun.

Brandon and me

I want to close with a personal story to share with any who think abortion is a woman’s “right.” I praise God every day that the 15 year-old Hispanic birth mother of my amazing twelve-year old grandson never went into a Planned Parenthood clinic. Yes, he was her second baby, so they would have eagerly advised her to get a quick abortion and head back to school to continue with her life. But praise God, she chose to give Brandon the right to his life, and blessed a childless couple by choosing them to become the forever parents of this precious gift of God. That young girl did continue with her life knowing she chose to cherish life and will never suffer the haunting nightmares of so many women who chose to sacrifice life.

Read more of Brandon’s story in Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? A Companion Guide for Couples on the Infertility Journey

If you have had an abortion or know someone considering it please read: Prisoners of Choice.

Another confirming article written by a woman about how women were pawns in what was really a political activists march: Billionaire George Soros Has Ties to more that 50 ‘partners’ to the Women’s March on Washington.

March for Trump

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8 Reasons to Make 2017 the Year of New Connections

christmas-accident

Happy New Year! I know I promised I would be back with my Monday Morning Blog this morning, but you know how we make our plans but the Lord directs our steps. Well I’m not sure He directed my steps on Christmas Day around 4:00 PM when I stood up to go charge my cell phone and play a game with the grandkids, and the next think I remember was the sound of my head hitting the edge of a wooden chest across the room. To hear the story from my shocked hubby and daughter, I stumbled and literally flew across the room and my head took the full brunt of the fall.

Well with a nice gash in my head, off to ER we went and came home with 5 staples in my head. I’m smiling in the picture above because they put about 10 shots of Novocaine in my head, which always effects my whole bod,y so I was literally feeling no pain until the middle of the night, as my daughter and hubby had to wake me up all night.

Anyway, it seems now I have a concussion and constant high pitched ringing in my ears, so later today I’m having a brain MRI just to be sure I didn’t do any major damage. I could use your prayers for that. But God is so good that I had in my files this wonderful guest blog from Shirley Brosius, who just happens to be talking about the Joy of Connecting and even mentions mentoring as a  New Year’s goal. Shirley and her mentees Kim and Janine tell their story in my book Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, releasing with Leafwood Press later this year. So enjoy this wonderful post from Shirley and I hope to be back with you next Monday.

The Joy of Connecting

By

By Shirley Brosius

Women who say they don’t need to connect with other Christian women don’t realize what they’re missing. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)

I currently enjoy two mentoring relationships. I meet weekly to discuss Christian books with Kim and Janine, two women young enough to be my daughters.

2016-shirley-with-kim-and-janine

I chat weekly about writing and spirituality with Michelle, a young mother who lives a few hours from my home.

shirley-with-michelle

Here is how these women and I sharpen each other.

  1. We inspire one another. For instance, Kim set a New Year’s goal to control her thought life, and that inspired me to set a goal to not say anything this year that puts someone else in a bad light. Lofty goals, we know, but at least we’re trying.
  1. We pray for one another. If I’ve asked for prayer for something coming up during the week, I’m sure to get a text from Janine at that specific time, telling me she’s praying. I value her prayers.
  1. We accomplish more together than we could individually. When we decided we wanted not just to study together but to serve together, Kim, Janine and I dubbed ourselves Friends of the Heart and developed a website. We have now spoken to more than 10,000 women over the last ten years. Neither one of us could have developed such a ministry on her own.
  1. We know we’re not alone on the journey. We relate to each others challenges and walk each other through tough times holding hands.
  1. We rejoice with each other. I might feel like I’m bragging if I tell a friend that an article was accepted for publication, but Michelle and I know the struggles of writing, so we can genuinely rejoice together when one of our articles finds a home.
  1. We hold each other accountable. At times we set weekly goals and check on each other the following week: Did you make that call? Did you read your Bible today?
  1. We enjoy each other. With Kim and Janine, it’s fun to meet over a cup of tea or coffee, and in between meetings, we keep in touch by phone, e-mail or Facebook. Not a week goes by that we don’t laugh about something—often funny stories about Kim’s classroom antics or a corny joke that Janine can hardly share for laughing. I visited Michelle this past summer, and we plan to get together again this fall. She has become a special friend.
  1. We alert each other to life. I’m way ahead of them journeying down that road, and they watch me relate to adult children and keep in touch with grandchildren. Not that I’m a perfect model; sometimes I serve as a model of what not to do. And I learn about today’s world through their eyes.

Now I realize mentoring relationships may not appeal to everyone. But everyone can plug into some sort of group. I attend a Bible study at my church, and I’ve watched our group knit and share more deeply as the years go by. I also appreciate discussing spiritual direction in Sunday school classes.

If there’s no group that appeals to you, start one—a book discussion group, a young moms group, a teen moms group. You might ask someone to partner with you to pray. It’s always a blessing to hear someone else pray for your needs. Or like the women I’ve mentioned, ask an older woman to mentor you; if you’re an older woman, offer to support a young woman who might benefit from your expertise.

So get connected. You’ll be challenged and blessed. Don’t be afraid of deepening relationships within the body of Christ. After all, God made ministry a group project.

Read more about Friends of the Heart in Janet’s new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing later this year.

Please comment to let us know other ways you’ve made valuable connections with other Christian women.

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www.friendsoftheheart.us

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Give the Gift of Encouragement at Christmas

encouragement-daily-bread

Last week, I mentioned that I’m always wondering what God will have me share with you and often He waits until the end of the week to let me know, but He always confirms the topic in several different ways. Thursday night at our Couples Bible Study, we were talking about when “Saul,” who was persecuting Christians, had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus and became Paul the evangelist. Someone in our group mentioned how hard it must have been for the persecuted Christians to trust Paul and believe he had truly repented. I reminded the group it was Barnabas who believed Paul’s testimony and assured Christians they could believe that Paul’s conversion was genuine. Barnabas mentored Paul in his new faith.

Then Friday morning, I opened up Our Daily Bread devotional and the topic was “The Gift of Encouragement.” Who do you think they were talking about? Yes, Barnabas and the story I just told you with the added explanation that Barnabas means “son of encouragement.” So there it was . . . God wanted me to talk about encouragement at Christmas. I’ve received so many emails, comments, and social media messages of how last week’s post, Who Will Care for the Widows and Fatherless Children, was a timely reminder, so I’m trusting today’s blog post will be also.

How Was Barnabas an Encourager?

In addition to encouraging Paul in his faith, we see in Acts 4:36-37 that Barnabas sold a piece of property and donated the money to help other believers in need. Sometimes encouragement does involve tangible giving when someone is facing a lean Christmas. Some churches take food and toy boxes to families in the community and in their church who are going through hard times and those parents are so grateful and encouraged that their children will have a “normal” Christmas like all their friends.

But encouragement doesn’t always have a dollar sign attached to it. As I talked about in last week’s blog post, no matter how many gifts you give someone who has just lost a loved one, the pain and loss remains.

Or maybe you’re experiencing a difficult time yourself, but you can still be a source of encouragement to others this Christmas. Here are some ways I thought of, and I know you can add to my list.

Give the Gift of Encouragement by Letting Others Bless You

Letting others bless you might seem strange because isn’t this supposed to be a blog about encouraging others? Yes! When others want to bless you and you let them, it’s a source of encouragement to them. Let me give you an example of what I mean. I have a sweet neighbor with multiple sclerosis, now confined to a wheelchair. With the biggest smile, she said to us, “We want to have you over to dinner some time.” I responded to her dinner invitation, “That would be lovely, just let us know what we can bring.”

Can you imagine how discouraging it would have been to her if I had said something like, “Oh, no, that would be way too much work for you. We couldn’t possibly have you go to all that trouble.” I’m sure the smile would have disappeared from her face with disappointment. So often what we see as work is another person’s joy. Have you ever had to practically arm-wrestle someone to let you bless them? We need to learn how to receive kindness, hospitality, and love joyfully and graciously. When we let people use their God-given gifts to bless us, it’s a source of encouragement to them and we both get blessed.

blessings

Give the Gift of Encouragement by Letting Others Know When They Bless You

I recently received a comment from Lisa telling me how much she enjoys Monday mornings to see what I’ve written in my Monday Morning Blog posts. Wow, that encouragement will keep me writing those posts for another year. I have no idea if the posts are even being read, except for the occasional comment like Lisa’s, and then one day in church a young woman came up and gave me a hug and told me how much my blogs and Facebook posts ministered to her. Another encouragement blessing boost!

The Lord knows just when I need a jolt of encouragement to keep going.

Everyone needs the gift of encouragement . . .

  • My hairdresser says she can always count on a text from me telling her how someone loved my latest haircut. I know that encourages her and she blesses me with a fabulous hairdo.
  • Tell your pastor how his sermon blessed you. He hears complaints, but how often does he hear encouraging words?
  • Let your husband or kids know how their latest accomplishments bless you. Wow that would encourage them!
  • If you hand out Christmas gifts or bonuses to employees, how about telling them sincerely how they are a blessing to the company. Watch production soar.

What other ways in your life can you let others know how much they bless you?

Give the Gift of Encouragement with Your Words

We all know how words can tear down or build up.

  • As women how often do we look at another woman with a critical eye as we check out. . . her outfit, makeup, hairdo … how about switching that appraisal to looking at everyone with one encouraging sincere word to say to them.
  • Tell the person struggling to lose weight how pretty she looks or what a nice outfit she’s wearing.
  • When you ask someone what they’re doing for Christmas and they say nothing, instead of saying that’s too bad or telling them what you’re doing . . .  invite them over.
  • To the person who is struggling with an illness or surgery at Christmas, don’t try to fix it or tell them another person’s horror story, ask how you can pray for them and what can you do to help.
  • When someone cooks a nice meal for you, say “It was delicious, thank you” instead of “You shouldn’t have gone to all that work.”
  • Be as gracious and kind with the words you use with your family, as you are with the words you use with your church family.

Give the Gift of Encouragement by Telling the Christmas and the Easter Story

I cringe when I hear Christians talking negatively about Christmas. This is our time of year. This is our celebration. This is our Savior’s birth. If any time of year, Christmas and Easter is the time we should be joyfully sharing the encouraging, free gift of salvation with everyone we meet.

While many say our actions speak louder than words, we use words to tell the salvation story, the Gospel. People need to hear how Jesus lowered himself to the status of a baby born to a virgin, and lived as a humble man until he started his ministry at the age of thirty. After three years of performing miracles, teaching, preaching, casting out demons and healing the sick, he was crucified on the Cross to bear the sins of those who turned to Him for forgiveness of their sins, repented, and believed in Jesus as the Son of God who rose again in three days so every believer could have eternal life! Now that’s a “Christmas story” to tell.

Our loving actions will open the door to share the Good News story, but we must take the next step and tell the salvation story to hearts seeking forgiveness and repentance. The gift of eternal life is available to everyone, but not everyone accepts and opens it.

Can you imagine a more encouraging Gift to give someone who is not saved then to share the Christmas and the Easter story with them! Because you really can’t tell one story without the other . . . now can you.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

 “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” John 3:16-21 The Message

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Why Aren’t All Christians Extending Grace and Forgiveness to Trump?

praying-for-trump

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what it means to be a saved, forgiven Christian, granted grace and mercy when I was so undeserving. Our Couples’ Group is studying Pastor Tony Evan’s Victory in Spiritual Warfare and he used a term I’d never heard before: “unsaved, saved person.” I realized that was another term for backsliding, which I did for seventeen years—saved at a youth camp at the age of eleven when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and then living an ungodly life from my late twenties until early forties, a backslidden believer. Saved but living like an unsaved person, until I rededicated my life. I write about this time in most of my books—it’s my testimony—of how God redeemed me and has used me About His Work since the day I gave my life fully back to Him.

God forgave me for my sins as a “born again” young girl on fire for the Lord, and He never withheld His love or protection, even as He watched me do things that broke His heart and were so unworthy of someone who knew better. It was as if for seventeen years, I had blinders on, until Pastor Greg Laurie asked at a Harvest Crusade if I was ready to die that night. I wasn’t. God had been gently bringing His prodigal back to Him, as I had recently turned my dating life over to God and was dating the man He had picked to become my husband.

I’m so grateful I was attending Saddleback Church, which welcomes sinners and seekers and offers restoration, hope, and forgiveness for those who are willing to repent, ask for forgiveness, turn from their wayward ways, and follow Jesus’s biblical ways. I married my godly husband Dave, blended our two families, graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary, quit my secular job, and started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry as a rededicated, divorced, remarried woman. I always was shown love, grace, mercy, support, and encouragement at seminary and Saddleback Church.

I felt so unqualified and ill equipped, but my church gave me the tools I needed, as I took a huge prayerful step of faith. I was the least likely woman to start such a ministry . . . many churches might not have let me serve. But I said, “OK” when God called me to “Feed my sheep,” and He did the rest. As a result, twenty years later, Woman to Woman Mentoring is an international ministry blessing thousands of women in Titus 2 mentoring relationships.

Dr. Charles Stanley’s wrote in “Faith Barriers,” In Touch Magazine October 13, 2016:

When we are called to serve, our strength, skill, and wisdom do not matter. Rather, it is the Lord who does the work through us. He doesn’t seek out the most qualified person for a particular job, but instead calls men and women who are willing to surrender themselves to Him. When His strength works through their weakness, it is obvious that only God could have achieved the result.

A Disturbing Lack of Forgiveness Among Evangelicals

Trump has always said that as a child he was a saved Presbyterian, but I think he was probably an “unsaved, saved” backsliding Christian, like I was, most of his adult life. Michael Anthony on Godfactor.com shares part of an interview with Dr. James Dobson about Trump’s recent salvation this past summer. Dr. Dobson has seen a change in Trump and only God knows the condition of his heart, which is true for all of us. Anthony also explains how we all mature in our faith at different degrees: some are like microwaves—the change is instantaneous–others are like crockpots.

Anthony and Dobson both called for prayer for the new  “baby Christian” Trump, but I’ve not seen or heard much prayer for Trump, who represents the conservative political agenda in this election. Instead, I’ve seen more stone throwing and rock slinging at him from evangelicals for his past transgression, right along with the progressive liberals. Many Christians who are so distressed when called “deplorables” and “haters” by the liberals, have called Trump–their own candidate–terrible, unkind, slanderous names.

I can only wonder how many new believers would last if we treated them all that way? And why are Christians doing that, when evangelism is all about sharing the forgiveness of sin and grace of Jesus Christ?

In a political move, tapes of vial things Trump said over eleven years ago became public and many Christians and prominent ministry leaders reacted as if he said them yesterday. I’ve seen tapes of him surrounded by the many Christians he has on staff as he prayed for forgiveness, he asked publicly for forgiveness during the debate, and yet, so many Christians are unwilling to grant him forgiveness. Why?

If he is saved, God forgave him and wiped the slate clean from all the things he did before, just like He did for each of us when we became Christians. And God forgives each of us when we mess up and ask for forgiveness, but many evangelicals pulled their support and backlashed him, refusing to show any grace or mercy.

How would any of us feel if that is how our past sins haunted us as new believers? Badmouthing Trump and not looking at the real issues in this election, is just what Satan wants us to do. Letting Trump’s past transgressions divide us, another score for Satan.

Trump is a flawed man, as has been, and will be, every president, but he’s the first one I’ve seen who actually chose a born-again Vice President who told his testimony in the VP debate. He has Christians like Ben Carson on his team mentoring him, who see the bigger picture of the Supreme Court picks that will make decisions that will affect our religious freedoms for the next thirty years! Which will determine whether we as evangelicals can voice our faith publicly in the future in a blog post like this!

With men like that surrounding him, if not saved, he’s certainly a seeker, and aren’t we as evangelicals supposed to help draw seekers to Christ?

We Need a Refresher in Forgiveness

Christians are forgiven by the grace of God, and we need to extend that same grace and forgiveness to others, including Donald Trump: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7

Yes, that would apply to Hillary too, but so far, she has only made excuses for her bad behavior, justifies supporting the things God detests, and puts political spins on her lies. Her agenda is anti-Christian and anti-God. I haven’t seen her sincerely ask forgiveness for anything, but she does need prayer to repent. Wouldn’t that be a wondrous miracle of this election!

4 FORGIVENESS MYTHS

MYTH #1:  Forgiveness must be quick like God’s forgiveness

TRUTH:  Forgiveness is a process

MYTH #2: If I forgive, that means that the offense was “ok.”

TRUTH: Forgiveness doesn’t turn sin into good. Sin is always wrong.

MYTH #3:  If I forgive the person gets off the hook.

TRUTH: Sin always has consequences.

If Trump, really accepted Christ – and has asked for God’s forgiveness—it’s important to understand and apply 1 Timothy 1:12-16 and the apostle Paul’s own words about himself:

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

Let’s start showing grace, mercy, forgiveness, and pouring out prayer for Trump. He was not my first choice, but he is the candidate for the conservative platform. This election is not about a person, it is about the platform, but God cares about every person’s eternal life. Instead of helping to feed the media beast, let’s pray for a flawed man who is being:

  •  made publicly accountable for past sins
  • humiliated and humbled
  • attacked and assailed
  • refined, renewed, and reformed

He could just be the unlikely person who becomes the future leader of America and allows us to put God back in the public square for generations to come. God could do that!

If you’re not clear on the difference between the two political platforms, Franklin Graham has it available.

To check out Lance Wallnau’s Facebook Page for a Spiritual Warfare Guide to the 2016 election.

To read a passage where Jesus saw the good in someone who wanted to serve, but the religious Pharisees only saw her as a sinner read Luke 7:36-50.

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Choosing a Mentor

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I was asked to review Kara Tippett’s book, And It Was Beautiful. I knew a little of Kara’s story that she was a young Christian mom of four and author who had lost her battle to breast cancer, but during her valiant fight she blogged her thoughts. Not just about the cancer but what was happening in her life, her thoughts, her struggles, her joys. Being a three-time breast cancer survivor myself, I wondered if it would be too painful for me to read Kara’s book, but it was just the opposite . . . I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it was sad, but her writing seldom made me sad. Instead, I got a chance to meet a very special woman who loved the Lord, her family, her church, and her friends and she left them and us a treasure in her blogs, which were more like having a chat with her.

When I came to the chapter titled “Choosing a Mentor,” I knew I had to share it with you. I received permission to share her words in this blog and in my new book releasing next year: Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Enjoy!

Choosing a Mentor

By Kara Tippett

Apart from the Holy Spirit, it has been the mentors in my life who have made the longest-lasting, deepest impact on who I am as a person. Some mentors were women I specifically asked to mentor me. Some were women who opened their lives wide open for me to watch. But both nurtured new strength in me. Here are a few things that have served me well in finding a mentor.

First, do they love their family well and speak with love and admiration of their husbands? Can these be areas of tension and struggle in a family? Yes, but I look to see if their overall desire is to move toward a spouse and children, and not away.

Second, do they speak vulnerably about weakness, or are they more concerned about appearances? I have found this area to be critical. I struggle to share openly with someone who wants to appear they have it all figured out. I look to see if they are willing to speak openly about where God is challenging them, and are open about themselves without bashing others.

Third, and most important, do they seek Jesus in their moments throughout the day, especially the mundane? Do they see their neediness and weakness, and are they able to be wrong and be corrected by Scripture?

When Jason [her husband] was a youth director, we had the privilege of seeing kids who truly loved Jesus. From that observation, we often sought out their parents. We wanted to sit at their feet, eat at their table, and watch how they did it. I love to watch someone discipline with kindness. I love to watch someone including their children in the events of the home. I love watching someone loving their spouse creatively. And I really love to see women involved in community building. You can receive a lot of mentoring just by watching.

Common interests help as well. I have had mamas show me a craft, women who love to write as well as read, ladies who love to garden, build a fire, and cook, and women who just cannot get enough of their Bibles. I often try to enter the life of a person who might be a good fit as a mentor in a place of common joy. I want my mentors to be my friends, as I want to befriend the women I mentor.

Things to be wary of? Be careful of people who like to gossip. Be willing to be flexible. Mentoring relationships take on so many different looks. Sitting down across from one another with Bibles open every week? That’s an awesome model, but it’s certainly not the only one. Look for someone who will promote freedom in Christ, not tie you up in a load of legalism.

Finally, as you search for a safe place, be a safe place in return. God loves seeing us seeking Him together.

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts bolding added.

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved. Shared with permission.

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Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

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6 Things NOT to Say When Someone is Hurting (And What to Say Instead)

6 Things NOT to Say When Someone Is Hurting

My friend, fellow author and a The MOM Initiative mentor mom, Lindsey Bell, has a new book, Unbeaten, that I wanted to share with you this week. In today’s blog post, Lindsey shares about something I write about also in both Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer (The-Top-Thirteen-Things-to-Do-or-Say to Someone with Breast Cancer) and Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? (The Top Fifteen Things Not to Say or Do to Someone Experiencing Infertility). It’s hard to know what to say, or not say, to someone who is in deep emotional or physical pain and so often we say something that hurts rather than helps. We’ve all been there: had something hurtful said to us, or said the wrong thing to someone else.

6 Things NOT to Say When Someone is Hurting (And What to Say Instead)

By Lindsey Bell

One of the most important aspects of mentoring is ministering to someone who is going through a hard time.

Unfortunately, there is often confusion as to what is best to say when someone is hurting.

We want to encourage people, not make their pain worse, but we don’t always know what to say.

After each of my four consecutive miscarriages, and during the years of waiting, testing, and grieving, people tried to say things to me that would comfort my broken heart. They meant well, just as most people do when they attempt to comfort someone who is hurting.

Unfortunately, many of their well-intention words did more harm than good.

Here are a few things you should never say to someone who is hurting (and a few ideas of things you can say instead).

  1. You just need to trust God (or God’s timing or God’s plan, etc.).

While this might be true, it’s not a helpful thing to hear right after a loss or while the pain is still fresh.

Instead, say, “I’m so sorry.”

And that’s it. You don’t have to offer answers to someone going through a hard time.

  1. There’s a reason for everything.

Really? Are you sure?

I guess this might be true. There probably is a reason for everything, but maybe that reason is simply that life stinks sometimes. Maybe that reason is that bad things happen.

Maybe there isn’t some theological, deep reason that God allowed this trial into their life. It’s possible, of course, there is a deeper reason. Maybe God is planning to use this situation in some really huge way.

But isn’t it also possible that this bad thing happened simply because it happened…not because it was a part of some huge plan?

Instead, say, “This stinks.”

  1. At least you have….

At least you have another child…. At least you had X number of years with him. At least you have …

I think the reason people say this is because they want the person who is hurting to focus on his or her blessings.

And though it’s certainly helpful to count your blessings, there’s also a time and place for grief. People need to grieve, and pointing out the positives in their situation does not help them grieve.

Having one child does not make the loss of another any easier to swallow. (It might serve as a distraction, but it doesn’t negate the loss of the other child).

A loss is a loss, so it’s better not to minimize that loss by bringing up the positives in the situation.

Instead say, “Can I pray for you right now?”

And then actually do it. Right then. Right there.

  1. Next time will be different (or God is going to fix this or something similar).

I can’t count the number of times people told me this. After our first miscarriage, they told me our next pregnancy would be different. It wasn’t. After our second miscarriage, they said it again. It wasn’t.

The truth is, we don’t know what the future holds, so it’s better not to pretend that we do.

Instead, say, “I’m going to the grocery store. What can I pick up for you?” Or, “I’m running by Sonic. What kind of drink would you like?”  

People mean well when they say, “Let me know if I can do anything.” But most likely, people won’t take them up on their offer. Instead of offering general assistance, offer to do something specific.

  1. I know how you feel.

No, no, you don’t. Even if you have gone through something very similar, it’s not exactly the same because you are not the same person.

No two pains are exactly the same.

Instead, say, “There are no words.”

Because really, there aren’t. There are no words that will instantly fix their situation.

  1. God won’t ever give us more than we can handle.

This statement bothers me for two reasons.

First, is makes it sound like God is the one handing out the painful situations. God allows death, but I don’t think he “gives” it to us.

Secondly, I’ve never seen this idea in Scripture anywhere. In fact, I’ve seen many examples of the opposite.

I’ve seen God allowing really hard things into peoples’ lives so they will learn to trust in Him.

Instead, say NOTHING. Just be there.

What other things would you add to this list?

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

This post is part of Lindsey’s blog tour to celebrate her new Bible study and devotional, Unbeaten: How Biblical Heroes Rose Above Their Pain (and you can too).

To celebrate her book, she’s giving away a HUGE bundle of books! Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. You can get more entries by commenting on other blogs in the tour as well. Get a full list of participating blogs here: www.lindseymbell.com/unbeaten-is-here-win-this-huge-bundle-of-books.

Unbeaten Cover

About Unbeaten:

Why does life have to be so hard? If you’ve ever asked this question, you’re not alone. Difficult times often leave Christians searching the Bible for answers to some of life’s most difficult questions.

Questions like:

Does God hear me when I pray?

Why isn’t He doing anything?

Does He even care?

In Unbeaten: How Biblical Heroes Rose Above Their Pain (and you can too), Lindsey Bell walks with readers through the stories of men and women in the Bible who went through difficult situations. In this 10-week Bible study and devotional, she addresses many of these questions and helps readers learn how they too can be unbeaten.

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About Lindsey Bell:

Lindsey Bell is the author of the Bible study and devotional, Unbeaten, and of the parenting devotional, Searching for Sanity. She’s a stay-at-home mother of two silly boys, a minister’s wife, an avid reader, and a lover of all things chocolate. Lindsey writes weekly at www.lindseymbell.com about faith, family, and learning to love the life she’s been given.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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God's Not Dead 2

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Left for College a Christian, Returned an Atheist

 

First RC College Pre Group of High Schoolers

First RC College Prep Group of High Schoolers

My new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, releases February 9. I have a section on Generation to Generation where I discuss the tragedy of losing the next generation for God, especially college age kids, and what we can do to keep them sold out for Jesus. I also share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter how I ignored the warning signs when my daughter was taught about Darwinism and evolution in High School.

Then right before Christmas, I received this email from Sheryl Young asking if I would consider mentioning her ministry Ratio Christi. Sheryl didn’t know about my new book and I didn’t know about RC, but after I read her note, I knew why God had put us together. Sheryl wrote:

Ratio Christi has 150 chapters on college campuses teaching Christian apologetics – the history, philosophy and science which supports the Bible and the life, death & resurrection of Christ. This strengthens the students’ faith, helps to stem the tide of “youth flight” from church due to the secularization of our colleges, and makes our young people stronger witnesses. We have also now started doing high school apologetics and have a goal of being on all college campuses.

I knew I needed to hear more and I asked Sheryl to write a post for us to discuss. Sadly, what Sheryl talks about here doesn’t just happen in high school and on college campuses. My granddaughter was only in third grade when she was disciplined by a teacher for defending her Christian faith to two girls who were bullying her at school. My granddaughter was the one  called out, not the other two girls.

Her teacher told her not to talk about Jesus again at school, and I told my granddaughter that teacher was out of line and together we looked at the Scriptures:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16

“So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:8

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

As we focus on January as National Mentoring Month, are your children, grandchildren, and mentees ready to defend their faith or will they succumb to teachers or other kids’ taunts? I pray my book encourages parents, grandparents, and mentors to equip their children to stand for their faith when under attack. Are your kids, grandkids, mentees ready? Are you ready?

What a Difference a College Class Makes in a Christian Kid’s Life

By Sheryl Young

“So how was your first semester of college?”

“Mom, dad, I’m an atheist now.”

This dreaded conversation took place in the home of a friend of mine, but it’s happening throughout the United States today. It’s no wonder, with kids from Christian homes hearing the following statements almost as soon as they reach the college campus:

“There is no good reason to believe in Christ.”

“There is no logic or reason to Christianity.”

“You will not mention God in my classroom.”

It should be no secret to any Christian family today that colleges and universities have become a bastion of secularism and atheism. The atheist movement in academia is trying at every turn to move students away from a firm faith in Christ.

God’s Not Dead may be a movie with fictional characters such as a bitter atheist professor and few students with the courage to stand against him, but it is based on real-life events.

Make no mistake. Christian parents and grandparents are doing their children a great disservice by telling them that Christianity is just “because the Bible says so” or “because the pastor says so” or “because I say so.” It’s like sending them straight from grade school to college. It simply doesn’t hold any water in today’s culture.

1 Peter 3:15 says: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (NIV). We don’t show respect for nonbelievers, or ourselves, when we haven’t researched the reasons for our faith. Having “blind faith” may be good inside churched walls, but it won’t be understood by outsiders: it’s foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Josh McDowell, a foremost expert comparing Christian with secular youth, says in The Last Christian Generation: “The majority of our churched young people do not believe Christ is the Son of God, do not believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity, and think ‘doing good’ earns them a place in Heaven.”

What do we expect when they get one hour of Sunday school or youth group, and eight hours in school where they’re taught “there’s no absolute truth” and the Bible isn’t acceptable?

Are We Exaggerating the “youth exodus” from Church?

No. Statistics in various studies show that 50 to 70 percent of American youth drop out of church and leave their Christian beliefs between the ages of 18 and 22. For example, in David Kinnaman’s 2011 book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith, he cites research showing nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15. That’s nearly 70 percent.

The increasing number of atheist professors on college campuses is a direct connection to students losing faith. A study at George Mason University revealed that the percentage of professing atheists and agnostics among college professors is 26 percent higher than the general U.S. population. In addition, 51 percent of professors describe the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while only 6 percent of college professors say the Bible is “the actual word of God.”

We’ve all heard the stories of Christmas song censorship, valedictorians forbidden to mention God, and football teams not allowed to have student-led prayer. Many school districts do not understand – or choose to ignore – the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment on school property, especially when it comes to Christianity. Christian students and faculty are having their rights and viewpoints trampled.

“Political correctness” isn’t limited to public education. Many private schools, even some in Christian denominations, now support the “valuing diversity” theme that makes allowances for those who do not hold to biblical principles.

Let’s hear it from the young people – how do they feel?

I [Sheryl Young] work with a ministry called Ratio Christi, and I thank Janet Thompson for letting me write here about this issue. Ratio Christi (“Reason of Christ” in Latin) is a nonprofit international campus ministry with over 150 chapters, which exist to encourage and strengthen the faith of Christian students through the use of intellectual investigation called “Christian apologetics” – learning the historical, scientific and philosophical evidence that gives logic, reason and credibility to our Christian faith when presenting it to others.

Curtis Hrischuk, the chapter director for Ratio Christi at North Carolina State University, says: “Most of the students we get are confused when they arrive at college. They’re realizing that they don’t have a strong basis for their faith, and they’re looking for help.”

Ratio Christi’s chapter leaders often hear from their Christian students that even throughout high school they didn’t receive a strong basis of theology to prepare them to face the secular pressure once they got to college. Many felt their church youth groups were all fun and games to keep them occupied, or automatically supposed that kids who came to church were already grounded in the faith and didn’t need much help. Some felt they could speak about deep Christian issues with their parents, and others didn’t.

Grant, a student from the University of Alabama says, “My youth group studied the Bible but (the teachers) pre-supposed that we accepted it as truth.”

Or Bentley from the University of Mississippi: “I was missing the historical, foundation principles and background of Christianity.  I felt it was extremely important to understand who God is, why I believe what I believe, and understand how to defend my faith against those who might try to disrupt it.”

Going back to McDowell’s The Last Christian Generation, he writes of his surveys:

  • Only 33 percent of churched youth said church would be part of their lives when they leave home.
  • 63 percent of them don’t believe Jesus is the only true way to God.
  • Only 6 percent of publicly schooled children now come away with a true belief in the Bible.

It cannot continue to be a church mantra, or a mantra in Christian homes, that our blind faith is enough. Not if we want our kids to keep their faith intact and be persuasive witnesses for Christianity later in life.

 Ratio Christi Can Help

RC Large Logo.jpg Ratio Christi (RC) students learn to present factual and philosophical evidence for God in classrooms led by atheist professors or to other groups of nonbelievers – and they often end up getting that opportunity. RC students and leaders invite atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and adherents to any religion to attend sessions and investigate the claims of Christianity in friendly discussions.

The nonprofit ministry’s president, Corey Miller, says, “Students who identify themselves as Christians at the beginning of college, with the rest of their lives and careers ahead of them, are under fierce attack and are leaving the Christian faith in alarming numbers.”

A Ratio Christi club member from the University of Virginia, Caitlin says, “If it weren’t for Ratio Christi, I’m not sure I would still be a Christian.” CaitlinBentley adds, “Ratio Christi has taught me how to converse with others about Christianity. It has helped me become more comfortable about being an evangelist of Christ to others.”

Here’s a student named Blake from a Ratio Christi high school-aged group preparing for college:

“Apologetics has given me compelling evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, and so much more! I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for apologetics, I would not be as effective a witness for Christ.”

Home school groups, school teachers, clergy, church members, parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens are welcome to get involved with RC at all levels, from prayer to becoming RC mentors. Individuals and churches can “adopt a college” to help start a RC chapter if there  isn’t one at their nearest college. Parents might want to learn apologetics along with their kids so that there are no blank stares across the dinner table if a teen comes home excited about what they are discovering.

Learn more about how you can get involved with Ratio Christi, or find a college chapter. If a student can’t find an existing chapter at a college of their choice, or wants to find out how to get involved at the high school level, Contact Us. Young people are our future. Helping them know their Lord is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Sheryl Young is the Media Outreach Coordinator for Ratio Christi, and interviews many chapter students and leaders for RC’s national newsletter.

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