Stop the Politicization of Prayer!

 

Stop the politization of prayer, couples who pray together stay together.

I’m back from cataract surgery. Well partially back, so this will be short but wanted to let you know that I’m seeing so much better. Still working on close up vision, but it will come. Every day is an improvement. Thank you whoever prayed for these two surgeries. I felt those prayers! Speaking of prayers . . . .

The Attack on Prayer

The attack on prayer is what God told me to discuss today. Yes, God talks to me, and if you’re a believer He talks to you too, just like you talk to Him . . . in prayer. As I prayed about the topic for my first blog back, I woke up this morning with a definite word from the Lord: Write about the return to politicization of prayer. “Return” because it was politics that removed prayer from schools. Politics removed mentioning God and Jesus in schools. Politics has removed God from the public square and replaced the ways of God with the ways of Satan.

That’s right, it’s not God’s culture today, it’s Satan’s culture. Jesus talked a great deal about the ways of the “world” and reminded his disciples and followers that Christians—us— are not of this world, we’re only in the world. We aren’t to conform to the world, but change the world.

I [Jesus] am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[a] the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:13-121

Mentoring Can Change the World: Starting with Our Children and Grandchildren

Right now, a federal appeals court has banned prayer at the opening of town council meetings. Because the commissioners said Christian prayers, which they have done for years, the angry atheists and the ACLU filed a lawsuit to ban the prayers, but the ACLJ is fighting back at the Supreme Court. Pray for the SCOTUS to uphold the right to pray before these meetings.

Our President and Vice President called for prayer after the horrific massacre in the small First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX. As prayer vigils were held in that tiny town, the media, entertainers (I use that term loosely), and liberal politicians began criticizing prayer.

Which brings me to the world’s view of prayer:

They don’t understand prayer . . . because they don’t understand God.

They don’t believe in prayer . . . so they don’t believe in God.

They don’t think prayer is “enough” . . . they think action is enough.

They don’t want God’s laws . . . they want culture’s laws.

They mock prayer as weak . . . while they remain arrogant, prideful, and ignorant.

They don’t recognize the power of prayer . . . only the power of man.

They are lost souls without prayer!

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18

Listen to Pastor Paul Buford, who pastors River Oaks Church two miles from Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, when A MSNBC Anchor Asks Texas Pastor if Prayers Are ‘Enough’ After Church Shooting — His Answer Is On-Point

Thoughts and Prayers

Here’s my opinion on the phrase “thoughts and prayers.” Unbelievers say, “My thoughts are with you.” I even heard a member of a media talk panel clarify that he only supported “thoughts, not prayers!”

But Christians often say, “My thoughts and prayers are with you.”  What good are thoughts? Thoughts are how the situation makes us feel and may cause us to do something kind for the person suffering . . . but thoughts aren’t transmitted tangibly, mentally, or spiritually to the sufferer.

“Thoughts” however can prompt us to pray for the person or situation. Every time we “think” about them, the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray. I think a better witness to the unbelieving world criticizing “thoughts and prayers” . . . and a more sincere comfort to those suffering . . . would be, “Every time the Holy Spirit brings you to mind, I pray for you!”

I see social media full of “praying” and prayer emoji’s comments, but we must not write that unless we’re actually praying. It’s often a sentimental response, but we’re lying if we don’t follow through and actually pray for that person or situation. They’re counting on those prayers.

Forsaken God?

If you haven’t read my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I encourage you to read it now! Here is a comment from an Amazon reader who said the book reminded her of the importance of every believer keeping God in the forefront of his or her life, and how we can impact our failing culture.

This is a very thoughtful and timely book. We watch even now, as our society pushes God out of the picture and yet Janet reminds us through scripture as well as personal stories of how much God wants to be in our lives and His goodness toward us. When we remove Him from our lives and our culture, we are the ones who pay the price as we forsake Him. I love the practical application steps at the end of the chapters. They are easy to do and follow and a reminder of the blessings that are available to us when we simply recognize and walk in the goodness of God.

Read Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten today!

I also want to encourage you to watch a new Fox News program, The Ingraham Angle, 10 ET weeknights. We DVR it. Some jealous media critics have labeled Laura Ingraham “The church lady” because she always wears a cross necklace, is bold about her faith on the program, and confronts assaults on religion. I’m impressed with her reporting style and conservative platform. Here is her coverage of “Are Thoughts and Prayers Now Political?”

My Surgery Prayer Witness

I guess I just can’t write a short blog. I’ve missed all of you, so I’ll close with a “prayer story” from my second eye surgery. When everyone left the room after the pre-surgery prep, like the first time, my husband took my hands, we closed our eyes, bowed our heads, and Dave prayed for my surgery. When we lifted our heads and opened our eyes, surgery nurse Martha was waiting with the wheelchair to wheel me into the surgery suite. The room was just as cold as before, and as they positioned me on the table, I began to tremble . . . like the last time. Maybe nerves, maybe the freezing temperature!

Nurse Martha calmly said, “You have nothing to worry about, you’re all prayed up!” I knew then she had seen us praying and waited quietly at the door until we finished.

She was right. I then told her how Jesus had reminded me that morning that He would be watching over the surgery. Then I added, “Of course Jesus is always with me. And so many people are praying for me, they’re praying for the doctor, and for all of you too.”

Don’t let prayer become political. Don’t let prayer become controversial. Never be ashamed of a conversation with your precious Lord and Savior. Stand firm in the power of prayer.

Pray continually! 1 Thessalonians 5:17

See also my blog The Miracle of Steve Scalise: A Testimony to the Power of Prayer

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, is available at all Christian bookstores, online book stores, Amazon, Kindle, and signed by Janet at her website store

Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten is available at all Christian bookstores, online book stores, Amazon, Kindle and signed by Janet at her website store.

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Touching Another Generation (TAG) by Tammy Keene

If you receive my blog by email on Monday mornings, you may have noticed it didn’t come the past three weeks. I did have cataract surgery, but also had some amazing guests each Monday and just discovered there was a glitch in WordPress. Thanks to my amazing web designer Holly Smith at Crown Laid Down Designs, who diagnosed the problem, we’re coming to you this morning with guest Tammy Keene. Here are the blogs you missed:

Hope For All Seasons by Renee Fisher

The Lasting Fruit of Mentoring by Pam Farrel

Could Mentoring Have Protected Young Actresses by me, Janet Thompson

I met Mentoring Ministry leader Tammy Keene when she ordered Woman to Woman Mentoring Resources from our website for the mentoring ministry at her church. We developed a friendship as we began to chat through email. I asked Tammy to share with you today how God led her to start the TAG mentoring ministry at her church, First Baptist Church Riverview in Florida, and why she’s so passionate about mentoring.

Touching Another Generation

By Tammy Keene

“When you’re not the same person you used to be, you have no business going where you used to go.” Priscilla Shirer

I love Facebook memories! I love looking at pictures of when my kids where younger and fun memories with friends, but I especially love seeing memories about Bible studies I’ve completed. It’s great to look back at memories and reflect on the lessons I’ve learned, but also the distance I’ve traveled since then.

I resonate with Priscilla’s statement: You’re not the same person….you have no business going where you used to go. This is truth. This is a process that’s easier when you have a trusted Christian woman walking along side you as you travel this journey called life.

Tammy’s Mentoring Story

When I share my mentoring story, I always begin at 2013, but I realize that my mentoring story really began much earlier.

Mentoring relationships at different seasons of my life have blessed and encouraged me. I lived in a Christian home with a godly Mom, who led me to Christ at an early age. As a teenager, a woman of faith at our church came alongside me. She was intentional in our interactions and I always knew I could count on her. As a young adult (and again as a young mom), an Air Force wife spoke into my life! Since moving to Florida in 2004, several women have encouraged me and walked alongside me.

What is the common thread among all of these relationships? Simply, godly women have walked beside me experiencing life together. I’m the woman I am today because of their influence.

I stepped out in faith to launch a mentoring ministry because these women spoke into my life and believed in me!

In a recent sermon, our pastor spoke of the importance of confessing to a trusted friend.

How do you find that trusted someone?

Ask someone to be your mentor. If you’re not sure what that looks like, get Janet Thompson’s new book Mentoring for all Seasons.

This book is a great resource for women. Not only is it the “how to” for finding a mentor or mentee, it’s also a great guide for the different seasons of life. There are testimonies from mentors and mentees who have experienced seasons of life and share how God sustained them through each one.

Saying NO to say YES to God

During Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study, “Discerning the Voice of God,” I learned how to listen for God’s voice. During the “Breathe” Bible study, I found the importance of the word “No.” Priscilla Shirer’s dedication to Kay Arthur and Beth Moore in her “Breathe” Bible study still speaks to me about the importance of No:

For teaching me to say “No.” For inspiring me to put first things first. For showing me by your example the importance of margin and Sabbath. For reminding me that doing everything is not the same as doing the best things.  Thank you. You have taught me that life is better when it has room to breathe.

No is a simple word when used appropriately. For such a small word, I really struggled with it. During our church’s new member orientation, I learned that one of my spiritual gifts was “helps.” I thought this meant I should help with every ministry opportunity. This could not be further from the truth.

As I was obedient to say “No” to new opportunities and began stepping away from other ministries, I felt a great peace. The ministries I was involved in weren’t bad, but they were taking me away from home and pulling my attention away from the lesson God was trying to teach me.

God taught me how to hear His Voice – in a song, a post on Facebook, a sermon at church, and most importantly, His voice heard in time spent in God’s Word.

He taught me that sometimes the right answer really is “No.” As I passed on the leadership for the three Bible studies I was leading, God called two leaders for each one. Two is better than one!

Janet Thompson heard the call to “Feed My Sheep,” which prompted her first mentoring opportunity. During a sermon, I could hear the Holy Spirit speak to me about the importance of a mentoring ministry for our church. Even as I heard the message, I began arguing that God could not possibly want me to start a mentoring ministry.

God confirmed this new ministry in many ways. Within a very short time, God orchestrated mentoring training, the support of the church leadership, and a ministry team ready to begin work launching the new ministry. When I was faithful to let others have the blessing of leading ministries I loved, I was able to prepare for this new ministry. 

If I had not been obedient to God’s desire for me to step away, I would not have launched the mentoring ministry, “Touching Another Generation” (TAG). 

Touching Another Generation (TAG) should be the theme of every mentoring ministry

God taught me that His timing is best. Waiting is hard, but being out of the will of God is even harder. He taught me that walking with a Sister-in-Christ is something we all need, even me.

As we were preparing for the launch of TAG 2016, I was also preparing to return to school to complete my bachelor’s degree. Another benefit of saying No was having the time to devote to school. I still cannot explain how there are enough hours in the week for all God allows me to accomplish, so I won’t try. I’ll just give God the glory.

Tammy’s Passion for Mentoring

Why am I so passionate about mentoring? I’ve been richly blessed by amazing women God has placed in my life!

Mentoring brings the generations together.

Tammy (upper left corner) and her mentor Kathy

A mentor can help you discern the importance of a simple No.

Mentors don’t have to be Bible scholars, just possess a willingness to invest time in the life of another woman. It may become a source of your greatest blessings.

Looking back, I see that God taught me some very important lessons He meant for me to share with others.

A mentor can also help you evaluate the events from your past to help you see the lessons God is teaching you now.

God created women with a desire to share life with one another. Life isn’t a solitary expedition.

In some area of your life, you’re a role model – a person of influence—and another woman needs to hear your story.

Finally, I leave you with Touching Another Generation’s (TAG’s) key verse: Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.”

Mentoring for All Seasons is a book that helps women live out mentoring in all seasons and generations.

Tammy has Mentoring for All Seasons and the Woman to Woman Mentoring DVD packet on display as her church prepares for their TAG gathering. Mentoring for All Seasons and The Woman to Woman Mentoring resources are available at our website shop, always signed by me.
Mentoring for All Seasons is available at Amazon, all online and Christian bookstores, and also in Kindle format.

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Could Mentoring Have Protected Young Actresses?

How Could Mentoring Have Helped Hollywood actresses speak out sooner if the older actresses had taken the time and effort to mentor them?

“Let’s forget about ourselves and worship Christ the Lord!”

Singing this stanza in church yesterday, reminded me of mentoring: a mentor selflessly thinks more about helping her mentee learn to worship Christ than she thinks about herself and the time and effort it might require.

Last week, we learned the awful truth that many in Hollywood—older, seasoned actresses and actors—as well as politicians, knew or had an idea of what a wealthy influential producer was doing sexually to young actresses. But everyone kept quiet until a reporter’s well-researched story finally went public. The perpetrator’s pride, wealth, and influence led him to believe he was indestructible and could bribe or ruin careers of anyone who threatened to expose him, and it seems it worked for years.

Many young actresses defiled and intimidated into believing that giving into his sexual demands and overtures was the only way to advance in the industry. Most became successful by Hollywood’s standards—wealth, Oscars, awards, movie contracts, fame—but at the cost of their own dignity and self-worth. The irony, and yes hypocrisy, is that most of Hollywood lectures and ridicules conservatives, while fostering this travesty in their own camp. Ignoring despicable and decrepit sexual abuse.

Why didn’t these young women speak out sooner? Probably their naivety, intimidation, and desperate desire for a career in Hollywood.

Why didn’t older actresses mentor them with encouragement that they were better than succumbing to this man’s overtures? So many professing “feminist” actresses and female politicians demanding higher pay and better roles for women, didn’t stop this man preying on these young actresses.

Others in Hollywood joked at Oscar presentations, in private, at Hollywood parties where many liberals attended regularly, about what many admit, “Everyone knew or surmised what was happening.”

Some victims tried to speak out but were hushed. No one wanted to hear their story or take them seriously, and the more they protested the fewer parts they received.

Now women are feeling empowered to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and even rape; but it took a male reporter to bring down a sexual predator while the women who knew kept silent.

Reading the Book of Psalms, I see so many Scriptures documenting what’s happening right now: the foundation of deceit, sin, pride, and worldly ways crumbling . . . it always does . . . eventually.

 I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.

In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.
Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.
Psalm 36:1-4

What if someone had mentored these young actresses from God’s Word?

Spread Your faithful love over those who know You,
and Your righteousness over the upright in heart.
11 Do not let the foot of the arrogant man come near me
or the hand of the wicked one drive me away.
12 There the evildoers fall;
they have been thrown down and cannot rise.
Psalm 36:10-12 (HCSB)

Do not be agitated by evildoers;
do not envy those who do wrong.
For they wither quickly like grass
and wilt like tender green plants.

Trust in the Lord and do what is good;
dwell in the land and live securely.
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him, and He will act,
making your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your justice like the noonday.

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him;
do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way,
by the man who carries out evil plans.

Refrain from anger and give up your rage;
do not be agitated—it can only bring harm.
For evildoers will be destroyed,
but those who put their hope in the Lord
will inherit the land.

The wicked person schemes against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him.
13 The Lord laughs at him
because He sees that his day is coming
.

The little that the righteous man has is better
than the abundance of many wicked people
.
Psalm 37:1-9, 12-13, 16 (HCSB)

What if someone cared enough to get involved in the actresses lives, lead them to the Book with all the answers for every situation, and assure them the wicked don’t prosper in God’s economy? Helped them see the choices they make to advance their career stays with them forever—but maintaining their dignity and pride also stays with them forever.

What Can the Church Learn From Hollywood?

This Hollywood “scandal” has uncovered a topic to discuss right now with the young women in our churches. Instead of focusing on the evils of Hollywood and politicians enabling this horrific discovery, let’s use it to talk to young women about protecting their own purity. How often do you hear sexual purity talked about from the pulpit!? The definition of sin . . .any kind of sin!?

How many boyfriends pressure women and young girls to have sex and they succumb fearing he will dump them or ridicule them to peers? How many abortions result because no one stepped into these young women’s lives with God’s truth, assurance of options, and how to live virtuous pure lives? How many, even in the church, have given up on the concept of purity with the attitude: everyone is having sex, there’s nothing we can do, and it’s inevitable? How many Christians have accepted the ways of the world instead of the ways of Jesus?

How is this any different in our churches from the powerful producer seducer and the seasoned actresses staying silent because they didn’t want to get involved, felt it wasn’t their place, or didn’t want to jeopardize their own careers?

I wrote a blog post about this very topic in January 2017: Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity.

Jesus wrote to believers about the ways of the world. Isn’t it our job as Christian men and women to help protect the next generation from the evil one? John 17:15 is our assignment from the Lord.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

In Mentoring for All Seasons, I have tips to help mentors deal with sensitive issues to protect children and women mentees by not ignoring sin in their lives. I also quote Dr. Owen Strachan from his article “What the Future Holds,” in Tabletalk Magazine, August 2015, 22. Dr. Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and president of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, warns what will happen if we don’t:

we will minister to a people who are suffering the effects of rampant sin. There will be profound moral and spiritual consequences of the new sexual secularism. America is in the midst of a spiritual un-awakening. In everyday terms, this means that human suffering in America will increase. Children will be less protected. Families will feel pressure to pull apart. Marriages will prove harder to sustain. Lostness, the chief form of suffering in this world, will spread.

What lesson can the church take and apply from Dr. Owen’s prediction?

How could mentoring prevent his predictions?

What could you and I do?

PS: I’m having cataract surgery October 17 and 31. I appreciate your prayers for a smooth recovery, but while I’m healing, I’ve invited wonderful guest bloggers to share their thoughts and stories with you, until I can return to writing. I hope to be back with you soon.

Excerpts from Mentoring for All Seasons used with approval from Leafwood Publishers.

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Older women should teach and train the younger women.

 

 

Mentoring in a Season of Tragedy and Uncertainty

Mentoring during a time of tragedy and chaos is exactly what will help women incurring loss and fear in today's undertain times.

Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, riots, death tolls, North Korea, ISIS, our country divided . . . . Not to mention illness, dreaded diagnosis, family unrest, divorce, prodigals . . . . Protests against our President, Christian values, and God. Tragedy and uncertainty assails us when we turn on the news or browse through social media or listen to talk shows. No wonder many are living in fear and dread of the next crisis because there seems to be a new one every day. If there isn’t a crisis, the media creates one.

You may be wondering why I would write on this topic the day before Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness officially releases tomorrow, September 12! Because mentoring is invaluable in all seasons of life; so yes, I include a Tragedy Season. It’s not if tragedy happens, it’s when! At sometime in our life, we’re all going to need mentoring or we can mentor from our experiences.

What a blessing to see so many using social media to mentor from their experience with a crisis. As hurricane IRMA headed toward Florida, many who had just experienced hurricane Harvey in Houston were helping Floridians prepare by posting lists of what to stock up on and how to prepare their homes, cars, families. Those who lived in safe areas were offering shelter to strangers. The news couldn’t help but report on how everyone was pitching in to help each other through the many tragedies and losses that occurred from these hurricanes.

Many focused on thanking God that they were still alive even though they lost all their earthly possessions and would have to start all over again. In at least nine states, including Idaho where I live, fires are raging out of control and air quality is unhealthy from the smoke. Christians experience tragedy and loss just like everyone else; it’s painful and hurts. In the Season of Tragedy in Mentoring for All Seasons, I point out that “We desperately need assurance from someone who survived a crisis with her faith not only still intact, but stronger than before.”

There are also Mentor Tips on what not to say or do with a mentee. The main one: don’t minimize her feelings or make her seem like a bad Christian because her faith is tested and she questions what God is doing. The Mentee Tips point out that the mentor can’t make everything right in the mentee’s life; but she can offer encouragement, a source of Christian love, hope, support, prayer, and understanding.

Several Scriptures I suggest to study together during a tragedy or crisis are:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Math. 28:20b

“Remember your promise to me;
it is my only hope. Your promise revives me;
it comforts me in all my troubles.” Psalm 119:49-50 NLT

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11-12

There are so many others, especially in the Psalms. Journaling or writing down feelings helps to get them out too. A reminder that what feels overwhelming and horrendous will reflect God’s love for us and be our testimony somehow, someway, someday.

Like many of you, I have family in Florida and it’s hard not to obsess over every report of hurricane IRMA. But I’m in Idaho so instead of feeling hopeless and helpless, my husband and I pray continuously (1 Thess. 5:17). Just like the Scriptures tell us to do. We didn’t just pray for our family; we prayed for everyone suffering—maybe that meant we were praying for some of you and your loved ones.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to turn hearts back to God. Whatever you think of our President, or whether or not you voted for him, he declared Sunday September 3 a National Day of Prayer. He couldn’t stop the hurricanes, the flooding, the winds, the next hurricane, the loss of homes, the heartache, but he could try to turn hearts back to God through prayer.

That gesture got very little coverage by the media or his critics, but it’s exactly what will start the healing process in everyone’s lives. We need revival in our country, and God’s people need to lead the way back to a country founded on “In God We Trust.”

In Mentoring for All Seasons, you can read more helps and tips on being a mentor and a mentee during tragedy, uncertainty, and crisis on pages 216-217. In the Mentor and Mentee Shares section, author Heather Gillis tells her tragic story of losing her young son. A mentor helped her take the healing step of writing, which led to Heather mentoring many suffering women. Exactly what mentoring is all about! Chapter Thirteen: A Difficult Season, covers numerous difficult seasons women encounter, including Illness and Health Issues—Yours or a Loved Ones, and many more.

Here’s how you can help me spread the word about Mentoring for All Seasons!

If you’ve followed my blog and the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, you know my heart is not about book sales. My passion is to bring the generations together and help them live out God’s direction for all Christian women in Titus 2:3-5. I give all the glory to God for allowing me to be About His Work, by blessing me with the incredible privilege of starting this ministry, and then, blessing me again with the unexpected ability to write!

If you feel lead to help share the mentoring message of this new book, here are some ways:

You can also tweet from all the tweets in this blog.

Thank you! It’s a privilege and honor to connect with you each week. Please let us know by leaving a comment how we can pray if you or a loved one has been in the path of Harvey or Irma.

Mentoring Helps in Seasons of Tragedy and Uncertainty. A mentor can share from her experience and comfort and pray with a troubled mentee.

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is available now on Amazon, Kindle, and Signed by the Author at her website.

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. She is also the author of Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

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

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning Blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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Mentoring Can Change the World: Starting with Our Children

Last week, my eleven-year-old granddaughter and her friend were here to participate in a kids’ Drama Camp at our local outdoor theater. Both girls are baptized Christian tweens, at a perfect age for mentoring as they enter into middle school this year. We’ve been doing my Bible study Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ together via SKYPE, or in person, for quite a while. We’ve had lots of discussions where I help them use Scripture from their Bibles to apply to their young lives. They have so many questions and are at a crossroads between not little girls, but not grown ups either. As tweens, they’re soon going to have more freedoms to make decisions—but not the wisdom that comes with maturity.

Every parent has heard the excuse, “But everyone else is doing it.” I remember my parents saying something like, “If everyone jumped off a cliff would you too?” Sadly, today many kids and adults are jumping off the moral and spiritual cliff to fit in with the culture, or they’re afraid to express beliefs that differ from the worldview.

Even children are bullied for supporting America’s president when their accosters usually don’t even understand why they’re reacting so violently. Where do these young bullies learn this reaction? Television, the internet . . . perhaps parents, grandparents, or even teachers?

I watched an interview of high school kids encouraged by their teachers to ditch school and participate in a protest march. Those kids had no clue why they were marching or what they were protesting?! They weren’t trying to change the world; they were being changed by a worldview they didn’t really understand.

We may want to pull the covers over our head and ignore the unrest in the world. But the parting words Jesus gave to His disciples regarding Christians’ place in the world, the Great Commission, reminds us there’s work to do, starting with our children.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

However, the last page in the Bible also foretells that the world will always have good and evil.

Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” Revelations 22:11

We all want our children and grandchildren knowing and doing what is right and holy, even when their peers encourage them to do wrong and vile acts! Parents and grandparents are the ones responsible for teaching and instilling these virtues. We cannot rely on the schools, and sometimes not even our churches.

The important thing is to help them not grow weary or discouraged doing good. Some things have helped me be a world change agent, while not letting the world change me. Maybe these will help you too in guiding and mentoring your children or young mentees.

Use the Word of God and Help Your Children Learn Scripture from Their Own Bible

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

Teach them to paraphrase if they need to, but God’s Word applies to every area of life in every century (Heb. 13:8). Jesus used Scripture when tempted by Satan in the desert and taught the disciples to pray “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). Help them memorize Scriptures to resist temptation. My granddaughter’s friend said her Dad is teaching her Psalm 23 for when she’s afraid.

Stay Civil and Polite But Stay Firm in Your Convictions

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

Satan is the ruler of this world, so those caught up in the world’s cults, atheism, alternate belief systems or lifestyles, feel compelled to challenge us for our faith in Christ, and they have devised a myriad of unkind words to call us. The hurt runs deep when it’s aimed at our Lord and Savior. So our first impulse is to engage in a debate. If you’ve ever tried arguing or reasoning with someone blinded by the world’s belief system, you know it’s usually futile. I mentor my granddaughter that her best answer is “This is what I believe because the Bible (or God or Jesus) tells me so.”

Other times, believers fall into the same trap the serpent used with Eve when someone asks them, “Did God really say…?” Simply say, “Yes He did, and I’ll find the Scripture for you.” Jesus didn’t come to sanctify the world’s ways, He came to save the world from its ways.

The World is In Darkness So Let Your Light Shine

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. John 3:18-20

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

The world loves darkness. Yet into this dark world came Jesus, the Light of the world, and He has hidden His light in each believer’s heart. Our light must shine brightly, no flickering. When we enter a room, a social media conversation, a family or friendly gathering, work, play, school, as parents, grandparents, employers, employees, kids . . . wherever life takes us . . . our light shines, even if we’re the only light for Jesus. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 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 15:18-19

We are living in a lost world that is loudly anti-God and anti-Christian and influencing the next generation. We can’t be quiet. Our job as Christians is to be world-changers for Christ. We must worry more about what God thinks about us than what the world thinks. Our job is to put God back in the public square and reach the world with the love of Christ. It may be hard for kids to get this point, but they do need to know that there will be people who won’t like you for not agreeing to do the wrong thing. They may try to bully, dare, entice, make you feel bad, but that’s just because you doing the right thing convicts them for doing the wrong thing.

Don’t Give Up!

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. John 17:15-21

We’ll never have a perfect world until Jesus returns, but as long as we have breath, we’re saved to make a difference in the world. Start your children young believing this means them too! Maybe it’s their friends, sports coaches, unsaved relatives…teach them to pray. Here’s a prayer to start with:

Dear Lord, though the world does not know you, I___________ know you, and I pray that you will let the world know that you have sent me as your servant. Help me make you known to a lost world and I will continue to make you known where you put me so that the love you have for me may be in them also. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to live in my heart. Amen. John 17:25-26 personalized and paraphrased as a prayer.

Just a reminder that my new release Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness has helps, tips, encouragement from Scripture for mentors and mentees from tweens to twilight seasons. It’s available for sale now. If you would like to participate in the Prayer and Launch Team to help spread the message of this book from coast to coast, woman to woman, contact Janet ASAP.

Look for in Christian Bookstore and on

Amazon or Kindle

Or

Signed by the Author

Author Bio

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

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

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

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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

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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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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!

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God's Not Dead 2

Left for College a Christian, Returned an Atheist

 

First RC College Pre Group of High Schoolers

First RC College Prep Group of High Schoolers

  In my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, 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.

With the influx of liberal professors on college campuses, it’s vital that parents know about the mentioning ministry Ratio Christi.

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.

 Sadly, this 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

In my new book releasing September 12, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness I stress the importance of tweens and college age children and young adults having a mentor so they are ready to defend their faith and not succumb to teachers or other kids’ pressure when their faith is under attack. Statistics are alarming of the number of kids who went to church faithfully while home, but stopped going to church once they went to college.

Sheryl Young is one of the national leaders of Ration Christi and she shares with you what parents can do to help their children stay strong in their faith.

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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United We Prevail, Divided We Fail

Anita and me at Crouch Community Church Women's Retreat

Anita and me at Crouch Community Church Women’s Retreat 2013

God has been talking to me this week about the need for unity in the body of Christ, especially as we face these uncertain times. With the daily assaults of world events, and the diversity of reactions and responses from believers, we come face to face with how Satan is using disunity to invade not just the world, but also the church. How the God who wrote that a house divided against itself cannot stand must be heartbroken as He watches His creation, His church . . . His world . . . crumble. As a body, we are quick to point out the failings of the “world” and the liberal agenda, but how closely do we look at the failings in the earthly world of Christ?

Satan is using the very morals and values the church was built on, recorded and upheld in the Bible, to successfully divide the church. It’s no longer only about music and pews or chairs that divide churches—as ridiculous as those issues seem to me—it’s about moral issues and the definition of sin. How did we get here? How did we let Satan implode the church? It was subtle and sly as he always is, but today there are many churches where it’s hard to tell the difference between them and the world.

Through the Eyes of Our Children and Grandchildren

Last Monday was grandparent’s night at AWANA’s, so my husband and I proudly accompanied 10-year old granddaughter Katelyn. She asked me to help her with these study verses in Acts 2:44-47:

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

As we answered together the questions about these verses describing the early church, I thought: This must seem so strange to Katelyn. She doesn’t see this happening in the church today. The answer is right here why there are not more people saved daily today. All believers do not have everything in common and they don’t enjoy the favor of all people watching them. Instead, we are ridiculed and not taken seriously by the world because often it’s hard to get two Christians to agree on the same topic.

We may look at the early church as utopia: a community that we all crave, but don’t believe is possible today. During those early days, the power of God overcame the selfish individuality of people united in awe of God. What happened?

Chris Tiegreen answers that question in The One Year Devotional:

“Spirit-filled fellowships turn into institutions, with all the baggage institutions seem to require. Personal agendas and concerns begin to rival one another, and eventually fellowship is corrupted or even broken. The body of Christ becomes a collection of churchgoers, and instead of one heart and mind, there are many.”

His antidote:

“Drop the personal agenda. Fill your days and nights with overflowing praise, letting the character and work of God become your obsession. Encourage others to do the same. Churches unite when they can focus on a single goal.”

That single Goal: Jesus.

If we focus on our differences, our focus is on each other. If we focus on unity, our focus is on God!

This morning in my Quiet Time, as I studied John 13-17, the author of my Walk Thru the Bible Devotional asked: What’s the difference between union and unity? Take a dog and a cat, tie their tails together, and hang them over a clothesline. The result will be union, but not unity!

Christians too often experience union without unity in the body of Christ: church fights and splits prove that unity is not automatic in the church. Throw out a spiritual or moral question on Facebook and watch Christians differ.

I wrote an article for Crosswalk.com “What the Divorced Christian Wants You to Know” and I was appalled to read how churches have treated their own. One person even responded that Christians are the only ones who condemn their own. Another was from a former Muslim, who had converted to Christianity and was ostracized from her Christian church because she was divorced. I read the comments with tears for the many Christians who do not understand, or have not experienced, confession, repentance, forgiveness, and grace. This blog was reposted @ IBelieve.com and the comments there from hurting divorced Christian women broke my heart.

Today’s blog is not about divorce, but you can read my articles and the comments if you choose.

“When the Bible speaks about church unity, it speaks of unity not at the expense of truth, but on the basis of it.”—Daily Walk

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

“It [unity] turns a common gathering into a priestly community, able to communicate God to humanity and vice versa. It [unity] points to His character for those who don’t know Him and it confirms His presence among those who do. Unity is the best evidence that God is living, active, and where the fellowship is.

God desires our unity because our unity shows the world who He is and how He works. If we don’t have it, they won’t know Him.—Chris Tiegreen

Do you still think unity is Utopian? I don’t. I witnessed unity among diverse faiths just yesterday. The Mormon Church in our little mountain community hosted a women’s Christmas luncheon and invited women of the community from all faiths, and those with no particular faith. For the fourth year, since I’ve lived here, I’ve attended at the invitation of my sweet Mormon neighbor, Anita, who also attends our church women’s retreats and events. As I looked around the room yesterday, I saw that over half the women there were from my church! The theme was Christmas from Different Cultures, and various women shared the traditions they grew up with, including a Dutch woman from my church.

We sang Silent Night together in different languages. We listened to “Mary Did You Know.” We prayed together. We ate amazing food from different cultures together. And we celebrated the birth of Jesus in united fellowship together. My Dutch Christian friend, along with a Mormon woman, each gave a testimony of how amazing and Christ-like this gathering was that even with different theologies, we could meet as women of the community in fellowship and unity. What a witness to any unbelievers!

Next Friday, our church will do the same with a Women’s Christmas Dinner inviting all the women of the community. There will be women from the Catholic Church, Calvary Church, Mormon Church, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, gay couples, unbelievers, unchurched neighbors, seekers, friends, and family. They’ll eat together, enjoy a gospel message, which I was honored to give my first year here and last year, talk, sing carols, watch a puppet presentation, and show the world that while we may have our differences, one unifying message will prevail: Christ was born on Christmas Day to offer forgiveness and salvation to a lost world!

How are you bringing unity into your community?

And how will it be a witness to the world?

How else will the world know Jesus?

Jesus prayed:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.—John 17: 20-23

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As I was finishing this blog, I took a lunch break and was scrolling down on Facebook, and came across a post by Barbara Faber Kopitzke @ www.facebook.com/GodsWordinEverydayLife, which had been shared by one of my Facebook friends. I almost choked on my turkey sandwich as I saw that God had prompted Barbara, who I did not know, to write on the same topic I was writing on here. Yet another confirmation from God that in the face of the evil we see in the world, we must stand strong and united as one body in Christ. I asked Barbara if I could share her post and so I will leave you with her very well stated words and the picture she used. You will want to follow Barbara for more posts and articles.

Repairers of the Church Breach! By Barbara Faber Kopitzke

broken churchWe are so much better unified. The things that separate us are very often minor compared to the bigger issues we face in this world. The very thing that should bring us together, being the Church Body, is what separates us. Church walls aren’t meant to divide one segment of the Body from another, but they very often do.

Imagine the results if the physical church building we each attend was crumbled and scattered, the way the spiritual Church Body often is: one stone here, one brick there.

Refuse to be a separator: be the glue which unifies. One group prays this way, another prays that way, one worships this way, another worships that way. The important thing is not that we do it differently, but that we both believe there’s a need to lift prayer to God, and we do it!

One focuses on evangelism, the other on prophecy. One meets in a house, the other in a building. Thank you, God, that Your Body is fully operational, each specializing in the gifts You’ve given them to use for Your glory!

Forgive, let go of hurts, and know that many have been damaged and have damaged; you are not the only one. But God is the Restorer and Repairer, He is willing and able to close the gap and repair the breach! We are His instruments of repair and restoration – let Him use you for this purpose! If God can forgive them, so can you – this is the beginning of repairs and restoration!

Hold nothing against the Church down the road; love and be loved, there is power in this!

Amen!

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Christians Arise!

As many of you know, I have a new book releasing on February 9, 2016, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. In the book, I talk about how the Lord put this book on my heart nine years ago, and as I watch world events unfold, I understand why God waited for this book to release now. We’re all watching the outcome of a world that has forgotten God. While the culture tries to politicize moral issues, nothing will ever out trump God’s Word; but all of us will suffer the consequences of those who try to do just that.

I worry the most about the future of those who do not believe in Jesus, and the next generation, my grandchildren. Let me share with you a post I put on Facebook the morning after the horrendous attacks in Paris by Islamic terrorists this past Friday:

My grandkids knew nothing about the Paris attacks yesterday, but when I told them today was mommy and daddy’s 17th anniversary, 10 yr old Katelyn said: “They were married 3 yrs before The attack.” She meant 9/11. So many adults have become complacent and forgotten something we all said we would  NEVER forget . . . a horrendous atrocity/tragedy on American soil. Yet Katelyn is marking personal history by it.

Then the kids went on to talk about ISIS and a rap song about Sandy Hook. That’s the world our children and grandchildren are growing up in as “normal.”

What are we doing to make this world safer for them? I am daily reminded of the timeliness of my Feb. release “Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.” May we never forget but be forever vigilant and never rest until everyone we know, knows Jesus as their personal Savior!

This is our time as Christians to arise and tell the world about the hope that lives within us . . . just like we did after 9/11 . . . but not like the complacency that followed when everyone went back to “life as normal.” I have a chapter in my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer that talks about “‘Normal’ Isn’t Normal Anymore.” There’s no going back to “normal” after cancer or terrorists attacks. Terrorism may never be completely eliminated: that’s the new normal in our world today. And yet, much of the energy and effort of our government and culture focuses more on eliminating God than the evil’s of terrorism. Yet, without God, evil reigns.

But we Christians know the truth and we need to arise in unity and speak out, step out, and reach out as fast as we can to everyone in our sphere of influence who doesn’t know the Lord. We must not be reacting in anxiety and fear like the rest of the world, but tell others about the origin of our peace, Jesus Christ! Being a Christian isn’t just about our own salvation and maturity in Christ, it’s about the Great Commission that every Christian is called on to go and tell the Good News to a lost world.

Remember all the good God has done in your life and share that with someone today. Their eternal life depends on it!

Here’s the proposed back back cover of Forsaken God?. Does it challenge you?

Our morally deteriorating culture has forgotten God’s goodness to its own peril. Will the next generation even know God? The very survival of the Christian faith depends on creating a culture of God-memories that must start now!

Today’s culture is quickly forgetting the goodness and power of God. The Bible describes the potential destruction through all generations to people who forget God. The dangers are paramount. If we don’t remember what God already has done, we won’t believe what he is capable of doing in the future. Memory builds faith.

“Forsaken God?” explores biblical examples of forgetting God as God repeatedly pleads for his people to remember his mighty acts and deeds. As you read this captivating book, you will have an opportunity to recall your own memories of God and learn new ways to remember God’s goodness and the power of sharing those memories with the next generation. The author and other contributors share open and honest stories of forgetting God’s goodness and offer ways that help them to remember.

“’Forsaken God?’ isn’t a book propagating guilt, it is a how-to manual showing us practical as well as spiritual ways to restore the romance in our relationship with the Almighty.”
—Anita Agers Brooks, inspirational business/life coach, international speaker, and award-winning author of Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over and First Hired, Last Fired

“Thank you, Janet, for giving us what we need: not another self-help book, but a well-timed reminder of profound truth: God is good.”
—Jocelyn Green, author of Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives

I hope you will help me get the word out about this book written to mobilize Christians and the church who might have . . .

You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent.–Revelation 2:4-5, 3:3

Forsaken God? is available right now for pre-orders on Amazon! There isn’t a picture yet of the cover on Amazon, but I’m excited to reveal the cover to you as we have just finalized it after much prayer.

ForsakenGodfina (2)

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