Why I Have Hope for Katy Perry

My book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents, is about a prodigal, aka me, raising a prodigal. As I’ve read about Katy Perry’s recent public confessions of why she turned away from her childhood Christian faith, I saw a certain parallel to my life. No, I never became a multimillion dollar, outrageously popular pop star, but I did turn my back on my Christian faith after my divorce and became a very successful businesswoman living a worldly life while raising my prodigal.

Katy’s father is a pastor and her childhood home was faith-filled. In her public therapy session aired on Viceland, she went by her birth name Katheryn Hudson. Faithwire wrote an article from this session, Why Kathy Perry’s Rejection of Her Childhood Faith Should Concern Every Bible-Believing Christian. They quoted Hudson as saying, “I grew up with a lot of born-again Christian beliefs around me, and so I had people around me — like-minded people — and I would say it was a bit of a bubble,” Hudson explained. “I was a very curious person, and the curiosity — sometimes it wasn’t allowed because you had to have faith.”

The article goes on to say that Hudson explained she was “curious about what was going on in the rest of the world, and how they lived, and what they saw as they were living . . . I felt like I was missing out.” She decided to explore her singing career further to “pop [her] own bubble, to get out of [her] own situation.”

“I guess I was just trying to get out of one way of thinking. It was like ‘do as I say, no ifs, ands, or buts. It was based on my religious upbringing… I have so many questions. I ask all the questions in the world, and all the questions in the world have gotten me to where I am at now.” [To read the whole article]

There is so much in that last statement about finding answers in the world, which made her rich and famous, but spiritually bankrupt denouncing her faith and  singing songs with provocative, shocking lyrics and movements that many young girls listen to and imitate.

Why did she turn to the world for answers? Because she couldn’t find answers to her questions in the church. She was raised around born-again Christians, but never actually says she was born-again.

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I challenge the church with that same thought: “If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to. Not encumber them with rules easily broken, but guide them toward a relationship they wouldn’t forfeit or jeopardize for anything.” I ask the question: “How many are making sure their children and grandchildren understand, accept, and embrace the Christian lifestyle? How many know, for certain, their children have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

Again I warn in Forsaken God?: “The church failed to reach out to the next generation with a message relevant to the world they live in today, but the secular world was ready and waiting for them. . . .Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.”

I stress exactly what Katy Perry said she couldn’t get from the Christian “bubble.”

They need mentors and parents to have the tough, honest discussion about abortion, sexuality, sexual exploitation, marriage, same-sex attraction, transgenderism, radical Islam, cults, drugs, alcohol, suicide . . . whatever they’re facing in their world.

My “Katy Perry” Story

When I left my good-girl Christian lifestyle, even though I was a born-again Christian since age eleven, I felt just like Katy that I was missing something “out in the world.” Satan makes sin seem fun and enticing. And there were plenty of people ready to teach me the “world’s ways.” I was naïve enough not to understand how quickly I was being sucked into that lifestyle.

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home like Katy was, but I did have a very devout grandmother who planted the seeds of faith in me. My mother would drop me off at church, but I was on my own. I loved everything about church and did find mentors and “spiritual mothers” to answer my questions until I went away to college and there was no one guiding me not to marry an unbeliever or pray with me about my choices.

What Brought Me Back to the Lord?

After seventeen years of backsliding, I was invited to a Harvest Crusade where Pastor Greg Laurie asked the crowd if they were ready to die that night? The Lord had gradually been bringing me back to Him through attending Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, and I knew the answer to Pastor Laurie’s question was, no. I rededicated my life to the Lord that night and God has been using me About His Work ever since.

I think Katy Perry, Katherine Hudson’s, public “therapy” session is her cry for help. I know she feels God on her shoulder calling her back with every provocative move, word, and action she uses to try to separate from Him.

What Can We Do?

Katy Perry’s mother, a minister’s wife, author, and a mentor to many Christian women, has some advice that she shared in an interview by J. Lee Grady, Charisma News, “How Katy Perry’s Mother Praises God Through the Pain.” Grady asks: How does a Christian mother handle it when she sees her daughter drifting so far from the values she taught her?

“The devil definitely tries to steal my joy,” Mary told me. “I sometimes have to fight depression.” A few years ago, Mary anchored her soul to Psalm 113:9, which says, “He gives the barren woman a dwelling, making her the joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!”

“That verse inspired her to write her 2015 book, Joyful Parent, Happy Home. Mary believes if you want your children to live for God, “You have to get happy and stay in the ‘God zone.’ Mary’s close friends also support her unconditionally. And she asks new friends to agree with her in prayer for a miracle turnaround for her daughter . . . Mary believes parents of prodigals must focus on others rather than wallowing in their own pain. For the past 11 years she has poured her life into women who attend her Arise conferences.” The full interview is at CharismaNews.

Mary also mentioned something important that I share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: show unconditional love to your prodigal, and as much as it is up to you, keep the lines of communication open.

Praise God, both my daughter and I enjoy a wonderful relationship with God and each other. I now have precious grandchildren to help pour into spiritually. I want to make sure I’m not just telling them what to believe, but helping them come to their own conclusions. To feel free to ask us questions and to help them solve their faith problems without giving them the answers we think they should arrive at. To help them develop problem-solving techniques and know where and how to go to the Bible when they question something happening in the world.

When they ask if I know that Katy Perry “used to be a Christian,” we talk about the fact that if she did give her heart to Jesus as a child, she still is a Christian, but she’s not living like one, so let’s pray for her.

The 6/26/17 issue of Time Magazine, quoted Katy’s apology for “criticized acts of cultural appropriation”: “I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying I did it wrong. And sometimes that’s what it takes.” Let’s pray Katy hears from God that she’s been doing wrong and apologizes to Him. Someday, Katy could have an amazing testimony and God will use it for good. Pray it’s soon before she influences more young girls and women for the world.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

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PS I just realized this is the end of June already and should be Love Your Body Monday, but this post was on my heart so I’ll post a Love Your Body blog for the 4th of July week!

Are You The Woman Today You Want Your Daughter to Become?

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I’ve been writing, editing, and proofing a new book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Last week, I turned in my final proof edit to the publishers, Leafwood Publisher, as I anticipate it’s September 12, 2017 release. Then I learned the exciting news that this book is now on Amazon ready for preorders! You can order now, and as soon as it’s in stock at Amazon, you’ll receive your pre-release copies. The more preorders, the more they bring in stock. Will you help me get this book into the hands of mentors and mentees, those wanting to know how to be a mentor or mentee, and Women’s Ministry Directors to guide women in all seasons of their life.

This book will guide and equip women from tweens to twilight seasons in how to biblically mentor or be a mentee! I think it’s the first book of it’s kind written for both M&M’S! One endorser has already said every Women’s Ministry Director needs this book in her library. As the summer goes on, I’ll share more tidbits about this book for all women.  So drum roll please . . . I’m unveiling the cover!

The Mothering Season

When I speak to women about mentoring, I tell them that their first mentoring responsibility is to their daughters if they have daughters or nieces. They’re the role model for these young girls and they’re mentoring to them what it looks like to be a woman today: either a woman of the world or a woman of the Word. And then, I ask the question: Are you the woman today you want your daughters to become because they’re watching you, and as much as they don’t want to be like you, they will probably become just like you at sometime in their life.

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share how during my backsliding years, my daughter wanted to be just like me. I realized some of the poor choices she was making were a reflection of the poor choices she was watching me make.

That was a huge revelation to me that I needed to make some changes in my life. When I did rededicate my life to the Lord and start living a godly life, she didn’t want any part of it. She liked the way we were living more by the world’s standards than by God’s ways. And that’s the story I talk about in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. I went down on my knees and prayed Scripture for her daily for six years; all the time showing and role modeling for her the blessings of being a rededicated woman of faith.

I’m happy to say our story took a happy turn and Kim did eventually give her heart to Jesus, and she has done a much better job than I did raising her three children in a Christian household. She’s mentored them in character qualities that her two daughters and son are obviously noticing. For a school project, 3rd grader Sienna was to write why her mom should be in People Magazine. I must admit, I was troubled by this teacher’s choice of a magazine that 3rd graders had no business knowing about or writing an article for, so I was relieved when Sienna said she had no idea what People Magazine was, anyway!

But what did impress me were the character qualities Sienna wrote that she saw in her mom. My daughter is a fitness instructor with a fabulous figure, she’s gorgeous, dresses stylishly, and always looks beautiful. So when Sienna decided to write about why her mom should be on the cover of People Magazine, she easily could have talked about these superficial, outward qualities, but at eight-years old this is what she wrote, exactly how she wrote it, no edits from Grammie:

My mom should be on the cover of the People magazine. My mom’s name is Kim Mancini. My mom is medium height, has brown hair, and her eyes are brown. There are so many reasons why my mom should be on the cover of the People Magazine.

One of the amazing things about my mom is that she is trustworthy. My mom trusts me all the time. My mom does not lie. My mom is trustworthy with my whole family. Now you know why my mom is trustworthy.

My mom is the most honest person in the world. She is honest with me. She once said, “Do not be scared that’s not real.” My mom is honest with my grandparents. There is no doubt, my mom should be on the People Magazine because she is so honest.

My mom is so helpful. My mom helps me when I am hurt. My mom helps me with my homework. She helps me get ready for school. My mom should win an award for being the best mom ever. My mom is the best mom in the world.

By Sienna

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Sienna’s mom, is trustworthy, honest, and helpful. Later she wished she had included hardworking. Isn’t that what every mom wants all her children, not just her daughters, to say about her?! Good job Kim.

What would your kids write why you should be on the cover of People Magazine?

The Mancini family. Sienna is next to her brother

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Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

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

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

Two marches embodying two opposing concepts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Satan was watching and saw God say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Start a Pure Body Revival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s make purity popular again!

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

share-odb-2017-01-30

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

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

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

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

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Three Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years of Marriage!

wedding-picture

Yes, as you read today’s Monday Morning Blog, December 19, 2016, hubby and I are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary! Several of you have mentioned you enjoy learning a little about my life lessons in these Monday mornings blogs, so as I pondered what to share with you so close to Christmas, I thought what better words of wisdom than what God has taught me about loss, life, and love in our marriage. I hope you’ll keep reading, even if you’re not married, because the principles God has taught me can apply to any relationship.

Loss of Expectations

Our wedding, just six days before Christmas, was a second marriage for both of us. Dave had three children and I had one daughter. I was single for seventeen years and Dave only a few years. The kids ranged in age from fifteen to nineteen, so I didn’t anticipate any problems in everyone living happily ever after.

Well, if you’ve blended a family or been around one, you’re probably laughing hysterically about now. Blending didn’t come without its challenges, and we all brought baggage and different ways of doing things from our original families. I learned right away that I was going to have to lower, and in many cases lose, my expectations: we would never be a nuclear family. Christmas or holidays or special occasions would always be a compromise of negotiating between two families, which would only become more complicated as the kids married and added extended families with their own traditions.

I couldn’t control who would be with us on what day or at what time . . . or even at all. There has only been one time since all our grandchildren were born that all four children, their spouses, and the eleven grandchildren were together, and that was at Thanksgiving six years ago at our son’s house—it wasn’t even at our home. For Dave’s 70th birthday last year, I had a dream . . . still hadn’t let go of all those expectations . . . of the whole family celebrating together for a reunion at our home in Idaho, where some had yet to visit. But one family couldn’t join us.

Dave and I have learned to pray about each event, and then enjoy who comes and not worry over who doesn’t. That hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn, but it has been necessary to maintain sanity and family relations. It relieves stress, worry, and disappointment when I let go of my expectations and let God fulfill His.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What Divorced Christians Want You To Know

Life Is Ever Evolving

When we were first married, Dave had a wonderful job with great benefits. I was so happy that I would have some relief from the pressures of supporting a family after seventeen years of being a single mom. So after three years, we decided when the last child left home, I could quit my job and go into full-time lay ministry starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church. If you’re not familiar with the term “lay ministry,” it means no pay. I was never on staff at Saddleback. Three months after I quit my job, Dave was laid off from his corporate career and that was the end of a corporate job with benefits and great income . . . forever!

Read more of that story at About His Work Ministries.

Dave eventually found various labor-intensive jobs, until the last one resulted in him having to have reconstructive foot surgery and medically retire, which is how we ended up moving to Idaho. I tell that story, along with his multiple layoffs, in Dear God, He’s Home!: A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-At-Home Man.

Right before Dave’s second layoff, I had my first battle with Breast Cancer and started radiation two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Little did we know then that I would go on to have breast cancer two more times, and 6 ft. 4 in. Dave would take a job that had him in a uniform crawling on his belly under houses and in attics. But through it all, God has kept me About His Work, and used us in a mighty way. Dave supports me as I write and speak for the Lord. Dave is my helpmate with his techie abilities, helping with the website, and for those of you who receive our newsletter, I write the articles but he puts it together.

Dave now travels with me when I speak, and the women really appreciate how we work as a team with him “manning” the book table. I used to pray that God would send me an assistant . . . I just never expected it to be Dave. Our personalities and gifts are polar opposite, but God has taught us, as life has evolved over these twenty-four years, how to combine our differences into a united effort working together for the Lord. What Satan tries to pull apart and use to separate us, we’ve learned to identify and let God make us stronger and better together.

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

Love Jesus First

pastor-pete-marrying-us

If you’ve read Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter or Dear God, He’s Home! I talk about a Marriage Builders course taught at the time by Pastor Pete McKenzie who married us [picture above]. On a whiteboard, Pastor Pete would draw a triangle with God at the pinnacle, a stick figure man in one lower triangle corner, and a stick figure woman in the opposite corner. Then he would draw an arrow across the bottom of the triangle explaining that when we have our eyes on each other, we’re the farthest apart. Next he would draw arrows up each side of the triangle, explaining that as we each move closer to God, we move closer together.

triangle-charm

On one of our early anniversaries, Dave had a charm made for me (picture above) symbolizing that triangle with the pearl of God at the top and our birthstones on each corner. Yes, my birthstone is a diamond! As long as Dave and I remember to keep Jesus first in our lives, everything runs smoothly in our marriage, no matter how our expectations are dashed, or how our life is evolving for good or bad. But if we take our eyes off Jesus, even for a moment, chaos can reign in our home.

All relationships have challenges, and so often those magnify at Christmas and holidays. I hope the three lessons I’ve learned in my marriage, will help you maintain peace, joy, and Jesus’s love no matter what your circumstances or challenges this year or in the New Year. They’re definitely not the only three lessons I’ve learned, but they’re definitely at the foundation of all the others.

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” Ephesians 6:24

Merry Holy and Blessed Christmas to all my dear friends and family.

wedding-on-boat

 

Remember Not Every Woman is “Happy” on Mother’s Day

motherbouquet

My daughter Kim and I were just on the phone making Mother’s Day plans. As we chatted about what we would do to celebrate her being the mother of my three darling grandchildren, and me being Kim’s mom . . . my mind wandered back to a Mother’s Day twelve years ago that wasn’t so happy for Kim.

In Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? A Companion Guide for Couples on the Infertility Journey, Kim shares a painful and heartbreaking Mother’s Day:

Dear God,

It’s almost Mother’s Day and I don’t know if I can handle seeing all those happy moms at church and brunch. I’m trying to focus on my mom and not think about how I’m missing out on being a mommy on yet another Mother’s Day. This year is especially hard since we’ve been trying to be parents for so long and so hard, only to be repeatedly disappointed. At the store looking for a card for my mom, I see the cute cards at the end of the aisle “To Mommy”…oh God, I wish I were someone’s mommy! I look away and continue focusing at the task ahead, getting my mom and mothers-in-law their cards.

Today’s the day, it’s Mother’s Day. I don’t think I can bear it. It’s just begun and already I want this day over. I pull myself out of bed and get ready for church. I’m not looking forward to the sermon about children being a blessing and honoring mothers. God, help me focus on my mom.

We met my parents at church and I put on my happy face, when inside I was crying watching all the mothers with big smiles dressed in pretty spring dresses and children running all around. This was a day of celebration and I just wanted to go back to bed. The pastor started the message with asking all the mothers to stand up. Hundreds of women stood and everyone applauded. I couldn’t take it any longer and sat slouched over in my seat quietly crying. Toby put his arm around me and my mom held my hand, but nothing took away the pain. I barely heard the rest of the message.

After brunch, I came home, collapsed on my bed, and cried myself to sleep where I remained the rest of the day. God, please don’t make me go through another Mother’s Day with this hole in my heart. I want to stand up in church with all those other mothers beaming from ear to ear and have everyone applaud me. God, please let me stand up next year.

Some of you identify with Kim’s cry out to God.

“I hate Mother’s Day!” admitted a dear friend longing for a baby. “You know that women struggling with infertility don’t go to church on Mother’s Day.” Kris agrees, “I was that mom-in-waiting for sixteen years. I stayed away from baby showers, church, and pregnant friends. I didn’t stop praying, but it was the worse pain.”

Lisa concurs, “I am guilty of having skipped church on Mother’s Day a few years before we adopted my son.”

Someone You Know is Struggling with Infertility

Mother’s Day is especially hard for mommies-in-waiting, but for most of these women, every day is hard. With 1 in 6 couples experiencing infertility, you are, or know, a woman experiencing this heartache. Often we don’t know what to say to them, so we say nothing, or maybe unintentionally say something that makes them feel worse. Kris says, “We cannot ignore them [women longing for a child]. I know how hard it was for people to talk to me. But I would have loved it if they did.”

Avoidance only adds to these hurting women’s feelings of isolation and loneliness. When you don’t know what to say or do these suggestions might help: “Top Fifteen Things Not to Say or Do and to Say or Do to Someone Experiencing Infertility.”

It breaks my heart to hear that many women say the one place they feel the loneliest is in the church. Doesn’t that break your heart too? Jesus said he came for the sick, and that includes heartsick. The church should be a safe place for the hurting, not a place where they feel shunned or like outcasts.

How does your church comfort mommies-in-waiting on Mother’s Day … and every day?

Mothers of Prodigals

Mothers of prodigals are another group of women who dread Mother’s Day. They may not know where their child is, or know all too well where he or she is, and that breaks a mother’s heart and the heart of God. These moms need comforting, a hug, and assurance that this day is for them too.

Mothers Who Have Lost a Child

A mother who has lost a child, lives with that grief every day, but Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of the precious child they lost. I can’t imagine that pain, but I watched the sadness in my Granny Reed’s eyes that was always there over the murder of my father, her beloved son, a week before his 37th birthday. She had six other living children who she loved dearly, but there was always pain for the one she lost.

Women Who Have Lost Their Mother

Mother’s Day is about celebrating your mom, but there’s a void and ache that never goes away when your mom is no longer living, and Mother’s Day becomes a sad reminder of all the years you celebrated her on Mother’s Day. It can also be a joyous time of remembering, but still there’s no one to buy a card for, give a hug to, and a special gift for the years she devoted to raising you. Even after you become a mom yourself and your children are celebrating you, there’s a generational celebration as you are still somebody’s little girl, just all grown up.

I hope that you will not ignore but love on the mommies-in-waiting, the moms of prodigals, or the moms who have lost a child or their own mom, who may need a shoulder to cry on . . . a prayer . . . an understanding hug this Mother’s Day.

If you’ve been where they’re at, mentor them like only someone who has been in their shoes can. If you haven’t been in their shoes, let them know you can’t possibly understand, but you’re there for them and God is too!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”—1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

Lindsey Bell shared another helpful blog post on my website 6 Thing Not to Say to Someone Who is Hurting (And What to Say Instead)

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Dear God, Why Can't I Have a Baby coverproddaughterbookcoverjpg1-661x1024

 

Grandparents Changing the Culture

A Million praying grandparentsIn the Generation to Generation section of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I stress that the most important task for parents and grandparents is to pass down to future generations the goodness of our Great God, and help their children and grandchildren enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus.

Lillian Penner, National Prayer Director for Christian Grandparenting Network (CGN,) and an endorser of Forsaken God?, shares my passion for mentoring the next generation. Lillian has a dream of A Million Praying Grandparents committing to pray intentionally and regularly for grandchildren and their parents. I asked Lillian to share her dream/passion with you because I believe you share my concern for our grandchildren and children growing up in a broken world that has forsaken and forgotten God.

I joined the Million Praying Grandparents as a grandparent who prays Scripture daily for our eleven grandchildren. It’s part of my morning quiet time, and I have seen God do amazing things, which I write about in Grammie’s Corner in my monthly online newsletter. This month you can read how 7-year old Sienna surprised Grampa and me when she announced that she wanted us to pray with her to accept Jesus into her heart. That blessing was the answer to many morning prayers.

Sienna and KatelynI learned about praying God’s will by praying Scripture for Sienna’s mommy. I share more about this way of praying in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.

MESSAGE FROM LILLIAN PENNER

In a movement to unite grandparents to pray intentionally for the next generation, Christian Grandparenting Network is launching a globale prayer campaign for 2016: A Million Praying Grandparents. Can you imagine the impact of one million or more grandparents praying for their grandchildren?

The Mission Field

The mission of CGN is the mobilization of grandparents throughout the world to commit to pray daily for their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s parents. In Christian Living Today, Editor, Randy Swanson, wrote:

The role of Grandparenting is becoming more important than anyone would ever have imagined. The rescue of our culture may well rest on the shoulders of today’s grandparents.”

Perhaps at no time in history has the call been more urgent for intentional prayer.

If you grasp the urgency of our time, then I urge you to join the Million Praying Grandparents movement, linking arms in prayer for the next generation.

Our grandchildren are our primary mission field.

Sign Up Today to Be a Praying Grandparent

If you’re as worried as I am about the world our grandchildren are inheriting, I urge you to sign up for the Million Praying Grandparents Movement. By joining, you are declaring your commitment to pray regularly for your grandchildren.

In appreciation for making such a culture-changing commitment, you will receive a free printable copy of a Million Praying Grandparents Prayer Resource to guide in using God’s Word to pray for your grandchildren.

Now you must make a decision:

For the sake of the hearts, minds and souls of your grandchildren, will you say, “YES I will join the Million Praying Grandparents movement?”

Go to the Million Praying Grandparents website and follow the instructions to sign up!

Please also share the vision of a Million Praying Grandparents united in prayer for their grandchildren with your friends and family.

Together we can influence the next generation to know Christ and follow Him wholeheartedly! Together we can change the culture and a world that has forgotten and forsaken God. Don’t let that be your grandchildren’s future.

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

Steve Green wrote a song with the chorus, “Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.” Someday we’ll all just be a memory, but let’s make sure that memory is a good one. In your sphere of influence, starting with your own family and church family, “tell them” all you’ve seen God do and his unchanging truths. Influence the next generations to love and obey God with born-again, Holy Spirit filled hearts.

I pray my [Janet’s] legacy to my children and grandchildren will be—Mom/Grammie was a woman who loved Jesus and lived what she believed.

If you’re a grandparent, you’ll want to join this movement of a Million Praying Grandparents.

If you’re a parent, you’ll want to forward this blog to your children’s grandparents.

If you receive this blog my email, please comment here.

_MG_5006A LIL

Lillian Penner is the author of Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for Your Grandchildren and is the National Prayer Coordinator for Christian Grandparenting Network. An avid blogger, Lillian will break into smiles if you ask about her twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She and her husband, John, live in Portland, Oregon, where they are active in church ministries.

Visit Lillian

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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Is the Light On In Your House?

candle

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

Jesus said to every Christian in Matthew 5:14-16

Have you ever noticed that the Holy Spirit shining through you can either light up a room or clear it? I’ve often told my husband that I wonder if we’re not invited to certain events because of our conservative Christian beliefs. We don’t drink, swear, tell dirty jokes or laugh at them … but we’re a lot of fun, kind to people, and remember everything we said or did the night before!

Proud to be a “Right-Winger”

Recently, I had a conversation that shed some light [pun intended] on why some people might be uncomfortable around us. I was talking with a repairman who had recently done some work in a new neighbor’s house. He described them as: “They’re really nice people, but very right wing! I couldn’t get the h*** out of there fast enough.”

Seeing the shocked look on my face, he quickly interjected, “But they’re really, really, really nice people!”

I thought to myself, Of course they’re really nice … they’re Christians.

A friend recently wrote a blog about her missionary work in Brazil where their group went into homes sharing the Gospel, and experienced the same reaction as this repairman. She wrote:

“The aroma of Christ – Wow! Now I get it! Those whose hearts were open to the leading of the Holy Spirit said “Yes” to Jesus. Those who closed themselves off from the Holy Spirit could not wait for us to leave their house. Either way, God was pleased as we continued to share the awesome gift of salvation.”

Two verses come to mind:

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Ephesians 4:18

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

Then I wondered how many workers or guests had come into our Christian home and couldn’t wait to get out? Probably a few. Our prayer is that they would be attracted to our light and not repelled.

tealights

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10.

My Walk on the Dark Side

For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. Psalm 56:13

I remember clearly what it was like when I was walking in spiritual darkness during my backsliding days, and so I have insight into people blinded to the light of Jesus. Maybe God allowed me to experience those dark days so I would know how to reach people stumbling in the dark, who think their sin is actually fun and become defensive when someone tries to shine the Light into their evil dark world.

During my dark days, I wasn’t ready to listen to anyone, even though God tried many ways to reach me. I can remember making frequent business trips from Orange County to Bakersfield and the only radio station that would come in was a Christian station. Often, the same thing would happen at home.

I also had a Christian girlfriend who was single like me and our children were friends. She would often talk to me about the things I was doing, but I wrote her off as just a really nice friend; but I didn’t let her words penetrate my hardened heart.

Another time, I hired a Christian as an insurance agent to work in my division and he brought several others on board. I remember looking out of the high-rise office-building window and seeing them huddled together in prayer in the parking lot. I was appalled at their open display of faith. I wonder now if maybe they were praying for me. Later, after I rededicated my life to the Lord, I found myself out of a job for professing my faith!

God protected me during the many dark days when I made foolish choices, even as I would sit in church on Sunday morning and know I was going to sin that night. Only by the grace of God did my daughter and I survive my role modeling to her the dark side of a seemingly successful life. I write openly about those days in my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. I was a prodigal raising a prodigal.

Children role model

We’ve All Experienced the Dark

I get so frustrated with those who are intentionally living a sinful life today … stumbling around in the dark, especially those who know better … Christians, who like me, walked out of the light back into the darkness. Satan makes sin seem alluring, just like he did with Eve. He even makes it seem fun. After all, if sin wasn’t fun, why would anyone do it? When the Light shines on that “fun,” we all look back and think how could I have thought that was fun … it was sick and depraved.

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. Psalm 89:15

Those of us who now live in the Light all came out of some kind of spiritual darkness, blinded to the truth of the Gospel. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would choose to go deeper into the dark when they’ve experienced the light, but sadly many do and many are sitting in our churches today. They show up on Sunday, maybe attend a Bible study, and even could serve in a ministry, but they’re living a lie. There’s blatant sin somewhere in their life and the Light is convicting them…but not enough to change their ways.

You know what I’m talking about, the couple that looks so perfect sitting together and smiling through a Sunday morning service and the shock the church feels when they find out the husband has been having an affair for years or is addicted to porn. Maybe that husband was your pastor. No one is above the wiles of Satan! That’s why I am such a proponent of mentoring and accountability. We all have potential to fall away … we need someone shining the light into our life and asking us hard questions.

Our world is falling into darkness at a faster speed than ever in history. Who would have imagined 20 years ago that:

  • The Supreme Court would change the definition of marriage to accommodate same-sex marriage, when homosexuality is abominable to our God and marriage is the sacred replication of Christ and His church?
  • A once God-fearing nation would now try to take God out of every aspect of public life?
  • Planned Parenthood would not only be murdering babies in their mother’s womb, but also be selling precious unborn baby body parts? Barbaric is the word we would have used! Detestable unbelievable!
  • Or that our government would sign a treaty with our enemy and put our ally Israel in direct danger?

And yet, every day, there’s another shocking headline that our world is submerging deeper into the depths of darkness, a mire from which we may never recover.

Where is our Hope?

How do we keep our light shining when the world wants to snuff it out?

How do we stay strong and keep the aroma of a Christ-centered home?

woman-reading-bibleNo other way, but through abiding in Jesus and the Word of God. No other way! Do you believe that? Are you in His Word EVERY day? Are you praying every day for a revival of the Light? Don’t lose hope and don’t lose courage.

If you’ve let the darkness slip back into your life, repent, ask Jesus for forgiveness, and turn from your wicked ways now. Find a mentor or a pastor to help you make the necessary changes and then walk in the Light.

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

Flashlight-BFL-206-If you understand what I’m talking about when I say “live in the Light” then shine your spiritual flashlight into the lives of those you know who need Jesus. None of us knows when He’s coming back, but we do know that He is coming and those still in the dark will be in darkness forever. I hope that’s a sobering thought for you as you think of that relative, friend, neighbor, or co-worker who needs salvation and needs it now.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

Many liberals on the left side are angry, defensive, and lashing out calling us things like “righteous” as if that’s a dirty word. “Christian” is spit out as vial. “Right wing” someone they need to avoid. They’re so angry and mean … because they’re living in a world of Satan’s darkness with no hope beyond this life. This is all they have and they have no hope for any kind of life after death … which could be right around the corner for any of them. Christians say death where is it’s sting, and they cry don’t let me get stung by death.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.—1 Corinthians 15:55-57

I don’t have all the answers as to how God will let you shine your light, but God does, so ask Him. What does He want you to do? How does He want you to do it? Then listen for that still small voice and look for that bright spotlight He’s going to shine on the opportunity. You have nothing to lose, but you just might be the flashlight He will use to wake someone up to the Truth that will set them free from the grip of Satan.

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.

Revelation 21:23-25

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Caught Between Gay and God

The Bible

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

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

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

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

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

You Probably Know a Person Sinning Sexually

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Story

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

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

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

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

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

Here is an example of how I prayed Scripture:

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

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

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

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

Stand Strong

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

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

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

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

If you received this post by email comment here.

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

Balancing Grace and Truth

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

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags

Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

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

I Will Not Be Ashamed!

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

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

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

—2 Timothy 1:8 NLT

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

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

The Christian World is Not Shrinking

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

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

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

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

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

There’s Only One Kind of Christian

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

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

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

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

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

Sin is Sin Even When Our Family is Doing It

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

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

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

Christianity is the Only All Inclusive Faith

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

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

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

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

Boy: “Did you know this?”

Girl: “Yes …”

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

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

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