Love Your Body—Be Brave!

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Should a Christian Do?

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

tell-time-generic

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

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

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

Being Brave Often Requires Vulnerability

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

elizabeth-vargas

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

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

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

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

When you pray to God, there are three answers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s good to be back!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Sadie Robertson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

See the trailer at the movie’s main website.

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

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

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

***

Photos courtesy of Grace Hill Media and Pure Flix Entertainment.

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

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

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

God's Not Dead 2

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A Miracle Story of Love, Family, and Restoration

Ricky praising

Most Sunday mornings, Ricky was in the front row of church, sitting next to his parents Jean and Don. Often Ricky would accompany the worship team by playing the drums, strategically placed for him next to his front-row seat. I’m told that at one time, he joined the praise band on stage.

Ricky and drums

When Dave and I moved to Garden Valley and started attending Crouch Community Church, we didn’t know the history of the Brown family. We did, however, immediately see the love this senior couple had for each other—always holding hands—and for their adult son, Ricky, who occasionally had to have his drumsticks quieted after the music had stopped playing.

You see Ricky was a very special son, and as the church overflowed with family and friends at Ricky’s memorial last week, we learned more about just how special he was. If you have a special person in your life who can’t communicate clearly, or at all, there’s probably a depth of spirit like Ricky displayed in unique ways. God has a way of gifting these special people with love, compassion, and spiritual insight.

Enjoy Ricky’s miracle story, shared at his memorial service, and his family now shares with you:

 

Ricky Lee Brown born August 28, 1956, passed from the arms of his parents to the arms of Jesus on Saturday March 19, 2016, at the age of 59. Ricky left behind . . . for now . . . his parents, Don and Jean Brown, his sisters Sheri, Cindy, and Lindi, and countless family and friends.

Ricky’s life story is one of restoration, the strong bond of a loving family, and the unending miracles of God.

Ricky is the firstborn, and only son, of Don and Jean Brown. At birth, he only weighed 4 lbs. 10 oz., and it took a month for him to gain enough weight to come home from the hospital. This was the beginning of nine and a half months in and out of hospitals.

During that time, doctors and family members suggested putting Ricky in Nampa State School. Doctors said with Ricky’s health and physical issues, he wouldn’t live past eleven or twelve and would never walk. With the overwhelming advice from doctors and family, Don and Jean went through the court system and made Ricky a ward of the state when he was 8 1/2 months old. It was the most painful thing that Don and Jean had ever done.

They visited Ricky regularly and introduced him to his three sisters Sheri, Cindy, and Lindi. Right from the beginning, Ricky was compassionate. Jean remembers one time when he was in the state home, a baby started to cry. Ricky pulled himself with his arms over to the crib and patted the baby, trying to comfort it.

To everyone’s amazement, Ricky miraculously started walking at age eleven—the age doctors had predicted he wouldn’t live past—and he finally stopped running a persistent high fever. His sister, Cindy, started working at the Nampa State School in her late teens so she could spend more time with Ricky.

In his twenties, the family moved Ricky to a group home in the Boise area as part of a new program to try to teach life and work skills to disabled individuals. After Ricky’s three sisters left home, the Browns were able to visit Ricky more frequently.

Ricky loved classic country music and liked listening to it loud!

He also loved to tear apart anything he could get his hands on—radios, bikes, and in later years, his clothes. He loved to gas up the car, even if it was only to top it off.

Ricky could only put five words together, at most, but he used those words to ask people: if they were going to work? If they had a payday? And if they were going to church? Ricky’s happy smile and his thumbs up were his trademarks!

smiling RickyRicky thumbs up

Another Miracle

When Ricky was thirty-seven, he became extremely ill while still living in the group home, so Don and Jean made the decision to bring him home. Doctors told the Browns they would just be taking him home to die, but they said, “So be it. He’s our son, and we want him with us.”

By the grace of God and the help of family, they discovered that the current health problems were yeast related. Jean found a book on how to treat yeast with diet, and she became vigilant with Ricky’s diet and nursed him back to health. This same son, who doctors said would not live past eleven or twelve, would never walk, and was sent home at thirty-seven to die, fully recovered from the “terminal” illness! That’s what God, love, and family can do!

Don and Jean couldn’t bear the thought of giving Ricky up again, so he continued to live with them and they started the parenting season all over again. The Lord redeemed the years they lost while Ricky was in group homes, and they had twenty-three glorious years living together as family.

Ricky and sisters

Ricky’s relationship with his sisters and other family members flourished as he became a part of family reunions, jam sessions, weddings, and birthday parties. As a trio, Don, Jean, and Ricky traveled the country playing music and enjoying countless adventures. One of Ricky’s greatest loves was the drums. He had a set in his room and spent hours listening to music and playing along. He also spent hours tearing his drum set apart. He loved smashing cans and taking them to the recycling center for a “payday,” which he promptly put in the offering box at church.

Family picture

Ricky and Don on horse

 

Ricky and Don camping

As Ricky got older, he enjoyed putting together puzzles and sorting coins or Legos. Amazingly, he was able to put puzzles together picture-side down on the table. For someone doctors said wouldn’t live past eleven, and would surely die at thirty-seven, Ricky enjoyed a long life of almost 60 years surrounded by his loving family, friends, and community.

Ricky touched many lives with his joyful spirit and his love for Jesus. Just as Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Ricky was a great example of childlike innocent faith. We know that right now he is enthusiastically enjoying heaven.

*********

The Brown family hopes that Ricky’s miracle story has been a blessing to you, and especially an encouragement to all who have a “Ricky” in their life. If you have a story to share with the Browns, or want to tell them how their sweet restoration story touched you, please leave a comment to encourage them and pray for them as they grieve the loss of their beloved son.

If you received this blog by email, you can comment here.

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Left for College a Christian, Returned an Atheist

 

First RC College Pre Group of High Schoolers

First RC College Prep Group of High Schoolers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Sheryl Young

“So how was your first semester of college?”

“Mom, dad, I’m an atheist now.”

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

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

“There is no logic or reason to Christianity.”

“You will not mention God in my classroom.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are We Exaggerating the “youth exodus” from Church?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Ratio Christi Can Help

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why Don’t We Ask for Prayer?

I'm not lucky                                            And How Many People Have Prayed For Me!

The day before my mammogram last week, I realized I hadn’t asked anyone to pray for a good result. This wasn’t just a routine mammogram. I’ve had breast cancer three times in 13 years, so I have a MRI or mammogram every six months, and there have been times when it was every three months. It’s been four years since a mammogram showed cancer, so why was I feeling apprehensive?

What Stops Us Asking for Prayer?

Maybe it was because I have a new book releasing in February that I know Satan is not happy about—Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. We were under such spiritual attack while I was writing it, what would Satan do next to try and stop me from sharing the message of this timely book?

Maybe after so many mammograms and MRI’s over the past thirteen years, I thought surely, people had tired of praying for these tests. After all, I had been cancer-free for four years. How could I ask . . . again . . . when there was no reason to expect the test not to turn out fine?

Maybe I feared that no one would pray.

Maybe I knew so many people who needed prayer more than I did.

Maybe I didn’t want to draw attention to a health weakness.

Maybe I dreaded the question of why I chose the type of treatment I did. That question plants doubts, instead of comfort.

It’s a Privilege to Pray for Each Other

But in the back of my mind was the nagging thought: I was cancer-free for six years before the second recurrence, and only two years between the second and third round with this dreaded disease. So time passing isn’t reassuring to me.

I wrestled all day with whether or not to ask for prayer. I kept dismissing the thought and then the Holy Spirit would prompt me again. That made me wonder, even more, why was the Holy Spirit so persistent that I ask for prayer? What did He know, that I didn’t know?

Finally, at 10:00 that night, I put this prayer request on Facebook and got ready for bed:

I’m having my 6 mo. diagnostic mammogram tomorrow. I’ve wrestled with the Holy Spirit all day about His prompting me to ask my peeps for prayer for a continued “all clear.” So here I am again….asking you to pray with me that it’s the Lord’s will that I will remain cancer-free. Thank you dear ones who see this. Appointment at 10:30 am MT.

By the time I turned out the light, thirteen night owl Facebook friends had posted that they were praying. Wow! I slept peacefully.

The next morning, 180 “likes” on my prayer request post and over 70 friends had left a message that they were praying for me. Here were some of the comments:

Praying for you, Janet. Never be afraid of asking for prayer from others.

God will bring you reinforcements when you need them.

Don’t wrestle! Just ask! Praying!

God never tires of our repeated requests. May you sense His presence with you.

Don’t know why you wrestled so much, that’s why you have friends in the Body of Christ for support and encouragement. Of course, I will pray NOW!

Thank you for sharing because I would love to ask the Lord for “the all clear”

That’s the reason I’m on Facebook . . . to pray for others.

Yes, people actually thanked me for asking for prayer and giving them the privilege of praying for me! I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, caring, concern, and prayer flooding the Holy of Holies on my behalf.

Some FB friends were praying who I don’t know personally, be we’re brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Looking back, I realize I wasn’t only wrestling with the Holy Spirit. There was a spiritual warfare going on. Yes, the Holy Spirit was prompting me to ask for prayer, but Satan was provoking me with all the reasons I shouldn’t ask for prayer. That battle went on in my head and heart all day long, but praise God, the Holy Spirit prevailed.

I knew that I had done the Lord’s bidding when I was scrolling down Facebook “home” on my phone as we headed the hour and a half to town for the test during a terrible rain and windstorm. I came across a friend who hadn’t read my prayer request, but her post that day was simply Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I kept that verse on my phone screen all the way to the mammogram, and I knew it was the Holy Spirit’s way of confirming I had won the spiritual battle. The prayers kept pouring in on my phone and I was at peace. I don’t know how the test would have turned out had my friends not flooded the heavens. Did that change the outcome of the test? I won’t know that until I get to heaven, but what I do know is that I will never hesitate to ask for prayers again, and I hope you won’t either.

When the test turned out “all clear,” I posted this message to all my praying faithful’s:

A BIG cyber hug of gratefulness for the many many many peeps who prayed last night and today for my 6 mo. mammogram and ultrasound. If you didn’t see my message on the post…ALL CLEAR and I didn’t have to have the ultrasound.

As many of you know, I’m a 3x breast cancer survivor, the latest 4 yrs ago, so I have of a mammo or MRI every 6 months for the past 13 yrs, and usually it’s no big deal, but this one did seem big. So I can’t stop thanking God and all of you for petitioning Him for me.

You are all amazing and I pray I’m half the friend to you that you are to me. Please let me pray for you sometime too!

PS I celebrated by going wild at my hair appt!!! I have lots of fun red highlights:) Merry Christmas dear friends.

The praises and “likes” for that message started pouring in and filled my heart with gladness and joy!

When I call on JesusSpiritual Inspirations

Asking for Prayer is a Testimony and a Witness

Someone needed to see the body of Christ respond to my public prayer request. It wasn’t just me who needed confirmation that prayer warriors never tire of praying.

Maybe it was you with an “unspoken” prayer request you need to share with someone.

Maybe it was the many who read my Facebook posts and saw the outpouring of prayers.

Maybe it’s someone reading this article.

Only God knows for sure, but often we have not because we ask not. We’re so sure that things are forgone conclusions, that we don’t bother God with prayer…or “bother” our friends.

My dear friends, many of you have prayer requests, right now! Especially at this time of year. Won’t you share them here so I can pray with you and anyone who is reading this blog can lift your request to the most High.

Three times in thirteen years, we prayed the tests would not reveal breast cancer, but three times, they did. But 35+ times we’ve prayed for those same tests, and it was an “all clear.” I’ll take those odds to my knees any day . . . how about you?

Side Note:

I wrote Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey, while recovering from my first occurrence, I had to write a difficult chapter: “It Could Come Back.” Here’s some of what I wrote when I had no idea that, indeed, cancer would return two more times:

Dear God,

Would everybody be there for me again or be burned out on breast cancer and not able to deal with it anymore? Oh Lord, I cannot imagine how lonely that would be. It was so hard the first time; it must be devastating to relive it. In many ways, cancer is like living with a time bomb. You don’t know if it is defused or if it’s ticking away, ready to catch you off guard and blow your life apart again . . . maybe this time actually taking you to a place of no return. I have to admit these thoughts go through my mind at random times.

Lord, I must put my complete faith and trust in You. I will do everything the doctors tell me to do when they tell me to do it . . . no playing games with this . . . and I pray You continue to protect me and restore me to complete health. However, if there should be a recurrence, I also pray my family and friends would rally back around me, and You would give the doctors the same wisdom and insight You did the first time. Let them catch it early again—breast cancer will not win the battle for my life. Confidently Yours, Janet*

God has answered that prayer through two recurrences, and so I encourage you to ask for prayer and keep on praying for those you know in need of prayer.

*Excerpt from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer

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Prisoners of “Choice” by Patti Smith

As believers, we know God’s timing is perfect; we just need to listen for His voice and obediently follow the guidance and direction He gives us daily. My ears are always open to His voice, and I’m looking for God in every circumstance of my life. Several weeks ago, I posted on Facebook this article, The Power of Pro-Life Women: It’s time to harness “feminine authority” to protect the unborn. I added this comment:

This is a great article. Women deserve better than abortion. They’ll have to live with the grief, trauma, guilt, sin, and consequences for the rest of their lives. Abortion is not a “women’s issue”; rather, it is a human issue that affects women uniquely” and women need to speak out against it offering hope, encouragement, and support for saving human lives. Men can only speak intellectually … women speak from experience. Don’t let Hilary be the women’s voice in the next election.

A short while after posting that comment, I received a Facebook Private message from Patti Smith: “Don’t know if you read my blog post about pro-life feminists but here is the link.” Patti sent me the link to today’s blog post, which I’m sharing with her permission. It’s a powerful article and a dramatic window into the other side of the Pro-choice feminist rhetoric about women’s health and right to her body.

Patti’s article here, along with the newly released Sidewalk Chronicles, in which Patti appears, should encourage you to be the “feminist” voice for why Prolife is the healthiest choice and right of women and babies. Sidewalk Chronicles is about an hour long, so after you read this blog post, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and listen to the voices of women like Patti who know the tragic effects of abortion on the life of the woman. It exposes the ugly truth that Planned Parenthood never tells women, and exposes the ignorance of “Pro Choice” advocates who are clueless about the prison of guilt and shame these women experience.

This article will also help women struggling with the abortion choices they’ve made in the past. At the end of the post there are post-abortive helpful resources.

For now, read Patti’s account of using her testimony to help women who have had abortions and find themselves not only in an emotional prison … but also inmates in physical prison.

PRISONERS OF “CHOICE”

by PATTI SMITH

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Three of us stood at a bulletproof window separating us from an armed, uniformed receptionist. She slid a sign-in sheet and black pen through a small opening and asked us to sign it and exchange our driver’s licenses for a visitor’s badge. I thought back to the orientation: In the case of lock-down, visitors will be escorted out; however, under certain circumstances they may be required to stay until the situation is resolved. What was I getting myself into? Maybe my husband was right, and I should have declined the invitation to co-lead one of the, post-abortion healing retreats that Rachel’s Hope takes into the local women’s jail.

The metal door opened and for security reasons, we had to go through one door at a time. I was first, and as the door thundered shut behind me, I faced another metal door. Being claustrophobic, I started breathing heavily in this little portal, even though it was only seconds before the second door opened.

The chaplain and biggest supporter of bringing post-abortion healing to incarcerated women, waited for us on the other side of the doors. The retreat was in the library on the opposite side of the facility. Curious eyes followed us as we passed the high chain link fences that enclosed small yard areas outside each dorm-style cell. The cells seemed absent of any form of comfort or homeyness … just bunk beds and bare walls.

We arrived at the library and began making the room less institutionalized: more inviting and calming to create an environment that would help the participants forget for a while where they were. Open flames weren’t allowed, so we scattered battery-operated candles around the room. The chaplain provided pencils … the tiny ones used by golfers because larger ones are potential weapons. We brought in a variety of snacks—a special treat for participating in the program and one more way to make the women feel special.

I expected to see cold-hearted criminals, smacking gum, and sneering at the “church ladies,but as the seven women entered, I was taken aback. Although displaying pleasure with the décor and practically drooling over the snacks, they were visibly anxious and nervously chatting among themselves. One inmate, Ann, told me later that she, as well as the others, avoided approaching “the ladies” in fear of saying something stupid or wrong. In addition to anxiety, their faces displayed defeat, sadness, and pain.

Sharing Their Abortion Stories

The first activity involved going around the room and sharing our abortion stories. We three co-leaders went first. As we spoke, the women nodded their heads and exchanged knowing looks. Although I was the only co-leader that suffered from alcoholism, albeit sixteen year sober, and institutionalized for depression, we all had past demons. While we shared, the women whispered, “Them too?”

Their offenses primarily related to drug and alcohol possession, possession for sale, and some cases theft and assault. All but one in the group had obtained multiple abortions, including Susan, who had over ten. They either had been encouraged to abort by parents or a significant other, felt it was best due to their living situation, or as Susan candidly disclosed, “a form of birth control.”

They tried to maintain a sense of “being cool” while sharing their stories, but it didn’t take long before the dam of pain and remorse broke, releasing torrents of tears. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their pregnancies, they weren’t prepared for the havoc their “choice” would wreak on their lives.

Abortion Often Leads to Destructive/Abusive Behavior

Substance abuse is common among many women trying to deal with the emotional turmoil from abortion. It’s a temporary way to forget or minimize what we have done; however, the negative feelings continue to surface, which leads to more and more self-medicating. Dependence increases to the point of desperation and total loss of control. These women were all involved with drugs and alcohol at some level, and hearing their stories, I thought, There but for the grace of God, go I.

I’m a recovering alcoholic. Abusing alcohol was the method I used to forget my two abortions. I drove drunk all the time, but never got caught. I could have easily caused an accident resulting in injury or death to another person and ended up attending this jail retreat instead of co-leading.

While drugs and/or alcohol are used to numb emotional pain, they also disclose other self-destructive behavior, such as promiscuity. None of these women served time for prostitution, but they all admitted to numerous sexual encounters. Again, the same applied to me; in fact, I had a nickname back in the day: “Pass around Patti.” Sex is a weapon to combat self-loathing. We’re duped by the misguided notion that sex equals love, so the more love, the better. Eventually, we come to our senses and end up demoralized and ashamed.

In an attempt to “settle down,” we try to become monogamous, and end up in multiple unsatisfying, or sometimes abusive, relationships. I’ve been engaged too many times to count, entered into several affairs with married men, and am on husband number three. A distorted self-image makes us feel undeserving of being truly happy so we “settle,” which only adds more misery to our already fragile emotional state.

Assault behavior can stem from suppressing feelings of lack of control in our lives, and subsequently, those feelings escape in the form of physical violence. When we transfer the pain to another, the relief is so great; it mimics a chemically induced “high.” Just as with drugs and alcohol, however, the “high” eventually dissipates, and the need for relief returns. Personally, I resorted to verbal assaults, lashing out at loved ones for no reason. The pain I inflicted left emotional scars as ugly as any physical ones. I spared no one in my family or circle of friends.

When discussing destructive behaviors and consequences, each of these women disclosed something that had not even crossed my mind. In an odd twist of fate, their self-destructive methods of dealing with the emotional turmoil of abortion(s) eventually resulted in losing custody, temporarily or permanently, of the children they chose to keep. This happens on the “outside” as well. Self-destructive behavior doesn’t always lead to illegal activity, but threatens the well-being of children.

As for me, I never lost custody of a child, but I did purposely lose the ability to have one. I convinced a doctor to give me a tubal ligation at the age of thirty, and I know of other women compelled to do the same.

All destructive behaviors, illegal or otherwise, are a way of coping that reflects a form of self-punishment. Three of the inmates admitted to having suicidal thoughts, a permanent solution to end the pain and anguish. Their admission brought back memories of the darkness I experienced prior to institutionalization for being suicidal and telling the psychiatrist that I was already dead inside and just wanted to finish the job.

The Lies of the Abortion Industry Revealed

As the retreat progressed, we grew to love these women, and when it was over, we hated to say good-by. Although we weren’t supposed to have physical contact, hugs were in order.

When I initially walked through those metal doors, I expected to find a significant difference between “them” and “us.” Instead, I realized we are all sisters in suffering that fell prey to the pro-choice rhetoric. We experienced the same pain, remorse, and regret, and exhibited the same behaviors, just to different extents. We used whatever means necessary in an attempt to find peace and regain control of our lives.

The abortion industry uses the feminist movement as its primary marketing target by promoting “my body; my choice” as a source of empowerment. But empowerment requires that a woman feels comfortable in her own skin, confident, and at peace. Once a woman has an abortion, empowerment slowly slips away leaving a gaping wound in her soul filled with pain, self-hatred, guilt, shame, and remorse.

The number of pro-life feminists is growing, which actually should be the rule rather than the exception. They are the ones not only fighting for the rights of the unborn, but for the well-being of women. They are exposing the lies perpetuated by the abortion industry; the lies that lead women to believe that choosing abortion over life is a source of empowerment with no ill effects.

Really? Take a walk with me behind that metal door.

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

Note from Patti: I am not claiming incarcerated post-abortive women are there because of their abortion. They’re incarcerated due to their actions. However, the psychological effects of their “choice” could have easily exacerbated other contributing factors.

Note from Janet: All names, expect Patti’s, are fictitious, but the story is all too real! Please share this post, and let’s all become “Prolife feminists” who support the right to life and the right to a woman not experiencing the emotional, physical, and spiritual ravages of abortion. Listen to Sidewalk Chronicles for ways to help these women save their baby’s life and their own lives.

Rachel’s Hope is located in San Diego, CA, but there’s also an international program Rachel’s Vineyard, and many others listed at Silent No More.

Patti Smith

Patti J. Smith serves as Regional Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, leads Rachel’s Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats, and recently developed a follow-up retreat, “The Healing Continues,” a contemplative/meditative one-day program to reflect on life after healing. She has shared her testimony at the San Francisco Walk for Life, speaks at a variety of venues in the San Diego area, and appears in the recently released documentary, Sidewalk Chronicles, She has also been a guest on Immaculate Heart, Cradle My Heart, and Blogtalk Radio as well as Radio Maria.

Patti is the author of Moments with God, and Redeemed, co-authored a Christian romance series, and is completing Volume 4 of her own Christian suspense series. Visit Patti’s blog.

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Kim Davis: A Modern-Day Paul

Kim Davis' mug shot

If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all. Isaiah 7:9 HCSB

You’ve probably been following the case of Kim Davis, the Rowan county clerk in Kentucky imprisoned in federal jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Kim worked in the county clerk offices for 26 years as deputy for her mother, county clerk for 40 years, and then the community elected Kim last November to that position after her mother’s retirement. However the most impressive statistic about Kim Davis is that as a Christian of only four years, she was willing to go to jail to honor God.

When Kim took the job as county clerk, like most of us, she never imagined a day when America, a country founded on Judeo/Christian values, would legalize a moral atrocity like same-sex marriage. Kim didn’t seek notoriety or attention and she’s not the first county clerk to object to granting marriage licenses to gays, but she is the first who was willing to put her Christian faith on the line. In her statement, she wrote that her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gays  “Is not a light issue for me. It’s a Heaven or Hell decision.”

She added: “I want to continue to perform my duties, but I also am requesting what our Founders envisioned — that conscience and religious freedom would be protected. That is all I am asking. I never sought to be in this position, and I would much rather not have been placed in this position.”

She also used her statement as an opportunity to give her testimony of becoming a Christian. Like the apostle Paul, and all of us, she had a past, but she’s forgiven and saved and telling others:
“In addition to my desire to serve the people of Rowan County, I owe my life to Jesus Christ who loves me and gave His life for me. Following the death of my godly mother-in-law over four years ago, I went to church to fulfill her dying wish. There I heard a message of grace and forgiveness and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and to the Word of God. I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage.”

Three times in the book of Jeremiah, in response to the moral sins of the people, God also said, “I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” (Jer. 7:31, 19:5, 32:35 NLT). It never crossed most of our minds that our country would ever consider doing something so abominable and against the nature of how God created marriage and men and women.

Side Note

When people ask me: “Where in the Bible does Jesus condemn homosexuality?” I counter with “Where does He condone it?” The people of Jesus’ time knew the Old Testament and they were fully aware of what constituted moral sins and what goes against God’s ways. Something our culture has forgotten. Jesus didn’t explicitly say don’t have sex with your animal either, so does that mean it’s OK and marriage to your animal whom you “love” should be legalized? And if it was, would you expect Kim to grant those licenses too?

The LGBT advocates and supporters have no moral argument and they know it. Dark chooses to stay in the dark. “The look on their faces testifies against them, and like Sodom, they flaunt their sin. They do not conceal it. Woe to them, for they have brought evil on themselves” (Isaiah 3:9).

Praise God, if you’re a believer, He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:12:13).

What saddens me is the number of Christians and churches buying into the lie. Any Christian who supports gay marriage and doesn’t think it’s a sin, doesn’t know his or her Bible, cover to cover. I don’t care if they’re pastors, popes, priests, presidents, legislators, judges … they’re human, fallible, and wrong! “Your leaders mislead you, they confuse the direction of your paths” (Isaiah 3:12).

They have stepped out of the light into the darkness. If you’re one of those people, I implore you to open up your Bible, start in Genesis and read all the way to Revelations. Don’t pick a verse here or there, read the whole Book of God and you will clearly know what God calls sin–immorality, idolatry, murder, lies, sexual perversion and lust, adultery and more …. It’s all in there along with what He thinks of those who support, encourage, and purposely engage in sin. You don’t want to be one of those people. Kim Davis, who has only been a Christian for four years, reminded us: “It’s a Heaven or Hell decision.”

I’ve had Christians ask me what I think Kim Davis should have done, and I answer, “Just what she did.” There’s no right way to do the wrong immoral thing no matter who tells you to do it or what immoral laws our government passes. If anything, they should grandfather her in and not expect her to abide by a “law” that changed long after she started working in the county clerk’s office. Granting gay marriage licenses isn’t the job she signed up for: compliance or quitting aren’t viable options. That sounds a lot like a dictatorship. Some have tried to use the verses about giving unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Again, that tells me they don’t know their Bible. Those verses were talking about taxes. Don’t cheat on your taxes. But let’s look a little closer at the whole context of what Jesus said in Matthew 22:17-21 NLT:

17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin,[a] 20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

What’s on the back of your coins?

thatyoumightknowhim.com

thatyoumightknowhim.com

What Next?

Those who are honest and fair, who refuse to profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong— 16 these are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress. Food will be supplied to them, and they will have water in abundance. Is. 33:15-16

Those who are honest and fair,
who refuse to profit by fraud,
who stay far away from bribes,
who refuse to listen to those who plot murder,
who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong—
these are the ones who will dwell on high.
The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress.
Food will be supplied to them,
and they will have water in abundance. Isaiah 33:15-16

As I write this post, Kim Davis was released from jail and we all wait for what will happen when she returns to work. Last Sunday, Kim Davis was still in jail when our pastor Brian Smith spoke on the book of Colossians. He emotionally prefaced that the Lord had him pacing in his office as he prepared this sermon, especially in light of current events. He read an introduction to us prior to the sermon. Before I share that introduction with his permission, let’s look at a few passages Paul wrote to the Colossians while he too was in prison for his faith. Remember that the Colossian believers were also bucking the Roman government who wanted everyone to recognize Caesar as Lord.

 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy… Col. 1:9-11

Christ Is Supreme

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,[a]
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.[b]
    So he is first in everything. Col. 1:15-18

23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it. Col. 1:23

 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers[a] of this world, rather than from Christ.” Col. 2:8

Marriage should be honoredPastor Brian Smith’s Opening to Sermon on Colossians:

There are voices in our world who tell us that we are to follow their authority. People who claim to know what is best for nations and individuals are hard at work to mold everyone into their image. This is not new: Rome had a plethora of gods and idols, and above all was the emperor. The people of his kingdom were to declare, “Caesar is Lord!”

China has a similar attitude, but there the government, communism, is to be recognized as the supreme ruler. To disagree is to be in jeopardy of the charge of “upsetting the social order.” Any activists can expect severe persecution or prison.

Our country is evidently following a similar secular, materialistic agenda: Federal laws are pre-eminent, government is the provider of goods for life, and to think differently brings the charge, “You are upsetting the social order!”

Christians are made to look like they missed the bus—“This is the 21st century. Get in step with the advancements of this society and culture. Life is changing and the experts are to be followed, you dummies!”

However, we as Christians are confident that God’s ways have not changed. He is the ultimate expert; He is Creator and Sustainer of the universe and of our lives. To contradict Him is to invite disaster, personally and universally. We’re already seeing these effects.

Our spiritual education is important; learning God’s ways is a priority and following the One who holds eternity has greater consequences than trying to have peace and security apart from God. So we need to tune into God.

He is not oblivious to your needs and circumstances. He will meet you where you are, but each of us must turn to face Him, acknowledge Him, respond to what He reveals, and obey.

Janet’s Challenge to You

war-room-2Christians put an expressly Christian movie, War Room, in the #1 ranking in the box office over Labor Day weekend. Surely, we can put a Conservative, Bible-Believing-Following, Christian in the Oval Office! Let’s do it…are you with me?

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who substitute darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who substitute bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20 HCSB

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Love Your Body–Use Technology to Lose Weight

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

It’s Love Your Body Monday and today my beautiful daughter Kimberly Mancini is our guest blogger. Here’s her story of how even a fitness instructor has to count calories—exercise alone will not get you to your ideal body weight unless you’re willing to also reduce caloric intake. I recently heard a woman say, “I know I don’t look like it, but I’m on the treadmill every day.” I wanted to interject … if you would change your diet, you would look like it!
Many people tell me, “I don’t eat anything all day. Or I barely eat anything. I don’t know why I can’t lose weight.” They are eating because that’s what puts on extra weight–maybe it’s mindless snacking, or cleaning up a kids plate, or eating the wrong foods at meals. So Kim has a great calorie-counting-made-easy encouraging story:

Forty is the New Twenty … Naught

By Kim Mancini

Forty is the new twenty. At least that’s what they say right? I entered my forties feeling great. As a fitness instructor for the past 10 years, I work hard to stay physically fit. I’ve always eaten healthy foods in moderate proportions. I’m by no means a “clean” eater, but I do make healthy choices.

With each child I birthed, I held onto a residual five pounds, which I embraced. In the six years since my youngest was born, I’ve been the exact same weight. No matter how good or bad I was with my eating, the scale never budged one way or the other.

That was until this past year. It budged … I stepped on the scale and to my surprise, a new number appeared … up two pounds. No biggie. I was slightly alarmed, but no need to panic, yet. I would simply skip the ice cream tonight, and problem solved. I confidently stepped on the scale the next day fully expecting to see a familiar number, but that was not the case ….Up two more pounds!

I tried to convince myself that I was probably just retaining water since I had done a hard workout at the gym the previous day. My body was most likely holding onto the extra water weight to cushion my sore muscles. Of course, there was a perfect explanation. I would wait a week or so and weigh again when I wasn’t feeling sore after a workout.

When I did decide to revisit the scale, I didn’t expect to see what I saw. That darn thing moved up two more digits. What was happening? I had now crossed over into a new set of tens, and that wasn’t something my head could easily wrap around. I panicked a little at this point. It looked like it was time to get more serious about things. I would need to end my love affair with ice cream. We’re talking about the girl whose freezer is constantly stocked with what my mom likes to call “31 Flavors.” Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Fear of the Scales

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I became frightened of the evil scale lurking in my bathroom. It took me a while to work up the courage to revisit my old friend, but eventually I came around. Two more pounds … Ugh! And then again, two more a couple of weeks later. A total of eight pounds gained within about four months. Things were not looking good.

I seriously needed to re-evaluate what was happening in my life, and it was time to make some changes. I had recently started substitute teaching while my kids were at school and this had been cutting into my gym schedule. I had gone from teaching about 10+ classes per week at the gym to now only 5 per week. Even though I had cut my exercise in half, I was still working out regularly and staying active. This shouldn’t be so hard. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was now in my forties. Even though I felt like I was in my twenties, this was not the case.

Getting Serious About Losing the Extra Pounds

My husband received a Samsung smart watch for Christmas, and let me borrow his device to accurately track my physical activity. (Some people use a Fitbit). Once I saw that I was reaching the minimum goal of 10,000 steps per day (sometimes more than double that), I realized my eating was leading to my sudden weight gain.

Product Details

In May of this year, I began to log on a fitness App, linked to the smart watch, what I ate and drank. I could calculate how many calories I should be consuming based on my activity level and how much weight I wanted to lose in a given amount of time by going to a website such as this: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/bwp/index.html.

You simply plug in age, height, weight, gender, activity level, and how much weight you want to lose over a given time. The calculation tells you how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, or lose desired weight and maintain your new weight.

Now to count my calories. I used a default App on my Samsung phone, but there’s many health and fitness free Apps available through the play store on Android phones, or iTunes on Apple. Just search “health” or “fitness” and you’ll find many choices. Another popular site is myfitnesspal, and my husband uses mapmyfitness.

Now, armed with this new information, and logging EVERYTHING that went into my mouth for a month, (including the three pretzel sticks dipped in Nutella), the weight came off rather quickly. I lost seven of the, “being Forty-something is NOT Twenty-something,” eight pounds that I had gained over the last year. I was on a roll! I only had one more pound to go, in addition to the extra baby weight I’d become accustomed to over the years. Might as well lose that too right?

Counting Calories Works!

At this point, I thought I had things under control, so I backed off logging my food/drink intake, and guess what happened? As soon as I stopped logging, I stopped losing. Could there be a correlation? I think so. Suddenly all my progress came to a screeching halt.

There’s something about knowing I was going to have to log that extra handful of (fill in the blank _____________). I would ask myself if I really wanted those calories to take up some of my total daily intake. Watching the calories add up throughout the day, put a stop to the mindless snacking and kept me sticking to portion sizes. It looks like I’ll be back to food logging. It works!

Why do you spend your money on junk food,
    your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?
Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best,
    fill yourself with only the finest.
Pay attention, come close now,
    listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words.–Isaiah 55:2-3

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Losing My Job for Living Out My Faith Was the Best Thing That Could Have Happened to Me!

Why call me LordDaily we hear of people fired or sued for standing up for their Christian beliefs in a culture that is no longer Christian-friendly or God-honoring. As I read about the case of the Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, fired for publishing a men’s devotional book for a Baptist church group on his own time, God reminded me of how He changed the course of my life in a similar way.

In Cochran’s book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” he addressed issues of homosexuality, gay marriage and premarital sex from a biblical perspective.

Cochran has been a firefighter since 1981 and was appointed Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008. In 2009, President Obama appointed him as U.S. fire administrator for the United States Fire Administration in Washington, D.C. In 2010, he returned to serve as Atlanta’s fire chief.

The controversy with his book began in late 2014, when gay activist groups caught wind of the literature and demanded that Cochran be dismissed. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed then acted to suspend Cochran and ordered him to undergo “sensitivity training.”

In the United States of America, Americans should not have to choose between keeping your job and living out your faith,” Cochran told The Daily Signal in an exclusive interview. “And that’s the position the city of Atlanta actually has taken—that I have to have a choice to live out my faith or to keep my job.”

Cochran’s story took me back to December 14, 1995, when something very similar happened to me.

My Unjust Demotion Was A Divine Moment

Many of you know that the Lord called me into ministry when He told me to “Feed my Sheep.” You can read more of my story on my website. At the time, I was running a successful branch of a national insurance company and had been attending Fuller Theological Seminary at night and on the weekends for a year.

I joined the insurance company in 1987, while still in my worldly, backsliding, single days, and worked my way up from an insurance agent to a Division Manager. In the summer of 1992, I rededicated my life to the Lord at a Harvest Crusade with Pastor Greg Laurie, and that December I married my godly husband Dave. My life took a radical change and I no longer participated in many of the “social” activities of the business, and I was open about my faith and my rededication to Christ.

My boss heard about me attending seminary and on December 14, 1995, he called me into his office. For some reason, I sensed I might need a witness, so I asked one of my District Managers who worked for me if he would accompany me. This gentleman and his wife were fellow Christians and we had become friends as couples.

Neither of us could have imagined what would happen next. To this day, my friend says he witnessed a “divine moment” and he has told the story many times as a testimony

My boss started the conversation by saying he’d noticed a difference in me. Something to the effect that I wasn’t “all-about-the business anymore.”

I told him my priorities had shifted to putting God first, then my family, and my job in that order, but I was still maintaining all my sales numbers and fulfilling my management responsibilities. I had a great team working for me and our sales remained high.

He responded: “In a perfect world, that might work; but in this world [he named the insurance company] must be your god and the company must come first in your life! So I’m demoting you from Division Manager and you’ll now work as an agent again out in the field under …” and he named a person leading a division an hour away from my home.

Division Manager had been a high-paying, high-profile job with lots of prestige, independence, and success. But now, it was as if Jesus was standing behind my boss’s chair asking me who I was going to serve: the company or Jesus?

Easy decision. I prayerfully resigned and launched the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, completed my Masters of Arts in Christian Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, and started About His Work Ministries, my writing and speaking ministry.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.—Matthew 6:24

I Could Have Sued

With today’s anti-God culture, I’m not sure I would have a legal case against my boss and the company, but 20 years ago I might have had one, and I had a witness who was more then ready to take an oath to all that he had witnessed.

This wasn’t the first time I’d been harassed by this same boss. While supposedly interviewing me for a training video, he first started asking questions about my sex life in front of the camera crew. When I quit the company, the camera crew came forward and said they would gladly testify to what they had witnessed.

I prayed about both situations and realized that I should thank this boss for helping me make a hard decision. When you’re comfortable and making a good living, even though you know it’s not where God wants youit often takes something like this to plummet you into doing the right thing.

The Lord reminded me that vengeance was His and that I was not to waste my time, energy, or money on a lawsuit. God would take care of it…and He did. I later heard that this boss was fired from the company over similar misuses of his position.

Using My Talents and Gifts for God

As a Division Manager in the insurance agency, I gave daily presentations to recruit new sales agents. I was often one of the top recruiters in the company, and I had been a successful agent too. I found that sales came easy to me. Over the years, I had given the same recruiting presentation so many times, I could think about other things simultaneously. So one day as I gave the rote presentation, I heard God’s voice saying to me, “What if you were as good at winning souls for me and doing something you believe in, as you are at winning recruits for a business you don’t believe in as much?”

God planted the seed, but I wasn’t ready to take such a huge risk and quit my job even though I knew I no longer belonged there. My husband and I were blending a family, we had a mortgage, car payments, lived in expensive Southern California… couldn’t I just go to seminary and then wait to see how God wanted to use me when I finished?

That would have been the safe, comfortable, easy way, but that day in my boss’s office, God was asking me pointedly, “Who will you follow … right this moment? Man or Me?”

Jesus“I Envy You!”

As I was packing up my office after I resigned, one of the other Division Managers who had recently become a Christian came over to take some of my supplies. He had a large family, lived an expensive lifestyle, and knew about our boss’s misuse of his position, but he felt trapped. He said, “I envy you. You’re getting out.”

My happy ending didn’t tie up neatly in a bow. I continued going to seminary and started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry in my home in January 1997, but in March of that year, my husband was laid off from the job that was supporting us. Still God whispered, “Where I guide, I will provide.” And He did … our lifestyle changed drastically, but the mentoring ministry was spiritually maturing and winning women for Christ. You can’t put a dollar value on that!

And today, God has taken Woman to Woman Mentoring around the world and thousands of women have experienced the blessings of growing together in Christ through resources I wrote to help churches start their own mentoring ministries.

On my website, I tell the story of how this was the time where About His Work Ministries got its name.

Choose Today Who You Will Follow—Man or The Messiah

It’s not popular today to take a stand for God in a world turning away from God’s Words and His ways. You’ll be rebuked, unfriended, called names, maybe even spit on …just like Jesus was. It would be easier to remain silent or not voice the Truth that you know in your heart. The risk might be too high you say. What if I lose my job? My friends? My standing in the community?

But what is anything worth without your integrity and the peace of knowing that you did not deny Christ in your heart, your words, or your actions. God will honor your loyalty to Him … He guarantees it.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.—Matthew 16:25-27

What if I hadn’t quit that insurance agency? What if I had fought for my just rights in the company and in court? Woman to Woman Mentoring might never have been birthed.

God had a plan, and while I didn’t know what it was at the time, I knew it would be big because He was giving me a big testimony to share. My husband and I have never looked back from that defining moment in our lives, when God so clearly asked me, “Who will you follow: man or Me?”

  • Where do you need to take a risk for God today?
  • When have you been silent and you know you need to speak up?
  • Who is watching how you live out your faith?
  • What changes do you need to make to live out your faith more boldly?

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What’s Your Story?

Little girl praying

As many of you know, I’ve been writing the past three months on a new book which will be out March, 2016, How Good is God? I Can’t Remember … Creating a Culture of Memories.  I hope you’ve enjoyed all the guests who have enriched this blog with posts on many varied topics. I’m blessed to have so many talented and gifted author friends and I know you enjoy hearing from them.

I was surprised when several people asked me if I thought this would be my last book? I wasn’t sure why they would ask that except for the fact that we were under great spiritual attack and duress while I wrote on a topic that the enemy hates–remembering God in a culture that is quickly forgetting God.

But that would never stop me from writing and speaking for the Lord, until the day He decides to take me home. My ministry is About His Work Ministries and I plan on being about His work until my last breath. So it might not surprise you that I’m gearing up for the next book. I gave you a glimpse into it several months ago when I asked for stories, but I switched plans when the How Good is God? book had such a short deadline. So now I’m back to the mentoring book and I need your stories.

Do You Have a Mentoring Story?

If you follow me, you know that my passion is mentoring—Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s faithfulness. Since I wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry in 1997, God has been starting mentoring ministries in churches all over the world, and mentors and mentees (M&M’s) have been experiencing the blessings of mentoring.

Over the years, many ministry leaders have sent me stories about starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, and many M&M’s have sent me their stories too; but I also know there are many untold stories that would bless my readers. Will you help me write this book?

I Need Your Help

The working title is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Here’s what I could use:

  1. What would you want to read about in a mentoring book about the seasons of a woman’s life?
  2. What would encourage you to be a mentor or mentee?
  3. If you’ve been in a mentoring relationship—either as a mentor or mentee or both—would you tell me your story? Even if it didn’t go like you planned.

If you would like to share your story, please leave a comment and how to contact you. Or go to the contact page on this website and leave me a message with your email address and I’ll give you more details.

Generation to Generation

FullSizeRender-2My 9-year-old granddaughter Katelyn asked if she could have one of my books for Easter, which made my heart swell with joy. I decided she was not too young for us to do a Bible study together, so I gave her Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ.

An important aspect of remembering God, is helping the next generation know God. It’s our job description as Christian men and women!

Together we can reach, encourage, and teach what we’ve been taught to the next generation.

 Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.

Titus 2:1-6. The Message

 

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