What’s Love Got to Do With It?

February is the month of valentines, flowers, candy, and love. It’s also National Heart Health month, and at our house, we’re hoping we’ll begin to see the snow start melting and glimpses of spring around the corner.

As I thought about what to write this week, the Lord kept giving me the line from an old song “What’s love got to do with it?” If you read my January 30 blog post, Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity, I emphasize that God designed sex to be an expression of love in marriage between a man and a woman, His creations. So love has everything to do with sex!

I’ve also written an article for Crosswalk.com on the importance of asking God and your spouse for forgiveness for sexual encounters before you got married, even with each other. I hope everyone has, or will, take that important step. It could save a marriage.

When I think about love, my mind always goes to Jesus. Yes, my husband and I make plans to do something special to celebrate our love on Valentine’s Day, but we both know that Jesus is our first love. We wouldn’t have made it through the stresses and trials of a blended family if we hadn’t put Jesus at the center of our marriage; but most importantly, at the center of each of our lives. We don’t want to ever forget who is our First Love, Jesus Christ. (Rev. 2:4)

Recently at church, the pastor asked the children how we know Jesus is alive today. The answer: He lives in each believer’s heart. That’s true love!

So whether you’re single or married, I want to share three important points about what love has to do with our witness for Jesus, especially as we look at the tumultuous times we live in today.

Christians Need to Love Each Other

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:16-17

Jesus was talking to his disciples in John 15:16-17, and we are Jesus’s disciples today. God chose us to bear fruit and we can’t share a message of love if we don’t love each other. We can’t have dissension in the church or among church members. Sadly, Satan has used the current political unrest to pit brothers and sisters in Christ against each other. In the Bible, there are no Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, Liberals, Conservatives . . . There is only One timeless Word of God (John 1:1, Heb. 13:8). There is also only one kind of Christian: “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3).

As born-again Bible-Believing Christians, we’re appointed to go out and bear testimony to the world together. We should unite as one in agreement on . . .

  • Whatever allows us to share the Good News that Jesus saves we’re for; whatever prohibits that freedom or tries to silence us, we’re against.
  • Whatever upholds the teachings of the Bible we’re for; whatever prohibits or alters those teachings, we’re against.
  • We stand together for the sanctity of human life, marriage between a man and a woman, God creating us as men and women, and we’re not afraid to lovingly bear that fruit for Jesus.

Anything separating us on those issues isn’t from God!

Christ Loves Us with a Never-Ending Love

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:38-39

Sadly, we only have to look at divided churches, families, friends . . . all proclaiming to be Christians separated by issues where they should be united, and Satan wins because that compromises our witness. That’s a shame! There’s a lost world that needs to know the love of Christ displayed through a body of Christ that shows the love of Christ by agreeing on what it means to be a Christian. Today that’s not the case. The good news is that nothing we do can ever separate us from the love of God for those who have truly accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

I had a man on Facebook tell me he had been a Christian for 50 years, read the Bible numerous times, been to church, talked to pastors, been in Bible study groups, and now has decided Christianity is a farce, doesn’t work for him anymore, and he told me I needed to know that Jesus is not returning. Two things came to mind: (a) you can leave Jesus, but He will never leave you. (b) you can be a Christian in name only, but never have experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ. His words were so harsh I fear he was in the latter group.

I remember singing a song as a little girl “I have the love of Jesus love of Jesus down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart to stay.”

How Much Love Do You Have to Give?

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16-18 The Message

Do you Love Jesus Enough to Share Him with others or Are You Keeping All the Love To Yourself?

Another woman on Facebook wrote this:

FB woman: “There are many other religions who do not make Jesus/Satan part of their belief system. All destined to damnation? It’s a big world out there, and much of it overcomes the negative.”

Me: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

FB woman: “Written by John a century later, an evangelist trying to convert the world to his new religion. PBS and History Channel do wonderful educational shows on the origins of the Bible. Check them out. I have read the Bible extensively Janet, I just haven’t drawn the same dark conclusions. And the shows I mentioned are created by scientists and historians with no agenda but discovery. I wouldn’t want to rest my eternity on what someone else says.”

This woman was confused, but I was able to point out to her that John was actually with Jesus, not a century later, and she was resting her eternity on what scientists and television said rather than letting God speak to her through the Bible. Maybe I made some headway. My heart breaks for those misled by the liberal progressive godless agenda and the many “belief systems,” and the Christians who have forgotten their first love. Love says we will take the time to share the truth.

During the election and since Donald Trump became POTUS, many have been mean, vicious, and vile on social media. I often have to remind myself that Jesus died for them too, and it’s my job to let them know that in a loving way. It’s up to them to make the choice. I don’t try to convince them, because you can’t reason with someone blinded by evil. If they’re not following God, they’re following Satan. Those are the only two roads; there is no middle path. But now they’re accountable for knowing there is another way and maybe someone else will share a little more love down the road. Who knows, they just might decide that heavy load of anger, bitterness, revenge, meanness, bullying, whatever that has turned their heart so hard, just isn’t worth carrying around anymore.

No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
    but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you.

Psalm 25:3-5 NLT

What does love have to do with it?

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor. 13:6-7

Opening picture from crosscards.com

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Should Christians Be Political?

I had little response to last week’s blog post, Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity so I don’t know if . . .

  • You didn’t read it?
  • It was too long?
  • You think purity is impossible today?
  • It was too sensitive a subject?
  • I tried to cover too much territory?

I don’t know unless I hear from you, but since none of you unsubscribed, I’ll carry on with another topic on my heart throughout the election and continues into the firestorm that has erupted since President Trump’s Inauguration.

Some say Christians shouldn’t . . .

(a) Express political views or participate in politics

(b) Speak out on politicized moral issues

Here is my discussion and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Christians Need to Run for Political Office and Get Involved in Politics

Prayer is the heartbeat of every Christian’s life. When we pray heaven hears our voices. James 4:2 tells us that we have not because we ask not. We pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven, but then God expects us to be His hands and feet on this earth doing His will. We come out of our prayer closets, clothed in the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18) and go into action representing God to a lost world. That might be figuratively turning over the money-changers booths like Jesus did in the temple, or calling out the “Pharisees,” or like Jesus, Paul, and the disciples confronting sinners and sharing the Gospel. Or like Paul, mentoring the churches when they fall back into old sinful ways or are easily misled by false teachers.

Stay close to God through prayer, seek His will, and then do His will.

The disciples didn’t stay in the Upper Room. They prayed and with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, went out into the world.

Churches and Christians have allowed the government to politicize moral issues in our country, complaining and lamenting, but doing little to stop the takeover. Christians have an obligation to seize any opportunity to reclaim those moral issues and rights for the good of our country and generations to come. I’m speaking specifically about issues like:

  • The legalization of abortion—58 million babies murdered since Roe vs Wade—moral not political
  • Our tax dollars funding barbaric abortions through Planned Parenthood—moral not political
  • Marriage redefined by unelected Federal Judges—moral not political
  • Teachers allowed to talk about Mohammad and Gandhi, but can’t mention Jesus—moral not political
  • A football coach fired because he kneels after a game and prays—moral not political
  • Schools required to allow men to go into girls bathrooms—moral not political
  • White House lit up in gay pride colors—moral not political
  • Removing God from the public square in a country founded on Judeo Christian principles—moral not political.
  • Requiring all Americans to endorse, legitimatize, and participate in LGBT practices—moral not political
  • Calling sin, sin is “hate speech” and intimidating pastors—moral not political.

I could go on. You get the idea. If we had elected another liberal progressive Democrat, and Christians continued to remain silent, we would have had little recourse but to lament even more loss of our religious moral freedoms, as Clinton clearly said Christians would have to change our faith and beliefs.

But that didn’t happened. Evangelicals rose up and said enough is enough. We chose a candidate, who while imperfect and not the devout Christian candidate we were looking for, he heard us and promised to restore and protect our freedoms. And in his first two weeks in office, President Trump started doing exactly that:

  • Defunded Planned Parenthood in other countries
  • Nominated a Christian Conservative for Supreme Court Justice
  • Took action in Congress to repeal the Johnson Amendment to restore the right of pastors to preach the Bible. They were losing the religious freedom to call sin, sin.

Tony Perkins was on the mark when he said, “The United States would look much different today if it wasn’t for the pastors throughout American history who cried out for social justice. Since the birth of our nation, pastors and churches have been at the forefront of shaping public policy and debate. That is where they need to be today. What would America look like today had the Rev. Lyman Beecher [Harriet Beecher Stowe’s father], a leading abolitionist, or Dr. Martin Luther King been muzzled by the IRS. It would have been a much, much different country than what we see today.”

Now the naysayers are still saying President Trump is not a Christian, but only he and God know where he is spiritually. I refer you to my blog Why Aren’t All Christians Extending Grace and Forgiveness to Trump. He has surrounded himself with a Cabinet of many Christians, a born-again Vice President, and here is the point of this blog . . .

The oxymoron and dichotomy I hear is that …

We want a Christian president and Christian politicians in DC and local government, but we don’t want Christians talking about or participating in politics?

We don’t think Christians should campaign or try to get people to vote because that’s too political?

We want laws that are moral, ethical, and pursue God’s values, but Christians aren’t willing to run for office?

We pray Christians are elected who will uphold God’s ways, but we don’t think Christians should be political! Say what?

If we want Christians in government, we need to pray for men and women to answer the call to take on political roles, and then we need to get behind them with prayer, campaign support, energy, finances, our voices, whatever it takes to get them elected. Not criticize them as having a profession unworthy of a Christian, but encourage them because they want to make a difference in the jungle of politics. A light in the darkness.

Maybe God is calling you to run for office!

When Franklin Graham made his Pray for America tour and went to every Capitol in the nation, he encouraged Christians to run for public office because we need believers championing Christian values at every level of government. Ironically, as government keeps touting a separation of church and state, government is invading the church. President Trump understands the original intent of the Constitution, and he is giving us back our religious freedoms. We need to make sure we never lose them again!

Satan is Dividing Christians, Not President Trump

I’ve never been a “political person,” but I am a spiritual person, and I’ve watched over the last eight years how the progressive liberal agenda has steadily worked to take God out of America by invading our government, our schools, our universities, and sadly even some of our churches. When Obama ran for President the first time, he participated in a presidential candidate debate held at Saddleback Church where Pastor Rick Warren asked him and John McCain if they believed marriage was between a man and a woman. Obama said he did. In his second term, same-sex marriage was legalized and Obama lit up the White House in LGBT colors and was working hard at forcing every American to accept transgender men in women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, starting in our schools!

After writing Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I knew this last election was a spiritual battle more than a political battle. Just look at the obstruction and chaos the liberal Democrats have created in the streets and in D.C. Listen to their language, read their signs, hear the bleeps during the protests and the confusion when asked if they even know what they’re protesting.

Watching the National Prayer Breakfast last week, I heard one of the speakers say he was sure there were secretly ordained pastors in the House and Senate: “saints in Caesar’s household.” I thought how sad they had to stay secret. Probably because they would be devoured by the lions.

I see headlines, even in some Christian magazines, that say President Trump is dividing Christians. That’s not possible. Only Satan can divide Christians whether it’s in a church, a marriage, a friendship…. Christians have the same unifier: Jesus Christ. The One and Only Lord is who we all pray to, talk to, put our faith in, have residing in our heart.

He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.

President Trump said the five words that touched his heart the most on the campaign trail were, and still are, “I am praying for you.”

As a Christian, you should be praying like crazy for President Trump’s success because that’s America’s success. Pray for him to mature in his faith. He’s rough around the edges. He has a big job ahead of him, and as he said in his own words in a CBN interview I heard, “I need God and prayer now more than ever because my decisions are life and death.”

I encourage you to listen to the Annual Prayer Breakfast. It was a blessing to see Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate leading the event and praying together. They talked about a group of them—Republicans and Democrats—getting together for prayer every morning and at a weekly Bible study group. The Chiefs of Staff have a Bible study on Wednesday, and the 100 staffers meet on Fridays for Bible study. Barry Black, the Senate Chaplain who gave the Keynote, said Democrats and Republicans meet together, hold hands, and open and close those groups in prayer. They may go upstairs and oppose each other politically, but unite spiritually.

I would pray the world would see that same spiritual unity in us. Our hope isn’t built on whether we’re Democrat or Republican, black or white, whether you like President Trump or not . . . they should see that we place our faith and our hope in the Word of God, the Holy Bible, and Jesus Christ, Our Lord. We stand together as Christians One Nation Under God.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 NLT

Please also read a blog I wrote for Crosswalk.com You Can Disagree and Still be Friends

Have you heard Reba McEntire’s New Song? Here’s the video. You’ll enjoy it. Back To God

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Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

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

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

Two marches embodying two opposing concepts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Satan was watching and saw God say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Start a Pure Body Revival

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s make purity popular again!

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

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

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

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

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

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Some Women Are Still Like Eve: Listening to the Serpent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly what real “rights” were they marching for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon and me

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

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

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

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

March for Trump

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What If You Didn’t Get to Say Goodbye?

If you read last week’s Monday Morning Blog, 8 Reasons to Make 2017 the Year of New Connections, you know I had an accident on Christmas afternoon. I don’t remember ever having an accident like that before. I stood up with plans to go charge my phone and then get a game started with the grandkids, and the next thing I know I hear a cracking sound and feel my head bang against the edge of a wooden chest. I had no sensation or realization of falling, so I didn’t brace the fall—my head took the full impact.

Standing one moment—Wham the next!

No time to say goodbye . . .

I heard the alarmed cry, “Mom!” as I put my hand up to the dent in my head and brought it away full of blood. An amazing calm came over me as I realized I was not dead. God had spared me. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I wasn’t yet in the presence of Jesus. I was still in my daughter’s living room, and even though everyone was in shock, they would soon move into action. Before we rushed to ER, I could kiss and hug my precious grandchildren, daughter, husband, and son-in-law and tell them how much I loved them.

I also knew that if I had woke up in the presence of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, my family would know where I was . . . that I loved them . . . and we were good . . . even though we didn’t get to say goodbye. Everyone in that room was saved and would join me someday in Heaven in a glorious reunion.

I couldn’t plan for that accident. No long goodbyes.

In the last few months, we’ve watched celebrities suddenly taken ill on an ice rink, in a plane, in grief, at home . . . and die. Death knows no age, culture, wealth, or time limits. Physical death comes like a thief in the night at some point to everyone . . . the famous and ordinary, rich and poor.

But to those of us who know Jesus as our Savior who has conquered death, this world is not our home. When we die, we will have eternal life in Heaven with Jesus forever.

For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.[b]
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15:53-55

This post isn’t meant to depress you, but to mobilize you! It’s so easy to think we’ll have time to share Jesus with a loved one or friend “later” or “when the time is right” or “when they’re ready.” But now is the time. Pray and ask God to give you the opportunity the next time you meet.

If you’re in a mentoring relationship, make it a priority to each pick someone you know who needs to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s up to Jesus to change their heart, but He wants us to go into all the world and share the Good News (Mark 16:15).

We live in a tumultuous time where everyone is looking for hope in a person, a law, a program, a president, a change in identity or gender  . . . when you and I know they will never have peace until they find their true identity in Christ. Love your family and friends enough to be willing to risk rejection to share with them the only thing that really matters in this life: knowing and believing that our God saves!

Maybe you know people who need to rededicate their life to Christ . . . maybe that person is you. If you’ve read or heard my testimony, you know I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of eleven, but as an adult I backslid spiritually for seventeen years. Then at a Harvest Crusade, I heard Pastor Greg Laurie ask, “Are you ready to die tonight?” I knew I wasn’t then, but I am now. Are you? Is everyone in your sphere of influence? What does God want you to do about it? You can’t read this blog without someone coming to mind. Now what will you do?

A proverb often said at our house is Proverbs 6:4: “Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do.” (NLT)

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8 Reasons to Make 2017 the Year of New Connections

christmas-accident

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

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

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

The Joy of Connecting

By

By Shirley Brosius

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

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

2016-shirley-with-kim-and-janine

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

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Here is how these women and I sharpen each other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Love Your Body: Set Realistic New Year’s Goals

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Since Christmas was on a Sunday, many of you have today off work. I’m actually enjoying an extra day with family, as I will be next Monday, so there won’t be a Monday Morning Blog. I’ll be back on January 9 to start the New Year with you.

Today, you might be contemplating starting 2017 with some resolutions or goals regarding your health. I hope so because as your health goes, so goes many of your activities and your quality of life. Good health doesn’t just happen. It takes diligence and work, but the rewards are life changing and life giving. Over the past years of Love Your Body Mondays, I’ve given you lots of ideas for improving your eating and exercise habits. But reading what to do and doing them, as you know, are two different things.

I thought today I would give you some of my ideas on goal setting, and then you can pray about how to apply them to your life. Maybe it won’t be in the area of diet or health . . . maybe there’s some other area of life you would like to improve. Each anniversary my husband and I write goals for the upcoming year and review how we did with the past year’s goals. It has helped us maintain, spiritual, personal, and, marital growth in our relationship.

Here are some tips for any kind of goal setting . . .

Set Realistic Goals

Twenty-four years ago, my husband’s doctor wanted him to weigh 210 pounds on his 6 ft. 4 in. body. When we set our goals this anniversary, we talked about this goal since he hasn’t weighed 210 for many years, but he has been able to achieve between 215 and 220. I think 215 is healthy for him, he’s happy with the range, so we’ll probably settle with somewhere in the middle.

I like to read the Bible in a year, but I need a plan to keep me on track. I’ve tried various ones like YouVersion.com and find what I’ve enjoyed the last few years is Walk Thru the Bible Daily Walk. I also enjoy reading a different Bible translation each year.

Set Measurable Goals

We have scales in our bathroom and I weigh myself every morning. For me, it’s important to know if I’m going up a few pounds because then I know I need to cut back right away since I don’t lose weight easily. My husband likes to get on “occasionally,” but he does weigh himself so he’ll know if he’s staying between 215 and 220.

Every month I receive my Daily Walk magazine with the next month’s reading schedule and devotional so I can keep on track reading. But this year I was writing a new book with a short deadline and I was only able to read half the Bible. So I’ll read the second half in 2017. Sometimes you need to adjust your goal and give yourself grace, but don’t give up entirely.

Set Maintainable Goals

I prepare our meals so I know what my husband is eating, but if he wants to stay on the lower weight range, he needs to add exercise, also good for his heart. So we’ve talked about him joining the gym again this year. That’s something he has agreed to do, but he has to go to the gym after he joins it. Are you laughing because so many people join a gym, pay the money, and stop going. Setting a goal is only as good as your follow through.

Here’s my pet complaint about goal setting, so I might as well share it with you now. I don’t like to use or hear the work “try” because to me it gives the person who is using it an escape clause.

The Bible says: “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matt. 5:37

Let me give you a couple of examples of why try doesn’t convey commitment to me:

  • Would you marry a spouse who says they will “try” to keep his or her marriage vows?
  • Would you get on a plane with a pilot who says he or she will “try” to get you to your destination?
  • Would you go into surgery with a surgeon who says he or she will “try” to pull you through alive?
  • Would you get in a car when the mechanic said he “tried” to fix the brakes?

Ok, I think you get my point. Don’t set goals you’re going to “try” to maintain. If you don’t think you’re going to do them, then set something more doable. Now I know some of you are thinking well isn’t that setting the bar too low? Would you rather get over the bar and feel successful or give up because you keep coming in under the too overwhelming bar? Once you know you can do it, then by all means, set the next goal a little higher and go for it!

Set Purposeful Goals

No one really follows through on something they don’t see as having value or purpose. So before you set any goals, determine why you’re setting them.

Why do you want to lose weight?

Why do you want to exercise more?

Why do you want to eat healthier and what would that look like?

Why do you want to take better care of your skin?

Why do you want to drink more water and less soft drinks or alcohol or coffee?

Why do you want to read your Bible more and spend less time in front of the TV or computer?

Why do you want to spend more time with your children or spouse?

Why do you want to pray more?

Nothing will happen for the long term until you can answer why doing it is meaningful to you. Not to your doctor, or your spouse, or even your kids . . . they will all benefit and be the receptor of the blessings of your goals . . . but you must determine the importance if you’re going to keep at it even when it gets hard.

I pray that whatever God puts on your heart for 2017, He will plant it so deep that nothing can uproot it until He has finished the work He planned in and for you.

Happy Blessed New Year all my friends and family and I’ll see you again on January 9.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 NLT

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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.

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Give the Gift of Encouragement at Christmas

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

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

How Was Barnabas an Encourager?

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

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

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

Give the Gift of Encouragement by Letting Others Bless You

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

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

blessings

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

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

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

Everyone needs the gift of encouragement . . .

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

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

Give the Gift of Encouragement with Your Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Who Will Care for the Widows and Fatherless this Christmas?

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27 NLT

Each week I wonder what God will have me share with you in the Monday Morning Blog, and then God shows up. This week it was clear from several sources, even the Book of Job, that God wanted me to address the topic of widows and the fatherless at Christmas.

God has a focus throughout the Bible of making sure His people care for the widows and orphans. Sometimes at Christmas, we become so wrapped up (pun intended) with our own hustle and bustle that we can neglect those who most need the gift of Christmas love. And I don’t just mean the Salvation Army bucket, although supporting them is important too.

While widows and their families need help every day, the holidays magnify their need. Some churches do an outstanding job of caring for these families, and others . . . have forgotten God’s charge to the church.

The definition of being a widow means a woman has lost her husband, and if she is a younger widow, she may have children who have lost their father. The children aren’t orphans, but their mother is emotionally, perhaps physically and spiritually, in such pain and anguish that her children may feel like orphans. The mother they once knew will never be the same again. Maybe friends or relatives try to fill the “Mom void” while she’s going through the sudden, unexpected, and unwanted process of making arrangements to bury her husband . . . their dad . . . while she’s still in a state of shock and unimaginable grief and trauma, but no one will ever replace the parents they had before dad was taken from them.

The First Christmas Without Him

Christmas is fast approaching and Mom wants her children, maybe too young to understand—maybe old enough to go through their own tragic heartbreak—still to have a good Christmas. But she can’t stop crying and wailing and the doctor has given her something to help her sleep and relax until she can grasp the magnitude of this nightmare that isn’t going away.

So friends and family pitch in and set up the Christmas tree, which is heavy laden with presents that first Christmas without him. But nothing fills the emptiness that permeates their home. The presents don’t fill the empty chair at the breakfast table Christmas morning, or the presents he’s not opening, or the prayer he’s not saying before meals, or the toys he’s not putting together, or the presents he didn’t give her, or his stocking that hangs empty on the mantel, and the fire he’s not stoking.

10 Practical Ways to Care for Widows and Fatherless Children this Christmas

  1. Take her children’s Christmas lists, clothes sizes, and do her Christmas shopping, then wrap all her presents. Assure her that only her children need gifts this year. No one else expects or needs anything from her.
  2. If she’s bought presents, wrap them for her.
  3. If she’s already bought presents for her deceased husband, offer to return them for her.
  4. If she’s not going to be with family Christmas Eve or morning, pack up your family and bring your Christmas to her house. Then if she needs to go in her bedroom and cry, her children won’t be opening their presents or crying alone.
  5. Don’t just drop meals off, stay and have the meal with her and the kids.
  6. During Christmas vacation, take her kids on play dates so she can have time alone to cry without fear of upsetting the kids.
  7. Know when her extended family is leaving and line up people from church to stop by and bring meals, pray, comfort her, and see how she and the kids are doing.
  8. Don’t forget older widows. Don’t think that because her husband was elderly that the pain is any less. She loved her husband for many years and they had blended into one heartbeat. Watch for signs of her declining or possibly losing a will to live.
  9. If you don’t have one already, start a support group in your church for widows and one for children who have lost their father. This isn’t just a holiday need, it’s a daily need.
  10. It may be difficult for her to see all the “couples” at church. Invite her to sit with your family during Christmas programs and every Sunday. If you notice she’s not coming to church, pick up the kids, bring them to church, and ask the pastor to stop and visit her. She may be mad at God. Don’t let her stay mad. Shower her with God’s love, and help her understand that God is crying over the loss of her husband too.

Her Husband Will Never Be Home for Christmas or Anytime Again!

Don’t forget about the widow, or the widow and her children, after the first Christmas. Every Christmas will be hard. She’ll always have to lug the Christmas tree home, set it up by herself, try and get the outside lights up for the kids, and make Christmas merry even though her heart is aching. His chair will still be empty, and his side of the bed will still be cold. He was the spiritual leader of the home, and now she’ll have to fill that role as both mother and father to their children.

Don’t expect a widow of any age to “get better” soon. Time will lessen the acute pain, but she’ll always have a aching hole in her heart, so don’t forget her after a month. Remember, she’s still a widow and her children are still fatherless, and she will need help with all the things her husband used to do around the house and her children will need godly male role models in their lives.

The widow will always need the love, support, help, kindness, and prayers of her family, friends, and church family not just at Christmas, but year round.

How do I know what a widow or fatherless child would need? Because my mother was that 32 year-old widow, I was the 10 year-old little girl, and my sister was four when my father, a California Highway Patrolman, was shot with his own gun and murdered one night while on duty on October 8. We went through his first birthday a week later, October 17, and I still remember going with my mother to Penny’s to return the leather jacket she had bought for his birthday. The next month came the first Thanksgiving . . . then the first Christmas without him.

These past few months in the news, we’ve watched policemen gunned down in their cars and each one of those men represented a mother or widow and children who will have that “first Christmas without him.” Or if you live near a military base, there are doubtless widows and fatherless children in your community. Pray for them, and if you live near any of them or go to their churches . . . do something for those families in the name of the Lord. That would be the best gift Jesus would have you give this Christmas. It was the best gift people gave to us.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families . . . . Psalm 68:4-6

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I know this was a sobering post to start the Christmas season, but you all know a widow, a fatherless child, a single mom, a shut-in who needs to see the love of Jesus lived out tangibly. I became a Christian because a year after my father’s death, someone at the camp in the picture above asked me:

“We know you’ve lost your earthly father, but would you like to know a heavenly Father who will never leave or forsake you?” I said, “Oh, Yes,” and my life has never been the same.

You could give that gift to some fatherless child this Christmas too.

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Can you read the name of the photographer’s sign in front of me in the picture?

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