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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

camp-picture-with-arrow2

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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Love Your Body—Give Yourself the Gift of Health

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Monday comes this year right after Thanksgiving weekend when you’ve probably just finished off the pumpkin pie with whipped cream—maybe for breakfast—and you’re wondering if you can lose that extra five pounds before the Christmas parties start next week. My first party is actually this Friday, December 2, and then away we go for the next month!

Don’t become discouraged and beat yourself up. After all, you only get Mom’s dressing and Grandma’s apple pie once a year, but you can’t continue that trend all month—especially if you’re on a medical diet and you’ve been making great progress or you just started reaching a goal. Don’t throw caution to the wind just because it’s the holidays and you’ll start over again in the New Year . . . chances are you won’t.

Give Your Body the Gift of Health

When I was a Registered Dietitian working in hospitals, they didn’t close during the holidays because people still got sick, they still had heart attacks, or insulin reactions, or any number of illnesses. I remember having to work one year on Christmas Day. So it doesn’t make sense to think I’ll just take a break from what I know I should do for this month or this party or this big dinner…because your body doesn’t care that it’s Christmas or Christmas Eve or the office party. Your body is going to react just like it would in the middle of January or June! So think and eat like this:

I must treat my body right every day, and when I overindulge, I must get right back to my normal regime the next meal.

You have to have a plan. Pray about how to deal with the tempting food you’ll soon be encountering before you encounter it. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment on what to eat, how much to eat, what to cook, how to cook it, and what to indulge in and what to avoid.

Sometimes I take a bite of something and it wasn’t as tasty as it looked, so I stop eating it. Or if it was good, I let that bite satisfy me. I peruse the selections and pick a couple that look the best . . . not one of everything!

Sometimes we plan to pace ourselves, then toss out the plan, and berate ourselves the next day when we get on the scales, or blood sugar or blood pressure is up—remember salty foods raise blood pressure.

Love Your Body—Beat of Treat High Blood Pressure

Love Your Body—Prevent or Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Helpful tips and please share in the comments any you use:

  • Get on the scales daily so you know if your weight is fluctuating. If you wait until you notice weight gain in your clothes, you’ll have a tough time losing, and may just buy bigger clothes. If you’ve gained, avoid desserts, eat smaller portions, and eliminate bread, butter, and what I call “empty calories”—sugar, honey, jelly/jam, chips, junk food, soft drinks, alcohol.
  • Maintain your exercise regime. If you don’t have one, start! Even though the holidays can be crazy, give yourself the gift that keeps on giving. Exercise helps with stress, gets the endorphins pumping, helps your heart, and burns calories. In bad weather, join a gym, walk laps around a mall, or invest in exercise equipment (hint: ask for Christmas).
  • Take a green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing to a potluck so you always have something healthy to eat. On buffet/potluck lines, take a small spoonful of foods you really like with one caution: Jell-O salads are high in sugar and fat. Don’t go back for seconds.
  • Have a small piece of the one dessert you like the most. Or take tiny bites of several. If one isn’t as good as it looks, don’t eat it!
  • Let your stomach guide you. When your belt or waistband tightens, STOP eating.
  • If you love bread, have a small piece, no butter. Skip store bought dinner rolls.
  • Eating out, draw a visual line down the middle of your plate. Eat half and ask for a to-go box for a tasty lunch tomorrow.
  • Drink water! Avoid punches, juices, soft drinks, and alcohol.
  • Enjoy stuffing or mashed potatoes without gravy. Avoid “sauces.”
  • Don’t add extra salt or butter.
  • Plan to start the New Year with a group of friends studying God’s plan for how to live a healthy life. I’ve written a study for First Place 4 Health that would make a great Christmas gift to get you started: God’s Best For Your Life. Gods Best for Your Life Cover

Cooking Healthy for the Holidays

I used to spend a day or two in the kitchen making cookies and candy. Then I realized I was the one eating most of it! Now, I pick a favorite one or two and make recipes healthier:

  1. No shortening! Substitute coconut oil or butter.
  2. No “vegetable” oil, use coconut oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or applesauce.
  3. Half the amount of sugar. You can substitute Stevia for the other half or use all Stevia.
  4. Use 2% milk, almond or coconut milk.
  5. Substitute whole-wheat flour for some of the white flour.
  6. I don’t use white flour, but use NAMASTE gluten-free Organic Perfect Flour Blend that I get at COSTCO, which can be used cup for cup for white flour with no other changes required.
  7. Put one stick unsalted butter and 1/2 cup olive oil in a blender or Cuisinart and use lightly as a spread on toast, rolls, veggies, potatoes as a soft “butter” spread.
  8. When making cookies with the grandkids, send the goodies home!

Keep the True Focus of Christmas

Remember Christmas parties aren’t about food! They’re about fellowship as you thank God for all His blessings and the greatest gift of all: His Son Jesus Christ.

I appreciate your desire to live the best life you can for the Lord and to love His gifts to you of Jesus Christ and your precious body.

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NLT

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How to Celebrate a Peaceful Post-Election Thanksgiving

happy_thanksgiving

During our small group prayer request time, a reoccurring request went something like this: Please help us be a light on Thanksgiving with the eclectic group of people attending with differing political and faith beliefs.

Whether it was all family, all friends, invited guests . . . or a combination . . . most were apprehensive how the day would turn out.

In the fragile aftermath of a volatile election, I imagine many of you are having similar concerns and conversations. I remember my mom cautioning that if you want to keep the peace, don’t talk about religion or politics, As a kid, I never understood her warning. Believers are supposed to tell everyone about Jesus. How could we not talk about our Savior, since our identity is in Christ? And isn’t everyone entitled to his or her own political opinion?

Then I grew up and learned that Jesus and politics are indeed quite controversial, but I still don’t think that means we shouldn’t talk boldly about them . . . we just need to be respectful. My first priority in life is being a born-again Christian and all other roles follow after. But as I wrote in Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten: “Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth in love, even in the face of adversity: ‘Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold’ (2 Cor. 3:12).” For example, if someone asks what I write, I answer, “Christian nonfiction.” Or I’ll say, “I’m a Christian author and speaker.”

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. Philippians 1:20 NLT

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. 2 Timothy 1:8 NLT

Is Thanksgiving a Religious Holiday?

That could be an awkward question in some circles.

I was with a group of people when I mentioned how I hoped people would set their differences aside on Thanksgiving Day, and one person said, “It’s just a time for eating a lot of food, watching football, and shopping online anyway.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure the first pilgrims who celebrated Thanksgiving didn’t have TV or Amazon.

Another responded: “Well at least Thanksgiving isn’t a religious holiday.”

I asked: “Who then are we thanking?”

Complete silence.

Of course, the answer is: God.

Abraham Lincoln made it an official national holiday “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”

The English colonists we call Pilgrims celebrated days of thanksgiving as part of their religion. But these were days of prayer, not days of feasting.

We read in Genesis that God spoke everything into being, and yet, many will be sharing turkey and dressing with people who don’t believe in, or discount, the existence of God. They don’t know where they’re going when they die, or where everything we enjoy on earth came from . . . and maybe they don’t even care. They’ll walk out of the room during prayer before the meal, and may try and start an argument over the election. Maybe after a few drinks, their conversation will turn ugly, even though innocent young eyes are watching and ears are listening to how “adults” interact.

As I prayed and talked to the Lord, here’s a list I hope will help any who might be apprehensive this Thanksgiving. I’d love to hear your ideas too.

Don’t worry about what to say—“Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11 (Jesus was instructing his disciples, but I think it could apply to us too if we felt our faith was being tested or put on trial.)

Speak kind words— “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Pr. 16:24 NLT

For your part, maintain peace—“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

Don’t ask or answer antagonistic questions, walk away or change the subject“Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.” Pr. 26:17 NLT

Play with any children present“We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.” Ps 78:4 NLT

Don’t drink“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NLT

Smile, Smile, Smile“Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Psalm 42:5 The Message

Listen“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Pr. 12:15 NLT

Take a deep breath and think before you speak—“There  is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” Pr. 29:20 NLT

Less is more—“The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?” Ecc. 6:11 NLTThere’s “A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” Ecc. 3:7 NLT

Say mind prayers continuously.—Pray continually” 1 Thess. 5:17

Have a secret sign or word between you and someone else that signals: Let’s change the subject or move into the other room.—“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecc. 4:9

Put on the Armor of GodPut on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 10:6:18

If you’re Hosting—Pray and thank God for each guest. Ask to be a blessing and to share joy. Pray over your home and each chair at the table. Pray before the meal as you normally would, your guests know they’re coming to a Christian home.—“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9

If you’re a Guest—As you walk up to the home, pray you’ll be a blessing and that God will stir up the fruit of the spirit in your heart. If you’re hosts don’t pray before the meal, bow your head and pray over your food as you normally would. — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23

Thanksgiving is a day for harmony and focusing on God and giving Him thanks and praise in whatever way He leads. Fiction writers have a saying: “Show don’t tell.” Which simply means, you don’t always have to speak Jesus with your words, you can show Jesus with your actions, and people will want what you have!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 NLT

Past Thanksgiving Blogs

Here are several past Thanksgiving blogs you might enjoy. I do give thanks for each of you who have followed me on my Monday Morning Blogs, and I pray you have a joyful, peaceful, and God-filled Thanksgiving Day.

Acquiring Overshadows Thanksgiving

What Are You Most Thankful For?

Love Your Body During the Holidays

Thanksgiving Tablecloth Idea

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten I share how to use your tablecloth as a “praise-cloth” to preserve memories for generations to come. Here is an excerpt from the book. I hope it gives you some ideas. I’ll be taking our tablecloth with us this Thanksgiving, and here is a picture of ours. We’re now writing down the sides.

thanksgiving-tablecloth-full

When my breast cancer journey started [2002], I became keenly aware of making memories with my family. At times like that, you think seriously about your mortality and the legacy you want to leave with your loved ones. You appreciate each new day of life. The sun rising every morning is an act of God to celebrate.

            Holidays like Thanksgiving have new meaning. Typically, Thanksgiving is a celebration where family and friends gather for a feast, and everyone says what they’re thankful for in the past year. But after finishing the dishes and putting away the leftovers, how many really remember what everyone said?

The Thanksgiving following my first breast cancer surgery, I had an idea of a Thankful Tablecloth. I purchased a Thanksgiving themed tablecloth with plenty of white space and a box of wash-resistant colored markers. After Thanksgiving dinner, I brought out the markers and asked everyone—kids included—to find a spot on the tablecloth to write what they were thankful for that year, sign, and date it. We traced handprints for the tiny ones with their name and age.

Today, we have years of thankful messages to read every Thanksgiving and remember the many acts of God’s goodness to us and the people who joined us at the celebration table each year. If we go to someone’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, I ask if I can bring our Thankful Tablecloth and markers.

            When I go to be with the Lord, I pray my family will continue bringing out the Thanksgiving Tablecloth as a reminder through the generations of how good God has been to our family and friends. [Excerpt from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten]

 

thanksgiving-tablecloth-message

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NLT

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What Do We Tell Our Churches about a Trump Presidency?

greatest-republican-turnout

If you’ve followed my blogs, you know I’ve been stumping for Trump, not because I think he’s the savior of America—no that’s Jesus—but because President-elect Trump represented the only platform that would lead our country back to God. Trump has his faults, like all of us (John 8:7), and the media, celebrities, elitists, Democrats, and even the establishment Republican Party, have relentlessly attacked him and his family. But President-elect Donald Trump stayed the course to victory . . . conservatives won this battle in the cultural war.

The “deplorables” outvoted the celebrities and the elitists. The liberal progressives didn’t think they needed you and me—everyday Americans, “little people,” and whatever else they called us because we weren’t going to matter anyway when they ruled over us. They thought we were dispensable.

How Did the Media get it So Wrong?

The night before the election, my husband and I rented the documentary Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party—a cross between sci/fi, horror, and tragedy—except it’s not fiction, it’s a true story. Even if you saw it at the theater, I implore you to rent it and listen to the extra interview with Jonah Goldberg to learn the significance of how God intervened on November 8th to protect us from the clutches of Democratic progressive liberalism. And Carol Swain, a black born-again Princeton and Vanderbilt professor with five degrees and former Democrat who explains how she, “came out of the darkness into the light,” and switched from the Democratic to Republican party when her research proved it was the Democrats who fought to keep slavery, founded the KKK, started Planned Parenthood to exterminate blacks, and now have them enslaved again.

At first my husband didn’t want to watch Hillary’s America, but Dinesh D’Souza did an excellent job of portraying the roots and plans of Clinton to not just preside over America, but literally to own America, a goal she set out with her mentor Saul Alinsky in college.  My husband and I were back on our knees, where we had been fervently crying out to God for months in our private prayer time, in our church, our small group, with our friends…in our prayer closets. We prayed for Trump and Pence to win because, as you’ve heard me say repeatedly, they represented the conservative platform that would give us a chance to put God back into the public square. This was so much more than a political battle—this was a spiritual battle raging in the heavenlies—and continues to rage in heavenlies and now in the streets.

And that my friends is what the media missed. They didn’t poll us in our prayer closets . . . but God heard and tallied every prayer. There is power in prayer. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power when two or more gather and pray in the name of Jesus. If you doubted that in the slightest, God made it clear on November 8, 2016.

I laughed as the media scratched their heads in shock and tried to come up with every possible scenario of why and how they were so wrong.

They kept saying we missed the “silent Trump vote.” That had to be it. Perhaps that was part of it.

You Cannot be Silent Any Longer!

i-voted-trump

In the last few weeks prior to the election, more people on social media were willing to stand up for Trump, but prayer groups were “closed groups.” Few were brave enough to admit they were voting for Trump. Even Clinton in her concession speech told her followers to come out from behind their closed social media groups . . . and that was good advice for us too. Christians notoriously don’t like conflict. Who does? But our role model, Jesus Christ, never shrunk away from conflict when it was a case of right versus wrong or exposing sin or evil doers. Paul never avoided speaking the truth. John, Peter, James and the disciples went into all the world by foot and by sea to spread the Gospel.

We proved on November 8th that we are the majority, but we can no longer be the “silent majority”! We came out in force, but now is not the time to retreat behind our church doors, back into our homes, and safety of our comfort zones.

God gave Republicans the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the Vice Presidency, and we’re going to have some conservative Supreme Court judges. This is a window in time, in history for a revival, but we can’t expect Trump and Pence to do all the work. We need to support them on the ground and we need to let them know the issues that are important to us.

Do not let fear rule you.

Do not let the Clinton followers intimidate you. They lost, you won.

That doesn’t mean you gloat, but it does mean you celebrate victory and give God ALL the glory. Let the world know where that victory came from. Be bold for Christ!

Now is not the time to be politically correct or “safe.” President-elect Donald J. Trump needs our prayers for protection, for picking a cabinet, for wisdom, and for success.

What to Tell Our Children

I’m baffled by the rhetoric of “What am I to tell my children about Trump winning the election?” You tell them God blessed America with a miracle and gave us another chance to get it right this time!

Tell them…

We can have righteous judges who will honor the constitution and not try to rule our lives and make laws outside their jurisdiction.

We can try to reverse a law that allows babies to be killed in their mommy’s tummies, even right up until the day of delivery.

We can have affordable healthcare.

We have a chance to try and take marriage back to the way God created it to be between a man and a woman only and to protect businesses who do not wish to participate in gay marriages.

We won’t have laws forced on us that men can go to the bathroom with our daughters or change clothes in their locker and dressing rooms.

We can put God back in the public square and maybe even back in the schools where He has always belonged.

We will have laws enforced and borders in place to stop people who want to do us harm, from coming illegally into our country.

God’s people spoke and were heard, and you my child and grandchild will have religious freedoms reinstated and protected like our founding fathers fought for and so many gave their lives for.

What Does the Church Do Now?

The Benham Brothers made a short video the day after the election, and it’s exactly what I was thinking. Please listen, it’s short and to the point. I’ve always said this was a spiritual and moral battle more than a political battle, and praise God we were victorious in this battle, but the battle is far from over.

So we don’t retreat and go back to business as usual, we armor up in the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). Pray to support President-elect Donald J. Trump and VP Mike Pence, however God leads you and your church. My husband and I pray an Armor of God prayer from Dr. Charles Stanley* every morning that I encourage you to also pray and share, because it’s “Battle On.”

When you face opposition, and you will, as you see the progressives are not going to retreat quietly, then use the only thing Jesus used, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

Notice in Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus didn’t get into long dissertations with Satan, he used Scripture. As the vulgarities and vileness spewed on my social media prior to the election, I started doing exactly that, and you know what…Satan retreated. Yes, I say Satan, because do your research, the heart of the progressive liberal agenda is progressively away from God as the foundation of the country—there’s only one force that would be at the heart of that movement and that’s Satan. Many cursing me were “proud progressive atheists.”

Now we have the hard work of not just making America great again, but reminding our fellow Americans that it will never be great until all remember that our country is founded on biblical principles. If we want God to bless America, we must remember “In God we Trust.” God divinely answered our prayers in this election and gave us another chance . . . let’s get to work to honor Him and give Him all the glory for the things He has done. That’s what I’m telling my grandchildren!

I Wrote My Last Book for Such a Time as This

Many have thanked me for standing in the gap and publically taking a stand for the outcome we saw on Election Day, but it needs to be all of us together. For everyone who turned that map red, we need to support our vote and support President Trump.

Who Will Stand in the Gap

Post-Election Prayer

We the people made our voices heard . . . but still the “world” isn’t listening. We need to speak louder. More than just a quiet X on a ballot. If you want our country to move away from the elitist atheistic “progressive” attitude, you must be an involved citizen. I’ve said this so many times, if I was speaking, I’d be hoarse!

I have been championing great authors and their books during this election, I would now ask my Christian brothers and sisters to read and put into action the book the Lord had me write for this very moment when we have seen victory. I’m not trying to sell books, I’m trying to move a sleeping giant into revival. To help the body of Christ now rise up and turn our culture back to God. There are study questions at the end of each short chapter, and reflection questions within the chapter. It’s a book for both men and women. We’re getting requests now for large groups to do Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten because now is the hour to claim America back for God. Won’t you join me?

“Trump gave nervous evangelicals a gift that many of them lacked—the gift of boldness.”–Lance Wallnau, God’s Chaos Candidate .

Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten is also available signed on our website. *The link to the Dr. Charles Stanley’s Prayer is at the end of the Excerpt from Forsaken God?.

ForsakenGod.indd

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What Does It Mean to “Love Your Neighbor” During an Election or Anytime

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

While walking and praying this past week, the Lord put Matthew 22:36-40 on my heart and impressed on me to write a blog post tying it into the November 8, 2016 election. I wrestled with the thought and wondered if He really meant I should write it after the election, when some might be reading this post happy and others upset about the results. I’ve been vocal on social media, trying to encourage Christians to take a stand for the conservative Republican platform in the election and imploring everyone to look at platforms not personalities of the two candidates. One person said she tried not to take a particular side, but to follow “Love your neighbor.” There it was again. I’ve learned that when God really wants me to do something, He doesn’t let up until I get it.

I thought about how often this verse is taken out of context instead of the complete, “Love your neighbor, as yourself.” It’s sometimes used in chastisement or even as a rationalization for accepting sin.

What Does the Greatest Commandment Say About “Love”?

Matthew 22:36-40 says the first thing we’re to do is love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul—love His Word and His ways more than anything else in the world! Everything in us strives to please God first: honor the way He wants us living with a pure heart and mind as the Holy Spirit indwells our soul. God’s standards . . . His Word and His Ways . . . govern every decision and choice we make, every thought we allow in our mind . . . yes, every vote.

Then the second commandment is like it . . . we do the same thing with our neighbor . . . but we don’t just love our neighbor, we love our neighbor as ourselves . . . the same self that loves God with all our mind, heart, and soul. We don’t love our neighbor by the world’s words and ways, but by God’s Word, His Ways, and the Holy Spirit.

Thus the cultural rub. When Christians apply the world’s definition of “love your neighbor” . . . tolerate your neighbor’s sin, just love on them or you’re judging them . . . we aren’t loving our neighbor as ourselves or according to God’s Word, His Ways, and the Holy Spirit. Consequently, many Christians “love their neighbors” straight into hell, without ever telling them about heaven. Not loving or caring about them enough to go to the hard places of talking about good and evil, sin, repentance, forgiveness, and eternal life with Jesus.

The most loving thing any Christian can do is tell someone about Jesus and share the Gospel.

Love them enough to tell about eternity in heaven and the reality of hell.

Meet them where they’re at, but don’t leave them there.

Aren’t you glad someone stepped out of his or her comfort zone to tell you about Jesus and help you make changes in your life and ask Jesus for forgiveness? I am. Otherwise, none of us would be Christians today. I would still be wallowing in my backslidden life if Greg Laurie had not loved a whole group of “neighbors” and asked us “Are you ready to die tonight?”

Christians shouldn’t just love ourselves to heaven, we should love our neighbors to heaven too!

How Did Jesus Love His Neighbor?

For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 1So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:5-11 NLT

It’s not easy confronting someone with their sin, but when we don’t, we’re condoning it. We do need to establish a relationship first, then share the Gospel and help them confront their sin, ask for forgiveness, and change their ways. Three biblical examples of Jesus loving his neighbor and introducing them to Himself come to mind.

  • When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He asked her for a drink (relationship); He told her about living water and eternal life (shared the Gospel); asked about her husband and she admitted she had no husband (confession). He told her he knew she had had five husbands and the man she was living with was not her husband (confronted her sin). He didn’t send her back home to live with her boyfriend, He told her the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). She became the first woman evangelist, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ (John 1:4-42)
  • To the woman caught in adultery who he rescued from being stoned to death, He didn’t say: Well they’re all sinners too, we all sin, so no big deal. I don’t condemn you so just be more careful next time. He told her “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:2-15)
  • Zacchaeus was a fraudulent tax collector. When Jesus saw him he said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (Relationship) People were upset at Jesus for going to a “sinner’s” house, but Zacchaeus realized his sin (confronted with sin, he repented) and “Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come to this house.’” (Luke 19:1-10). Salvation not just to Zacchaeus, but to everyone in the house . . . you know Jesus shared the Gospel while he ate with them.

I wrote a blog post that might help with Balancing Grace and Truth.

What Does Love Your Neighbor Have to Do with the Election?

two-platforms

So how does this all tie into the election? Let’s look at the top five moral issues of two completely different political platforms that clearly delineate God’s way versus the world’s way—two different Americas. Ask yourself is this what it means to “love my neighbor like myself?” Is this what I want for myself . . . my family . . .  my neighbor? Is this what God wants for His people, for America?

A Christian can’t straddle the line between the two platforms. You must take a stand for right versus wrong, good versus evil. Some “neighbors” will listen and some like the “progressive liberal atheist” lesbian couple supporting Clinton who told me they want to spend eternity in hell together, or the atheist supporting Clinton who would not answer my question asking if she knows where she will spend eternity—will not listen.

If you love your neighbor enough to hope that someday he or she will know Jesus and be in eternity with you, then you must choose the platform that will allow you to freely share the love of Jesus with your neighbor. As I look at these platforms, it’s clear to me there’s only one choice. If you’re reading this after election day, admittedly it’s going to be harder, but we still must honor Matthew 22:36-40.

  1. Sanctity of human life

Democratic

Democrats seek to repeal the 1976 Hyde Amendment so that federal funds can be used to pay for abortions. The platform says, “We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers.” Democrats support ratification of UN efforts that affirm “the reproductive rights of women” globally.

Republican
The GOP asserts the sanctity of human life and affirms,The unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.” The party supports a Human Life Amendment making clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth, and it salutes states that require informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods and clinic regulation.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should give them the right to murder their unborn baby He created?

  1. Marriage

Democratic
Democrats applaud last year’s Supreme Court ruling that “LGBT people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love.”

Republican
The GOP platform condemns the Supreme Court’s rulings that removed the ability of Congress and the people to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The GOP urges the reversal of those decisions, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage?

  1. Religious freedom—Acknowledging God

Democratic
The Democratic platform says: “We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.” The party opposes a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the country.

Republican
Republicans affirm that religious freedom in the Bill of Rights protects the right of the people to practice their faith in their everyday lives. The platform endorses the First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect faith-based institutions and individuals from government discrimination.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should condone and legalize sin forcing pastors to perform gay marriages or be punished as we’ve seen with bakers, florists, photographers; students shouldn’t be allowed to use God’s name or Scripture in commencement speeches; Christian businesses like Hobby Lobby should be forced to pay for abortions?

  1. Federal Judges

Democratic
The platform says: “We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, and will protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.”

Republican
The GOP platform states: “A critical threat to our country’s constitutional order is an activist judiciary that usurps powers properly reserved to the people through other branches of government.” The GOP supports the appointment of justices and judges who respect the constitutional limits on their power and respect the authority of the states.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor should allow unrighteous judges to make laws beyond their constitutional limits that enforce and legalize sin?

  1. Israel and Jerusalem

Democratic
The platform states: “We will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel. … While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Republican
Republicans express “unequivocal support for Israel,” pointing out that it is the only Middle Eastern country with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The GOP recognizes “Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state.” The party opposes the U.N.’s treatment of Israel as a pariah state.

Question: Did God mean that loving your neighbor would mean that America should aid the enemies of our ally and God’s chosen people of Israel?

These five platform issues came from Billy Gramham.org Democratic and Republican Party Platforms. More issues are described on their website.

I hope you take the time to read the platforms before you vote and don’t get caught up in the media rhetoric, because the answers to the above questions will be what we live with in the future, and depending on the results of the election, every believer must remember:

In God we trust, not in man or woman.

You can still make a difference. The article I wrote for Crosswalk.com might be helpful You Don’t Have to Make Movies or Get Elected to Change Culture.

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