What to Do When You Don’t Like Your Life Season

What Do You Do When You Don't Like Your Life Season? Cry yell scream get depressed? None of those things are going to change things. God tells us in Ecc. 3:1-8 that there's a time for every good and difficult season under heaven but read and discover how God and mentoriing can help you survive this season!

We’ve all heard it said, “There’s a time for everything.” Or “You’re just in a season, it will pass.” In fact, it’s Scriptural—

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The good and pleasant seasons sound wonderful and just what God wants for us, right? It’s so easy to think that God couldn’t possibly want what we perceive as a bad or unpleasant season for us. And yet this Scripture passage tells us that God made both, and while we’re alive, we’re going to experience every season—the good and the bad—under heaven.

Pastor Rick Warren often says that life is like a roller coaster: if you’re going up and experiencing a good season, brace yourself because in about three weeks you’ll probably find yourself going down into an unpleasant season, screaming all the way!

We try so hard to hold onto those feel-good seasons, and there’s nothing wrong with that—we should have times of joy, dancing, laughing, loving, and peace. But when the not so good times roll, we need to remember that God has not left us. He’s walking right beside us through the mourning, weeping, uprooting, and war seasons, and that’s when a mentor is so helpful to remind us that she made it through her tough seasons and we will too.

The focus of my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture has Forgotten is for us to remember how good God has been in all the seasons of our life. God never abandons His children. This is a message we need to share with each other and with the culture, especially during these challenging times we live in today.

Reasons for Not Liking our Life Season

Usually we don’t like our life season because:

It’s painful or uncomfortable.

We’re jealous and like what someone else’s life looks like more than our own life.

We’re living with the consequences of our, or someone else’s, behavior or decisions.

We’re discontent or discouraged.

We’re not sure if God still cares about us.

What would you add to the list?

We all have difficult seasons we want to end. Or maybe we’re in a wonderful season that we never want to end. Many life seasons we have no control over, even though advertisers and the culture would try to make you believe differently. They set us up to fail either way by thinking if we just drink the right cola, take the right pill, own the right car, use the right cosmetics and anti-aging products, eat the right food, reach success . . . every season of our life will be heavenly. The aging clock is going to stop and somehow God made our life to be different from everyone else’s life.

But that’s a lie and those who buy into it will never be content because everything God lists in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a season that everyone will experience.

What to Do When We Don’t Like Our  Life Season

We probably feel like crying, screaming, maybe yelling, getting depressed, ignoring, or trying to get out of it. If we’re honest, we’ve all been there.

But soon we realize that the only thing that works when we don’t like our life season is to ask God how He wants us to deal with it, and then listen carefully to how the Holy Spirit speaks to us. It’s that still small voice we hear guiding us when we cry out to God. We might not know how to get through the season, but God does. So often He’s talking, but we’re not listening.

Someone on a friend’s Facebook post asked how my Christian friend knew what God wanted. Did he have a direct line to God? I thought, Yes he does! Every Christian has a direct line to God the world doesn’t understand, and one we don’t use nearly enough: praying to Jesus who hears every word and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us even when all we can do is groan.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

While writing this post, I met a woman whose husband has cancer. As she shared her story, I heard in my mind hug her and pray for her. Mind you, we had just met, and I had already told her I would be praying for her husband and their family since I understood having had breast cancer three times. But as she kept talking, I knew I was to pray for her now. So I said, “Let me pray for you,” and stepped forward to hug her; but she didn’t realize that I meant right then. I knew God meant right then! She needed it and she was so grateful.

I had tried to talk myself out of it, and how many times is God trying to tell us what to do “right then,” but we’re dismissing His words of wisdom to see us through this season and on into the next one. That’s when a mentor can step in and do just what I was able to do for this woman, even though we barely knew each other. Can you imagine how much comfort can come from two women who have a personal mentoring relationship?!

God doesn’t want us going through any season alone, but He also doesn’t want us listening to anyone who isn’t giving us biblical wisdom. That’s why in Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, every season has Scripture to study together that applies to the various issues women might experience in that season.

Being a mentor, or a mentee reaching out to another woman for guidance, doesn’t mean the mentor has all the answers or the Bible memorized. It just means she’s willing to search God’s Word and pray together for Him to tell you both what to do in the life seasons you might not like right now; and then, you both reach out and help someone else going through something similar.

And that’s exactly what Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us we need to do when we’re going through a life season we don’t like!

What to Do When You Don't Like Your Life Season? Find a mentor who has experienced it already and let her support and encourage you. Read some helpful tips on how to survive those unpleasant life seasons.

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Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing 9/12/17 is available now for pre-order.

Author Bio

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

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

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

Visit Janet at:

womantowomanmentoring.com

www.facebook.com/Janetthompson.authorspeaker

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

www.pinterest.com/thompsonjanet

https://twitter.com/AHWministries

Why I Have Hope for Katy Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My “Katy Perry” Story

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

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

What Brought Me Back to the Lord?

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

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

What Can We Do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Ways to Have a God-Glorifying Small Group

Last week as I was shutting down my computer, I noticed a Facebook tag from my dear friend and fellow author/speaker, Pam Farrel. Pam leads a group called Seasoned Sisters, and you’ll be able to read all about how she started this mentoring group for women going through midlife in my new book Mentoring For All Seasons when it releases in September this year! Pam shares in it several stories about being mentored and being a mentor during transition seasons of her life.

Several months ago, Pam told me her Seasoned Sisters group wanted to read and discuss my latest book that Pam endorsed, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. They purchased the books, and then I got a message from her that more women wanted to join the group as the word got out how much they were enjoying my book. You know how this encouraged me and warmed my heart since my vision for Forsaken God? was for Christians to make a change for God in our culture by simply remembering how good God has been to them in their own lives. There are discussion questions after each chapter for group study, and the book isn’t just for women: it’s for all Christians!

So back to last week’s Facebook tag. Pam was meeting with her Seasons Sisters and they sent me a live video to say “Hi” and tell me what Forsaken God? has meant to them. Several comments: “Very timely! I don’t want to watch the news; I just want to read this book.” “Forsaken God? will put the headlines in perspective and give you God’s view.” Here’s the short video for you to watch yourself.

One woman said she had given the book to a waitress. I was blessed and encouraged. If you read last week’s blog post 10 Ways to Change Our Culture, you know my heart for motivating Christians to take a stand for God in their sphere of influence. I’m praying some of you thought there was at least one way you would apply to your life.

The Value of Small Groups / Bible Study Groups / Life Groups

Small groups or Bible study groups or life groups, whatever your church calls them, are the perfect place to mature in your faith and encourage each other to take your faith public, as we’re told to do in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

My husband and I met in a small group at Saddleback Church. He was the co-leader of a business group that included men, women, couples, and singles. It was my first experience in a small group, but Dave and I have been leading small groups and support groups (such as Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter) ever since. Sometimes we lead together, other times he might lead a men’s group and I’ll lead a women’s group. We’ve led groups at a mega church like Saddleback, and at the small church in the mountain community where we now live. Our favorite groups are couples groups.

Like every small group, some of our groups ran smoothly with everyone committed, and others had problems that we had to address for the good of the group. Here are five key areas where God taught us through trial and error how to have a small group that glorifies Him and enriches the spiritual life of all the group members.

  1. Create a safe place with confidentiality – Do members of your group feel like the group is a safe place where they can share openly without condemnation, criticism, or worrying that what they say will leave the group?

Prayer time can unintentionally become a gossip session. Members should feel confident that prayer requests or comments made during the meetings are not discussed outside of the group, without permission from all individuals involved.

Spouses should not share stories about each other without receiving permission, whether or not their spouse is present. To keep the group accountable in this area, when a spouse starts to talk about his or her spouse, the leader can say something like, “That sounds like a hubby [or wife] story. Hubby [or wife], do you want us to hear this?” And if he or she says no, then nix the story.

  1. Don’t Try to Fix Each Other – Are members trying to solve each other’s problems or give unsolicited advice?

Members shouldn’t try to speak into each other’s life unless asked to do so. Often a member just wants to share a difficult situation and is solely looking for compassion, understanding, and prayer. The group should listen respectfully, and possibly offer constructive and empathetic comments from their own experience, as long as those thoughts are biblically sound, and above all, encouraging. No quick fixes or “you shoulds.”

Sometimes members with difficult issues can dominate the entire meeting and that might be appropriate if someone is in an immediate crisis. But if this becomes a pattern, the leader/facilitator gently suggests that the member might benefit from speaking with pastors at the church or offer to talk privately and pray with him or her after the group.

  1. Set Clear Expectations and Request Commitment – Is everyone committed and giving priority to meetings and communicating in advance when they aren’t going to attend? Do all members have clear expectations of what they’re going to receive from the study, and are they in concert with the group?

Will it be a social fellowship group vs. a Bible study group, or a combination of the two?

Commitment and making meetings a high priority is imperative. Members shouldn’t have an “I’ll-be-there-if-I-can” attitude. Your goal is to become a spiritual family growing and doing life together, respectful of each other’s time and efforts.

There’s nothing more discouraging as a leader than to prepare for the group and then start receiving the phone calls and emails, often at the last minute, that members aren’t coming. One way to share the commitment and ownership of the group is to pass the facilitating of the group among the members. So it’s not always a leader/members group, but a group with everyone having a part in facilitating the meetings.

Make sure you have a group covenant that clearly states the purpose of the group and allow everyone an opportunity to express his or her expectations. This is also a good place to reemphasize confidentiality and commitment expectations.

  1. Maintain Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit—Do you spend enough time in the Word and let the Holy Spirit lead or are you rushing through studies to reach a goal?

Regardless of the focus or purpose of the group, everyone must be reading from the Bible every meeting. Members need to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer during the meetings and during the week for spiritual growth to occur.

It’s important to end at the agreed expected time so people can plan, but don’t be overly concerned how much material is covered each meeting. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and expose just the right discussion for growth in everyone’s life.

  1. Encourage Active Group Participation – Is everyone doing his or her outside study material between meetings and participating in the discussion? Do some people never talk and others do all the talking?

It’s important for the health and growth of the group that everyone comes prepared if there is homework or reading between meetings, and that each member has an opportunity to participate in discussion.

A good way to engage people who tend to be quiet is to ask them to read a Scripture, and if it applies to a study question, that’s an open door to read their answer. Or to prevent them from feeling pressured to respond first, after some initial group discussion on the question, the leader/facilitator can invite their input. These suggestions also are effective in preventing the group from relying on the same group members for answers and discussion.

Small groups are vital to the spiritual growth and maturity of a church congregation, whether the church is large or small. It’s easy to get lost in a large church and not feel accountable, but a small group makes a big church small. In a small church, like where we are right now, small groups expand the ministry and teaching during the week and can make a small church seem like a large extended family.

What other things have you found to be a problem and/or helpful in keeping your small group effective and maturing together in Christ?

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All my books have discussion questions for groups. I’ve also written a Face to Face Bible Study Series for women. There are seven in the series and each one is a perfect length for summer study. Or there’s a First Place 4 Heath Bible study God’s Best for Your Life.

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Who’s Your Boss?

MRI registration form

Saturday, I woke up dreading the MRI I would be having later in the day. I’ve noticed that every time I have a problem lately, doctors want an MRI. I don’t like closed in places, so going into that MRI tube is one of my least favorite things. I have to take something to relax, put a washcloth over my eyes, and have Christian music playing in the earphones they put on you. And pray a lot and have many people praying.

So hubby and I showed up for my appointment at what was a new hospital to us. I’d usually had tests done through the other hospital in town. I walked up to the registration desk and the receptionist said, “Oh yes here is your paper work right here. We just need you to fill in where highlighted and sign the form.”

Expecting to have to fill out all the usual questions, I was delighted to see most things already typed in, and I just needed to put in a cell phone number and verify my address. And then  . . . I saw it . . . I can only say I took in a deep breath and for a moment just stared at the form.

Next to “Patient’s Employer” these words were typed in caps on the form “AUTHOR/SPEAKER FOR GOD.” I hadn’t previously filled out any paperwork for this facility online, over the phone, or in person; but there it was staring back at me on the hospital form!

Several things quickly crossed my mind as I had an instant flashback of my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, and all the ways I talk about recognizing, remembering, and celebrating our amazing God. The thoughts came in this order, along with a quote from Forsaken God?

  1. I need to take a picture of this form. I never want to forget this!

“Pictures are a great way to remember the attributes of God and his goodness in performing miracles and blessed experiences.”

  1. This was a witness to whoever filled out this form! Where had they got this information? They could have so easily just put Author/Speaker, but they added “For God” and put it all in caps! How did this happen? I need to share this with everyone who asks how the MRI went.

“The God of past miracles is the same God of today’s miracles. His wondrous ways should still command our awe-inspiring respect. Look for miracles in your life and in the world around you. Remember them and tell the spectacular, miraculous stories of God’s goodness over and over!”

  1. Never think something like this is just a coincidence.

God is perpetually at work in a believer’s life, whether or not we recognize him. I firmly believe there are no coincidences, only God-incidences and divine appointments. When I hear people speak of serendipity, I kindly reply that was God, not karma or chance.”

  1. God is making me aware of His presence. He wants me to know He will be with me and comfort me in that MRI tube.

“God shows his presence in memorable ways to us too, but how well do we recognize him? We’re always in his presence, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).”

  1. You can be a bold witness for God in everything you do and say, even on a medical form!

“People say I’m bold about my faith and it surprises me that’s considered an unusual trait … because shouldn’t every Christian be bold? Our faith isn’t a secret to hide; it’s the answer to the world’s woes. Unfortunately, Christians often worry more about offending the world than offending God. Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity: “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12).”

Who would do that? Who did that? Only God knows. I always fill out forms, or when asked, my occupation: “Christian author/speaker.” When asked the name of my business: “About His Work Ministries.” And when asked who is my employer I write, “The Lord” or “God.” Somewhere in the Boise medical system, I had used these terms on previous forms and this facility arrived at SPEAKER/AUTHOR FOR GOD. I’ve never phrased it that way, but I think I will now!

The receptionist told me to carry the form with me everywhere I went that day! You can be sure I did.

A Similar Experience

In Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, I tell a similar story that happened when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. The Breast Care Center sent forms to fill out, and for occupation, I had started to write “self-employed,” but I heard the Lord nudge, “Janet, you aren’t actually self-employed. I AM your employer and Boss. After all, your ministry name is About His Work Ministries.” So I did put my employer was “The Lord.”

That form went with me everywhere during my surgery and treatment, and I had so many people letting me know they had the same “Boss” I did. It opened up so many doors of comfort and conversation, and I became best friends with the patient advocate, Grace, who said, “Interesting Employer.” I said, “Yes, is He yours too?” Grace said, “Absolutely,” and we became co-workers for Christ and breast cancer awareness.

Where Does God Want You to Acknowledge Him?

We believers who have given our lives to Christ, should recognize that being a Christian is our identity that surpasses all other life roles.

What do I hope you will take away from this blog post?

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.—Romans 1:16

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.—Philippians 1:20

On a Side Note

If you have read Forsaken God?, I would love to hear how God is using it in your life. Two women from different generations, one a young brand new believer and one a seasoned elderly Christian approached me at church this morning. I share this with you for you to know that wherever you are in your faith, I think you will find this book relevant. Also, as we read more and more about the moral chaos in our culture, you can find peace and conviction in remember the God of the past is also the God of the future.

Here is a post from Facebook today, Sunday May 15:

God truly blessed me this morning. Before church started, a young new believer who is getting baptized this month, came up to me holding Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten and told me, “I can’t put it down!” Then she stood up and told the entire church what a good book it is. I had never met her before today.
After church, a sweet elderly, seasoned Christian woman gave me a hand-written note a portion of which reads: “I have appreciated so much your book “Forsaken God?”. It is full of truth and honor for our God…it is such a sweet savor….”
Thank you Lord that the message of Forsaken God? reaches all generations and for giving me the encouragement I needed today to press on writing the next book.
Forsaken God? speaks to Christians in today’s culture … I hope you will not only read it, but apply what you read…God had me write it for such a time as this! Here’s the link to check it out if God leads you to do so…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet Sadie Robertson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

See the trailer at the movie’s main website.

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

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

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

***

Photos courtesy of Grace Hill Media and Pure Flix Entertainment.

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

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

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God's Not Dead 2

Would You Ever Forsake God?

I can see a lot of us shaking our heads and saying, “No! I have never forsaken God and I never would!” If you’re a Christian, this thought probably seems shocking and unimaginable. When you saw the title of my new book, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, you might have wondered why I wrote it? Who is the audience? Surely, it must be for unbelievers or the worldly culture because you would never forsake God!

The disciple Peter once said the same thing:

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Matt. 26:33-34

We know, that indeed, Peter did forsake his beloved Jesus. If Peter, who loved Jesus and became the rock that Jesus founded his church on, could forsake Him, how much more could we.

Hmmm … let’s pause for a moment to consider if we have ever fallen away or forgotten God, even for just a little time, and then how we can remember to include God in every aspect of our life in the future.

Here are just a few ways we may forsake God. Do any of them hit home with you like they do with me?

  • Doubted God’s goodness, faithfulness, or provision during times of difficulty?
  • Forgot that God was in control and took matters into our own hands?
  • Failed to give God glory or recognition when He answered our prayers?
  • Didn’t remember God’s past mighty works or intervention on our behalf?
  • Didn’t defend God, when others around us talked disparagingly of Him?

How about in current election and political discussions:

  • Do you consider what God would want in a candidate or what you want?
  • Have you looked at the candidates through God’s biblical filter or just your own?
  • Are you more fearful of economic decline or spiritual decline?
  • Is God’s will your focus or personal preferences?
  • Are you participating more in political discussions or praying for our country?
  • Are you responding as a Christian or trying to be politically correct?
  • Are you looking to the Bible–the only source of truth–for answers–or the biased. often inaccurate, media and social media?

If you answered the above questions honestly, I think you have to agree that our human nature initially tends to focus more on what we want rather than considering what God wants. We don’t always base our opinions, discussions, and choices on God’s Word–we do sometimes forsake God, and that should be a wake up call to every believer.

 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

If we’re ever going to have a spiritual revival in our country, not pre-empted by a disaster or crisis, Christians need to disregard the ways of the world, ruled by Satan, and focus on God’s purpose and design for our lives, thoughts, decisions, speech, actions, and country: “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19 NLT).

Last week’s blog post stressed that in Scripture God Does Tell Us How to Vote, and He also tells us how to live as Christians in a fallen world. As Franklin Graham repeatedly says, and his father Billy before him: Only God can heal our land.

Franklin Graham

But as wise President Reagan once said, “We need God’s help to guide our nation through stormy seas. But we can’t expect Him to protect America in a crisis if we just leave Him over on the shelf in our day-to-day living.”

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And as my author friend, Kathy Howard quoted me . . .

Forsaken-God Kathy Howard

True Confession Time

Every author and speaker is motivated to write or speak on topics close to his or her own heart, maybe something he or she has struggled with too. I don’t know about you, but I must admit that sometimes I have forsaken God when I . . .

  • Try to solve things myself without consulting Him first.
  • Worry over decisions that are only in His control, not my control.
  • Forget to pray first, before opening my mouth or taking actions.
  • Don’t always look to His Word for guidance.
  • And so many more . . .

Yes, even those of us in ministry often forget and forsake God, no one is exempt. So my goal in writing Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, is to jog all our memories. Help us recall all God has done in our own life by learning new ways to remember God’s goodness. I hope to motivate us to then share the power of our Great God with a lost and hurting world, especially the next generation . . . especially during this election process.

One generation commends your works to another;
    they tell of your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4

Here are just a few of my thoughts from Forsaken God? to help put us on a path of remembering our great God today and every day!

Today’s culture is quickly forgetting the goodness and power of our Great God. If we don’t remember what God has already done, we won’t believe what He is capable of doing in the future. Memory builds faith.

The Bible describes the potential destruction to people who forget and forsake God. The dangers are paramount. We read the Old Testament and lament at how forgetful the Israelites were of God’s goodness. Every time he did something good for them, they started grumbling that they needed something else.

God was only as good as the next miracle or provision. A forsaken God.

We wonder at how the Israelites could be so blind and ungrateful. Why couldn’t they trust that a God who provided and protected them in the past, would do the same in the present and future? But are we any different today?

Our memories tend to be very short. God has done amazing things in our lives, but when the next crisis arises, we panic that He might not show up for us this time. Or when prayers are answered, we might take credit ourselves or offer praise to someone else instead of giving God the glory and recognition he deserves.

We would never intentionally forsake God, but if we’re honest, we do unintentionally forget Him. 

We live in a world today that is quickly trying to eliminate God from the public square and even in the private domain. Christians must help a lost world remember God and that starts with remembering him ourselves.

We need God

Questions to Prompt Your Memory

Use the following questions to get your memory flowing. Have a journal or notebook ready to record what God brings to mind:

  • What has God been doing in your life?
  • How did you become a Christian?
  • How does God help you through the day?
  • How did God answer a prayer request?

Helps to Remember in the Future

Now with some past memories firmly in place, let’s be purposeful in recognizing and remembering the things God will do in the future, and specifically how He wants believers to respond and react in the current political climate.

Here are several of the over 50 ways suggested in Forsaken God? to capture those memories and use them to always remember our Great God:

  • Take pictures
  • Journal
  • Read our Bibles
  • Receive Communion
  • Keep an ongoing “thankful list”
  • Join a small group
  • Share with others

What other ways can you think of to remember and share the goodness of God?

Leave a comment with your contact information to enter a contest to receive a free signed copy of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

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The most effective encouragement for trusting God in the present is remembering his power in the past. (Quote from Forsaken God?)

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God Does Tell Us How to Vote

Dr. Carson

I remember as a little girl hearing my parents warn: Never get into discussions about politics or religion—especially among family and friends. The basis of their warning was that people differ so much in their opinions that it will only cause disagreements and maybe estrangements. And it did!

That seemed so strange since as Christians of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20), we’re told to go out and tell the world about Jesus. And if Jesus is the most important person in our life, and our whole life centers on Him, how could we be silent? Wouldn’t our faith influence our politics? Wouldn’t fellow believers agree?

The adage of my parent’s time has become the “political correctness” of our time. Don’t offend anyone with your beliefs or they’ll label you a hater and bigot for opposing something the Bible clearly calls sin. Even all Christians don’t agree on what constitutes sin . . . or agree on much else actually.

In our culture, if we mention God, Jesus, or the Bible, we’re dismissed as religious zealots or troublemakers—sometimes even among fellow Christians.

How Is God Forsaken Politically?

In working on the title for Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, my husband suggested we put a question mark after Forsaken God? to make us stop and think if this could be true. Many Christians can’t imagine ever forsaking God, but it happens so frequently today—not intentionally, but unconsciously—that we may not even realize we’re forgetting Him. But it is happening right now during the elections. How often do you hear people including God in the reasons for their political persuasions and voting choices?

When I was writing Forsaken God? last year, I had no idea what the political arena would look like this year, or that it would be an example of the premise of the book. But what I did see coming was a steady cultural forsaking of God and embracing of the liberal abandonment of the Bible. Just today, I read about an owner of abortion clinics who said she was sure Jesus approved of abortions because she was raised as a “liberal Christian”—an oxymoron! I wrote in the Generation to Generation section of Forsaken God?:

The next generation is falling away from the church in droves or erroneously choosing a pseudo-gospel of compromise and feel-good theology. Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.

We cannot assume that all Christians will be voting the conservative agenda in a world that indeed is forsaking and forgetting the God of the Bible. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myth” (2 Tim 4:3-4).

God Does Tell Us How to Make Every Decision, Including Voting ….

As Christians voice their political opinions in conversations and on social media and in blogs, I seldom hear the use of Scripture or prayer as the basis for their choices and comments. One exception is Pastor Max Lucado, who broke the typical pastoral nonpolitical protocol to speak out about Decency for President because he’s alarmed at some Christians straying away from our core values and biblical roots as criteria for a presidential nominee.

Like Pastor Lucado, I’ve observed disturbing responses to the current political scene, which I list below, but God provides us an antidote and voting guide when we remember Him and His Word.

  1. We’re angry, disillusioned, want change—which are all legitimate feelings as long as they’re not the sole basis of our decisions or lead us to choices that go against our beliefs and values. We can personalize these verses when we consider how to vote and who we’re voting for:

Character: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Eph. 4:31

Language: “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” —Col. 3:8

Attitude: “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” —1 Tim. 2:8

“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.” —1 Cor. 7:17

  1. I want, I need, I don’t like, I feel, I believe—Self-centeredness is never a good basis for making godly decisions. Try personalizing these verses.

God help me remember when I vote to: “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.” —Ps. 119:36 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” —Pr. 16:18

“When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”—Eph. 4:21-24

  1. Don’t talk to me about God or the Bible. You’re placing your faith in a very complex work written over a long period of time.” As Christians, we are to remember . . .

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”—Heb. 13:8

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” —Ps. 119:11

“I love God’s Word: I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” —Ps. 119:16

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” —2 Tim. 3:16-17

  1. God is in control, just be silent and let Him pick who is going to be PresidentGod never tells us to be apathetic, ineffective, or silent, and He uses His people to do His earthly work. How can He pick someone, if we don’t vote?

God says: “Select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” —Ex. 18:21*

Speak out for Christ: “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”’

Our part in the elections: “Make your motions and cast your votes, but God has the final say.” —Pr. 16:33 (MSG)

Christ has commissioned His Body, the Church, of which He is the Head, to effectively participate with Him in this world: “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.” —John 15:16

So What Do Christians Do This Election?

Republicans who stay home

We pray and then we go out and vote remembering that no man is perfect—Moses was a murderer, King David was a murderer and an adulterer, Paul was a persecutor of Christians . . . . But if we vote for the Republican conservative agenda and platform, then God can work through whoever wins the earthly mantel.

Max Lucado wrote a follow up blog post to his Decency for President post and he titled it Worried Enough to Pray?

Pray for God to:

  • Bring unity in His church and His people
  • Put a man of integrity and character who loves the Lord as President
  • Help us do whatever God asks to return our country and our culture back to God
  • God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven
  • Add your own prayers:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chr. 7:14

Then we do our civic responsibility and privilege, confident that we have done what we can in the way that God called us to work with Him as Christians:

Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 2 Cor. 1:12

*Bryan Fisher Host of “Focal Point” has an excellent article “The Bible Does Tell Us Who to Vote for” in which he explores in detail Exodus 18 and the criteria Jethro told Moses to use in selecting godly leaders. I highly suggest reading this well-written article.

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Grandparents Changing the Culture

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

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

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

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

MESSAGE FROM LILLIAN PENNER

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

The Mission Field

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

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

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

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

Our grandchildren are our primary mission field.

Sign Up Today to Be a Praying Grandparent

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

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

Now you must make a decision:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_MG_5006A LIL

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

Visit Lillian

Ways to Remember Your First Love!

Balloon with cardJesus Loves You

I don’t have to tell you that yesterday was Valentine’s Day—the universal day for showing and sharing love. Red and pink hearts were everywhere and it was fun to see many of the women, and some men, at church wearing red and pink. The bouquet of red roses next to the Bible at the front of the church, reminded me of how appropriate it was that Valentine’s Day was on a Sunday this year, because we were in church honoring our First Love: Jesus Christ.

The children of our church will never forget this Valentine’s Day either, and Who we should love above all others. When the congregation walked out of the sanctuary into the fellowship hall, the children’s ministry during Sunday school had decorated the entire ceiling with heart shaped balloons and streamers. At the end of each streamer was a card with a handwritten note from the children: “Jesus loves you” and “God loves you.”

The children were so excited to see us all walk into the room and ooh and ah over how beautiful the room looked.

Balloons on ceiling

My heart swelled as I thought about the precious Sunday school teachers who helped these children focus on Jesus as our First Love and serve the congregation. In Forsaken God, Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I stress how important it is for the next generation not to just hear about the love of Jesus, but to experience His love personally and then to share it.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Love is a word we use freely….

  • I love pizza!
  • I love pink!
  • I love my husband!
  • I love my kids!
  • I love my new vacuum!
  • I love my new shoes!

Obviously, if we were prioritizing that list, we love our husbands and kids more than we love pizza or shoes. But would we put Jesus at the top of the list?

If you’re married, how could you possibly differentiate between your husband and your children as your first love? If you have more than one child . . . how could you determine which one of them you love first? You can’t.

But when you make Jesus your FIRST love . . . He gives you the ability to have limitless love for Him and for others.

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” —Matthew 22:37-40 The Message

Remembering Jesus, Your First Love

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 21 in Forsaken God?, “Remembering His Love”:

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One of the first verses we learn as children or new believers is John 3:16. This verse emphasizes how much God loves the world and wants everyone to have an opportunity to trust in him and his Son, Jesus Christ, and have eternal salvation. It’s hard to imagine how anyone would turn down this kind of sacrificial love, but you and I both know people who don’t accept God’s love invitation. Sadly, they don’t understand the consequences of rejecting God’s love. The Message translation of John 3:16-18 clearly states their fate:

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.

Loving God is a lifetime relationship. He never falls out of love with us; but believers who have fallen away from God, or who don’t love him the way they did at first, are cautioned in Revelation 2:4-5 to remember and repent … or else:

But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent. (AMP).

Do you remember the zeal and excitement you had as a new believer? How grateful you were for salvation and Jesus’ love and the intensity of your love for him … the thrill of feeling forgiven. You wanted to tell everyone about Jesus, until you realized not everyone was receptive to hearing about your new love. You became more cautious about sharing your faith for fear of rejection or ridicule. Your enthusiasm waned and soon you didn’t talk about Jesus unless you were with believers, and maybe not much then either.

In the beginning of your faith walk, you had enthusiasm without knowledge. Don’t let knowledge and time diminish enthusiasm. Spiritual maturity should intensify adoration, not spawn complacency. Otherwise, your light will dim, as will your relationship with Christ, and you won’t effectively share Christ’s love with others. Remember, Jesus extinguishes lights that don’t shine brightly for him (Rev. 2:5).

God wants us to maintain the passion and excitement we had when we first fell in love with His Son, Jesus Christ and He wants that love to motivate everything we do and say and never forget how much He love us and we love Him. Only when we place Jesus first in our life and heart, can we love others with a genuine Christ-like love. His love fuels us to be better wives, mothers, and grandmothers. Jesus helps us serve our families—and Him—lovingly, not dutifully.

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Ways To Return To Our First Love

Periodically, we have to rekindle and reignite first-love fire in our relationship with Jesus. The following acrostic for L O V E helps me keep Jesus in first place in my life and I hope it helps you too

L-inger with Him!

“Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.” —Psalm 119:97 NLT

Let’s find ways to have a quiet time with the Lord daily and talk to Him all day long as we go about our life.

Obsess Over Him!

“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.” —Psalm 34:1-3 NLT

The dictionary describes obsession as:

  • Preoccupied
  • Dominated
  • Fixed
  • Immersed in
  • Gripped by
  • An Infatuation
  • A Passion

Let’s be deliriously, madly, obsessively, and passionately in love with Jesus!

V-alue Him!

“Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.” —1 Chronicles 16:23-25

Synonyms for value:

  • Worthy
  • Worship
  • Love

Let’s show Jesus how worthy He is of our love through our worship and praise.

Enjoy Him!

“I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence.” —Proverbs 8:30 NIV

Let’s enjoy being a Christian and let the world know we LOVE Jesus!

When we L O V E Jesus Christ with total abandonment, our hearts change—we can then love others as Jesus commanded:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

—John 13:34-35 NIV

Share with us ways you’ve found to keep Jesus first in your life!

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*Excerpts of this blog are from my new release Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

 

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TRUMPET BLAST . . . Remembering God’s Goodness!

trumpetLest you think I’m blowing my own horn today, blowing the trumpets was an ordinance God gave in the Old Testament before going into battle and, “Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God” (Num. 10:10).

So today, I’m blowing the trumpet and sounding the cymbals as I rejoice over the release of my “offering” tomorrow, February 9, 2016! This is a day I’ve been anticipating for almost 10 years …the release of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

ForsakenGod.inddWhy did I have to wait 10 years? Because God’s timing is always perfect and He knew that today, our world would need this book like never before. Our culture is spiraling into an immoral abyss and it’s time for Christians to take a bold stand: A stand for what we believe, why we believe, and who we believe in—Jesus Christ!

Satan worked long and hard to try to keep this book from being published. I had a short time to write it and encountered many hardships, but God prevailed. Then we went through 11 covers before we all agreed on the one you see here, which I love.

In today’s culture, Christians are always going to be going against the crowd—or at least they should be. Let me caution that if you don’t find yourself frequently going counter-culture, you may be vacillating in the middle between the culture and Christ. Doing the cultural splits is never comfortable, productive, effective, or redemptive.

Christians must stand firm and be all-in for Christ; there is no other way that is pleasing to God.

Today, I’m sharing with you the origins of Forsaken God?. The book’s Preface will explain my passion for helping Christians remember God’s goodness in their own life, so they can lead a lost world back to God.

“The only way for evil to triumph is for good men [and women] to do nothing!” —Edmund Burke

Let’s do something together to defeat evil! I’m praying that God will take Forsaken God? to the ends of the earth. My husband smiles knowingly when I say that, but I’m asking you to help me with a grassroots effort to do just that! I’m not looking for book sales, I’m praying for changed lives. I hope you’ll join me in a mission of remembering the goodness of our Great God and sharing those memories with a lost world to give them hope for a new future.

If we don’t remember what God has already done, we won’t believe what he is capable of doing in the future. Memory builds faith.–Forsaken God?

Ok, here’s the promised Preface to Forsaken God?:

PREFACE

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. —Ps. 27:13

“We have sinned with our fathers … [and] … did not remember…” (Psalm 106:6-7). Then prod your memory and wake up immediately. Don’t say to yourself, “But God is not talking to me right now.” He ought to be. Remember whose you are and whom you serve. Encourage yourself to remember, and your affection for God will increase tenfold. Your mind will no longer be starved, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your help will be inexpressibly bright”—Oswald Chambers

Our nation is ridiculed abroad and morally crumbling within. We are in trouble. We have turned our back on God. —Franklin Graham

God put this book on my heart at 5:45 P.M. (CT) May 31, 2006, while having dinner with dear friends Les and Pam Barnhart at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Nashville, Tennessee. I had salmon (my favorite food) and they split a chicken Italian pizza. How can I remember this occasion so specifically, in such detail, and why is it important? Well, let me tell you the story ….

I was on business in Nashville where the Barnharts lived then, so we went out to dinner together. At one time, Les had worked for me in Southern California when I managed an insurance agency and since our families shared the same Christian faith, we developed a deep friendship, a kinship. We kept in touch over the years so it was a delight to have quality catch-up time with this godly couple.

During dinner, our conversation turned into a discussion of how quickly we forget God’s goodness when the next crisis arises. I pointed out how we readily criticize the Old Testament Israelites, who repeatedly forgot God’s goodness, but aren’t we the same today? We had just paid the bill and the receipt was lying on the table. As we discussed humanity’s historical pattern of forgetting God’s goodness, Les took the receipt, turned it over, and wrote on the back, “How Good is God? I Can’t Remember ….” Sliding the receipt across the table to me, he suggested, “This would be a great topic for a book!”

I took the receipt and put it in my purse for safekeeping. When I returned home, I started a folder labeled “How Good is God? I Can’t Remember …,” and clipped the dinner receipt to the front of the folder. I added to my folder Scriptures or articles reflecting the theme of forgetting God’s goodness or ways to remember his goodness. Over the years, the folder expanded with notes, Scriptures, and stories as I awaited God’s timing to write this book. Several times seemed right, but God knew I needed more research and experiences to share with you. God’s timing is always perfect—a vital aspect of his goodness to remember and never forget.

How Good is God? I Can’t Remember . . . evolved into the book you have in your hand—Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. I don’t expect that after reading Forsaken God?, your mind will retain God-incidences with the same clarity and detail as I remember the origins of this book. However, if you start saving important documents and mementoes, writing in a prayer and praise journal, taking pictures, sharing your stories and testimony, memorizing Scripture . . . you’ll be well on your way to remembering God’s goodness throughout your lifetime and passing memories on to the next generation. That’s what I’m praying for you. That’s what I think God meant at 5:45 P.M. (CT) on May 31, 2006 at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Nashville during a meaningful discussion with fellow believers! That’s what I remember and will never forget, so…

I’ll write the book on your righteousness,

talk up your salvation the livelong day,

never run out of good things to write or say.

I come in the power of the Lord God,

I post signs marking his right-of-way.

—Ps. 71:15-16 The Message

You can see why I dedicated Forsaken God? to the godly couple I mentioned in the Preface: “Pam and Les Barnhart for inspiring the vision for this book and faithfully championing me.”

Pam and Les BarnhartThe Barnharts

Here’s How You Can Help Me Take This Book to the Ends of the Earth!

  1. Order Forsaken God? from Amazon, Christianbook.com or my website.
  2. Read and review on Amazon and Christianbook.com to encourage other readers. You can put the same comment on both sites of how the book spoke to you.
  3. Share with your Bible study or small group, church, pastors, friends, family, book club . . . your sphere of influence. There are questions after each chapter for group discussion.
  4. Take a picture with the book and post on Instagram and social media, like Facebook and twitter. My twitter name is @ahwministries. Or if you don’t like pictures, just post something about the book on social media.
  5. If you have a blog, could I send you a guest blog post? Contact me please.
  6. Pray with me for God to take Forsaken God? to the ends of the earth. Pray for Him to use His book to turn the pendulum back to a culture that respects, honors, and remembers the goodness of our Great Creator and Father of our nation and our world—God!

Any other ideas please contact me. I cherish your support and help.

Blog contains excerpts from Forsaken God? used with permission.

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