What I Really Want

What I Really Want

It’s RARE I have a morning alone.  But today is one of those blessed days.   I mean, I love my kiddos and my man — don’t get me wrong — but the kids spent the night at Aunt Jessica’s (after a day of negotiating and some serious 10-year old manipulation.  That kid should be a lawyer!), and the husband had an early morning appointment with a pool.

So, I’ve had some time to study and plan and reflect (and clean) and the Lord has softly spoken to my heart and asked me to share.  I’ll make this quick because the troops will march back home any minute.

Jesus is my first love.  I don’t understand exactly how He has won me over, but He has.  By His grace.  Because heaven knows I’m self-centered and arrogant and without the grace of God I’d be a hot mess.  But His pursuit is real and the more I surrender, the more I change.  And this morning I can honestly say that more than anything in life I desperately WANT EVERYTHING God has for me.  I want to know Him.  I want to be used by Him.  I want to make a difference in the lives of people around me for His glory.  I really do.  My heart aches toward that goal everyday.  And I’m asking Him for it.  Finally.

Everyday.

I don’t always obey.  I don’t always get it.  I fail more than I even want to think about.  I’m so far from perfect and so far from being like Jesus I don’t even know how any of it is possible, but it IS what I want.

Here’s what hit me as I was watering some plants on my balcony: MOST people don’t.  My heart physically hurts this morning, burdened by the reality that most people I interact with on  a daily and weekly basis, at their core do not care about what God wants for them.  At least not enough for it to matter.

Many of them are Christians.  At least they say or think they are one.

It makes me so sad.  Sad is the best word to describe it.  Not like a “You’re so sad you make me sick” attitude.  No.  A genuine sadness born out of God’s love for others.  He so beautifully and willingly wants people’s hearts, wants to bless, wants to give, wants to have a relationship with them, wants to change them, wants to heal them, wants to give them a life of purpose and abundance, wants to LOVE them — but no.

People don’t want what God wants.  People don’t really want God.  They may want the blessings of God, but they don’t really want Him and they don’t want more than anything else the things He wants.

And I’m guilty too.

Which also makes me sad.

There are days that I MORE want success in business, affirmation from people and security in life.  Safety.  Comfort . The American Dream.  I want those things sometimes.  But, once God gets a true hold on your heart and His truth has penetrated your mind, you can’t really stay there.  You go back to Him and slowly but surely your desires change and you just want Him.

I don’t know how it all looks.  I don’t know how it all will work itself out. I just know that with every fiber of my being I want all God has for me and I want it for you too.

What do you really want?


Why I Trust God Today

I should be working right now.  I have two keynotes, a personality training, three Bible classes to teach, a radio interview and serious preparations for a trip oversees in the next week, but, instead, I feel inspired to write.

This message is for you if you are a discouraged, unsure or insecure follower of Jesus Christ.  Yes, I realize we wouldn’t normally list those adjectives to describe our Christianity, but can we just be real for five seconds?  Listen, I have been there.  Hear me, I have done that.  But, what I hope to communicate to you so that you KNOW it with every fiber of your being, is that God IS faithful to what God IS doing.

Even if you don’t see it.

Seven years ago, I knew the Lord was leading me to teach a Bible class at my church for young women.  I was raised in church and had led many Bible studies.  I had been speaking at that point for five years before live audiences and had done years of television hosting and radio spots, so the “talking to people” part didn’t phase me.  Even the Bible part didn’t scare me then.  (Although, let me say, the more I study the Bible, the more I understand how little I knew and how scared I should have been and how little I still know even today!)

Nevertheless, a year later the class was launched for women 18 – 30 years old.  Just refer to a flyer posted around church!  Come one, come all!

Well, they did come, all two of them at first.

Over time, more women joined.  Some quit coming, some moved away, and one became a missionary, but several of them just kept coming back, again and again and again.  For the last six years, I have poured my heart and soul in to these girls.  It hasn’t been easy.  Consider all that comes with giving birth to two babies myself — totaling three dependents — traveling and speaking, writing a book, being self-employed with my man and building a house.  Life has been FULL.  I really cannot overstate this.  But, God made sure teaching these women was a priority.  In THIS season.  Now.  It made no sense to me.  There were many weeks I WANTED A BREAK.  A long break.  An I-will-do-it-when-my-kids-are-older break!

No such break was granted.

So, the journey continued and what a journey it has been.  Together, we experienced the joy of marriages, the ugliness in marriages, the progression of pregnancies, the blessing of babies, the exhaustion of child-care, the difficulty of parenting, the sorrow of great losses, the heart-ache of addictions, the diagnosis of life-altering illness, the sting of rejection, the mark of divorced parents, the hurt of past relationships, the sting of current relationships, the weight of conflict, the fear of cancer, the reality of cancer, the battle within decision making, the sacrifice of commitment and the weight of conflict.  I have laughed hysterically with these women, no doubt offended them, failed them, embarrassed them, wept with them, prayed fiercely for them, been scared to death of them, been frustrated by them and twice, nearly quit on them. (That will be a surprise if they are reading this.)  But, THROUGH IT ALL, God was miraculously changing our lives, changing us at our core, transforming us into the image of His son.  We will never be the same.  We have seen our God speak, work, move, heal, reconcile, restore, make new, set free, bring friendship, provide finances, comfort, teach, answer prayer, call people to His kingdom, promote people in His service and fill us with the power and victory of His Spirit! I am telling you, He has done what only He can do!  We have lived it!

And I am so grateful. Really.  Truly.  Grateful.

Yesterday — and probably the reason I had to get this into print and off my mind and heart today — it all came full circle.  At least for me.  I asked these girls, my sisters, to explain what this journey has been like for them.  To hear them share what God has done in them and for them and through them was rewarding, but more importantly humbling and glorious.  God is so so ridiculously good at what we does — REDEMPTION.  And then, by God’s timing, we celebrated together over lunch.  (A rare thing as all of us have multiple children!) But, we got away for the afternoon, high-jacked the church van and all!  Confession: I may have been the only one who actually knew a celebration was taking place, but in the private places of my heart, I was absolutely overwhelmed and overcome with joy and gratitude to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all He has accomplished as I looked around that table and thought of the others who could not attend.  I sit here still in amazement.  It took so long; but it happened so fast.

And while one journey seems to have come to a conclusion, I am so very excited for what He has in store.

You see, two weeks ago, I did quit.  Well, not really.  With God leading, I moved on.  He transferred my attention to a whole new group of women.  Younger women.  A new class.  A new group of strangers with fresh faces and fragile hearts.  I should have been thrilled, but I’ll admit, two weeks ago I was a discouraged, unsure and insecure follower of Jesus Christ.

But not now.

Teaching God’s Word, living on mission, investing in people, knowing and experiencing the one true and living God and making Him known, all of it works!  This is God’s plan.  This is discipleship.  This is the great movement of multiplication.  This is Christianity.  And this is what I live for.

As I stared into the faces of my new class, a group hand selected and chosen by God Himself, my heart smiled.  They have no idea what’s coming!  I’m excited for them because I KNOW God IS faithful to what God IS doing.

And, let me just convince you now, you want to be a part of it; because when it comes full circle, whether in six days or six months or six years, it is so very worth it!

 


4 Tips for Christian Parents with Public School Kids

Parenting is a tough job.  Throw in school, homework, sports activities, PTA meetings and extracurricular clubs and life can get wild!  It seems there are posts by the dozens for Christian parents who home school (as many of my friends do) and many posts about common core and all the issues surrounding education, but not much is out there encouraging the Christian parent who has children in public school.  So, these thoughts have been on my mind for quite some time, and I finally have a few minutes to share what’s on my heart to encourage you to stop living in survival mode when it comes to school and begin to thrive!

Here are 4 things to consider: (in completely random order)

(Massive Disclaimer:  I am so not even close to the perfect parent.  My son is starting third grade and my daughter is starting first grade.  So, I’m learning too.  I will say — so perhaps you’ll keep reading — that I have had the opportunity to speak to over 100,000 students and several hundred teachers in public schools throughout the mid-west over the last few years, so I have had a great deal of experience interacting with all kinds of different schools, administrators, counselors and students.  If that helps!)

1) Set-and-Stick-to Realistic Boundaries – The idea that you and your children can “do it all” is a lie.  I am amazed by how many parents are running themselves absolutely ragged and nearly killing their kids in the process.  OK, that may be an exaggeration, but seriously.  We need to prayerfully consider each decision we make in terms of the activity level for our kids.  Is there time for homework?  Is there time for family?  Is there time for devotionals?  It’s our job to create margin in our schedules so that priorities remain priorities and our kids aren’t so exhausted they can barely function, much less learn well and excel.  So, how do you do that?  Well, in our house we set firm priorities and make decisions about our schedule based on those, usually seasonally.  For us, being at church and having time to study God’s word is A-number-1, so activities that would infringe are out.  If we are going to be too tired to attend, something has to go; but it’s not going to be Bible study or church attendance.  Time as a family unit is important.  If we are always split up running from activity to activity, something has to go.  Bedtime and sleep are important.  We know our kids and we don’t ignore the fact that they need downtime.  They NEED good sleep and un-rushed bedtimes to talk and read and pray and reflect.  It is our responsibility to make sure the schedule doesn’t prevent this from happening consistently throughout the week.  Don’t ignore your child’s limits.  They may be awesome, but they are still kids.  If you fail to set boundaries, you and your kids will both be overwhelmed and no one has any fun.  And that ain’t no way to live!

2) View School as a Tool – As a Christian parent YOU are instructed to teach your child.  You are responsible for their learning.  So, have a proper perspective about the role school and your child’s “teacher” has in the educational process.  I am so grateful for the school my children attend.  They learn like little sponges that can’t get enough.  My children have both had and are getting ready to start a new year with teachers who are amazing people and so, so good at their jobs.  I admire and respect what they are capable of immensely.  But, I’m not counting on them to make my kids smart.  I’m not counting on them to make sure they can read and write and do math and understand science.  No, no, no, I’m using them to help me.  (sneaky huh?) I’ll make sure they get it.  I’ll work alongside educators, as a team, to make sure my children are educated and educated well, but I won’t fall into the trap that THEY are responsible for my children’s success or failure.  That’s on me (and Daddy).  This makes relationships with teachers so much easier.  (They’ll love you for this.)  I encourage you to spend some time learning about the school your child attends.  Talk about amazing resources!  They have so much to offer your child; and, trust me, the SCHOOL WANTS YOU to be a huge part of your child’s education.  You’re not just turning them over to the system.  You are actively a part of what goes in each kid’s brain.  Teach.  Do homework together.  Read together.  Be hands-on and involved in projects.  Enjoy seeing your child develop and learn new things.  It is SO EXCITING!  Your kids will thrive as you grow and learn with them.  (And, hey, chances are they’ll even love school too!)

3) Live on Mission – A huge part of the decision to send our children to public school is this:  we are on a mission.  Public schools need Christians because people need Christ.  As a Christian parent you have a unique opportunity and command to BE LIGHT and to share the gospel as you go.  The best way to do that and to have influence is to BE INVOLVED.  Attend meetings when you can, volunteer when you can, go to the class parties, meet other parents and be known for your faith.  (Of course, your availability will depend on your success with number 1.) There are endless and countless opportunities to be light in a sometimes dark place.  So many children walk through those halls everyday who need a friend, who need a hug, who need a safe place and an adult who is honest, polite, warm and loving.  You can be that person.  You should be that person.  Be encouraging to the teachers and administrators.  Be positive.  Take time to have conversations that matter and build relationships.  Ask God to give you chances to talk about Him and to share His truth.  And at the same time, teach your child to do the same.  Our children are to be light as well.  Teach them, by example, to be an example.  As you instruct them at home on kindness and love and grace and service, they will have the opportunity every week to put those lessons into practice.  Talk about training ground!  Put your faith into practice by being on mission in school.

4) Pray like Crazy – Not one single thing about this is easy.  There ARE many challenges you and your child will face in public education.  Pray.  Pray for wisdom and discernment.  Pray for protection for your child. Pray that God would keep them from the evil one.  Pray that they will in fact remember those spelling words!  Pray. Pray. Pray. and then don’t worry.  Trust that God loves your child more than you do and that He is there, everyday, caring for them and meeting their needs.  Be in constant communion with your heavenly Father and experience the joy of seeing Him at work in the life of your child, in your home and in you!


Sex Symbols

Sex and Trees

In light of recent events, I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I am going to write something that specifically addresses the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. I think anything I write would just be “white noise” at this point, but I wanted to repost something from a few years ago that might give you a different perspective on Christian sexual ethics in general.

(However, if you would like a pretty good *quick reference with responses to a lot of the common arguments for SSM, this link is pretty good: http://www.compassdistributors.ca/topics/homoargs.htm)

Below is the original article:

Sexuality is one of the most difficult topics for Christians to dialogue with the rest of the world about.  In fact, it might be one of the most difficult subjects to discuss within the Church.

Usually, the conversation is geared toward what is permissible.  Generally, homosexuality, adultery and pornography are right out and on the obvious “bad list” for most of the evangelical world.   Sadly, I am afraid I must use the word “most” in this case as there is certainly a movement of gay-marriage acceptance as a totally Biblical concept within Christianity.

But I’m not here to talk about that.  I think that the Bible is pretty clear on what God has intended marriage to be, and if a person has come to a conclusion that there is no Biblical issue with homosexual activity, then I really don’t think I could reason them out of it.

What I want to talk about is the root of our sin, especially in the sexual world.  This might be a perspective you’ve never thought of before, but hang with me.

Open your Bible to Genesis 2, and you’ll find paradise.  God has placed man and woman in a perfect, lush, wonderful garden.  They are free to roam around in the buff, in perfect relationship with each other and nature and God.  But in Genesis 3, it all falls apart.  Why?

“Read More”

The serpent convinces Eve that God is holding out on her.  I’ll bet in some way you are tempted to sympathize with her a little bit.  But just think of this for a moment.  God has given Adam and Eve free reign over PARADISE.  There are literally thousands, if not millions of wonderful non-thorny trees and bushes with all kinds of perfect fruits and berries to have their fill of.  But Eve is tricked into focusing on the one tree that she is restricted from.

If you are a parent, have you ever heard your child say something to the effect of, “You never let me do/have/get anything I want!” all while they have a room and back yard full of toys?

I bet you see where I’m going with this.  But have you ever considered that God didn’t have to make existence enjoyable in the first place at all?

As a man, I think women are just great.  They are beautiful, sweet, graceful creatures.  Never mind sexual attraction, they are great friends.  Long before I was married, I had girl friends and girlfriends whom I still think very highly of to this day.  I had the pleasure of knowing them as people.  It is a part of human experience to have meaningful relationships with other people and when those relationships are healthy, they are enjoyable.

God didn’t have to make it like that.  Look at the animal kingdom.  Many animals live solitary lives, only coming together to mate.

And speaking of mating, God didn’t have to make that enjoyable, either.  He could have made it purely instinctual.  He could have made that process completely devoid of meaning, pleasure, intimacy etc.  (I don’t want to write the details here, but Octopi are a prime example.)

So here we are, living on a planet where we can have many different kinds of meaningful relationships we enjoy, but only because God is good and made it that way.  We can have intimate physical and emotional relationships we enjoy, but only because God is good and made it that way.  And yet, when it comes to sex, and most all other sins for that matter, we look at God and say, “You tyrant! You won’t let me have any fun!”

From my perspective as a man (ladies, I understand what you get in a man isn’t all that great compared to what we men get in a woman), I must realize that God didn’t have to give me the opportunity or pleasure of knowing, loving or caring for anyone.  Let alone anything so great as a woman.  Let alone allow me to marry and be intimate with one!

Do I dare shake my fist at God and be angry that he says I should be faithful to the one?

Perhaps we need to remember God’s goodness.   Perhaps we need to remember that God made us for a purpose.  Perhaps we need to remember, “the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord.”  Perhaps we need to remember that it is God’s business what we do with our time, talents, money, mind and, yes, our genitals too.

If you don’t believe me, please read 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6 and see if what I am saying is true.   (It won’t take long)

We are not merely animals, PRAISE GOD.

By Klinton Silvey


The Ripple of Ferguson

As I sat watching the news coverage of the events in Ferguson, MO last night, I had mixed emotions and many thoughts.  Although I am not directly affected by the chaos, I asked the Lord to show me what I can learn and how I could be used to help — if that is even possible.  I want to share with you what He spoke to me.  You may not like it.

I really don’t want to address the death of Micheal Brown.  Yes, it is very, very sad.  However, I do not know what happened.  I was not there and the reports have not been released.  So, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

The issue I want to address is the issue of authority.  Where does authority come from?  Why do people really dismiss it?  And how does this include me?

As with everything else, the Bible has clear answers.  From the very beginning, the issue of authority has been at the forefront.  In the garden, Satan used the issue of authority to attack Eve and the chaos of sin entered the world.  Her creator had commanded she and Adam not eat of a certain tree.  The enemy planted a lie in her mind that went directly against what God had said.  Satan was really, really good at deception then, and he is really, really good at it now.  Eve usurped the authority of God and chose to be her own authority, as did Adam.  And therein lies our every trouble.   Virtually every problem you can imagine in this world stems from this event and this issue.  That is a huge statement, let it sink.  When Satan has his way, we always care more about ourselves than we do about God.  We always think our way is better for us and we are convinced we somehow deserve what we want regardless of what He says about it.  We usurp the authority of our creator and the enemy wins a battle in our life.  The Bible calls this sin, caused by our own pride, self-centeredness and unbelief in His truth.

Turn on the news and you will see the battle raging.  Satan has planted lies in the hearts and minds of people.  God’s word, truth, says this:  “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”  (Romans 13:1-2)  Check out the next two verses: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”  In other words, if you do good, you won’t have any reason to be afraid of the authorities.  Really! Gee, should we be surprised at the Bible’s wisdom?   I’ve never in my life been afraid of getting shot by a cop.  Why?  Well, I’ve never been a trespasser or a thief and I would never show an officer disrespect.  If I have been the one in the wrong — like the time I ran a stop sign and the time…okay, times…I was speeding — I knew I had rightfully earned my tickets.  (Although, generally, I don’t get a ticket because I have also learned to earn favor and forgiveness by being extra sweet when policemen approach my window. :))

Now, I know some of you are saying, “what if the authorities are bad?”  Bad how?  Like if they begin to agree that robbing someone’s house is no problem and you should get away with it?  Okay, that is a bad cop.  Like if they allow your husband to beat you and your children, allow people to cook meth on your street and men to abduct and sell girls into the sex trade?  Okay, that is corruption.  We should rise up against it because the Bible never agrees with supporting and upholding sinful behavior.  But, if authorities are working to stop the bad guys and keep the good, innocent guys safe, submit to their authority.  They have reasons for what and how they do things.  Submit because they’ve gone through training and you haven’t.  Submit because they have the good guys interest at heart.  Submit because God, your ultimate authority, SAYS YOU SHOULD.

So how does this apply to little ole’ me.  Two ways:

1) I am a parent.  Are you?  This issue of authority begins early.  Do you remember when your child hit that 18 month mark?  (I realize you’ve tried to forget.) Do you remember telling them NO, them looking you straight in the eye and proceeding to do the bad thing anyway?  Did you teach them what it means to submit to your authority then?  As parents, we are the ones who instill this in our children and ultimately in our society.   I can’t fix what has been done in Ferguson, but I can fix what happens or doesn’t happen in the Rowe house.  I will, as my parents did, teach my children what it means to listen to and respect authority.  My first grade son just left for school less than an hour ago.  He knows it is his job to obey his teacher, to follow the rules and to submit to the authority of his principals.  Every rule in place is for his safety, protection and learning.  If I didn’t agree with the rules, then my child would not attend or I would work to help get the rules changed.  But, I won’t encourage disrespect or lead my child to believe they can act out because they are part of a “messed up, corrupt system.”   Whether I am with my children or not, they understand that they are children.  Being a child means you are not the boss.  They know that if I have entrusted their care to someone else, they can trust that person and that person has authority over them whether they are at school, church or in the big slide line at the fair.  Teaching children obedience is far from easy.  There are days I feel like I am talking to a brick wall and I have to pray the Lord will guard my mouth and give me patience to not lose it!  (Can I get a witness?)  But, I know this issue of authority will translate to their adult life.  If my husband and I, with the Lord’s help, can pull this off, our children will be able to work peaceably under a boss, they will be able to learn from those who know more than they do and they will be able to succeed.  MOST IMPORTANTLY, above all else, my prayer is that they choose to submit to the ultimate authority of God in their life.  They will heed to His word and His will because they will understand that they are not supreme.  The world does not in fact revolve around them.  They are not number one.  He is.

Not all parents operate this way.  MANY, by example, teach their children to disrespect authority.  Many teach their children that respect is earned and that they don’t have to respect or listen to people they don’t like.  This is a lie Satan has planted.  We should be teaching children that respect is not dependent on how others treat us, but on how we have determined to treat others.  As a speaker who has spoken to over 85,000 students, I assure you, disregard for authority and disrespect are a problem.  I’m trying to tell you this problem begins in the home and ultimately with the parent’s position and belief about a higher authority.

2)  I need to check my own life.  What God reminded me last night, is that I need to refresh my commitment to teaching respect for authority in my home.  I need to support my husband as he parents our children. I need to check my own heart and surrender my own pride.  I need to be the example by continually submitting  to the authority of God, knowing His great love for me and recognizing that He has my safety and learning on His heart.

So, I guess the question is this: Do YOU have an issue with authority?

The truth is, Ferguson impacts us all.


The Reality of Grammy Idols

I was so utterly discouraged Wednesday after my talk to nearly 150 teen girls, I couldn’t even write this article.  I couldn’t look at their evaluations of my program and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t overcome my despair.  I was spent.

See, mid-day on Monday I began preparing for my speech to this group.   Since I am now in my thirties — can’t believe I’m saying that —I thought it might be a good idea to do a little research and figure out what’s hot and trending in pop culture to get a better grip on where most teenage minds reside.  So, I checked my DVR for the Grammy’s.  Now before you stop reading because you are thinking, “here we go, again” I hope you’ll hear me out.

I’ll admit, I primarily began watching because I really do need to understand teen culture and music is a good indicator, but if I’m honest, I also wanted to see Taylor Swift perform.  I don’t know why.  So, after a quick view of what I’m guessing was one-third of Beyonce’ and JayZ’s earth-shattering performance, I skimmed through in search of Taylor.  On my fast-forward journey I grew more and more irritated with the outfits, or lack-there-of, the extremely sexual choreography and the very dark and down right weird stuff.  I watched all of Taylor.  Her dress was gorgeous.  Her performance was what I expected and I truly wanted to jump through the TV and give her a hug when she was done.  She looked so hurt by that guy.  Seriously.  After that, I skimmed through a couple more morally disgusting jokes and performances and called it a day.  I didn’t watch most of it.

I had seen enough.

As I thought about the “show” I started to feel my reaction coming on strong.  This is MESSED UP.  I was mad.  Why are we so eager to support, applaud and give credit to these people?  Because they are famous, talented, beautiful and rich?  I guess so.  Are people really this enthralled by raunchy sex appeal?  Do we not see vulgarity as wrong anymore?  As quickly as I’m asking the questions, the answer came — yes.  Morality has no place in our culture.  Right is relative.  Tolerance and acceptance are our only beliefs and Yonce’ (as the girls I spoke to lovingly call her), JayZ, Katy Perry and the like are our nation’s most popular preachers.  Hollywood elite craft and deliver the message.  We accept. They set the standard.  We give them a golden statue and keep the cash flow goin’ so they can build their empires.  It’s crazy.  Ironically, many of their own children probably aren’t allowed to watch!

I thought about it all day Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday as I was driving to St. Louis.  I prayed and prayed, “Lord, what would you have me do?”  As I arrived at the school, I felt compelled to share with the girls how Christian Grammy nominee, Natalie Grant, left the Grammys early because it was so ridiculous.  After all, my presentation was on personal branding, image and character.  I thought the story would be a great way to conclude.

Here’s the thing; the girls totally did not get it.  It may because I didn’t communicate it well.  But, I have nine years of experience speaking to crowds just like this one.  I don’t think, in this case, I was the issue.  They cheered at my first mention of the Grammys.  Clearly, they LOVE Beyoncé.  They’ve never heard of Natalie Grant, not surprising, but you should know this was a private, Christian school.  I have spoken to over 80,000 teenagers and I’m telling you, these girls turned on me when I merely alluded to the idea that Yonce’ had been inappropriate.  They were absolutely dumbfounded at the thought of a Grammy nominee walking out.  Why?  They could not, in any way, wrap their minds around the notion that ANYTHING had been wrong at, with, or surrounding the Grammys.  They thought it was awesome.  I kept looking for faces that might show a glimpse of agreement with me.  None.

The bell rang, they handed in their evaluations and they were gone.  I was devastated.

Listen Christians; we have got to stop being gray.  We have got to stop being lukewarm.  We have got to stop allowing our children and the teens in our lives to go day-to-day thinking it is perfectly acceptable to act like a sex object, witch or whatever.  It is NOT okay.  You can call it art, you can call it performance, you can call it creativity, you can call it entertainment, you can even call it freedom of expression.  But, you, Christian, cannot call it right and you cannot act like it is no big deal.  It is profane.  It is a slap in the face of your creator.  It is WRONG.  WRONG.  Say the word.  Things that are profane are not beautiful.  Profanity is not to be celebrated, but exposed.  The church has been quiet or found ignorant while our culture has adopted, promoted and established profane idols of worship.  We’ve allowed our enemy to silence us and now I feel like an ancient prophet screaming,  “Stop the madness!  Turn back.  Destroy these idols or they will destroy us.”

This is nothing new.  This is what the enemy does.  He takes things, people, that were designed to be beautiful, created for eternal purpose and he destroys them.  The enemy perverts them.  What you saw — or hopefully didn’t see — was perversion.  Is Beyoncé talented and beautiful?  Of course!  But what God designed for His glory has been debauched.  The same formula could be said for nearly every artist that took the stage.  How does it happen?  Simple.  They — we — are born absolutely depraved.

The same formula would be said of me if Satan had his way.

God is love AND God is holy.  Everyone wants to talk about His love, but scarcely — especially in our pop culture and mainstream media — can you find anyone who wants to discuss His holiness.  The media push young people to believe that God loves everyone and therefore accepts everyone no matter what they do.  They push that since God made our emotions; whatever we feel must be okay.  OR, since there is no God, we can decide what’s good, bad, right and wrong.  Either way, we are in control.  They insist when you try to debate, discuss, reason or disagree with them, you’re an idiotic fool.  Get this: their god is not the God of the Bible.  Their god is one they have fabricated for their own comfort, ultimately resulting in the god of self.  They live to build their own kingdoms and to glorify themselves.  They DO NOT care about, nor do they know the God Christianity proclaims.

The God of the Bible, the only One who has revealed and proven Himself for thousands of years has not and will not tolerate sin. Nor does He casually overlook sin.  He never will.  God does not accept people the way they are!  Hello!?  There would have been NO REASON for Christ and the cross if that statement were true.  All people are not acceptable in the eyes of God.  Think about it.  We are only acceptable in the eyes of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  That’s it.  Unless we have been “born again” by faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, we are not acceptable.  He takes what is corrupt, does away with it and replaces it with something better, His righteousness.  He redeems.  We praise Him for His grace because we have done NOTHING to deserve that chance.  That was ALL Him.  He chose us.  While we were still sinners, messed up, Christ died for us — all of us.

Jesus came to free us from sin and the death trap that it is.  He came to give us life.  He did that.  We did nothing.  Some choose to reject Him.  They don’t want what He offers.  They prefer their sin to His righteousness.  They don’t want to surrender their life to a God they can’t see.  They don’t want to be told what is right and what is wrong by a divine creator.  It is their right to make that choice (only because God created us with a free will to do so, ironically) but the REALITY is every knee is going to bow.  Every tongue that is making money mocking the holy God of the Bible now will someday confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Mark His words, it will happen.

But in the meantime, I don’t want a whole generation of people to be deceived by the enemy because I’m too afraid to speak out and proclaim the truth.

It is time we stand together and stand up for truth.  The human body is not a sex object and sexuality is sacred.  There is right and wrong.  Our Creator defines it.  We can prove morality.  If you claim Christianity, you must stop supporting and watching things that are profane in the eyes of your maker.  STOP.  Christ lives in you and is with you.  You must grasp what it means that your body is a temple of the living God.  You must stop putting trash in your mind.  You must believe God when he says those who sow to the flesh will reap corruption.  And stop justifying it.  Stop allowing your kids to bathe in this trash.  If you think your daughter is fine, I dare you to look at her iTunes account.  Check her list of artists and songs.  Google some lyrics.   This is what she’s listening to when you’re trying to get her attention. Parents, stand in the gap for your kids!  Get your own mind right.  Teach that there is in fact a line.  It is well past crossed and we cannot sit back and act like all is well.  All is not well.  I know because I saw it on the faces of 150 girls who have no idea why they matter or if their life has value.  They have no idea who they are or who they are supposed to be.  They have no idea that their body is a precious gift.  They have no clue despair and destruction wait for them at the hand of their enemy.  He is deceiving a generation and we are letting him.

There’s hope.  Christ asks us to be that hope.  He asks us to be salt and to be light, to push back the darkness and to share the TRUTH.   Smash the idols.  I believe if we are faithful to do our part, to be obedient to His commands, He will be faithful to do His.

I’m in.  Are you?


The Curse of a “Good” Life

I’m sure your life is good.  Normal.  Your life is a perfect picture of someone living out the American dream.  Life is not perfect.  You have your ups and downs.  But, you have a family and have landed a decent job.  Fun, social events and day trips fill your calendar.  Maybe you even attend church sometimes.  Anyone observing your day-to-day activities would conclude that things are, well, good.

Tonight as I sat in my living room floor, Bible open, King Hezekiah study on my lap and listening to a young woman who attends our weekly gathering talk, I realized something.   She was right.  While I don’t think she’d mind, I’ll keep her name to myself, but she said, “I don’t think most people realize how miserable they are.  They have nothing else to compare their life to.”  She went on to explain that before she started following Christ, she thought she had a great life.  She wasn’t unhappy.  She wasn’t depressed.  She wasn’t even looking for something different.  She was normal.

I pray someone reading this right now feels that same way — good and normal.  You are whom I’m talking to today.  Have you ever considered that there is more?  Have you ever wondered why “radical Christians” act the way they do?  They commit their lives to serving a God they can’t see, are passionate about church activities and Bible study and they do some weird things.  Perhaps they go out of their way, unnecessarily in your opinion, to take strong stands on issues and you feel sorry for them when they get slammed with the “don’t judge me” card.  Why do they care so much?  You don’t get it.  You respect it, but you don’t get it.

May I challenge you with something?  What if for one year, 2014, you determined to explore what they seem to have found?   What if you joined a Bible study and went to church regularly?   Not a church where tradition reigns.  Go to one where Christ is King and everyone knows it.  Go to one where the Bible is read and taught and God is praised.  Go to one where people are focused on sharing the good news of salvation around the world.  Participate in the classes and learn the teachings.  Ask hard questions and as you grow in knowledge continue to consider  “is there more?”

What might your life be like in a year if you did that?  Is that too weird to even ask?

When my friend started paying attention to God and began to understand what it meant to be a Christian, her life didn’t really change.  Same family.  Same job.  Same social events.  But she changed.  Her heart changed.  Her mind changed and eventually most everything else did to.  She found truth, joy, peace and purposes she’d never known existed.  She learned of God’s love and began to desire His best.  Soon, the old life…you know, the normal, good one…was no longer appealing and it certainly was no longer enough.  She tried to go back, but she couldn’t.  She was miserable in the life that used to seem so good.  She had to move on with Christ.

Over and over again I’ve heard stories so similar to this one.  I call it the Jesus effect.  Having a relationship with Him changes people…. as it should.  HE CHANGES PEOPLE. The beautiful thing is that it is always for the better.

Could it be that you presume your life is good because you’ve never experienced God’s best?  Once you taste His goodness, nothing else satisfies. Every time I’ve been tempted — and I have — to abandon my faith and walk away from my beliefs, I’m left with nowhere to go.  Who can compare to my God?  What other truth can I stand on?  What else can I build my life on?  To whom shall I go?  Better is one day in the courts of my God than a thousand elsewhere.

If I sound crazy, you’ve been cursed with a good life.

I dare you to come and see.


What if Pope Francis is right?

Pope Francis recently asked if God would forgive those who do not believe in him.  (Read about it here.)

His response, according to the Guardian:

“Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart,” the pope wrote, “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”

Now there is a lot of taking the Pope out of context, such as The Independent, which ran the headline “Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven.”  I don’t believe that the Pope is saying atheists go to heaven as some papers are trying to say, but it does seem like a plausible interpretation that the Pope is saying that following the conscience is the main thing atheists need to do because going against it could mean sin.

So, is the Pope right or wrong? 

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That’s the wrong question to ask.

Let’s assume the Pope is right, and in some ways I think he is.  I agree that “God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart.”  But I’m willing to go a step further. Let’s just pretend that the Pope really was saying that atheists could go to heaven if they would just act according to their consciences.

Would it be good news if just “following our consciences” was the answer? I say NO.

People are excited about the prospect that the Pope, who is kind of the BMOC of religion in the world, might have said that essentially following your conscience is enough is because of an underlying assumption that people are good.  People are not good.  Their, our, consciences are corrupted.  But even if our consciences were perfect, we all violate what our conscience tells us. So, if following our consciences was the answer, we would all be in trouble.

So regardless of what the Pope did or didn’t say, the real questions to ask are these:

1. Am I truly good?

2. If not, how on earth can I fix it?

The short answers:

1. No.

2. You can’t.

These questions essentially capture the whole story of the Bible.  We’re broken.  From Adam and Eve, (who broke a command) to Cain (who didn’t break a command but still sinned, and I would dare say, violated his conscience) to Paul the great evangelist who cries out from his heart, “who shall rescue me from this body of death?!” we are all sinners.  We are all spiritually dead.

So God intervened and sent the son to take on all our deadness and give us life.  And that’s what the Gospel is really all about.  The Gospel isn’t about making bad people good; it’s about making dead people live.

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes (*Present tense) in Him shall not perish, but have (*Present tense) eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17 NASB   “*” denotes editors note.

But for those of you who still think that what the Pope maybe, hopefully said is true, keep reading.

18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”.

 

 

 

 

 


Prayer is good, but…

Yea, my first blog post as part of Life in Progress Ministries!  Very exciting times.  Klinton, myself and our spouses are anticipating that God will accomplish great things and open many doors of opportunity for this ministry.

I want to share something on my mind and heart today, a conviction really.  All of us can relate to going through times when we had no clue what to do.  We had no clue what our next move should be, no clue what to think or how to behave.  So, we began to pray.  Prayer is good.  Prayer changes things.  There IS power in prayer.  Prayer is the way we communicate with God; giving thanks, asking for provision, begging for help, repenting of sin…you know the drill.  But, have you ever considered that prayer is an incomplete way to communicate with God?

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Klinton and I were discussing this morning how desperately we need fresh knowledge of God.  We need to know who He is and what He wants.  God is an incomprehensible and complex being. (Which is what makes a relationship with Him forever thrilling!) There is so much to know!  Ironically, as I minister to women,most — if not all — are faithfully praying.  They need help.  They need encouragement.  They need comfort.  They need answers.  They need hope.  They NEED.  And prayer is a proper response.  Please don’t get me wrong.  But, I’m wondering if prayer is enough?  Prayer is YOUR word to God.  What you and I most need is HIS word to us.  We need knowledge for decision making, knowledge for understanding, knowledge for comfort, and knowledge for life.  We need to know.

I have been guilty of only praying and expecting answers.  I’m learning that God speaks to me through prayer, but more directly and more personally through His word.  There have been times in my life that I have tried to take spiritual shortcuts to get answers.  I’ve asked someone else, read articles, watched TV programs and read blogs.  To be honest, at times the answers I found did pacify, but they never satisfied.  I’ve learned not to sacrifice Biblical knowledge under the banner of prayer.  Pray.  Prayer is beautiful and necessary.  But, also open your Bible and discover God for yourself.  Reading and studying and meditating on the Word of God is life-changing and life-giving.  It is the Word that gives life.  Jesus said,  “it is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.”  Jesus said man should not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. God’s word should be life to the believer.  Yet, so few self-proclaimed believers know the Bible.  Does anybody else see the problem?

I love these verses that so eloquently explain why we have the written Word:

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.  Romans 15:4 (ESV)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

The more I study the Bible, the more I realize how much I need it and how complete it is in covering my every need; spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically.   It is the scriptures that change me.  It is the scriptures that reveal God to me.  It is the scriptures that give me hope, purpose and direction for my life.  Sadly, I am often guilty of passively reviewing the Bible or depending on someone else to teach me what it says and what it means.  The Holy Spirit desires to be our teacher…God…your teacher.  Who better?  Don’t take the shortcuts for finding answers.  Gain the knowledge you need for your life.  Pray.  Go to church.  But, take time to study and examine God’s word for yourself.

“The scriptures are written for our use and benefit, as much as for those to whom they were first given.  Those are most learned who are most mighty in the Scriptures.”  Matthew Henry

 

 

 


Truth, tolerance, logic

Truth, Logic and Tolerance

Ask any random stranger if they are reasonable, and almost all will either tell you they are reasonable or at the very least will jokingly tell you they aren’t via some cliché line about how their therapist says they are.

Unfortunately, I do not think any of us are as reasonable as we think we are.

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I often thought of “reasonable” as meaning fair or moderate. This is one definition of the word, but the core of a reasonable person is the ability to exercise reason. All of this seems intuitive at first, but in practice, it is not. The ability to reason requires a person to understand sound logic. It is at this point of understanding logic that I have an intellectual bone to pick with our culture and with our education system.

(Before I pick this bone, I want to say that I am writing about education at large. This is not a direct attack on the Potosi School District in any way. In fact, what I have to say applies just as much to a place like Mizzou as it does to an elementary school. )

Did you know there are fundamental rules of logic? Of course you did, but I bet you couldn’t state them. I couldn’t. Neither in grade school nor college had I ever been taught the basic fundamentals of logic. Yet I found myself answering “critical thinking” questions throughout grade school.

Critical thinking begins with good logic. And teaching students to think critically without first establishing the rules of logic is like trying to teach algebra to someone who doesn’t know how to multiply or divide.

Have a look at the four fundamental laws of logic:

1. The law of non-contradiction: A thing or idea or statement etc., cannot both be true and not true in the same way at the same time. For example, black cannot be white and simultaneously black at the same time.
2. The law of the excluded middle: A statement is either true or false.
3. The law of identity: A thing is what it is. As in, it has a specific nature. For example, I am 5’9” tall, and that does not change even if I say (or wish) I am taller.
4. The law of rational inference: There should be sufficient reason for a thing to happen. For example: If A=B, and B=C, then A=C.

As I said before, many think that logic is implied in critical thinking, but after working as a teaching assistant at Mizzou, I can tell you that contradictions run wild in the essays of many college students.

What is even worse is that these laws do not just apply to abstract thought, they apply to our day-to-day lives as well. Finances, morality, philosophy, law, lifestyles etc. all are thrown into chaos when a person chooses a particular course of action and hopes for a better result than what these laws would dictate.

See, the reason one uses the laws of logic is to come to a conclusion about what is true or not true. However, our culture, especially academia and the social sciences is questioning the idea that truth exists in a shift of thought that some call “postmodernism.”

To clarify, let me compare this to modernism.  Modernism is the system of thought that is exemplified in the scientific method.  The idea is that there are some things we do not know, but if we develop a hypothesis and test it, we can come to a conclusion about what is true.  Modernism assumes that there are some things that are absolutely true and in the marketplace of ideas, we can debate, experiment, and test assumptions to argue for what is true.

Postmodernism rests on a foundation that says there is no such thing as absolute truth because all truth is relative to the preconceived notions we were all raised with depending on our upbringing.

For example, you might think that cannibalism is absolutely bad.  However, to someone who was raised in a cannibalistic tribe, it is good — nourishing in fact.  And, it is not their fault they were raised that way.  So, who are you to say they are wrong for what they believe?

A less striking picture of postmodern thought could be that where one person sees a forest, someone else might see “just” a group of trees, and a bird might see a home, and a lumberjack might see a business opportunity.  For the postmodern, the nature of all things is dependent on the interpretation of the viewer.

On the surface, some of these basic tenants of postmodern thought seem to make sense, but with just a little more digging, the foundations of postmodernism fall apart.  Postmodern thought can also lead to incoherency and extreme views about people who do believe that there are some absolute truths to argue for.

It is under this postmodern view that the word “tolerance” is being redefined.

In the good old days, tolerance meant that you could completely disagree with the ideas another person had, but you would respect the right of that person to hold whatever view they wished. However, you could still maintain that there is, in fact, right and wrong, and make arguments for what is true or morally acceptable.

Under the postmodern view, it is not OK to even believe that some things are right or wrong. Being “tolerant” to post moderns means accepting all views as equally valid. Agreeing to disagree, or even respecting another’s view is not enough. If you say someone else is wrong, postmodern celebrities such as Oprah would say you are intolerant.

I would argue that acceptance is not even enough in the pop-culture today. The shift is that now you must endorse and even advocate whatever beliefs, lifestyle or decisions anyone else holds — unless, of course, that person chooses to believe that there is such a thing as truth. In that case, the truth-believing person is to be labeled as an intolerant bigot.

I find myself agreeing with the man who said that this postmodern view is a kind of “philosophical stupidity the likes of which has never been unleashed on mankind.” Under a little scrutiny, the system falls apart.

For example, let’s examine this statement: “There is no absolute truth.”
I wonder, is that statement true? Absolutely?

The same sort of question could be asked of the statement, “All truth is relative.” That statement is true relative to what? Is it absolutely true because if it is, then we are looking at a pronouncement that is not relative and disproves its own self. If that statement is relative to something that is not absolute, then we don’t have to regard it.

Problems arise for the postmodern view on tolerance as well. Postmodern tolerance means one must agree with and accept all things or be labeled as intolerant. Not only is this contradictory, it is incoherent.

You cannot tolerate someone with whom you already agree. The very word tolerance means that you believe someone else is wrong in some way.

To look at a belief or action and say, “I think that is wrong,” is not intolerant as long as you are not advocating violence or ostracizing the person with whom you disagree.

But to ridicule and label people as narrow-minded bigots because they hold to a certain view of truth is intolerant.

And this happens all the time in pop-culture and mainstream media with the vitriol usually directed towards people of monotheistic faiths and social conservatives — all in the name of tolerance.

It is hypocrisy.

However, it is easy for me to imagine someone who holds to a postmodern view of the world to ask, “Klint, who ever said everything had to be coherent?” To them, I would simply reply, “Would you like me to give you a coherent answer?”