Today's Christian Living May 2023

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FINISH WELL: When the Race is Almost Over



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TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG 3 16 On the Cover: John and Lisa Bevere, Photo courtesy of Thomas Nelson Publishers VOL. 61 NUMBER 3
2023 Columns Departments 20 6
to a fulfilling, fruitful life?
and Lisa Bevere explain.
Annual Writing Contest
us your best story
He (God) Hath Done.”
final years
5 Love God, Fear
by Stephanie Rische How can the forgotten gift of holy fear be
11 TCL
about “Great Things
12 Finish Well by Michelle Adserias Explore the ways you can make
most of your
with insights from Robert Wolgemuth.
Love You, Mom”
at a Cost
Ways to honor your mother, even when it isn’t easy.
year program
high school
16 When “I
By Helen McIntosh and Blythe Daniel
19 Gap Year Guide by Mike Lutz Could a Christian gap
be the right next step for a
graduate you know?
Features 23 4 The Fine Print 8 The Good News 10 Laugh Lines 36 Kids of the Kingdom 38 Quick Takes 44 Quips & Quotes 9 Living in Wisdom Just Keep on Driving 18 Dave Says Setting Financial Priorities 23 Devotional Washed in the Blood 24 Turning Point Turn Off the Noise 40 Ask Dr. Walt Salt Lamps, Sea Salt, Cell Phones and more 42 Persecution Report Open Doors 2023 World Watch List 46 Grace Notes Running with a Limp
22 One Body; Together in Heaven and on Earth An excerpt from Hope in the Eleventh Hour, a book of hope for those who mourn by Sarah Berger. 25 2023 Moms, Dads and Grads Resource Guide Bible and book gift ideas for mothers, fathers and graduates.


The season for family celebrations is here. We honor our mothers in May, our fathers in June, and somewhere in the mix we celebrate our children graduating from high school and college.

Families are tricky. Because each of us is human, with an imbedded sinful nature from birth, we were all imperfect children. Some of us have gone on to be imperfect parents and grandparents, too. That means we will hurt, offend and disappoint one another.

There’s a great deal of chatter about dysfunctional families these days. Is there a family that isn’t dysfunctional on some level? If so, I’ve never met them! We all know, from firsthand experience, the people who are supposed to love us the most also inflict the deepest wounds. Broken relationships can make these celebratory seasons burdensome, rather than joyful.

Praise God, He can fill our hearts with the grace and mercy we need to forgive each other. Restoration is possible, whether our offenders ever ask forgiveness or not. Bitterness doesn’t have to take root in our hearts.

In this issue you’ll read stories about generational blessings, healing God brought to a strained parentchild relationship, hope He gave to a mother who lost her child, and confidence He instilled in students who were unsure about their future.

I pray this will be a season of joy, hope and peace for you and your family.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.

(Romans 12:18)

Vol. 61 No. 3


Diana Jones

Editor Michelle Adserias

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Love God, John and Lisa Bevere on Four Decades of Family and Ministry

Fear God

In his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson poses this convicting question: “Will we let God be as He is, majestic and holy, vast and wondrous, or will we always be trying to whittle Him down to the size of our small minds, insist on confining Him within the boundaries we are comfortable with?”

Over the past four decades, John and Lisa Bevere have lived out a long obedience in the direction of ministry and family. This obedience is fueled by their faith in a God who is holy and worthy of awe. John puts it this way: “When we have a healthy fear of God, it leads to intimacy with Him and overflows into obedience as we live out our calling.”

John and Lisa are cofounders of Messenger International, a ministry that provides discipleship resources around the globe. These resources, which are primarily intended for pastors and other ministry leaders, have been translated into hundreds of languages. Messenger is passionate about providing these materials free of charge in under-resourced countries. So far, they’ve given away 57 million books and other resources. The Messenger app is available in 123 languages, serving 234 different nations. It’s the #1 app in the world in terms of the number of languages represented (for context, YouTube is #5).

“Lots of organizations provide the Bible in other languages, but pastors are also crying out for teaching that will transform lives,” John says. The vision of Messenger International is “Everyone. Everywhere. Every day.” They are driven by the motto “Everyone needs to know,” and to that end, they’ve published a book a year for the past 13 years. “We hear about people in some African and Asian nations walking five miles just to get one book in their language. In the West, we take these resources for granted, but they are a treasure for people who don’t have anything like this.”




Lisa Bevere is a mother and grandmother. But she is also godmother to countless women around the world. Lisa defines a godmother as “someone who notices your struggle, transforms your trials, and sends you on your way in strength.”

Lisa has written dozens of books on topics such as comparison, truth, marriage, God’s Word, and womanhood. These include devotionals, Christian living books, and picture books. She is also the host of The Godmother Podcast, in which she talks about how relationships with mentors and mentees can bridge the gaps in our lives


In her various ministries—speaking, writing, and podcasting—she hears from women of all ages. “I find that people are desperate for ways to put their pieces together. I’m often asked about topics like marriage, work-life balance, raising godly kids, finding your voice, and discovering your calling.” But underneath all those topics is the desire to know that we are loved and that we matter, that God has made us on purpose, for a purpose.

Lisa is passionate about communicating the message of God’s love to women. “God’s love isn’t meant to be a fact you memorize. It’s meant to be a reality you experience. Deeply. Intimately. Personally. My hope is that this truth will make the long journey from your head to your heart.”

The Awe of God

John is a speaker, and an author whose most recent book, The Awe of God, shows how the forgotten gift of holy fear is the path to a fulfilling and fruitful life. “A recent Barna study revealed that over the last 23 years, 40 million Americans have walked away from the faith. They found that 20 million of those who have walked away are now professing atheists and agnostics, and the other 20 million have gone from being practicing Christians (those who pray and gather regularly) to being nonpracticing Christians.”

John’s life message is to address the deficit that has caused these millions of Christians to fall away. “In recent years, the Western church hasn’t taught about the healthy, holy fear of God. We preach on God’s love and grace—and we should. But the road to life is a narrow one, and by neglecting the fear of God, we’ve removed the gift that protects us from falling away.” John believes there are two ditches we can fall into as Christians: legalism or lawlessness. The love of God protects us from the ditch of legalism. But we also need to understand the fear of the Lord, which keeps us out of the ditch of lawlessness.

Psalm 112:1 says, “Happy are those who fear the Lord, who find delight in his commands.” John explains that there are two ways to view obeying the Lord. Some people say it’s boring; others say it’s a delight. What’s the difference? “If we fear the Lord, obedience is a delight. If we don’t, it’s drudgery. Scripture

says that salvation is a free gift, but we’re also called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (see Philippians 2:12).

“In the church’s attempt to create seeker-friendly messages, we’ve worked the fear of the Lord out of the conversation. When we fear the Lord, it produces action—and a desire to act. When we remove the fear of the Lord, we remove the gracious protection God has given us against falling away.” But fearing God isn’t just something we do to avoid danger; it’s also something that brings delight. It’s the only path to an intimate friendship with a holy God.

Knowing God—and Being Known by Him

“I was raised religious,” John says, “but I had no relationship with Jesus.” While attending college at Purdue, he played intramural sports with his fraternity. “In 1979, one of the best athletes in the state of Indiana came to my room and shared the four spiritual laws with me.

He asked, ‘Can you tell me about the president of the United States?’

I told him some basic facts about the president.

He said, ‘Do you know President Carter like you know your mom?’

I told him, ‘No, I know about the president, but I know my mom personally.’

Photo of Lisa Bevere teaching courtesy of Bermè Jordaan

Then he said, ‘Great, can you tell me about Jesus?’ That got my attention. He told me that God created me to have an intimate relationship with him.”

That moment marked the beginning of John’s decision to follow Jesus. “After that, I started an all-campus Bible study in my fraternity and, before long, sixty students were attending.” When there were three weeks left in school, John met Lisa. “She was described to me as the wildest girl on campus.” Lisa’s mom was a believer, but Lisa didn’t want anything to do with her mom’s faith—in fact, she thought her mom was in a cult. But things changed when she met John. “I asked Lisa out, and she got saved on our date - at one o’clock in the morning!” They were married a year later.

John got a degree in business and planned to go on to get an MBA. God had other plans. “He was calling me to preach, and after a year and a half, I finally gave in.” John started working at his church, and he has been in ministry in some form ever since. Lisa has been ministering to women for the past three decades, empowering them to find their Godgiven identity and purpose.

Partners in Ministry and Life

The Beveres recently celebrated their fortieth anniversary, and along the way they’ve learned some hard-won lessons about making marriage work. While they are united in their desire to serve the Lord, their travel schedules mean they have to be intentional about prioritizing their relationship. “With all the traveling and speaking we do, we’re only together about 20 percent of the time,” John says. “Over the years, we’ve committed to using the time we’re apart to grow our hearts together. When Lisa ministers to women, I see it as an opportunity to sow into their lives by supporting her. In the same way, she sows into people’s lives when I’m ministering in other parts of the country or world. So really, we get a double blessing.”

John and Lisa have four children and many grandchildren. While they are passionate about their national and international ministries, they are even more committed to leaving a legacy for their own family. “When people remember my name, I hope they say, ‘He loved and feared God deeply.’ I want to see my family stay faithful their whole lives. This life is a vapor, and eternity is real. I want them to be rewarded when they approach the judgment seat of Christ.”

Although their ministry has taken different forms over the years, the heart of their message remains the same. John’s number-one ministry goal is “to be more in love with Jesus than I was when I met him.” His number-one marriage goal is “to love Lisa even more than I did the day we were married.”

After all these years, John and Lisa continue to reflect Psalm 66:16: “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.” 

You can learn more about Messenger International, John and Lisa Bevere’s teaching ministries, at

Stephanie Rische edits and writes in the Chicago area, where she lives with her husband and two sons. When she isn’t chasing down commas or little boys, she blogs at

Her memoir, I Was Blind (Dating), but Now I See, recounts how God surprised her with his grace and love.

Photo of John Bevere courtesy of Meshali Mitchell

The Good News

Aman was accused of murder and brought before a judge. The man admitted his guilt, the jury found him guilty, and the judge pronounced his sentence with deep sorrow: the death penalty.

The guilty man was his own son. Despite the judge’s deep love for him, he could not dismiss the charges or avert the penalty. He must uphold the law or be a corrupt, unjust judge.

He was caught in a heart-wrenching dilemma. Then he thought of a solution. The judge stepped down, removed his robe, and exchanged places with his son. He was executed in his son’s place.

That’s what Jesus, in His grace and mercy, did for us when he died on the cross. He was not guilty but paid the penalty for our guilt; he was sinless but paid the price for our sin.

God’s forgiveness is available to anyone who will own, ask forgiveness for, and turn away from their sin (repent) and put their hope, faith, and trust in Christ alone. Only His blood, shed on the cross, can wash away the guilt of our sin so we can forever enjoy God’s forgiveness and fellowship.

The question is, will you accept God’s free gift? It’s only a sincere prayer away. If you’d like to find new life in Christ, tell God you are sorry for your past wrongs and want Him to be your Lord and Savior. He’ll send the Holy Spirit to live in you, guide you, and change you from the inside out.

“It is by grace you have been saved through faith — and this is not through yourselves, it is the gift of God — not of works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Filled with articles and columns that encourage, equip and engage Christians of all ages! LIVING TODAY’S BONUS: If you like to read on your computer, iPad or smartphone, make sure you enter your email address to get the digital magazine edition at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE. Then share your print edition with someone who will be blessed by it! Don’t Miss An Issue Subscribe & Save! 6 19$ Issues Only 95 Call 800-223-3161 or visit to order your subscription today. Offer code: A18SLHA

Jerry Rose is an internationally known Christian broadcaster and is former president/ CEO of the Total Living Network. He currently serves as TLN’s chairman of the board and hosts the Emmy awardwinning program Significant Living. Jerry is an ordained minister and the author of five books, including Deep Faith for Dark Valleys and Significant Living, coauthored with his wife, Shirley. He is the past president of the National Religious Broadcasters and currently serves on its board of directors. Jerry is an avid golfer, equestrian, photographer, and grandfather of 20.

Shirley Rose has been in ministry with her husband, Jerry, for more than 30 years. Her career in Christian television focused on hosting several programs, including the Emmy Award-winning women’s program Aspiring Women. She has authored five books, including The Eve Factor, A Wise Woman Once Said…, and Significant Living, and has contributed to numerous anthologies and periodicals. She is actively pursuing her calling to help other women through writing, speaking, and hosting women’s groups in her home. Her favorite pastimes are country line dancing, travel, and spending time with her 20 grandchildren.


Just Keep On Driving

My dad accepted Christ when he was well into his 60’s. He had heard hundreds of powerful sermons, but none effective enough to send him to the altar in repentance--until that fateful day he heard his son might die.

As the general manager of a Dallas Christian Television station, I had an especially busy calendar that morning, and a slight headache. When I reached for the phone, I realized I was blind on the right side of both eyes. Though my vision returned after a few minutes, other problems developed. I was having trouble constructing sentences. I could not express my thoughts verbally.

I couldn’t tell time. I knew I was in trouble.

I was immediately taken to a neurologist who diagnosed my condition as either a brain tumor or a severe stoke. Either was very serious, so he wanted a full staff of medical experts present for my exam. I checked into the hospital that afternoon. The doctors were baffled as my symptoms began to improve. My dad called that evening, sobbing. He had amazing news. “Son” he said, “I’ve accepted Jesus and I’ve been praying for you all day. God is going to heal you.”

A father’s love achieved what decades of sermons had failed to do. Imagine my elation after all those years of wanting to hear those words. My dad, a newly minted Christian, not only yielded his life to God, but stood in the gap for his son. He demonstrated simple but profound faith that helped bring about a miracle. After four days of extensive and varied testing, the professionals could find nothing wrong. To their amazement, I walked out of the hospital with a clean bill of health.

Faith that Moves Mountains

A year or so later our family moved to Virginia. My dad joined me for a father-son trip. At the time I was driving an old 1965 Mustang, a wedding gift from Shirley’s parents. On the way to Washington D.C., the headlights begin to blink on and off, the “off” getting longer each time. It was late at night. Repair shops were closed. I was ready to find a motel for the night. However, I still smile as I recall my dad’s response. “Just keep on driving, Son,” Dad insisted. “God’s going to heal the lights.”

I admit my first response was frustration. I was stressed from driving with unreliable lights. But Dad was adamant. “Now listen to me,” he said. “I’m your dad and I’m telling you to keep driving because the lights are going to be fine.” Two or three blink cycles later the lights were fine. They worked perfectly during the rest of our trip.

No one would have called my father a great man of faith. He was a humble man with a humble job and not much education. He was a new Christian, but he had a powerful faith and believed God could do anything. No matter how long we have known the Lord, our faith must remain fresh and strong.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

We first exercise that faith when we come to Christ and seek forgiveness for our sins. God rewards us by granting us forgiveness, a relationship with Him on this earth, and eternal life. But beyond that, He continues to reward us as we “believe that He is” and trust His love and grace for all our needs.

Over time, our faith can grow stale and doubts can creep in. Prayer becomes obligatory without any real expectation. Keeping our faith genuine and alive is vital to our Christian journey. Without it, we are anemic and spiritually vulnerable, and we miss the joy and blessing God intends for us. That doesn’t have to happen. I like what Timothy says. “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

(2 Timothy 1:12)

How do we keep what we have committed and see our prayers answered?

“And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 3:22)

My father was a new Christian, but probably knew God’s word as well as anyone from his years of church. And that night on a dark, lonely road through the mountains of Virginia, he took God at His word and believed He would do what He had promised.

I believe God smiled, too, when my dad told me to “Just keep on driving.” 


“So tell me, Mrs. Farris,” asked the interviewer, “have you any other skills you think might be worth mentioning?”

“Actually, yes,” said the applicant modestly. “Last year I had two short stories published in national magazines, and I finished my novel.”

“Very impressive,” he commented, “but I was thinking of skills you could apply during office hours.”

Mrs. Smith explained brightly, “Oh, that was during office hours.

From Mikey’s Funnies (


• “Be sure to refill the ice trays - we’re expecting company.”

• “Don’t forget to wind the clock before you go to bed.”

• “Remember to roll up your pant legs so they don’t get torn up by your bicycle chain.”

• “Be sure and pour the cream off the top of the milk when you open the new bottle.”

• “Take that empty bottle to the store with you so you won’t have to pay a deposit on another one.”

• “Let me know when the Fuller Brush man comes by. I need to get a few things from him.”

• “You can walk to the store; it won’t hurt you to get some exercise.”

• “Don’t sit too close to the TV. It’s hard on your eyes.”

• “Go out to the well and draw a bucket of water so I can wash dishes.”

• “No! I don’t have nine cents for you to go to the show. Do you think money grows on trees?”

• “It’s time for your system to get cleaned out. I am giving you a dose of castor oil tonight.”

• “Quit crossing your eyes! They’ll get stuck that way!”

From Mikey’s Funnies (

If you have a joke or funny story you’d like to share, email If we print your joke, we’ll pay you $25.


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Finish Well

Make the Most of Your Final Years

Michelle Adserias Photo Credit: Katie Bollinger Photography

Death comes to us all, at least the physical death of our sin-cursed bodies. It’s unavoidable. The Bible makes it clear “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). While those who are in Christ have eternal life in a perfected body to look forward to, there are matters we must attend to before exiting earth. Yet, most of us try to avoid thinking about, talking about, or planning for our final days.

Perhaps that’s why Robert Wolgemuth’s newest book, Finish Line, is such a unique treasure. Written in a warm, conversational style, Robert invites his readers into his life and offers personal insights and practical advice gained from his own life experiences.

Set Apart to God’s Glory

His journey with God began when he was young, just four years old. It wasn’t typical for his family to go to the movies. In fact, this instance stood out because it was so rare. But his father took them to see a film about Redd Harper, also known as Mr. Texas. Mr. Texas not only enjoyed a successful career as a cowboy singer and songwriter, but he also devoted his later years to international missions and evangelism. When the movie was over, Robert knelt on the back row of the theatre floor and surrendered his life to Christ. His mother, who had the greatest impact on his spiritual life in those formative years, was at his side.


If we believe God sovereignly ordains all our days, it’s easier to face the trials as well as the triumphs. But it still requires us to make choices about how we will live and how we will die.

There are certain practical things we can do to help our families.

• Find a godly attorney and leave behind a will or trust.

• Appoint a power-of-attorney for both financial and medical decisions.

• Have medical directives outlined, in case we are unable to express our wishes for care.

• Let our loved ones know where we keep important paperwork.

• Pre-arrange our funeral and leave instructions about how we’d like our service conducted.

• Leave passwords for all our online accounts with the important paperwork.

• Purge our personal belongings. Our children may love us but won’t want everything we treasure.

Finishing the race isn’t all about tying up the loose ends. There are things we can do to make our final days more enjoyable and rewarding.

• Find a like-minded doctor, a Christian doctor, who will function as a general contractor, guarding our overall medical care when specialists get involved.

• Mentor someone. That may sound intimidating, but it can be as simple as being available to and regularly connecting with someone younger.

• Finish our race alongside at least one man (if you’re a man) or one woman (if you’re a woman) who is a soulmate.

Robert married Bobbie when he was twenty-two and she was just twenty years old. He was struck by the spiritual fervor overflowing from her relatively new relationship with Christ. It was contagious. Robert, born and raised in a Christian home, found renewed joy in his own walk with God.

After they married, Robert worked with Youth for Christ, the ministry where his father, Sam Wolgemuth, served as president. Here he was first introduced to the publishing world, taking responsibility for the business and financial side of the ministry’s publication, “Campus Life Magazine.” God used this valuable experience to pave the way to new opportunities; first at Word Publishing in Texas, then at Thomas Nelson Publishers in Tennessee. By the time he started his first business in partnership with Michael Hyatt, he had a thorough understanding of his profession. Now in his mid-seventies, Robert is still an active literary agent and author.

• Be ready to meet the Lord face to face by embracing His call to salvation, living life fully to His glory.

• God has given us life and will take it from us when He determines it’s best. But there’s no shame in wanting to die. It’s perfectly understandable, especially for those who are suffering.

We know God has prepared a wonderful, eternal home for us. (John 14:3) He put a longing in our hearts to join Him there. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) Consider these words about what God has in store for us from 1 Corinthians 2:9:

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the human heart, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” Robert describes it this way in his book: “Crossing the finish line is going to be a celebration like you can’t imagine. It’s Christmas morning when you were a kid. It’s your honeymoon. It’s the birth of your first child.”

“Legacy is built over a lifetime. It begins with one choice followed by another.”

A Family Blessed

Despite the hardships the Wolgemuth family faced, they kept their eyes on God’s blessings, just as Joshua did when he led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, in his eighties.

Before his death, he reminded the people how God faithfully delivered them from slavery’s hardship in Egypt to the promised land. He reminded them of their godly heritage, presented them with a choice, then planted his own flag. “But if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served... or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) He left his children and grandchildren a godly heritage. We can do the same - determine to serve God and recount the stories of His faithfulness to future generations.

We can bless our children and grandchildren with spoken blessings. In his book, Robert recalls his grandfather speaking a blessing over him before passing away. He explains a blessing is more than words. It’s something almost tangible, a gift that can only be given once. We can speak a unique blessing over each of our descendants.

We can also bless them by faithfully obeying God and teaching them to do

Tested by Fire

Along the way, however, he suffered a deep personal loss – one which helped shape his outlook on living and dying well. In 2012, his wife, Bobbie, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She fought a valiant thirty-month battle before, as Alistair Begg would say, she fell asleep in the arms of Jesus. But even in her suffering, she determined to live to God’s glory.

When we spoke, Robert referenced Romans 12:1-2. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but

be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The verse applies to how they both walked through these difficult days. Bobbie offered herself a living sacrifice and accepted what God sent as her spiritual service of worship. She renewed her mind, determined to take every thought captive and not complain, despite her suffering. Robert offered himself a living sacrifice to meet Bobbie’s day to day needs; securing her the best possible medical care and serving her just as Jesus had served His disciples. He renewed his mind, determined to encourage his wife and children, despite his sorrow.

Blending two households, at any age, can be both challenging and rewarding. When asked what advice he’d offer to people considering re-marriage, Robert said, “I have two words for you. Ron Deal.” Dr. Ron Deal leads FamilyLife’s ministry to blended families. They have top-notch resources available for those facing this new chapter in life. FamilyLife is a CRU ministry. You can learn more at

Left: Nancy, Robert, and family, Thanksgiving 2022. Photo by Michael Poole.

likewise. The curse of besetting sins endures four to five generations. The blessings are visited on countless generations.

(Deuteronomy 5:9-10)

Whether or not you were raised in a Christian home, you have a unique opportunity to break sinful cycles and establish a godly heritage, an avenue of blessings for your family. As Robert so aptly put it, “Legacy is built over a lifetime. It begins with one choice followed by another.”

God’s Ongoing Work

Robert’s story didn’t end with Bobbie’s death. God blessed him with a second wonderful wife and a second happy marriage. Before she died, Bobbie told two friends, without his knowledge, that she hoped Robert would marry Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Robert and Nancy did marry, and both continue ministering to people in their own unique ways while encouraging one another along their journey.

Many years ago, God began a good work in Robert’s life. He’s still bringing it to completion. 

Robert Wolgemuth is an author and former Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

Wolgemuth has authored over twenty books and has been in the publishing business for nearly forty years. Learn more at His new book. Finish Line, Dispelling Fear, Finding Peace and Preparing for the End of Your Life, offers advice and encouragement for those approaching their final years.

Pull quotes from Finish Line used with permission from Zondervan Books. All rights reserved.

TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG 15 Read THE BIOGRAPHY OF JESUS anew, uniquely presented through the weaving together of all four Gospel accounts, arranged chronologically and without duplication. KNOW JESUS LIKE NEVER BEFORE* * UNLIKE ANYTHING YOU’VE READ— EVEN IF YOU KNOW THE BIBLE WELL. A distinct narrative rendered beautifully in the New Living Translation. Tyndale Tyndale’s quill logo, New Living Translation, NLT, and the New Living Translation logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Ministries A HISTORIC F I RST Experience every event, exchange, miracle, and teaching of Jesus. TCL_SinglePage_finaleditable_ba.indd 1 3/21/2023 2:28:05 PM
“Crossing the finish line is going to be a celebration like you can’t imagine.”

“I Love You, Mom”Comes at a Cost

Helen: Do you remember the cards you would make at school, or perhaps at church, for your mom when you were young? Beautifully chosen words for children to color, or create on their own, filled the page. “I love you, Mom” was easier to say then. For some adults, “I love you, Mom” are now weighty words.

Most of my difficult conversations with my mom took place in the kitchen. Usually a safe place to create, the kitchen created an unhealthy recipe for us. You may think me a slow learner for repeating the same pattern, but I knew I should help my mom, so I repeatedly entered what became a battlefield – hoping to make things better between us.

Mom wanted everything a certain way. If it wasn’t done “right”, she imploded. Lettuce had to be washed a certain way, carrots cut just so, and food put together and placed at just the right place on the table. Much of my life, I felt like I was not just trying to fit her expectations, but mold my life to hers.

I wish I could’ve talked to Mom about her anger. That never happened. I never felt like I had words that would help us. I remember trying to explain that I loved her, but I didn’t love how I felt when she was critical of me. I wanted to be truthful but was also looking for a way to bridge the gap I felt between us. Sadly, I don’t think she lived feeling loved, most of the time.

WhenNot just by me, but by others she thought could never love her. In part, the drive to find answers for her condition propelled me to gain a doctorate in counseling psychology.

As a young mom, I longed for a healthy relationship with my daughter, Blythe. I prayed we would never have such a toxic relationship. And we don’t! We have a loving, healthy relationship and enjoy our time together. Ever aware of our family patterns, we hunt for words that won’t hurt each other, even when we need to bring up something that’s uncomfortable to talk about. We also want to help other families communicate honestly and respectfully, to move closer to each other, to attempt to reconcile broken relationships and avoid unhealthy generational patterns.

Blythe: As a young girl, I wanted to protect my mom. I didn’t want to see her hurt. I remember on one occasion, during one of my grandmother’s outbursts, I stood up to her and let her know how I felt about her talking to my mom as she had. Maybe I felt like giving Mom my love could help her not feel so alone. My grandmother loved us, but her anger disrupted our relationships, keeping us wondering what she might say next. I believe that’s why Mom and I feel so strongly about the power of words; how what we say to others becomes what they hear, feel and internalize.


Some content taken from I Love You, Mom by Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh. Copyright © 2022. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

When I watched my mom try to navigate in her mother’s kitchen, I remember sensing the stress it caused her. I would see her try to help, but her mother would tell her, in a myriad of ways, Mom wasn’t meeting her expectations. Mom would gently back away rather than become defensive. It seemed better for her to get out of the situation than let it escalate. When her mom would spew anger, Mom responded kindly. She didn’t try to win an argument or prove her mom wasn’t right. She chose words that brought honor and love, rather than shame, over her mom.

Helen: Sometimes “I love you” can come at such a price because we don’t feel like saying it. We think a person’s treatment of us gives us the green light (or not) to say these words. If a mother has done what we think she should, it’s easier to say. But if she’s inflicted deep wounds, in the past or present, we might find it difficult to say something we really want to mean, but instead we feel dishonest. We can all find character qualities we notice, memories that shaped us into who we are today, or decisions she helped us make that we want to acknowledge (maybe for the first time) – reasons to express our love to our mothers. Have you ever noticed how it feels to love someone, even when you don’t feel it coming from them? It can be one of the purest feelings, like you are doing exactly what God wants you to do when you express love to someone who doesn’t fully love you back. In an unexpected way, it feels good. It’s freeing. When you express love, resentment can’t build up. Choosing to love, even when it isn’t reciprocated, is exactly what our Lord Jesus did for us when He died on the cross for our sins. He was sinless but still chose to love us through our sin; not despite our sin or after we cleaned up our sin, but right in the middle of it . “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Blythe: Sometimes we don’t love our mothers the way we should. We fall short – we’re human. But a tap on the shoulder from the apostle Paul in 1 Peter 4:8 reminds us, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

God shows us when we love someone, it helps us look beyond a person’s actions, behavior or misdoings. We see what they did, or are doing, isn’t God-honoring. But we can forgive them and set them and ourselves free from the tether to what hurt us. Doing good to our moms, even if it hasn’t been done to us, is extending God’s grace and love. Sometimes it costs us our sense of self – what we think we deserve – to say “I love you, Mom”, but it’s a doorway to a deeper relationship. We have a chance to do things over, for our mom’s sake, for our sake and for the sake of generations to come. 

Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh co-authored I Love You, Mom! Cherished Word Gifts from my Heart to Yours and Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters. Helen is the mother of two, including Blythe, and Blythe is the mother of three teens. They can be found at

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Helen: One of the gifts I gave my mom in the remaining years of her life was a book of scripture verses I had written to her. She took the book with her to doctor’s appointments. I could tell she really appreciated it. I never thought something so simple would mean so much to her. It was my way of saying “I love you” in a way she could receive it.

Here are some ways you can mark this season of honoring your mother with a gift she will value and you will remember giving her.

Things You Can Do

Send a homemade card

Send a text with photos

Video message

Send a photo of you or your family with a message on the back

Invite her over to listen to music you play or share artwork you created to honor her

Invite her for a home-cooked meal of her favorites

Gifts You Can Give

Create a family tree and ask ancestry questions

Compile and print a booklet with her favorite recipes

Put together a book of photos spanning the years. Include photos of your kids.

A book of her sayings that you remember with your kids’ drawings next to each

A gift card bundle of places you know she likes to go

Plant a small garden as a reminder of how you love her


Dave Ramsey is a seven-time #1 national best-selling author, personal finance expert, and host of The Ramsey Show, heard by more than 18 million listeners each week. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Today Show, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business, and many more.

Since 1992, Dave has helped people regain control of their money, build wealth, and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for Ramsey Solutions.

Help Them – and Help Them Get Help

Dear Dave, I finished college a couple of years ago, and I have a good job making $65,000 a year. The only debt I have is about $5,000 remaining on a car loan, and I am paying that off as quickly as possible. At the same time, my mom and dad need repairs on their small house, and I am not sure they can afford to fix things. They both work hard, but they don’t make a lot of money. Plus, they have some debt. I have enough saved to pay for fixing their roof, with plenty left over. What do you think about the idea of pausing paying off my car to help them?

Pay Off the Mortgages? Not So Fast…

Dear Dave,

Dear Samantha,

You’re a caring young lady with a great heart, who’s also making good money. There’s no reason you can’t do both things. Help your mom and dad with the roof, then turn around and finish knocking out that car payment and re-build your savings. From what you’ve said, it won’t put you in a financial bind, right? I’m really proud of you for wanting to help your folks this way.

I know your mom and dad work hard. And they’re obviously good people to have raised a daughter like you. But I want you to think about one thing. If you make a habit of fixing their lives without them having a hand in fixing their lives, this scenario could become a nightmare for everyone.

I’d go ahead and help them, but the only way I’d do it is if they promise to let you help them address the reasons they don’t have any money—and if they agree to get financial counseling. I can tell you love your mom and dad a lot. And I’m sure they work too hard to be broke. I’m not talking about fussing at them or shaming them, I’m talking about sitting down and having a loving discussion about the issues and what they can do to start making positive financial changes in their lives.

The fact that your folks have worked their entire lives and can’t come up with money for roof repairs on a small home, tells me something’s wrong. The fact that they don’t have any money is the symptom. The problem is they’ve made poor decisions and mishandled the dollars they earned. Even if you don’t make a lot, you can still have a little cash set aside for emergencies if you manage it well.


My husband and I are retired. I receive a small pension, and we are both on Medicare and Social Security. We have about $25,000 left to pay on our mortgage, along with a second mortgage of $18,000. These are our only debts. We also have a nest egg of $30,000 set aside, and a small annuity that’s worth about $20,000. Would you recommend paying off our mortgages with our savings?

Dear Jane,

If you know me at all, you understand how much I’d love to see everyone in control of their finances and living debt-free. But being broke, even in a house that’s paid for, isn’t a good idea. Believe me, I understand. The idea of paying off the house and everything is awfully tempting. But if you two did that, you’d be left with very little. To me, that’s a scary thought when your small pension—along with Social Insecurity and Medicare—are all you have coming in.

No offense, but your nest egg is kind of small to begin with, so I don’t think I’d be raiding it right now. On the other hand, if you’d told me you had $400,000 or $500,000 saved up, I’d tell you pay off the house and second mortgage today

If you’re not doing this already, I’d advise you two to start making and living on a regular monthly budget. Give every dollar a name on paper before the month begins, because if you don’t, your money will control you instead of you controlling it. Make sure you’re living on less than what’s coming in, and hopefully you can devise a plan to have the house and other debt paid off in a few years.

God bless you two!

By Dave Ramsey


A Year Off for Your Student Could Be Life-Changing

What is a Gap Year?

Since COVID hit more students are interested in taking a break after high school before signing up for four years of college – a gap year. This previously unconventional path is becoming more popular and is even being promoted by prestigious learning institutions like Harvard, NYU, and MIT.

But what is a gap year really? Is it a year for becoming a free spirit, not tied down to the societal expectations of education? Is it backpacking across Europe to find oneself? Or is it a legitimate path that enriches a person, rounds out their education, and better prepares them for the real world?

At its core level, a gap year prepares a high school graduate for the future. It might involve international travel, work experience, volunteer service, or an internship. It can be near home or in a foreign country. Gap years give young people the chance to reassess, take stock, and enjoy a different type of learning experience.

“…the gap year I was a part of last year, was more than just a stepping stone in my life. Trailhead gave me strong foundations, a loving family, and a servant heart for my faith and my life. Walking out of high school, I wasn’t a very outgoing person. I was quiet, not amazing in school, and basically I did what I had to do to survive. And that was kinda the same deal entering Trailhead. But I can say confidently and seriously, a gap year was the perfect thing for me. It took off some of the pressure and stress over the future and strengthened and trained me for stepping out into the rapid waters of culture and life”

Why a Christian Gap Year?

The intention for most Christian gap year programs is to use the time between life stages to serve others, grow spiritually, and discover God’s plans and purposes. Students can take a biblically focused year to align their worldview with the truth of the Bible while also discovering new interests, gaining valuable real-world experience, and taking on life-changing ministry opportunities.

High school graduation is a pivotal point in life. Young adults are discovering who God has created them to be and what He wants them to do with their future lives. Maybe they are ahead of the curve and already have a pretty good idea of God’s plan for their life, or maybe it’s something they are still figuring out. Either way, a Christian gap year may be something that will help further solidify their path, calling, and discovery of spiritual gifts.

Friendships formed during a challenging year of spiritual growth are invaluable and can last a lifetime.

“Growing up these days, most kids are told that they can be anything that they put their mind to. One of the problems with that statement is that most high school, and even college students don’t even know where to start, or what to put their mind to. This could be why so many college students try so many different majors, and they end up paying for it in student loans and wasted years. I would argue that young people are given too many options when they’re told that they can be anything. I believe what the younger generation really needs is a tool that can help them identify their strengths, weaknesses and interests in a place that will build them up in the faith, and not take advantage of the fact that they don’t have it all figured out yet. A gap year program is the most effective tool to accomplish that purpose that I can think of. Gap year programs allow students to get a taste of a variety of careers while offering them an analysis on their gifts and abilities. As well, they offer students biblical teaching along the way, and a place to make their faith their own before heading out into the world.”

“One of the reasons I took a gap year after high school was because I didn’t feel ready to chase after a degree… I also didn’t want to sit on the couch for a year thinking about what I should do with my life. There were many amazing things that came out of my year in the Forest Springs Trailhead Program, including learning how to live in a community with a variety of personalities, how to stay on budget, general handyman knowledge, and what it can look like to follow God outside of high school. It also allowed me to grow up a little more while still having responsibilities and living away from home, all within a safe and growing environment. I think from taking a gap year I feel way more equipped heading into my next phase in life.”

Christian gap year programs vary widely. There are programs that focus on missions, discipleship, evangelism, service and more. There are programs from bedrock groups like CRU, YWAM (Youth with a Mission), Adventures in Missions, G42 Leadership Program, Impact360, Youth for Christ, Vanguard, and more. There are local Christian programs offered by youth camps, and Christian colleges. Even downtown urban ministries can provide service programs.


Pray about it. Prayer needs to be at the center of one’s decisionmaking process; not just regarding a gap year decision, but in all aspects of life. Prayer needs to be the first place to turn, not the last resort when all else fails. Pray for God’s wisdom and direction. God wants to help us make good choices in life (see James 1:5-6).

Students in the Forest Springs Camp and Conference Center gap year program, Trailhead, tackle plumbing and other household repairs. Many Christian gap year programs blend service, Bible training and adventure.

Involve Parents . Young adults should seek out the wisdom and experience their parents have to offer. They know their children best, love them deeply, and likely have a financial stake in their child’s future. Parents should be involved, loving, supportive, and godly. Remember that the most important purpose in life is God’s purpose, for your life and your child’s. Keep God in the equation.

Do the research: Organizations that provide gap year experiences are diverse and represent a diversity of beliefs and experiences. Do careful and current research. Check out their belief statements and mission purpose. Investigate their integrity, affiliations, and outside reviews.

Be purposeful : What do you and your child hope to gain from a Gap Year? What are your goals? Really take time to decide what is most important and what experiences are going to be the most impactful. Then be committed to investing time and energy to get the most out of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

So, is a gap year right for your child? There is not a “one size fits all” when it comes to planning a gap year. Not all gap years look alike, nor should they. Just as there is a diversity of spiritual gifts there should be a diversity of Christian gap year experiences that cater to the different individual callings within the body of Christ. Ultimately the best gap year program is going to be the one that is the best for one’s spiritual growth and development, which will differ from individual to individual. Is a gap year needed for all this to happen? The simple answer is no. But for some it may be a needed push in the right direction. The possibilities are endless, make the choice that is right for you. 

Mike Lutz is the author of the award-winning book Jesus Speaking , a daily devotional based on the words of Jesus. Mike has been in pastoral ministry for over twenty-five years. He is also the author of such books as God Every Day, Discovering God’s Will for Your Life and the end times thriller The Armageddon Initiative. For more information about visit

Special thanks to Dan Jacobson for providing testimonials and photos. Dan is the director of the Forest Springs Camp and Conference Center gap year program, Trailhead. Photos taken by and used with permission from Caleb Hail.


Gap year trends continue to grow. Today nearly 40% of high school students are considering a gap year after graduation.

Things students hope to gain from a gap year:

- Practical life skills/Personal growth

- A break from the academic grind

- Discover career options

- Travel experiences with other cultures

- Investigate study options

- Volunteer opportunities

According to the 2020 Gap Year Alumni (GYA) Survey the following were just a few gains gap year participants reported:

- Increased maturity

- Better cross-cultural understanding

- Improved personal interaction and communication skills

- Improved self confidence

- Increased academic motivation

- A greater sense of purpose

- Increased preparedness for college

According to a study of GPA results by Robert Clagett, the former Dean of Admissions at Middlebury College, gap-year students tended to outperform in college by 0.1 to 0.4 on a 4.0 scale, with the positive effects lasting over the entire four years. In addition, taking a structured gap year typically helps to develop individuals into more dedicated students that have a better sense of purpose, greater scholastic engagement, and produce a more well-rounded world view. Gap years often bring a refreshed mindset that helps students face the college workload with greater maturity and level-headedness.


A gap year program isn’t for everyone. For some students, taking a year off presents some challenges.

- Pausing studies can make it harder to restart and regain momentum

- Depending on the program, it could add financial burdens to the educational path

- If not purposeful with plans, the time could be wasted

- Stresses of traveling alone, or falling behind peers may impact emotional health



Together In Heaven and on Earth

Within a few days of Josiah leaving for Heaven, as days and nights were blurred in grief, the idea of the “body of Christ” began running through my mind. For many of us, it can take several attempts before we realize the Holy Spirit is trying to say something.

At last, I realized it was the Holy Spirit beckoning me to take a step, leading me into an important truth He needed to settle in my heart immediately. This first revelation would prove to be pivotal because it set the standard and became my go-to time and time again. The Spirit’s first of many life-giving bits of truth on this path through grief coaxed me forward into His comfort and hope. In my heart, a reasoning began between God and me.

“Sarah, think about the body of Christ. Would I cut off My arm? Would I cut off My leg?”

“No, Lord,” I replied.

“Nor have I cut off Josiah from the body of Christ.”

I knew in an instant what Father God was wanting to communicate to this grieving mom. Out of His own hand He fed me an intimate revelation that because Josiah and I are both part of the body of Christ, we are eternally connected. Josiah is just on one side of the veil, and I am on the other. The Lord in His brilliance knew I would get this truth. He even gave me a holy visual to connect the dots. My son wasn’t cut off from the body of Christ when he entered Heaven. No! That would be a lie! He is on Heaven’s side, and I am on earth’s side, but nonetheless, we are both alive and moving forward for the Kingdom.

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (Romans 12:4–5)

For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. (1 Corinthians 12:14–18)


This truth touched a chasm in my heart where fear had told me my child was cut off from me—that I was no longer a part of his life. I applied God’s Word to my wound, and it brought a calm that took away some of the sting. In His majesty, the Great Physician has seen to my very gradual healing. Mind you, the scar will always remain for this mom. I will never be complete and fully recovered until I enter Heaven’s gates, but to the degree God is able here on earth, He will make us well. He is the cure.

This new normal is so very sad, and we all miss Josiah more than words can say, but I will make much of what God has shown me and pass it on to whoever will listen. Applying the truth of the “one body of Christ” gave me the ability to breathe during those first days. I realized that because of our mutual affection for Jesus, Josiah and I were in fact connected and held together within the one body, and this began my healing from the wound of grief and separation.

What a creative, compassionate God we serve. He, in His infinite wisdom, goes so far out of the way to create hidden manna—bits of truth along our paths—to cover and comfort us until we meet our loved ones again. The truth that God planted in my heart about Siah and me being members of one body was such revelation and has nourished and compelled me to keep moving forward in hope.

As I continued reasoning with the Lord concerning the body of Christ, He pointed out even more mind-boggling truth. It was so obvious, but I had never seen it before, nor had I need-

ed it so desperately. You see, in my mind—and I fear in the minds of many within the church—I had thought of the body of Christ as somehow having two parts. Perhaps it is simply because we in the church emphasize the people living on this side far more than those on heaven’s side. We forget that this pale earth is not the end for those in Christ. May I shout this out? Death is of no consequence to those found in Christ! First Corinthians 15:54 says, “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” 

A speaker and Bible study leader, Sarah Berger co-founded Grace Chapel in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband, Steve. Twenty-six years later, the Bergers founded Ambassador Services International, a ministry designed to educate and equip local, national, and international government leaders. Three of their four children and five grandkids live in Tennessee while their son, Josiah, now lives in heaven.

Excerpted from Hope in the Eleventh Hour © 2022 by Sarah B. Berger. Used by permission of David C Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Washed in the Blood

Today bloodroot buds hover above the leaf-browned ground, tiny white tulips suspended on thin stems. They’re one of the early woodland bloomers, often growing in snowy spring drifts. I watch as they slowly open to the day’s warmth, revealing the sun-yellow anthers hidden in their petals.

Below the soil lies a little, dark bulb. This wildflower gets its name from the life juices flowing through that bulb. If it’s cut, it bleeds deep red. This red juice is valued for its many medicinal purposes. Native Americans used it as an antiseptic, antibiotic, antioxidant and fungicide. It can also clear up warts, tumors, and other skin conditions. The bloodroot’s power to combat infections and cleanse away impurities is reflected in its purest white bloom.

I John 1:7 tells us, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The life-giving blood that flowed through Christ’s veins can overpower the sins that disease our lives. His blood, and His blood alone, can heal the ugliness of all our warts, tumors and imperfections. It cleanses away all our impurities.

Others may not see Christ hidden deep within us. They may not understand, unless we take the time to tell them (and we should) that Christ’s sacrifice has washed away our imperfections. But if we allow His life blood to flow through us, they will see His cleansing reflected in us. We will bloom purified and white in a dark world, with the Son at the center.



Turn Off the Noise

I’m a musician by trade and by nature, so it’s safe to say sound has filled my life since I was an eight-year-old dancing to Michael Jackson tapes in the mid 90’s. The 90’s, as it turns out, was the quiet before the storm when it comes to sound. No one could have predicted then how the iPod and iPhone would make not just music, but each other and information, so much more accessible around the clock.

I can see now that those were the pre-noisetsunami days. An era of relative calm before the irreversible cultural shift we live in today.

Devices have changed the sonic landscape. We are all continually surrounded with the noise of opinion, news, music, images and social interactions. And it’s not only an external issue either, it’s an internal one. Our inner lives are more crowded than ever. The line between the noise of the world and the inner anxiety of the self are becoming ever more blurred.

Without caution, this world can eat us up. Let’s be honest here, all we have to do is make a decision to not press back against it and we’ll be carried away by the tide. It takes real intention to say no to the easily accessible entertainment of the day. Even more so, to not allow ourselves to be stretched to anger or irritability by the things algorithms throw at us on a daily basis.

Changing the Trajectory

One of the practices I built into my life during the worst years of my illness was to use a prayer journal daily. There I would express all my inner noise, get it all out on paper where it felt more tangible, and give God an opportunity to respond. One day, as I was pondering why I could sense God more clearly at some times more than others, I saw a picture.

The picture was of a lake with crystal clear water. It represented me and my walk with God. As I watched, I saw myself throwing all kinds of things into it - tv, music, podcasts, the news but also sports, social events, ministry and reading. As I did, the sediment on the bottom of the lake kicked up and it became harder to see through. I watched on, realizing I was seeing my noisy life. All that noise made my soul crowded, too crowded at times to hear and sense God.

Noise isn’t just about negative stuff, it’s about our schedules and ambitions too. Noise is about our obsessing over things internally or allowing negative voices to fill up all the quiet room God’s Spirit may long to speak through. We suffer noise-pollution not only when we fill every waking moment with podcasts, the radio or social events, but also when we allow the world to determine the conversation going on in our heads rather than allowing God to speak in tranquil and restful moments.

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Several studies have linked noise pollution, a growing problem worldwide, to anxiety and depression. The increasing rates of these two health issues in the young suggest noise creates as much an inner crisis as an external one. I would know, I’ve been there.

I’ve suffered chronic illness for almost ten years and in different seasons I’ve tried to temper both the boredom and anxiety in different ways. At times, I filled my life with TV and became news obsessed. At other times, I sought solitude and quiet isolation. I tried anything I could to keep myself mentally active in the prolonged seasons of being bed-ridden. Here’s what I’ve learned, noise is no passive enemy. It taunts and teases us at every turn. To overcome it we need more than just healthy tech habits.

That crucial day was a huge turning point for me. I began to declutter my life and create space for God. I embraced boredom. Rather than run from it, I would sit quietly in the evenings - just with God and myself - and reject the idea that I needed to ‘keep up’ with everything that was going on.

The result? Peace, rest and love sprung up. I began swimming against the tsunami and have been doing so ever since.

We need a special kind of liberation in this age, a liberation from the hurry and irritability that noise brings. I know I did, and still do. Today, when the water muddies and I struggle to sense God, I remember that picture and begin clearing the way for the Spirit to breathe on me again.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

(Isaiah 26:3) 

Strahan Coleman is the author of Beholding: Deepening Our Experience God and founder of the ministry Commoners Communion.


If you charted the average person’s life on a line graph, most of it would look like a drive across Central Illinois – coasting flat and straight along on the baseline with an occasional bump. Or maybe, if your life is slightly more exciting than average, it would look like a trip through Kansas – slowly undulating slightly above or below the baseline.

From time to time, no matter how routine life is, we all have some memorable days. They stand out on our line graph like the Rocky Mountain peaks. They’re the moments that make it into our Christmas letters. I don’t know about you, but I cling to those peaks when everything feels mundane.

We’re approaching the season when some families will be celebrating those Rocky Mountain moments. Sons

My Utmost for His Highest

and daughters are not only graduating from high school and college, but from childhood to adulthood. Adults are honoring their mothers and fathers – or being honored as mothers and fathers.

Here are some resources to help celebrate the special people and moments in your life.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.

He will rejoice over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love,

He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

—Zephaniah 3:17

Stand Strong: 365 Devotions for Men by Men

Discover timeless wisdom in this 90-day gift devotional. With gently revised language for clarity while retaining the beloved author’s original voice, the Modern Classic Edition of Oswald Chambers’ masterwork is perfect for longtime readers and newcomers alike. You’ll find it at

[Our Daily Bread]

When pressure rises from the expectations of life, men need to know that they can stand strong in the power of the Lord. This collection of short meditations encourages you to grow in your relationship with God, live a life of integrity, and build a legacy of faith. You’ll find it at

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Hold Fast: 365 Devotions for Men by Men

God Hears Her: 365 Devotions for Women by Women

[Our Daily Bread]

This collection of 365 Our Daily Bread devotions helps strengthen men to hold fast to God amid the challenges and uncertainties of today’s world. Each reading offers Scripture, a relevant modern-day example, and key faith-building insight in less than 5 minutes. This hardcover giftbook is a follow-up to Stand Strong. You’ll find it at

NKJV - The Bible Study Bible

[Our Daily Bread]

Take comfort in knowing that God hears you. The Our Daily Bread devotions in this collection reassure you that God is with you, God is for you, and God hears you. The personal stories and Scripture passages can remind you that God is bigger than the trials you face. You’ll find it at

The NKJV Word Study Reference Bible

NKJV The Bible Study Bible is designed to spark deep conversation in small groups and deep thought during personal time in Scripture with study guides for every chapter of the Bible right within the text. Additional materials in the Bible offer help for leading a group through studies on specific topics such as the names of God, prayer, salvation, and suffering. You can find it at

The perfect gift for any student of the Scriptures, The NKJV Word Study Reference Bible balances deep study of the biblical languages with clear application to help transform the way you live. Uncover a wealth of meaning in Scripture with more than 2000 Greek and Hebrew word studies, articles in 21 chain linked topical studies, Strong’s references, a concordance and more!  Also available in KJV. Available at

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[Thomas Nelson Bibles] [Thomas Nelson Bibles]

[Thomas Nelson Bibles]

The Evangelical Study Bible will rejuvenate your faith through the unchanging truth of the gospel. With verseby-verse commentary, sidebars that dig deeper into the background of Scripture, and articles addressing some of today’s pressing cultural issues, it will grow your appreciation of the life-changing truths of the Christian faith. Available at

NIV, Men’s Devotional Bible, Hardcover

NIV, Women’s Devotional Bible

[Zondervan Bibles]

Apply God’s Word to your life with a full year’s worth of devotions written by men, for men, along with application statements, questions for reflection, and more. The 260 weekday and 52 weekend devotions are engaging, practical, and useful for your life today. You can find it at

[Zondervan Bibles]

The NIV Women’s Devotional Bible features hundreds of devotions written for a woman just like you. It includes guided reflections to help you apply Scripture to your daily life, and it will allow you to get to know the women of the Bible through candid portrayals. You can find it at

NIV, Student Bible, Hardcover

[Zondervan Bibles]

Perfect for high school or college students with rich content from award-winning authors Philip Yancey and Tim Stafford! 3-track reading system helps overcome common barriers to Bible study to make it a daily habit. Features are especially designed to help students understand the Bible and live out its life-changing truths! You can find it at

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The NKJV Evangelical Study Bible

[Zondervan Bibles]

Featuring a coral goatskin leather cover and coral gauffered page edges, this black-letter edition of the NIV Thinline Bible captures the depth and beauty of the Bible in a take-anywhere size. You can find it at

Created to Dream

[Zondervan Bibles]

Created to meet the spiritual needs of high school and college students, the NIV Telos Bible is designed to be contextually relevant and to challenge young adults to take a meaningful look at the Bible. You can find it at

Evidence for Jesus: Timeless Answers for Tough Questions about Christ

God has a dream for your life – and in this concise yet powerful volume, beloved pastor and trusted teacher Rick Warren explains the six phases of faith God uses to fulfill the dream He gives you. This one book can lead to big changes in your life. You can find it at

Written in a handy and readable format, Evidence for Jesus offers quick insights about Christ to refute skeptics, encourage curious seekers, and alleviate nagging doubts in the minds of brand new or lifelong Christians. Learn more at

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NIV Telos Bible NIV Thinline Bible, Premier Collection, Coral

Amazing Grace

In these days of extreme polarization, we need stories that talk honestly about the human condition and the relentless love of God. Since the first public singing of “Amazing Grace” 250 years ago, every generation has been moved by the song. Now, readers can connect with John Newton’s story like never before. You can find it at

Authentic Influencer

God has a knack of using ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary purposes. By studying the life of Barnabas, we see how he influenced the world for Jesus Christ in practical and doable ways. Become encouraged to shape our world for Jesus—beginning with whoever happens to be close by.

You can find it at

The Ways of God

How do we relate to and understand a God who is infinitely greater, wiser, and holier than we are? In this updated edition of the bestselling book The Ways of God, author Richard Blackaby discusses how the ways of God reflect His nature and identifies how they differ from ours. You’ll find it at

Be Uncommon

No one’s life goal is to be average. With practical tips and inspiring stories, motivational author helps you overcome mediocrity in 40 crucial areas of your life all while encouraging you to become the best version of yourself. You’ll find it at

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Whether you’re a new student of the Bible or a mature believer, enjoy insights for your daily life and grow in your appreciation for the Psalms and Proverbs in Wisdom for Life. You’ll find it at

Full Circle Parenting: A Guide for Crucial Conversations

Between Us: A 52-week Keepsake Devotional for Daughters and Moms

Parents know they have to find a way to have tough conversations from a biblical perspective and a distinctly Christian worldview, but they don’t know how. Using the 3 Circles gospel tool, Jimmy and Kristin will give you a “conversation map” to work through tough conversations with your children. You’ll find it at

Throughout the year, mothers and daughters can use these 52 devotions to share their thoughts and grow their faith. Moms and daughters will enjoy building their relationship with each other, strengthening their faith in God, and creating a keepsake to treasure for decades to come. You’ll find it at

Eat, Sleep, Save the World: Words of Encouragement for the Special Needs Parent

Eat, Sleep, Save the World is the rallying voice for the parenting special needs community. It highlights the exceptional qualities God has gifted you with, so that you can take care of your exceptional children. You’ll find it at

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Wisdom for Life Devotional

Bible Promises for Teens

Humble Moms: How the Work of Christ Sustains the Work of Motherhood

From the B&H Kids Editorial Staff [B&H Publishing Group]

Do you ever need guidance for a big decision or a word of encouragement for your next steps? With a modern yet compact design, Bible Promises for Teens is an affordable, giftable, and accessible way to share God’s Word and promises with any teen in your life. You’ll find it at www.

Making Room for Her: Biblical Wisdom for a Healthier Relationship with Your Mother-in-Law or Daughter-in-Law

While being a mom is one of the most rewarding jobs, it is also one of the hardest. Humble Moms offers you exactly what you need in moments of exhaustion: lifegiving and biblical meditations on Jesus, who humbly serves you not only in hand, but in heart. You’ll find it at

The Blessed Life

No matter your age or stage, every daughter-in-law and mother-in-law needs help navigating their relationship sometimes. With the Bible as your foundation and this book as a helpful companion in the journey, take heart: a healthier relationship with your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law is closer than you think! You’ll find it at

With accessible, warm, and down-to-earth writing, beloved author and Bible teacher Kelly Minter brings to life the teachings and healings of Jesus from the book of Matthew. The Blessed Life is a thoughtful 90-day devotional journey through the mind, heart, and work of Jesus. You’ll find it at

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Tony Evans Study Bible

The Tony Evans Study Bible includes extensive study notes, commentary, sermons, and writings crafted and curated by Dr. Tony Evans. Including over 150 videos via QR code, these features are strategically placed alongside the biblical text to explain God’s Word in a fresh way. Now available in both CSB and NASB. You’ll find it at

CSB Student Study Bible

The CSB Student Study Bible is designed to help students and young people know and be transformed by God’s Word. The Bible keeps Scripture primary on every page, alongside student-centered resources and tools designed to help you engage and be transformed by the life-changing message of God’s Word. You’ll find it at

CSB Study Bible

Holman Handcrafted Bibles feature high quality, natural leather covers and linings, smyth-sewing, quality paper, and edge-lined binding result in a Bible built to endure years of faithful reading. Other Bible editions are also available in Holman Handcrafted Line. You’ll find them at

Experiencing God Bible

The CSB Experiencing God Bible invites you to know and experience God personally. In this revised and updated edition, based on the best-selling Experiencing God book and Bible study, you will be encouraged to focus on the major purpose of Bible reading—listening to God speak. You’ll find it at

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CSB Bibles by Holman [B&H Publishing Group] CSB Bibles by Holman [B&H Publishing Group]

“Thoughtfully and artfully designed to highlight the beauty, goodness, and truth of Scripture, the She Reads Truth Bible invites every woman to count herself a part of the She Reads Truth community of “Women in the Word of God every day.” You’ll find it at

Our Father

We are living in a time of increasing fear and depression. But there is healing for our souls in the Lord’s Prayer. Join Becky Harling in reclaiming the beauty and blessing offered to every believer through the Our Father prayer in this new six-week Bible study. You’ll find it at

Lifeway Women’s Bible

Lifeway Women, CSB Bibles by Holman [B&H Publishing Group]

Every Christian woman is called to live confidently in her identity—known, free, and loved in Christ. Designed to assist women of any age as they study God’s Word, the CSB Lifeway Women’s Bible will inspire you to laugh, grow, and worship alongside your community. You’ll find it at

True to His Word

Life is full of storms. But what if there were promises we could hold on to—Someone who wouldn’t let us down, whose bond was sure? In True to His Word , author Jon Bloom ushers us into a journey into the character and faithfulness of our triune God. You’ll find it at

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She Reads Truth

Cultivating a Good Family Heritage

Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity

What kind of family heritage are you passing down to your children? God desires that we leave a rich legacy consisting of close family ties, cherished memories, and biblical values. This book offers concrete, practical ways to cultivate a good, solid family heritage your children will carry into adulthood. You’ll find us at

Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms

Short, fast-paced, and practical, here is a top-selling Christian productivity book since 2015. Ideal for students, professionals, work-from-home, stay-at-home, everyone! Learn common obstacles to becoming & staying productive, God’s great purpose for productivity, 3 essential tools, the power of regular routines, and so much more! You’ll find it at

Preparing for Marriage: Help for Christian Couples

Every Christian mother wants to raise boys whose lives honor God. One great way to learn how to do that is from these examples of eleven ordinary women who raised extraordinary, world-changing men of God against great odds. Come be encouraged!

Here is invaluable counsel from John Piper (husband, father, grandfather, and Christian leader) on engagement, wedding planning, finances, sex, and more. Plus, 56 key questions to ask each other, in 11 practical categories. Dr. Piper also shares his most vital word on marriage: a vision grander than many of us have ever dared to dream.

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Grow in awe of God as you discover the beauty and depth of Him through 31 bite-sized truths of theology. Flash Theology offers you stability in your faith so you can endure whatever life (or wrong thinking) throws at you.

You can find it at:

TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG 35 Special Advertising Section It’s EASY! It’s AFFORDABLE! REACH YOUR COMMUNITY FOR JESUS! Sign up to receive multiple copies for as little as $2.50 an issue! Receive 6 - 9 - 12 or more issues every sixty days! (min. of six) Sign up TODAY! Call 800-397-8161 or go online at America is waiting to hear the Good News, so what are you waiting for? Discover for yourself the rewards of sharing Today’s Christian Living magazine and minister God’s love throughout your community! Along with practical advice and faith-filled articles, Today’s Christian Living will share the good news of Jesus in your community! magazine? • Donate to your Church � Leave in clinics and waiting rooms • Gift to retirement communities • Leave with the sick or homebound • Share with Bible study groups • Leave in coffee shops, salons and more! Where can YOU share
Learn to choose between right and wrong every day. Each of the 365 devotions features fun-filled and inspiring stories, Bible readings, and discussion questions to help think through difficult issues. For youth and families. Get FREE devotions today! 365 Daily Devotions
Flash Theology: A Visual Guide to Knowing and Enjoying God More

Editor’s Pick for Kids

Clever Cub Tells the Truth

Clever Cub tells a lie and makes his friend mad! After Mama Bear teaches him the story of Queen Esther, the cub learns that telling the truth is always the right thing to do—even when it’s hard.

This engaging picture book, written by the creator of the YouVersion Bible App for Kids, tells how Queen Esther saved her people, helping kids ages 3-6 learn to be truthful, and teaches them about true friendship.

Clever Cub Tells the Truth is the tenth book in the delightful Clever Cub Bible Stories series.

Our adult Sunday school class decided to have a summer picnic, so we could invite all of the children. One family, the Loards, offered their home and pool.

After a wonderful Saturday morning swim and lunch at the Loards’ house, four-year-old John Jr. ran to his mother and exclaimed, “Oh, mama, I didn’t know heaven would be so nice.”

—Submitted by Sara DuBose

If you have a joke or funny story you’d like to share, email editor@ If we print your joke, we’ll pay you $25.

HEAR BILLY GRAHAM’S RADIO ADDRESSES FROM THOUSANDS OF BROADCASTS At the Billy Graham Archive and Research Center, researchers and students can listen to unique and rare radio broadcasts as they study his Biblical message and ministry. Come be inspired and equipped for the work of the Gospel. Learn more about study, research, and training opportunities at or by calling 704-401-3200 ©2023 BGEA A MINISTRY OF BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION
Teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
” —2 Timothy 2:2, NLT

QUICK TAKES A Praying Church

Prayer is hard. Often, unless circumstances demand it—such as an illness or saying grace before a meal—most of us simply do not pray. This kind of prayerlessness can leave us with a distressed spirit and practical unbelief characterized by fear, anxiety, joylessness, and spiritual depression.

A life of prayer invites you to a life of connection to God. This book reminds readers that prayer is simply making conversation with God a rhythm of life. Paul Miller invites you to foster prayer that regularly hopes, trusts, and expects God to act. Learn to develop helpful habits and approaches to prayer that will enable you to return to a childlike faith and witness spiritual growth today!

Bright Hope for Tomorrow

For Jesus’ disciples, hope of seeing their risen Lord again, face to face, powered their endurance through persecution, their patience in discipleship, and their courage to renounce injustice and sinful passions. Because the topic of Jesus’ return is mired in confusion and controversy, many Christians overlook the importance of His return, resulting in sluggish, ineffective faith.

What if we could recapture spiritual momentum? What if fresh hope could drive our responses to temptation, affliction and discouragement in a broken world?

In Bright Hope for Tomorrow, pastor Chris Davis explores Christ’s return based on New Testament letters. Discover the practices that build and maintain our anticipation. Join this return to the gospel center: Christ died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Come and See

The Bible invites us to know God and have eternal life. That makes reading, understanding, and applying Scripture the most important journey we will ever take, but it can be difficult without a guide to provide direction.

In Come and See , Jonathan Pennington helps readers understand what it means to know God from the Bible. It details three effective approaches to interpreting Scripture.

Using a road trip analogy, he introduces three friends who each have distinct ways of navigating the Bible: informational (understanding genres in Scripture and avoiding misinterpretation); theological (reading canonically and traditionally); and transformational (focusing on our spiritual posture and the Holy Spirit’s role as we read scripture).

Come Sit with Me

(in)courage Writers [Revell]

Being human is hard. Being in relationships with other humans is even harder. People are complex and relationships are messy - but loving one another well is possible. Whether navigating differences, dealing with toxic people or confronting our own unforgiveness, this book tackles the struggles no one really wants to talk about.

We can grow closer to God and others through the circumstances we’d rather run from. In Come Sit with Me, 26 writers from (in)courage (an online Christian community founded by Dayspring) help you navigate tough relational tensions by revealing their own hard-fought, grace-filled learning moments. They show you how to delight in your differences, honor others even when you disagree, connect before you correct, and trust God to work even when people disappoint you. Live and love like Jesus by serving others.


Flash Theology

God invites every Christian to know and enjoy him forever.

Grow in awe of God as you discover the beauty and depth of Him through 31 bite-sized truths of theology. Flash Theology offers you stability in your faith so you can endure whatever life (or wrong thinking) throws at you. Jenny Randle and Brayden Brookshier believe Christians are missing out if they leave theology to pastors and scholars. In this highly accessible book, Jenny and Brayden help you:

- Understand theology through compelling visual aids.

- See the connection between God’s character and your identity.

- Internalize truths about God’s heart for you.

- Find encouragement in life’s purpose through a greater understanding of who God is.

Raising Amazing

Raising Amazing combines years of research with personal stories. You’ll find practical advice on raising kids of godly character and deep faith; kids who love their parents and siblings for a lifetime.

Wherever you are in your parenting journey, there’s hope for you – even if the task seems daunting. As a mom of four boys, Monica Swanson (author of Boy Mom and host of Boy Mom podcast) knows firsthand the challenges of parenting. In Raising Amazing, she gives you tools and techniques to:

- Raise countercultural kids

- Instill biblical character qualities in your children

- Help your kids navigate technology, sports, and dating

- Cultivate a vibrant faith relationship with God

- Mend and build sibling bonds

- Encourage dads with notes from Monica’s husband


Digital media and technology are altering the way people act—and react—toward each other. Criticism, outrage, and controversy dominate social engagement and, unfortunately, many Christians have joined the chaos. It’s a troubling contrast to Jesus’s words in John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Award-winning author Paul David Tripp instructs believers to view digital media and technology through the lens of the gospel and points them toward a biblical framework for communication. Explaining how God wants the church to engage with culture and each other, Tripp encourages Christians to think wisely about their interactions and be a beacon of light in an age of toxicity.

The Weight of Air

Two women, bound by blood, torn apart by circumstance, discover true strength comes in many forms.

In 1911, Mabel MacGinnis is Europe’s strongest woman, performing beside her father in the Manzo Brothers Circus. When he dies unexpectedly, she loses everything she’s ever known and sets out with acrobat Jake Cunningham, hoping to find the mother she thought was dead.

Isabella Moreau, America’s most feted aerialist, has given everything to the circus. But when age and injury threaten her security, she chooses to risk everything. Then her daughter, Mabel, appears with the man who never wanted to see Isabella again.

When Mabel and Isabella’s lives entangle beneath the glittering lights of Madison Square Gardens, they learn what it truly means to be strong.


Walt Larimore, MD, has been called one of America’s best-known family physicians and has been named in the “Guide to America’s Top Family Doctors,” “The Best Doctors in America,” “Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare,” and “Who’s Who in America.” He’s a former vice president and physician in residence at Focus on the Family, and the American Life League named him a “Rock-Solid Pro-Life” awardee. He’s also an award-winning medical journalist and the bestselling author of over 40 books. He and his wife of 49 years, Barb, have two adult children and reside in Colorado Springs. You can find his daily blog at and follow him on Facebook at “” Have questions for Dr. Walt? Email them to editor@

This column is for informational purposes only, does not constitute health or medical advice, and is not intended to substitute for the diagnosis or recommendation(s) of your healthcare professional(s).

Himalayan Salt Lamps

Question: Do Himalayan salt lamps have any health benefits?

Answer: Himalayan salt lamps have been increasingly popular for their ambience. Beyond their attractive esthetics, manufacturers often claim they offer health benefits such as better air quality and respiratory function, improved energy and mood, better sleep, and reduced allergy symptoms. The theory is that the alleged benefits of the lamps come from the “release of negative ions.” According to the Cleveland Clinic ( y3vbxhkd ), “While these lamps grow in popularity for their artful and soothing vibe, it’s best to take all the claimed health benefits with, well, a grain of salt.” The Clinic adds, “If you like the lamp’s pinkish hue, there’s no need to get rid of it. Just be sure to practice good fire safety and keep the lamp in an area where it can’t be knocked over and out of reach of children and pets.”

Sea Salt

Question: Is sea salt better than typical table salt?

Answer: Alternatives to table salt are popular, especially kosher salt, sea salt, and salts that are pink, red, blue, or gray depending upon the trace minerals in the salt deposits from which they are mined. Are any of these more nutritious than table salt? The short answer from nutritional scientists

is, “Not much.” The American Heart Association says (, “You can usually let your taste buds choose between kosher salt, sea salt, and table salt. They all contain about the same amount of sodium.” The AHA points out, “Kosher salt and some sea salts may have larger crystal sizes than table salt, so they may have less sodium by volume (e.g., by teaspoon or tablespoon). A teaspoon of table salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium, but a teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt may have less sodium simply because fewer crystals fit on the spoon.” Cleveland Clinic experts add ( mry6wb82), “No matter where it comes from, salt contains the same amount of sodium chloride, the culprit behind so many heart attacks and strokes. Although table salt may be more refined, it’s the only salt with adequate amounts of iodine. You need this nutrient for general health and, especially, thyroid health.” A more adventurous, tastier, and healthier option than salt or a salt substitute (like potassium chloride) is to use more herbs and spices, or seasonings like lemon or lime juice and flavored vinegars. You can buy salt-free herb blends or make your own.

Carcinogen in Dry Shampoo

Question: Should I avoid exposure to benzene from dry spray shampoos?

Answer: Benzene is a chemical that can cause cancer (a carcinogen) and has recently been reported in spray sunscreens as well as spray deodor-

Walt Larimore,

ants and antiperspirants. However, the highest, and presumably riskiest concentrations have been reported in several dry shampoo aerosol sprays. writes (tinyurl. com/yc3rcuj5), “Be aware that the benzene in these products is most likely from aerosol propellants in the sprays, and probably not from the ingredients of the dry shampoo itself.” CL adds, “There is probably no safe level of exposure to benzene, and all exposures constitute some risk. Studies of petroleum workers exposed to benzene by inhalation have clearly associated the chemical with the development of cancers of blood tissues, such as leukemia, at continued exposure to levels as low as 1 ppm.” You can reduce exposure to benzene by choosing a product with the least amount of benzene (see the list at at, using it in a wellventilated area, not directing the spray toward your face, and taking a deep breath before spraying and not breathing while spraying and for 5-10 seconds afterward.

Cell Phones

Question: Are there health risks to cell phones?

Answer: When patients ask me this question, it’s because they are concerned that radio frequency energy (RFE) from cell phones will cause cancer or other serious health hazards. The FDA says, “Based on the evaluation of the currently available information … the weight of scientific evidence has not linked exposure to [RFE] from cell phone use with any health problems” ( ). Nevertheless, if you want to reduce RFE, the CDC recommends (, getting a hands-free headset that connects directly to your phone or using a speakerphone more often. If you have a pacemaker and are concerned about how your cell phone use may affect it, contact your health care professional.

But beyond the RFE concerns, there are many concerns about potential negative effects of cell phones. For example, cell phones distract people at work, in classrooms, while driving or operating machinery, or while walking. For some people they can be addictive – with studies showing people can experience withdrawal symptoms when away from their phone for a short period of time. For others cell phones can disconnect them from face-to-face relationships. Furthermore, scientists have shown that excessive cell phone usage can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and relationship issues. So, if you choose to have a cell phone for convenience and safety, steward it as you would any other tool. Use it as little as possible to prevent it from taking over your life or face-to-face relationships.

Boba or Bubble Tea

Question: Is bubble tea healthy?

Answer: Bubble tea is increasingly popular. It is said to have originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It’s also known as boba tea, pearl tea, or tapioca tea and is made out of a tea base (black, green, or white) that is mixed with milk and tapioca “pearls” –black chewy balls made from the starchy cassava root – which look like bubbles as they come up through a straw. Common additions include fruit, syrup, yogurt, fruit jelly, or pudding. According to WebMD Health (, “Boba tea provides very few health benefits. In most cases, boba tea contains high levels of sugar.” Asking for fewer tapioca pearls and fewer or no added toppings can significantly reduce the amount of sugar. WebMD adds, “Like many sugary drinks, boba tea is best enjoyed in moderation.” In addition, there have been concerns about caffeine levels and digestive safety. Parents magazine has a nice article of the safety of bubble tea for kids at 


Open Doors 2023 World Watch List

Will Morris is the Middle East Correspondent for Morning Star News and one of its founding writers. He is an award-winning journalist and photographer whose byline has appeared in numerous domestic and international publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post and even Stars and Stripes

Mr. Morris has spent roughly a decade covering the Persecuted Church and conducting research about freedom of religion - mostly in the Muslim-majority countries in which he lived. He also covers national security and environmental issues.

Will Morris holds a degree in International Studies from the Ohio State University where his coursework focused on the Middle East and Development. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, where he served in the infantry. You can contact Mr. Morris at veritas@

During the Last Supper before he was crucified, Jesus offered a stark warning to his apostles – the whole world was about to turn against them. He said, “The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” (John 16:2) From then on, Jesus made clear, suffering persecution and even death would be the cost of becoming his disciple.

Even two millennia ago, the warning was rather dire. But today, His prophetic words are proven true all over the world.

According to the 2023 World Watch List (WWL), an annual report of the fifty countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, 312 million people are subject to “very high or extreme levels of persecution” for following Christ. Worldwide, 360 million, or one in seven, Christians experience at least “high” levels of persecution or discrimination.

This past year alone, some 5,621 Christians around the world were killed for their faith, according to the WWL study released in January by Open Doors, an international advocacy organization for persecuted Christians. Also, a reported 5,259 additional Christians were abducted for “faith-related reasons” during the monitoring period of October 2021 to September 2022, a 27 percent increase from the previous year.

The Top Five

North Korea: The worst place in the world to be a Christian, according to the report, where a per-

Prayer Points:

• Strengthen, guide and protect leaders of persecuted churches. Refresh their bodies and their faith. Make them unafraid.

• Protect the children of persecuted Christians, for God’s glory, their parents’ peace of mind and the children’s well-being.

• Protect believers from unmet physical needs. Replace their fears with “peace beyond understanding.”

• Strengthen and protect migrant and exiled Christians. Help them to find safe, stable places to live and provide for their needs.

• Be with those imprisoned for their faith in Christ. Protect them from harm, provide their needs and give them daily purpose and hope.

sonality cult centered on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is the semi-official state religion.

According to Key Facts, Trends and Recommendations – a companion publication to the WWL , it is almost impossible for Christians in North Korea to gather for worship, something that “is only attempted in absolute secrecy” and with very small numbers. The state uses spies to infiltrate church bodies and expose Christians. North Korea is unique in that “there is not even an appearance of religious freedom.”

“As the regime cracks down on what it sees as foreign influences, if Christians are discovered, they and their families are deported to labor camps as political prisoners or executed,” the report states.

According to Open Doors, conditions in North Korea have gotten significantly worse in the past two years.

Somalia: Although the country is home to only a few hundred Christians, they are under constant attack. The insurgent group al-Shabaab has vowed to eliminate all Christians within Somalia. Christians may be killed on the spot if they are discovered.

Christians also face persecution from family members and the larger community, confirming Jesus’ words that, “A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36)

Yemen: Years of war and deprivation have torn Yemen apart. The country is largely ruled by a mix of tribal or Islamic militias divided along Sunni and Shia denominational lines, sponsored by Saudi Arabia or Iran and a host of other countries.

The economy is shattered and starvation and disease are endemic. The one thing they all agree upon is they hate Christians, especially “apostates.”

“Islamic extremist groups threaten so-called ‘apostates’ with death if they do not return to Islam,” the report states. “In detention centers, Christian detainees have reportedly suffered physical and mental torture.”

Eritrea: Since 1993, the country has been under the rule of President Isaias Afwerki and his party, the Popular front for Democracy and Justice. Although the constitution provides for basic rights, including religious freedom, the government exerts control over all forms of religious expression. Only four sects are officially recognized; Sunni


Islam, Eritrean Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Lutheranism. All other sects, including evangelical protestants, pursue their faith at their own risk.

“An estimated 1,000 Christians are indefinitely detained in Eritrean prisons, not officially charged with any crime. Some leaders of ‘unofficial’ churches have been imprisoned for more than a decade,” according to the report.

Libya: In the wake of the First Libyan Civil War, the country descended into violence and lawlessness. Today Islamic groups, tribal militias and organized criminal gangs fight for control of the drug trade and human-trafficking markets that plague the frontier regions of the country. Christian migrants in Libya often find themselves at the mercy of such groups. Libyan converts fare no better.

“If a Libyan from a Muslim background becomes a Christian, they are likely to face intense pressure and abuse from their community or worse.”  


Over the 30 years of the Open Doors WWL report, the number of countries where Christians suffer high to extreme levels of persecution has nearly doubled from 40 in 1993 to 76 presently.

Nigeria: The violence against Christians in Nigeria continues to rise and is now spreading across sub-Saharan Africa. Eighty-nine percent of the Christians killed for their faith worldwide, were killed in Nigeria. “If the number of recorded deaths and violent incidents were the only measure for the research, Nigeria would be No. 1,” [on the list].

Afghanistan: The drop in the ranking of Afghanistan from first place last year to ninth in this year’s report does not reflect an improvement in the treatment of Christians there, but the inability to verify attacks and deaths.

China: China is intensifying its persecution of Christians through the use of its Internet-based behavior monitoring Social Credit System.

The rise in authoritarian governments is exacerbating religious persecution throughout the world.

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”
- Patrick Henry
“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
- Thomas Jefferson
“We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!”
- John Adams and John Hancock
“Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience...without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure... If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.”
44 TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2023 QUIPS & QUOTES INDEX & WEB LISTING Please note: The Advertisers’ Index is published as a convenience to our readers. While every effort is made to obtain accuracy and completeness, last minute changes may occasionally result in unavoidable omissions or errors. ACTS Retirement-Life Communities...... ................. 2 B&H Publishing 29-33 Baker Publishing .................................... ........... 29 Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc. ........... ................. 37 ......................... 48 Cruciform Press ...................................... ........................ 34 David C. Cook Publishing ....................... ............................... 35 Focus Publishing ................................... ...................... 34 HarperCollins Christian Publishing 26-29 Josh McDowell Ministry......................... ........................................... 35 Moody Publishers .................................. ................... 33 Our Daily Bread ...................................... ..................................1, 25-26 Total Living Network.............................. ........................................... 47 Tyndale House Publishers ...................... .................................... 15
- Ronald Reagan
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Bridget Kessler

Bridget Kessler is a writer, devoted wife to Brian, and mother of six amazing kids. She spends her days teaching and leading Courtney’s Promise, a local foster care ministry. She has a passion for reading and writing stories of redemption, and seeing people live out their own stories.

Running with a Limp

Igripped the walker and grimaced as pain shot through my hip. I knew not to put weight on my freshly operated leg, but my brain kept relying on muscle memory at the first break in concentration.

I went into the surgeon’s office to wait as my husband parked the car. People were kind, motioning for me to go first as they glanced down at the leg brace and walker that I was far too young to be sporting. When my husband joined me inside, we took the elevator to the seventh floor where experienced nurses saw the fatigue on my face and quickly got a wheelchair. After more x-rays, the surgeon explained how they had repaired torn cartilage, reshaped both of the bones in my hip, and removed damaged tissue. He reiterated, for what felt like the millionth time, “You are doing too much. You shouldn’t be up for more than five minutes in an hour. These first weeks are not about progress; they are solely about protection.”

I had already been warned that I would be very fragile the first six weeks. Complete healing would take months, and it had only been one week. Tears of exhaustion and frustration welled up and threatened to spill over. Yet, in the following days, his words echoed in my spirit repeatedly. “These weeks are about protection.” It was confirmation of what I suspected; that God was allowing this for a good reason, whether I ever got to see that reason revealed.

It had been a difficult year. I was caught in a continuous battle between “abiding” and “just surviving”. I was homeschooling four children, and actively serving my church. My husband was in the military and working as a bi-vocational pastor. We lived at warp speed and, like so many Christians, I often felt like I was on a treadmill going a couple of settings too fast. The last year had thrown us a few devastating losses, but life hadn’t provided space to process or grieve. I had a literal and spiritual limp. Yet, in His faithfulness, God allowed this new challenge to slam on the brakes when I couldn’t - or wouldn’t - do it myself.

In one day, I went from caring for everyone around me to not being able to care for myself. I

depended on my husband to get my meals and help me shower or dress. There were many highs and lows on the way to recovery, but I began realizing these weeks were indeed about protection. The Lord was protecting my heart from busyness that threatened to crowd Him out. He was protecting me from my flesh, which fought for self-reliance even as I prayed for greater surrender.

Though I initially bristled at being sidelined when our ministry was launching new outreaches, I began to rest and trust that His work would be completed with or without me. I had time to chase every rabbit hole as I read through Scripture, asking the Lord questions and lingering with Him until He revealed something new. I had space and quiet to grieve instead of pushing away every thought of hardship we had endured. That wasn’t the only kind of protection these weeks provided. God breathed new passion and boldness into my prayers. There were so many people with crucial needs. My best friend’s four-year-old was battling leukemia. Another friend was on her way to Asia, to do missionary work in hard places. Loved ones were fighting life-threatening health issues. My daughter was traveling by bus to multiple states to run Christian summer camps. They all needed prayers for protection.

When the Lord had impressed on me that these weeks were about protection, did He mean mine or theirs? I’ll never know, but I believe He is weaving multiple stories at any given moment. Our culture and our nature are fiercely opposed to the stillness our souls need, for our own sake. We are also slow to believe that taking time to sit and pray through the things on God’s heart is really the most important “work”.

I am not sure surgery is the way I would have chosen to carve out time or relearn these lessons, but I am still grateful. I am grateful that God forces every circumstance to work for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28), and I am especially grateful for His protection. 

By Bridget Kessler
“God breathed new passion and boldness into my prayers.”

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