National Day of Prayer • World Watch List 2019 • Moms, Dads & Grads
Encourage • Equip • Engage
The Chosen The First-Ever TV Series on The Greatest Story Ever Told!
On Standing Her Ground and Her Role as Mom
Total Living for Total Life
Reaching the Bay Area through KTLN and KQSL
Total Living Network Is a Lifestyle Channel Dedicated to Spreading the Gospel Through Media Find out more at TLN.com
On the Cover: Elisabeth Hasselbeck, outspoken Christian, participant in Survivor: Australian Outback, and past cohost of The View and Fox & Friends. Photo courtesy Wiff Harmer Photography (www.wiffharmer.com).
VOL. 57 NUMBER 3
6 Elisabeth Hasselbeck: from TV Show Host to Chief Breakfast Officer
by Stephanie Rische From her debut on Survivor to her final episode on The View, Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s faith passed the fiery test of endurance. Now she’s flourishing in a new chapter in her life.
12 The Chosen: A Pioneering TV Series Proclaims Jesus’ Transforming Power
by Dan Brownell For the first time ever, a multi-season TV show will present an in-depth look at how Jesus changed the lives of His followers.
18 Set Free
by Kandi Gallaty Although it was Kandi’s father who was behind bars, Kandi had to deal with imprisonment of another kind.
22 For the Highest Advantage of Others
by Daniel Hamlin Daniel ignored the Holy Spirit’s warning not to surf that day. Only by God’s grace is he able to recount the terrifying story now.
30 Moms, Dads & Grads Resource Guide
Living in Wisdom
Live Right Now
4 29 34 40 44
Gifts and resources for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and graduates.
42 National Day of Prayer
Learn how to lead or join a prayer gathering on Thurs, May 2.
Living a Godly Life
Ask Dr. Walt
Natural Remedies: Good and Bad News Dealing With Intense Hardships
Wise Counsel for Common Financial Challenges
The Fine Print Daily Bible Connection Quick Takes Laugh Lines Kids of the Kingdom
Anna’s Prayer Lesson
Indian Girl Remains Faithful Despite Beatings; Persecution on the Increase Around the World
46 Grace Notes A Life Fulfilled
THE FINE PRINT
Chosen to Share His Word
ur church recently replaced its pew Bibles. Not sure what to do with the old Bibles, the leadership did some research and found a ministry called Love Packages that collects surplus Bibles and teaching materials to ship to Christian workers around the world where it’s desperately needed. For example, the director said he handed a Bible to a pastor in Africa who had only a handwritten copy of Matthew. The pastor, knowing the director would be in the country for just a few days, said, “I’ll copy as fast as I can and get as much down as possible before you leave.” The director replied, “No. You misunderstood. This is your Bible to keep.” When our church leaders heard that, there was no doubt where our Bibles would go, and we’re taking up a collection from our church members as well. Get a tour of Love Packages at http://bit.ly/LovePackagesTour. What an eye-opening story. That African pastor was so hungry for the Word of God that he was willing to copy it by hand as fast as possible night and day, as long as he had it. How convicting to us here in America, who take our Bibles for granted. We so easily forget the abundance of Bibles we have and the extreme shortage of Bibles elsewhere. “Statistics tell us that every piece of literature will be read by an average of 20 people. Each container has at least 1 million pieces, so the potential is to reach 20 million every time we send a container. We are thrilled that since the beginning of Love Packages in 1975, we have been able to send over 15,000 tons of literature.... Pastors and Sunday school teachers have, for the first time, materials to study and teach from. —Love Packages (www.lovepackages.org) Because we so easily forget our blessings, we benefit from reminders that give us a fresh perspective on the incredible riches of Scripture and the gospel. The Chosen is a new multi-season, streaming television series that achieves that very goal. Produced by Bible-believing Christians and privately funded to ensure its faithfulness to Scripture, it delves deep into the relationship between Jesus and His followers. Rather than portray the disciples as halo-wearing saints, it reveals them to be the deeply flawed humans they were, just as the Bible depicts them. The show doesn’t glamorize their brokenness but shows the incredible, life-changing transformation that takes place when they repent and place their trust in Jesus. Read more about the show and get a peek behind the scenes in our feature article The Chosen (pg. 12). Don’t forget that our annual writing contest is underway. You still have plenty of time to enter, as the deadline is May 31. See contest details on pg. 5. In Christ, Dan Brownell, Editor Today’s Christian Living (ISSN 1944-6330) is published bimonthly by JP Media LLC, N7528 Aanstad Rd., P.O. Box 5000, Iola, WI 54945. Periodicals Postage Paid at Iola, WI 54945 and at additional mailing offices. Copyright © 2019 by CrossLife LLC All rights reserved. Reprint permission must be granted in writing. Publisher assumes no responsibility for claims made in advertisements. Manuscript submissions are welcome but JP Media LLC assumes no responsibility for loss or damage thereto. Material accepted for publication is subject to such revision to meet the requirements of this publication and become the property of Today’s Christian Living. Subscription $19.95 per year. Single copy price $4.95 each. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Today’s Christian Living, P.O. Box 8551, Big Sandy, TX 75755-9766. Subscription problems and inquiries should be directed to (800) 223-3161.
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President/Publisher Diana Jones firstname.lastname@example.org Editor Dan Brownell email@example.com Contributing Editors Dr. Sabrina Black Jerry Dykstra Walt Larimore, M.D. Dave Ramsey Jerry Rose Shirley Rose Sales Account Executive Jill Maggio firstname.lastname@example.org 800-397-8161 ext. 5 Senior Graphic Designer Bill Kuffel Editorial Director Rocky Landsverk Bulk Circulation Nancy Pudroski 800-397-8161 Founder Kenneth N. Taylor Letters to the Editor: Write Today’s Christian Living, PO Box 282, Iola, WI 54945. Or e-mail: email@example.com Individual Subscriptions: Visit www.todayschristianliving.org/subscribe or call 800-223-3161. Group Subscriptions for Churches: Expand and supplement your church’s ministry by distributing Today’s Christian Living to your congregation. Multiple copies of the magazine are now available in bulk rates to churches. For more information, visit www.todayschristianliving.org/ bulk or call 800-397-8161. Today’s Christian Living reserves the right to accept or reject advertisements based on their alignment with its statement of faith, mission, and values. Advertising in Today’s Christian Living does not necessarily imply editorial endorsement, nor does Today’s Christian Living guarantee or endorse content in independent websites.
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The Good News
A man accused of murder was brought before a judge. The man admitted to the crime, the guilty verdict was read, and the death penalty pronounced. Even though the guilty man was his own son, the judge could not dismiss the verdict or he would be a corrupt, unjust judge. So great was the judge’s love for his son that he decided to pay the debt for him. The judge stepped down from the bench, removed his robe, traded places with him, and was executed in his place. This is what Jesus has done for us. Jesus was sinless, but paid the penalty for our sin, dying on the cross in our place. This is called substitutionary atonement, but the atonement only takes effect if we are willing to accept this incredible gift; God won’t force His love on us. To receive this forgiveness, we must admit our guilt and sins and repent of them. If you have never done this, you can do it now. Tell God that you are sorry for your sins and want to turn away from them. If you truly repent, He will wash your sins away and give you a new life. He will send the Holy Spirit to live inside you and to change you from the inside out. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17 ESV)
7th Annual Writing Contest
Submit your story about everyday people who are making a difference for Jesus. Keep it between 800 and 1,200 words. Visit todayschristianliving.org for more details and tips on submitting a winning entry.
$300 and we publish your $200 and we publish your $100 and we publish your article article article Submissions must be received by May 31, 2019. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include Contest Submission in the Subject line. All submissions must be previously unpublished both in print and digitally and your own work. If you enter, you are granting us permission to publish your story if you win. All winning submissions become the property of Today’s Christian Living and may be edited for length and to fit the style of the publication.
Chief Breakfast Officer From TV Show Host to
Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Broadcasting and Motherhood, and Everything in Between
By Stephanie Rische
or most people whose faces appear on the television screen, the path to get there was no accident. They had dreams of becoming a TV personality and then chased down those aspirations at any cost. In a heartbeat, they could rattle off their 10-year plan and the strategic steps they took to arrive at their dream job. But this wasn’t the way life unfolded for Elisabeth Hasselbeck. She never set out to be America’s darling on one of the country’s first hit reality shows or the lone conservative host on a popular talk show or the voice of the morning news. That said, she doesn’t consider all these opportunities accidents. As she looks back on the unexpected turns of her life, the only way she can make sense of it is by tracing God’s hand through it all.
Learning Trust in the Outback
Elisabeth’s debut on television came in 2001, as a contestant on Survivor: The Australian Outback. She was in her early 20s at the time and had no idea what she was getting into. But God showed up in a powerful way during those grueling weeks. “Being in the Australian outback, stripped of all my comforts, helped me click into what I needed. When I had nothing and I was across the globe from everyone I loved, I learned to rely on the Lord in a new way.” One of the highlights of the show was getting to know her teammate Rodger, who ended up becoming a lifelong friend. Each person on the show was allowed one survival item, and Rodger chose a Bible. “That Bible carried all of us through the trials and fears we faced — including the poisonous snakes!” she said. As Elisabeth looks back, she can see how God used her time on Survivor as a period of personal 6
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
Whoopi Goldberg, left, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shephard, hosts of the ABC talk show, The View, pose with Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen attending a live taping of the show during Fleet Week New York 2010. Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen participated in the 23rd Fleet Week New York. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ash Severe
growth, as well as a springboard for future opportunities. Following her time on Survivor, she was selected to be a judge for Miss Teen USA, and she hosted The Look for Less, a show whose premise involved creating fashionable outfits at bargain prices. But her big break came when she joined The View in 2003.
Intense (and Intimate) Conversations
During her 10 years as a host on The View, Elisabeth was often the only one holding a particular perspective based on her biblical convictions. She learned a lot — about herself and about life — as she defended her positions in that public crucible. “Most days I’m not sure I realized how intense it was. I have a pretty strong God-given will, but even that has its limits. There’s a difference between where my will would take me and where God wanted to take me.” The end of her time at The View was painful, as Elisabeth wasn’t ready to leave yet. But that doesn’t change how thankful she is for her time there. “I had the opportunity to interview presidents and participate in conversations marked by both intensity and intimacy. It’s true that there were some hot-topic debates and loud discussions, but they took place in the context of close relationships. We knew that whatever happened, we’d need to talk to one another the next day. We had no choice but to come back and do it again every Monday through Friday. I’m proud of the fact that we did that — it took courageous hearts.”
Elisabeth still has great friends at The View — women she calls “sisters for life.” She considers it a gift that God brought her into relationships she never would have had otherwise, with women who are quite different from her. “I spent a lot of time defending my positions, but now I’ve come to realize that the position I stand for comes after the God I stand under. Otherwise it’s an idol.” She acknowledges that politics and opinions matter, but so do the people holding those views. “If we get that out of order, it can erode our hearts. I take seriously the idea of ‘one nation under God.’ If we aren’t living that out — if we’re not under God — this won’t feel like a unified nation.” As Elisabeth reflects on her decade at The View, the main emotion she feels is gratitude. “Even when it was painful or challenging, it was worth it. Being able to identify that there was a purpose there for me made it all worthwhile.”
Bringing the Morning News
When Elisabeth vacated her chair at The View, there was a new chair ready for her. “I’m thankful God gave me some gas in the tank to pursue something else,” she said. “I’ve learned to listen for God’s nudges and instructions, and I’ve discovered that it doesn’t work to do my own thing.” In 2013, just after finishing her tenure at The View, Elisabeth became one of the cohosts for the Fox News morning show, Fox & Friends. This was a new kind of challenge for her, but she quickly found her stride, and the show’s ratings grew considerably during her two years there. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
A Lifelong Journey of Faith
“People often ask me, ‘Did you know Jesus as a child?’ Here’s what I tell them: ‘Jesus had dinner with us every night as I was growing up.’” Elisabeth went on, “Jesus is my friend, and I talk to him all the time. Admittedly, when I was younger, I didn’t always understand what that meant.” But as she faced various challenges in her life, her faith and her understanding of God’s character grew. “My mom and dad were so loving and sacrificial. I have come to appreciate that even From left: Joy Behar, Sherri Shepherd, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck on an episode of more now that I’m a mom myself.” Elisabeth counts The View at ABC Studios in New York City. Official White House photo by Pete Souza her grandmother as a wonderful example of devoBut before long, Elisabeth knew it was time for another tion and prayer. “She didn’t go a day without praying. That set the change. In November 2015, she announced that she was leavcanvas for the rest of her day.” She is grateful for countless other ing Fox & Friends to become the CBO — Chief Breakfast Offaith mentors in her life, including her husband’s family. (Elisaficer — at her home. “My family needs the best of me, not the beth married her college sweetheart, Tim Hasselbeck, a profesrest of me,” she told the listening audience. sional football quarterback, in 2002.) “I have Scripture all over my house,” Elisabeth said. “I need reminders of Jesus at every turn.” The High Calling of Parenthood In many ways, it has been the challenging times that have “When it comes to motherhood, I don’t think I have a lick of matured Elisabeth’s faith the most. When she was in college, advice, only mistakes,” Elisabeth claimed. But as her three her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. “As I watched children have grown, she has come to believe that as parents, her respond in faith and grit, it allowed me to turn on the igniwe are worthy because God has given us this charge. “Yes, we tion for fortitude, grace, and trust of my own. Of course, there will all have moments of questioning, but we should feel like are things in my life I wouldn’t have chosen, but God uses it all Olympians set to run. God has placed these children in our for good. Those challenging experiences have lit a fire in me lives for great cause and purpose, and that allows us to cherish that has burned a lifetime.” the moments and not beat ourselves up with guilt and shame.” Elisabeth quickly realized that as a parent, she would get a lot Stephanie Rische edits and writes in the Chicago area, where wrong. “After all, I’d never done this before!” she said with a laugh. she lives with her husband and son. When she isn’t chasing “But that’s where trust comes in. God cares about us and our children, and I believe He will order our steps.” Elisabeth admitted down commas or a toddler, she blogs at stephanierische.com. that there is often a distance between our expectations and reality. Her memoir, I Was Blind (Dating), But Now I See, recounts how “That’s where we need to give grace — to our kids and to ourselves.” God surprised her with His grace and love.
ELISABETH’S NEW MEMOIR: POINT OF VIEW
Elisabeth’s memoir, Point of View, released in spring 2019. It covers the significant moments of her life and what she has learned along the way. “The process of writing was an unexpected joy for me,” she said. “It turned out to be such a gift to look back and see all God has done in our lives and all he has yet to do.” “In the past, I have written about gluten, but this time I wrote about what’s in my heart. As I worked on this book, I tried to identify the nudgings and etchings God has placed on my heart.” Elisabeth feels that this book has given her a chance to look back and, by God’s grace, share what he has taught her. “This would have been worth it if just my family read it,” Elisabeth said. “It’s truly a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness.” But she couldn’t ignore the prompting that God wanted her to share her story with a wider audience. She wrestled with that idea for a while, wondering if she had a story worthy of sharing. Then she sensed God saying, “Child, you are my treasure. Everybody’s story has worth.” Elisabeth offered these words of encouragement to all of us, whether we’re on Elisabeth and Tim Hasselbeck TV or writing a book or not: “If God has done something in your life, share it. Be bold. After all, the story isn’t yours; it’s His. It’s easier to give away something that isn’t yours in the first place.” 8
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LIVING IN WISDOM
By Jerry and Shirley Rose
Living a Godly Life
Jerry Rose is the President/CEO of Total Living International, an international Christian media ministry, and is the Emmy awardwinning host of the weekly talk show Significant Insights. He has also served as an associate pastor and is an active speaker, teacher, and author. His book Significant Living: A Road Map for the Second Half of Your Life, was written with his wife Shirley. Shirley Rose has been in ministry with her husband, Jerry, for more than 30 years. Her program Aspiring Women has received two Emmy Awards and has been named “Best Television Talk Show” by the National Religious Broadcasters. Shirley was also the executive producer and host of TLN’s Balanced Health and Significant Living programs. Jerry and Shirley enjoy travel and spending time with their 19 grandchildren, including four adopted from Africa. Find Jerry and Shirley online at tln.com. 10
will never forget the day the president of the Unit- who obviously knew him better than most. She ed States cancelled on us. Yes, we had planned the was asked if she had ever considered divorce. program for the National Religious Broadcasters “Divorce, no,” she said. “Murder…yes!” convention that year, with the highlight of the week Godliness does not to be an address by President George Bush, Sr. He require perfection. was to be introduced by Dr. Billy Graham. The morning of the event we received word the Godliness does not require perfection. Hepresident could not be there due to a serious bout brews 11 has been called the faith hall of fame. of laryngitis. The obvious person to replace the However, while those listed are considered great president was Dr. Graham, and though I pressed men and women of faith, they sinned and made him hard, he declined. He was adamant that as terrible mistakes. So why did the writer of Hepresident of the NRB, it was my responsibility, brews include them? Each of them had faith that not his. You can imagine how nervous I was stepping to the podium that morning to speak could not be shaken with circumstances, nor to an audience who had come to hear President even their own weaknesses and failures. Every day there are multitudes of choices about Bush and opening remarks by Dr. Billy Graham. I was with Dr. Graham a few years later and how we will spend the next 24 hours. While many shared with him how nervous, in fact downright of the choices we make aren’t sinful or bad, they scared, I had been stepping in for the President. can distract us from our pursuit of God and even His response to me said much about his godli- lead us in the opposite direction. ness and how seriously he took his calling. Spending the time to build a relationship with “Jerry,” he said. “Every Jesus should not be just one time I step into the pulpit If we truly love God and do of many activities we do, I’m nervous — sometimes our best each day to serve but rather should be the so nervous my knees accriteria for all the other Him, godliness will tually knock together.” He choices. Spiritual disciwent on to say that he suplikely follow. plines like prayer, Bible posed it was because he felt study, giving of our time such a heavy weight of reand money, helping others, and spending time sponsibility each time he stood in the pulpit in with people of faith are all aspects of living godly front of all those people as a messenger of God. Every time I was privileged to be with Dr. Gra- lives. They are the “action” part of godliness. Now here is an important aspect of the “attiham, I was deeply impressed with his unassuming humility and godly character. How did Dr. Gra- tude” part: commitment. One of my missionary ham’s life portray godliness? What does it truly friends calls it “being flat out for God.” So living mean to be godly? The biblical word for godly in flat out or being all in, godliness really speaks of the original Greek is a word meaning sacred awe commitment. Jesus describes it as the first and and reverence — especially in one’s actions. It greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord seems godliness is an attitude of the heart as well your God with all your heart and with all your as the way we live our lives — attitude and action. soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37 ESV). To Dr. Graham it meant spending a major Finally, here is what godliness is not: an inpart of his life preaching the gospel to millions around the world. But there was more to it than timidating weight of spiritual maturity that we that. It also encompassed a hunger to please God feel we can never attain. If we truly love God and through a life of spiritual discipline and integ- do our best each day to serve Him, godliness will likely follow. And it will bring with it contentrity. Attitude and action. That doesn’t mean he was perfect. I heard a ment and blessing. ”But godliness with contenthumorous quote from Dr. Graham’s wife, Ruth, ment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6 ESV).
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2019
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The Chosen VidAngel Presents The Greatest Story Ever Told in a Groundbreaking New TV Series
By Dan Brownell
new streaming television series about Jesus’ life is being produced by VidAngel. Surprisingly, this is the very first TV series ever made about the life of Christ. Many movies and miniseries have been created over the years, but no multiple-season show has been attempted before. The show’s 23-minute pilot, available to view for free at http://bit. ly/TheChosenPilot, has been viewed 15 million times in 10 languages. It’s even been seen on satellite TV in Iran. Plans are for The Chosen to last seven seasons, with eight episodes each season. The first four episodes of The Chosen were shot in fall 2018, and the next four are currently in production. The complete, eight-episode first season will be on VidAngel in November 2019. There will be an early, pre-sale opportunity to purchase and watch the first four episodes this Easter. Veteran filmmaker Dallas Jenkins, son of renowned writer Jerry Jenkins, is directing the series. He explained his inspiration on the show’s website: “My original idea in making The Chosen was simply to create a short film about the birth of Christ in a fresh way. As I shared it with friends, ministry leaders, and entertainment professionals, I kept getting the same response: ‘I want more.’ As a result, we›ve decided to make an entire TV show about the life of Christ through the eyes of those who encountered Him.” 12
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
Jenkins is passionate about getting the story about Jesus on the small screen. “The most important message in the world deserves the most influential medium in the world, so we’re going to tell the greatest story ever told in The Chosen.”
An Eye for Accuracy
Jenkins is working with VidAngel rather than Hollywood to preserve the show’s biblical integrity. “I’ve been making movies for some of the biggest studios in Hollywood for 20 years. But this shouldn’t be entrusted to Hollywood. It needs to be made by us,” he said. It’s trustworthiness is underscored by the fact it has been endorsed by noted Christians such as Ravi Zacharias, Alveda King, Anne Graham Lotz, Joni Eareckson Tada, Kirk Cameron, and Phil and Kay Robertson. The concern for biblical integrity is so foundational that the crew agonizes over every detail in the sets. “We sand the underside of the drawer,” Jenkins explained, using the metaphor in a short video that reveals the effort expended to get even the unseen details right. (See the video at http://bit.ly/ SandingtheDrawer.) Executive Producer Matthew Faraci elaborated: “Our goal is to make this the most authentic series ever made about this time period. We’ve had hours of conversations back and forth about details such as the proper depiction of Jew-
ish prayers, what the fringes on garments should look like, and how to correctly portray a first-century Shabbat meal. Dallas has worked hard to cast actors who make you forget where you are and make you believe you’re stepping right into Jewish culture in Israel thousands of years ago.” Besides conducting extensive research, the show relies on a panel of advisers from the faith community, including Rabbi Jason Sobel, a popular figure with Christians and co-author of the best-selling book with Kathy Lee Gifford The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi; New Testament scholar Doug Huffman from Biola University; and the highly respected Father David Guffey of Family Theater Productions. Left: Before launching his public ministry, Jesus camps alone in the wilderness. Photos courtesy The Chosen Below from left: Jesus teaches a group of children in Episode 3. • Nicodemus gives a lecture to rabbinical students.
The Heart of God Revealed Through Character Development
“The number one goal of the show — the reason that it exists — is to make Jesus known,” Jenkins shared. But The Chosen takes a nontraditional approach. It reveals Him through how He changed lives. “I think part of the thing that’s unique about this series,” said Rabbi Sobel “is that with so many of the traditional biblical Jesus films and content that’s created, the focus is on Jesus, but here a lot of the focus is about how the lives of the people who encounter Him are transformed. It really does a lot with character development. It makes the characters very real, very engaging. “In one episode you see Jesus laughing with children, and there is something very powerful about that. Yes, He’s God made manifest in the flesh, but He’s also a real person who really cares and has real relationships and cares about those relationships with people. When you look at who He chose as His disciples, you have these individuals who are far from ideal, far from perfect, far from being saints, and we see in the early episodes how they have these real struggles.
“I think this series is going to be an incredible way to draw people and introduce people to Jesus, to the Bible, to the disciples, that is historically faithful and that is in the spirit of the Scriptures.”
A Peek Behind the Scenes
Because this is a crowdfunded show without Hollywood’s deep pockets, the production team has to be very frugal and creative. But they have the right director to pull it off. “Dallas has this incredible skill of squeezing every penny out of the budget,” Faraci said. “When Dallas sent the Christmas pilot to me, I asked him, ‘How much did you make that for?’ Then when he told me, I said, ‘No, you did not.’ I just didn’t believe him because I know production budgets. How does one do that? This is Dallas’ passion project. He feels this whole life has led up to this moment. This is his purpose on earth, and it’s why God put him here.” Yet even with budget limitations, the team has gotten phenomenal results. “The footage that we’ve seen has been jaw dropping,” Jenkins said. “We’ve had people visit the set and cast and crew and they’re looking in the monitors and saying, ‘Oh, my goodness,
this show so far is going way better than we deserve.’ And so we just hope that people check out the behind-the-scenes videos that we’re releasing, and of course, watch that pilot episode.” Production Designer James Cunningham has the overall responsibility for all visual aspects of the show, including sets and costumes. “We really wanted to portray as close as possible how life was in the first century because I think so many people idealize life back then,” he said. “It was a pretty tough world in first-century Judea and Rome. So we wanted to portray that as much as we could because I think a lot of times films make things look too pretty and too nice in period films and we wanted that dirty, gritty look.” Cunningham noted an example of a challenge with set lighting, He had to balance authenticity with the demands of filming effectively. “All the lighting has to come from fire sources, and so we researched a lot about that and we found that oil lamps were king in that day because they had lots of olive oil at the time, although there was some candle use in the first century. We found that we had to take some artistic liberty, because candles produce better light and more light.” TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
Cunningham also described how they determined Peter’s Cunningham hires experts to create the items they need house would look. “Some biblical scholars and historians have for filming. They’re truly tops in their field. Costume designer quite a few articles about Capernaum,” he said. “They have the Paméla Incardona, for example, has a master’s degree in cosfootprint of Peter’s house. He actually had a pretty big house, tume design and has been working in the industry for 22 years. which was surprising. And we modeled a little part of his house She spent weeks researching designs and fabrics, but found for the main living area of the set for Peter’s The 23-minute pilot is that there really isn’t as much certainty about home because in the next few episodes is clothing from that period as one might exavailable to view for pect, simply because relatively little has surwhere they’re going to be having church. So we wanted to make the house big enough so free at http://bit.ly/ vived the centuries. “Pottery can be verified. down the road we could fit a lot of people in Bone. Things that lasted through time, but TheChosenPilot. there. So we modeled his house around the fabric doesn’t last,” she said. real house of Peter. People can look it up online. And they show Incardona has faced other challenges as well. Challenges that the floor plan of it. All that’s left basically is the base of the the average viewer wouldn’t even think about. To create an efhouse but it was all done in basalt rock. fective scene, for instance, there must be variety in the colors “I think one of our biggest obstacles was just trying to acand textures of fabrics among the actors. So she had to carequire all that stuff with a small budget. We used a lot of stuff fully plan that by assigning different color palettes to each of over and over again,” he explained. “Then there’s a lot of the the principal actors. miracles — like the miracle of the fish was a huge challenge. At Incardona also had to take into consideration the various first we going to use real fish, but then we found out we couldn’t economic levels of the characters, so tunics had to be different because of restrictions with animals and then we ended up lengths. The common people wore shorter tunics because more having to do CGI [Computer Generated Imagery] for it. fabric cost more money. And the costume colors are limited by “And then coming up, we have the miracle of the loaves and the dyes available at the time, such as pomegranate. To simufishes. The good thing is that we have a lot of the effects with late wear, she washed cloth repeatedly, sanded it, and frayed it. CGI now, which can help us out with those, but some of them Because of the tight production schedule and the fact that she we have to do practically. There are more scenes coming up like was the only costume designer — and for most of the time, the Jesus walking on the water. That will be an interesting one to only seamstress as well — she was under constant time presfigure out. So there are a lot of definite challenges ahead. But sure, often working 18 hours or more per day. “It was running it’s exciting at the same time.” and gunning throughout the entire show,” she said. 14
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
From left: Simon and Andrew cast their nets after a fruitless night of fishing. • Quintus, the Roman leader of the region, leads men to confront Nicodemus as he arrives at Capernaum. • Jesus speaks to a crowd of people from Simon and Andrew’s boat.
In spite of the incredible pressures and demands of shooting on a deadline, it’s a labor of love for the crew because they know the eternal purpose behind it. “If we can help the audience encounter Jesus through the eyes of those who actually met Him, the audience can perhaps be impacted in the same way that they were,” Jenkins said. “The light of the silver screen is one of the key ways to be a light to the world,” Rabbi Sobel commented. Follow The Chosen on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Get behindthe-scenes information, interviews, and videos about the show’s production at http:// bit.ly/TheChosenUpdates.
VIDANGEL’S SUPPORTING ROLE
VidAngel (www.vidangel.com) is a subscription-based, $9.99 per month TV filtering service that allows users to mute or skip objectionable content from network-produced shows and movies distributed through streaming devices. In addition, a division of the company, VidAngel Studios, produces original content such as clean comedy. VidAngel was inspired by the vision behind The Chosen and enthusiastically took on the project. But without Hollywood’s huge budgets, it had to do fundraising to underwrite the enormous expenses involved in bringing a show to the air. The Chosen has seen tremendous success in finding support, becoming the No. 1 crowdfunded media project in history. “I think doing this as a crowdfunding enterprise by people who truly believe in it is the way to go. So we need finances, we need prayer,” Jenkins said. “We just hope that people will watch the pilot episode and spread it and share it to continue the impact.” The show is funded by everyday people investing in the production with a minimum $100 investment. Round 1 of fundraising brought in over $11 million from more than 15,000 people. For more information, visit the website and FAQ page. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
ASK DR. WALT
Are Chocolate and Cocoa Sweet for Your Health?
Walt Larimore, MD, has been called one of America’s best-known family physicians and has been named in “The Best Doctors in America” and “Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare.” He’s also an award-winning medical journalist and the best-selling author of 30 books. You can find Dr. Walt’s health blog and free daily devotional at www.DrWalt.com. Have questions for Dr. Walt? Email them to editor@ todayschristianliving.org.
Dear Dr. Walt, Some reports say that dark chocolate or cocoa can help combat diabetes. Is this true? I’ve also heard there may be dangers to these foods. What? Is that possible? —Hopeful in Maine Dear Sweet Tooth, I’ve blogged a number of times on the health benefits of chocolate. You can find my most recent blog at tinyurl.com/y8gmxvht, where I talk more about chocolate. Large studies on the health benefits of cocoa or dark chocolate have not been done, but the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) rates dark chocolate and cocoa as “possibly effective” for preventing or reducing cardiovascular disease and hypertension due to the flavanols they contain. As for helping diabetes, the NMCD says that there is “insufficient evidence to rate its effectiveness.” Nevertheless, clinical studies suggest that for any health benefits, doses of 200 to 900 mg a day of flavanols have to be taken. However, most consumers who hear about the “health benefits” of dark chocolate or cocoa are completely unaware of the dangers many of these products represent from contamination. ConsumerLab.com, which has tested many of these products, said, “Many popular cocoa powders and some dark chocolates are contaminated with high levels of cadmium.” On top of this, many products contain caffeine and are chockfull of calories. ConsumerLab.com said, “If you want a large amount of flavanols with minimal contaminants and calories, consider an extract like CocoaVia.” They added, “Among dark chocolates, aside from baking chocolate, Endangered Species had the greatest concentration of flavanols without contamination and was well priced. If you’d prefer a traditional cocoa powder, we suggest you limit intake to just one cup per day due to cadmium and/or lead contamination in every product; one product with the least contamination and highest concentrations of flavanols (as well as being reasonably priced) is Hershey’s.” Tod Cooperman, MD, president of ConsumerLab.com, has a video on these products. You can find it at tinyurl.com/y96zkl72.
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2019
The Toxic Truth About Detoxing
Dear Dr. Walt, I hear about “detoxing” all the time. Is it helpful, or is it just a moneymaking scam? —Cleaning Up in North Carolina Dear Clear Out, This is probably one of the most common alternative medicine questions I receive. Claims of marked health benefits from “detoxification” or “colon cleansing” have generated a multimilliondollar industry promoting oral agents, colonic hydrotherapy, or enema therapies designed to empty the bowel and detoxify you. Questions about colonic cleansing are among the most common inquiries to the American College of Gastroenterology and are often posed to family physicians. A review on colon cleansing and body detoxification by the American Family Physician (tinyurl. com/y8go48cj), reviewed the evidence of benefit and risk of harm from colonic cleansing to better inform physicians and the public, noted a lack of good-quality evidence of any health benefit from colonic cleansing and many concerns about adverse events, including death — concluding that colonic cleansing cannot be recommended because of the overwhelming lack of evidence of health benefit and significant evidence of harm. LiveScience.com evaluated “detox practices” and wrote, “Supporters of cleansing suggest that the release of toxins from the body frees up energy that would have been used on digestion and eliminating waste and diverts that energy to other areas of the body to promote health and healing. But there is no data to back up these ideas” (tinyurl.com/y938expw). ScienceBasedMedicine.org goes so far as to conclude “Detox is a scam,” adding, “Detox is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition” (tinyurl.com/y7lttylb).
By Walt Larimore, MD
Mayo Clinic added, “There’s no evidence that colon cleansing … is beneficial at all. And colon cleansing can sometimes be harmful. In fact, coffee enemas sometimes used in colon cleansing have been linked to several deaths. Colon cleansing can also cause less serious side effects, such as cramping, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting” (tinyurl.com/ycr3u6k9). Even the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health warned, “There isn’t any convincing evidence that detox or cleansing programs actually remove toxins from your body or improve your health” (tinyurl.com/ybysmbbr). Harvard Women’s Health Watch calls detox practices “dubious” and concludes, “If you’re generally healthy, concentrate on giving your body what it needs to maintain its robust self-cleaning system — a healthful diet, adequate fluid intake, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and all recommended medical check-ups” (tinyurl.com/y937p4kn). I do not recommend “detoxing” or “colon cleansing” as, to me, there is no convincing evidence of safety or effectiveness. You can read more details in my blog on the topic at tinyurl.com/ycl82yfw.
Melatonin May Help Put Cancer to Sleep
Dear Dr. Walt, I read your advice about melatonin for sleep in Today’s Christian Living. My 67-year-old husband has a very slow growing cancer in two out of 12 biopsies of his prostate. If melatonin is a hormone, is there a danger of his taking low-dose melatonin? —Considering Melatonin in Massachusetts Dear Playing It Safe, Some research has shown men with higher levels of melatonin have “a 75 percent decreased risk of advanced prostate cancer, compared with men with lower melatonin levels.” Other researchers have concluded, “Melatonin could be an excellent candidate for the prevention and treatment of several cancers, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, gastric cancer, and colorectal cancer.” A 2017 article reported, “There is highly credible evidence that melatonin mitigates cancer at the initiation, progression, and metastasis phases.” As a result of these publications in the peer-reviewed medical literature, I would conclude there’s likely no harm and perhaps some benefit from taking melatonin for sleep in the face of this cancer. However, be careful what you purchase. My friends at ConsumerLab.com, who test natural medications, including melatonin, cautioned, “Our test identified many high-quality (melatonin) products, although the cost of obtaining an equivalent amount of melatonin ranged 300 fold (from just one cent to nearly $3), dosage ranged 33-fold (from 0.3 mg to 10 mg), and the supplements represented a wide array of forms, including treatable, dissolvable, and time-released tablets, soft gels, liquids, and powders — so it is important to carefully compare products.” Finally, the folks at the NMCD say, “Melatonin seems to be safe when used for up to six months” and “For primary insom-
nia, short-term melatonin treatment appears to modestly reduce the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency).” As far as dose, they added, “For primary insomnia, controlled-release, fast-release, or slow-release melatonin 2–3 mg before bedtime for up to 29 weeks has been used in most research” and “Higher doses (5 mg before bedtime) for shorter durations (up to one week) have also been used.” But, of course, as is true of all natural medications, be sure to check with your physician or pharmacist before starting one — especially if you have any medical conditions or take any other medications (prescription or over-the-counter).
Apple Cider Vinegar Might Not Keep the Doctor Away
Dear Dr. Walt, What’s your take on apple cider vinegar for diabetes or weight loss? —Apple Admirer in North Dakota Dear Apple Aficionado, Apple cider vinegar is made from the fermented juice of crushed apples. There is an amazing amount of information on the Internet about people using it for diabetes, weight loss, leg cramps and pain, indigestion, sinusitis issues, high blood pressure (hypertension), osteoarthritis, memory issues, hyperlipidemia, osteoporosis, preventing kidney stones, and slowing the aging process — just to name a few of the maladies for which it is used. Although some experts consider apple cider vinegar safe when taken orally in small amounts, NMCD said, “There is little scientific study of the safety of apple cider vinegar.” As to whether it might be effective or not, a few small and short-lived studies have demonstrated a minor weight loss benefit. Nevertheless, according to NMCD, there is “insufficient reliable scientific evidence that it works to treat or prevent any medical condition” — whether in liquid form, pills, or powders. Furthermore, two products tested by ConsumerLab.com were deemed “not approved” from “mislabeling their acidity and/or having extremely high concentrations of acetic acid — amounts that would appear to classify them as ‘poison’.” NMCD also pointed out, “It is impossible to determine from these (lab) analyses whether these commercial products actually contain any apple cider vinegar.” Finally, chronic use of apple cider vinegar may erode tooth enamel, so if you take it in liquid form, don’t let it linger in your mouth and consider rinsing afterwards. But since there is little to no evidence of safety or effectiveness, I cannot recommend it. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
SET By Kandi Gallaty
’ll never forget standing in the airport that morning watching my dad walk away from us toward prison. It was a day I had dreaded. One day I would come to realize that this was one of the most spiritual moments in my life, but in the moment, it was nothing but suffering and sadness. That’s the thing about God. Sometimes the darkest moments and those intense seasons of suffering lead to the hope He has waiting for us.
A Law and Order Family
I grew up as the oldest of three kids in a loving but strict home, which isn’t surprising because both of my parents worked in criminal justice. My dad was the warden of the county prison and my mom was a criminal court reporter. Between the two of them, they had seen everything, so they didn’t let us get away with anything. When we got in trouble, it was full-on interrogation. Looking back, it’s funny now, but none of us liked the “third degree.” Now I see law enforcement was just in our blood. After I graduated high school, I worked at the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement while I went to college and graduated with my degree. My sister majored in criminal justice, finished the police academy, and became a fire marshal’s deputy. My brother majored in criminal justice. See what I mean?
So how could a father steeped in law enforcement go to prison? Several years after my dad retired from the sheriff’s office, an independent audit was conducted, and the result wasn’t good. Someone was to blame for a financial mess. At the time, the officials wanted to get a conviction on the current sheriff, but for reasons too long to explain, they decided to go after my dad. In short, they decided any conviction was better than a right conviction, even if that meant putting the wrong person behind 18
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
bars. My dad ended up being the scapegoat. He was given a plea in the form of an ultimatum: take the plea and go away for a year, or go to court and possibly go to prison for up to 10 years. With no money to hire a top-notch attorney, my parents made the decision to take the plea. The man who had run the prison for years was now going to prison. While he was gone, I took a semester off from college to work full time and help my mom with my two younger siblings who were still in school. Mom took off work when she could to visit my dad while I looked after my siblings. We all kicked into high gear to survive. As the saying goes, you do what you have to do and don’t really think about it much at the time.
From Bad to Worse
While in prison, my dad got sick and ended up having bypass surgery. While in the hospital, he got a staph infection, leading to his sternum being removed. He barely survived. Finally, he was sent home on house arrest. Once he was back, things were different. But not in a good way. He was different. I hoped his being home meant life was going back to normal. But it didn’t. I went back to college and worked two jobs just to keep myself busy. I would go out with friends, and I’d drink more than I knew I should. I did anything I could to avoid slowing down, feeling, or thinking. I couldn’t process all that had happened and how I felt about it. I was trying to fill all the empty places in my heart with everything and everyone but Christ. Instead of turning to Him for understanding and comfort, I turned to temporary things in life that will never fulfill and that will never last. I was lost, hurt, scared, and running to find security anywhere I could find it. I had created my own sort of prison, though I wasn’t behind bars.
As I was tired and vulnerable while working my night job, I began to open up and share with my boss about what had been going on in my life, and he seemed very understanding, sympathetic, and trustworthy. Before I even realized it, we were in a relationship. The thing is, he was married, and he was significantly older than me. It took me a long time to see that on top of these things, he was also quite manipulative. I am utterly ashamed that I was ever in this relationship. I’m not making excuses because I knew right from wrong, but my mindset wasn’t the strongest at this time. I was truly lost and didn’t know what to do. I let the relationship continue for months, but I was plagued by it. I felt guilty and knew I wasn’t raised this way. I kept trying to end it, but couldn’t seem to get the strength to do it and move on. While I was at work on May 21, 2001, I was extremely restless, and I knew something had to change. I needed to talk to someone. I needed to get out of these chains I had put myself in.
Unchained from Sin and Despair
On that day, a lightbulb clicked on — this was a spiritual issue! I called the church I had attended, but the pastor was out of town. I called back and asked for the youth pastor. He was off work that day, but I wasn’t taking no for an answer. The youth pastor and his family lived in my parents’ neighborhood, so I took my chances driving to his house. I hoped he would be there because I didn’t know where else to turn. Maybe he would be different than the man who had manipulated me. Maybe he could help or tell me some sort of good news. I knocked and waited. He opened the door with the biggest smile on his face. I sat on his couch and poured my heart out. I was sad, confused, ashamed, and discouraged. Instead of degrading me or taking advantage of my vulnerable condition, he simply shared the gospel with me — and it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. I had been raised in church all my life. Up to this point, I thought I had been a “good” person. I had even made a profession of faith when I was 10. But none of that compared to what I was now hearing. For the first time in my life, at that moment, I realized it was for this sin Christ died. He was held on the cross for this relationship I was in. I crumbled right there and got on my knees and cried out to God. I asked for His forgiveness and for Him to take my life and lead it. My life was forever changed in that moment. God gave me the strength to end that relationship for good! It was no longer me trying to do this but the Holy Spirit inside of me. I went on to serve the Lord any way I could. I did children’s ministry, prison ministry, nursing home ministry, and the list goes on. I just wanted to serve Christ. He had intervened in the moment I needed Him most, in my worst moment, and I wanted to give Him every moment after that.
Three years after my salvation, I met my husband, Robby. We’ve been married for almost 15 years now, and he’s the most amazing man I’ve ever met. God has blessed me beyond belief. Our two boys are the light of our world. Although Robby and my boys are incredible blessings of God, the real restoration in my life is the gift of the Lord Himself. He has redeemed my life and restored me like only He can. When I go back to that day in the airport watching my dad walk away, I realize that God has given me insight and understanding. Just as our earthly Father has done what’s best for you and me — even when it meant sending His Son into the worst of conditions — my earthly father was simply trying to do what was best for his kids ... even when it meant facing prison. As God in the flesh walked into the worst situation for our sake, my dad was walking into the worst for my sake. It’s pure grace that the memory that used to grieve me beyond measure now gives me a glimpse into the gospel. Years later I told my dad that I wanted him to know that all that suffering led to my salvation. There was purpose in the pain we went through and I wanted him to know that what he had endured led to life for me.
Encouragement in Times of Suffering
If I could give you some words of encouragement for yourself or someone you know who is struggling or suffering, it would be this: • Turn to Christ and not to the things this world has to offer. No one or thing can ever satisfy like the Savior. • When you do something wrong, it’s a sin against a Holy God for which you will be held accountable. Though others may have wronged you in the process (and you surely need to work on healing in those wounded places), you are still responsible for the wrongdoing you brought to bear in the process. You can’t change what they did, but you can run to God with what you did. Repent and ask for forgiveness, and ask God for strength to help you overcome. • “Above all else guard you heart, for it affects everything you do!” (Prov. 4:23) Kandi Gallaty is a pastor’s wife, a mother of two precious boys (Rig and Ryder), a speaker, and a writer who is devoted to making disciples by cultivating a passion in women for God’s Word. She and her husband, Robby, coauthored Foundations, and together they lead Replicate Ministries, a ministry that educates, equips, and empowers believers to make disciples who make disciples. Kandi’s new book Disciple Her released in February. She and her family live outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and serve at their church, Long Hollow Baptist Church. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
LIVE RIGHT NOW
Dr. Sabrina Black is a professor, counselor, life coach, conference retreat speaker, and international humanitarian. She is the CEO of Abundant Life Counseling, founder of Global Projects for Hope, Help and Healing (GPH3), and author of Live Right Now. To contact Dr. Black or book her for a speaking engagement, visit www.drsabrinablack.com or call 612-888-LIVE (5483).
Unexpected Death from Drug Overdose
Q. My granddaughter’s friend was found un-
conscious in the locker room of her school. She later died at the hospital, from a drug that had been laced with poison. This girl has no history of using drugs. Apparently this was her first encounter, and it proved to be deadly. My granddaughter is in shock and the whole school is stunned. This is a very good school, and we all thought our children were safe, but now we’re shaken. We’re considering sending our granddaughter to another school, but where? Is there any place safe for our children? What can we do to alert and awaken our children to the dangers of drugs? What can I do to protect my granddaughter? Signed: What Can I Do About Safety and Drugs? A. Dear What Can I Do About Safety and Drugs?, There is a safe place in God. Our children are living in a world stained by sin. In this world sometimes bad things happen to good people. We can teach them that they must live in the world, but they do not have to live as the world lives (John 17:15–16). Your granddaughter could benefit from individual counseling and group therapy or critical incident stress management. Tragedies can happen anywhere, so changing schools may not be
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2019
a good idea, as she may find comfort in being with her friends. A change at this time may add more trauma to her life. Talk it over with her and the two of you can decide what’s best. It’s also important for you to be a safe place for her so she can process things that she may not share at school in the presence of her peers. As her grandmother, you can provide hope, help, and healing by allowing an opportunity to diffuse and decompress through telling her story. Your granddaughter needs to talk about what happened, how she feels, and how it is impacting her from her perspective. This demonstration of CARE (Concern, Attention, Respect, Encouragement) can be a simple yet very effective approach that validates her experience. Educate your granddaughter about drugs. Hosea 4:6a (KJV) says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” There’s a wealth of information on the Internet about the dangers of drugs. These sites may also be helpful: American Association of Christian Counseling (AACC), American Counseling Association (ACA), American Psychological Association (APA), National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). If she knows that you’re knowledgeable about drugs and peer pressure, that may encourage her to be more transparent and vulnerable.
By Dr. Sabrina Black
Caregiving Causing Strain on Family
Q. Our family is in the midst of a crisis. Our fourth child,
Brian, has a severe, permanently disabling condition. He was born with spina bifida, which means his spine failed to close properly during the first month of pregnancy. We all love Brian and want to care for this precious addition to our family, but we had no idea how much our lives would change, nor how much care he would need. Our days and nights are completely consumed with caring for him. Our other three children are feeling neglected, and rightly so. I just don’t have enough time and energy to meet their needs. Brian is only 9 years old, and there is no end in sight. Our older children (12, 16, and 17) are starting to act out, and my husband is coming home from work later every day. I’m overwhelmed, Brian’s condition is not going away. Please help. Signed: It’s Chronic A. Dear It’s Chronic, Caring for a child with spina bifida can be overwhelming and confusing. A mother’s love will take on any challenge to help her child, and so will the rest of the family because love never fails (1 Cor. 13:7–8a). But sometimes people need outside help. Brian has health problems that need your attention, and your other children need you too. Your family can talk about the changes that have taken place in your daily life and discuss ways to face them together. There are also support groups that can help. They have families with similar concerns and can share what has worked for them and offer reassurance. You may also find that you’re a blessing to them. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2 KJV). Organizing and making a plan that allows time for you and your other children is an important step to ending your family crisis. As the primary caregiver, be sure to allow yourself some time alone, but also allow each family member to have time to spend with you so they have your undivided attention. Brian’s life is a blessing not a burden. Each member of the family has needs, and families are meant to tend to each other’s needs. Although it has been nine years, you may still need to give yourselves time to come to terms with the direction your lives have taken. Brian’s chronic condition has become a reality for your family but so has love as a foundation. Be encouraged with Psalm 61:2, Nahum 1:7, and 1 Corinthians 13:4–7.
Source of Midlife Crisis Uncertain
Q. Our hearts are breaking as we watch our son Drew self-destruct. He’s 55, married, and has three children. Drew and his wife were saving for a family trip to Hawaii, so we were shocked when our grandchildren told us the trip had been canceled. Our son never had any problems with working and planning for their future before. The grandkids were hurt and disappointed. When we asked
Drew what happened, he told us that life is short and he needed the money to do something for himself before he dies. He thinks the world could be blown to bits or he could be killed at any moment, so why should he plan for a future that may never come. He’s been watching the news and reading science reports. He has decided to live as if there’s no tomorrow, and it’s destroying his family. Is this instant gratification or midlife crisis? Signed: Instant Gratification or Midlife Crisis?
A. Dear Instant Gratification or Midlife Crisis, Your son is an adult exhibiting sporadic behavior that may be linked to doomsday philosophy, midlife crisis, mental illness, or physical illness. We live in a society where many people are looking to have whatever they want fulfilled instantly, so before jumping to conclusions, try having a conversation with him to find out what’s causing his urgency. Maybe he is being influenced by what he is reading or seeing. If so, try showing him the opposing view, which is the truth found in God’s Word. I can only imagine that the children and his wife are disappointed about not going to Hawaii, but this time might be better spent at home assessing your son’s mental and physical condition. If he’s unstable and thinking about death, it can be a red flag for more than just a midlife crisis. Yes, he’s at the age where a midlife crisis could occur. He has lived through some struggles, may have made some mistakes, have some regrets, and now feels he needs a change. If your son is having a midlife crisis, he may question his priorities and how he has lived life. He may look back with regret on decisions and sacrifices made and even change his basic ideals and character. He may be trying to recapture his youth when he was free from worry and responsibilities. You really don’t know what’s wrong until you ask. Give him a chance to share what’s really going on in his life. John 7:24 reminds us not to judge by what we see or judge a person’s motives. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
For the Highest Ad By Daniel Hamlin
don’t know if you’ve ever felt God speak to you, but it usually doesn’t involve thunder and lightning or even an audible voice. At least for me it doesn’t. I can only speak for myself, but most of the times I truly believe God has spoken to me, His voice came in the form of an inner nudging. The sky didn’t part, the oceans didn’t recede. I simply felt a conviction deep inside that spoke truth to my heart. In February of 2000, I was attending a conference in Santa Cruz, California. During an afternoon break in the conference, I decided I’d use my free time to go surfing. It was a miserably stormy day with intermittent rain showers, but there was swell in the water, which meant there would be waves. So I loaded up my pickup and began driving north on California’s fabled Highway 1. I checked a few different surf spots before I pulled into the parking lot of the one I intended to surf. This particular spot is located along a stretch of cliff-lined coast where the ocean’s edge butts right up against the cliffs at high tide. I watched it for a few minutes to assess the conditions to see if it was worth putting on my wetsuit to paddle out. I hadn’t surfed in over a week (which for me is a long time) so I was pretty anxious to get in the water. It wasn’t going to take much to motivate me to go surfing.
When I saw there were waves big enough to ride, I made up my mind I was going to paddle out. At exactly the moment after I had decided I was going to go surfing, I felt an inner conviction — almost like a whisper — urge me not to paddle out that day. It’s funny the way we have the ability to rationalize doing something we know we shouldn’t. For whatever reason, I knew that inner conviction was the Holy Spirit telling me not to go surfing that day. I debated it in my mind for a solid 10 minutes. I told myself that if God was warning me about something bad, He surely would give me specifics. If a whale was going to swallow me up like Jonah, I reasoned God would give me a heavenly vision or something to warn me, not a still, small voice. After all, God knew that I hadn’t surfed in over a week, so He must have realized how much I wanted to catch a few waves. After only a few minutes, I’d successfully convinced myself I should go surfing instead of listening to the subtle, yet steady conviction that I should not get in the ocean that day. I shivered a bit as I pulled my wetsuit on. It was cold and gloomy, which seemed only to add to the ominous feel of the day. But the waves were glassy and fun looking, so I brushed the doubts aside.
The waves were glassy and fun looking, so I brushed the doubts aside. Almost as if God was giving me one last chance not to go surfing that day, right as I was making my way to the water’s edge, a fierce onshore wind sprang up out of nowhere and turned the waves into a jumble within moments. What had been a smooth ocean just minutes before was now a rough and chaotic mess. Again I heard that inner conviction pleading with me not to paddle out, and again I felt myself rationalizing it all as a coincidence. Surely God knew how much I wanted to surf. Above and left: Photo courtesy Craig Hamlin 22
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
dvantage of Others Again I heard that inner conviction pleading with me not to paddle out, and again I felt myself rationalizing it all as a coincidence. I had been in the water for about 30 minutes when out of frustration I decided I was going to go in. Thanks to the onshore wind, the waves that had looked fun when I first pulled into the parking lot were now nothing but garbage. On top of that, there was an incessant current that kept me paddling the whole time so I wouldn’t get swept down the beach past where the waves were breaking. I caught one final wave and made my way to shore. Because of the current, I had indeed been swept a few hundred yards from where I parked my car. This meant I would be walking along the edge of the cliff-lined shore back to my pickup. The tide was on the rise, but was still low enough to leave a small strip of beach right next to the cliff to walk on, or so I thought. I remember noticing that the water was gently lapping over my feet as I made my way toward my truck. As I rounded a small bend in the cliff, that gentle lapping turned into a quick receding. I immediately realized a few things. First, the receding was caused by a tidal surge. The ocean tends to draw water back to itself right before it surges, and that’s exactly what it was doing. I looked up to see a wall of water about to bear down on me. Second, I realized that where the cliff bent along the shore, it created about a 7-foot high by 8-foot deep cave, and I stood directly in front of it. Third, I realized I should not have gone surfing that day. As I braced myself for the impending impact and inevitable introduction to the back of the cave, I did the only thing I knew I could do. I cried out, “God help me!” The wall of water thrust me to the back of the cave where my head collided with the wall of the cave. I blacked out, but only briefly. Top Left: Photo courtesy Abram Diaz Left: Photo courtesy Caleb Marmolejo TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
Photo courtesy Craig Hamlin
I blacked out, but only briefly. When I came to, I was pinned to the back of the cave, which was now full of water except for a 12-inch gap between the water’s surface and the top of the cave. Panic started to grip me, and I feared that just as I had ignored God’s voice, He might ignore my cry for help. But suddenly I felt the force that had me pinned to the back of the cave begin to pull me out of the cave. I swam with everything in me until I was clear of the cave’s opening and I eventually, and very sheepishly, made it back to my car.
I feared that just as I had ignored God’s voice, He might ignore my cry for help. I understand now that in that brief but traumatic ordeal a number of crucial details went in my favor that I believe to be God’s doing. When the wall of water hit me, it spun me around so my surfboard was between the cave and me, acting as a cushion and absorbing some of my impact with the back of the cave. Without that cushion, I likely would have been knocked
completely unconscious. With no one on the beach to rescue me, I would have almost certainly drowned. In addition, the tidal surge that pinned me to the back of the cave only lasted for one or two waves. Waves tend to travel in sets and the surge was caused by a large set of waves. With the amount of swell in the water that day, there should have been more waves in the set. If there had been, the cave would have completely filled with water, and it would have pinned me for longer than I could have held my breath. Buckminster Fuller reportedly had an encounter with God in which God told him it was his duty to use his knowledge and ability to the “highest advantage of others.” I don’t know how much knowledge or ability it took to find myself in that cave, but I hope that sharing what I learned about God through the ordeal will be to the advantage of others. What I learned first and foremost is that God is a loving Father. The moment we call to Him for help, He acts on our behalf. He is in the business of saving His children. That’s what the cross is all about. Jesus died for us not because we deserved it, but because He loves us. If I died in that cave, I would have had no one to blame but myself. God gave me every opportunity to avoid peril, but I ignored Him. That didn’t deter Him from pulling me out of the cave that day, however. He took my selfish mistake and used it to show me how much He loves us. This isn’t an excuse for making poor choices, but rather a reminder that He can take very bad situations and redeem them if we call out to Him.
He took my selfish mistake and used it to show me how much He loves us. No matter what cave we may find ourselves trapped in, whether by our own doing or not, when we call out to Jesus, He is there to save us. But when He warns you of danger, it’s best to listen.
Photo courtesy Abram Diaz 24
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Daniel Hamlin is an author and speaker. He’s written When Oceans Rise: Scriptural Truths To Anchor The Soul and In His Presence: Thirty Contemplations from Walking with Jesus. As a sponsored surfer, he appeared in numerous international publications including Surfer and ESPN.com. You can find out more at www.danielhamlin.org.
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ID Theft Protection in the Baby Steps?
Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business, and CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored seven best-selling books including The Total Money Makeover. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 153 million listeners each week on more than 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.
Dear Dave, Where in the Baby Steps does identity theft protection fall? Should we cover the kids, too, or only the adults in our household? —Laura Dear Laura, Everyone needs identity theft protection. Unless you’re one of these folks who have gone completely off the grid, someone out there probably has a few of your numbers. Between sloppiness on the part of consumers, and the massive data breaches that have occurred in the last few years, almost everyone has experienced, or will experience, some sort of identity theft. Unfortunately, this is today’s world. I don’t really consider identity theft protection part of the Baby Steps. It’s like life insurance or car insurance, in that it’s something almost everyone needs. Things like that should just be part of your budget every month. —Dave
Stick With the Plan
Dear Dave, I follow your advice and live on a budget, but it’s really hard to save up for a down payment on a house because property is so expensive here in New York. My family in Indiana says I should buy a cheap property there, then fix it up and sell it to get the money I need. I’m not sure how I feel about this idea. What do you think? —Adam Dear Adam, I think you’d be smart to back away from their idea. Your family loves you and wants to help, but this is a bad plan. Fixing and flipping properties is a hands-on business. There’s no way I’d try something like that from 700 miles away. It would be a nightmare! When you take on that kind of work you need to oversee every single step of the process. You’re also keeping an eye on the help you hire to make sure they’re doing things right. Think about this, too. You can’t just find a house and expect to get a good deal. Professionals who flip houses for a living often look at dozens of different properties to buy just one. It’s not an easy way to make money, and it’s not something I would advise doing from a distance.
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2019
I know it can take a while to save up cash for a down payment on a home. But don’t let a case of house fever push you into making a bad financial decision. Have you considered getting a part-time job for a while to bring in some extra cash? A house should be a blessing, not a burden. Trust me, waiting a while and saving up is a lot smarter than fixing and flipping houses three states away! —Dave
Dear Dave, Are home warranties a waste of money if someone has been following your plan and already has six months of expenses set aside in an emergency fund, plus home insurance? —Andrea Dear Andrea, Home warranties are a waste of money even if you don’t have quite that much set aside in an emergency fund. I recommend an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses to cover the unexpected things that life will throw at you. This amount of cash, sitting in a good money market account with check writing privileges, will give you easy access in the event of a financial emergency. I don’t recommend extended warranties of any kind. They’re just not a good deal. You’re better off to self-insure against things breaking down, and putting what would have been profit and marketing dollars for the extended warranty company in your own pocket! —Dave
By Dave Ramsey
Return of Premium?
Dear Dave, I’m thinking about signing up for a return of premium life insurance policy. It costs more per month than other policies, but it allows you to get all your money back after 30 years assuming you live that long. Is this too good to be true? —Tommy
Dear Tommy, It’s not too good to be true, but it is a rip off. Never buy a return of premium life insurance policy. You said it costs more than other policies, right? Well, if you were to take that extra money you’d be paying and put it into a good mutual fund, you’d get all the cost of your policy back after 30 years 100% of the time. Return of premium policies are just a gimmick. When it comes to life insurance, always go with a good, 15to 20-year level term policy. And always stay away from that return of premium garbage! —Dave
Changing Jobs and Retirement Savings
Dear Dave, What happens to my Roth 401(k) when I change jobs and go to a company that doesn’t offer this type of investment savings account? How should you proceed in this situation?
Fight Back Against Fraud
Dear Dave, We recently learned that my wife’s ex-husband used her Social Security number to establish several credit card accounts. We’ve written and called the credit card companies, and we’re disputing the charges, but is there anything else we can do to protect ourselves and put an end to this? —Ken
Dear Ken, You bet there is! File a police report immediately, and if possible, have this guy arrested. He has committed criminal fraud, and it’s not something you should take lightly. Also, put a fraud victim alert on your credit bureau reports today. Don’t stop with just alerting the credit card companies about this situation. You should be speaking with and communicating via email — plus snail mail, if necessary — directly with the fraud victim division at every credit card company involved. Make sure they understand this is a denial of responsibility and not simply a dispute. Let them know you’re sorry this happened, but explain that all these charges in your names are the result of a criminal act perpetrated against you. You may have to stand your ground with the credit card companies, because some of them might try to get you to pay it, anyway. Don’t do it! —Dave
Dear Jamie, Anytime you leave one company for another, you should always roll your 401(k) from your former employer into an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). If it’s a traditional IRA, you roll it to a traditional IRA. If it’s a Roth IRA, you roll it to a Roth IRA. You would choose your own mutual funds, and you would manage your own accounts, with the help of a financial advisor of your choosing. When it comes to choosing a financial advisor, my advice is to find someone with the heart of a teacher. A good financial advisor will help you make informed decisions about your money, and they will explain all aspects of your investments until you fully understand everything. In short, a quality advisor will never encourage you to invest in something you don’t understand. Also, look for someone with the ability to assess your overall retirement picture. You need someone who will help you map out a complete retirement plan, and your advisor should be able to explain the big picture and provide a comprehensive, easyto-understand strategy for achieving your retirement goals. —Dave TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
Tatiana Claudy, born and raised in Saint Petersburg, Russia, now lives with her family in Indiana. In Russia, she worked as a Christian interpreter and translator with foreign missionaries. She graduated from Indiana University with a degree in criminal justice. Her passions include writing, traveling, and photography.
If you have a turning point in your life you would like to share, email your story to editor@ todayschristianliving.org. All submissions must be under 800 words. If we print your story, we will pay you $75. We reserve the right to edit for length and content. All submissions become the property of Today’s Christian Living. 28
By Tatiana Claudy
Anna’s Prayer Lesson F or me, a born-again Christian and member of the prayer group, it was unthinkable that a little girl would teach me about praying in faith! Four-year-old Anna lived in a small Russian town near Saint Petersburg. Her parents, Alex and Kate, worked for a local church and received modest salaries. When one Saturday Anna suggested going to the zoo, her parents explained that they had money for food only. “Let’s ask God for money!” exclaimed Anna. They joined hands, and the little girl prayed, “Dear Jesus, please give us money to go to the zoo today. Amen!” Alex and Kate kept silent because they didn’t want to disappoint their daughter. Yet Anna was confident that God would answer her prayer. On the same day, a group of American missionaries, with whom I worked as an interpreter, visited this town. They wanted to call their families in America, yet I did not know how to help them. Back then, 25 years ago, such calls could be made either from a private phone or from a post office. It was fortunate that a Russian pastor who accompanied Americans knew Anna’s parents and suggested using their phone. Can you imagine Alex and Kate’s surprise when suddenly a dozen Americans crowded their tiny apartment! Naturally, they were glad to help their American brothers and sisters in Christ. After calling home, the Americans left money to pay the phone bill, plus $20 for the hosts — more than enough to go to the zoo. When Alex and Kate, overwhelmed by this manifestation of God’s care, shared the story of Anna’s prayer, we all praised our heavenly Father for His love and faithfulness. Later, on my way home to Saint Petersburg, I was thinking about this little girl’s faith. While praying, she didn’t focus on the lack of money, but trusted God’s power. Jesus said, “‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14–15 NIV). The encounter with Anna was God’s provision for me to teach me about praying in faith — like a little child — in the midst of problems. Suddenly I was out of work because Swiss mission-
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2019
Little Anna prayed, “Dear Jesus, please give us money to go to the zoo today. Amen!”
aries with whom I worked for a year left Russia. So I had to find quickly another employment to support my son and myself. Although there were American missionaries in need of Russian interpreters, I could hardly understand them because I had studied British English. I prayed and asked God to show me opportunities to serve Him as a Christian interpreter, and I trusted my heavenly Father to find a perfect solution. I followed the Apostle James’ instructions to “believe and not doubt” (James 1:6 NIV) during my prayer. Thus, when several days later I was invited to work as an interpreter with American evangelical teams in summer children camps, the job offer came not as a surprise, but God’s answer to my prayer. The next two months I was doing evangelistic work among children. It was a great time: I spent all day with Americans, so my understanding of American English improved greatly. However, I also had to work long hours, in the summer heat, and solve all kinds of problems. (Once, I even had to communicate with a Finnish driver who didn’t speak English.) Honestly, sometimes I wished that God would give me an easier task. Only later did I understand that the Lord used this job at summer camps to teach me to “not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12 NKJV) and also train me for another ministry. My reward came upon my return to Saint Petersburg. I became an interpreter for an American pastor and interpreted his sermons broadcasted by the first Christian radio station in Russia. I believed God opened this door for me because I learned the little girl’s lesson of praying in faith.
DAILY BIBLE CONNECTION
Developed by R. M. Mâ€™Cheyne and D. A. Carson
If you follow this reading calendar, you will read through the Old Testament in two years and the Psalms and New Testament in a year.
Proverbs 19; Colossians 2
Proverbs 20; Colossians 3
Proverbs 21; Colossians 4
Proverbs 22; Proverbs 23; Proverbs 24; 1 Thessalonians 1 1 Thessalonians 2 1 Thessalonians 3
Proverbs 25; Proverbs 26; Proverbs 27; Proverbs 28; Proverbs 29; 1 Thessalonians 4 1 Thessalonians 5 2 Thessalonians 1 2 Thessalonians 2 2 Thessalonians 3
Ecclesiastes 1; 1 Timothy 3
Ecclesiastes 8; 2 Timothy 4
Ecclesiastes 2; 1 Timothy 4
Ecclesiastes 9; Titus 1
Ecclesiastes 3; 1 Timothy 5
Ecclesiastes 10; Titus 2
Song of Songs 4; Hebrews 4
Song of Songs 5; Hebrews 5
Isaiah 10:5-ff; James 4
Isaiah 19-20; 2 Peter 1
Isaiah 27; 1 John 5
Isaiah 3-4; Hebrews 11
Isaiah 11-12; James 5
Isaiah 21; 2 Peter 2
Isaiah 28; 2 John 1
Ecclesiastes 11; Titus 3
Isaiah 5; Hebrews 12
Isaiah 13; 1 Peter 1
Isaiah 22; 2 Peter 3
Isaiah 29; 3 John 1
Ecclesiastes 5; 2 Timothy 1
Ecclesiastes 12; Philemon
Ecclesiastes 6; 2 Timothy 2
Song of Songs 1; Hebrews 1
Proverbs 31; 1 Timothy 2
Ecclesiastes 7; 2 Timothy 3
Song of Songs 2; Hebrews 2
Song of Songs 3; Hebrews 3
Isaiah 2; Hebrews 10
Ecclesiastes 4; 1 Timothy 6
Proverbs 30; 1 Timothy 1
Song of Songs 6; Hebrews 6
Isaiah 6; Hebrews 13
Isaiah 14; 1 Peter 2
Isaiah 23; 1 John 1
Isaiah 30; Jude 1
Song of Songs 7; Hebrews 7
Isaiah 7; James 1
Isaiah 15; 1 Peter 3
Isaiah 24; 1 John 2
Isaiah 31; Revelation 1
Song of Songs 8; Hebrews 8
Isaiah 8-9:7; James 2
Isaiah 16; 1 Peter 4
Isaiah 25; 1 John 3
Isaiah 1; Hebrews 9
Isaiah 9:8-10:4; James 3
Isaiah 17-18; 1 Peter 5
Isaiah 26; 1 John 4
Isaiah 32; Revelation 2
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Loving your teen well instills confidence in them and yields an intimate friendship with you throughout their lives. Parenting Beyond the Rules helps you discover why listening is paramount, when to speak up (and when to stay quiet), and scores of practical applications to raise an emotionally secure teen.
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ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible: Grace in All of Scripture, Grace for All of Life
Suffering Is Never for Nothing
Disciple Her: Using the Word, Work, & Wonder of God to Invest in Women
[Crossway] The ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible is designed to help readers see Christ in all of Scripture, and grace for all of life. It features book introductions, gospel-centered study notes, and a series of all-new articles ― written by a team of over 50 pastors and scholars. This content explains passage-bypassage how God’s redemptive purposes culminate in the gospel and apply to the lives of believers today. Readers will be challenged to see how the message of the gospel transforms sinners from the inside out. • Over 375,000 words of gospel-centered study notes • Introduction that outlines specific uses for the Bible • Updated design and typesetting based on the original ESV Gospel Transformation Bible released in 2013 • Five new articles on topics such as the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, the gospel in the Old Testament, the covenants, and more • Includes concordance and 80,000 cross-references
By Kandi Gallaty [B&H] We all know Jesus commands us to disciple others. But how are we supposed to do this in everyday life? And how can we find time to invest ourselves into others when it feels like our schedules are already full? In this practical book, Kandi Gallaty helps you develop an effective disciplemaking strategy in your life and the lives of others. Gallaty shares personal stories, more than a decade’s worth of discipleship experiences, and most importantly, her commitment to the Word of God. And Gallaty doesn’t stop at helping women understand what discipleship is — she gives them a practical game plan for weaving it into their weekly lifestyle and teaching those they disciple to do the same. In Disciple Her, Gallaty explains: - How Jesus made disciples - The essential elements of a discipleship group - How to make the discipleship process run smoothly - How to gauge success in a discipleship group Disciple Her will be a point of reference for women to use time and time again in the years to come as women intentionally obey Jesus’ command to invest their lives into others. 34
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By Elisabeth Elliot [B&H] Hard times come for all in life, with no real explanation. When we walk through suffering, it has the potential to devastate and destroy, or to be the gateway to gratitude and joy. Elisabeth Elliot was no stranger to suffering. Her first husband, Jim, was murdered by the Waoroni people in Ecuador moments after he arrived in hopes of sharing the gospel. She lost her second to cancer. Yet, it was in her deepest suffering that she learned the deepest lessons about God. Why doesn’t God do something about suffering? He has. Suffering and love are inexplicably linked, as God’s love for His people is evidenced in His sending Jesus to carry our sins, griefs, and sufferings on the cross, sacrificially taking what was not His on Himself so we wouldn’t have to carry it. He has walked the ultimate path of suffering, and He has won victory on our behalf. This truth led Elisabeth to say, “Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I’m willing to take it because I trust Him.” Because suffering is never for nothing. By J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith [Crossway] Our emotions are complex. Some of us seem able to ignore our feelings, while others feel controlled by them. But most of us would admit that we don’t always know what to do with how we feel. God has a good purpose for emotions, but these feelings can sometimes seem confusing. In Untangling Emotions, J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith present a holistic view of human emotions that’s rooted in Scripture, encouraging readers with a practical approach for engaging emotions in a God-honoring way — not changing them or ignoring them, but responding to them with wisdom and self-control. The Bible teaches us that our emotions are an indispensable part of what makes us human ― and play a crucial role in our relationships with God and others. Untangling Emotions shows us how to deal with our emotions constructively ― even the more difficult ones like fear, anger, shame, guilt, and sorrow ― so we can better understand what they reveal about our hearts and handle them wisely in everyday moments. Readers will be encouraged to see their emotions as an opportunity to explore themselves, their values, and their affections, and to move toward a deeper worship of God.
These books are available at todayschristianliving.org/quicktakes
The Chosen: 40 Days With Jesus
By Amanda Jenkins, Kristen Hendricks, and Dallas Jenkins [Broadstreet] In The Chosen: 40 Days With Jesus, you’ll encounter Jesus the way His followers did. As revealed in the gospels — and echoed in the new television series The Chosen — each of Jesus’ disciples was as flawed and human as we are, and each had a not-so-great ‘’before.’’ A brash fisherman. A pious religious leader. A demon-possessed woman. A thieving tax collector. Christ’s love saw beyond their brokenness and forgave. Jesus revolutionized the lives of those who followed Him. And He’s still doing it today. Each of the 40 devotions in The Chosen contains a Scripture, a unique look into a gospel story, suggestions for prayer, and questions that lead you further in your relationship with Christ. See Jesus through the eyes of those who knew him best, and explore the backstories of people like Mary Magdalene, Peter, Matthew, Nicodemus, and more. It’s hard to relate to the sinless Son of God, but we can all identify with the sinners. You too can be transformed: Jesus sees past your ‘’before’’ to the person He is creating you to be.
No Is a Beautiful Word: Hope and Help for the Overcommitted and (Occasionally) Exhausted
By Kevin G. Harney [Zondervan] No Is a Beautiful Word is designed for people whose life feels overloaded. You’re likely one of those people if you’re constantly battling the following symptoms: You have a seemingly endless “to do” list; you kindly say “yes” but secretly regret it five minutes later; you feel guilty when you say “no;” you believe that saying “no” is a sign of weakness; and you feel trapped by unwise past commitments. But you can find help, relief, and wisdom to navigate the countless options that life offers daily. No Is a Beautiful Word will be invaluable for: Those who go to bed exhausted and who secretly dream about time to play and space to relax • Leaders who have a tough time making hard decisions because they fear hurting someone’s feelings • Parents who feel overworked and underappreciated • Retirees who find themselves saying, “I’m busier now than I’ve ever been” No Is a Beautiful Word will help you say “no” to the things that don’t matter (or don’t matter as much) so they can say “yes” to the things that bring life, hope, peace, and lasting meaning.
The Unsaved Christian: Reaching Cultural Christianity With the Gospel
By Dean Inserra [Moody] According to a study of U.S. adults, 80 percent of those polled believe in God, but only 56 percent believe in God as described in the Bible. Author Dean Inserra is a pastor in a city saturated with cultural Christianity where there is “familiarity with church and Christian lingo, but a familiarity with the gospel is hard to find.” So what should we do when people say they’re Christian but don’t know Jesus? Whether it’s the Christmas and Easter Christians or the faithful church attenders whose hearts are cold toward the Lord, we’ve all encountered cultural Christians. They’d check the Christian box on a survey, they’re fine with church, but the truth is, they’re far from God. So how do we bring Jesus to this overlooked mission field? The Unsaved Christian equips you to confront cultural Christianity with honesty, compassion, and grace, whether you’re doing it from the pulpit or the pews. If you’ve ever felt stuck or unsure how to minister to someone who identifies as Christian but still needs Jesus, this book is for you.
Glass House: Shattering the Myth of Evolution
By Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge, General Editors [Master Books] Evolution is considered a rock-solid truth among secular scientists, but when you look at the evidence and ask simple questions, you’ll find their conclusions to be just fragile assumptions, unproven myth, and outright misconceptions — like a glass house built on shifting sands. In Glass House, readers will discover the pervasive influences of the atheistic religion of Darwinian evolution and how evolution developed from unproven science to a popular and cultural worldview. In this revealing book, the flawed assumptions of evolution come under the microscope, where a team of credentialed scientists, researchers, and biblical apologists confront the pillars of evolution. The truths they reveal decimate Darwin’s beliefs using a biblical and logical approach to evidence. Glass House includes the following chapters: • Science Fields and Methodology Came From a Christian Worldview • Are Similarities in Life Forms Evidence of Common Design or Common Ancestry? • What Are the Moral Implications of the Religion of Evolution? TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
By Jerry Dykstra and Open Doors By Jerry contributors Dykstra
Indian Girl Remains Faithful Despite Beatings; Persecution on the Increase Around the World
Prayer Points: • That God will prepare the underground church in North Korea to be a light for the country, and believers will be ready to share the gospel freely soon. • In India, that Christian converts from Hinduism — who are being forcefully pressured to return to their national religion — will remain steadfast in their faith. *Real name protected due to security concerns 36
• That Chinese Christians stand strong amidst tightening religious restrictions and engage in cross-cultural missions effectively.
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2019
Photo courtesy Jerry Dykstra
Jerry Dykstra is a past Director of Media Relations at Open Doors USA. After his graduation from Michigan State University with a degree in journalism, Dykstra spent two years as a combat photo-journalist in the U.S. Navy. Dykstra spent 27 years working as a sports and news reporter and editor at newspapers in Michigan. During more than 13 years at Open Doors USA, Dykstra met and wrote about persecuted believers in such countries as China, Vietnam, Egypt, and Latin America.
Despite being rejected by her family, 12-year-old Sari* from India won’t leave Jesus. She came to faith after God healed her ears from an illness that had kept her almost deaf from early childhood. Her parents were pleased with the healing but banned her from going to church. Sari tried to go secretly, but whenever her brother found out, he beat her. Eventually, her family forced her from the house. She now lives with her aunt, who is also a Christian. Despite all this, she still says of her family, “I love them so much.” Open Doors partners were recently able to meet with Sari to pray with her and encourage her. They read to her from Psalm 68, specifically verse five, which says: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of the widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Sari represents millions of Christians in India and around the world facing rejection and violence because of their faith in Jesus. India is ranked 10th on the 2019 World Watch List (WWL), Open Doors’ annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. It is India’s highest position ever on the list. In India, the Bharatiya Janata (BJP)-led government promotes an extremist militant Hindu agenda, where to be Indian, one must be Hindu. Eight out of 29 states have passed “anti-conversion” laws, which, among other things, require anyone who wants to change religion to give a month’s notice to local officials, and to submit to a government interview. (Two states have not implemented the law.) Last year it was reported, solely from documented incidents, that at least 12,500 Christians and about 100 churches were attacked. At least 200 people were arrested solely for their faith, and at least 10 killed.
Noteworthy is that the world’s two most populous nations, India and China, are ranked No. 10 and No. 27, respectively. For China, it’s a huge jump from No. 41 in 2018, mainly due to a dramatic increase in persecution after strict measures were put into effect over a year ago. In fact, there is now more repression in China than in at least a decade, and perhaps since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. “Open Doors continues to see ominous persecution trends against Christians,” said David Curry, President/CEO of Open Doors USA. “Islamic radicalism continues to dominate and influence all spheres of life for Christians, and we are watching China and India very closely. “The distressing impact of billions of people living in an environment in which the government oppresses freedom of religion is unraveling day by day as millions of Christians are being attacked, imprisoned, or killed. Open Doors will continue to walk alongside these Christians and advocate on their behalf for human rights we take for granted in America.” Meanwhile, North Korea tops the World Watch List for the 18th year in a row, with 10 other countries labeled as having “extreme” levels of persecution.
Summary of Top Five World Watch List Countries
1. North Korea: For three generations, everything in this isolated country has focused on idolizing the leading Kim family. Christians are seen as hostile elements in society that must be eradicated. There was hope that new diplomatic efforts in 2018 — including the 2018 Winter Olympics — would mean a lessening of pressure and violence against Christians. But so far that has not been the case. In fact, reports indicate that local authorities are increasing incentives
for anyone who exposes a Christian in their community. Open Doors reports there are 60,000 believers in labor camps. It estimates the total number of Christians in North Korea to be 300,000. 2. Afghanistan: Afghanistan is once again a close second behind North Korea on the 2019 WWL. An Islamic state by constitution, the country does not permit any faith other than Islam. To convert to a faith outside Islam is tantamount to treason because it’s seen as a betrayal of family, tribe, and country. Very often, there is only one possible outcome for exposed and captured Christians: death. 3. Somalia: Estimates suggest that 99 percent of Somalis are Muslims, and any minority religions are heavily persecuted. The Christian community is small and under constant threat of attack. In fact, persecution of Christians almost always involves violence. Additionally, in many rural areas, Islamic militant groups like al-Shabab are de facto rulers who regard Christians with a Muslim background as high-value targets — often killed on the spot when discovered. 4. Libya: After the ouster of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya plunged into chaos and anarchy, which has enabled various Islamic militant groups to control parts of the country. Libyan converts to Christianity face abuse and violence for their decision to follow Christ. The country is also home to many migrant workers who have been attacked, sexually assaulted and detained, which can be even worse if their Christian faith is discovered.
Photo courtesy Open Doors
5. Pakistan: Under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws, Christians continue to live in daily fear they will be accused of blasphemy — which can carry a death sentence. The most wellknown example of these laws is the case of Asia Bibi. Christians are largely regarded as second-class citizens, and conversion to Christianity from Islam carries a great deal of risk. An estimated 700 girls and women abducted each year are often raped and then forcefully married to Muslim men in the community, usually resulting in forced conversions. Rounding out the top 10 list are Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, and India. For more information on all 50 countries on the WWL, go to www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/ world-watch-list.
PERSECUTION BY THE NUMBERS Below is a quick glance at the World Watch List numbers during the most recent reporting period (from Oct. 31, 2017 to Nov. 1, 2018). But by no means do the numbers tell the full story. Each fact and figure represents real people with real lives, families, jobs, churches — fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters — who every day make the dangerous choice to believe in and trust Jesus.
245 Million: In the World Watch List (WWL) Top 50 countries, the number of Christians who experienced high levels of persecution for following Christ. 1 in 9: Christians worldwide who experienced high, very high, or extreme persecution for their faith. 14 percent: Rise in the number of Christians in the Top 50 countries on the WWL who experienced high levels of persecution. 4,136: Christians killed for faith-related reasons in the Top 50 WWL countries. 2,625: Christians arrested, detained without trial, sentenced, and imprisoned in the Top 50 WWL countries. 1,266: Churches or Christian buildings damaged or destroyed in the top 50 WWL countries. 7 of 10: In seven of the countries in the WWL’s Top 10, the primary cause of persecution is Islamic oppression. 11: Countries that scored in the “extreme” level for their persecution of Christians. Five years ago, North Korea was the only one listed. 18: Consecutive years North Korea has been ranked No. 1 as the world’s most dangerous place to live as a Christian.
105: Churches attacked, burned, or vandalized each month in the Top 50 WWL countries
11: Christians killed every day for their faith in the Top 50 countries.
1 of 6: Christians in Africa who experienced high levels of persecution. 1 of 3: Christians in Asia who experienced high levels of persecution. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
TODAYâ€™S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2019
hile working as a radiology technician in a hospital emergency room, I took x-rays of a trauma patient. I brought the films to our radiologist, who studied the multiple fractures of the femurs and pelvis. “What happened to this patient?” he asked in astonishment. “He fell out of a tree,” I reported. The radiologist wanted to know what the patient was doing up a tree. “I’m not sure, but his paperwork states he works for Bob’s Expert Tree Service.” Gazing intently at the x-rays, the radiologist blinked and said, “Cross out ‘Expert.’” —From Mikey’s Funnies (www.mikeysfunnies.com)
If you have a joke or funny story you’d like to share, email editor@todayschristianliving. org. If we print your joke, we will pay you $25. 40
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
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Follow “The Landing” Blog Connect with Today’s Christian Living through our blog “The Landing.” Each post by our blogger, Joanna Sanders, will challenge and uplift you in your walk with Jesus. Read her testimony in her first post “My Roller Coaster Journey to Salvation.” Then discover how the blog name “The Landing” ties into her story. Joanna Sanders is a “disciple and bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ.” She’s a wife, mother, writer, and an active leader in women’s ministry. Her mission is to be a “doer” of the Word and to follow God’s lead. She’s a graduate of Villanova University with a bachelors’ in English, and has a degree in Biblical Foundation through Moody Theological Seminary. In addition, Joanna has completed additional course work through Manna Bible Institute and The Biblical Counseling Foundation. Besides blogging for Today’s Christian Living, she runs the Christian writing and editing service Colossians 4:6: Biblical Content Support, Writing, and Editing (http://colossians46.com). She has also been published by The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Qara.org, The Acton Institute, Sons Hub, The Christian Post, and is working on a book to be released September 2019. Sign up for Joanna’s blog newsletter at http://todayschristianliving.org. Follow Joanna on Facebook and Instagram at Colossians46. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
JOIN A PRAYER GATHERING ON THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER Prayer is an interfaith event sponsored by the federal government and is highlighted by the National Observance held in Washington, D.C.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force
n Thursday, May 2, Americans will participate in prayer gatherings in churches, workplaces, and homes around the country to mark the National Day of Prayer (NDP). Generally the gatherings will last for just 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the group, and are designed to welcome and not intimidate. 42
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
Origins of the National Day of Prayer The NDP began in 1952 with a joint resolution of Congress that President Truman signed into law. In 1988, President Reagan amended the law, proclaiming the first Thursday of May as the National Day of Prayer. The National Day of
The National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDP Task Force) is a year-round nonpolitical and nondenominational evangelical ministry — independent and separate from the government — and focused solely on prayer. Thus, while the NDP Task Force appreciates the government’s acknowledgement and support of the freedom to pray, it holds firmly to an evangelical perspective. “The efforts of the NDP Task Force are executed specifically in accordance with its Judeo-Christian beliefs,” the ministry states in the FAQ section of its website www.nationaldayofprayer.org. The NDP Task Force has developed a large network of individuals, leaders, and churches to promote nonpartisan prayer gatherings in towns and
A GIFT IN SEASON IS OF BREATH OF JOY
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hardcover: 9780999635377 paperback: 9781732445703
See more books at: www.BooksForBondingHearts.com or www.CaptureMeBooks.com cities across the nation on the day of the event. But it doesn’t end there. Throughout the year, the ministry also holds daily, weekly, and monthly “prayer calls,” in which Christians can connect in a conference call at designated times to listen in as a local, regional, or national prayer leader prays for specific needs. The NDP Task Force prayer gatherings have been growing over the years. “Last year, we had an unprecedented
2018 NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER STATISTICS
• An estimated 1.6 million people in 38 countries watched NDP events livestream. • Approximately 110 million were reached through Christian news sites. • NDP trended #1 on Twitter nationwide. • Over 1 million watched NDP Facebook Live broadcast from Washington, D.C. • Thousands of volunteers planned and hosted over 50,000 local gatherings. • NDP event TV broadcasts were available in 200 countries with the potential to reach over 1 billion. — From National Day of Prayer 2018 Impact Report
number of gatherings,” said Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. The 2018 event set a record with an estimated 50,000 prayer groups nationally.
Striving for Unity and Peace
The NDP Task Force is a nonpartisan ministry that seeks to build bridges where possible in the spirit of Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (NIV). “Last year our theme was on unity,” said Dr. Floyd. “And this year our theme, which we really encourage every group to use — and it’s such a winning theme — is ‘Love One Another,’ and we had tremendous response to that when I unveiled that in October.” Dr. Floyd would like to see a return to a more united people and government. In 1988, Congress unanimously approved a day of prayer on the first Thursday of every May. “Prayerfully, we’ll see that day again,” he said. “I think it’s imperative that we do everything we can in our generation to see God moving in power and to see God really bring a spiritual awakening in America” he added.
To learn how you can organize a prayer gathering in your home or at work (yes, that’s legal, with permission from your human resources department), visit https://nationaldayofprayer.org/volunteer. For information on how your church can host a prayer gathering, visit https:// nationaldayofprayer.org/church.
GROW IN FAITH
MATURITY DEBOR AH J. NAYROCKER This is an excellent resource available for new and growing Christians. Ignite and renew your faith in God. Available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com softcover and ebook
Find an Event or Prayer Gathering Near You
Search for prayer gatherings near you at https://nationaldayofprayer.org/events.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the senior pastor of Cross Church and president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which each year mobilizes millions of Americans to unified public prayer for the United States of America. He’s the author of Living Fit: Make Your Life Count by Pursuing a Healthy You. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
KIDS OF THE KINGDOM
It was Palm Sunday but because of a sore throat, 5-year-old Johnny stayed home from church with a sitter. When the family returned home, they were carrying several palm fronds. Johnny asked them what they were for. “People held them over Jesus’ head as he walked by,” his father told him. “Wouldn’t you know it,” Johnny fumed, “the one Sunday I don’t go and He shows up.” —From Mikey’s Funnies (www.mikeysfunnies.com) If you have a joke or funny story you’d like to share, email email@example.com. If we print your joke, we will pay you $25.
INDEX & WEB LISTING Atherton............................................................... www.abh.org ........................................................... 25 Capture Books ................................................... www.capturemebooks.com ............................. 43 Christianbook..................................................... www.christianbook.com .................................... 48 Christian Bible College and Seminary.... http://cbcs-degree.site ...........................................9 Credo House Publishers................................ www.credohousepublishers.com .................. 43 Cup of Time......................................................... www.cupoftime.com ........................................... 11 David C. Cook Publishing.............................. https://davidccook.org ....................................... 30 HarperCollins Christian Publishing.......... www.harpercollinschristian.com ................... 31 Harvest House Publishers............................. www.harvesthousepublishers.com .............. 33 Helping Hands Unlimited............................. http://helpinghandsunlimited.org ................ 11 Josh McDowell Ministry................................ www.josh.org ......................................................... 33 Joyful Expressions............................................ www.joyfulexpressions.us ................................. 11 Purple Daisy Design........................................ https://purpledaisydesign.com ...................... 11 Rada Cutlery....................................................... www.radacutlery.com ............................................9 Restoring the Garden..................................... https://restoringthegarden.com .................... 33 RODANIS.............................................................. https://rodanis.com .............................................. 33 The Lockman Foundation............................ www.lockman.org ................................................. 15 Today’s Pastor..................................................... www.todayspastor.org ........................................ 25 Total Living Network — TLN....................... www.tln.com ..............................................................2 Tyndale House Publishers............................ www.tyndale.com ................................................. 32 Worthy Publishing........................................... http://worthypublishing.com .......................... 32 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.
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By Pat Baker
A Life Fulfilled
Pat Baker lives in Bolivar, Missouri. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading novels, planning her spring garden during winter, and delighting in her new role as a greatgrandmother — four times.
ednesday, May 22, 2018, will be forever etched in my mind. It started out as a routine day. While I fixed breakfast, my husband, Don, a seasoned private pilot of 20 years, checked the weather forecast. He hoped the day would be good for flying. It was. After breakfast, we had our prayer time. Don kissed me and headed for the airport. An hour later, a friend from the airport came to the house. Her facial expression and the tone of her voice were somber. She said, “We can’t be sure, but we think Don’s plane went down. We can’t make contact with him.” Then our daughter Beth called: ”There’s been an accident. You need to come to the hospital.” The reality of what I might be facing was incomprehensible. When I walked into the room where Don was lying, I knew I would never hear his voice again. I only vaguely recall what went on around me the first several days after Don’s death. I do recall experiencing the sensation of God slowing down my thought process so I would be incapable of comprehending the sheer agony of my loss.
A Search for Answers
After the celebration service of Don’s life, our family returned to their homes. Now it became imperative for me to know why Don’s plane had crashed. I talked with the airport manager. He said that Don had radioed in that he was ready for takeoff. The plane taxied down the runway and lifted off the ground. Witnesses at a nearby golf course just south of the runway saw the nose of the plane going up and down. Seconds later, the plane crashed into a grove of trees. One of the witnesses reported, “The engine was still running and the propeller was still turning after impact.” A pilot from the state highway aircraft division received the radio report about the crash. When he arrived at the site, a nurse who was on the golf course had already removed Don from the plane. Someone had called 9-1-1 and first responders were there to transport Don’s body to the hospital. To find more answers, I talked with the ER doctor who was on call the day of the crash. I asked him when he thought Don’s death occurred. Based on an examination and other tests, the doctor concluded Don died the moment the plane went out of control. I wanted to believe that Don experienced only seconds of pain before he died. 46
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2019
But regardless of when Don’s death occurred or whatever caused the crash, I know this: God took Don home. God had appointed the time for Don’s death (Heb. 9:27). The faith by which Don had lived was replaced by sight. I have tried to imagine the sacredness of that divine meeting, but my finite mind can’t take me there.
Finding Comfort in the Lord
As the days went by, I wasn’t sure what to do. How would life be without Don? How would his death change the way I lived? How was I supposed to feel? As I replayed the day of Don’s death in my mind, I prayed, “Lord if I can honor You through Don’s death, please show me how to do it.” I began to record my thoughts in my journal. I read Scriptures I had known and believed for years, but now they had new life because I was personally experiencing God’s promises. When I mourned, God comforted me. When I had needs, God supplied them. When I was lonely, I believed God’s promise “I will never leave you.” I said the words of hymns and absorbed their messages of hope and assurance. I prayed, “I need Thee, O I need Thee. Every hour I need Thee.” “Turn Your eyes upon Jesus” came to mind when my thoughts drifted to the unknowns of my future.
An Answered Prayer
I remembered conversations Don and I had. He would tell me, “God gave me the gift of flying, and while I’m flying above the earth in my plane, I worship Him. More than once he said, “If I ever crash, I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do.” “Everything” included being a pastor, pouring his life into students as a theology professor, and spending hours studying Scriptures. If I couldn’t locate Don to remind him it was time to eat, I usually found him in his workshop building experimental airplanes, restoring antique cars, or designing and making furniture for his family. I never told Don this, but the longer we lived together, the more I saw him as a personification of what faith in God looked like. Evidence of Don’s faith came each time I heard him pray, “Lord make me useful as long as you let me live.” And in His perfect timing, I believe God answered Don’s prayer.
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TODAYâ€™S CHRISTIAN LIVING MAY 2019
VOL. 57 NUMBER 3 On the Cover: Elisabeth Hasselbeck, outspoken Christian, participant in Survivor: Australian Outback, and past cohost of Th...
Published on Apr 2, 2019
VOL. 57 NUMBER 3 On the Cover: Elisabeth Hasselbeck, outspoken Christian, participant in Survivor: Australian Outback, and past cohost of Th...