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RU RECOVERY MINISTRIES
Christ-centered addiction treatment offers hope and healing
Captain Tammie Jo Shults The Story of Faith Behind Her Landing of Southwest Flight 1380
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On the Cover: Tammie Jo Shults, captain of Southwest Flight 1380 Photo courtesy Pam Akin
Nerves of Steel: Captain Tammie Jo Shults’ Miraculous Landing of Southwest Flight 1380 by Dan Brownell
At 32,500 feet, Captain Tammie Jo Shults suddenly found herself wrestling a crippled Boeing 737 and trusting in the Lord’s guidance to bring her passengers and crew down safely.
RU Recovery Ministries: Breaking the Chains and Cycle of Addiction Through Christ by Stephanie Rische
VOL. 58 NUMBER 2
The scourge of addiction in America is becoming worse by the day, but RU Recovery is helping to stem the tide through its worldwide ministry. The Christ-centered treatment program hosts more than 2,000 chapters around the globe, with 1,200 in the U.S. alone.
18 Cremation Gains Momentum in the U.S.: Should Christians Follow the Trend? by Tim Bennett
Cremation has become very popular in recent years. Do the Bible and church history shed any light on the practice?
28 Spiritual Growth Resource Guide
We aren’t to stay spiritual infants, but to steadily mature in our faith. Find helpful resources to help individuals, families, and churches with this important responsibility.
30 Hidden in My Heart: A Life Transformed Through the Word by Tom Meyer
Known as the “Bible Memory Man” for his ability to recite 20 complete books of the Bible, Tom Meyer explains how Scripture memorization changed his life and why anyone can memorize God’s Word.
34 Wrong Number, Right Destination by Shawn Carney
When Erin accidentally dialed the wrong number, she had no idea that it would forever change her life.
10 Living in Wisdom The Worshipping Heart
4 15 20 25 38 42 44
16 Ask Dr. Walt Do Plant-Based Meats Live Up to Their Hype? 22 Live Right Now The Importance of Accountability 24 Turning Point But I Didn’t 26 Dave Says Safe Financial Practices
The Fine Print “The Landing” Blog Quips & Quotes Daily Bible Connection Laugh Lines Quick Takes Kids of the Kingdom
40 Persecution Report Algerian Government Closes at Least 14 Churches 46 Grace Notes A Reminder of God’s Love TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
THE FINE PRINT
Launching the Gospel at Light Speed
he May 2019 issue of Today’s Christian Living featured an article about The Chosen, a groundbreaking multi-season television series about Jesus. At that time, the first four episodes had just been completed. The first full season of eight episodes is now complete and it’s become a worldwide phenomenon. Just a few weeks ago, it had been seen only in the United States, but after international rights were granted, views of the show skyrocketed. It’s currently been seen in over 150 countries and is being translated into more than 50 languages. Biblically faithful movies and television shows have an incredible platform to present the gospel. For example, over the last 40 years, The JESUS Film has been translated into more than 1,700 languages and has been viewed in virtually every country in the world. It’s been seen by at least 3 billion people and has led to an estimated 490 million professions of faith (jesusfilm.org/about.html). Produced in 1979 by Campus Crusades for Christ (now Cru), the movie is based on a virtual word-for-word retelling of the Gospel of Luke. It’s likely been the single most effective evangelism tool in history. It wasn’t long after I was introduced to The Chosen last year that I grasped its potential. I saw the similarities between The Chosen and The JESUS Film and began thinking that The Chosen could achieve as much as The JESUS Film and maybe even faster — much faster. The JESUS Film has primarily been shown outside the West in developing countries, which means that in many cases, projectors and generators had to be hand-carried into jungles and remote villages. But The Chosen is being seen digitally in both developing countries and the West. Unlike The JESUS Film, which was produced decades before the Internet, The Chosen has been on the information superhighway from its very beginning and is taking off at light speed. And it’s making a huge impact. I’ve read post after post about the lost who have come to the Lord and Christians who have been transformed. I’ve been watching the live digital view counter at the top of The Chosen app. It’s fun to see the counter click off views at more than 75,000 daily. It’s picking up speed each day and no doubt will increase exponentially as word spreads. The producers have set a goal of making The Chosen the most globally watched television show in history. This can happen with enough people sharing the news. Just imagine how wonderful it would be if an accurate show about Jesus were to be the most watched show in history rather than a trashy secular sitcom or drama. Please help get the word out by sharing our article link as widely as possible through social media. Just go to bit.ly/ The-Chosen. Follow Today’s Christian Living on Facebook for updates. Thank you! In Christ, Dan Brownell, Editor P.S. The Eighth Annual Writers Contest opens with this issue. See contest rules on page 5. Find writing help in our Christian Writers Resource Guide (bit.ly/TCL-CWRG). We look forward to reading your contest entries! Submissions are due by May 29, 2020. 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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Today’s Christian Living P.O. Box 282 Iola, WI 54945 Phone: (800) 223-3161 www.todayschristianliving.org Copyright 2020
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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 article
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Submissions must be received by May 29, 2020. Email submissions to email@example.com. 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 Todayâ€™s Christian Living and may be edited for length and to fit the style of the publication.
Nerves of Steel The Story of Faith Behind Captain Tammie Jo Shults’ Miraculous Landing of Southwest Flight 1380 By Dan Brownell
ust 20 minutes after Southwest Flight 1380 departed New York’s LaGuardia Airport on April 17, 2018, Captain Tammie Jo Shults faced the greatest challenge of her life. As the plane lifted off the runway, she had no way of knowing that in just a few minutes she would be wrestling a crippled Boeing 737 carrying 149 passengers and crew in a desperate attempt to bring it to a safe landing.
Shortly after 11 a.m., cruising at 32,500 feet, bound for Dallas Love Field, the plane suffered a catastrophic engine failure. A turbine fan blade in the left engine suddenly snapped, shredding the engine and hurling shrapnel into the leading edge of the left wing and tail. The loss of all power in the left engine pushed the plane into a hard left roll and dive. The engine explosion was so violent that it also severed several hydraulic lines, a fuel line, and blew out a window in row 14, resulting in explosive decompression. Simultaneously, the cockpit filled with thick haze, making it impossible for Tammie Jo and copilot First Officer Darren Ellisor to see anything. To make matters worse, the plane was shaking so violently that they could barely read the instruments even after the haze cleared. The decompression also resulted in the loss of oxygen, so no one on board could breathe — including the pilots. Oxygen masks in the cabin automatically dropped, and while flight attendants assisted passengers in donning their masks, Tammie Jo and Darren donned theirs. The deafening roar of the wind made it difficult for Tammie Jo and Darren to communicate, and ini-
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
tially, they were forced to rely on hand signals until they slowed the plane and they could hear each other and the radio better. Tammie Jo and Darren had trained for loss-of-engine emergencies for years, but this situation was so dire that even decades of rigorous training and simulations hadn’t prepared them for a challenge this extreme. A similar emergency years earlier underscores their peril. In 1989, United Airlines Flight 232 experienced a broken fan blade that severed all hydraulic lines governing flight controls. The pilots made an emergency landing in Sioux City, Iowa, but the aircraft was so difficult to control that it tumbled on landing, killing 111 of the 296 on board.
settings were a judgment call, but they turned out to be the right ones. If she had chosen differently, the aircraft would likely have crashed on approach. As the plane settled onto the runway and rolled toward the end of the runway and the waiting emergency crews, Tammie Jo was captured on the cockpit voice recorder rejoicing, “Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Lord, Thank You. Lord.” Shortly after, she texted “God is good” to a fellow pilot. These weren’t casual, offhanded comments. They were the words that naturally flowed from her because of her love for the Lord.
Tammie Jo’s faith has been her rock since childhood, and this was evident from her devotions early that morning of the flight. In retrospect, Tammie Jo realized that, through her Bible reading, God was preparing her for the upcoming trial later that day. He seemed to be speaking to her through Colossians 3:17, which says, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus” (NLT). This came to pass in a way that she could never have imagined, as just hours after the landing she was speaking to media around the world. Tammie Jo’s faith in Jesus is so deeply ingrained that she remained amazingly calm throughout the ordeal. When an EMT conducted a medical check on her shortly after landing, he was astonished that her pulse was normal. He commented that she had “nerves of steel.” She said, “I did have a mental calmness that I think was reflected in the calmness of my voice on the radio. But that wasn’t something of my doing. That was a gift from God.” The Lord shines through Tammie Jo in her humility, as she’s quick to give credit to all who were involved that day. In her book Nerves of Steel, she said, “For the past year, I’ve stood in an unfamiliar spotlight because of what happened on Flight 1380, and I confess the attention makes me uncomfortable because I didn’t act alone. I had years of training and preparation. I had an amazing crew in the cockpit, courageous flight attendants in the cabin, attentive air traffic controllers, caring passengers themselves, skilled first responders, and a strong team on the ground that acted quickly and with compassion.”
While Darren flew the plane, Tammie Jo communicated with air traffic control to coordinate an emergency landing at Philadelphia International. Tammie Jo, the senior and more experienced pilot, then took the plane’s controls. Steering a heavily loaded 737 at high altitude, where the air is thin, requires a steady hand. “It’s a little like driving on black ice,” Tammie Jo explained. In this case, the challenge was greatly compounded by the power imbalance created by a single engine and the drag caused by structural damage. That made the aircraft “like trying to balance a BB on the top of a pin,” she said. In emergencies, pilots consult detailed checklists that take them step-by-step through recovery procedures. But in a case like this — with a myriad of problems occurring simultaneously — landing the plane wasn’t simply a matter of following a checklist. “The combination of emergencies was unscripted, so addressing them was equally unscripted,” Tammie Jo said. Tammie Jo and Darren had to rely on the checklists they had on hand and on years of flying experience. “The damage on the side of the airplane continued to worsen as we flew the next 20 minutes, and it was damage that we’ve never practiced dealing with in a simulator. There was a lot of hands on ... there was no automatic anything,” she added. Because the plane was 10,000 pounds overweight from unused fuel, she had to maintain a higher speed to overcome the plane’s increased weight and the drag from the wing damage. That meant using a Flaps 5 setting instead of Flaps 15. She also called for 180 knots airspeed, about 60 miles per hour faster than normal. These
A Rock-Solid Faith
Tammie Jo with husband, Dean, and children, Sydney and Marshall.
A PIONEER OF NAVAL AVIATION
Tammie Jo was one of the first female fighter pilots in the Navy, flying the F/A-18 Hornet, a twin-engine supersonic fighter jet and bomber. Although this was a groundbreaking move, it was kept low-profile because at the time there was a lot of resistance, both inside and outside the military, to women pilots in general, let alone women flying fighters. In her eight years of Navy service, Tammie Jo earned the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was awarded a National Defense Service Medal and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. When Tammie Jo left the Navy in 1993 to return to civilian life, she flew for the Forest Service fighting forest fires in California for a summer and then was hired by Southwest Airlines. She has flown for Southwest since then. In 2000, the airline promoted her to Captain, a position she’s held for nearly two decades. In 2018, U.S. Representative and former U.S. Air Force Colonel and pilot Martha McSally introduced a Congressional resolution honoring her for her skill and heroism on that fateful April day in 2017. Tammie Jo’s memoir: Nerves of Steel: How I Followed My Dreams, Earned My Wings, and Faced My Greatest Challenge was published by Thomas Nelson in October 2019. A companion Young Reader’s Edition has also released to inspire youth readers in their faith and life goals.
Sovereignly Prepared for Crisis
Tammie Jo wasn’t originally scheduled for Flight 1380. She had traded flights with her husband, Dean, also a Southwest pilot, so she could attend their son’s track meet. Providentially, she had developed a unique set of flying skills years before as a Navy pilot through what — at the time — seemed a like an unwelcome assignment. After Tammie Jo completed Navy flight school at NAS Corpus Christi, she learned to fly a variety of aircraft. Although most of the male pilots she served with treated her as an equal, some didn’t, including one commanding officer who spitefully assigned her a year-long stint training student pilots in Out-of-Control-Flight (OCF) procedures. OCF teaches pilots how to recover their planes from a range of scenarios in which the instructor intentionally loses control of the aircraft and the student has to recover. This is a duty no trainer wants because it often makes student pilots vomit. Tammie Jo performed OCF procedures approximately 10 times with each student. By the end of the year, she had built 8
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
up extensive experience in emergency recovery, including one training incident in which a rare malfunction caused the T-2 Buckeye to enter a spiral. The Buckeye was considered nearly impossible to put into a spin, so no recovery procedure had been developed for a spin. But just a few thousand feet above ground, Tammie Jo figured out a way to recover, only a second or two before she and her student would have been forced to eject. The OCF teaching assignment — which she had not wanted at the time — turned out to be invaluable, and possibly the very skill that saved her and her passengers on that April morning decades later. “My worst assignment in the Navy turned out to be some of my best training,” Tammie Jo said.
A Lifetime Following Jesus
Tammie Jo credits growing up in a stable family with loving, Godfearing parents with creating the environment for her to trust in Jesus at a young age. She loved reading the Bible for its stories of heroism and courage, and for the promise in the book of James that encouraged her to seek God for wisdom and answers. And one summer at a Christian camp, she gave her life to Christ. She attended a Christian college with a passion to fly. Although she encountered many obstacles along the way, including being turned down by the Air Force and Army, she persevered and eventually was able to find an opening in Naval aviation. Tammie Jo met her husband, Dean Shults, a fellow Navy pilot, at a church off base. Their relationship grew over time, and they eventually married in 1994. They have two adult children, Sydney and Marshall, who are now making their own mark in the world. The couple has served faithfully together in their church over the years. Tammie Jo volunteers at a school for at-risk children and still teaches Sunday school. They also turned a cottage on the family’s property into a temporary home for widows and for victims of Hurricane Rita.
A Platform for the Savior
The accident has given Tammie Jo a platform to share her faith. “When you land a damaged airplane, people tend to listen, even if you talk about something they’re not fond of. So I’ve been able to be very candid about what my foundation is. When I tell this story, God is always a part of that story. Truth, when you hear it, resonates.”
GRIEF AND LESSONS LEARNED
Tammie Jo saved the lives of 148 people in an amazing feat of aviation skill, courage, and poise. Tragically, though, Jennifer Riordan, a passenger seated next to the ruptured window in row 14, lost her life. She had been partially pulled out through the window. Retired nurse Peggy Phillips performed CPR on her when the plane slowed enough to pull her in, but she passed away later at a hospital. Eight other passengers were injured. The NTSB investigated the accident and, on Nov. 19, 2019, released its findings and seven safety recommendations to help prevent similar tragedies in the future.
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LIVING IN WISDOM
By Jerry and Shirley Rose
The Worshipping Heart
H 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
aving grown up in church, I’ve spent a sizable portion of my life in worship services such as Sunday morning worship, Sunday night worship, Wednesday night worship, and numerous special worship services. Church meetings have always contained the “worship” portion that usually contains music, singing, and Scripture. This is followed by a sermon, a message of encouragement, inspiration, or motivation. The format of church meetings hasn’t changed much in the decades I’ve attended church, but the worship portion has transformed itself many times over. We think of worship as an activity — one that occurs in a building with other members of the body of Christ. That would be an accurate description. I remember the moving, reverent, and holy atmosphere of joint worship and praise to sacred songs where the Holy Spirit was obviously present. These were moments when lives were transformed, bodies were healed, and believers were inspired and renewed through singing, prayer, and praise. This portion of the service was just as vital and inspiring as the sermon itself. However, even the best worship experience in church doesn’t mean we’re living a personal, worshipful life. Certainly, worship can be an activity, but it is also a state of mind or attitude. This concept of worship is harder to grasp and even more difficult to explain. Dr. Tony Evans, president of The Urban Alternative, says it well. “Worship isn’t simply an event or a place — it’s an orientation. It’s a way of life. It’s the result of our decision to exalt God above everything else. We realize and acknowledge that God is truly great and worthy of all praise.” The late Reverend Harald Bredesen, a Lutheran minister, was a dear friend to me and a true inspiration. He was considered a minister to world leaders and had a significant spiritual influence on the former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Harald personified a worshipful life and had an unusually intimate relationship with God. I recall on one occasion during a conversation over dinner, Harald suddenly paused to say that he had a strong sense of God’s presence at that moment and asked that we pause to quietly acknowledge it. As we closed our eyes and focused on the Lord, the atmosphere around the table changed. It became
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MARCH 2020
one of worship. Although it’s difficult to describe, it was a profound moment and a special memory that I cherish. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence for Harald. He lived in the presence of God. There were other similar incidents during our years of friendship. It wasn’t for show, but simply an overflowing of emotion brought on by Harald’s acknowledgement of God’s presence and a desire to savor the moment. Through Harald’s willingness to be a simple servant, God allowed him to minister to some of the world’s most influential people, including heads of state and Hollywood celebrities. There was power in his life of worship. The Hebrew word for worship is Shachah, meaning to prostrate, humbly beseech, or even stoop or fall down in reverence to God. Two of the Greek words for worship are Proskuneo meaning to fawn, crouch, and pay homage, and Sebomai, meaning to reverence or hold in awe. The apostle Paul calls for the worshipful life in Romans 12:1 when he writes: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship” (NIV). Then in Hebrews 12:28 he writes: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (NIV). In the ancient world, the King’s power was absolute and often ruthless. His subjects served out of fear rather than love or respect. This is the exact opposite of a worshipper of Christ. We willingly submit to God’s sovereignty and joyfully serve him with an attitude of sincere devotion. We worship as we sit in prayerful awareness of God’s holy presence and as we sing beloved hymns of the past (or rocky, contemporary songs we may not particularly like). We worship by attending Sunday church, small home groups, or Bible study. Doing our best to obey the Ten Commandments and to live with integrity and holiness demonstrates our worship. Giving to the poor and being generous to others is an overflow of a worshipping heart. I challenge you to adopt an attitude and lifestyle of worship by doing all as unto the Lord — worship that flows from an intimate relationship and radical love for Him.
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By Pam S. Walker
Breaking the Chains and Cycle of Addiction Through Christ
rad Woodbury knows the stronghold that addictions can have on a person’s life. After seeking help at nine different treatment centers, and attempting suicide numerous times, he was ready to try again. Not to get help, but to end it all. After blowing many years of sobriety at the loss of a loved one, he turned back to drugs and alcohol. Begging for his life to end, he stepped out into a busy interstate and was hit by a truck. Miraculously, he lived. While detoxing for 18 days in a hospital, and through divine intervention, he was told about a program in Rockford, Illinois, called RU Recovery Ministries. With nothing to his name, and certainly not the funds needed for a residential treatment program, he never thought it was even an option. But God had other plans. While being discharged from the hospital, his mother called and asked if he would be willing to go to Illinois for help. Three days later, he was on a plane and was admitted to the RU Recovery Ministries Men’s School of Discipleship. While being thoroughly immersed in the RU Recovery curriculum, he finished the student residential program and then the extended graduate program. Upon completing the program, the RU Ministry’s co-founder, Pastor Paul Kingsbury, offered Brad a position with the ministry. After serving in various positions within the ministry and at his local church, Brad became the CFO and business director for RU Recovery Ministries in 2018. He considers himself a walking miracle and blessed to tell others about the hope he has found in Christ. 12
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
Rescuing, Recovering, and Restoring Addicts through Faith in Christ
What began in 1996 as Reformers Unanimous, a Friday-night addiction recovery class at North Love Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois, has expanded to churches and institutions across the country and into several countries. This faith-based recovery program brings “transformation to hurting people and communities everywhere” through its 2,000 chapters worldwide, of which 1,200 are located in the United States. Churches and other organizations host Friday night meetings that are designed to “rescue, recover, and restore those in addictive behaviors.” The program was started by Steve Curington, a former alcoholic and cocaine addict who found sobriety through his relationship with Jesus Christ and then shared what he learned with four other church attendees at North Love Baptist Church. In 2001, this Friday-night program, which included Bible-based curriculum, began to be implemented into other communities throughout the country. While Woodbury’s first encounter with the ministry was through its residential program, the majority of the RU ministry is represented in local chapters across America and abroad. As Woodbury explained, “a chapter is simply a church that utilizes the RU program as their answer for addiction in their communities. An RU student may be a member of that particular church, or a product of outreach from a local church.
We also work with several law enforcement agencies across our country and are in several jails and prisons,” he added.
Helping All Walks of Life
Through its classes, curriculum, programs, and residential help, RU Recovery helps people from all walks of life overcome a variety of addictions. As highlighted on their website, addiction affects one in four people, regardless of age, gender, nationality, or status. Many of the RU Recovery staff (92%) are former students of the program, including the youth pastor at Woodbury’s church. He said the pastor had come to RU Recovery about 10 years ago and was a high school dropout, homeless, and hopelessly addicted to heroin. Now, he and his wife serve together and have a beautiful baby girl. According to Woodbury, the ministry deals with any “stubborn habit or addiction, from substance abuse, sexual immorality, food, pornography, etc. The ministry’s website, rurecovery.com, showcases numerous testimonies of those who have experienced victory over all types of addictions through its Bible-based program.
Different Addictions, Same Solution
While there are some differences in how the ministry helps each individual, based on what they are struggling with, its approach is generally the same because the solution is the same. “Here at RU, we never speak about the addiction. We focus 100% on the cure — Jesus Christ,” Woodbury said. “Addiction of any kind is simply filling a void with a something (a substance, bad habit, etc.) that only a relationship with Jesus can fill,” he explained. “By only focusing on the solution, we have found that relapse is less likely. Our program trains individuals to implement Christ in every moment of their lives. Difficult situations, the rough days, whatever may have triggered their need before, we are retraining them to go to Him instead.” The ministry’s many resources help those in recovery cultivate their relationship with Christ throughout their daily walk. Included among them are the beginner book called the Overcomer Workbook, a Personal Recovery Kit, an affordable and convenient way to go through a recovery program without leaving home, a 90-day journal
called It’s Personal that has helped thousands walk closer with God through their recovery, a student resource guide called Nevertheless I Live, and the Ten Principles booklet, in which RU founder Steve Curington explains key biblical truths that are imperative to breaking free from addiction through a relationship with Jesus Christ (see sidebar). In addition to its local Friday meetings, RU Recovery Ministries helps individuals dealing with all types of addictive behaviors through its residential programs located in Rockford, Illinois. The residential program is designed for those individuals who need more than one night per week or a more intense accountability. In 1999, the ministry opened a men’s home, which now has 55 beds. In 2003, a women’s residential program was started, which now houses 45 women. Having been in more than nine other residential programs, Woodbury said one of the key differences between those programs, including other faith-based programs, and RU Recovery’s is the overall structure, which is very regimented. As Woodbury explained, “Our residential program has a work therapy component. A typical day for an RU student begins at 5 a.m. and includes one hour of devotions before breakfast. Students work an 8-hour day, dinner, chapel, a curriculum-related activity (this differs from day to day), and have to be in their rooms by 9 p.m., with lights out by 9:30. We have found that our students often don’t have basic life skills.”
RU RECOVERY’S 10 BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES The RU Recovery Ministries program is built around the
following 10 biblical Principles that help the addicted overcome stubborn habits. They were developed by the ministry’s founder, Steve Curington. 1. If God’s against it, so am I. (Galatians 5:19–24) 2. Every sin has its origin in your heart. (Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 4:23; Romans 13:14) 3. It is easier to keep the heart clean than it is to clean it after it has been defiled. (Proverbs 22:3; Proverbs 6:27–28) 4. You cannot fight a fleshly appetite by indulging in it. (Ecclesiastes 5:10; James 1:14–15) 5. Small compromises lead to great disasters. (Luke 16:10; Matthew 6:24; Romans 6:16) 6. Those who do not love the Lord will not help us serve the Lord. (John 5:18-20; Proverbs 25:15–16) 7. Our sinful habits do hurt those who follow us. (Romans 14:7; 1 Corinthians 10:23,24) 8. It is not possible to fight a fleshly temptation with fleshly weapons. (2 Corinthians 10:3–5; 1 John 4:4) 9. We lose our freedom to choose when we give in to temptation. The consequences of our choices are inevitable, incalculable, and up to God. (Proverbs 5:22; Proverbs 20:17; Proverbs 9:17–18) 10. God balances guilt with blame. Accept the blame for your actions, and God will remove the guilt. (John 1:9) 14
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The Power of Faith-Based Addiction Recovery Programs
Much research has been done on the success of faith-based addiction recovery programs and is highlighted on the ministry’s website. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “over 400 studies have been conducted on the role of faith in addiction recovery and these studies have found a success rate of 40%–60% in most faith-based programs. This is significantly higher than the success rate of programs that do not incorporate faith or spirituality into their programs.” And according to an article in the Journal of Religion and Health, published online on July 29, 2019, “more than 84% of scientific studies show that faith is a positive factor in addiction prevention or recovery,” and “an estimated 20,000+ lives are saved every year because of faith-based recovery programs in churches.” Backing these statistics are the thousands of changed lives that the ministry leaders have seen firsthand since its beginnings. As the International Director of RU Recovery Ministries, Benjamin Burks, expressed on the ministry’s website, seeing changed lives never loses its wonder. “I have witnessed the miracle of changed lives over and over again. It never gets old to see God transform someone’s life from being a hopelessly addicted drug user to a recovered and restored vessel for God. Recovery is possible and hope is available through faith in Jesus Christ.” For more information about RU Recovery Ministries, visit https://rurecovery.com. 10 Principles Chart (left) printed with permission from RU Recovery Ministries. Available at rurecovery.com/freeresources/10-principles-overcoming-stubborn-habits. Pam S. Walker is the former National Editor of Answers magazine, a publication of Answers in Genesis, and is a freelance writer living in the Cincinnati area where she writes for various Christian publications.
The Warring Wife
Each year on Christmas Day, I begin a new version of the Bible and read through it in a year. I love ending my Bible reading on Christmas Eve, the night before we celebrate the revelation of Jesus Christ through His human birth. This year, I was inspired by a dear friend to read The Passion Translation. Because I begin the new version on December 25th, my one-year plan typically starts towards the end of the Bible, so I’m currently reading Revelation and Proverbs 31. It has been a dynamic combination of revelation of the Savior as well as revelation of His bride.
A Fresh Look at the Proverbs 31 Wife
I was particularly amazed to read the notes in this translation regarding the Proverbs 31 wife. The Passion Translation explains that the Hebrew word used to describe this wife is “khayil.” And while it can’t fully be translated into one English-equivalent word, the translation notes that it is “often used in connection with military prowess. This is a warring wife.” This is a very different picture than what I had in mind of this woman, and I suspect many other women can relate. The Proverbs 31 woman I imagine embraces a spirit of subtly and gentleness. Somehow, I think she looks well-rested, even though she’s been up in the middle of the night cooking for her household, tending to ministry, and preparing for a long day of work. Truthfully, I think she’s probably much nicer and well-kept than I am. I think she’s more grateful than I am and I think she always speaks kindly, especially to the people closest to her. But a “warring wife?” I’m not even sure she smells nice all the time. I think she’s got some dirt on her. I think she’s got some pain in her eyes that’s surrounded by the light of grace. I think she’s got the evidence of tear stains somewhere on her clothes or her cheeks, and in modern times maybe a mascara smudge. I don’t think her nails look perfectly manicured. She’s fighting. She’s strategizing. She’s bold and gentle all at the same time. She’s battle-worn and still warring with everything in her. She’s a one-woman army, and she isn’t going down easily.
The Worthwhile War
This imagery brought me to a whole new bond with the Proverbs 31 wife. She’s not untouchable, even if she seems perfect. And she’s only perfect because she’s been described as such, but truly
it’s the description of a journey — not a single moment in time. It’s moments that make us, as the Bride of Christ, strong, passionate, warring, and not willing to concede — knowing Jesus is worth the war we temporarily sustain in this life, the one that’s already been decided and settled anyway. This perfect wife, the bride of Christ, has reminded me that the battle isn’t always pretty, and it definitely doesn’t mean I’m going to be sewing purple linen all day. But I’m ready for the war, the dirt and the grime. I’m going to go suit up and step out on the front lines with my Husband’s victory in mind. He’s always been worth it, battle scars and all. Joanna Sanders is a graduate of Villanova University and Moody Theological Seminary. She’s the author of Fire Women: Sexual Purity & Submission for the Passionate Woman and the co-author and editor of DiscipleTrip by Dr. Joey Cook. She’s also the founder and head writer of Colossians46.com, which provides biblical content support, writing, and editing. Most importantly, she is wife to Geoff and mom to three godly men-in-training. Her blog name “The Landing” comes from the account of the Ark resting on the mountain, creating a settled place — a landing — for man to start over, which echoes her new life in Christ. Follow Joanna’s weekly blog “The Landing” on Today’s Christian Living website. Each post will challenge and uplift you in your walk with Jesus. Read her testimony in her first post “My Roller Coaster Journey to Salvation” (bit.ly/JourneytoSalvation). TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
ASK DR. WALT
By Walt Larimore, MD
The Impossible and Beyond Burgers 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,
I keep reading articles about the fake meats that are popping up in many grocery stores and restaurants. Are they actually healthier than real meat for me and the environment? —Meat Eater in Minnesota
For my entire medical career, I have advocated whole healthy foods and encouraged people to eat less meat and choose plant-based proteins. The latest fad in the “vegetarian” and “healthy food” category involves a slew of so-called “plant-based fake meats” that proport to be healthier for people and the planet. Popular meatless hamburgers are sold under such brands as “Impossible Foods” and “Beyond Meat.” Other meatless fake-meat products are showing up all over the country. Qdoba pitches a trademarked “Impossible” protein product “made from plants.” White Castle serves a meatless burger called the “Impossible Slider.” Little Caesar’s serves the “Impossible Supreme” pizza. Subway has a “Beyond Meatball Marinara” sandwich. Even Dunkin’ Donuts serves a meatless “Beyond Breakfast Sausage Sandwich.” The “Impossible Burger,” a “plant-based burger” that “bleeds,” can be found on the menus of Burger King, Fatburger, Cheesecake Factory, Red Robin, White Castle, and many other national restaurant chains. The company that makes it has stated that it is “tastier, juicier, and more nutritious … featuring 30% less sodium and 40% less saturated fat than our original recipe and just as much protein as ground beef from cows. 100% delicious and more versatile than ever” (tinyurl.com/yjdmavou). Most consumers have no idea that these products are actually “ultraprocessed” foods that contain an astonishing list of additives. Beyond Burgers have 18 ingredients (tinyurl.com/y3sg243t), and Impossible Burgers have 21 (tinyurl.com/ygwzrh52). The term “ultraprocessed” refers to food products that manufacturers have put through industrial processes and contain a wide range of ingredients. Some examples include carbonated
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MARCH 2020
drinks, sausages, chicken nuggets, candy, instant soups and noodles, ready-made meals, confectionaries, and processed meats. According to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), “all have low nutritional value and high energy density” (tinyurl.com/yz5nxach). These products account for around almost 58% of the energy intake for Americans. “Ultra-processed foods are rich in sodium, sugar, and fat; poor in fiber; and associated with high glycemic response and lower consumption of nonprocessed, nutritious food,” according to the NEJM. In addition, “Ultra-processed foods can contain additives, … contaminants … , or they might be packaged in materials associated with adverse health effects” (tinyurl.com/yz5nxach). The Center for Food Safety (CFFS) says, “The Impossible Burger is manufactured from two different methods of genetically engineering soy products. This ‘impossible in nature’ union is neither healthier nor more environmentally friendly than other kinds of non-meat burgers.” Scientists have already linked ultraprocessed products with a range of dangerous medical conditions, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer (tinyurl.com/yy9bny9v). An increase in ultraprocessed foods consumption is associated with an overall higher mortality risk among adults (tinyurl.com/y3sxthnh) as it is “associated with excess risks for CVD and death” (tinyurl.com/ yz5nxach). Coconut oil gives Beyond and Impossible burgers just about the same amount of saturated fats as meat burgers. Beyond has 6 grams, Impossible 8 grams, and beef 7.6 grams. Many consumers think coconut oil is healthy, but the American Heart Association has issued an advisory against consuming coconut oil, saying it is 82% saturated fat, which can raise LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, similar to the way butter and beef fat do (tinyurl.com/yg237bwe). Good Housekeeping studied the question, “Is an Impossible Burger healthy?” and wrote, “Compared to a same-sized beef patty, an Impossible Burger contains a comparable amount of calories (240 to 260), but it scores lower in a few regards: The first is that it contains way less protein, but the bigger
Photo by Luísa Schetinger on Unsplash
downside is that it’s also 2 grams higher in saturated fat, likely because of the coconut oil that’s added … and also contains a lot more sodium — about 15% of your recommended value, compared to just 4% in plain beef” (tinyurl.com/y3sg243t). A June 2019 article on “Meat Substitutes” in Today’s Dietician (tinyurl.com/yyn75z7o), the journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommended, “Of the thousands of meat substitutes on the market, some are minimally processed and made with whole foods while others are highly processed and contain additives and flavorings; reading ingredient labels carefully is paramount. Consumers who want the most minimally processed meat alternatives should aim for products predominantly made with beans, lentils, tempeh, and tofu, and that use herbs and spices for flavor.” The article goes on to say, “Not all meat substitutes are made equally. Certain meat substitutes contain cheap fillers, which offer little or no nutrients. Tell clients to opt for meat substitutes that are made with as many whole plant foods as possible. Some are made with a laundry list of ultraprocessed ingredients, while others are made with nutritious ingredients such as black beans, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.” Consumer Reports (CR) said of these fake meats, “Are these new options harbingers of a food revolution that will feed the world without animal cruelty or environmental harm? Or will they unleash unforeseen health risks and disruptions to our ecosystem? Or something in between? Finding answers to those and other questions isn’t easy, partly because there’s not yet much research on some of the products. CR’s food safety experts, in fact, caution that some companies may be moving faster than the research warrants.” In answer to the question, “Are they healthier than beef?” the CR experts conclude, “Not so much” (tinyurl.com/y2tdfzcs). Despite this, according to NBC News, “Beyond Meat and its privately held rival Impossible Foods have recently grabbed headlines … [touting] the environmental benefits of abstaining from meat into a key marketing tool for their products — drawing some skepticism from environmental researchers who say plant diets are healthier and less carbon emitting than producing processed plant-based products” (tinyurl.com/y37jyabz). While companies marketing fake meats brag about their environmental benefits, researchers are increasingly pointing out that for people wanting to substantially lower their carbon footprint, an unprocessed plant-based diet is far healthier for people and the planet. CFFS wrote, “Replacing conventional animal products with these ultra-processed, poorly studied, and under-regulated genetically engineered products is not” at all healthy nor “the solution to our factory farm and climate crisis” (tinyurl.com/yxgh9f2q). Marco Springmann, a senior environmental researcher at the University of Oxford, in an NBC News interview, said, “It makes sense to develop alternatives to beef. … Impossible and Beyond tap into this market; however, while their processed products have about half the carbon footprint that
chicken does, they also have five times more of a footprint than a bean patty. So Beyond and Impossible go somewhere towards reducing your carbon footprint, but saying it’s the most climate friendly thing to do — that’s a false promise” (tinyurl.com/y37jyabz). It appears to me that many are falling head-over-heels in love with the processed food industry’s deceptive attempt to have consumers mistake many of these “plant-based fake meat” products with healthy plant-based foods. As a result, we’re starting to see a backlash against these products and some of their dubious claims (see tinyurl.com/y6mg96y9, tinyurl.com/ yzws9sgz, and tinyurl.com/yz3hwv3d). Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, when asked by Good Housekeeping, “So which is better: the Beyond Burger or a hamburger?” wrote, “It all comes down to your eating style. If you’re a vegetarian because of animal rights or because it’s better for the planet, and you miss the taste of a burger, this is a great option once in a while, though a bean- or veggie-based burger is going to have less salt and fat. But if you’re just looking for a healthier meal, the Beyond Burger is no healthier than a grassfed beef burger, turkey burger, or chicken burger. You should find the best meat you can afford — organic if possible — keep to small patties of 4 ounces or less and rotate through your favorites” (tinyurl.com/y3sg243t). In general, I continue to recommend against routinely ingesting processed food — especially ultraprocessed food, which I classify as both “junk food” and “potentially dangerous food.” My advice remains: eat whole foods that are primarily whole plant-based and minimally processed and with few to any additives; and avoid the regular intake of ultraprocessed foods of any type. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
Cremation Gains Momentum in U.S. Should Christians Follow the Trend? By Tim Bennett
hundred years ago in the United States, only 1% of bodies were cremated. Since then, cremation has increased exponentially according to the Cremation Association of North America (cremationassociation.org). In 1972, cremations accounted for 5% of the disposition of all bodies in the U.S., 10% in 1981, 25% in 1999, and 53.1% in 2018. And by 2035, it’s expected to climb to 78.8%. In 10 states, it’s already over 70%, with Nevada leading at 80.1%.
Changing American Social Patterns and the Growth of Secular Influence
Researchers cite several factors for the growing numbers in the U.S., including lower costs and more convenience for dispersed family members. It’s also more eco-friendly, more expedient and efficient, and the U.S. has more Asian immigrants who favor cremation (Hindus, for example, require their followers to be cremated). Plus, there are decreasing ties to religion in general. Gary Massen, a funeral administrator involved in overseeing 16 funeral homes in Wyoming and South Dakota, said recently in a telephone interview: “One of the reasons people cremate today is the transience of our society and the fact family members may have to come from all around the country. With cremation, you can do it even six months down the road. People also just don’t stay in their hometowns anymore, so they don’t have the opportunity to visit the cemeteries. Also, if people do not have a church affiliation or a pastor, why have a service?”
Growing Acceptance in the Church
Some conservative, church-going Christians today are also deciding on cremation. On average, according to sources on the Internet, a cremation can be a third of the cost of a traditional burial. When I brought up the subject in my Christian circle of friends, I was surprised by the number who said they were planning to be cremated. In fact, one from Knoxville, Tennessee, was quite adamant about it. He quoted an astronomical amount for burial in his area and then said with determination, “I’m going to be cremated and I have a peace about it.” In other words, his mind was made up. Another friend told me: “I’m being cremated. Tell me, where in the Bible does it say it’s a sin?”
The Prevailing Theology on Cremation in the Church Today
In America, most Protestant denominations haven’t placed restrictions on cremation, and few ministers preach on the subject. The Catholic Church changed its official policy against cremation in 1963 when it allowed cremation under certain conditions. The acceptance of the practice among evangelical leaders could 18
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be summed up by pastor and radio teacher John MacArthur. He posted the following thoughts regarding cremation online: “Obviously any buried body will eventually decompose (Eccles. 12:7). So cremation isn’t a strange or wrong practice — it merely accelerates the natural process of oxidation. The believer will one day receive a new body (1 Cor. 15:42–49; 1 Thess. 4:13–18; Job 19:25–26), thus the state of what remains of the old body is unimportant” (bit.ly/ GTY-Cremation). The Billy Graham Association posted the following statement about cremation on its website in 2004: “Christians will want to show respect for the body. Even though the essential person or spirit has moved on to an eternal destiny, the body is the tangible reminder of all that person meant to us. In addition, the body is destined for resurrection, transformation, and reunion with the spirit at Christ’s return. Whether burial or cremation best expresses that appropriate respect is a very personal decision. The wishes of other close family members and friends should also be considered in any decision, because they are the ones who will live with the decision and with the memories. At the resurrection it will not make any difference whether a person’s body has been buried or cremated. God knows how to raise the body, either in the resurrection of life or the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28–29). The new body of a Christian will be a radically changed and glorified body like the body of the exalted Christ. It will be an eternal, spiritual body never again to experience weakness, disease, suffering, or death (1 Corinthians 15:35–54 and Philippians 3:20–21)” (bit.ly/ BGEA-Cremation).1
Evangelical Views in Favor of Burial
Although I found many Christian leaders expressing their views both for and against cremation (John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Norman L. Geisler, and Albert Mohler are some of those opposed to cremation), only the pro-burial proponents seemed to think the subject merited more than a few paragraphs. Geisler and Douglas E. Potter felt so strongly about the topic that several years ago they co-authored the book What in Cremation is Going on?: A Guide to Post Mortem Decisions (Bastion Books 2014). The most comprehensive treatment of the topic, however, was published in May 2019. The 52-page report “Magnifying Christ in My Body: Is Cremation a Legitimate Alternative to Burial? A Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Analysis” was based on a four-year study commissioned by the Synod of The Reformed Church of the United States (bit.ly/RCUS-BurialPDF). Joe Vusich, pastor of the Providence Reformed Church
in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and chairman of the committee to conduct the research, said this in a recent telephone interview regarding God’s ability to resurrect cremated bodies and the purpose of their study: “There is virtually unanimous agreement among evangelicals that God won’t be hindered in any way from resurrecting believers in Christ who have been cremated, killed in explosions, lost at sea. That is not the question. Of course He is going to do that. As it relates to our subject of cremation versus burial, it is beside the point. The question here at hand is not what God can do, but what Christians should do. How should we as evangelical Christians, guided by the infallible Scriptures, care for the dead under normal conditions as an expression of our biblical faith in a way that will give glory to God and show proper respect for the dead.” 2 The “Magnifying Christ in My Body” study points out that bodily burial is the only method of interment consistently used throughout both the Old and New Testaments, with the exception in 1 Samuel 31:11–13, which tells of the burning of the bodies of Saul and his sons before they were buried. In addition to all the patriarchs and godly men and women being buried in the Bible, a key verse used to support burial is from Deuteronomy 34:5–6, which records that God Himself “buried” Moses. In the New Testament, John the Baptist and Stephen were buried, and Jesus himself was laid to rest, intact, in a tomb. Addressing cremation in the Old Testament, the study shows through multiple verses that God used fire only to inflict judgment on disobedient people. Examples include Aaron’s sons (Lev. 10:1–2), Korah and his followers (Num. 16:35), and the men who tried to capture Elijah (2 Kings 1:9–10). Amos 2:1-2 illustrates another instance of God’s judgment by fire. It recounts the burning of the king of Edom: “This is what the Lord says: ‘For three sins of Moab, even for four, I will not relent. Because he burned to ashes the bones of Edom’s king, I will send fire on Moab that will consume the fortresses of Kerioth” (NIV). Some Christian proponents of cremation refer to 1 Samuel 31:11–13 as biblical support that cremation is accepted by God. Committee Chairman Vusich, however, does not see this incident as a strong case for cremation. He said in the interview: “Just because the Bible records that the bodies of Saul and his sons were burned does not mean that the Bible condones the practice but to simply narrate what had happened. They could have burned them because the bodies had been mutilated and desecrated by the Philistines and considered unclean so they had to be purified before burial.” One could also make the point here that Saul did not choose to be cremated and his life for us as Christians is more of an example of what not to do as opposed to what to follow, so why imitate him in his death? The study’s conclusion in the biblical part of the study, therefore, regarding the question of whether a Christian should be buried or cremated is that bodily burial was, and is, the God-honoring way to properly care for the dead. The biblical section of the study concludes with a simple but profound quote from an anonymous source: “There is no holy man or woman in the whole of the Scripture who chose to be cremated.”
A Funeral Director’s Thoughts
In a phone interview with Christina Elliot, a Christian funeral director at a funeral home near Philadelphia, I spoke about the “Magnifying Christ in My Body” study. Her initial reaction was, “It’s probably 20 years too late. I think the horse is out of the barn, so to speak, in regard to cremation, and it will be hard to turn it around. But then again, it looks like things are finally changing with the abortion issue, so who knows?” When asked how burial costs could be reduced besides purchasing an inexpensive casket, Elliott said: “I think home funerals would be the cheapest. There is this non-profit organization called the National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA) that can help you have a funeral at your home. For centuries, families did funerals themselves but then funeral directors came in with the idea that you can’t handle it and need professionals to do it for you. Today they whisk away the body within an hour of death. What people may not know is that embalming is not required by law in any state and there are ways to slow down the decomposition of a body without embalming. This option may not be for everyone, but people who have taken care of a sick family member for a long period, for example, find this home funeral option a meaningful way to bring closure.” Elliott went on to say that often people don’t know what to do when end-of-life decisions are needed and she would love to see the church be part of the conversation about how to best honor our dead and to prepare people practically and spiritually for what is ahead. “I don’t see cremation as inherently evil, and I want to give people options,” she said, “but, I think there are better choices we can make at the end of the day.” 1. It should be noted that Graham chose to be buried not cremated. 2. Pastor Vusich details his views in his online article “Is Cremation a Legitimate Option for Christians?” (bit.ly/JoeVusich-Burial). For further reading, see “Bury or Burn?” (bit.ly/BB-Burial),
Tim Bennett is an award-winning author and regular contributor to moviesandmemoirs.org. His novel, Runaways, is a suspense story based on his own life and experiences in France where he worked for the Christian organization Youth With A Mission (YWAM) for 10 years. Bennett’s recent eBook, To Uber or Not to Uber, can be downloaded from Amazon. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
QUIPS & QUOTES
An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand. —A.W. Tozer A good church is a Bible-centered church. Nothing is as important as this — not a large congregation, a witty pastor, or tangible experiences of the Holy Spirit. —Alistair Begg Just because it doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. —Adrian Rogers
He who begins by seeking God within himself may end by confusing himself with God. —B.B. Warfield
The world asks, “What does a man own?” Christ asks, “How does he use it?” —Andrew Murray 20
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When Satan huffs and puffs and tries to blow out the flame of your joy, you have an endless supply of kindling in the Word of God. —John Piper I don’t always feel His presence. But God’s promises do not depend upon my feelings; they rest upon His integrity. —R.C. Sproul
THE HORNET’S NEST SERIES By Patricia Collier
Jacob Stuart and his friends are veterans of the American Revolution, rebuilding their lives in Wilkes County, the area in Georgia where the fighting was so vicious that it was called the Hornet’s Nest. Now Jacob is facing a task more daunting than fighting for freedom. He must inform his late friend’s niece, Taberah McGregor, that they must wed one another to inherit his land and property.
Duncan McBride is seeking a wife, and he thinks he may have found her in Susannah Brian. But why is he hesitating? Why has Molly Wilson Ferguson become such a distraction? What is Molly hiding?
The Truth About Lily continues the adventure and romance of the Matthews brothers. Seth Matthews seems to be having difficulty with women in the community of Washington, Georgia. He welcomes his trip to Savannah once he learns that an old friend has included him as a beneficiary in his will. He is delighted with the first gift, but the second is totally unexpected and unwanted.
www.GatekeeperPress.com youtu.be/K8GqYUdPNRo • amazon.com/author/patriciacollier2 Sold as eBook at Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, and other eBook retailers.
LIVE RIGHT NOW
Is a Non-Traditional Church Okay?
Q. My daughters, who are 24 and 27, are still
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).
living at home. They’re wonderful young women who are completing advanced college degrees. Both are respectful and helpful around the house. My girls where raised in church and have been active in youth ministry since they were children. But recently they’ve decided that they have no need for the traditional church or church structure. Instead they are meeting with a group of young people at the coffeehouse in our neighborhood on Saturday evenings. They no longer plan to attend Sunday services with us. They’re leaving fellowship around the Word of God to go and fellowship with their youth group around the world. Are we being unreasonable to insist that our adult daughters go to church whether they want to or not? Or should we release them to this coffee community? Signed: Should We Hold On Or Let Go
A. Dear Should We Hold On or Let Go,
Your daughters sound like amazing young women. It appears that you have raised them well, but they’re both old enough to make their own deci-
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By Dr. Sabrina Black
sions and seem to have done so. Be gracious and allow them space to grow, even though they’re still living at home. The coffeehouse ministry format has become popular because young people want to be active, gathering where the people are who need Jesus. They’re not interested as much in building bigger buildings but in doing more good deeds and touching lives of people in the community. Continue to pray and give your daughters godly advice. You can point out the importance of certain elements of church that have nothing to do with the building, such as having biblically qualified leadership to ensure that teaching and discipleship is biblical, that tithes and offerings are handled legally and ethically, that there is a process for biblical church discipline, and that the ordinances of baptism and communion are carried out. If a coffeehouse church has these elements, there may not be a problem, although you could also mention that Sunday has been recognized as the Christian day of worship. If a coffeehouse gathering lacks these things, they may be more of an informal ministry or parachurch organization rather than a local church. If it’s not a true local church, you could encourage your daughters to be involved in both the coffeehouse ministry and a local church.
he loves so much. To our dismay we found out that swimmers were being bullied by one of the senior swimmers to have sex with him as part of an initiation to continue being a part of the team. For the past three months my grandson has been rushing out of the locker room without showering for fear of being raped. He became so fearful that he left the team. We brought this to the attention of the swimming instructor, but nothing seems to have happened. What are the next steps available to us? How can we help our grandson? Signed: He Just Stopped Swimming
A. Dear He Just Stopped Swimming,
What a sad state we find ourselves living in today. Young people are dealing with difficulties today that we could hardly imagine in our generation. It was crucially important that you noticed your grandson’s unusual behavior and followed up, as children have a difficult time talking about sexual abuse, especially among peers. There are recourses open for you to address this kind of issue and get results. Make sure the school knows you aren’t going to just sweep this under the rug. Let them know that if this issue is not immediately addressed and the perpetrator held accountable, you will seek legal help. The swimming instructor also needs to be held accountable, because as a teacher, he or she is a mandatory reporter, but failed to report the situation. You can also contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). You don’t have to give your name. Applaud your grandson for standing up for himself and getting out of harm’s way. Others may ridicule him for being a snitch, but you can teach him about justice and defending the cause of others (Prov. 28:5, Isa. 1:17, Eccl. 3:17). Reporting situations such as this can be traumatic. Given the severity of the situation, you may want to consider transferring him to another school. Your grandson will need your family’s support to help him regain his trust in people. He would also benefit from professional counseling.
Q. There are so many complaints in my home, I don’t
like to see my family acting so ungrateful. We have a wonderful life, filled with the blessing of God. We are not wealthy, but all our needs are met. We have shelter, food, clothing, good health, good jobs, and good transportation. Yet every morning my family rolls out of bed and complains about the food, the weather, waiting for one another, and on and on it goes. I don’t think they’re aware of their spirit of ingratitude. I want to say something to them, but where do I start? Signed: Where Is the Gratitude?
A. Dear Where Is the Gratitude,
Insist on Accountability
Q. My 13-year-old grandson has been an avid swim-
mer since he was 5 years old. Recently he quit his swim team. When I asked him why he stopped swimming, he said it meant nothing to him. We found this very strange because he gravitates toward the water wherever we are. My daughter approached some members of the swim team to see if they knew if anything that had happened that would make him give up a sport
Photo by Marcus Ng on Unsplash
We’re not born grateful. We must be taught and trained to be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “Give thanks in everything; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (CSB). Start with yourself; begin giving thanks for all the blessings in your life and pointing them out to your family. Teach them about God’s principles and to give thanks by example. “And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 11:19 KJV). Make a point to always thank family members for what they do around the house. This will help them cultivate an attitude of gratitude. “It is good to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High” (Ps. 92:1 KJV).
But I Didn’t
S Dr. Richard Sams is a pastor and adjunct professor who holds a D. Min. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also has an M. Div. and MAR from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Presently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is serving his 20th year as the pastor of Calhoun Baptist Church in Calhoun, Kentucky.
everal men in my community share a morning ritual of coffee and conversation at the local diner that sits on the bank of the Green River at the southern end of town. Large floor-toceiling windows in the back provide a beautiful view of the rippling current and the occasional towboat and barges filled with coal that make their way down stream to the Ohio River. Inside the eatery, the regulars all have their own special places to sit, and the lone waitress just simply asks, “The usual?” At the tables around the room, you’ll hear conversations and opinions about farming, politics, the weather, who’s at the funeral home, and even religion. One morning while sharing breakfast with some friends, I heard one of the men ask the gentleman sitting across from him, “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in a while.” The man explained that he and his wife had been on a cruise to Alaska for the past two weeks and had just returned. Then the inquirer replied, “Well I was getting worried about you. I didn’t know if you were sick or something. I thought about praying for you, but I didn’t.” His honesty made us all laugh. We all repeated his line and ashamedly chuckled at the irony that we had all done the same thing but had never been so forthcoming in verbalizing it that succinctly, “I thought about praying for you, but I didn’t.”
If you have a turning point in your life you would like to share, email 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. 24
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TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MARCH 2020
By Dr. Richard Sams
Later I began to wonder how often I think about, or even say, I will pray for someone, but then must later realize that I didn’t. It’s one of the reasons I usually tell people, “Let’s just pray about that right now.” No matter where we are — in a store, a parking lot, at a ballgame — I’ll say a prayer for them right then and there. The person is usually moved and touched that someone took the time to pray for them in that very moment and are blessed and encouraged by hearing a prayer offered to God specifically on their behalf. Unfortunately, I wonder how many other things Christians know they should do and yet must later confess, “But I didn’t.” How often could you say?… I should have shown kindness, but I didn’t. I should have read my Bible, but I didn’t. I should have spoken more gently, but I didn’t. I should have prayed about a decision, but I didn’t. I should have shown someone more respect, but I didn’t. I should have gone to church, but I didn’t. I should have stayed calm and not gotten so angry, but I didn’t. I should have trusted God and not worried, but I didn’t. I should have held my tongue, but I didn’t. I should have told someone about Jesus, but I didn’t. We’re quick to condemn the sins of commission: lying, stealing, and other malicious offenses or immoral indulgences. Yet we seldom acknowledge our complacency, our indifference, or our lack of spiritual fervor as willful disobedience. “Anyone who knows the right thing to do, but does not do it, is sinning” (James 4:17 NCV). Father, forgive me for my sins of omission which are just as grievous in Your eyes as if I had committed some act of evil. Help me to see that it is just as sinful to knowingly choose not to do what is good and right as it is to willfully do something wrong. Instead, may my thoughts, words, and actions always honor You and be pleasing in Your sight. Amen.
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.
Genesis 34; Mark 5
Genesis 42; Mark 12
Genesis 49; Luke 2
Genesis 35-36; Mark 6
Genesis 43; Mark 13
Genesis 50; Luke 3
Genesis 37; Mark 7
Genesis 44; Mark 14
Exodus 1; Luke 4
Genesis 33; Mark 4
Genesis 38; Mark 8
Genesis 45; Mark 15
Exodus 2; Luke 5
Genesis 39; Mark 9
Genesis 46; Mark 16
Exodus 3; Luke 6
Genesis 40; Mark 10
Genesis 47; Luke 1:1-38
Exodus 4; Luke 7
Genesis 41; Mark 11
Genesis 48; Luke 1:39ff
Exodus 5; Luke 8
Exodus 6; Luke 9
Exodus 7; Luke 10
Exodus 8; Luke 11
Exodus 9; Luke 12
Exodus 10; Luke 13
Exodus 11-12:21; Luke 14
Exodus 12:22ff; Luke 15
Exodus 19; Luke 22
Exodus 26; John 5
Exodus 33; John 12
Exodus 40; John 19
Exodus 13; Luke 16
Exodus 20; Luke 23
Exodus 27; John 6
Exodus 34; John 13
Leviticus 1; John 20
Exodus 14; Luke 17
Exodus 21; Luke 24
Exodus 28; John 7
Exodus 35; John 14
Leviticus 2-3; John 21
Exodus 15; Luke 18
Exodus 22; John 1
Exodus 29; John 8
Exodus 36; John 15
Exodus 16; Luke 19
Exodus 23; John 2
Exodus 30; John 9
Exodus 37; John 16
Exodus 17; Luke 20
Exodus 24; John 3
Exodus 31; John 10
Exodus 38; John 17
Exodus 18; Luke 21
Exodus 25; John 4
Exodus 32; John 11
Exodus 39; John 18
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 16 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.
Get Off the Account Today! Dear Dave, I opened a credit card account with a boyfriend several months ago in both of our names. We’re no longer dating, and I was wondering if I can get my name off the account. —Melody Dear Melody, Yes, you can. Call the credit card company right now, and tell them to take your name off the account immediately. Find out if there’s a balance on the card. If there is, and it was charged up while your name was on the account, you’ll still be liable for that amount. They won’t release you from responsibility for those purchases, but you can get off the hook for any future charges. Then, send them a certified letter — return receipt requested — stating that you are no longer liable for additional charges on the card going forward. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to call them again in a few days to make sure they got the letter, too. You’re learning a hard lesson here, Melody. You should never open any kind of joint account with someone when you’re not married. And stop using credit cards! —Dave
A Key Element in Getting Out of Debt Dear Dave, I’ve got about $3,000 in credit card debt. Would it be a good idea to transfer the balance from my credit card to another one that has a much lower interest rate? —Tammi 26
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MARCH 2020
By Dave Ramsey
Dear Tammi, Lots of people who find themselves in your shoes make the switch to low-interest rate credit cards. A lower interest rate will help you save a little money in the short-term, but the drawback is it can also make you feel like you’ve addressed your problem with debt when you really haven’t. You’ve got to change the behavior and the mindset that put you in that situation in the first place. Besides, most low-interest, or no-interest, credit card offers are only good for a short period of time. There’s always a catch! I discovered long ago that personal finance is only about 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. Emotion is a key element to getting out of debt and staying out of debt. You’ve got to get really mad at debt, the impact it has on your financial life, and attack it with a vengeance. Think about how many times debt has been a negative influence on your life. My guess is there were many occasions in the past when you could have done great stuff — I’m talking about meaningful, important things — if you hadn’t had to send a bunch of money to those bozos at the credit card company every month. I want you to really think about it. How about this? First, cut up your credit card and close the account. Then, sell some stuff and take a part-time job nights or weekends for just a little while. You could wipe out all your debt in less than a year by doing that and starting to live on a strict, written, monthly budget. If you don’t get mad about it and take a stand against debt, and become determined you’re never going to fall into that trap again, you’re liable to find yourself back in the same situation or worse! —Dave
As Safe as a Neighborhood Bank? Dear Dave, What are your thoughts about online banks? Are they as safe as traditional, neighborhood banks? —Jeanna Dear Jeanna, Sure, if they’re guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC is one of two agencies that provide deposit insurance to customers in America’s depository institutions. The other is the National Credit Union Administration, or NCUA, which insures and regulates credit unions. If you’re seriously considering using an online bank, there are a few things I’d advise checking out before making the move. Look into the bank’s track record, and see how long it has been open. Also, if the bank you’re considering doesn’t have a namebrand you recognize, find out the amount of its deposits. Online banks don’t worry me today like they did 10 years ago. And almost everyone does some form of online banking these days, anyway. If the bank in question has a good reputation, and sufficient deposits to have some strength in its FDIC guarantee, I wouldn’t worry about it. —Dave
Teaching the Value of Work … and Money Dear Dave, Is it okay to give very young children an allowance? —Christie Dear Christie, Teaching kids there’s an emotional connection between work and money is one of the best things you can do as a parent. Once your kids are old enough to do a few simple chores around the house, they’re old enough to earn a little money doing them. In my mind, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting kids who are three or four on a basic commission system. If they do the jobs you assign them, they get paid. If they don’t do the jobs, they don’t get paid. We put a little dry-erase board on the refrigerator, and listed the jobs they had to do during the week with a dollar amount next to each one. Keep in mind, kids shouldn’t get paid for every little thing they do around the house. Some jobs are just a necessary component of being part of a family. And there are some things kids should do simply because mom or dad asked them to. Some jobs should have a higher purpose in mind, too, because as a parent, you should want to find as many teachable moments for your kids as possible. Once they’ve earned their money, sit down with them and divide it into three separate envelopes — saving, spending, and giving. That way, they get to learn about the uses for money while they’re learning how to work! —Dave
Double for Couples? Dear Dave, Does the amount you advise saving for a beginner emergency fund in Baby Step 1 double for a couple, or does it stay the same? —Charlie Dear Charlie, Whether you’re single or married, Baby Step 1 of my plan is to save $1,000 as quickly as possible for a starter emergency fund. This may not sound like a lot of cash to have on-hand in the event of an emergency, but you need to remember the $1,000 figure is a temporary thing. Baby Step 1 is saving up $1,000 for a beginner emergency fund. Baby Step 2 is paying off all debt, except your home. The vast majority of folks working my plan are debt-free, except for their mortgage, in two years or less. Then, you move to Baby Step 3, which is increasing your emergency fund from $1,000 to three-to-six months of household expenses. In reality, we’re talking about a pretty short period of time where you’d have just $1,000 in emergency savings. Plus, it serves as an exercise in financial discipline. A lot of people have nothing saved before beginning the Baby Steps. If that makes things seem a little scary at the start, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. A healthy level of fear can be a fantastic motivator. I don’t want anyone constantly living their lives in fear, but that added push — that sense of urgency — can make you work harder to get out of debt, and move on the Baby Step 3, as quickly as possible! —Dave TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
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Uncovering the Love of Jesus: A Lent Devotional
ecoming a Christian is just the beginning of our spiritual walk. Just as a baby needs nourishment to grow to maturity, so we need to nourish ourselves spiritually. Following are resources to help you mature in your faith.
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“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Pet. 3:18 NIV). “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God” (Heb. 6:1 NIV). “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Pet. 2:2-3 NIV). “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:6–7 NIV).
Ripples: A Memoir of Reflection By Diana LéGere [Arabelle Publishing]
Diana LéGere shares humorous stories with life lessons every woman can relate to. It’s never too late to … share your gifts and talents, discover the authentic you, step outside your comfort zone, relax and let it go, trust God, forgive, accept God’s timing, learn from your experiences, and seize new opportunities. This book includes Scripture, prayers, reflection questions, and space for journaling. www.bit.ly/arabellepublishing.
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
Remember Me: A Novella about Finding Our Way to the Cross By Sharon Garlough Brown [InterVarsity Press]
Remember Me follows Katherine Rhodes (who we met in Shades of Light) as she finds her own grief tapped by Wren Crawford’s struggles with depression and loss. Through letters to Wren, Katherine reflects on the meaning of Christ’s suffering. ivpress.com/remember-me.
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God’s Word on Effective Prayer By Jack Hartman and Judy Hartman [Lamplight Ministries, LLC]
God hears and answers prayer. Jesus paid the price at Calvary, so you are able to pray with assurance that God hears you. God’s Word on Effective Prayer (part of the God’s Toolbox Series with 200,000 in print) is a valuable resource for continuing spiritual growth and contains almost 400 scriptural instructions pertaining to prayer. Includes study guide for individuals and groups. For Easter and graduation gifts. Nationally distributed everywhere books are sold and at www.Lamplight.net.
Jesus Calling for Easter
The Lord is My Strength: Praying the Psalms Day By Day By Eric Kampmann [Beaufort Books]
Devotional trilogy speaks to individual/ group study for spiritual growth. The Lord Is My Strength, dedicated to experiencing the Psalms day-byday includes a passage from Psalms, original photograph, and short commentary. They combine to express through words and pictures the beauty, harmony, and mystery gifted to everyone who desires to see the glory of God’s creation. Great gift for Easter, graduation, and moms and dads. www.EricKampmann.com.
Josh McDowell Ministry
By Sarah Young [Thomas Nelson]
Jesus Calling for Easter is a meaningful and beautiful compilation of devotions from best-selling author Sarah Young. With 50 themed selections for the season, accompanied with beautiful imagery, Jesus Calling for Easter will enhance your observation of Easter and the death and resurrection of Christ. Learn more at JesusCalling.com.
God’s character is more vast and powerful than we can ever hope to understand, but He gives glimpses into some of His characteristics through His Word. Discover God’s character by these 13 key attributes. Free download: www.Josh.org/Attributes.
Hidden in My Heart By Tom Meyer
A Life Transformed Through the Word
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11 KJV).
thought I had it all going for me. I was living the dream in the greatest country in the world. I was the youngest homeowner in one of the richest counties in America. I had a mint-condition candy apple red 1966 Mustang convertible, and my family owned a lucrative construction company. Socially, things were exciting. I was rubbing shoulders with really famous people like Michael Jordan, Julia Roberts, and the list goes on and on. Of course, I thought I had it made. Was I wrong! Even though I had been saved for almost my whole life, I just knew I was on the wrong track spiritually and was going nowhere fast. I needed to do something about it and quick. Sure, I was going to church just about every Sunday, but I wasn’t walking with the Lord as closely as I knew I should have been, and I was looking for answers.
Answering a Higher Calling
I’m sure you have been able to relate to Bible characters at different times of your life, haven’t you? At this time, I could really relate to Abraham. I needed to obey God’s call on my life and leave my father and my mother and the land of my birth and go to the place where God told me 30
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
to go. But could never have imagined that the journey God had in store for me would include my living in Jerusalem for four years, earning two master’s degrees there, marrying my wife in the Old City of Jerusalem, being a father of four great kids, and so much more. So to make a long story short, I sold my house and that gorgeous car (I had to pay for college somehow). I quit the family business, which promised a very comfortable life and left Illinois behind to attend Shasta Bible College in Redding, California, so I could become equipped to serve the Lord in full-time ministry.
Locking His Word Into My Mind and Heart
Right before I left, the pastor of my church encouraged me to memorize a short passage during my long drive to California. It was the passage in Matthew 6 that speaks of faith and not worrying. All I had memorized at that time was Genesis 1:1 and John 3:16. I thought, Who needs to memorize when I have numerous copies of the Bible? But I decided I would take him up on the challenge, and I have never regretted that day I began to seriously memorize Scripture. The encouragement I gained from memorizing that short passage has
guided me into a life of faith. In fact, I’m part of Wordsower, a unique ministry in which we dramatically present Scripture word-for-word from memory. We also teach the techniques of how to memorize in Sunday School. The presentations are exciting and engaging, intended to create the effect of Bible characters like Moses reciting Genesis 1–11 or the apostle John reciting the book of Revelation to you. The Word of God without anything added or taken away is powerful! I believe the Bible was originally meant more for the ears than the eyes. It’s like hearing Mozart versus reading Mozart. You can read Mozart’s music on the page and imagine hearing what it might sound like, but when you hear someone expertly play Mozart, it takes on a whole new dimension. This is true with the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing!
Motivation Versus Ability
I don’t know the entire Bible from heart. No one does, but I can recite what I do know from memory for over 14 hours straight. That doesn’t make me better than anyone else. It just shows how much I believe in the power of putting as much as the Word of God in my heart as I possibly can. This requires motivation more than a natural ability. You may think you
can’t memorize. But you can. It just requires a desire to memorize. Consider what Bible professor Don Whitley once asked: “What if I offered you a thousand dollars for every verse you could memorize in the next seven days? Do you think your attitude towards Scripture memory and your ability to memorize would improve? Any financial reward would be minimal when compared to the accumulating value of the treasure of God’s Word deposited within your mind.” It’s so true. The Word of God is a treasure, and there’s no safer place to put it than in our hearts. Memorizing individual Bible verses, sections, and even books has done more for my personal and spiritual growth than anything else. And it can do the same for you. It really is a forgotten discipline of our spiritual life. I believe the Bible when it says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11 KJV). Memorizing Scripture helps us emulate Jesus when He was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. He responded to those attacks by quoting the Bible (Matt. 4: 4, 7, 10).
Putting Memorization Into Practice
I recommend first memorizing individual verses that have to do with problem areas in your spiritual walk, like slander (James 4:11), worrying (Phil. 4:6), and fear (2 Tim. 1:7). Once memorized, these verses can come to mind immediately and correct your attitude and behavior so it will be in line with the will of God. Christians often struggle with discouragement and depression. Nancy DeMoss has found an effective way to deal with this. She said: “When I encounter someone who is battling discouragement or depression, I often ask two questions: ‘Are you singing to the Lord? and ‘Are you memorizing Scripture?’ These two exercises are not some magical formula to make all our problems go away, but they do have incredible power to change our perspective and attitude towards the issues we are facing.” Since we can easily get discouraged when things don’t go our way, I suggest memorizing I Thessalonians 5:18: “In
Resources for Young Adults
Already Beloved and Becoming Mr. Right are companion books written to encourage a Gospel-focused perspective whether you remain single or marry. The College Choice shows how God must be a part of the college decision-making process. Endorsed by John MacArthur.
Meyer at an ancient synagogue in Israel.
everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (KJV). When we commit that verse to memory and apply its principles — which of course is the goal of memorization — then no matter what problem or struggle we face, we will be better equipped to respond accordingly and be in the will of God. I encourage you to continue your personal growth in the Lord by memorizing the Word of God. I know it can be a challenge in this high-speed, digital world, and I know it’s time-consuming. But
committing the precious Word of God to our hearts and minds will help us become molded into the children of God we ought to be. Tom Meyer, the “Bible Memory Man,” is a professor at Shasta Bible College and the author of The Memorization Study Bible. He is also a guest speaker at churches and conferences where he presents the Bible spoken dramatically from memory. For more information, visit thescripturecannotbebroken.com.
TIPS FOR MEMORIZING SCRIPTURE
During my time in Israel, I spent a lot of time with Jews and Christians who are serious about committing Scripture to memory. I gleaned from them three pillars of memorization: Reading, Hearing, and Writing. They’re so effective that they enable 8-yearold children to memorize all 150 Psalms and allowed me to learn 20 complete books.
After you’ve selected a verse to memorize, read it aloud over and over. When you read the verse aloud, your eyes work together with your mouth and ears to give you a much better chance of retaining the verse than if you were reading it silently. Another technique related to reading is the power of format. The Jews have really mastered format. Every printing of the Talmud has exactly the exact same format. For example, page 58 and 59 are exactly the same in every printing throughout the world. This greatly enhances their memorization efforts. I’ve heard stories of Jewish students who had such a good memory that you could put a pin through a word on page 58 of the Torah, for instance, and without looking, they could tell you the very word and letter the pin went through on page 59. That’s amazing! To apply the principal of format, read aloud the verse you want to memorize while looking at the verse in your Bible, using the same Bible every time. The principle really works. When we use the same Bible long enough, we know where certain verses are on the page and where certain chapters start. This is the power of format.
The Bible repeatedly tells us that faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17). So, if we can listen to the Word of God a chapter at a time while we’re in the car, doing errands around the house, etc. we can hear the spoken Word of God with all the intonations and emotions. This is probably the most ancient way to memorize. I have a friend who had a two-hour commute every day. For part of the trip he would listen to a chapter from Romans. About a year later he had memorized the entire book of Romans. What an excellent way to redeem the time! Hearing the Word of God is also the best way for children to memorize. Before we put our kids to bed, I recite a few chapters dramatically from memory. Kids quickly pick things up, so now they can practically tell the chapters themselves just from 32
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
hearing them over and over. A great way for you to implement this technique is to play the Word of God to your kids on a CD or app when they’re in bed.
The last memorization technique is writing out the verse. Unfortunately, Bibles aren’t printed in a way that fosters memorization. That’s why I created a version of the Bible called The Memorization Study Bible, which divides verses into short, more easily memorized lines. You can use this specially designed Bible or try the following method: 1. Prayerfully select a verse. 2. Divide the verse into short lines, with each line grouping naturally flowing words and phrases. Count the words in each line and write the number in the right-hand column as a memory aid. When the ancients used this technique, they kept lines to eight words or less. They called this an eye’s glance because it was a phrase short enough to keep in short-term memory. 3. Copy the right-hand column’s numbers onto a fresh sheet of paper. Write out the verse with pen and paper just the way you’ve divided it, using the numbers as a crutch. If you draw a blank, you can look at the number column for reference to help you know how many words go on that line. 4. While you’re writing the verse, try speaking it aloud. That way your mind, eyes, mouth, hand, and ears are working together. You can’t use any more senses than that.
Finally, whether you memorize Scripture by Reading, Hearing, or Writing, or a combination of those techniques, the best way to retain it is to review it. We know that if we don’t use it, we lose it. The process of reviewing Scripture you have memorized is called meditation in the Bible (Josh. 1:8) and is critical to our spiritual life. If we can let the Word of Christ “abide” or remain in us (1 John 2:14), then we can draw upon it in times of need. This will give us and our children the best chance to overcome the world. With the Word of God hidden in our hearts we can have the mind of the living God, provide words of comfort from Scripture to ourselves or others in time of need, continually remind ourselves of who we are in the light of God’s Word, and like Jesus, who quoted the Word of God from memory when He was under attack from our enemy (Matt. 4:1–4).
The Good News
Two thieves were crucified with Jesus. Both taunted Him, but one stopped when he realized he was guilty. He said, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve” (Luke 23:40 NIV). The thief also realized that Jesus was God and asked for His forgiveness. Jesus assured him that he was forgiven and that he would join Him in heaven: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). Jesus’ forgiveness was an act of pure mercy because the thief couldn’t do any of the things people think will bring them eternal life, such as goods works, baptism, confirmation, or joining a church. Jesus made it clear that only He can wash away sin and bring someone into a right relationship with God: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV). What is your standing before God? Imagine seeing your life on a movie screen that shows every deed, every word, and every thought of your past. Do you feel confident in your righteousness before God? Or do you want to hide? Like that thief, when we honestly face the ugliness of our sin and our hopeless state, we realize that we can do nothing but plead for Jesus’ mercy. He is eager and waiting to grant it: “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Now is the time to turn to Jesus. No matter how bad your sins, if you turn to Him with a sincere change of heart, He will wash away your sin and make you a new person. But don’t delay. This is the most important decision of your life. You don’t know how much time you have left. Life is short. Eternity is long. How long? If a single grain of sand is removed from Mt. Everest once every billion years, when the last grain of sand disappears, eternity is just beginning. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool” (Isa. 1:18 NASB).
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Wrong Number, Right Destination By Shawn Carney
ver the last 16 years serving as president for 40 Days for Life, I’ve had the privilege of hearing from hundreds of women who were impacted by our ministry and chose life for their child. I love how each story always has the same beginning and end but a very different middle. Take, for instance, Erin, a single mother of four who had an appointment with Planned Parenthood to abort her baby when God intervened. On this particular day, Erin woke up, dropped her two oldest kids off at school, and left the younger two preschoolers with a friend. When she got back into her car and was finally alone, she realized that she was running late for her appointment with Planned Parenthood. She wondered if they would wait for her. In Erin’s mind, she couldn’t afford to miss the appointment. With a husband in jail, four kids under her care, and the knowledge that she had just lost her job looming over her head, financial burdens consumed her mind. She couldn’t even afford to pay her next electricity bill, let alone take care of a fifth child! Or so she thought. Erin decided to call Planned Parenthood to make sure they would still do the abortion, despite her running behind. In her haste, she
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING
dialed the wrong number. Instead of Planned Parenthood, Joseph, one of our 40 Days volunteers, answered her call on his cellphone. “Hi, this Erin,” she said when he answered. “I have an appointment for an abortion, but I’m afraid I’m too late.” “Okay,” Joseph replied, realizing what must have happened. “Give me your name and number, and I’ll have someone call you back.” Joseph immediately got in contact with a counselor named Elizabeth to tell her what had happened. So Elizabeth called Erin back right away. “Hi. Erin? Please don’t hang up,” she said. “You have not reached Planned Parenthood. You have reached 40 Days for Life instead.” Erin pulled over to the side of the road, stunned. “Are you a Christian?” Elizabeth asked. “Yes, I am,” said Erin. “Erin, I believe God’s grace is at work in you calling the ‘wrong number’ today. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?” Erin told Elizabeth about everything going on, and Elizabeth took notes as she spoke. “Erin, can you come to our office right now?” Erin said that she would. As soon as they got off the phone, Elizabeth rallied together as many volunteers as possible to tell them about Elizabeth’s situation. Ten of them pooled their cash to pay Erin’s rent. Another volunteer offered to pay her electric bill.
When Erin reached the office and learned what had already transpired on her behalf, she was overjoyed by their generosity. It began to settle in what would have happened had she dialed the “right” number. Later that day, she phoned Planned Parenthood, dialing the number correctly this time, and canceled her abortion. It always starts with the devil’s plan for death and ends with God’s redeeming plan for life. Like many mothers, Erin considered abortion because she didn’t see a way out of her situation and thought that death was the solution to her struggles. The devil never assures us that things will work out, that we will be taken care of, or that God will redeem the situation. But God is always in the business of redeeming, something He revealed to me through a mother I had the honor of meeting at an event. I had just finished delivering a speech for a post-abortion recovery ministry event. Between the long travel day, the speech, and the numerous conversations that followed, I found myself exhausted and heading for the door as early as was appropriate. However, a woman stopped me as I was leaving to express her gratitude for all that our organization had done. She was especially amazed that the campaign had started in College Station, Texas, in 2004, and that the vigils were now approaching one thousand cities more than a decade later. “And I got to be part of that first campaign in 2004,” she stated emphatically. “You did?” I asked, studying her face to see if I could place her. “What year were you at Texas A&M?” “No, I didn’t go to A&M,” she said, “And I didn’t go out to the vigil during that first 40 Days for Life. I was going into
Planned Parenthood to have an abortion. I went in, saw all of you outside, and just couldn’t do it. I left knowing that you all had no idea that you saved my baby boy. But I also knew that the opportunity would come one day to let you know. So, can I introduce you to my son?” I was speechless and no longer cognizant of my exhaustion as she brought over her teenage son to meet me. I know from experience that there is nothing quite like holding a baby saved from abortion or even just seeing a picture of a baby whose mother chose life. In speeches prior to this moment, I had made the point that we are saving not just babies but future students, professors, doctors, parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches — you name it. At that moment, however, I realized those had been only words; I had just been making a point. Now, that point was standing in the flesh, talking to me about the sports he played and which colleges he hoped to apply to one day. We talked for a while, and as I started to leave, I decided to tell the mom, “Hey, if you ever come down to College Station—” But she cut me off with a sharp tone and stated, “No, I will never go back; it brings back too much pain of how close I got to that abortion. I was in a dark place and could never go back. I can’t even look at a Planned Parenthood, especially that one.” I smiled, realizing she didn’t know why I was extending the invitation. “No, I wouldn’t take you to the vigil to pray; in fact, we don’t have a campaign there anymore. That Planned Parenthood where you almost had an abortion closed in 2013.” “Are you serious?” Tears were filling her eyes. “Yes, and you should know that the building now serves as the headquarters of 40 Days for Life.” She broke down crying, and through her sobbing, slowly said, “That is the perfect use for that building. God is so good.” All those years after deciding not to abort her son, she’d been patiently participating in the pro-life movement and serving the Lord, with no idea of the progress that had been made or that the Planned Parenthood had closed down. 36
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Meeting her and hearing her story was such a sobering reminder of how the Lord functions to fix things. In that moment of meeting her, I had been fixed on my feelings and my desire to go home at the end of the long day; meanwhile, she’d been patiently advocating for life ever since her son was born, waiting to witness progress in the movement like learning that the Planned Parenthood that almost took her child is no more. I was reminded of the small but profound point that, in so many ways, we must be patient when it comes to abortion. Meeting her reminded me that our timelines are not ours to dictate. The Lord knows what He is doing, and redemption is no less powerful if it happens months, years, or even decades later than expected. Her story is unique and precious, as are the stories of all mothers who choose life for their babies, or who do not choose life, but later come over to the pro-life side. But I’m happy to say that her story is not uncommon. Thanks to 40 Days for Life and its work around the world, I’ve had the privilege of hearing dozens, if not hundreds of similar stories from expecting mothers and abortion workers whose hearts were changed as a result of witnessing one of our prayer vigils outside of a Planned Parenthood. In today’s times when violent protests and rabble-rousing seem to be the favorite means for garnering attention, 40 Days’ quiet yet powerful approach to creating change has allowed thousands of women to “be still and know that He is God” just as they are about to set foot in an abortion clinic. The result? Many of them have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit in those quiet moments and chosen life instead of death. Shawn Carney is the president and CEO of 40 Days for Life and author of The Beginning of the end of Abortion and his upcoming devotional To The Heart of the Matter, scheduled to release Feb. 4, 2020.
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man went to a psychiatrist and said he was worried that he was a dog. “It’s terrible,” said the man, “I walk around on all fours. I keep barking in the middle of the night and I can’t go past a lamp post anymore.” “Okay,” said the psychiatrist. “Lie down on the couch.” The man replied, “I’m not allowed on the couch.” —From Mikey’s Funnies (www.mikeysfunnies.com) One day down at the VFW hall, some old veterans were bragging about the heroic exploits of their ancestors. The first declared proudly, “My great grandfather, at age 13, was a drummer boy at Shiloh.” The second boasted, “Mine went down with Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.” The third said, “I’m the only soldier in my family, but if my great-grandfather were living today, he’d be the most famous man in the world.” “Really? What’d he do?” his friends wanted to know. “Nothing much. But he would be 165 years old.” —From Mikey’s Funnies (www.mikeysfunnies.com) 38
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If you have a joke or funny story you’d like to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If we print your joke, we will pay you $25.
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By Jerry Dykstra and Open Doors By Jerry contributors Dykstra
Algerian Government Closes at Least 14 Churches Christians
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.
lgerian Pastor Salah Challah knows firsthand about how restrictive governments, especially in Muslim-majority countries, can crack down and close Christian churches in a matter of minutes. Last October, Open Doors, an international ministry that supports persecuted believers, reported that Salah’s church, the Protestant Church of the Full Gospel of Tizi-Ouzou (EPPETO), was shut down and some of his congregants beaten. It is the largest church in Algeria, with 1,200 members. During a worship service, Pastor Salah was telling his congregation that the authorities were going to close the church the next day. They were targeted for being “unauthorized.” He expected the police to come the next day to oversee the closure. But instead, at the end of the service, Algerian police burst in, forcibly removing people and beating others before finally sealing the church doors. “The police were supposed to come the day after, so it was a huge surprise for us to see them coming at that time on that day,” Pastor Salah recalled. “They asked us to go out from the church building, but we refused to do this. Because we refused, they closed and sealed all the doors to the other rooms of the church and then came to us, asking us to go out of the church building. Again, we refused.” Their refusal led to serious consequences. “After we refused to go out of the worship room, they started beating us,” Pastor Salah said. “When we saw them using violence against brothers and sisters here at the church, we didn’t want to go forward with our resistance, so we agreed to go outside the worship room. In the end they sealed
Prayer Points: • Pray that the congregations of governmentforced closing of churches will continue to meet safely and secretly and proclaim His goodness. • Pray that governments in places such as China and Muslim-dominated countries will no longer close Christian churches and allow people of all faiths to worship without restrictions.
*not real name 40
• Pray that Algerian believers’ love for others will remain steadfast as they fan out through the country with the gospel.
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MARCH 2020
the main door that gets to the worship room.” Pastor Salah said several people were injured in the attack, in which the police used batons and fists, and carried people out of the main worship room by force. “We had at least four people that were wounded during this assault,” he stated. When Algerian police “We even have doctors’ closed The Full Gospel Church of Tizi-Ouzou, notes for people because they sealed the doors they needed six-to-eight with official closure days off work.” notices. Photo courtesy He said that, in the moOpen Doors ment, he felt “injustice, anger, and disappointment.” Pastor Salah has some ideas about why they were targeted by police for closure. “The official reason they gave us is the church is an unauthorized place of worship. But it has no basis in fact so it’s just to cover and to justify what they are doing because there was official authorization. But there is no church in Algeria that has this [authorization]!” He believes they were targeted specifically because their congregation is mostly made up of Christians who converted from Islam, the dominant religion in Algeria. Only 1% of the Algerian population is Christian. In Algeria, it’s against the law to “shake the faith” of a Muslim, and there is always a chance that sharing the gospel could result in an accusation of blasphemy against Christians. Converting to Christianity in Algeria can carry a heavy price for these believers. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg in Algeria. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has raised concerns over Algeria’s treatment of Christians, especially the forced closures of at least 14 evangelical Protestant churches in the last two years. Last November, USCIRF’s Vice Chair Gayle Manchin called on the Algerian government to reopen closed churches and to stop harassing the Christian community.
BELIEVERS SPREAD THE GOSPEL DESPITE CLOSURE OF CHURCHES
Pastor Salah Challah, senior pastor of the Full Gospel Church of Tizi-Ouzou, leads prayer and worship on the staircase outside of the locked church after Algerian police forced congregants to leave the church last fall. Police also assaulted several members of the congregation. Photo courtesy SAT-7
Similar to government restrictions on freedom of religion in many Muslim-dominated countries, all religious groups must register their places of worship with the government, except for followers of Islam. Often governments use strict requirements for places of worship, resulting in denial of applications. Pastor Salah asks believers around the world to pray for two specific requests: “I think that our fight is not against flesh and blood; we are asked to fight the dominion of dark powers, so our prayer request is that these dark powers of Satan will be cast away from Algeria; these powers that are blinding the authorities of our country. “I would like you to pray for me for the wisdom to know what to say in the right time; the thing I need most is wisdom.” Pastor Salah isn’t sure what’s next. But he is confident that God is still with His people in Algeria. “In the immediate future, we will maybe organize ourselves in house churches, and we will carry out lawsuits and political procedures,” Pastor Salah said. “I don’t have any bitterness in my heart against those policemen who beat us or those who have ordered the church to close.” He agrees “100%” with the biblical passages about forgiving his enemies. One passage of the Bible has been a particular comfort to him: Matthew 5:11. In that verse, Jesus says: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (NIV).
The Full Gospel Church of TiziOuzou. Photo courtesy Open Doors
What happens with worshippers when Christian churches are closed in Muslim-dominated, communist, and other countries around the globe? Basically, it depends on the country and the culture where the congregation worships. Many of those who have been forced to leave their churches are fanning out around their region to start small house churches. Pastors and others under government scrutiny or the threat of arrest sometimes leave their country for safer places. Todd Nettleton, host of Voice of the Martyrs Radio, recently talked with an Algerian believer. “One of the encouraging things he shared is how Muslim neighbors are responding to some of the closed churches. He said Muslim neighbors are posting notes of support on the shuttered doors of churches and expressing support for the rights of Christians to meet together and worship in Algeria. Even as their government tries to deny that right.” According to Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List, 105 churches were attacked, burned, or vandalized each month in Top 50 WWL countries. The closing and attacks on churches are epidemic. Some of the biggest offenders over the past few years are China, Sudan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal, Egypt, Iran, and Myanmar. In a blatant attack last fall against the church-at-large in communist China, Chinese government authorities tore down a megachurch’s building in the Funan, Anhui region, starting the demolition while the congregation was worshipping. The church’s pastors were also arrested and detained, according to U.S.-based ChinaAid. Government officials did not provide any documents ordering the 3,000-seat church building’s demolition. But they did produce arrest warrants for leaders Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao. Both pastors were detained on the charge of suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.” Bob Fu, President of ChinaAid, said hundreds and even thousands of churches have been closed or bulldozed in the last two years. In a blog post, SAT-7 CEO Rita El-Mounayer said an Algerian pastor told her: “A church isn’t just a physical building, it’s a body of believers. We are now more free (after the church closing) to speak to more people about the love of Jesus.” TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
NIV Artisan Collection Bible [Zondervan] Exquisite from the inside out, the NIV Artisan Collection Bible stuns with its printed cover design showcasing hand-painted flair. When the Bible is opened, beautiful art appears on the page edges as you read through Scripture. Each page has lightly ruled, wide margins, inviting you to journal, reflect, take notes, and create art. Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print® typeface is carefully designed with custom fonts to be enjoyable and easy to read. Features: • Complete text of the New International Version (NIV) • Stunning, hand-painted cover design printed on soft, durable cloth • Hidden page edge design is fully revealed when pages are fanned open. Sparkling foil edge gilding when closed • Lined, wide margins for journals, notes, and art • Words of Jesus in red • Two ribbon markers • Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print® typeface • 9.9-point print size
Acts of the Almighty: Meditations on the Story of God for Every Day of the Year — A 365-Day Devotional
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By Luke Goodrich [Multnomah] Many Americans are concerned about rising threats to religious freedom. They feel the culture changing around them, and they fear that their beliefs will be marginalized as a form of bigotry. Others — younger Christians in particular — are tired of the culture wars and wonder whether courtroom battles are truly worthwhile, or even in line with the teachings of Jesus. Author and leading religious freedom attorney Luke Goodrich believes religious freedom is “a basic issue of biblical justice, rooted in the nature of God and the nature of man.” In Free to Believe, he offers a reasoned, balanced, and gospel-centered approach to religious freedom. Free to Believe addresses the profound theological, cultural, and practical implications of religious freedom. Applying biblical understanding to a number of the most hot-button cultural issues of our day, Goodrich offers practical steps Christians can take to respond to religious freedom conflicts in an informed, responsible, and graceful way. No matter where readers stand on the culture war, Free to Believe offers unshakeable hope rooted in the person of Jesus Christ.
Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts
By Walter Wangerin [Zondervan] One of the greatest modern writers on faith and spirituality, Walter Wangerin Jr. is the author of more than 40 books — including The Book of God and The Book of the Dun Cow — and the recipient of the National Book Award. In Acts of the Almighty, Wangerin’s deep biblical insight and poetic heart help us explore how the Bible fits together into one grand story. This 365-day devotional invites us to understand more fully God’s redeeming works through five sections: Genesis and Exodus, David and Solomon, the prophets, the life of Christ, and the birth of the Church. The short, daily readings capture Wangerin’s signature voice as well as his profound wisdom. Each dated entry contains a biblical passage that focuses on a single moment from the Bible’s epic story, a brief meditation from Wangerin, and a prayer. Sink deep into this unique devotional that takes you through the Bible in one year. Acts of the Almighty offers a beautiful opportunity to read the Bible’s expansive and arresting story in a brand-new way. 42
Free to Believe: The Battle Over Religious Liberty in America
By Jennie Allen [Waterbrook] The visionary behind the millionstrong IF:Gathering challenges Christian women to transform their outlook and their lives by interrupting their spiraling thoughts and realizing their God-given power to think differently. Speaker and Bible teacher Jennie Allen hears all the time from women who feel stuck in patterns of frustration and defeat. In her search for a solution, she’s learned that the greatest spiritual battle of our generation is taking place between our ears. How we think shapes how we live. So it’s crucial that we learn how to stop our spinning thoughts and refuse to fall prey to toxic thinking patterns like victimhood, anxiety, and distraction. In this book, Allen draws on biblical truth and recent discoveries in neuroscience to show exactly how we can fight the enemies of the mind with the truth of who God is and who He calls us to be. When you take every thought captive and reclaim your thinking patterns from the lies of the enemy, you are set free to set others free. It starts in your head, and from there the possibilities are endless.
The Meaning of Marriage: A Couple’s Devotional — A Year of Daily Devotions By Timothy and Kathy Keller [Viking] Marriage is the most profound human relationship there is. Coming to know and love our spouse is one of the most rewarding and wondrous things we can experience in life. But it is also one of the most difficult and painful. In this 365-day devotional, Timothy Keller and his wife of 43 years, Kathy Keller, share powerful instructions on how to have a successful marriage. The Kellers draw from and expand upon lessons they first introduced in their book The Meaning of Marriage, offering stories, daily scriptures, and prayer prompts that will inspire anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life. The Meaning of Marriage: A Couple’s Devotional includes the following topics: • Marriage and creation • Marriage and redemption • The seventh commandment • Preventing adultery • Who we are in one another • How to serve one another
Raising Successful Teens: How to Help Your Child Honor God and Live Wisely By Jeffrey Dean [Multnomah] From every side — the Internet, social media, interactions with friends, in both their public and private lives —teens are persuaded to follow the world’s way over God’s every day. Culture’s mantra “live for today” has become the slogan of this generation. But, one thing remains true: mom and dad are still the greatest influence in the life of their child. Based on timeless biblical truths, Raising Successful Teens equips parents with positive, encouraging, and practical advice. A family and teen culture expert with more than 25 years of ministry experience, Jeffrey Dean gives parents the street-level approach they need to help their teens wisely and safely navigate technology, friendships, dating relationships, social media, and more. Parents will learn how to keep the lines of communication open and stay involved in their teens’ lives. Raising Successful Teens will help equip you to: • Know and answer the critical questions teens are asking • Shape the spiritual life of your teen • Discuss difficult topics such as dating, sex, porn, and suicide
Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God’s Best for Your Next By Jill Savage [Moody Publishers] Its’s happening! You weren’t always sure you would get here, but the kids grew up and you have an empty nest. But what now?! If you’re like most moms, you’re caught between grief and delight, and full of questions, loose ends, hopes, and regrets. Empty nesting can be a disorienting time, but it can also be the best time of your life. Jill Savage, an empty-nest veteran, offers wisdom for the murky waters ahead, guiding you in what you need to let go of and what to hold on to, as well as encouragement for when you’re feeling confused and discouraged. Full of stories and new insights, you’ll find your spirits lifted and hope renewed. Empty Nest, Full Life is packed with practical ideas for coping and thriving in this encore season. Chapters include: • Let Go of Expectations • Let Go of Guilt • Let Go of Traditions • Let Go of Idols • Grab Hold of Your New Mission Field • Grab Hold of New Friendships
Reimagine Retirement: Planning and Living for the Glory of God By C.J. Cagle [B&H Books] Americans are crazy about retirement. Everywhere we look there are books, articles, and websites dedicated to the subject — most of which are about how to get there fast, and how to enjoy it when you’re there. In this book, Chris Cagle, himself a recent retiree, challenges us to reimagine retirement from a distinctly Christian perspective. In the process, he will challenge our typical view of retirement as the ultimate reward for a life of hard work by asking key questions: • What does the Bible have to say about retirement? • What would a God-honoring and glorifying retirement look like? • If retirement is probable for most of us, how should we plan for it as wise stewards of the resources God has entrusted to our care? In Reimagine Retirement, Cagle answers these and other questions to help construct a vision of retirement that reflects the values, priorities, and purposes that are important to God. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG
KIDS OF THE KINGDOM
INDEX & WEB LISTING
hree boys are in the schoolyard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, “My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, and they give him $50.” The second boy says, “That’s nothing. My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, and they give him $100.” The third boy says, “I got you both beat. My dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon, and it takes eight people to collect all the money!” —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. 44
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ACTS Retirement-Life Communities....... www.actsretirement.org ..........................48 Arabelle Publshing................................. www.arabellepublishing.com .................28 Atherton.................................................. www.abh.org .............................................9 B & H Publishing Group.......................... www.bhpublishinggroup.com ................37 Beaufort Books....................................... www.beaufortbooks.com ........................29 DiViNE Purpose Publishing..................... divinepurposepublishing.com .................21 Focus Publishing..................................... www.focuspublishing.com ......................31 Gatekeeper Press.................................... www.GatekeeperPress.com .....................21 HarperCollins Christian Publishing......... www.harpercollinschristian.com .............29 Intervarsity Press.................................... www.ivpress.com .....................................28 Josh McDowell Ministry.......................... www.josh.org ...........................................29 Lamplight Ministries, Inc........................ www.lamplight.net ..................................29 Moody Publishers................................... www.moodypublishers.com ...................28 Morgan James Publishing...................... www.morgan-james-publishing.com .....11 Rada Cutlery............................................ www.radacutlery.com ...............................9 RU Recovery Ministries........................... rurecovery.com ...........................................5 Today’s Pastor.......................................... todayspastor.org .......................................39 Total Living Network .............................. tln.com ........................................................2 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 Carlton Gill
A Reminder of God’s Love Carlton Gill has an MBA with a business background and spends his time writing about career development. He’s written a number of books, including the Amazon best-seller, From Resume To Work. Carlton has been married for 24 years and both of their kids are in college
n the middle of working on a difficult project, I got a call from my daughter who is in college 400 miles away. “Dad, I locked my spare keys in my car. Do you have the code to the buttons on the car door to open it?” “No Sweetie, I don’t. We’ve never used it,” I said to her. She lost her regular keys and was using her spare keys for the past couple of days. I told her that the next option was to call AAA and have them unlock her car, but she had an important meeting with her basketball coaches at school in 45 minutes and didn’t have time to wait for AAA. In fact, her meeting, and then classes, and then workouts, and then upcoming exams, were going to occupy her entire life for the day. I could feel the frustration rising in her voice. I decided to stay on the phone and talk to her as she walked back to her dorm to look for her keys. When she got to her room, I asked her where she had the keys last, what she remembered doing the last time she used her keys, and why she should look in places where the keys might not be, since they weren’t where they were supposed to be. After 10 minutes, she said, “Dad! Dad! Dad! I found them!” “Yaay! Where were they?” I asked. “In the side zipper pocket of my athletic bag,” she said. “I don’t know how they got there but what a relief.” “I am so glad you found them. You’re going to have a great day. I love you Sweetie,” I said.
TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING MARCH 2020
“Thanks Daddy. I really needed to hear that today. Thank you for helping me. I love you too.” I hung up and sat at my desk, reflecting on how much I appreciated the opportunity to be available to my daughter at that moment. I smiled to myself.
Trying to Plow Through My Frustrations
When I returned to battle the difficulties with my project, I paused for a moment, realizing that the frustration I was feeling about my project was exactly like the frustration that I heard in my daughter’s voice about her lost keys. But unlike my daughter calling on her father to help her with her frustrations, I had not called upon the Lord to help me with mine about my project. I was trying to plow right through on my own. Psalm 34:11 says, “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (NKJV). God used my daughter to teach me that I need to go to Him for everything, especially when I am frustrated. In fact, I have learned that being frustrated is a sign that I am trying to do things my own way without help from the Lord. I stopped and shook my head and sighed. It is confounding to me sometimes how I know that I have a heavenly Father and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but when I’m facing difficulties and frustrations, I try to plow right through them on my own rather than call on God first.
God Truly Loves Me
I’m so glad that the Lord is acquainted with all my ways (Psalm 139) and knows what I need when I need it. He allowed my daughter to lose her keys so that I would be reminded to call on Him as my daughter called on me. God truly loves me. I stepped back from my project and said, “Lord, I’m not sure what to do here. Can You help me make a decision and give me peace about it?” I then put the project down and did something else. Later that day, I received an email. It was the answer I was looking for about my project and the confirmation from God that I needed. I had peace about it, and I knew that I was going to have a great day. I smiled to myself and said, “Lord, thank You for helping me. I love You too.”
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Published on Jan 23, 2020
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