Today's Christian Living November 2021

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Christmas Gift Guide • Finding Light in the Darkness • Didn’t See It Coming

Encourage • Equip • Engage

2021 Writing

Author Spotlight Cathy Gohlke Bill Myers Mike Yorkey Michele Howe

Contest Winners Barb Peil Delores Liesner Libby Criswell

Charles Martin

$4.95 US / $5.95 Canada


November 2021










Pointing to Hope, One Story at a Time



Dr. Walt Larimore

When Walt Larimore, MD, moved his young family to Kissimmee, Florida, to start a small-town medical practice in 1985, he had no idea he was embarking on an enterprise that would change his life in ways both large and small. Dr. Larimore shared some of these heartwarming and heartbreaking tales in The Best Medicine. Now he offers more charming stories of his time as a family physician in this small-yet-growing rural town. This tender and insightful collection of stories chronicles one young doctor’s growth as a physician, husband, father, and community member. Filled with characters who are both colorful and crusty, warmhearted and hotheaded, witty and winsome, these captivating stories glow with drama and are sprinkled with warmth, love, and humor. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll learn some of life’s greatest lessons. And you’ll wish Dr. Larimore was your doctor.





WALT LARIMORE, MD, has been a family physician for nearly forty years. The bestselling author of the Bryson City books and the bimonthly health column, “Ask Dr. Walt,” he has been called “one of America’s best-known family physicians.”


Available wherever books and ebooks are sold.



On the Cover: Charles Martin, acclaimed author of nearly 20 novels. Photo courtesy Amy Schatzmann


Features 6 Novel Hope: Author Charles Martin

Fights a Culture of Hopelessness One Story at a Time by Stephanie Rische Charles Martin uses his gift of storytelling to point readers to Jesus and His lifetransforming power.



12 1st Place Writers Contest Restoring Joy: Finding Meaning in Loss by Barb Peil Cindy Brinker Simmons lost both her mother and husband to cancer, but despite her losses, she continues to be a shining light for the Lord. 14 2nd Place Writers Contest Popsicles and Perspective: Seth’s Journey by Delores Liesner Seth Bayles suffers from a rare autoimmune disease, but rather than dwelling on his pain, he focuses on bringing joy to others. 16

3rd Place Writers Contest Margaret Ross: Bringing Bright Smiles to the LaGrange Community by Libby Criswell When dental hygienist Margaret retired, she got right to work starting and running a clinic that provides free dental services and spiritual care.

22 Finding Light in the Darkness by Evan Wilkerson Evan Wilkerson — grandson of evangelist David Wilkerson — reveals how God rescued him from addiction, broken relationships, and deep despair. 28 Author Spotlight Renowned Christian authors Cathy Gohlke, Bill Myers, Mike Yorkey, and Michele Howe share a behind-the-scenes look at their careers, goals, and writing processes. 32 Writers Resource Guide No matter where you are in your writing journey, you’ll discover helpful resources here. 37 Christmas Gift Guide Find the perfect Christmas gift for friends and family.



10 Living in Wisdom The Miracle of Grace


18 Ask Dr. Walt Keep Brain Health in Mind

53 Quips & Quotes

20 Live Right Now Healing Rifts in Relationships 26 Dave Says Discernment Needed in Making Financial Decisions

The Fine Print

25 Daily Bible Connection 54 Laugh Lines 58 Quick Takes 60 Kids of the Kingdom

36 Turning Point From Season to Season 56 Persecution Report Laotian Christians Face Intense Pressure to Renounce Faith 62 Grace Notes Didn’t See It Coming




The Power of Stories


hen our kids were toddlers, they begged us to read the same books over and over. They just loved hearing them again and again, even though they already knew the ending. After a while, they could start telling the story even before we opened the book. It’s not just children who love stories; adults do too. Stories have a timeless and universal appeal. God wired us that way for a reason. Much of Scripture recounts historical events in narrative format, and Jesus often taught through parables. It’s evident that one of the primary ways God intends for us to learn eternal truths is through a narrative framework. In our current day, skilled Christian writers leverage their gift of painting with words to convey life-changing spiritual principles. Perhaps their ability to gain and hold our attention is more important than ever, given the tsunami of distractions we constantly face. This issue features author Charles Martin, who has written nearly 20 novels. In 2017, The Mountain Between Us was released as a major movie. Through his successful career, Charles has been able to reach a wide audience, and he has stewarded that opportunity well, providing hope based not on transitory feelings and changing circumstances, but on the firm foundation of the King of Kings. In “Novel Hope” (pg. 6), you’ll discover what motivates Charles to create his gripping stories. You’ll also see God at work through the lives of four renowned Christian writers — Cathy Gohlke, Bill Myers, Mike Yorkey, and Michele Howe — who share a peek into their lives and accomplishments (pg. 28). And in “Finding Light in the Darkness” (pg. 22), Evan Wilkerson recounts the amazing turnaround God performed in his life.

2021 Writing Contest Winners

Congratulations to our annual Christian Writing Contest winners: Barb Peil, Delores Liesner, and Libby Criswell! We thank them for their diligent work in honoring the Lord and we trust that they’ll continue using their talents to challenge and encourage readers. You’ll find their inspiring articles beginning on page 12. The Persecution Report in this issue covers conditions in the church in Laos. It was written before the fall of Afghanistan. Believers in Afghanistan are in extreme danger and little reliable information is available. That’s been the case for years, but the situation is much worse now. Please keep the believers there in prayer. In Christ, Dan Brownell, Editor

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Vol. 59


P.O. Box 282 Iola, WI 54945 Phone: (800) 223-3161 Copyright 2021

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Novel Hope Author Charles Martin Fights a Culture of Hopelessness, One Story at a Time By Stephanie Rische


harles Martin is an acclaimed author of almost 20 novels, and he’s had the remarkable experience of watching his name roll across the credits of a major motion picture. He makes a living telling stories and regularly hears feedback from readers whose lives have been impacted by his books. With glowing credentials like these, you might assume that the road to becoming an author was a smooth one for Charles — or at the very least, that it was something he aspired to from childhood. But a career in writing wasn’t as inevitable as his fans might think. “I didn’t really start writing until I was 15,” Charles said. “Until then, I was playing sports. It didn’t occur to me to sit still long enough to write something.” He described his foray into writing as a teenager as the perfect storm. “When I was in high school, there was so much I didn’t know what to do with — grades, athletics, girls, hormones. One night I sat down and wrote a story that had nothing to do with any of those things. But something about the process of writing let me take a breath in a way I hadn’t been able to before.” He continued to write through high school, college, and grad school, but it was primarily just a personal outlet. “I didn’t try to write a novel until I was in my late 20s,” Charles said. “I’d written short stories before, but a novel seemed so big. You walk into a bookstore and see those huge faces of famous authors on the wall. It felt like an unspoken statement to me: if you’re going to have your book in this place, you have to be one of them.” Then one day it hit Charles: those authors weren’t always famous. “At one time they were just ordinary guys like me,” he said. That realization gave Charles the boost he needed to write his first novel, The Dead Don’t Dance. The manuscript was rejected 86 times before it was accepted for publication. “I don’t know if you could call it tenacity,” Charles said with a laugh. “I just didn’t know what else to do.”

A Message of Hope

Two decades into his career in writing, Charles still enjoys the craft, along with the process of discovery that comes with it. “I enjoy getting lost in a world I’ve created,” he said. “As strange as this might sound, I like being 6



Above: Charles with his wife and children. L to R: John T., Rives, Christy, Charles, and Charlie. Photo courtesy Anna Sees Photography, LLC. Left: Christy and Charles in Colorado.

the first one to read my books.” But he doesn’t write merely for the sake of entertainment. “The stories I write have one thing in common. They all start with someone who is in a place of being broken. The arc is getting them to a place of not being broken.” Charles is quick to acknowledge that life doesn’t always have a happy ending. “All of us walk with a limp, to some degree,” he said. “We all carry scars.” “My goal is to write stories that communicate hope in a realistic way,” Charles said. “Every day on planet earth, we’re fed a daily dose of hopelessness, whether that’s through social media or the news. From the moment we wake up, culture serves us a dish of despair.” As a follower of Christ, Charles feels passionate about resisting hopelessness. “I don’t want to eat it, and I don’t want to serve it to other people,” he said. “But I also don’t want to serve something that’s emotively false.” That’s why he has made it his goal to write stories in which, at the end of the

day, hope wins. “That’s not to say life is tied up in a neat little bow,” he said. “But I detest hopelessness, and I’ll keep doing what I can to make my writing stand against it.” Not long ago, Charles received a letter from a woman whose son had been an addict for years. He’d walked a difficult road. He had caused a serious car accident and had been in and out of jail several times. But he eventually found healing and was graduating from a recovery program. Only books by certain kinds of authors were allowed in the rehab place, and Charles Martin was one of them. “I don’t just write for Christians — I don’t want to be pigeonholed,” Charles said. “Of course, I’m a Christian, and I love Jesus with all of me. But I’d rather someone call me a writer who happens to be a Christian. If my books are good enough to sit next to Patterson and Sparks, let them sit there.” Charles believes the message of hope is one that people from all backgrounds and life experiences long to hear. “If my books can get to someone like that man in rehab, they can shake some things loose. I believe stories have the power to fill people with hope and wash out hopelessness.” TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG


bodily, but I’m not as emotively present as I should be.” Like many authors, Charles finds it difficult to switch in and out of the world of the novel he’s working on. “I’ve heard stories of actors who get in character and stay that way even when they’re not filming,” he said. “I used to think that was strange, but now I get it.” According to Charles, the biggest challenge in this field is what every writer dreads: getting stuck. “I used to think writer’s block wasn’t a real thing, but it is,” he said. “When that happens, I make myself sit in the seat. I try to think about things from different angles; I write different parts of the story. And I pray a lot. I’ve prayed myself through many a writer’s block. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat in my chair and said, ‘Lord, I’m stuck.’ Please help!” Charles seems more surprised than anyone else about the success he’s experienced as a writer. “I never really aspired to be an author. I didn’t know how to do this,” he said. “What I want to do is communicate this thing inside me. Yes, I hope someone will read it, but at the end of the day, I’m just hoping to communicate a story that has to get out.”

A Story of Faith

Above: Charles at a book signing at San Marco Books. Right: Charles at around 5 years old. His path to novelist was a roundabout one. He didn’t write his first book until he was in his late 20s, and it was rejected 86 times before it was published.

The Secret to a Successful Writing Career

As Charles looks back over the past couple of decades, he feels like he still has a lot to learn about writing. “Sometimes people give me credit for knowing what I’m doing when I’m stumbling along with everyone else,” he explained. “I guess I thought I’d have this thing figured out by now. I’d have a sense of, This is how you do it every time. I have yet to find that. I think for me, the secret to writing is showing up. I believe 90% of it is putting your fanny in the chair and simply writing.” Charles described his writing habits not so much as bursts of inspiration but as daily, consistent discipline. “In a perfect world, I like to get up early, before sunup, grab a cup of coffee, and write until noon or one,” he said. “By then I’ve had all I can handle, and it’s time to work out or just get away from the desk.” Charles’s writing strategy has evolved somewhat over the years. “I used to have a goal of writing 2,500 words in a day. I could do that, but they weren’t always good words,” he said. “I was emphasizing quantity, not quality. So I backed up and decided to write an average of 1,000 really good words a day. If I get on a run, I may get more than that, and on not-so-good days, it may be more like 500. But I try to average it out over the course of a week.” While some people may think of writing as a dream job in terms of setting your own schedule and hours, Charles has a slightly different perspective. “My wife, Christy, would say that when I’m in the middle of writing a novel, I don’t punch out until 12 to 14 months later, when I’m finished with the book!” he said. “I’m there 8



Charles grew up in a home with a mom and dad who loved the Lord. “I don’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t know Jesus as Lord,” he said. “I saw faith modeled for me, and I had folks who kneeled by my bed at night. I didn’t know until I got older that not everyone had that kind of childhood.” Although Charles used to want a “bad guy testimony” — such as coming to the Lord in a prison cell — he now has a new perspective. “I’ve come to realize how beautiful my testimony is and how blessed I am to have a generational heritage. I wouldn’t trade it.” This foundation of faith undergirds everything Charles writes. “When it comes down to it, I’m trying to write a love story,” he said. “That used to ding me, because I figured that meant someone would try to put Fabio on the cover. Then I realized that Scripture is the greatest love story ever told — about a King who left his throne to rescue a bunch of rebels like us — a King who sacrificed himself for people who had done nothing to earn it.” Charles’ goal as a writer is not to hit people over the head with spiritual matters. “I want to write stories that circumnavigate the calloused places in our hearts to a place where we laugh quickly, love deeply, and forgive completely.” As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3, God chooses some to plow and others to harvest. “With that in mind,” he said, “I’m going to keep planting seeds of hope, as long as God gives me the words.” For more information about Charles and his books, visit  Stephanie Rische edits and writes in the Chicago area, where she lives with her husband and two sons. When she isn’t chasing down commas or little boys, she blogs at Her memoir, I Was Blind (Dating), but Now I See, recounts how God surprised her with his grace and love.

Accept e gifts T H AT C O M E W I T H G R O W I N G O L D E R I N A W O R L D T H AT N E E D S W H AT Y O U H AV E T O G I V E .

It’s fitting that Living Strong, Finishing Well is Dr. David Stoop’s last book. In it, he has drawn upon his more than eighty years on the planet and his decades of counseling, speaking, and writing to show you how to live every moment to its fullest until you’re finally called home.



D R . D AV I D S T O O P

DR. DAVID STOOP (1937-2021) was the founder and director of the Center for Family Therapy and cohost of the nationally syndicated New Life Live radio and TV program. The author of more than 30 books, David coauthored several books with his wife, Jan, and led seminars and retreats on topics such as marital relationships, parenting, men’s issues, fathering, and forgiveness. Available wherever books and ebooks are sold.

The Good News

A man accused of murder was brought before a judge. The man admitted to the crime, the guilty verdict was read, and the death penalty pronounced. Even though the guilty man was his own son, the judge could not dismiss the verdict or he would be a corrupt, unjust judge. So great was the judge’s love for his son that he decided to pay the debt for him. The judge stepped down from the bench, removed his robe, traded places with him, and was executed in his place. This is what Jesus has done for us. Jesus was sinless, but paid the penalty for our sin, dying on the cross in our place. This is called substitutionary atonement, but the atonement only takes effect if we are willing to accept this incredible gift; God won’t force His love on us. To receive this forgiveness, we must admit our guilt and sins and repent of them. If you have never done this, you can do it now. Tell God that you are sorry for your sins and want to turn away from them. If you truly repent, He will wash your sins away and give you a new life. He will send the Holy Spirit to live inside you and to change you from the inside out. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17 ESV) TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG



By Jerry and Shirley Rose

The Miracle of Grace


Jerry Rose is an internationally known Christian broadcaster and is former president/ CEO of the Total Living Network. He currently serves as TLN’s chairman of the board and hosts the Emmy awardwinning program Significant Living. Jerry is an ordained minister and the author of five books, including Deep Faith for Dark Valleys and Significant Living, co-authored with his wife Shirley. He is the past president of the National Religious Broadcasters and currently serves on its board of directors. Jerry is an avid golfer, equestrian, photographer, and grandfather of 20. Shirley Rose has been in ministry with her husband, Jerry, for more than 30 years. Her career in Christian television focused on hosting several programs, including the Emmy Award-winning women’s program Aspiring Women. She has authored five books, including The Eve Factor, A Wise Woman Once Said…, and Significant Living, and has contributed to numerous anthologies and periodicals. She is actively pursuing her calling to help other women through writing, speaking, and hosting women’s groups in her home. Her favorite pastimes are country line dancing, travel, and spending time with her 20 grandchildren. 10

aking up from colon cancer surgery on Our parents, if they are responsible, teach us eara gurney, I knew I had to be alive. With ly on that there are consequences. If you break the IVs in both arms, a tube down my throat, rules, you could get hurt. If you disobey, you will drains in my abdomen, and a 12-inch stapled slice in be punished. If you break the law, you could go to my stomach, this obviously was not heaven. jail. This is not a bad thing. Hopefully, it produces Though I was grateful to be alive, the next two adults who take responsibility for their actions and weeks in the hospital were difficult. I was in consid- treat others as they should. The Bible has much to erable pain from the surgery. The constant struggle say about consequences and the benefits of righwith gag reflex from the tube left me barely able to teous living. However, it often births in us a need move. The awful, vivid nightmares from the pain to perform, a drive for perfection, and the idea that medications were so bad I finally chose the pain over we must earn God’s love. I believed I had gotten the meds. However, the greatest struggle of all was the cancer because I fell short and didn’t deserve good spiritual attack Satan waged against me. It was one of health or God’s approval. No matter how “good” we are, or even if we the greatest spiritual battles of my life. I kept hearing the words you deserve this as the ac- never break a rule, we will still never be worthy of cuser bombarded me with a long list From that moment God’s love or Jesus’ sacrifice. I John 1:8 makes it clear. “If we say that we of my mistakes, sins, and inadequaon I could respond have no sin, we deceive ourselves, cies. I couldn’t shake the feeling that with confidence, and the truth is not in us” (KJV). I had brought this on myself because “Yes, but I’m But the verse following I John 1:8 I wasn’t spiritual enough. The dark gives instructions about how to cloud hovering over me wouldn’t go forgiven.” It deal with our sins. “If we confess our away. It seemed my prayers went no brought the He is faithful and just to forgive further than the end of my lips, and peace that passes sins, us our sins and to cleanse us from even reading the Bible seemed futile. understanding. all unrighteousness.” Then one evening it all changed Our righteousness is only possible through the with a simple but profound realization. I know it was the Holy Spirit who broke through my self-condem- miracle of grace. Do you struggle with guilt, shame, nation and despair with this simple truth. Satan was or even self-loathing over failures of the past? Here’s right; I couldn’t deny his accusations. I was guilty as what you must do. Accept that you have sinned charged. I was a sinner; I had made mistakes; I was (Rom. 3:23). Name those sins out loud if necessary. inadequate. But because of God’s incomprehensible Call them by their ugly names and embrace them as your own. One reason we can’t be free of our sins love and grace, it had all been forgiven. I knew this. I had taught about it on television and is that we try to keep them secret, or we deny or spoken of it from the pulpit. But in the spiritual and minimize what we have done. Be brutally honest in emotional struggle of the moment, I had forgotten your prayer. God already knows everything about about the miracle of grace. As God brought it to my you. Humbly and sincerely ask God through his remembrance, the darkness vanished and was re- son Jesus for forgiveness. After you confess your placed by the sunshine of His love. The accusations sins, accept God’s forgiveness. Accept God’s grace didn’t stop with my epiphany. Satan kept heaping on because “He is faithful and just to forgive our sins the condemnation. But from that moment on I could and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Memorize Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now respond with confidence, “Yes, but I’m forgiven.” It no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, brought the peace that passes understanding. A simple explanation of biblical grace could be who do not walk according to the flesh, but according “a generous and totally free and undeserved gift to the Spirit.” (NKJV). Acknowledging and claiming God’s forgiveness from God that takes the form of divine favor, love, and clemency.” It was demonstrated by Jesus’ death is not a one-time deal. The accuser wants us to fall and resurrection as God provided redemption for back into the pit of guilt and condemnation with his fallen creation. But grace is difficult for us to every single mistake. But through our faith, we can understand or embrace. It goes against everything know that we walk in forgiveness and victory — thanks to the miracle of grace.  we’ve been taught.





“It was the ver y D E C O N S T R U C T I O N of my faith that O P E N E D M Y E Y E S to God.” –LINA ABUJAMRA






By Barb Peil

he Starbucks baristas at Dallas’ Inwood Road think of Cindy Brinker Simmons as their friend, even naming a drink after her — “Cindy Tea.” It’s a great day when you get to serve her on her morning visit. She asks about your college classes or your sick mom or your weekly pickleball matches. She remembers and, you’re convinced, she sincerely cares about everything you share. And when Cindy drives away, your burden is just a little lighter because she has shared your load. It takes a special kind of person to deliver joy like that, every day, despite private sorrows. It’s true what they say: most people are either going through a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or heading into one. Cindy knows all about how life can fall to pieces . . . and also how hearts and lives can be restored to wholeness. She’s a living, breathing, believing, champion of joy — the kind of joy only God gives. But for Cindy, as it often does for all of us, this joy came in the middle of two heart-wrenching losses. 1969: The year man walked on the moon and the Beatles took America by storm, and 12-year-old Cindy’s world stood still. Her mom checked into the hospital and never came home. Ovarian cancer stole her away at 34 years old. Cindy’s grief was shared by millions, especially in the tennis world. Cindy’s mom, known as “Little Mo,” was the world tennis champion, Maureen Connolly. As a teenager in 1953, Little Mo was the first woman to win the coveted Grand Slam, capturing all four major championships in one calendar year. She was America’s sweetheart, her face filled the media, topped that year only by Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

Cindy and son, William (L.), with sister, Brenda, and niece, Connolly (R.), at the 2019 launch of “Little Mo” U.S. postage stamp.




Mom teaches Cindy, age 6, her famous backhand that earned her the nickname, Little Mo, after the firepower of the USS Missouri, known as “Big Mo.”

But a year later, Little Mo’s meteoric tennis career got cut short by a horseback riding accident. Her spirit undiminished, she soon married Norman Brinker, also a sports star and Olympian. “My parents were American heroes,” Cindy said. “More importantly, they taught my sister Brenda and me the importance of investing in people’s lives, giving back and making a difference.” The loss of her mom was catastrophic to young Cindy. “I tried to process my confused emotions. I saw God as angry — punishing me for something I must have done. I tried to fill the gaping hole in my soul with accomplishments. I searched for affirmation and love.”

Cindy, Bob, and William, 2003.

Unexpectedly at 16, Cindy found that love the day she heard about Jesus. She trusted Him to save her and love her, and she’s never looked back. “Remembering these years, I’m so grateful for God who found me. He picked up all the pieces of my brokenness and restored my life. Piece by piece, my life became whole again.” 2002: Cancer again invaded Cindy’s home and heart 33 years later. Her husband, Bob, was diagnosed with a rare cancer. Through smiles and tears Cindy shared, “Bob gave us our mission statement for that season. Whether we had three months or three years to battle, from this moment forward we will glorify God. We will choose joy because we fully trust Him. And that is what we did. We shared our faith in the Lord boldly and bravely. We declared this adversity was part of His sovereign and good purpose. Our victory over our misery infused hope into a watching world. Three years later, Bob completed his race. He fought the good fight, and he kept the faith, leaving a Christ-centered legacy of joy, strength, excellence, and honor. “This time as the twister blew through my heart, I knew Bob’s sad loss was part of God’s eternal design. When I lost my mom, the struggle with God hindered me from seeing His love. Now, in the middle of another great loss, my love for God and my trust in Him enabled me to choose joy even when my circumstances screamed heartbreak and grief. My loss was excruciating, but my confidence in God was not shaken. “Bob fixed his hope on God and said we were privileged to have the ministry of suffering: ‘God thinks we are capable of impacting people through it. This journey has been difficult, disruptive, and damaging, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.’ “Anyone who has had their life broken to pieces understands grief,” Cindy added. “However, when I see a sweet motherdaughter interaction or see a wife and husband holding hands, I celebrate rather than grieve. God has filled my broken heart with His presence. This hope from heartache is part of my ministry to those who also suffer.” Cindy’s bright countenance today could be called cheerfulness — but if you talk with her about where her spirit draws from, she’ll tell you about her hope in God. “I meet people every day with crushed spirits. They may look like they’re functioning normally, but they’re dying inside a little every day. Who can

rescue you when hope dies? Only Jesus. Only He can give you life beyond the storm.” Cindy puts that faith in God to good use these days. She pours herself into two organizations. The first her mom started in 1968, just six months before she died. Today Cindy leads the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation. This globally renowned nonprofit impacts junior tennis around the world with programs for talented boys and girls ages 8–12. The second charity Cindy directs is also in her mother’s honor. “I started Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer to fight against the cancer that claimed Mom’s young life. For 40 years now, WOKC has raised funds for innovative pediatric cancer research projects. Just this year in the midst of pandemic

The mission of the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation is to further junior tennis development worldwide through fun, competitive tournaments at the sectional, regional, national, and international levels.

restrictions, we had an all-day event with Jersey Mike’s, where 100% of their sales at all 56 Dallas-Fort Worth stores benefitted WOKC, raising nearly three-quarters of a million dollars for pediatric cancer research. Praise the Lord! “I have met hundreds of courageous warriors who have claimed victory over their cancer enemy. Sadly, we’ve also lost young heroes. One grieving mother told me she didn’t know how to cope with this ‘new normal.’ I understand. After Bob’s death, I wondered how I could live in a world without Bob in it. “Pain will always be part of life’s experience because we live in a fallen world. However, even in the middle of chaos, horror, and suffering, joy can be planted to bear fruit. But that is only possible if you have the cheerful confidence that God always wins. To God be the glory!”  Barb Peil is a veteran communicator in Christian radio and finally lives near enough to the beautiful beaches in southern California.






By Delores Liesner

ho knew bargains could help kids with heart problems? Seth Bayles and his team filled the tables in an enormous gym. A set of drums was visible on the stage, and when Seth haltingly made his way to them, I assumed he was one of the recipients of the fundraiser. While Seth played for donations for the Children’s Heart Project — providing surgery for children from countries where the required medical expertise and equipment are not available — a video revealed Seth’s heart and outreach. I saw courage on display in the pain-filled and debilitated body of this young man with the huge grin and determination to help other children. Joy poured off Seth and his family when individuals and couples said they were moved to sponsor a child through the Children’s Heart Project in honor of Seth. His face reflected words of amazing joy knowing that a child’s heart would be healed, and lives changed due to Seth’s journey. At 7, Seth was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder that would change his life forever. But instead of conceding to the pain, Seth chose joy and the opportunity to inspire others. A year later, his limbs began giving out. Local doctors could tell it was an autoimmune disease, but the combination of symptoms, the sudden onset, and the rapid decline were not in their medical books. Seth’s excruciating pain and extremely complex case was puzzling even for Mayo Clinic. Yet here he was playing drums to help kids he had met over the past 10 years on his medical journey to Mayo every nine weeks. Seth’s unstoppable optimism has changed lives and impacted many local programs such as Matthias Academy, a program for adults with disabilities and specialized medical needs. Limitations from his deteriorating lung capacity led Seth into percussion, and drums became his creative and emotional outlet, as well as his physical therapy. Wanting others to experience the same joy, he often brought his drum set to the academy for other students. It was his idea to fundraise for a drum set for the school. The community responded in four days with over $4,000 for instruments. Seth’s stories included how the




newly purchased xylophone, each wooden key labeled with braille, enabled a visually impaired student to play her favorite songs independently! Wanting to focus on the blessings rather than the burdens, Seth determines to be the voice for all abilities. He donated a handicapped race chair to the high school and loves to help others see what great things can come from mobility! People ask questions including, “How can Seth endure so much with such a positive attitude?” and “How can a good God allow such suffering?” Despite his many struggles,

Above from left: Each bead has a special significance in Seth Bayle’s courageous story. • On Seth’s trips to the Mayo Clinic, he brings donations for the Ronald McDonald house. He also collected more than a million soda can tabs.

Seth proclaims publicly, boldly, bravely, that he is unashamed of his faith in Jesus as his Lord and Savior. A painful, progressive disease is no joke. Seth continues to lose functions he once had, such as vision, cognitive function, walking, etc., yet he possesses the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Seth’s red and white Ronald McDonald socks were what led me to the rest of the story. Seth felt he and his mom had received so much from the RMD house that he wanted to give back.

Each time he saw the need of someone else when getting treatment, he empathized and shared the needs he saw with others. Seth’s contagious joy gathered support. He wore and sold the iconic striped socks. Soon he was bringing joy and help on each trip to Mayo Clinic with blankets, scrubs, hats, pillowcases, diapers, checks, cash donations, and over a million pop tabs to go toward expansion of the Ronald McDonald house where he often stayed. When people ask questions, Seth can tell his story through his nonprofit organization Beads of Courage, which recognizes each difficult step of children’s and teens’ medical journey with their Arts in Medicine Programs. Each bead has special significance and becomes a visual prompt of Seth’s complicated condition, displaying 12 years of chemotherapy injections, seizures, infusions, therapies, testing, and admission to ICU in addition to the struggles, joys, blessings, victories, and milestones of that time. Many in his community, state, and surrounding areas have rallied and requested to come alongside Seth to help with the various fundraisers that have spotlighted his little corner of Wisconsin. Many specially designated days such as Feeding Tube Awareness Week and Walk for Autism Awareness become a catalyst of help and hope in Seth’s hands. As donations are brought in, people often tell Seth how his journey has positively impacted their life and how they appreciate that he points to Jesus. Suffering is inevitable in this life ... the struggle is real. Some of us struggle more than others. Seth’s joints have become stiff to the point of limited mobility, and his pain is now constant. But his perspective is not what I expected. Seth teaches that our perspectives change through suffering. Pain and hardships have a way of humbling us; it brings us to the end of ourselves. It is then when we make much of God. Isaiah 40: 29–31 is a passage Seth shares often: “He gives power to the weak And strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, And young men will fall in exhaustion But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength, They will soar high on wings like eagles, They will run and not grow weary, They will walk and not faint” (NLT). Popsicles have been an important part of Seth’s life since needing to be 100% tube fed. Seth had complications, and dropped 20 pounds but, through it all, popsicles have been a source of happiness for him! When people tell Seth’s mom that his quality of life is low because he can’t eat steak, she shares how Seth’s quality of life depends on opportunities to share about Jesus, and with that perspective, popsicles are his “steak.” Seth couldn’t eat the cupcakes he carried to school, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting others to experience the pleasure. Actually, it brings him joy to bless others. It takes the focus off himself. It’s a selfless perspective. That perspective was recognized

Above: Seth has led numerous fundraisers for medical needs. Left: Seth in the hospital.

by his peers, who named him Prom King in 2019. His doctors and staff at Mayo Clinic also recognized him with being able to participate in the groundbreaking of the addition to the Ronald McDonald house. His mother Julie said, “Instead of focusing on ‘the cure’ and this suffering to ‘be over,’ we focus on what God is doing in and through medical uncertainty. It doesn’t mean we don’t long for a cure. It also doesn’t mean that there isn’t pain. Nor does it mean it’s without hardship ... but we have seen purpose in the pain, and we can see God’s hand accomplishing His purposes. This perspective changes everything.” Seth is a hero to many children at Mayo Clinic and the nearby Ronald McDonald house. He is a hero to many in his school, his community, and his state. His love in action makes him a hero to me, too. Hear more about Seth’s story at  Delores Liesner’s passion, whether writing or speaking about activating faith is to be the miracle for others. She’s published hundreds of stories, devotionals, columns, teaching articles, and a devotional, Be the Miracle! (Elk Lake Publishing). Her chosen ministry benefits children with life-threatening illness via Fullness of Life Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG





By Libby Criswell

or Margaret Ross, a longtime and loyal member of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange, Georgia, cleaning teeth has always been a calling. She first found work as a dental hygienist at 18, and she continued to diligently pursue that calling for 45 more years. When she decided to retire from full-time work, Margaret had no idea that one of her greatest and most challenging adventures had yet to even begin. In the early 2000s, following her retirement, Margaret was approached by another church member who requested her help in starting a dental clinic to serve members of the LaGrange community who couldn’t afford to have much-needed dental work done. He had heard of her vast experience working in dentistry and knew that she would be a dedicated organizer and volunteer. Margaret accepted his offer and soon became the dental clinic’s director, excited to make a difference in a new way. When asked what prompted her to take on such a huge responsibility in retirement, Margaret said that she did it for two reasons, the first being that her late husband — who was a dentist she had worked alongside for years — had believed in the goal of dental clinics and had always hoped to start one himself. The second reason was simply that she loves what she does. “I love cleaning teeth. It’s like when you’re saved and getting your life cleaned up,” she said. “And it’s wonderful to get that bright smile to where people want to share it. It’s just a calling for me.”

Margaret Ross began the dental clinic after she retired with 45 years’ experience as a dental hygienist.

After much hard work and preparation by Margaret and many other committed volunteers, the dental clinic opened in October 2008, funded by a joint effort between First Baptist LaGrange and Georgia Baptist Health Services. Housed in the basement of the church’s main office building and run by several local dentists and hygienists who volunteered their time and energy, the vast number of dental needs in the community immediately overwhelmed the clinic. It opened every Thursday evening from 5 to 8 and scheduled between 10 and 15 patients during those times, all of whom had to be under the 200% poverty level. “We got it started and people just kept coming and coming,” Margaret said. “It is so gratifying to see the people that we’ve helped and know that we helped when they couldn’t have gotten their smiles repaired any other place but here.” Left: The clinic provides spiritual care as well as free dental services. 16



The dental missions group in Mexico in 2014.

Margaret believes that one of the best parts of the dental clinic was that it allowed First Baptist to reach a part of the public that no other ministry at the church could. When people came to the dental clinic seeking aid for their physical health, Margaret and the other volunteers focused on their spiritual health, too. “The first question I ask them when they come to fill out their paperwork is ‘Do you have a living relationship with Jesus? Do you know Him as your personal Savior?’ And it was an open door,” Margaret said. “I actually led three people to the Lord that first year.” In addition to the work of the dental clinic in the LaGrange community, the volunteers also had the opportunity to go on mission trips to Mexico and host dental clinics there. For four consecutive summers, the group of volunteer dentists and hygienists spent a week traveling to various cities in the state of Quintana Roo. They cleaned teeth, performed dental work, and shared the gospel wherever they went. Margaret recalled one particularly powerful way that the volunteers would share the gospel with their patients. Due to the unclean water present in many Quintana Roo cities, many people had what Margaret described as a very dark tar coating their teeth. As the hygienists removed the tar from teeth, they told their patients, ‘This is the way sin is in your life,’ and explained how Jesus can remove the sin from their lives just as the tar was removed from their teeth — by cleaning it off and casting it away. “All of a sudden it would dawn on them what we were saying to them,” Margaret said. “We had several people give their heart to the Lord and helping to relieve some of the pain that they had was absolutely wonderful.”

After being the director of the dental clinic for over a decade, Margaret now considers it to be her second home. She is so grateful to all the people who have come together and volunteered their time and resources to provide dental care to people who might never have received it otherwise. Between the coordinators, the dentists and hygienists, and the many people who have provided meals for the volunteers, the mission of the dental clinic has shown just how possible it is for everyday people to make a difference for Jesus in their communities, and in the world. “The church is a big family, and we’re all brothers and sisters. [The dental clinic] is an ‘arm’ of the church, a ministry that we were called to do, and we have fulfilled that call,” Margaret said. “Everybody has a gift. Each of us has a place in this family, and all of us together can get it done.” Margaret believes that First Baptist LaGrange’s dental clinic is proof that everyday people can overcome challenges, meet needs, and make an impact for Jesus if they get their direction from God and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit in their lives. “If He calls you to it, He will see you through it,” Margaret said. “And that’s just the way it is.”  Libby Criswell is a 19-year-old native of LaGrange, Georgia. She is currently attending Samford University to double major in religion and music and hopes to one day work in Christian counseling. Libby also enjoys playing cello and singing and is an avid reader and writer. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG



Is Forgetfulness Normal?

Dear Dr. Walt, What’s the difference between age-related memory loss and dementia? —Absentminded in Alaska

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 bestselling author of 30 books. You can find Dr. Walt’s health blog and free daily devotional at You can also watch him on Liftable TV at Liftable DoctorWalt. Have questions for Dr. Walt? Email them to editor@

Dear Forgetful, Starting about age 40, brain size decreases about 5% every 10 years. The speed of loss is dramatically faster after age 70. Age-related memory loss is a common and normal complaint that typically starts between the ages of 40 and 50. Dementia is the overarching term for a family of progressive brain diseases that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. The old adage is that normal agerelated memory loss is forgetting where you put your keys. Dementia is not remembering what they are used for. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, is 100% fatal, and is the only top-10 cause of death in the U.S. with no known cure. It’s also the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. No wonder Alzheimer’s has been called “the most feared disease in the US.”1.

Do Brain Supplements Really Work?

Dear Dr. Walt, There are so many ads for supplements for brain health. What works? —Wanting to Boost My Noggin in Nevada Dear Booster, Because people are so fearful about dementia and Alzheimer’s, more and more consumers are buying into the hype surrounding natural medicines (herbs, vitamins, or supplements) to either prevent brain decline or improve brain health. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates “80% of older adults rely on dietary supplements, many purporting to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.” As a result, the sales of supplements claiming to boost memory will exceed $5.8 billion by 2023. Unfortunately, almost all of these concerned and fearful people are wasting their money. The bottom line is that there is no prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, medical food, or natural medicine, that has ever produced a clear benefit for helping preserve memory or for preventing Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia. The experts at Natural Medicines™ wrote, “There is no therapy to slow the natural cog-




By Walt Larimore, MD

nitive decline that occurs with aging.” The Global Council on Brain Health — an independent collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars, and policy experts from around the world who are working in areas of brain health related to human cognition — published an exhaustive report in which they concluded, “We do not endorse any ingredient, product, or supplement formulation specifically for brain health unless your health care provider has identified that you have a specific nutrient deficiency.”2

What Are Nootropics?

Dear Dr. Walt, I’m seeing a naturopath who strongly recommends something called nootropics for brain health. She also sells them, and they’re expensive. Are they worth the cost?” —Naturopath Fan in New Mexico Dear Alternative Aficionado, Nootropic is just a fancy word for a supplement taken for brain health enhancement. Harvard researchers report, “Brain enhancement supplements have become increasingly popular. Despite their popularity, the risks of these products are poorly understood.” Steven DeKosky, MD, the deputy director of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida, said, “We see plenty of ads on TV, but we have no evidence that any of these things (vitamins, various antioxidants, concoctions derived from animals and plants) are preventive of dementia or Alzheimer’s.” He added, “Some of these supplements are biologically active and can cause toxicity when you take other drugs.” Alzforum, a news and information resource dedicated to researchers of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, reported, “Researchers believe such supplements offer false hope while shrinking the wallets of people worried about cognitive decline and dementia.” Paul Aisen, MD, an expert in Alzheimer’s disease research and director of the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute at the University of Southern California, said, “It is very likely that all such remedies are useless, and some are potentially hazardous.” The Alzheimer’s Association noted that even if a supplement is safe to take on its own, it may interact with prescription medicines or other supplements in unpredictable ways. Jacob Hall, MD, a neurologist at Stanford University, wrote, “There’s a lot of fear and desperation surrounding memory loss and the lack of effective medications to prevent or slow it down. Supplement

companies are aware of this chasm and are increasingly rushing to fill it.” Mayo Clinic neurologist David Knopman, MD, a researcher in dementia and Alzheimer’s, added, “My take is that the extent of false claims made by many supplement or memory-enhancing drug manufacturers is criminal.” It appears the FDA agrees: “Simply put, health fraud scams prey on vulnerable populations, waste money, and often delay proper medical care.” Every year, the FDA mails warning letters to scores of companies formally accusing them of illegally marketing dietary supplements for dementia prevention or treatment. Some use products that have been studied for dementia or Alzheimer’s and found to be unsafe or ineffective. Unfortunately, the FDA is just playing Whack-A-Mole. Every time they knock one unscrupulous company down, more pop up. Every single published neuroscientist in the world contacted by Alzforum “universally believe[s] brain health supplements are ineffective.”

What Helps Brain Health?

Dear Dr. Walt, On a recent TV show, I heard you say supplements do not help brain health. What works? Anything? —Nurturing My Brain in Alabama Dear Cognition Cultivator, Kirsty Marais from Alzheimer’s Research UK said this is the most common question put to them. Daniel Murman, MD, the director of the Memory Disorders Program at the University of Nebraska, wrote, “There is emerging evidence that healthy lifestyle choices improve brain health.” He specifically mentioned the following: • eating a healthy diet • exercising regularly • participating in cognitive-stimulating activities • avoiding social isolation, excessive alcohol consumption, and tobacco products • managing emotional stress, which might include meditation [and, I would add, prayer!] • managing medical problems, such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obstructive sleep apnea4 Healthy lifestyle choices may cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 60%.5 Neurologist Richard Isaacson, MD, the founder of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center, said, “Physical activity and nutrition were by far the two most important things on the list.”

What Diet Is Best for Brain Health?

Dear Dr. Walt, I visited a dietician to help with my diabetes and heart disease. She said a good diet can protect my brain. But there are a lot of them. Any recommendations? —Seeking Better Nutrition in New York Dear Brain Booster, Two studies have reported that risk for cognitive impairment could be reduced by half by closely following the Mediterra-

nean style diet. One expert pointed out, “People with the higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet had almost a 45% to 50% reduction in the risk of having an impaired cognitive function.” Dr. Isaacson added, “The evidence continues to mount that you are what you eat when it comes to brain health.”6 Recent studies also recommend the “MIND” diet, which stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.” The MIND diet score is based on an evaluation of how much food is consumed in either (A) healthy food groups such as leafy green vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine, or (B) less-healthy food groups, including red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, fried food, and fast food. More of the former and the less of the latter, the higher the MIND score. A large study that followed over 2,500 older Americans for about six years reported that when the high-quality MIND diet was combined with other healthy lifestyle factors, there was a significantly decreased risk of Alzheimer dementia.⁷ The lifestyle factors were: • a high MIND diet score • not smoking • engaging in more than 150 minutes per week of moderateto vigorous-intensity physical activity • light to moderate alcohol consumption, meaning no more than one drink per day for women and two for men • engagement in cognitive activities such as reading, writing, or playing chess The risk of Alzheimer’s dementia was 37% lower in those with two or three of these healthy lifestyle factors and a whopping 60% lower in those with four or five factors compared to those with none or only one of these healthy lifestyle factors. I hope it’s obvious that there is so much that each of us can do for our and our family’s brain health. Unfortunately, pills and potions are not on that list. But what is on the list, not only can improve our brain health, but will also improve our heart and emotional health while dramatically cutting our risk of several types of cancer and premature death. What’s not to like about that?  Adapted from The Natural Medicines Handbook: The Truth about the Most Effective Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements for Common Conditions by Walt Larimore, MD, published by Baker Publishing Group, Ada, Michigan, 49301. bakerpublishinggroup. com. Used by permission. Also, don’t miss Ask Dr. Walt on a new Christian streaming service, Liftable TV, DoctorWalt. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. For easy access to all of these links, visit TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG



By Dr. Sabrina Black

Comfort for Daughter Who Was “Ghosted”

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 or call 313-201-6286.

Q. My daughter thinks I’m being insensitive about her latest breakup. This is the third guy she has met online who has left her without saying goodbye. The previous ones were hard on her, but this one has been devastating. Julie thought she had found the one. They dated five months, and she was falling in love. But when he stopped returning her calls, she became concerned for his well-being and whereabouts. There was no sign of him for weeks, so she tried contacting his family and friends. The few she was able to reach acted as though they knew nothing. Then one of his friends told her, “Girl, you’ve been ghosted.” I know this is painful for Julie, but I’m struggling with the thought of this as a new phenomenon. She talks about ghosting as if it’s a new thing. I’m 68, and this is something that happened even when I was dating. Why is it such a big deal now? Help me understand the drama and how to help my daughter. Signed: Clueless Over “Casper” A. Dear Clueless Over “Casper,” You’re right. Although “ghosting” is a new term, it’s not a new practice. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says. “What has been, will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (NIV). Many people over the years have been left with no closure or explanation for their breakups. They’re left wondering what went wrong when everything seemed so right. Ghosting often happens when a relationship moves too fast or when one person feels overwhelmed by the intensity of the relationship and doesn’t know how to communicate the need to slow down. There are times in relationships when people don’t know how to handle conflict and confrontation or hold their own ground in an argument with the other person. Their way of dealing with it is to walk away. Ghosting can also happen when a person comes across as too needy or too clingy. When you were younger, and people disappeared from your life, you simply cried and got over it. You were heartbroken, but only a few people knew what happened. Today it’s such a big deal because of social media. When you’ve been ghosted, the disappearance is visible to the masses. The heartbreak, shame, and anger can be devastating.




Be sensitive to Julie’s anguish. Allow her to grieve but help her move forward. Remind her that it’s better to find out now versus later that this is how her boyfriend approached conflict and that it’s not healthy to beg anyone to be in a relationship with her. It would be helpful for your daughter to take some time for reflection by asking herself some questions. What behaviors does she have that were consistent in all three relationships? What was similar about the character of the three guys that she dated? What were possible signs that they were drifting away that she may have missed? As someone who went through similar experiences when you were younger, show empathy and keep her grounded with your love. She needs someone who is present.

Struggling With Intense Jealousy

Q. I know I’m too old to be jealous of what my friends are accomplishing, but I’m filled with jealousy and ashamed to admit it. Jealousy has always been a problem for me. I’ve been unhappy most of my life because I compare what I have with what others have and feel like I’ve been cheated. It’s been challenging at my job because I’m jealous of my boss and my coworkers. They’re getting promotions and opportunities I think should be mine. It’s not fair and I’m angry and depressed. I’ve managed to hide my feelings from those I was jealous of until recently, but I realize how much it’s showing now, and my attitude is going from bad to worse. My jealousy is so bad that I started accusing my fiancé of cheating even though I have no proof. He’s getting tired of my jealousy, and I am, too. Is there any help for me? My life is miserable, and it will get worse if I don’t change. I may lose the man I love, my job, and my mind. Help!! Signed: I’m Too Old to Be Jealous

A. Dear I’m Too Old to Be Jealous, Yes, there’s help for you! No one is too old or young to feel this destructive emotion. Jealousy and envy often go hand in hand, but they’re different. Jealousy is an unpleasant suspicion stemming from insecurity or lack of trust. Envy is like covetousness. It’s wanting what someone else has and being discontent with what you have. The feelings of jealousy and envy are often linked in romantic relationships. Jealousy will lead to compulsive, obsessive, and obtrusive thoughts. If jealousy persists, it can lead to distress and anxiety. You can experience these emotions whenever you’re worried about losing anything or anyone that’s important to you. Both can lead to feelings of anger, resentment, and sadness, which is harmful in many ways. One thing that combats envy is practicing gratitude. Focus on what you do have and make time to enjoy it. Recite daily affirmations from the Bible that remind you that who you are and what you have is more than enough. 1 Timothy 6 tells us that we can know what it is to be in need and know what it is to have more than enough, and we can learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether we’re living in plenty or in want. Also limit social media, as spending too much time there can be overwhelming and exhausting as you compare yourself to others’ posts. Remember that their posts don’t always portray their lives accurately. People tend to post only their best moments and not the bad ones. Learn to be present in your own life as opposed to vicariously living through others and do a study on James 3:14: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth” (NIV).

Dealing With a Self-Centered Friend

Q. Mallory and I have been friends since we were teenagers, and we’re both grandmothers now. When we were together, she would become angry and mean unless I told her how wonderful she was. Mallory was

only happy when she was at the center of things and in control. She had to be first in everything and behaved as if she was better than everyone else. It was hard being her friend, but I always looked the other way and made excuses for her behavior. Over the years, many of our other friends dismissed her and stopped spending time with both of us. Mallory didn’t see this as a concern. She just thought others couldn’t handle how pretty or popular she was. She has believed that I stayed friends with her because I understood. The truth is everyone, including me, was tired of the world revolving around Mallory. We were all tired of how her stories had to top everyone else’s. As she got older it became worse. Now, she has started comparing our grandchildren, telling mine that they will never be smarter, prettier, or more popular than hers. My granddaughters came home in tears recently saying they can’t play with their friends because Auntie Mallory is mean and talks about them. I can’t look the other way any longer. There’s no doubt about it; my best friend is a narcissist. What can I do to help my friend? Have I waited too long? Signed: My Best Friend Is a Narcissist A. Dear My Best Friend Is a Narcissist, Your friend does seem to have some of the classic signs of narcissism: an inflated sense of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle criticism, and a sense of entitlement. However, there is good news. It’s not too late to help Mallory. The Apostle Paul declared in Romans 7:24–25, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (NKJV). We know that the answer is the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have narcissistic tendencies usually don’t admit or acknowledge what’s obvious to others, but the power of God is still able to transform them. You’ve stuck with Mallory over the years through all her selfishness and selfcenteredness. This isn’t the time for retaliation but truth and restoration. Speak to your granddaughters about love and forgiveness; then speak to Mallory about being kind and gracious. Help her learn how to build others up instead of tearing them down. Pray for her and with her. You’ve been the friend that’s stuck closer than a brother. Share these Scriptures with her: 2 Corinthians 10:12, Jeremiah 9:23–24, and Romans 12:3. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG


Finding Light in the Darkness By Evan Wilkerson


rowing up, I was bullied a lot in school. Quite a few times, whether it was in class, the cafeteria, or the gym, I was publicly humiliated. I became an easy target — not just because I struggled in school but because I let kids push me around. More than anything else, I wanted to be accepted. Yet, year after year I was bullied and put down, even by people I considered “friends.” I felt inferior and began to hate others and myself. As a result, I went through most of my school days wearing a cloak of shame that I would carry with me for a long time. When I was 16 years old, I was invited to my first party. Everyone was drinking, and I got drunk for the first time. I loved it. For the first time in years, I liked who I was. I wasn’t scared of what people thought of me, and I didn’t care if they rejected me. Other people seemed to like who I was when I drank, too. It was the only time I enjoyed myself and felt like the rest of the crowd. So, I started to chase that feeling of acceptance. Soon, it became a vicious cycle. I hated people and myself, so I would listen to music that made me more hateful. I was anxious so I would smoke pot, and it would lead to more anxiety. I would drink because I was lonely, and it would lead to more loneliness. Then, during my junior year of high school, a friend offered me pain pills and I was hooked. That day was my first arrest — for possession — and the beginning of serious addiction and years of legal trouble. Around this time, the girl I had been dating also broke up with me and I just couldn’t cope. I started drinking all the time. After one night of heavy drinking, my friend picked me up and I took my bottle of rum with me. Though I was plastered, I was still cognizant enough to recognize the red and blue lights that suddenly appeared behind us. The officer asked if I had been drinking and ended up pulling me out of the car. I threw up all over his shoes and eventually blacked out. I didn’t come to until some family friends bailed me out of jail. As Evan’s life illustrates, the children and grandchildren of ministry leaders aren’t immune from the problems and pressures of life. Each person must personally choose whether to give their lives to Jesus or live for themselves.




Everything just clicked…. I understood why my dad was doing ministry and setting up churches.… I understood why my grandfather would go around the streets of New York and preach to gang leaders who wanted to kill him. The next morning, I was so bewildered. Again, I had gotten arrested. The only thing that had given me comfort — drinking, drugs — was now ruining the very little life I had left. I was heartbroken from the breakup with my girlfriend, from the arrests and probation, from all the legal trouble, all the shame, the anxiety, the loneliness, and I was done. I decided I was going to kill myself. I would drink a handle of whisky and throw myself off a bridge. But, out of nowhere, my dad called me. I expected him to lecture me but instead he asked, “Do you feel suicidal?” “How did he know?” I thought. I never told him I was suicidal. Then, it struck me, “God was involved in this,” and for that moment, I felt God cared about me. My dad prayed over me, and the notion of killing myself went away immediately from that day forward. However, the self-hatred and hatred for others remained. After my senior year in high school, our family moved. That’s when my addiction reached its peak. I gave up on friends and trying to have meaningful relationships. All I wanted most in life was to simply be left alone so I could drink all day and all night without any interruptions. Sometimes I got my wish. But people around me could see how bad it was (lifting me out of my own pool of vomit; finding

Evan Wilkerson (right) and his father, Gary Wilkerson, President of World Challenge (left).

Evan speaking at a World Challenge event.

20 empty bottles of whisky in my closet; being found sleeping in the wet grass). I started blaming God every time I felt pain. Lost my job? Why God? No money? Why God? Sick from withdrawals? Why God? The anger I had toward others and myself was slowly starting to point to God. He was up there. If He was all-powerful and cared about me, why didn’t He stop all of this? Why is He letting me suffer at all? Around this same time, I started seeing a counselor for my anxiety, and he said, “You know God sees the stuff that you do, and it breaks His heart. So, next time just try saying you’re sorry.” So, one morning, getting up and still feeling a little hung over, I went to take a shower. I thought about what my counselor had said. All I said was a simple, “Lord, I’m sorry.” That was it, nothing special. No long, meaningful prayer of repentance. Just, “Lord, I’m sorry.” Immediately, a rushing wave of love crashed upon me and instantly all that brokenness of hating myself and hating others, and the shame and the pain of being rejected and never feeling good enough, all of that was instantly gone as God’s intense love came rushing down. I fell to my knees in tears of joy. I felt a sort of electricity going through my hands and fingers and face. My hands were forced closed, and when I tried to open them back up, an electrifying force would close them again, as though God was holding my hands tightly, not letting go. This love was so intense that everything I knew about the world — every person and every concept of reality — just disappeared and all that was left was Almighty God and me. Just this one-way conduit of love — overwhelming, out-of-this world, love. This feeling brought such a purposefulness that even though all those othTODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG


Evan with his wife, Carmen, and daughter, Evelyn.

er people hurt me and didn’t care about me, none of it mattered. The One who created me, to be in a loving relationship with Him, was approving of me right then and there. I just wanted to stay in that moment forever. I never wanted to leave His presence. Even to this day, that was the greatest experience of my life. I’ve gotten sober, I’ve gotten married, I’ve even had a baby, and to this day, nothing compares to that presence of His love. As He was pouring forth all this love, I could picture Jesus on the cross, hanging there, and it was because of God’s love that He hung there. Right then and there it was as though everything just clicked. I understood. I understood why my dad was doing ministry and setting up churches, what the church was all about, and why we still meet in it to this day. I understood why my grandfather would go around the streets of New York and preach to gang leaders who wanted to kill him. It was because of Jesus and His cross. This is where the story of God finds its climax: at the cross where He showed the greatest demonstration of His love for His fallen creation. This is where we all find our forgiveness, our healing, our redemption, our purpose, in this one great act: Jesus dying on the cross and being raised from the dead. So, for the first time I understood that, and I never wanted to leave that place. I wanted to always remain in His presence and just know Him forever, with every glorious layer to His Being. I know this is not an isolated message for myself. It’s God’s message to His children who have fallen away from Him that, much like me, were lost, looking for meaning and acceptance but always in things that bring more emptiness. All those things God sees. He sees the brokenness in every single one of us to its depth. He sees the brokenness that we have gone through and that we will go through. He knows it, He sympathizes with it, and His answer for it is His Son. His Son who meant everything to Him that He gave up for us. Because Jesus died for our sin and our shame, we can be washed clean. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can have freedom and power over our past. As Scripture says, He rose “That we could walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). My life radically changed that day. Now, I still had to get practical help (counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, new friends, even medicine to help with 24



cravings) but throughout it all, I held on to that one moment of being loved. I believe when we experience His love, the drugs and alcohol start to lose their power and we start to find our purpose in Him. After all, if God can raise Christ from the dead, He can certainly deliver us from our addictions.  Evan Wilkerson is the son of Gary Wilkerson, president of World Challenge, a global ministry that aims to transform lives through the message and mission of Jesus Christ. The ministry was founded in 1971 by Evan’s grandfather, David Wilkerson, who launched the outreach by ministering to gang members and drug addicts on the streets of New York City. Evan currently does youth outreach through the apologetics division of World Challenge, offering answers to tough questions and objections to faith in Jesus. For more information, visit

A Ministry Heritage Evan Wilkerson’s grandfather was legendary evangelist David Wilkerson, who led many New York City gang members to Christ. In his acclaimed book The Cross and the Switchblade, he recounts his incredible street ministry. After he led gang leader Nicky Cruz and his followers to Christ, Cruz and some of the other gang members turned in their knives, guns, and bricks at a police station, leaving the officers astounded. Cruz eventually became a renowned evangelist himself, following in the footsteps of his mentor. David Wilkerson was also founder of Youth Crusades and the addiction recovery program Teen Challenge and, later, the global ministry World Challenge.


Developed by R. M. M’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.




Hosea 7; Psalms 120, 121, 122


Hosea 13; Psalms 137, 138


Amos 3; Psalms 146, 147


Obadiah 1; Luke 5



Hosea 14; Psalm 139


Amos 4; Psalms 148, 149, 150


Jonah 1; Luke 6




Hosea 8; Psalms 123, 124, 125


Joel 1; Psalms 140, 141


Amos 5; Luke 1:1-38


Jonah 2; Luke 7

Micah 4; Luke 13

Micah 5; Luke 14




December 5


Haggai 1; John 2


Zechariah 6; John 9


Zechariah 13:2-9; John 16


Habakkuk 1; Luke 20


Haggai 2; John 3


Zechariah 7; John 10


Zechariah 14; John 17








Hosea 9; Psalms Hosea 10; Psalms Hosea 11; Psalms Hosea 12; 126, 127, 128 129, 130, 131 132, 133, 134 Psalms 135, 136


Joel 2; Psalm 142


Amos 6; Luke 1:39-80



Habakkuk 2; Luke 21


Zechariah 1; John 4


Zechariah 8; John 11


Malachi 1; John 18


Joel 3; Psalm 143


Amos 7; Luke 2


Jonah 3; Luke 8

Jonah 4; Luke 9


Amos 1; Psalm 144


Amos 8; Luke 3


Micah 1; Luke 10


Amos 2; Psalm 145


Amos 9; Luke 4


Micah 2; Luke 11



Micah 3; Luke 12

Nahum 3; Luke 19




Micah 6; Luke 15


Habakkuk 3; Luke 22


Zechariah 2; John 5


Zechariah 9; John 12


Malachi 2; John 19



Micah 7; Luke 16


Zephaniah 1; Luke 23


Zechariah 3; John 6


Zechariah 10; John 13


Malachi 3; John 20



Nahum 1; Luke 17


Zephaniah 2; Luke 24


Zechariah 4; John 7


Zechariah 11; John 14



Nahum 2; Luke 18


Zephaniah 3; John 1


Zechariah 5; John 8


Zechariah 12, 13:1; John 15


Malachi 4; John 21




Borrow Your Own Money?

Dave Ramsey is a seven-time #1 national best-selling author, personal finance expert, and host of The Ramsey Show, heard by more than 18 million listeners each week. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Today Show, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business, and many more. Since 1992, Dave has helped people regain control of their money, build wealth, and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for Ramsey Solutions.

Dear Dave, I have a question about self-banking with whole term life insurance. The way I understand it, you can accrue a cash balance, borrow against it, and then pay interest to yourself. Is this worth it, or should I stay away from it and continue using a bank? —Kunal Dear Kunal, Actually, it’s a whole life policy, not a term policy. And it’s an absolute scam. Basically, with whole life you pay about 20 times more for the same amount of insurance that you would with a term policy. The extra money goes into a savings account, and you earn next to nothing on it, even after you finally start to build it up. One of the ways they’re pitching it now is the self-banking concept, where you can use your own money. It’s nothing magical or anything, because with a regular checking account you use your own money. My advice is to stay away from the company that’s offering it and anything else they have. It’s a really bad product, and it’s a scummy way to sell whole life insurance — which is an awful product to begin with. No one, except for folks in that business, believes in it or talks positively about it anymore. Being able to borrow your own money? Really? Why on earth would anyone want to borrow their own money? It’s ridiculous! —Dave

Make an Impact With Investing?

Dear Dave, A friend recently mentioned something called impact investing to me. What exactly is this? How do impact investment funds perform, and what do you think about them? —Carson Dear Carson, Impact investing generally aims to benefit society, while providing a profit for the investor, by investing in companies, funds and organizations that are aligned with causes, certain values or issues. Think of it as a middle ground between traditional investing and charitable giving, where you can match your investing with your own particular beliefs. It really isn’t all that different from investing in traditional mutual funds, except for the goal of the funds. 26



By Dave Ramsey

Since their inception, impact investments have averaged returns of a little less than 6%. That’s well below the average return of the S&P 500. Impact investing can do some good, but the truth is it’s hard to measure exactly how much good it’s doing. If you’re going to invest in impact investing funds, you need to make sure you understand exactly how your money is going to help the businesses you invest in, if they’re actually doing what they say they’re doing, and whether or not they’re really making a difference for the better. As with all investments, it pays to do a lot of research and find an advisor with the heart of a teacher. And never invest in anything if you don’t completely understand how it works. Remember, it’s your money that’s in the mix. Don’t feel like the odd man out if you’re the only one not joining in on an investment craze your friends are diving into. Personally, I recommend investing in good, growth stock mutual funds and real estate paid for with cash. And hey, if you want to make a difference in the world and still invest the old-fashioned way, create room in your budget for charitable giving or saving with the goal of making donations to organizations and causes you care about. I hope this helps, Carson! —Dave

If You Need a Co-signer, You’re Not Ready

Dear Dave, My fiancée and I want to make an offer on a house. She has a lot of late payments and a bad credit record, though, but she is working hard to manage her money better and get out of debt. I don’t make enough money to get a home loan by myself, and I have some debt to pay off, too. In order to help us out, my aunt and uncle said they are willing to co-sign a mortgage loan for us. What do you think of that idea? —Evan Dear Evan, Here’s a simple, solid piece of advice for anyone looking to make a purchase of any kind. If you need a co-signer, you’re not ready to make that purchase — period. I’m not trying to beat you up or anything, but it’s way too soon for you two to be thinking about buying a home. I mean, for starters you’re just engaged right now. When a lender requires a co-signer, it basically means they don’t believe you’ll pay back the money.

And besides, you two don’t need a house now or right after you get married. The two of you should get married, and live in a decent, inexpensive apartment for a while. During that time, you both need to work hard on paying off all your debt. After that, save up an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. Then, start setting aside cash for a down payment on a modest home. When it comes time to buy a home, I recommend a 15-year, fixed rate loan with a down payment of at least 10%. Twenty percent is better, because it will help you avoid having to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance). Make sure the monthly payments on the loan are no more than 25% of your combined take home pay. Keeping the payments at 25% or below will make it easier to address other important financial issues, like saving and investing. Your aunt and uncle are obviously generous people, Evan, but they’re a little misguided in their offer. At this point, helping you two buy a house — something you obviously can’t afford — would be a huge burden instead of a blessing. —Dave

Honesty Matters

Dear Dave, My wife and I are in our late 20s, and we’re on Baby Step 6. Recently, my mom reached out to me for help. She has a car lease that ends next month, and she asked

to borrow $2,000 so she can pay it off. It’s a weird situation, because my parents keep separate accounts and don’t combine their finances. My mom also asked me not to tell my wife about all this. What’s your advice? —Daniel Dear Daniel, I don’t do anything I can’t tell my wife about — ever. If I’m in a meeting, and someone tells me what’s said in that room has to stay in that room, that I can’t talk to anyone else about it under any circumstances, I’ll get up and leave. In my mind, keeping things from my wife is against the law. Your mom is out of control to even think about asking you to do this, and you need to have a serious talk with her. Let her know you love her, but she has no right to ask this of you, and it’s not something you’d do. Let her know, too, that she’s never to ask for anything like this again. If she needs $2,000, she should be talking to her husband about the idea. They should be living with combined finances anyway. So, it sounds like they’ve got issues to straighten out between themselves. It’s time folks started laying their cards on the table and stopped sneaking around. That’s no way for a husband and wife to live, and your mom has no business trying to drag you into all of it behind everyone’s back! —Dave  TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG




Cathy Gohlke What motivates you to write?

I write in obedience to the Lord’s calling in my life. When I first started writing, I wrote stories for myself — short stories I wanted to write. But from the moment I began writing my first novel, the story kept bending in the direction He called. Characters took over and the thoughts in their heads and yearnings in their hearts bent toward Him, even when I tried rewriting. I knew then that my books were meant to honor and glorify Him, not me. I began to listen to that still, small voice that spoke volumes within me — the one that pressed on my heart issues in our world that grieve the heart of God and reactions that honor Him. Once that determination was made, I was freed of myself and became free to write where He leads. Now I write in joyful obedience and am motivated daily because I feel His pleasure.

Where do your ideas come from?

Often my ideas come from the news — issues that God presses on my heart that won’t go away, things that make me “pound the table and weep.” When that happens repeatedly, I begin to look for a time in history where the same issue is mirrored. That’s never hard — history repeats itself with astonishing regularity. As I research the historical time period, so many ideas spring to life, including rabbit trails I must take care to avoid in order to stick to the premise of the book. Sometimes my ideas come from news articles or videos that readers send me. I love that reader/writer collaboration. Sometimes my ideas come from personal challenges or experiences or the observed experiences of others.

I was 5 years old the day I sat on the sofa with my grandmother and younger brother as she read Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass to us. That book was magic to me, and I believed that the black block letters (which enabled her to tell the story again and again) had appeared by magic, too. I must have expressed that because Grandma, somewhat astonished, said to me, “Cathy, books are not created by magic. Real people write books.” TODAY’S CHRISTIAN LIVING

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Read all you can, especially in the genre that draws you. Write all you can while studying the craft through whatever training programs you choose. I’m an advocate of good writing correspondence courses — they’re much like working with an editor. Develop a thick skin. Rejection is something all writers deal with. Keep your day job but write your heart out. Above all, know why you write. If you believe you are gifted and called by God to write, you will never lack motivation, even when the writing days are difficult.

When and how did you decide to become a writer?


I couldn’t believe that! So I said, “Well, then, can I write books?” She considered a moment and replied, “Well, I guess so, although usually men write books.” My determination was set. I knew that whatever else I did in life, I, too, would one day create the magic between the covers of books. I read everything my local library shelved about writing and publishing; took creative writing classes at a local community college, then a university; participated in writing correspondence courses; attended writing conferences; and began writing features for two local newspapers. I wrote poetry; plays for school, church, and library programs; and short stories that I read at open mic sessions. It was during a correspondence course that I began writing my first novel, William Henry Is a Fine Name.


Four-time Christy and two-time Carol and INSPY Award– winning author Cathy Gohlke writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she and her husband, Dan, divide their time between northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren. Visit her website at and find her on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.



Bill Myers What motivates you to write?

I never wanted to be a writer. By the time I graduated from high school, I’d read three books for pleasure. (Cat in the Hat counts, right)? I was going to be a dentist, but in college, I promised the Lord I would always say yes to Him. Always. (Although I did point out I got C’s and D’s in my one writing class, so not to waste His or my time with that nonsense). Later, when producers, and still later, when publishers asked me to write, I kicked and cried and begged for something else, but I obeyed. Soon I began seeing the power of story to draw people into a deeper relationship with God. Sometimes the story is simply salt (a morality piece giving flavor to life), sometimes it’s as light (proclaiming the glory of God). Either way, that’s my only motivation. Seriously, if I could draw more people into His presence by operating a drill press, I’d walk from my laptop and never look back.

agnostic keeps getting pulled back into biblical times to have “off-the record” conversations with Jesus Christ. I literally write myself into a corner, turn to the chair where Jesus and I have our morning coffee and say, “OK, now what?” The answers have been pretty profound . . . and according to readers, “lifechanging.” It’s like writing fiction in constant prayer. I definitely plan to continue this process through the entire series.

What’s the biggest challenge for you in writing?

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you work through it?

When I’ve got a cranky paragraph that won’t behave itself, I have to stay away from junk food in the kitchen 10 steps from my office (I’ve counted them).

Where do your ideas come from?

For me it’s a 9 to 5 job. No factory worker calls in and says, “Sorry, boss, I’ve got factory-worker’s block.” Even if it’s junk (and it often is), I put the words on the paper with the understanding I’ll fix them later. And, yes, sometimes it takes a lot of fixing, but I don’t quit until the piece looks inspired and effortless (despite the blood on the computer keys).

When and how did you decide to become a writer?

They usually come when I’m in solitude, enjoying the peace of Christ. On good days, when I can take that peace with me into our noisy world, I’m able to see people as He sees them, and circumstances as great metaphors. On bad days, I can’t wait to get back home into His presence. A producer saw a play I was directing in Hollywood and twisted my arm (offered real money) to write a show. My writing was so bad that, when it aired, I threw my tennis shoe at the TV set. Later, some misinformed publisher thought he’d ask the “famous” Christian TV writer to write a book. I asked if he paid. He said, yes, and here we are.

What’s your writing process?

After developing an outline that takes a month, I used to write in three, two-hour sessions. First: rewrite yesterday’s work. Second: write fresh material. Third: rewrite what I rewrote the day before. I’d leapfrog like that until I was done with the first draft. Then I’d polish the whole piece three or four more times before it was fit for human consumption. But that’s all changed. Now, I’m doing something brandnew with my latest series, Rendezvous with God — where an

As you look back over your writing career, is there anything you would change or do differently? Read more.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Keep your rear in the chair. Writers write.

Bill Myers ( is an author/screenwriter whose work has won over 80 national and international awards including the C.S. Lewis Honor Award. His favorite TV project is McGee and Me! His favorite children’s book series is The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle (2.2 million books and counting). And his favorite adult fiction is his current Rendezvous with God series. In July 2021, his media company released Secret Agent Dingledorf and His Trusty Dog Splat at select theaters. It will be available on various streaming platforms in the fall. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG




Mike Yorkey You grew up in La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego. In those days, it was a little-known beach town. How did your upbringing impact your decision to become a writer?

My family lived across from the high school football field, and it was like having a big play yard in front of us. We were constantly playing whatever sport was in season. My mom and I also went to the library often. Reading fueled my imagination. I still remember meeting Dr. Seuss, who also lived in La Jolla. I was just 5 years old when he shook my hand. When I got to high school, I started writing sports and features for the school newspaper. In my senior year, La Jolla’s weekly newspaper needed someone to write about the high school football and basketball games. I was paid 14 cents per column inch, so I made $1.40 for a 10-inch story, but it was a good training ground. I decided that I wanted to become a sportswriter. I thought sitting in the press box, eating free hot dogs, and watching the Chargers or the Padres play their games would be a pretty fun way to go through life. When it came time to choose a college, I looked for one with a great journalism school. The University of Oregon fit the bill. During my first week there, I volunteered to write for the student newspaper. I took the sports beat and covered Duck football and basketball games. After graduation, I returned to San Diego intending to get hired by the newspaper in town. I applied for a spot as a cub reporter but didn’t get the job. At the same time, my parents moved to Mammoth, a ski resort in northern California. Fall came, and I didn’t have a job. I decided I might as well move to Mammoth, too.

Did Mammoth have a newspaper?

Yes, but there were no openings, so I worked for the Mammoth Mountain ski area selling lift tickets. I gave tennis lessons in the summer. Then I met a young Swiss ski instructor named Nicole Schmied, who had come to teach skiing and learn English. We fell in love, and we were married the following year at a castle outside of Zurich. It was pretty magical. Afterward, we lived in Mammoth for another season before moving to Geneva so I could learn French and Swiss-German and get acclimated to the culture. We lived in Geneva for a year, then moved to Zurich, where I taught tennis from morning until night at the biggest indoor tennis center in Switzerland. I was making good money, but I thought, “I’m 27 years old. If I’m ever going to start my writing career, I’d better do it now.” So we moved back to Mammoth, totally on faith and without any clear plan. This time the local newspaper, a once-a-week publication, hired me to help out on production and do a little writing. This eventually turned into a full-time position. Within six 30



months, I was the editor, writing news articles and features and supervising three other reporters. And then I met a Mammoth second-homeowner named Dr. James Dobson at a local church. A few years earlier, he had started the Focus on the Family ministry. Several years later, I asked him if he had any editorial openings. We had two small children and didn’t want to raise them in a rowdy ski town. When Focus on the Family hired me to be the editor of Focus on the Family magazine in 1986, this turned out to be my big break. We moved from quiet Mammoth to busy Southern California and were ready for whatever the Lord had waiting for us. This hiring happened during a period of tremendous growth for the ministry. There were about 300 employees when I arrived; within a few years, it shot up to 1,200. The circulation of Focus on the Family magazine grew from 1 million to 2.3 million. In the late ’80s, we started adding magazines right and left: Breakaway, Brio, Citizen, Clubhouse, Clubhouse Jr., Single Parent Family, etc. Those were dynamic years.

So how did you get into writing books?

Greg Johnson, who was editor of Breakaway magazine, came by my office one day and said, “We should write a book.” I had never thought about writing a book in my life! We buckled down and authored Daddy’s Home in 1992 and then wrote two more parenting books. In 1997, I took a leap of faith and left Focus on the Family to move back to my hometown of San Diego and start a freelance career. It’s been a fabulous ride, and I’ve gotten to work with some famous athletes, but I’m mainly a collaborator now. To come alongside people and help them tell their stories in an engaging way is satisfying and a lot of fun, too. I believe in the power of storytelling. Before the printing press was invented, people went from village to village telling stories. Jesus used stories — parables — to give people word pictures. It’s a skill and a gift. Mike Yorkey is a veteran author, in-demand collaborator, and seasoned editor who has worked with a number of highprofile speakers, authors, and sports figures over the last 25 years. He has authored and co-authored more than 110 books, including autobiographies and non-fiction books on behalf of the “expert” with the byline, often in the health-and-wellness field, sports, and marriage and family issues. Mike has also written three novels. He and his wife, Nicole, are the parents of two adult children, Andrea and Patrick. They make their home in Encinitas, California. Find him at



Michele Howe What motivates you to write?

I’m motivated to write because I want to “know Christ and make Him known,” and when I study and research while writing, I’m immersed in God’s Word (I’m getting to know Him better and more intimately), and I pray that whatever I write makes Him known!

Where do your ideas come from?

all know we aren’t guaranteed that next book or article assignment. I love writing and it’s been a significant part of my life for the past 35 years, so the unknown future is always something I have to keep in check and keep trusting the Lord to use me as He sees fit.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?

From conversations with others, observing difficult life situations, and through prayer requests. Each of my books was born in my heart and mind because God made me aware of a problem, an obstacle, or a struggle with sin. As I pray about new ideas, I ask the Lord to show me how these troubling scenarios can be addressed and conquered through the principles found in the Bible.

The first draft is the most difficult for me, but once I get every chapter written and begin going back to edit and tweak and revise, I love it!

Did you have any mentors when you started writing?

I’ve always been a voracious reader, so I would say that in my early years, my writing mentors were the authors of those books I loved most. But when I was newly married, I worked for a small PR firm and my boss (a Christian) was an excellent writer and I got to proofread his articles. After my daughter was born, I stayed home full time to care for her and then began freelance writing … a little bit each day and eventually that “little bit” turned into quite a lot of output.

What’s your writing process?

Most of the books I’ve written, I grab for an idea and then begin the chapter outlines … using pen and paper! Once I write down the basics of what I want to say, I start using my keyboard and begin fleshing out each chapter. From there, it takes on a life of its own. But I often refer back to my mission statement to be sure I’m staying in line.

Do you have any unusual writing techniques or strategies?

This is going to sound odd, but God has most often woken me up at night with new book ideas. Then I get up and write them down. If I don’t, I’ll forget by morning.

What’s the biggest challenge for you in writing?

Not knowing if I’ll have a new book in the works each year. In the last five or six years, I’ve been writing two books a year and I’ve found I really like this schedule. But we

How long does it typically take for you to write a book?

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you work through it?

Normally, it takes me about four months.

Never. If I sit down and find the words aren’t flowing, I just keep writing even if I know it isn’t working. Then I go back the following day and revise and rewrite as needed. I find that disciplining myself to write even when it seems unproductive is the best way to keep writing.

As you look back over your writing career, is there anything you would change or do differently?

I don’t think so. Looking back, I know I was anxious to land that first book contract, but I realized in hindsight that I wasn’t ready for a book in those first few years of writing. I needed more time, more experience, and more wisdom to be able to produce a book-length project.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Know that God is calling you to write so when the inevitable rejections and setbacks come, you’re confident that God is in control and you’re writing to please Him and Him alone. And be a great reader! Michele Howe is the author of 26 books for women and families and has published over 3,000 articles, reviews, and curricula, and has been interviewed on Focus on the Family several times. Her newest books are Deliver Us: Finding Hope in the Psalms for Moments of Desperation; Giving Thanks for a Perfectly Imperfect Life, and Big Feelings, Bigger God: Discovering God’s Care in Good Times and Bad. Visit TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG


Christian Writers Resource Guide I

f you’ve answered God’s call to write for Him, you’ve taken on an important task that’s worthy of the highest degree of professionalism. Building and honing publishable writing skills takes time and effort, but many tools and resources are available to help you along the way, such as the ones featured here. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9 ESV). “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105 ESV). “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23 ESV). “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31 ESV). “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might….” (Eccl. 9:10 ESV). “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Ps. 90:17 ESV). 




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Face-to-Face Critiques for Word Weavers International, founded in March 1997, is a 501 (c) (6) organization of over 90 traditional and online groups. Word Weavers provides a forum for Christian writers to critique each other’s work in a face-to-face format so that members learn about and improve their craft. They provide education, discounts to select conferences, and writing opportunities. Writers of all levels are welcome.




By Celeste Walker

From Season to Season

F Celeste Walker is a publisher and author who writes about love, hope, and faith. She is the author of Treasure Heart and Los Regalos, the Gifts. Celeste is a member of World Changers Church International and resides in Ohio with her husband.

If you have a turning point in your life you would like to share, email your story to editor@ 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. 36

or most of my life, the word “season” brought to mind a particular time of the year, such as springtime or the joyous Christmas season. But there came a time when season began to have a very different meaning in my life. The author of Ecclesiastes tells us “To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up” (Eccl. 3:1-3 KJV). While the author of Ecclesiastes gives other examples of seasons in life, the point is that there’s a time for everything to begin and a time for it to end. I experienced such a beginning and ending of seasons in my own life. In my late teens, as I approached my senior year in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that my parents wanted me to become the first in my family to graduate from college. I wanted very much to make them proud of me. There was just one problem: I had no idea what field I wanted to pursue. A family friend was studying social work at a local university. I considered it and it sounded like a good fit for me, too. The following fall, I entered college and began the program. It went very well, and I graduated with degrees in social work and psychology. I was blessed to begin working almost immediately after graduation and, over time, developed a very successful social work career. Fast forward many years later, to a time when my life underwent a drastic change. One door after another began closing. Ultimately, I found myself unemployed and having to spend a substantial amount of my savings to meet my financial obligations. It was a sobering time in my life. One day as I sat trying to figure out my next move, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind a very familiar Scripture: “Remember ye not the former things, neither the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isa. 43:18–19 KJV). It was at that moment the Lord revealed to me the reason why so many doors had closed. I came to understand that with a “new thing,” there is often a “new season” as well.



God closed out that season of my life so He could begin a new one. He wanted my undivided attention to the new thing He was doing. And, wow, did He ever get it! God redirected my focus to the gifts He had given me — inspirational stories. I had written the stories and relegated them to second place as I pursued the direction I thought my life should go, but God allowed me to see that the stories I wrote were more than simply a hobby. They were actually a special gift from Him. I stepped out of the former season of my life as a social worker and into my new season in life as a writer and found a new sense of purpose and immense satisfaction through sharing with others the messages of faith, restoration, forgiveness, and the love of God. Through it all, I came to understand that change is natural. God wants us to look forward to the wonderful things He has in store for us, be mindful of the signs when it’s time to make a change, and then be open to it. I now understand that even better than leaning into change is running toward it, as David ran toward Goliath with assurance and faith in the God he served. I came to recognize and be thankful for the grace God gave me to understand the difference between what I was doing and what I should be doing, between my good idea and God’s perfect idea. Now, every day I look forward with great expectation to the abundant life Jesus died for me to have and move ahead with a newfound sense of purpose into every new season that comes my way. 

Christmas Gift Guide James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (KJV). The true meaning of Christmas has largely been forgotten, but this verse points back to the source of all gifts and the greatest gift of all — Jesus. The verses below highlight a few of the Old Testament prophecies about His incarnation and their fulfillment in the New Testament. The Christmas Gift Guide highlights Christmas gifts that point to the Savior and the importance of an authentic growing relationship with Him. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14 KJV). “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6 KJV). “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2 KJV). “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21 KJV). “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11 KJV). “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11 KJV). “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 KJV). “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 KJV). “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11 KJV). “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5 KJV).



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[Thomas Nelson]

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The Heart That Grew Three Sizes: Finding Faith in the Story of the Grinch NOVEMBER 2021

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When may a revival be expected? When the wickedness of the wicked grieves and distresses the Christian. —Billy Sunday

Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love. —John Stott

The man who does not know the nature of the Law, cannot know the nature of sin. —John Bunyan n e e w et the b e nc on is a t s i d ti t u l es s o e e t s n r k a ur sho and o e y h T em tween l y b e l o n r e a St a p nce b . s e l r r dista the floo — Cha and

Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time. —Oswald Chambers

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man writing at the post office desk was approached by an older fellow with a postcard in his hand. The old man said, “Sir, I’m sorry to bother you but could you address this postcard for me? My arthritis is acting up today and I can’t even hold a pen.” “Certainly sir,’ said the younger man, “I’d be glad to.” He wrote out the address and also agreed to write a short message and sign the card for the man. Finally, the younger man asked, “Now, is there anything else I can do for you?” The old fellow thought about it for a moment and said, “Yes, at the end could you just add, ‘P.S., please excuse the sloppy handwriting’?” —From Mikey’s Funnies (

It’s my wife’s birthday soon and she’s been leaving jewelry catalogs all over the house. She’ll be happy to know I got the hint. I got her a magazine rack. —From Mikey’s Funnies ( If you have a joke or funny story you’d like to share, email If we print your joke, we’ll pay you $25. 54



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By Jerry Dykstra and Open Doors contributors By Jeff M. Sellers

Laotian Christians Face Intense Pressure to Renounce Faith Jeff M. Sellers is founder and editor of Morning Star News, the only independent news service exclusively covering persecution of Christians. Previously he was an associate editor at Christianity Today magazine, where he wrote a regular column on persecuted Christians for five years. He worked seven years as an editor at Open Doors International and three years as a writer at World Vision. With a journalism degree from Arizona State University and a Master’s in Marketplace Theology from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, he has also reported on persecution, economy, politics, and cultural issues for USA Today, The Globe and Mail, and other media as a journalist in Mexico City, Mexico, and Madrid, Spain.



elatives of a mother of four children in Laos were overjoyed when she was healed after local Christian ministry workers prayed for her. Though steeped in traditional tribal religion, the relatives didn’t mind even when she put her faith in Christ. As Pei (name changed for security reasons) continued in her faith last year, though, her husband called the local village chief over, and they told her she no longer needed to follow Christ since she was already healed. They told her to stop believing in Christ and return to their animist rituals or else be thrown into prison. Pei remained firm in her faith, reported Christian Aid Mission, which supports native Christian workers reaching their own people with the gospel. She had already led her four children to Christ. The village head sent her to prison, but her inlaws became more hostile, and her husband threatened to divorce her and kick her out of their home. In November 2020, amid a growing COVID-19 crisis, her husband called the village head to sign divorce papers and turned her and their children out of their house. They stayed with an uncle, but soon he told her she was no longer his niece if she continued with “this Jesus religion” and drove them out as well, Christian Aid Mission reported. “She sent her two oldest sons, ages 14 and 15, to work on a banana planation, which has kept them from starving,” the U.S.-based ministry reported. “Area Christians have provided a plot of land for a hut, but there are no funds to build it.” Pei and her children were left with barely any food or clothes.

Prayer Points:

• For both the local and international Christian community to come to the aid of Lao Christians who have lost jobs, home, family, or community for their faith. • That national officials will enforce religious freedom legal protections where remote, local chiefs are colluding with village residents to deprive Christians of their rights. • That churches will multiply, and more local officials will accept their presence.



“She has been through a lot for her faith,” a ministry leader told Christian Aid Mission. “Many people facing the situation she has endured would have renounced their faith long ago. How many would suffer like this for their faith?” Pei’s case typifies most persecution of Christians in the communist country — clan pressure and local officials join forces to exert excruciating pressure on individuals and entire families. More commonly, local leaders fearing church growth expel families from their homes and ostracize them — cutting off their water supply, prohibiting them from buying and selling, and forbidding others to talk with them, effectively driving them from their villages into jungles. At least 40 Christians in Laos were forced to leave their homes or go into hiding for faith-related reasons last year, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report — in that category, worse than Libya, Nepal, China, and 35 other countries. Those expulsions contributed to Laos ranking 22nd among the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. While Christian leaders have urged national officials to protect minority religions from bullying by local officials, grounds for village chiefs to persecute Christians remain. A 2016 decree on religion in Laos states that nearly all aspects of religious practice — holding religious services, building houses of worship, modifying existing structures, and establishing new congregations in villages where none existed — require permission from a local Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) branch office. The decree empowers MOHA to halt any religious activities or beliefs not in agreement with policies, “traditional customs,” laws, or regulations within its jurisdiction, whether or not a group is officially recognized or registered nationally. In a communist country where 60% of the population is Buddhist and 32% are animists practicing ethnic religions, a decree prohibiting anything against “traditional customs” gives village heads ample ammo to persecute preachers of a new faith. Thus, village officials can find several pretexts for arresting Christians — preaching the gospel, worshipping Christ, or “causing social division” by introducing a new faith, for example — even though


Church in Laos Sekong. (Christian Aid Mission)

the Lao government officially recognizes the religious umbrella groups for Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and the Baha’i. The officially recognized Christian denominations are the Catholic Church, the Laos Evangelical Church, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Local officials in one village colluded with the parents of a 15-year-old boy to legally disown him after he became a Christian last year. The teenager, identified by the pseudonym of Kimsan by Christian Aid Mission, was kicked out of his home unless he stopped believing in Christ. His father then went to report him to the village chief. His parents had warned him that they would either expel him from their home or kill him if he continued with the “foreign religion,” Christian Aid Mission reported. Kimsan continued in his faith and attended a house church service, and his father again threatened to kill him before throwing his belongings at him and telling him to find lodging with his Christian friends. “Once you walk out of this house, do not ever step foot into this house again,” his father said, according to Christian Aid Mission. “Do not call us Mom and Dad anymore.” The village leaders discussed with his parents ways they might get him to recant, such as removing his name from official family registration records, which would mean he did not legally exist. Christian Aid Mission reported that his parents and the village officials also considered reporting him to district police to be arrested on various pretexts such as disrupting community peace, as has happened to many Lao Christians. The village head said that in order to have peace in the village, it must be rid of all Christians. “Believing that Kimsan had been tricked into Christianity and that soon he would be sold to whatever foreigners were behind this strange cult, his parents called him and told him that in order to be completely free from them, he must compensate their costs for raising him — $5 (50,000 kip) for each day from birth to age 15, or $27,375,” Christian Aid Mission reported. “That being impossible, the parents had to settle for officially disowning their son in village committee records.” 

The Laos Evangelical Church is one of the officially recognized Christian denominations in commmunist Laos, but reports have continued of local authorities arresting LED members and holding them in custody, often without charges, according to the U. S. State Department’s 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom. Last year, 17 Christians were detained without trial for their faith in Laos, according to Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List report — the same number reported in both Tunisia and Nepal, leaving all three countries ranked 14th worst in the world in the category. At the same time, only one Christian was actually sentenced to jail for faith-related reasons in Laos, according to the WWL report. The number of churches or other Christian buildings attacked, closed, or confiscated in Laos rose to eight last year, up from five the previous year, according to the report. The Lao constitution provides citizens with “the right and freedom to believe or not to believe in religion.” The State Department’s report notes that while authorities in urban areas and in some districts understand laws governing religious activities, “improper restrictions on religious freedom remained prevalent in rural areas.” “In March, local officials arrested LEC Pastor Sithon Thipavong for conducting religious activities in Kalum Vangkhea village, Namdoy District, Savannakhet Province,” the report states. “Although he remained in detention, by year’s end authorities did not charge Sithon with a crime.”

Above: This family’s shelter has very little protection from the elements. (Christian Aid Mission) Left: Lao village structure. (Human Rights Watch for Laos Religious Freedom) TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG



The Magna Carta of Humanity: Sinai’s Revolutionary Faith and the Future of Freedom

By Os Guinness [IVP] In The Magna Carta of Humanity, renowned cultural observer Os Guinness explores the nature of revolutionary faith, contrasting secular revolutions such as the French Revolution and the faith-led revolution of ancient Israel. He argues that the story of Exodus is the highest, richest, and deepest vision for freedom in human history. It serves as the master story of human freedom and provides the greatest sustained critique of the abuse of power. His contrast between “Paris” and “Sinai” offers a framework for discerning between two kinds of revolution and their different views of human nature, equality, and liberty. Drawing on the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, Guinness develops Exodus as the Magna Carta of humanity, with a constructive vision of a morally responsible society of independent free people who are covenanted to each other and to justice, peace, stability, and the common good of the community. As individuals and as a people, we must choose between the revolutions, between faith in God and faith in reason alone, between freedom and despotism, and between life and death.

Fractals: The Secret Code of Creation

By Dr. Jason Lisle [Master Books] Contrary to secular thinking, numbers didn’t evolve, nor did man invent the laws of mathematics. Rather, we’ve discovered the immutable laws that God designed to govern the universe. The secrets of these laws have gradually come to light over the centuries and continue to be discovered. In the 1980s, for example, researchers uncovered a mathematical code that forms intricate works of beauty known as fractals. The fractals displayed in this book have always existed, built into the numbers at creation. Astrophysicist and author Dr. Jason Lisle explains why only the Christian worldview can make sense of this code. In Fractals: The Secret Code of Creation, he reveals the deep mysteries of these fascinating codes underlying the stunning images. In the pages of this book, Dr. Lisle: • demonstrates that even abstract concepts like numbers could not exist apart from God • shows the beauty of God’s design and creation through full-color representations of numbers Fractals will give you fresh insight into numbers and how they reveal God’s amazing handiwork. 58



When Making Others Happy Is Making You Miserable: How to Break the Pattern of People Pleasing and Confidently Live Your Life

By Karen Ehman [Zondervan] Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and pulled in too many directions by the needs of others? Author and speaker Karen Ehman knows firsthand how people pleasing locks us in a prison, trapping us in unhealthy habits which distract us from our true selves and our God-given purpose. With honesty and practical wisdom, Ehman explores why we fall into people-pleasing behaviors and offers advice for how we can break out into the freedom God has called us to. Because the truth is we cannot fulfill our divine purpose if we’re too busy living everyone else’s. With vulnerable and humorous stories, biblical insight, and encouragement from someone who’s been there, Ehman will help you discover how to live out your priorities despite the expectations of others, develop a strategy for knowing when to say yes and how to say no, and implement appropriate boundaries. When Making Others Happy Is Making You Miserable is the key you need to quit the pleasing game, reclaim your life, and walk with God in peace and confidence.

When Words Matter Most: Speaking Truth with Grace to Those You Love

By Cheryl Marshall and Caroline Newheiser [Crossway] When a friend is struggling and in need of biblical guidance, it can be difficult to find the balance between speaking truth and speaking with grace. Even the most wellintentioned efforts can come across as insensitive or inadequate. In When Words Matter Most, Cheryl Marshall and Caroline Newheiser encourage and guide women to speak God’s truth into the lives of those they love who are in need. With three goals in mind — growing in unity, the knowledge of Christ, and Christlike maturity — Marshall and Newheiser offer biblical motivation and practical advice for sharing the wisdom of Scripture with others. Coupling thoughtful instruction from Scripture with reallife stories as examples, this book will help women discover that they can make a difference in the lives of those within their sphere of influence who are worried, weary, wayward, or weeping. Chapters include: • The Call to Speak • The Greater Grace • The Gracious Friend • When Grace Is Tested • Truth That Transforms • Our Confidence to Speak

You Were Made for This Moment: Courage for Today and Hope for Tomorrow

Where Do We Go from Here?: How Tomorrow’s Prophecies Foreshadow Today’s Problems

Jesus Followers: Real-Life Lessons for Igniting Faith in the Next Generation

Fractured Faith: Finding Your Way Back to God in an Age of Deconstruction

By Max Lucado [Thomas Nelson] Are you weary from your challenges, or worried your world is spinning out of control? If so, the book of Esther brings welcome news: Relief will come! Queen Esther concealed her Jewish identity. As far as anyone knew, she was pure Persian. But then came the royal decree that would annihilate her people. She had to make some tough choices. Would she remain silent, or would she speak up? Esther could have cowered in fear. But she spoke up, and God used her to save the nation. It’s not hyperbole to say that her courage changed the course of history. Nor is it an overstatement to say that God can do the same with you. Like Esther, you may be facing a seemingly impossible situation. And what’s true for Esther is true for you: God will have His victory. He will right the wrongs of this world. The question is, Will you be part of the team? In You Were Made for This Moment, pastor Max Lucado will help you put your hope in the God of grand reversals, cultivate courage, and discover your role in God’s story. You don’t need to become undone by tough times. You can become unleashed by our triumphant God. You, friend, were made for this moment.

By Anne Graham Lotz and Rachel-Ruth Lotz Wright [Multnomah] The daughter and granddaughter of Billy Graham offer a warm and inspiring glimpse into their family life, sharing stories that reveal spiritual wisdom and practical insight for raising the next generation of Jesus followers. To instill truth that leads to genuine faith, parents and grandparents must be intentional. Using the metaphor of a relay race, Anne Graham Lotz and her daughter, Rachel-Ruth Lotz Wright, demonstrate how the baton of faith is passed through our witness, our worship, our walk, and our work. Within the framework of Anne’s exploration of biblical characters from Genesis 5, RachelRuth tells family stories that will encourage, inspire, and motivate Christians to follow hard after Jesus and to develop their children and grandchildren into Jesus followers. For example, Rachel-Ruth describes how her grandmother, Ruth Bell Graham, poignantly demonstrated the value of praise amid pain. She discusses her own challenges in parenting against the cultural trends and reveals the unforgettable way her own father taught her about God’s grace. While some stories are funny, some heart-wrenching, others awe-inspiring, each “snapshot” conveys a spiritual truth along with an application that will help you continue, or begin, building a legacy of authentic faith.

By Dr. David Jeremiah [Thomas Nelson] Today’s headlines shout of modern plagues, social tensions, economic crises, and rampant depression. Many are asking, what day is it on God’s prophetic calendar? Trusted Bible teacher and Pastor, Dr. David Jeremiah opens up the Word of God to reveal what it has to say about the days we are living in. Sharing how prophecies and wisdom from centuries ago still speak the truth today and point the way forward for tomorrow. Whether one is new to biblical prophecy or a longtime student of the Bible, this timely message will encourage and recalibrate us to the mission of God in our daily lives. Journey with Dr. Jeremiah back to the Bible to find out, Where Do We Go from Here? Chapters include: • A Cultural Prophecy — Socialism • A Biological Prophecy — Pandemic • A Financial Prophecy — Economic Chaos • A Theological Prophecy — The Falling Away • A Political Prophecy — Cancel Culture • A Spiritual Prophecy — Spiritual Famine • The Final Prophecy — The Triumph of the Gospel

By Lina AbuJamra [Moody Publishers] After your faith has fractured, let what takes its place be the real thing . . . at last. Somewhere along the way, the Christianity you knew began to crumble. You began to suspect your faith was misplaced. Disillusionment set in. Churches hurt you. Their people failed you. Christian institutions were exposed as fake. And in it all, God was silent. Is He gone? Or is God really there, waiting for you to find Him instead of the counterfeits? If you’re walking this difficult spiritual path, Lina AbuJamra understands you. After experiencing the near deconstruction of her own faith, Lina had to rebuild something more solid when the faith she once knew let her down. With her diagnostic style that comes from her training as an ER doc, Lina helps you grapple with questions like: • Where is God in my pain? • Is this how Christians are supposed to act? • Why did my story end up this way? • Is this the normal Christian life? • Why is it so hard for Christians to love? Let Fractured Faith help you find your way back to God. You just might discover that the real God has been waiting for you all along. TODAYSCHRISTIANLIVING.ORG



INDEX & WEB LISTING Abingdon Press....................................

Harvest House Publishers....................

ACTS Retirement-Life Communities.... 5

Instant Publisher..................................

Arabelle Publishing.............................., 34

Jennifer Odom.....................................

B&H Publishing Group.........................

Josh McDowell Ministry.......................

Baker Books........................................., 9, 47-48

Judson Press.........................................


Lexham Press.......................................


Memories in Writing............................ .....................33

Christian Faith Publishing....................

Moody Publishers................................

Christian Virtual School........................

Morris Publishing.................................

Color House Graphics...........................

Ron Vietti..............................................

Delaney Bookstore LLC........................

Total Living Network ...........................

Dorrance Publishing............................

Tyndale House Publishers....................

Exodus Design......................................

Westbow Press.....................................

Focus Publishing..................................

WordCrafts Press..................................

Hachette Book Group..........................

Word Weavers International................

HarperCollins Christian Publishing......


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 Brenda Poinsett

Didn’t See It Coming

H Brenda Poinsett is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher. She’s the author of numerous books, including her latest, You’ve Got It, I Want It: How Jealousy, Envy, and Coveting Disturb Our Hearts and Flavor Life.


ave you ever wanted something so much you could hardly contain yourself? The last time that happened to me, I was helping organize items for our church’s everythingfree-to-the-community yard sale. Someone had donated a lovely set of dishes. Their beauty drew me in. As I envisioned the dishes on my dining table, my heart began to beat, I want them. I want them. You might find it hard to understand passion for dishes. Your desire might be stirred by a particular car, an expensive guitar, or a piece of jewelry because we are all susceptible to the power of wanting. I wanted the dishes so much I thought about taking them. After all, they were going to be free. I didn’t, though, because an earlier incident in my life taught me that coveting has consequences. When I was in seminary, Judy, a fellow student, and I would sometimes leave campus and go to her aunt’s house for a break. The three of us would sit around the kitchen table, laughing, talking, and eating. As we did, my eyes were drawn to a large picture on the wall. The picture was of a large rooster made of various kinds of beans. As I admired it, I thought, That’s the kind of picture I want in my kitchen when I have a home. Now I never said this out loud, but I often said things like this: “That picture is so nice,” “I love that picture,” or “What an attractive rooster!” No wonder Judy’s aunt gave me the picture when I finished seminary and got married. A couple of years passed before my husband, Bob, and I had a house with a kitchen where we could hang the picture. Before that, wherever we lived, we had the burden of storing it and seeing that it wasn’t damaged. Finally, when we bought a house, we had a “just right” spot for hanging the bean collage. Up it went. By this time, I was pregnant, and a friend loaned me some maternity clothes. The garments were of excellent quality, far beyond anything I could afford. It was a delight to wear them so imagine my disappointment one morning when I pulled a top out of the closet and saw small holes in it. I assumed I had snagged it on something. The next day, however, the same thing happened with another top. In the days that followed,



more damaged apparel appeared. It looked like something might be eating the clothes, so we called an exterminator. From him, we learned that our house was infested with some kind of weevil. Evidently, weevils had infested the picture along the way and moved into our home with us. Now clothes were infested, too. The exterminator said, “You’re going to have to burn the clothes and the picture. That’s the only way to stop this infestation.” What?! Destroy a picture that I love?! Clothes that don’t belong to me?! Reluctantly, I did what we were told. I hated seeing the clothes and the picture go up in flames. As I watched them burn, the 10th commandment came to mind: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17, KJV, author’s italics). I realized I was guilty and was suffering the consequences. Up to that point, I had not made the connection. Perhaps that is because coveting is a matter of the heart — an internal process, so it may seem like no big deal, but it is as my experience and that of several biblical characters reveal. Achan, one of Joshua’s soldiers, was involved in a victorious battle. Among the debris, he saw items he wanted even though he was ordered not to take any spoils of war. He did anyway, and he and his family lost their lives (see Joshua 7:1–26). David coveted another’s man’s wife, which led to his breaking more commandments and seeing repercussions among his children far into the future (see 2 Sam. 11:1–12:15). Rich King Ahab, the owner of many fields, coveted poor Naboth’s one field. When his wife Jezebel saw how much Ahab wanted it, she “arranged” for him to get it. As a result, God got rid of every male in their family, and Ahab and Jezebel died horrible deaths (see 1 Kings 21:1–29). Consequences from coveting aren’t always as drastic as these biblical examples illustrate. The consequences could be a disturbed heart and increased responsibility as happened with the bean picture. That’s why I walked away from dishes that might break and have to be stored. I moved to where I could focus on helping instead of getting. The result was a peaceful heart. 

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