Tag archives: Religion

What is the Role of the Church Amidst Troubling Times?

by Samantha Stahl

June 18, 2020

According to Scripture, Christians have a responsibility to share the hope of the gospel (Mat. 5:14-16). Jesus made this clear in the Great Commission when He commissioned His disciples to spread His message to the ends of the world. Today, Americans are experiencing trying times. Amidst a virus that is frightening people and tearing apart economies, church celebrations that remain suspended, and riots that put vengeance as the answer to cases of unjust police violence, it can be hard to see God working. However, through the darkest points in history, God has raised up people of strong faith. Right now, God is calling upon the church to lead His people, and to not be silent. The church can give answers to today’s questions of how to proceed.

As controversial as it may be today, Christians are called to bear witness to the truth. This is not easy, but it is important to allow oneself to be guided by what is right and not by fear. Prayer is greatly needed for leaders and for the community. Even when it seems God is not immediately answering our prayers, we are still called to pray (1 Tim. 2:2). Leaders of the church must not be silent and must continue to speak bold messages of hope and support during these times.

As we’ve seen throughout the last three months, Christians should continue to serve those in their communities by offering them encouragement. Serving one’s community can be as simple as making a call or writing a letter, or something practical such as running an errand or safely praying with them. The best way to be a light of God is to be a light to others in His name. For a list of resources including ideas to serve your community, check out FRC’s church resource page at frc.org/church.

Christians must also not be silent during these times, especially as churches are still closed. When the church cannot worship together, the whole Christian community and beyond is affected by a lack of sharing the gospel. Christ’s command to “proclaim the good news to the whole creation” is greatly hindered if Christians cannot come together to worship (Mark 16:15). Many have fallen and will fall into a spiritual slump due to months of being unable to gather for public worship. Peace and joy have been fading as violence and hate settles in among people. The world needs the church now more than ever as it is greatly feeling the lack of messages of hope and guidance previously brought by open churches. Christians must be able to again partake in the communal worship of God in order to best be a light for this world.

Christians can help America get through the violent riots and the ensuing destruction. This is accomplished specifically by supporting the good in people. Peaceful protests represent the proper use of American freedom. However, when violent riots ensue (which do not honor the memory of George Floyd and others unjustly killed), it becomes an abuse of freedom.

As Christians, speaking out with love in the face of anger will change the response to violence. An example of such Christian leadership can be found in the words of Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) during a recent Congressional hearing on police brutality, where he stated that everyone is made in the image of God, despite skin color. He called for a defense of the people upholding truth and justice, while not condoning those who obstruct those values. Elsewhere, many people have reached out to communities struck by violent riots, cleaning up the mess as best they can. For example, according to CNN, a truck driver in Houston, Texas named Brian Irving spent hours cleaning up after a riot destroyed parts of the city. Such examples of Christians living out the principles of their faith are shining beacons in these dark times, and they ought to be emulated. The church has a unique opportunity to bring these moments of good to light, and show the world there are indeed good people.

When the church is at work during a time of crisis, God does not fail to turn that work into something beautiful. Setting an example of prayer and peace in a time of pandemonium will help bring stability. Christians must rise together and bring the truth of Christ to a world that is searching for truth. God is calling the church to be that beacon of light for the world.

Samantha Stahl is Policy/Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

What Does It Mean to Be a Woman?

by Molly Carman

June 10, 2020

As one of many young women who recently graduated college without much pomp and circumstance, I have been home pondering questions about my future and role in this unpredictable world. One of these questions is about the nature of womanhood. This question, and others related to it, led me to read Let Me Be Woman by Elizabeth Elliot, the wife of missionary Jim Elliot who was martyred in 1956.

Originally published in the 1970s, I believe her wisdom is still applicable today. The book is a compilation of Mrs. Elliot’s advice to her only daughter, Valeri, who was engaged and preparing for marriage. Woven throughout her writings are personal memories, stories, and biblical principles for modern women. She addresses many topics, including femininity, womanhood, and motherhood. Elliot ponders the delight of girlhood, discusses the loneliness and joys of singleness, the excitement of dating and engagement, and the sacredness of the marriage covenant.

I know I’m not alone when I say that being a woman who is both Christian and conservative in the 21st century can be challenging and at times exhausting. If I speak up boldly and lead, I risk coming across as a mainstream feminist or anti-men. But if I hold back passively, I am perceived as oppressed and brainwashed by the patriarchy. So, what is a girl supposed to do?

Elizabeth Elliot presents what it means to be a woman who is passionate and strong for the Lord but likewise meek and gentle in her femininity. The purpose of her writing is not to consider what it means to be independent or someone’s girlfriend, fiancé, or wife, but what it means to be a woman. Although these are important subjects to consider in their own right, Elliot recognized that if women do not understand what it means to be a woman and the way that God has specifically created us, we will not do any role we find ourselves in well.

Therefore, I chose to read this book because more than anything, I want to be a God honoring woman, and this begins by understanding God’s unique design and purpose for women. As much as I desire to be a wife and mother one day, becoming a wife or mother is not what makes me a woman. Amid the numerous convictions, encouragement, and insights I gleaned from Elliot, there are three pieces of wisdom that I would like to share. I believe they represent timeless principles for all women but are especially relevant today.

First, Elliot reviews the creation story that explains how God created the first man and woman. After creating Adam, God, in His wisdom, sees that it was not good that man should be alone and created Eve. It is important to note: Woman was created from man for man. Not for his whims, wishes, or wants; but as a helper. When women are who they are called to be as a helper, men can be who they are called to be as leaders. In the same way when men are strong leaders, women will want to follow.

This leads to the second insight from Elliot when she addresses masculinity and femininity, topics that are often misunderstood. She quotes Gertrude Behanna who says, “Men are men. They are not women. Women are women. They are not men.” For the modern-day woman, I believe it is far too easy to forget this “simple truth” as Elliot puts it, that men and women are not the same. When we come to admire the differences rather than resent them, we not only grow in appreciation for one another, but in gratitude for God’s good design. Later Elliot says, “What a real woman wants is a real man. What a real man wants is a real woman. It is masculinity that appeals to a woman. It is femininity that appeals to a man. The more womanly you are, the more manly [men] will want to be.”

Third, Elliot considers the pursuit of equality between men and women and the potential threats to male and female relations. Culture seeks to encourage the pursuit of equality as a virtue, but Elliot reminds her reader that equality is more that capability. She writes, “‘Equal Opportunity’ nearly always implies that women want to do what men do, not that men want to do what women do, which indicates that prestige is attached to men’s work but not to women’s… This is a hideous distortion of the truth, and an attempt to judge women by the criteria of men, to force them into an alien mold, to rob them of the very gifts that make them what they were meant to be.”

It is far too easy for women to blame men for all of the problems or disadvantages that women face. However, I believe that Elliot encourages her reader to remember that both men and women are equally responsible for the problems of the world and have a shared duty to work for a better one.

May Christian women seeking to honor God begin by loving, learning, and embracing who He created us to be, by honoring the virtues of beauty, grace, and meekness that are godly attributes of femininity, and may we never forget that we are not called to do everything that a man is called to do or capable of doing. Rather, we are called to be women who should not let the desire for power override our desire to honor God. I’m grateful to Elizabeth Elliot for these reminders, and pray that in this chaotic and confused world I remain a woman of God and not of the world.

Molly Carman is a Policy and Government Affairs Intern at Family Research Council whose research focuses on developing a biblical worldview on issues related to family and current events.

D.C. Christians Take to the Streets… to Sing, Lament, and Pray

by Laura Grossberndt

June 9, 2020

Over the weekend, protests in dozens of American cities were held as people continue to mourn the life of George Floyd and others who have recently lost their lives. On Sunday afternoon, another demonstration took place in the nation’s capital. But unlike other protests which have garnered national attention in recent days, this event was distinctly Christian in both messaging and tone.

I had the opportunity to march alongside thousands of Christian brothers and sisters through the streets of Washington, D.C., pointing our friends and neighbors to the love, compassion, and grace found in Scripture, as well as testifying to God’s love and concern for justice.

Like many cities across America—and even the world—Washington has experienced a great deal of social turmoil over the past couple of weeks, ever since the release of video footage showing the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. This turmoil is magnified by D.C.’s status as the seat of the federal government. Protestors have been marching through neighborhoods and assembling at the White House and the Capitol on a daily basis.

Before Sunday, however, most responses had been organized by nonreligious activist groups with a wide range of agendas. By contrast, the leaders and organizers of Sunday’s faith-based event were pastors and lay members from evangelical churches in the D.C. area. The organizers explained in the event announcement that the focus of the gathering would be lamentation and crying out to God in prayer.

Attendees were instructed to wear red and white (to distinguish themselves from other demonstrators), wear masks, and keep social distance as much as possible. The organizers also stressed the event was to be peaceful and nonviolent. The march began from two different starting points in majority-black D.C. neighborhoods, then merged into one group shortly before reaching the Capitol.

As we marched, we sang hymns. And when we reached our destination, we prayed. Thousands of us walked down East Capitol Street in the direction of the Capitol building, singing songs like “In Christ Alone,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “Amazing Grace.” People lounging on picnic blankets in parks or on lawn chairs in front yards turned to watch the peaceful, joyful, and lamenting procession go by.

Participants carried signs bearing messages like: “created in the image of God” and “love your neighbor.” Many signs directly quoted Bible verses, particularly Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

When the parade reached the Capitol Reflecting Pool, local pastors led those assembled in praying for the families mourning the loss of loved ones, for the governing authorities, and for the human dignity of black individuals to be respected—beginning from the womb and until death.

As the hour-long prayer session drew to a close, one pastor addressed any non-Christians in the crowd. He briefly shared the gospel, explaining if you do not know Christ as Savior, “you have an even bigger justice problem” than the problem of racial injustice. He encouraged anyone with questions about God or salvation to reach out to those around them. “As you are walking with us, you might find yourself walking in the light,” he explained.

Our nation is currently struggling to deal with the sobering realities of our fallen world. We live in a Genesis 3 world that is ravaged by the effects of sin (Romans 8:22). So often, people know no other way to respond to injustice and hatred than with more hate. But as Christians, we have an opportunity to show the “more excellent way” of love (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13). We can start by coming alongside those within our own congregations who have been most directly affected by racial conflict: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). After all, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Elsewhere, he instructed the Romans, “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

As we grapple with our country’s current civil unrest—in response to recent events and old hurts that date back to the sin of slavery—we can take positive, practical steps to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31). Sunday’s Christian prayer gathering in D.C., and similar events around the country, are just one example. But you don’t need to wait for an organized event to start praying—you can start right now (read some suggested topics to pray about here). In addition to praying, another step we can take to love our neighbors is being politically engaged. You can read more about political engagement and what it has to do with loving one’s neighbor in FRC’s helpful resource: Biblical Principles for Political Engagement.

Finally, we can love our neighbors by simply being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19) and looking not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). As Christians, we believe that every person is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and possesses inherent value and dignity. Any devaluation of a particular people group should concern us. Although we live in a world torn apart by sin, we believe that the power of the gospel can make real and lasting change: starting first in the hearts of individuals and moving outward to our nation. As we move forward, we must remain committed to loving our neighbors, speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and showing by our lives what it means to know and follow Jesus.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of May 31)

by Family Research Council

June 5, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “What We Need Is Hope”

In a nation as torn and hurting as ours, there are powerful moments breaking through the chaos to remind us: darkness will not have the last word.

2. Washington Update: “The Slow Burn of America”

Mob violence and police brutality spring from the same fountain: moral bankruptcy. The abuse of power, disregard for human life, and uncontrolled rage we’re witnessing in cities across our country, all flow from a society that is rapidly losing a sense of right and wrong.

3. Publication: Biblical Principles for Political Engagement: Worldview, Issues, and Voting

How should Christians think about voting and politics and what role do they play? Family Research Council provides biblical wisdom and clear answers to these pivotal questions.

4. Blog: “We Must Never Forget the Tiananmen Square Massacre”

For the past 30 years, crowds have gathered in Hong Kong on June 4th to mourn the infamous massacre of student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. This year, no legal vigil was permitted, and many fear the Chinese government is silencing Hong Kong dissenters much like they did in 1989. 

5. Washington Watch: DOJ’s Eric Dreiband highlights his team’s work in the trenches restoring freedom in coronavirus

Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the DOJ’s involvement in states where religious freedom is in jeopardy.

6. Washington Watch: Ken Blackwell says the rule of law must win when the other choice is cultural chaos

Ken Blackwell, former mayor of Cincinnati and FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the growing unrest across the country.

7. Washington Watch: Rev. Vincent Mathews, Jr. insists the church is essential to breaking down the barriers dividing us

Bishop Vincent Mathews Jr., World Missions President for Church of God in Christ, the largest African American Pentecostal denomination, joined Tony Perkins to discuss how to bring healing that is urgently needed for our nation.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of May 24)

by Family Research Council

May 29, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “Trump Insists It’s Open Season for Churches”

On Friday, after hearing from pastors all across the country, President Trump addressed the stricter restrictions placed upon church gatherings over other establishments like restaurants, malls, and even casinos and called for America’s governors to stop the injustice.

2. Washington Update: “Mask Hysteria? Scientists Say No”

Do masks help reduce the spread of the coronavirus? One of the things scientists have learned is that the virus is transferred more from airborne droplets and less from commonly touched surfaces and the number one thing we can do to reduce that transmission is to wear masks.

3. Publication: Sex Education in Public Schools: Sexualization of Children and LGBT Indoctrination

May has been deemed “Sex Ed For All Month” by the powerful lobby shops pushing radical sex ed on children. In response, FRC has released a new resource for parents to inform them on what they need to know.

4. Blog: “The Trump Administration Is About to Do the Right Thing on Religious Freedom — Again”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is about to finalize a rule it proposed last year to ensure that religious freedom and conscience are protected, the medical profession is not politicized, and patient care is prioritized.

5. Blog: “Gender-Neutral Intersex Passport Case May Advance Larger Transgender Goals”

Although most individuals who choose to identify as “non-binary” do not have a biological intersex condition, transgender activists would like for anyone who identifies as “non-binary” to be able to get identification documents with an “X” gender marker.

6. Washington Watch: Rep. Ted Yoho blasts Biden’s anti-Israel policy that aims to roll back Trump’s accomplishments

Ted Yoho, U.S. Representative for the 3rd district of Florida, joined Tony Perkins to discuss Joe Biden’s pledge to reverse the Trump administration’s Israel policies and also on the brewing war between Israel and Hezbollah.

7. Washington Watch: Rep. Mike Johnson says every cent Planned Parenthood stole from PPP hurts legitimate businesses

Mike Johnson, U.S. Representative for the 4th district of Louisiana and Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, joined Tony Perkins to discuss the Democrats’ outrageous defense of Planned Parenthood’s illegal Paycheck Protection Program loan grab.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of May 17)

by Family Research Council

May 22, 2020

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Washington Update: “Colorado’s Signature Issue”

In a race against the clock, Colorado’s petition gatherers are hitting the ground running—trying to find the signatures they need to save lives. If you live in Colorado, please find a nearby location and sign the petition to ban late-term abortion. (And share with any Coloradans you know!)

2. Washington Update: “Democrats: The Test Is Yet to Come”

Democrats are pushing for a coronavirus response plan that raises costs and creates even more dependence on government, while they and the media refuse to mention the Trump administration’s successful response to the supply problem, the equipment problem, and the ventilator problem brought on by the coronavirus.

3. Washington Update: “To Teach His Own: The Rise of Homeschooling”

The current family situation of being stuck at home is finally forcing parents who might never have thought about public school alternatives to take stock of what their children are being taught and how well they’re performing.

4. Blog: “Churches Are Filing Lawsuits Over Coronavirus Restrictions. Here Is a List.”

The Department of Justice released a memo expressing its concern that states may not violate religious liberty rights, even amidst a pandemic. Many churches have challenged discriminatory state and local orders by filing lawsuits over coronavirus restrictions. Check out the list in our blog post.

5. Blog: “Speaker Pelosi’s Partisan Coronavirus Relief Bill Attacks Life and Family”

Last week, House Democrats passed the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), a coronavirus relief bill that funds abortion providers. Congressional Democrats have shown that they would rather score political points than help our country through this pandemic. Our blog post breaks it down.

6. Washington Watch: Rich Lowry describes how the press has systematically ignored Trump’s virus successes & solutions

Rich Lowry, Editor of National Review and author of The Case for Nationalism, joined Tony Perkins on Washington Watch to discuss how the media has largely ignored President Trump’s massive coronavirus supply effort.

7. Washington Watch: Cathy Ruse pulls back the curtain on modern sex ed and how parents everywhere can fight back

Cathy Ruse, FRC’s Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Human Dignity, joined Tony Perkins on the radio to introduce her new publication: Sex Education in Public Schools: Sexualization of Children and LGBT Indoctrination.

For more from FRC, visit our website at frc.org, our blog at frcblog.org, our Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. Get the latest on what FRC is saying about the current issues of the day that impact the state of faith, family, and freedom, both domestically and abroad. Check out “The 7” at the end of every week to get our highlights of the week’s trending items. Have a great weekend!

Online Outreach: How to Continue Fulfilling the Great Commission During the Coronavirus

by Worth Loving

April 21, 2020

Over the last month, most churches in America have been forced to cancel all of their normal services and activities due to the coronavirus outbreak and government-imposed lockdowns. Because pastors and churches rely very much on face-to-face interaction to effectively minister to their congregants, the current crisis has presented a unique challenge unlike any we have ever faced in modern times.

With most churches closed to the public, many are opting to livestream their services online through their website or through platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Pastors are giving messages from their living rooms or simply broadcasting their sermon from an empty church auditorium. And while it’s certainly not the same as meeting in person, online outreach has proven to be incredibly effective.

Allow me to give a personal example. I’m privileged to attend GraceWay Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., just east of Capitol Hill. After being forced out of our rented facility due to the coronavirus, online outreach has become our only means of airing our services. Our pastor, Brad Wells, says, “The apostle Paul brought the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an ancient marketplace. So whether it’s an ancient marketplace, a modern marketplace, or a virtual marketplace, Christ’s disciples need to have the gospel prominent.”

Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed our online outreach explode. We’ve been developing our online ministry over the past few years, particularly with livestreaming services through our website and Facebook. Before the coronavirus pandemic, our livestream averaged reaching anywhere between 500-1,500 people on a given Sunday. Now, over a month into completely livestreamed services after the virus forced us to cancel in-person services, our reach has soared to 6,000 as of Sunday, April 6th! Similarly, our peak viewers on March 8th, the Sunday before the lockdown began, was only five on our Facebook page. On Sunday, March 29th, that number surged to 64! At the start of the quarantine, the livestream of our morning service was shared just eight times and received only 17 comments. On Easter Sunday, April 12th, our Facebook livestream was shared 42 times. The following Sunday, April 19th, saw 251 comments! We have received comments from people watching all over the country and around the world. We have even had people call in to request prayer.  

Another example of the effectiveness of online outreach comes from my home church, Parkers Chapel Free Will Baptist Church in Greenville, North Carolina. Like GraceWay, Parkers Chapel has been gradually developing their online ministry as well. Before the coronavirus pandemic forced them to cancel regular services, the number of people who engaged with the Parkers Chapel Facebook page averaged around 100 or fewer. As of Sunday, April 12th, that number had surged to 2,000! Similarly, Parkers Chapel’s Facebook livestream reached around 100 or fewer people before the pandemic. But on Sunday, April 12th, the reach peaked at over 12,000! Pastor Gene Williams praised the effectiveness of Parkers Chapel’s online ministry: “It has been amazing to watch the opportunity that the Lord has given to us through this adversity to reach so many. It is not the size of the audience alone, but their appetite to know the truth that has been changed. Our online platform has enabled us to stay connected not only with our church but also with our community and even beyond that.”

I share these examples to encourage other pastors and churches who may be discouraged about not being able to meet in person. Yes, our present circumstances are far from ideal, but that doesn’t negate our responsibility to continue fulfilling the Great Commission. Just because we are not able to meet like normal does not mean we still cannot spread the gospel. God has provided us an incredible tool in the form of livestreaming that previous generations never had. In fact, we are likely able to reach even more people now than ever before because so many more are watching services online. Facebook usage has soared by over 50 percent since mandatory quarantines have forced so many to stay at home.

We each have our own social media networks that no one else has access to. It’s likely that many of the people in your network look up to you in some way and value what you post. What an incredible opportunity to reach them by sharing your church services on your personal page. For example, after sharing GraceWay’s services over the past few weeks on my personal social media, I’ve had numerous friends and family members, some who are unsaved, reach out to me to say what a blessing the service was to them. These are people who likely never would have been reached had I not shared the service on my own page.

Consider this also. One of the most disastrous implications of the virus is the tremendous toll that mandatory business lockdowns are taking on the economy. Some people are becoming desperate and hopeless because they have lost their jobs. In fact, the most recent numbers from the Labor Department show that more than 22 million people have applied for unemployment benefits in just the last month, likely bringing the unemployment rate close to 20 percent. Domestic violence is increasing as well. Many families that are not typically together during the workweek find themselves at home all day, which is leading to more arguments and abuse. We are also seeing an increase in drug and alcohol abuse as people become more depressed and isolated. Pornography use is up as well as many in isolation seek an outlet for their anxiety and depression. Perhaps most concerning of all is the increase in suicides.

With many people in desperate situations spending so much time online, now is the time appointed by God to develop your church’s online ministry. We are living in unprecedented times. But with that comes an unprecedented opportunity to reach thousands of unbelievers through social media with the lifesaving power of the gospel. There will be hopeless people mindlessly scrolling through their Facebook feed who need to hear your message!

So pastors, be encouraged. Yes, these are far from ideal circumstances, but God has provided us an incredible opportunity to spread the gospel. In fact, this is an opportunity that previous generations have not had. So take advantage of whatever God has given you this Sunday. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Even if you just livestream singing a few songs on the guitar with your family or giving a brief devotion from your living room, I promise you God will bless it. There are people out there who are more desperate now than they have ever been before, people longing for the hope that is found only in Jesus. God has promised that His Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), so boldly proclaim the truth that God has given you with whatever means He has given you.

We have not been given the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), so may we always be able to give a reason of the hope that is within us! (I Peter 3:15)

If you need help developing your church’s online outreach, here are some practical guides and websites to help you get started:

Ways to Read the Bible (Part 1): Devotional Bible Reading

by Patrina Mosley

April 8, 2020

Recently, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell announced at the White House that his company would repurpose their production facilities to make 50,000 face masks a day for health care workers combatting the pandemic. You would think there would be united praise for his patriotism. But left-wing, anti-God critics have ostracized him for simply encouraging Americans to use this extra time at home to read their Bible and connect with God.

He is right.

As many of us are doing our part to #StaySafeStayHome in the midst of the coronavirus, some of us have more time and fewer excuses to do the things we’ve been putting off for a while. Perhaps one of those things is reading the Bible more. There is no better way to get to know God than by spending time in his word. And there is no better time than now.

When it comes to studying the Bible, there are a lot of options. There are different methods, Bible translations, commentaries, podcasts, and sermons. Even within the Bible there are different genres (epistle, historical narrative, poetry, etc.) that can seem confusing if you are unfamiliar with how to interpret the particular genre. The goal of every Christian should be to rightly interpret the Bible.

My hope and prayer is that this blog series will help you learn to read the Bible and have it become a habitual part of your life. More tools will also be mentioned for going deeper in your journey to learning God’s word. It is a journey—not a destination.

So, let’s get started!

The first thing we should always do before reading God’s word is to pray.

Prayer: Starting with sincere prayer humbles us and focuses our heart to hear from God. When we are engaging his word, we are engaging God himself. Praying first helps eliminate distractions by pouring out our heart to God (Psalm 62:8) and laying our burdens down at his feet (Psalm 55:22). After praying, you will often find that God speaks to you through his word about the very things you prayed about. Knowing that he hears you will encourage your faith.

Before Bible study, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and help you understand God’s word. John 16:13-15 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the one who reveals truth to us. Pray that he makes your time in Scripture fruitful.

You can pray the Scriptures as well. What better way to pray for God’s will in your life and others than by praying his word! For example, you can pray, “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions” (Psalms 119:18).

Devotional vs. Inductive Bible Study

Two components essential to getting closer to God and having our lives transformed are devotional Bible reading and inductive Bible study. What’s the difference?   

Simply put, inductive Bible study (which will be covered in the third part of this series), is where you are spending time looking into the Bible to see what it says about itself, God, and humanity. Devotional Bible reading is time spent looking into your own heart to see where God’s truth needs to be applied to your current circumstances.

Let’s start with devotional reading.

Devotional: This is where we spend time meditating on God’s word to be encouraged and directed by God’s truth. Devotional reading can be done by reading a Bible-based devotional book, a passage of scripture, or both. During devotional time you are looking into your own heart and asking God to illuminate his truth and apply it to your present circumstances. Knowing and thinking (meditating) about God’s word is how we can learn to follow God more closely. Some good questions to ask while meditating on God’s word are:

  • What does this passage say about God? What does it say about me? My sin? My struggles?
  • What is the lesson I need to learn? What example is given that I need to follow?
  • What is the command I need to obey?
  • What fruit or character development needs to take place in my life?
  • What is blocking God’s work in me? What sins do I need to avoid? Consider how you are spending your time, your thought life, your motivations, and relationships.
  • What promise does God have for me to receive? How am I encouraged and strengthened?
  • What is God asking me to surrender or submit to him?

Write it Down: This is where I would encourage you to write down your reflections, pray, and ask God how you can implement his truths in your life. Writing down reflections and truths God reveals to us helps to focus our minds and disentangle our thoughts. By having this record, we can look back and remember what God has said to us. Psalm 1:1-3 tells us that meditating on God’s word day and night brings much fruitfulness in our lives. Beginning and ending our day by thinking about what we have read will bring us into closer fellowship with God and help us to become more like him.

Helpful Tool: The YouVersion Bible app is a free resource that is jam-packed with a variety of Bible reading plans that include devotionals; some even include videos. Take some time to scroll through the app and choose something that speaks to you.

Bible Translations: Remember that when you read the Bible you are reading a translation (the Bible was originally written in Hebrew (Old Testament; a few portions were written in Aramaic) and Greek (New Testament). Here is a short list of some easy-to-read English translations of the Bible: English Standard Version (ESV), Christian Standard Bible (CSB), New International Version (NIV), and New Living Translation (NLT). These Bible translations strike a good balance between literal word-for-word translation and contemporary phraseology.

Tip: There are study Bibles that provides helpful commentary and notes. You can choose a book or a passage from the Bible and read the accompanying notes as part of your daily devotional reading or study time!

Read Part 2

Women’s History Month: Jehosheba - Princess, Aunt, Hero

by Laura Grossberndt

March 23, 2020

March is Women’s History Month (WHM), so it’s a great opportunity to commemorate the contributions of women to American history. The most influential book in the United States—even the world—is the Bible; it not only shapes the way we Christians live, it also helped set the foundations for the way our nation is governed. Thus, women featured in the Bible, despite never having lived in America, have contributed greatly to the spiritual heritage of our nation. Periodically throughout the month, we will be sharing their inspiring stories.

Be sure to also read our previous Women’s History Month posts on Shiphrah and Puah and Esther.

Do you know who Jehosheba is?

If not, you should.

Her story is contained in just a few verses in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22-23. But do not mistake its brevity for inconsequence. Jehosheba’s heroism looms large, for, without it, the kingly line of David would have been cut off forever.

Jehosheba (Jehoshabeath in 2 Chronicles) was a princess of Judah in the 9th century B.C. Her father was King Jehoram, and her brother was King Ahaziah. Her grandfather was the righteous King Jehoshaphat.

Unfortunately, Jehosheba’s father and brother were not godly men. Her father Jehoram married a woman named Athaliah, who was most likely the daughter of the infamous Ahab and Jezebel, the wicked king and queen that led the northern kingdom of Israel to worship Baal. Queen Athaliah brought the worship of Baal to Judah, even as King Jehu was removing the worship of Baal from Israel (2 Kings 10:18-28). She taught her son Ahaziah, prince of Judah, to do evil in the eyes of the LORD (2 Chron. 22:3-4).

As for Jehosheba, she was married to a man named Jehoiada (2 Chron. 22:11b). The biblical narrative does not tell us how Jehosheba, daughter of a wicked king, came to be married to Jehoiada, a righteous priest who served in the temple in Jerusalem. Their marriage was part of God’s sovereign plan, however, as we shall soon see.

Our story opens when King Ahaziah, brother of Jehosheba, is slain by Jehu, king of Israel (2 Chron. 22:9). When Athaliah, now the queen mother, heard of her son the king’s death, she responded by waging genocide on all of the males in the royal household of David—even her own grandchildren—and seizing the throne of Judah for herself (2 Kings 11:1, 2 Chron. 22:10). Thus, we see that the wicked, Baal-worshipping Athaliah threatened much more than Judah’s religion. She also nearly succeeded at wiping out the royal line God had promised David would sit on the throne forever (2 Samuel 7:8-17).

Athaliah might have succeeded with this massacre, were it not for God’s intervention and the brave actions of a princess who loved her family, feared God more than she feared the queen, and believed God’s promise that a descendant of David would reign forever. Jehosheba took her nephew Joash (also known as Jehoash), infant son of the slain Ahaziah, and hid him where Athaliah could not find him (2 Kings 11:2-3, 2 Chron. 22:11-12). This rescue is yet another example of God miraculously preserving and extending the Abrahamic and Davidic lines. Jehosheba not only protected her infant nephew from her father’s wicked wife but also ensured the messianic genealogy contained in Matthew 1 would continue, and God’s promise to David would, therefore, be fulfilled.[1]

Athaliah reigned over Judah for six years. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to her, her grandson Joash was raised within the house of the Lord. Jehosheba and her husband Jehoiada were his guardians. When Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada crowned and anointed Joash king of Judah in the temple. When Athaliah heard what was happening, she rushed to the temple, tore her clothes, and screamed, “Treason! Treason!” But Jehoiada commanded the execution of Athaliah and all of her supporters. The people of Judah then made a covenant to be the Lord’s people, and they destroyed the temple of Baal (2 Kings 11:12-18, 2 Chron. 23:11-17). Thus, the threat to God’s chosen messianic line was defeated.

The story of Jehosheba teaches us that caring for and raising a child to serve the Lord is a heroic act that can have an enormous impact on our family, our country, and even salvific history.


[1] While Joash is not mentioned in Matthew 1 by name, his grandfather Jehoram and grandson Uzziah are (Matt. 1:8-9).

Women’s History Month: Esther

by Patrina Mosley

March 19, 2020

March is Women’s History Month (WHM), so it’s a great opportunity to commemorate the contributions of women to American history. The most influential book in the United States—even the world—is the Bible; it not only shapes the way we Christians live, it also helped set the foundations for the way our nation is governed. Thus, women featured in the Bible, despite never having lived in America, have contributed greatly to the spiritual heritage of our nation. Periodically throughout the month, we will be sharing their inspiring stories.

Esther, whom God used to save the Jews from genocide in the late fifth century (483-473) B.C., is one of the most admired women in the Bible.

Through a series of providential events, the Jewish maiden Esther was chosen by King Xerxes of Persia (alternatively named Ahasuerus) to be his new Queen. Shortly after Esther was crowned, Haman, one of the king’s officials and an enemy of the Jews, manipulated the king. He acquired approval to annihilate all of the Jews living in the kingdom. Up until this point, Esther had never spoken of her nationality. But her cousin Mordecai urged her to petition the king about the matter. Esther was reluctant, knowing that going before the king without an invitation could result in her execution.

Here are two lessons we can glean from Esther’s story:

1. She was confronted with the truth and then committed to doing the right thing.

[Mordecai] sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

- Esther 4:13-16

2. Her strength and courage grew over time as she relied on God for wisdom.

On the third day, Esther went before King Xerxes despite fearing for her life. But God had given her favor with the king since the moment he met her. That favor continued when she approached his throne. Instead of coming right out with “save my people from slaughter,” she invited the king and Haman to a banquet. No better way to get a man’s heart than through his stomach!

At this banquet, the king asked Esther what she really wanted and promised to give her whatever she requested. Again, Esther did not come right out with her true request but instead invited the king and Haman to another banquet she would hold the next day (Esther 5:1-7). That night, fueled by discontentment and hatred, Haman set up gallows to execute Mordecai on. However, at the second banquet, Esther revealed her nationality to the king and exposed Haman’s plot to annihilate her people. The king was so furious with Haman that he had him hung on the very gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai! (Esther 7)

Since the prior edict of a king could not be reversed, Esther asked the king to give the Jews permission to annihilate anyone that tried to kill them, and he did (Esther 8). Esther repeated her request for a second day, and the king granted her request a second time! (Esther 9)

Esther’s Role “For Such a Time as This”

Once Esther decided to do what was right, her strength and courage grew over time as she relied on God for wisdom. From the moment Esther first requested the king come to her banquet, to the end of the story when she asked for the Jews to defend themselves for a second day in a row, we see her courage grow more and more with each request as God gave her favor with the king.

Esther’s dependence on God allowed her to reach the king in a winsome way, and by delaying her actual request, it gave time for Haman to build his own deathtrap! Only God could have orchestrated the timing of such events to bring about deliverance for his people. Esther knew how to listen and obey God for his instructions and timing. Mordecai even said God could use someone else to accomplish deliverance for his people, but it was evident that God had allowed her to be in a position of influence “for such a time as this.” Those six words are known synonymously with the story of Esther because it was evident that God’s providential hand was at work throughout.

Like Esther, it’s okay if all our courage and strength doesn’t come immediately; sometimes it doesn’t. But once confronted with the truth, we must decide to do right, regardless of the consequences, and immediately seek God for wisdom on how and when to do the right thing for his glory.

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