Real Men Are Warriors Who Protect

As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

It began as a shopping date with my daughter Laura, who was 13 at the time. I never dreamed it would end the way it did.

Laura decided that she wanted to go where her older brothers and sisters went to shop at the time—Abercrombie and Fitch. There she found a beautiful baby blue sweater, and she went to the dressing room to try it on. While I was waiting I noticed a life-sized poster of a young man completely nude, leaning up on a boat dock knee deep in water. The shot was from behind, but I had not asked to see that guy chilling in his birthday suit.

I stood there looking at that poster thinking that I thought this was a clothing store and how inappropriate that was for my daughter and other girls. Finally I asked if I could please talk with the manager. The young man, who couldn’t have been over 30, came over and I greeted him with a smile. I shared with him that I had six children and was a good customer; then I said very kindly, “This picture … I’m sorry, but it’s just indecent.”  I thought I’d get agreement.

Instead he quipped, “I beg to differ with you, sir. By whose standards?”

A little stunned by his response, I replied with measured firmness, “By any standard of real morality.”

By that time, Laura had wandered back with her sweater. I pointed to the picture of the chiseled, buff-buddy’s buns, looked the manager squarely in the eyes, and said, “Sir, if that picture is not indecent, then I’d like you to drop your pants and get in a similar pose to that guy in the picture.”

He looked at the picture, then my daughter, and back at me. He looked like a deer in the headlights. There was a moment of silence, full of anticipation. Then he shook his head and said, “Huh-uh.”

I probably shouldn’t have pressed the point, but I added, “Come on, you said that picture is not indecent. Come on, drop ’em.”

“Huh-uh.”

I smiled and said, “You know, it’s a good thing you didn’t drop your pants, because you could have been arrested for indecent exposure.”

Then he replied, “Well, if you think that’s bad, you should see our catalog.”

So I went over and opened the catalog. One photo showed four teenage girls in bed with a boy; I’m not sure what they were advertising—maybe bedsheets—because none of them had clothes on. I pushed the catalog back and said, “I’d like you to take my name and phone number. I’d like someone from your corporate office to give me a call.”

To which he politely said, “Sir, I can take your name and address but they’re not interested. They really don’t care what you think.”

My response was kind, but firm: “I just want you to know I’m just one customer. I’m just a daddy of six kids, but I’ve got a lot of friends. And I want you to know that wherever I go, I’m going to use this episode as an illustration of a company that doesn’t care about the future of our young people, their morality, or the future of our nation.”

I figure I’ve shared the story with about five million people on various radio broadcasts, speaking at conferences, and in writing.

The courage to protect

One of my favorite quotes, attributed to British politician Edmund Burke, is “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” When evil invades a man’s life and marriage, his children’s lives, his work, and his community, the easiest thing for him to do is nothing.

As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

When you think of protecting your family, perhaps the first things that come to mind are keeping your house locked, or holding on to your child’s hand on a crowded sidewalk, or investigating a strange sound downstairs in the middle of the night, or teaching your children about what to do if the house is on fire. But as I’ve looked at my responsibilities as protector at home, I’ve realized that they go further. For example:

I have established boundaries to protect my marriage. I’m doing battle for my marriage when I don’t meet with a woman by myself unless the door is open or there is a window so that others can observe. I do not have lunch with other women alone. I do not travel alone in a car with other women. I copy my wife, Barbara, on e-mails written to women, and I don’t have private conversations with women on social websites without her knowing. At the same time, I do battle for my marriage by helping Barbara with household chores, taking her on dates and getaways, and spoiling her with an occasional gift of her liking.

I protected my children by training them in the choices they would make. I organized weekend getaways with both sons in their early teens to discuss peer pressure, dating, sex, pornography, alcohol, and more stuff the culture was throwing at them. I continued these conversations with my sons through the years—we even talked about things like dealing with girls who pursue them sexually, and what to do if they see a fight breaking out at school. In addition, Barbara and I made a big effort to get to know our kids’ friends—especially once they reached junior high and peer pressure kicked into high gear. We wanted to be aware of the good influences and the potential bad ones.

I protected my daughters by dating them and, later, by interviewing their dates. On these dates I showed them how a young man was to take care of them, what they should expect from a guy, and how to deal with sexual overtures. I explained why it was important to dress modestly, and I did it at an early age before they experienced much peer pressure on the issue. I met with their dates and made it clear to each young man that I expected him to keep his hands off my daughter.

I protected my family by working with Barbara to set up boundaries about media. We set standards on the types of films and television programs we would watch. We made rules about when and where they could access the internet, and talked about how to protect their privacy and how to guard against sexual predators. If I was a father with children at home today, I’d also be setting boundaries on cell phones, texting, and video games, and I’d install porn filters on all computers.

A trained warrior also has battlefield vision that anticipates the future.  He scans the horizon and assesses dangers that are coming so that he can prepare for them.

And he realizes he is never off duty.

Warriors in the community and boardroom

Not only does America need warriors at home, but it also needs men willing to use their influence to protect their communities and even the nation.

Like my friend Scott Ford, former CEO of a large wireless phone network, who told me of the pressure he felt from stockholders who wanted to increase the company’s profits by putting pornography on the mobile phones they sell. Scott stood firm and many times stood alone.

Robert Rowling, whose holding company owns Omni Hotels, is another corporate warrior. He pulled all the pornography out of his hotels at a cost of more than $6 million, reasoning that if he didn’t want his sons to view that stuff, why should he make it possible for other men or their sons to stumble?

The Scriptures contain a simple admonition that men of all ages need to take to heart today: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Men, we are in the midst of a cosmic conflict of good versus evil. Wars are made up of battles, and battles demand a few good men who assume the responsibility of warriors and fight.

Many of you are not corporate leaders, but you may have the opportunity to step up in other ways. Perhaps it will be taking a stand against deceptive practices in the company where you work, or speaking out against sexual harassment, or talking with your child’s teacher if he or she shows an inappropriate film during class.

It takes courage for a man to step out and push back against evil. It will mean that you don’t go with the flow. You can’t fight every battle, but you can get involved when opportunities come your way.

When men don’t step up, the cost of doing nothing means that indecency, immorality, and other aberrant behaviors become the new norm in the culture. Our children and grandchildren will pay the ultimate price if we turn our heads. When men are not warriors, when men don’t push back against evil with good, the evil we were meant to conquer turns around and preys upon us and our descendants (see Isaiah 59:11-15).

In all these various engagements with the culture and others, real men are firm, but gracious. Having convictions does not give a man the license to be rude or pummel another person with his beliefs. Truth and love must be kept in proper tension with one another.

“Freaking” on the dance floor

I have one last admonition: Be ready! You never know when you will come face-to-face with an issue that demands courage and stepping up.

A number of years ago a couple of our teens attended a junior high dance. Barbara and I decided we’d drop in unexpectedly and check it out. As we entered the darkened dance floor we saw about 30 kids off in the darkest corner, doing a dance called “freaking.” Now if you haven’t seen this, trust me, it’s an imitation of intercourse, but with clothes on.

A handful of parents were huddled near a light in a corner watching, grousing and complaining about what they saw, but generally doing nothing.

I walked past the parents and went over and stood near the swaying crowd. I watched as two boys drew a young lady in between them. As I stood there deciding what to do, my palms grew clammy, sweating with anticipation. I thought, Here I am, a 45-year-old man, and I’m afraid of what a couple of pimple faced, 14-year-old boys think about me?

I finally concluded, What they’re doing is absolutely indecent. It’s ridiculous for me to cave in to fear!

So I stepped into the crowd of “freaking” dancers and tapped one of the young men on the shoulder. I smiled sternly and told him to knock it off. I challenged him to treat the young lady with dignity and respect.

He had a very blank look on his face. I could see him thinking, Whatever…

His response didn’t matter, because one small step had brought victory. Feeling more courageous, I approached another trio of gyrating teens and busted them up. I looked over my shoulder and a bunch of dads were now joining me.

Here’s the point, guys: God made us to pierce the darkness. He didn’t make us to fight every battle, but He did make us to stand for truth, to embrace standards. And when men don’t embrace beliefs they are paralyzed and neutralized by the culture. They won’t step forward and can’t step up because they don’t have the mandate of truth resonating in their souls. In the absence of real men pushing back against evil, the culture continues its downward spiral and becomes increasingly shameless and vulgar.

Do not be overcome by evil. Step up and kindly overcome evil with good.

Adapted by permission from Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, Copyright © 2011 Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.

20 Ideas for Dating Your Wife

20 Ideas for Dating Your Wife

Only you know how to best cultivate and guard the woman God has given you.
By Justin Buzzard

Men, you need to come up with your own ideas for how to date your wife. You know your wife better than anyone else. Only you know how to best cultivate and guard the woman God has given you. But, sometimes it helps to build off other people’s ideas in order to form your own … My prayer is that the power of the gospel would drive how you date your wife and implement these ideas.

1. Attend a wedding. Sit in the back row and spend the whole time whispering memories from your own wedding.

2. Make a list of ten things your wife loves to do. Each new time you take your wife on a date, do one of those ten things as your date.

3. Take up a new hobby with your wife; do something new that you’re both excited about.

4. Do the classic date: dinner and a show. Take your wife to din­ner and to a movie she wants to watch.

5. Take a twelve-month honeymoon with your wife. Relive your honeymoon by scheduling a 24-hour getaway for every month of this year. Each month go somewhere new with your wife.

6. Devote one hour each night for alone time with your wife. Talk about how your days went. Joke around with each other. Cultivate your friendship. Talk honestly about what’s going on in your lives. Help each other. Encourage each other. Pray together.

7. Mark your wife’s birthday, your wedding anniversary, and Mother’s Day on your calendar every year and plan to make those days special.

8. Write a love note to your wife. Tell her all over again what she means to you.

9. Spend an evening stargazing with your wife and talking about dreams you have for the future.

10. Spend an evening reminiscing with your wife about all you’ve been through together and all God has done and redeemed in your life together.

11.Devote the next month to studying a book of the Bible with your wife. Take twenty minutes several nights a week to read, discuss, and pray through a shorter book such as Ephesians or Philippians.12. Visit your roots. Visit where your wife grew up and where you grew up. Learn more about each other’s backgrounds.

13. Hold your wife’s hand often, in public and in private.14. Tell your wife that you love her.

15. Tell your wife that Jesus loves her more than you do.

16. Set a weekly date night. Each week rotate going out and stay­ing in for your date night.

17. Cancel work for the day and do something special with your wife.

18. Take dancing lessons with your wife.

19. Cut something from your schedule and use that time to date your wife.

20. Vacation with your wife without your kids, without your work, and without your cell phone and computer.

Adapted from Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard, © 2012, pp. 133-139. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

Junk Theology Article

Junk Theology: How Goddesses and Witchcraft are Invading the Church

by Linda Harvey
‘The God of the Bible locked in mortal combat for the souls of men with the goddess of revived paganism—…Few in the church and the popular culture realize the enormity of the revolution going on around us.’ 1

Peter Jones, Ph.D., Spirit Wars

It’s an ordinary Sunday, nothing to distinguish it from any other. You and your family walk into your chosen place of worship– perhaps an Episcopal church, or a United Methodist, or a Presbyterian, or Lutheran, or Roman Catholic. You sit in your usual pew, you glance around– and you notice something different. At first the changes are hard to identify. Then it hits you.

There are no crosses. None.

Instead, at the place of honor on the altar, is perhaps a tree, or a circle representing the earth and nature. Or, perhaps a statue, ethereal and abstract, of an unclothed woman, surely reaching to the sky, surely spiritual in pose, meant to represent a cosmic dream, a unifying principle.

In other words, a goddess. An idol.

What would be the response of most members of these churches? Would they feel vaguely uncomfortable, and leave? Or feel vaguely uncomfortable, but stay? How would you react? Would you accommodate this new expression of spirituality as being a natural outgrowth of a continuing quest for knowledge of the unknown? Or would you, knowing what is really going on here, take your family, rise and walk away from a place where Christ no longer is worshipped?

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bringing on themselves swift destruction.”
(2 Peter 2:1 NKJV)

Among the false teaching predicted in Scripture is perhaps the single unifying heresy of our age — a pagan return to earth-centered religion, embodied in a “feminine expression” of deity. Goddess worship, even in its ultimate form–witchcraft–is now being openly,even proudly practiced in mainstream Christian denominations, in defiance of the foundations of the faith.

Could the scenario above become reality? We believe it can and will, unless informed, courageous, convicted Christians stand against the introduction of doctrinal error into mainline congregations. Will such brave stands be made?

The cause for alarm is the massive nature of the assault, which doesn’t end at the church door. The ultimate philosophy behind the global agendas of feminism, homosexuality, environmentalism, abortion rights, multiculturalism, and anti-“fundamentalism” has its roots, knowingly or not, in the new paganism. The political agendas reinforce the religious bias and vice versa. Concerned Christians need to understand what is happening to the culture as a whole. When even prominent members of the media are practicing witchcraft, it’s time to worry. More on this later.

An important book explaining the feminist spirituality movement and its ancient roots is Spirit Wars: Pagan Revival in Christian America by Peter Jones, Ph.D.(Main Entry Editions). Jones is a Harvard and Princeton trained professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, and has written and lectured extensively on the spiritual basis of the current chaos in American and global culture.

Spirit Wars identifies a revived interest in Gnosticism, the pseudo-Christian teaching of the first and second centuries after Christ, as the foundation of current feminist rejection of traditional Christianity. At the root of this rejection is the same old rebellion as that of the Garden–merely embellished in the pompous rhetoric of radical feminist theological scholarship as well as in pop feminist teaching and literature.

The primary source of this rebellion is inside, not outside the Christian church. But because we are a culture that has been dominated by Judeo-Christian thought, the emergence of this as the predominant version of “Christianity” is also transforming the whole Western worldview into one that is pagan in orientation. Jones summarizes the conflict eloquently: “…Two religious faiths, and only two, battle for the spirit and the mind of the modern world…The present contest is between two powerful spiritualities: Christian theism/ God the Father, and pagan monism/ the Mother goddess.” 2

THE FALSE CHRIST OF THE RELIGIOUS LEFT

“The earth is a woman, and she rises. We all live in her,” chants a group of Catholic women who met several years back for a WomenChurch conference in Boston.3

A tenured professor of theology at Boston College, a self-declared lesbian witch, stands up at a major Bible conference in 1992 and says,”What’s all this biblical bulls–t?” She ischeered by the crowd of seminarians, ministers, and Bible scholars.4

And the speaker at the fourth Re-Imagining Conference in Minneapolis in 1996 invited the audience of several hundred Christian women, many of them ordained ministers or active in their churches, to bite into the apples available on their tables. “Let us bite into the apple in celebration, for we, like Eve, are created to know.” In a brazen mockery of the Fall, the women cooperatively devoured their fruit. The same conference featured a “goddess wall” with reproductions of 33 ancient and modern goddesses, among them Gaia, Mary (Jesus’ mother),the Babylonian Ishtar, and Diana.5 Let’s not forget–this was a Christian women’s conference.

The superficial, compromised Christianity accommodated for decades in mainline churches is the reason such foundational error is being tolerated. “Does the average Christian know what is going on in our ostensibly civilized society?” Peter Jones asks. “Pagan ideology, sometimes of the most radical and anti-Christian nature, is taught in university departments of religion, theological seminaries, mainline church agencies, feminist networks, and wicca covens across the land. It adopts the name of Christianity, but it will render our world unrecognizable.” 6

Before we delve into the ideas behind this rebellion, it is important to emphasize Jones’ point: that while this might seem on the surface to be merely a Christian church issue, it is actually the engine driving a massive global transformation in thought, from Judeo-Christian democratic principles to neo-pagan, power-based postmodernism. And, far from an evolving new concept, a “bridge to the 21st century,” this is a road mankind has traveled before, with disastrous results. Even the current pagan packaging has eerie similarities to ghosts of ancient civilizations.

Tolerance and peace are hardly part of the “new understandings” of our faith, but rather distortions and neuroses. When the crucifixion of Jesus is denounced as too bloody and a form of “child abuse,” as did Christian feminist speakers from the podium of the goddess-exhalting Re-Imagining Conference in 1993, it’s time to take a hard look at what’s behind all this and where it’s taking us.

THE FEMINIST CASE AGAINST THE BIBLE

The background for the revolution is a feminist rebellion against the so-called “patriarchy” of Genesis, subsequent biblical references to women, and the treatment of females down through church history. Are the critics totally off-base in some of their claims? No. Males have sought to twist scripture at times to suit their needs for ambition and dominance–and still do. That’s human nature.What is dreadfully wrong,however, is the reasons behind the criticism, the rebellion it reveals, and where these radical religious approaches would take the church if followed.

“At the beginning of the current women’s movement in religion, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, feminists pointed out how women often were completely excluded from the full practice of Judaism and Christianity,” says author Rita M. Gross.7 This seems like a statement with some validity. Later in the same book Gross destroys her credibility with radical, blasphemous ideas, including explaining the virtues of witchcraft. This is typical of feminist spirituality.

Yes, there have been some abuses of patriarchy in Christianity. Are they to be attributed to the canon of Scripture or to human sin? I don’t think a person who truly loves the Lord would see justification for abuse in the Bible. As one looks at where most of these feminists ultimately take the argument, there is such obvious rage behind their premises, and such extremism in the goals, that the real motivation becomes clear: payback, destruction, and empowerment no matter what the source of the power.

The feminist approach to Scripture begins with suspicion. A feminist reading of the Garden of Eden story sees not a caring parent but a jealous, possessive male deity whose objective was to place limits on humans, particularly Eve. After her disobedience (which was just a trick, anyway), this unjust God placed women in a position of subordinance that limits the expression of their gifts and puts them forever at the mercy of males.

As the narrative continues, the Hebrew patriarchs then refused to let their people worship any female deities, unlike neighboring cultures, all of whom had goddesses. These other cultures were more gentle and less warlike, the theory contends, and if worship today would retrieve those ancient matriarchal traditions and cast off oppressive and violent male religious dominance, society would evolve into a peaceful utopia where women would certainly be equal and perhaps even superior. The rigid black and white dualism of Christianity and Judaism– good and evil, sin and redemption– would be replaced with justice and “freedom” in a celebration of the human as being at one with all creation, as expressing only natural impulses (including sexuality in any form), and unfettered by the guilt of male-dominated belief systems.

One can recognize in this approach not only the philosophy of the religious left, but the underlying premise of all current liberal thought. This so-called human rights orientation is probably the primary source fueling the growing animosity to biblical Christianity. It is based on a shallow and self-focused reading of Scripture; false information about ancient history; a personal commitment to sensuality and self-indulgence no matter what the cost; a failure or deliberate unwillingness to differentiate between human failings and foundational biblical principles;and ignorance of or disregard for the results of paganism, which are seldom peaceful but ultimately tend toward violence.

Feminists develop these twisted premises in an avalanche of popular and scholarly books with titles like She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse; Goddesses in Everywoman; The Gospel According to Mary: A New Testament for Women; When God Was A Woman; Sexism and God-Talk; and The Rebirth of the Goddess. It is the unfortunate or uninformed person who is seduced into adopting what amounts to blasphemous beliefs, based on the pseudo-theology presented in such pages.

And the mass marketing of these ideas to women through popular media is omnipresent. The popularity of the book The Da Vinci Code attests to the willingness of the public to absorb silly notions like Jesus having married Mary Magdalene and fathering a child.8 An article featuring “The 25 Most Influential Working Mothers” appeared in an issue of Working Mother magazine recently. One of the honorees was Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University. “Pagels is a towering force in the theological community and a beacon for women seeking a voice in the Church,” declared the article. “By exploring the suppression of women by early Church leaders, Pagels has raised the Christian community’s consciousness about sexism in organized religion.”9

Pagels is the author of such books as The Gnostic Gospelsand The Origin of Satan and is responsible for much of the modern acceptance of Gnosticism as a valid Christian view. No other woman representing the field of religion was mentioned in the article, once again demonstrating the exalted position the pagan viewpoint holds among our cultural communicators, and no conservative in any field was included among the twenty-five. Among other honorees were, predictably, Hillary Clinton and Rosie O’Donnell.

FEARLESS AND GODLESS

One of the most striking features of radical feminist Christianity is its outright repudiation of even the possibility of truth in the original biblical account. This is postmodernism at its finest, which simply makes up truth with no basis other than, “Because I want it this way.” For example, Rita M. Gross’ Feminism and Religion proceeds from the usual feminist theological assumption that God as presented in the Bible simply does not exist, and that “imposing” Him on the Jewish/Christian world was the triumph of a cruel patriarchy, not the work of an Almighty deity. Males in the non-Western world are much nicer, according to Gross. “Western monotheism is unique in its fear and denial of images of female divinity.” 10 (Emphasis added).

Fear is a key concept in the feminist spin on Judeo-Christian religion. Western men are supposedly afraid of the unfettered sexual expression of women (particularly lesbianism) so they have to contain femininity within certain boundaries, and they invented a male god to do so. It is no coincidence that many if not most of these feminist theologians are also lesbians. Not unlike other homosexual writings, there is an assumption that fear of something harmless (which homosexuality is presumed to be),rather than avoidance of something destructive, is at the base of biblical proscriptions against sexual perversion.

But it is not only women who are receptive to the reemergence of matriarchy/ pagan images in Christianity. More and more liberal men are arguing in defense of this same view. In a book called Fire in the Belly, author Sam Keen says, “Feminists who argue that goddess-worship historically preceded the notion of God as father are certainly correct.”11 Good and evil were not at the heart of the struggle in the Garden; it was matriarchy vs. patriarchy, he maintains. And the loss was freedom of sexual expression. The male-dominated God replaced sex with violence.12

REBELLION AND WITCHCRAFT

The amount and nature of the open rebellion against doctrine is being downplayed, even hidden, by the leaders of national congregations. The Re-Imagining Conferences have attracted many women and some men in church leadership but have been publicized little except among conservatives within church circles.

There has been acknowledgement among mainline Protestant denominations that the participation in conferences like Re-Imagining has affected donations– negatively. And there is an emerging countermovement to stand against radical feminism and other postmodern debates within the church. An organization called the Association for Church Renewal was formed with James Heidinger of Good News as president. Diane Knippers of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and Todd Whetzel of Episcopalians United are vice-chairs.13

Probably the most disturbing element is the emergence of the actual practice of witchcraft within the church.The unwary Christian woman today may be seduced into goddess worship as an interesting and attractive alternative to tradition. But she may quickly find herself involved in the outright practice of witchcraft without knowing it, because witchcraft is basically the ritual aspect of nature/goddess worship. Casting a circle, the drawing down of power, the importance of not breaking the circle–these are witchcraft rites designed to call on the demonic. They are usually not identified thus, because Satan’s existence is largely discounted by liberal theologians–another reason why there is no fear of dabbling in the unknown.

And witchcraft is beginning to be accepted rather casually in religious, even Christian circles. Certainly the media has little problem with it. Margot Adler, the New York Bureau chief for National Public Radio, and who is a frequent commentator on their shows like “All Things Considered,” is a practicing witch. No, we are not kidding.Adler is the author of Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-worshipers and Other Pagans in America Today (Beacon Press,1986), a very popular feminist book describing ritual and goddess worship–positively.

“Witchcraft is the wave of the future,” states Peter Jones firmly in Spirit Wars. He notes that at the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, witches were given official status.14 In Salem, Massachusetts, the local ecumenical group includes representatives of Protestant churches, Catholicism, a Jewish rabbi, and the high priest of the Rosarian Order of Wicca.15

IF WE DO NOTHING

If you as a Christian aren’t totally sure about this issue–why this feminist spirituality movement is deeply rebellious and ultimately destructive to the church — then a reading of Spirit Warsor one of Jones’other books is a must.(See his group’s web site at www.cwipp.org) All of the mainline denominations have conservative groups concerned about these issues. Get in touch with the group within your denomination and find out how you can become informed about their views and perhaps involved.

What happens if we do nothing? The face of the confessing Christian church is on a course of self-destruction unless we are willing to confront the change agents. Of course, the authentic church is in no danger of disappearing–that victory was won at the cross. But do we want to be marginalized to the point where genuine faith must go underground? One expert in the field of false faith believes that, not only could the form of the church change, but so could America.

Talk with fellow Christians, especially those who are undecided on this issue. We must stay informed about current issues, and remain strong in the faith. For real conviction, the best defense is Bible study and discussion groups combined with prayer.

Just to clarify, that’s prayer to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit–only.

———————————————————————-

Sources:

  1. Peter Jones, Spirit Wars: Pagan Revival in Christian America, 1997, Main Entry Editions,PO.Box 952, Siloam Springs, AR 72761, p. 251.
  2. Ibid, preface, page xii.
  3. “The Enemy Within,” Kathleen Howley, Catholic World Report,June 1996, p. 57.
  4. Spirit Wars, p. 183.
  5. “Re-Imagining Revisited,” by Diane Knippers, Good News, January/February 1997, p. 28.
  6. Spirit Wars, p. 35.
  7. Feminism & Religion, Rita M. Gross, Beacon Press, Boston, 1996, p.40.
  8. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown,Bantam Dell Publishing Group, 2003.
  9. “The 25 Most Influential Working Mothers,” Michaele Weissman, Working Mother, February 1997, p. 24.
  10. Feminism & Religion, p.169.
  11. As cited in The Goddess Revival, Aida Besancon Spencer et. al, Baker Books,1995, p. 45.
  12. Ibid, p. 46.
  13. Good News, January/February 1997, p.8.
  14. Spirit Wars, p. 147-148.
  15. Spirit Wars, p. 148.

———————————–
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
John 17:3 NKJV

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 NKJV

“For day after day they seek me out; They seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.”
Isaiah 58:2 NIV

All contents copyright © 2003 – Mission America
To contact Mission America, send E-mail to webmaster@missionamerica.com

Male suicide rate worst since 2001, ONS reveals

Office for National Statistics reveals male suicide rate in UK has ‘increased significantly’ since 2007, while female rates have stayed ‘consistently lower’

The number of people killing themselves in the UK rose in 2013, official figures have revealed, as male suicides hit their highest rate in more than a decade.

A total of 6,233 suicides were recorded among people aged 15 and over, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, up 252 – or four per cent – on the previous year.

The UK suicide rate was 11.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 2013, while the male suicide level was more than three times higher than for females, with 19 male deaths per 100,000 – the highest since 2001.

The male suicide rate in the UK has “increased significantly” since 2007, the ONS said, while female rates have stayed “relatively constant” and been “consistently lower” than in men.

In 1981, 63 per cent of UK suicides were male, compared to 37 per cent who were female.

The UK suicide rate of 11.9 deaths per 100,000 population was last seen in 2004, it added.

Of the total number of suicides in the UK, 78 per cent were male and 22 per cent were female, the ONS said. Some 4,858 male suicides were recorded in 2013, compared to 1,375 female suicides.

The highest UK suicide rate was among men aged 45 to 59, with 25.1 deaths per 100,000 – the highest for that age group since 1981 and the first time that age group has recorded the highest rate.

North East England had the highest suicide rate among the English regions, with 13.8 deaths per 100,000 population, while London had the lowest at 7.9 per 100,000.

Women aged 45 to 59 had the highest female suicide rate with seven deaths per 100,000 population. The female suicide rate across the UK was 5.1 deaths per 100,000.

In England, the suicide rate in 2013 was 10.7 deaths per 100,000 (4,722 deaths), compared with 15.9 in Wales (393 deaths).

Suicide remains the leading cause of death in England and Wales for men aged 20 to 34, accounting for 24 per cent of all deaths in 2013, and for men aged 35 to 49 years, where it accounts for 13 per cent of all deaths.

The suicide rate among men aged 60 to 74 also “rose significantly” from its 2012 level to 14.5 deaths per 100,000 population in 2013. There were 672 suicides among the age group in 2013, up from 562 in 2012 when the suicide rate was 12.3 per 100,000.

In contrast, men aged 15 to 29 were the only age group to record a decrease in the rate of suicides in 2013 to 12.5 deaths per 100,000, compared to 13.6 in 2012.

Moving from success to significance

After leaving a discussion with almost twenty successful doctors, I realize how important my work is to others.  In my early years, I was considered this very successful businessman who looked like everything was perfect.  Big homes, Big cars, Big bank accounts but no peace or joy.

My passion is to go back and find those men who are on that same path and disciple them towards a road of peace, joy and fulfillment.  This new road took me over ten years to accept as gain and not loss.  I thought getting off the road of financial wealth and influence would lead to a road of death.  Not realizing that life and joy was found on the road as a follower of Christ and a fisher of men.

Who are you? Where are you going? Who are you following? Who is following you?

These three questions are what men must be able to answer before they self-destruct in the pit of material gain.  The scriptures speak on the deceitfulness of riches but we seem to ignore those words of wisdom. We follow what is perceived success while trying to heal the wounds on our hearts.

Encourage one another in love and take the time to get away and invest in your heart as well as your manhood.

 

Joel Wiggins

No Measure of Goodness

“Who else but the God of the Bible would come looking for me in a nightclub of all places,” said Derek Kelly. “Who else but the Lord would send a former Jehovah’s Witness to connect me with the gospel when I was lost, broken and had no measure of goodness?

“I knew about my need for the Lord at a very young age. I trusted Christ before I was 13, but I struggled with performing to earn God’s love rather than trusting in His grace. My unbiblical, performance-based understanding of God led me toward some really tragic moments on my journey.

“When I first got to high school, I saw it as my mission field, and I was outspoken about purity and my faith in Christ. But when a dating relationship got the best of me, I tried to hide and control that part of my life. I was desperate to keep that relationship going, but after my senior year it ended in rebellion, heartbreak, and ultimately an abortion. I didn’t want abortion to be part of my story, but it was too late. In many ways, I made that decision months before when I tried to control my sin, manage my life, and serve myself. I was playing with fire.

“When my child was killed because of fear and convenience, something inside me died. I began to spiral downward and believed that God didn’t want anything to do with me. I had an identity crisis and fell into depression, using every coping mechanism I could find.

“I started working as a bouncer at a night club. I was living a life that some people would say was awesome, getting paid to drink, fight, and meet girls who were just as lost as I was. I worked to foster an image of what other people would say was cool, but I was drowning my pain in the nightmare that was my existence. I felt nausea of the soul. I had almost grown sick of the entire atmosphere that was my life.

“It’s ironic that God used a girl at the night club to point me to Christ. I noticed that there was something different about Debbie the minute I met her. As we got to know each other, she mentioned a local Bible study she was attending and invited me to go with her. It was clear that the way I was run- ning my own world wasn’t doing me much good so, after blowing off the invitations for a while, I went.

“I don’t remember much about the sermon, but when the pastor said that the worth I’d been looking for in myself was put there to be fulfilled by God, I heard it. I learned that God valued me, but not because of my performance. Romans 5:8 says that, ‘God demonstrated His own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Through the lens of God’s grace the world looked different.

“Maybe six months later, after an on and off relationship, God brought Debbie back into my life. The Lord moved us both onto a road where we could get married. We are two people with very strong personalities, and marriage hasn’t always been easy. But God has used Debbie to challenge my selfishness and encourage me to be more dedicated to Him.

“God used a ministry called Equipped Disciple at Watermark to change Debbie’s life and mine. It’s almost like God put up a giant neon light that said, ‘I want to know you. This is where life is found.’ I learned how to spend time in Scripture with a God who actually wants to spend time with me. Through God’s Word, the Lord pursued me in a radical way.

“God brought me to a place where I would feel famished if I did not spend time in His Word. Community with other believers became the same thing for me too – an absolute imperative. We’ve been in the same group for several years, and together we’ve learned what biblical community really is. Before our community group, Debbie and I were like sheep separated from the herd. We needed a group to help us grow. Becoming fully known by other believers was a struggle. Community became among the most important things that has happened in my life. We’re all different, but one thing is the same – we all love Christ.

“Debbie and I both want to be effective for Christ in our own community. But we live more than 20 miles north of the Watermark campus in Dallas. It was hard to invite our neighbors to join us at church on Sundays when we were driving 45 minutes each way. Now that we’re part of the Plano campus, it will be easier to serve and engage with people in our neighborhood.

“The beauty of this walk with Christ is that I have not ‘arrived.’ I still choose to wound rather than heal in our marriage. I still have conflict with others. But the difference is that when I’m attacked now, I know where to look for the answers.”

Why Today is a Good Day to Die by Joel Wiggins


Why today is a good day to die.

Being a follower of Christ does not make me immune to the horrors of the world. The hatred and deceit that fills the atmosphere due to current events is all around me. I feel the temptation to hate others, isolate myself and point my finger at everyone. These feelings are all justified by my flesh.I too have a son who could easily have been Mr. Garner or Brown but for Your mercy. The strategy used by Satan to divide and accomplish his goal of killing, stealing and destroying is more apparent than ever. I understand more that Satan works in men to accomplish his will because he is our adversary, not men.

This is why I choose to die today. To die to my feelings of offense and hatred due to my belief that somehow I belong to myself. What is true? I belong to God due to the price paid for me by the blood of Jesus on the cross. Lord, please forgive me for thinking of the sins of men(including myself) instead of choosing to follow You and Your word. Thank you for Gal 5:24, 2 Corinthians 5:15-17.
My Prayer: “Lord, protect the hearts of men who feel despair and hopeless because of sin in the earth. Cleanse us from all unrighteouness and teach me to love my neighbors. Use me to bring Your kingdom to this lost world, today. Teach me to love the unloveable and to forgive my offenders while also forgiving me of all my sins. My trust is in You to protect and serve, not sinful men in a uniform. You are my Hero. Amen.”

Joel

Part Two: Mothers are You Raising Someone’s Spouse or Someone’s Burden? BY: LaDawn Elliott

In part one of my article titled “Mothers Are You Raising Someone’s Spouse or Someone’s Burden,” I addressed essential life skills that a young man should be taught to become a fully functioning, independent, self-sufficient adult. Basic life skills and values should be instilled in the very early stages of a young man’s development to give him a multitude of opportunities to consistently practice and implement them so they become routine thoughts and actions in his daily life.

Employing this knowledge and core set of values will allow him to be an asset in his relationships rather than a burden. Having the ability to contribute to a relationship by helping to complete chores, prepare food, manage money, make minor home and car repairs, and being a gentleman are basic hard skills that all adult men should bring to a relationship. However, being a good spouse requires soft skills as well. Mothers, again we can’t teach our sons to how to be men, but we can share valuable information with our sons on what women need and expect from them to be viewed as a good spouse and not a burden.

Mothers please teach your sons that there is a big difference between being the “Man of the House” and the “Head of Household.”

Head of Household

Mothers please teach your sons that there is a big difference between being the “Man of the House” and the “Head of Household.” Being born a man and being the adult male in the relationship makes him the undisputed winner of the “Man of the House” title. However, earning the title as “Head of Household” requires much more than having a penis. Mothers please share with your sons that understanding the importance of their role as husband and father, having the ability to lead, being loving, committed, honest, trustworthy, vulnerable, and consistently dependable are all required to earn the title of “Head of Household.”

Mothers your sons need to know that the title “Head of Household” is not a default title that is automatically issued with their marriage license and represents more than the box they check off when completing their income tax forms. It is a title that is bestowed upon them by their spouse and children based on their respect for and trust in him. Mothers communicate to your sons that men that hold the title of “Head of Household” are not perfect, are allowed to make mistakes, are allowed to have fears, are allowed to ask for help and are not expected to be superheroes that ALWAYS save the day. Explain to them that the title “Head of Household” is simply reflective of a man that willfully and willingly shows up to the game each and every day ready to play to the best of his ability.

Mothers teach your sons that they must be leaders in their homes. Share with them that they must set the tone and lead by example. The most independent, head strong, liberated woman and belligerent child will follow a man that they admire and respect.

How to Lead Your Home

Mothers explain to your sons that a woman must feel secure, protected, and loved in order for her to follow his lead. She must trust that he has sound judgment, will consider the well-being of others when making decisions, will honor and protect his family, and will be consistently dependable. Furthermore, explain to him that he must be comfortable enough with himself to understand that at times he must lead by following.

Mothers share with your sons that he must be vulnerable enough to ask his spouse for help when needed, and secure enough to step back and accept the help. Explain to your sons that this does not make him any less of a man or show a lack of leadership. Convey to him that it does show that he understands his limitations and is willing to place the needs of his family ahead of his ego. It also shows that he is secure in his role as a man and leader of his family.

He must recognize his role as leader does not negate his spouse’s role as a strong and viable partner. Teach him that he must be very instrumental in creating and implementing his family’s spiritual plan. Share with him that it is critical that his family knows that he is faithful and spiritually sound. Tell him that a family that prays together, stays together. Let him know that it is indeed a good thing for his family to see him openly worship, pray, praise and to be a blessing to others. Share with him that he must lead his family in prayer and teach his children to pray and give thanks.

Lead by Example

Mothers share with your sons that if they want their children to value education, that they must show an interest and take an active role in their education. Tell them that if they want their children to value hard work and be an upstanding contributing members of society, that they themselves must be the example and model what that looks like. Mothers express to your sons that if they want to be viewed as the leaders in their home they must not make excuses, shy away from their responsibilities, or blame others for their failed choices. Tell them they must instead consistently and courageously show up and do the work daily even when they don’t want to.

Why Leaders Can Be Flexible

Mothers please teach your sons that being a good spouse means being flexible. We all are defined by and locked into the way that we were raised. This can be especially true of men as it relates to roles and responsibilities the sexes play in relationships. For instance, if a man grew up in a two parent home in which the mother prepared all of the meals or a single parent home in which the male children were not given the responsibility of cooking, he may very well hold the belief that cooking is solely the woman’s responsibility.

Mothers you have to teach your sons that their future spouse will come with her own set of expectations based on her rearing and life’s experiences. Teach him that he must be flexible enough to collaborate with his spouse and collectively define what is right for their relationship. Teach him to be strong and secure enough to not blindly defer to and be confined by his family history nor defined by societal norms as the only way to do things. Teach him that he has to be receptive to creating the relationship fabric that works for his family and not succumb to peer pressure or dated thinking. As it could be very possible that his future spouse was raised in a family in which her father was a great cook and prepared all of the meals, and her mother enjoyed doing all of the yard work from mowing the lawn to maintaining the landscape.

As mothers raise our sons to be someone’s spouse and not someone’s burden, it is not an easy task. In order to do this we must cease doing things for them that will hinder their growth. We must raise them knowing that one day they will be first responsible for themselves and then a family. Mothers, ours sons are not puppets created just for our joy and entertainment. Nor are they created to fill our empty spaces. It is our job to teach and guide them and then release them into the world to stand on their own and soar. Mothers, we have great influence over our sons so be sure to use your power in a manner that best serves him and sets him up for success.

About the author
LaDawn Elliott wrote 6 articles on this blog.
LaDawn Elliott is a Relationship Life Coach, Relationship Advice Columnist, Speaker, Author of the life changing book “Through The Looking Glass: Love Deconstructed,” and the creator of Atlanta’s Premier Love, Sex, and Relationship website Lip Service Lounge. She has affectionately been dubbed the “Relationship Rescuer” because of her personal approach and the honest, practical, real-world advice she offers to couples. She enlightens couples in crisis by awakening their self-awareness; thereby empowering them to be conscious decision makers that are accountable for their thoughts, words, and actions. She is a highly sought after Relationship Coach, dynamic Speaker, and powerful Facilitator. GOD’s vision to strengthen and save the family unit one relationship at a time is her daily mission. Follow her on twitter: @LipSvcLounge, LIKE her Lip Service Lounge Facebook page, and Subscribe to her on YouTube.

How to Avoid Raising a Stuff Monster by Rich Bennett

It starts innocent enough. Begging for things in the grocery checkout aisle. A Christmas wish list that gets a little longer each year. Pleading for the latest video game, fashionable clothing item, or electronic thingee. And, as parents, we like to give good gifts to our children so we oblige — and maybe a little too frequently.

But before you know it, you have a home of Stuff Monsters, kids who value stuff as much — or maybe even more — than the people and relationships around them. In our stuff-obsessed culture where we are repeatedly told we must have the latest and greatest, it can be a huge challenge to raise a child who isn’t overly stuff centered.

And children who grow up obsessing over the next ‘stuff fix’ become the narcissistic, self-absorbed, deep-in-debt adults of tomorrow. How can you have healthy relationships in your life — let alone a close relationship with the One who died for our sins — if you’re perpetually focused on the next bit of stuff you ‘need’?

I’ll be honest, we’ve had seasons where one of our kids has struggled with a bit of an obsession over stuff. Times when my wife and I have had to pause and ask ourselves: Are we raising kids who care too much about their stuff? In our culture today, I suspect my wife and I aren’t alone.

Recently, I wrote about a trip our family took right here in the US of A to engage with the homeless and others in need. It was a fresh reminder of the reality that many — even here in our country — struggle daily to have their basic needs met. But you don’t have to leave the country, your city, or even your living room to help take your kids’ focus off themselves, and bring their attention to the needs of others.

One Antidote to Stuff Centeredness

Operation Christmas Child shoeboxesNext week is the official collection week for Operation Christmas Child. It presents you and your family with a great opportunity to fill a shoebox with very basic items — things we take for granted like toothpaste, a hair brush, a small simple toy or maybe some crayons — and give them to a child in need thousands of miles away. These are kiddos with so few things, that many keep the box itself to store things in — just to have one more thing they can call their own.

OCC presents every box to a child as a simple expression of God’s love, and as an opportunity to tell children who have little that the God of the universe loves them deeply.

Our family is packing our shoeboxes this week. This year, we’re also sending a stuffed toy lamb as just one more way to bring a child joy who may not have much, but receives a shoebox full of simple reminders of God’s love for them.

It’s an easy way to give out of the plenty we have to those who have much less. And to serve as a simple reminder that people made in God’s image matter far, far more than shiny, fancy stuff.

Rich Bennett (@coloradorich) is a contributing writer for Dad Matters and the Vice President of Ministry & Marketing Strategy for Focus on the Family.