Biblical Issue Voting

by site founder, Connie Rice

What confusing times we are in – Christians seem to be divided on this election and some are emotionally charged, making it difficult to discuss the issues. Admittedly, all political candidates are flawed and imperfect people. Perhaps it may prove more helpful for us to look past the candidates and determine how to vote by looking at current issues through the lens of Scripture to discover which direction best lines up with its teachings.

Life: All life is created by God in His image, and is precious in His sight, so Christians who want to follow biblical teaching should vote for leaders who would protect life at every stage of development until natural death. God brought judgment upon those who engaged in child sacrifice.

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:13-16

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.”

Deuteronomy 19b-20a

Freedom of speech and religion: Scripture commands us to worship God alone and to share our faith with others so everyone can experience true freedom and eternity in heaven through a personal relationship with their Creator, Jesus Christ, which was made possible by His voluntary death on the cross and subsequent resurrection (victory over sin and death). God has blessed us with a country that has enshrined those rights in the Constitution. It is the first nation to declare that our rights are given to us by our Creator so that neither the government nor men can take them away. The government’s job is to protect those rights. Therefore, Christians should vote for leaders who make it a priority to protect our Constitution and its freedoms without interference from the government or other groups who would like to act against those whose speech they might deem to be unacceptable.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’.”

Matthew 28:18-20

“For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness     and spread error concerning the Lord; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just.”

Isaiah 32:6-7

Rule of law: Scripture supports the rule of law so we should vote for people who will protect the rule of law. America in its founding as a nation, and since, has been a nation based on the rule of law which had its basis in Scripture. Only with the rule of law can societies live in peace with each other, as each citizen honors the rights of other citizens (ie. the “golden rule”, which originated in Scripture (Matthew 7:12).

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 7:12

“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God”.

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

“[T]he Christian religion… is the basis, or rather the source, of all genuine freedom in government… I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence.”

Noah Webster – Revolutionary soldier, judge, legislator, educator, & author ofWebster’s 1828 American Dictionary.

Education & morality: Anti-God influences have gradually increased in America over the last 100 years. Secular humanism and evolution in schools, removal of prayer and Bibles from schools, mocking and misrepresenting people of faith in entertainment and media, promoting immorality (“sexual revolution”), squelching debate on various issues (Evolution, sexuality, race, climate change, etc.), narcissism, breakdown of the family, increased dependence on the government, sense of entitlement, and increased tensions (black vs. white, male vs. female, gay vs. straight, rich vs. poor, etc.) have brought more confusion, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, suicide, hostility, abortion, divorce, fatherless homes, addiction, and more. Society as a whole reflects less patience, tolerance, and civility – now even to the point of violence at times. Our nation must turn back to God to avoid His righteous judgment, and pray for His mercy.

“The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”

Noah Webster’s definition of education in his 1828 Dictionary

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were [emphasis by site founder – hope for all of us] ]some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

1 Corinthians 6:18

“The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses.”

Thomas Jefferson – 3rd U.S. President, signer of “Declaration of Independence, Secretary of State, Virginia Governor, diplomat, & author of “The Federalist Papers”.

Gender & marriage: God created humans male and female – two biological genders, so Christians should vote for leaders who would resist attempts to allow biological males to compete with females in sports and to encourage children to change genders with experimental, body-altering, and potentially dangerous drugs and surgeries. Not only does this go against God’s Word, but against science as well (according to “Science Daily”: “male genes are expressed in all cells of the body”), so changing genders completely isn’t really possible using puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery. There is a movement of transgenders who warn against attempts to change genders (“Sex Change Regret”). God created and defined the institution of marriage and Jesus affirmed it, so Christians should vote for leaders who support God’s definition of marriage.

“Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man’. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

Genesis 22:22-24

“The proud religious law-keepers came to Jesus. They tried to trap Him by saying, ‘Does the Law say a man can divorce his wife for any reason?’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read that He Who made them in the first place made them man and woman? It says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. The two will become one.’ So they are no longer two but one. Let no man divide what God has put together.”

Matthew 19:3-6

Israel: God chose Israel as His chosen people and has miraculously protected them numerous times throughout history. America has historically been their friend, but one party in recent years has pulled away from supporting them, which could put America in a dangerous place. This is well-explained in the “Daily Republic” article, “Should we be friends with Israel?”, by Rev. Rick L. Stonestreet.

“I will bless those who bless you [Israel], but I will curse those who curse you. And through you I will bless all the nations.

Genesis 12:3

“For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you [Israel] will perish; it will be utterly ruined.”

Isaiah 60:12

Race: The Bible teaches that God created every person in His image, and values every human life to the point of implementing capital punishment for anyone who would intentionally murder another person. DNA research has revealed that there’s only one race – the human race. Different characteristics among people are the result of genetic separation (when God confused language at the Tower of Babel, causing the people to disperse and cover the whole earth). The “Table of Nations” in Genesis 10 explains this and other non-biblical sources are given in an “Answers in Genesis” article, “What about Extra-Biblical Tables of Nations and Genealogies That Go Back to Noah?”, by Bodie Hodge. Different skin colors are only due to the amount of melanin each person has. This is discussed in the “Science Daily” article, “Genes responsible for diversity of human skin colors identified”. There is no reason for racism. God only separated people into two groups – the godly and the ungodly. We should vote for people who do not attempt to divide people according to their race.

“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”

Acts 17:26

“But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

2 Peter 3:5-7

Divinely-inspired actions of America’s founding fathers: This is evident with the miraculous victory and creation of a government that guarantees its citizens’ rights as coming from God and not from government or man (first of its kind). More details are in my June, 2020 blog post, “America’s Unique Freedoms”. Sadly, the 20th Century saw the deaths of over 100 million people at the hands of socialists and communists. The article, “History’s Bloody Mess” by “Christian Research Institute” (CRI) may be helpful for those who seek to learn more.

“The Lord reigns forever; He has established His throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name trust in You, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.”

Psalm 9:7-10

Socialism & Communism: Both of these are godless ideologies and seek power all over the world. Proponents have been in America throughout the 20th Century, but remained a fringe group. Over time, they gained influence in education, media, and government. For the first time in our country’s history, proponents have become part of a major party. Their stated goal is to “radically transform America” and their more vocal members are clear about it. There’s no perfect candidate or political party, but thankfully God has provided us with a party whose expressed goals are to protect our Constitution, its freedoms, life, choice in education, biblical definitions of gender and marriage, is a good friend to Israel, and does not engage in race-baiting. God is patient, but Old Testament teaching shows us that after numerous warnings, His patience is not endless. The context of the following verses is that after years of sending prophets and warnings to His people, God allowed them to be taken captive by their enemies.

“[I]f you are not rec¬onciled to God through Jesus Christ – if you are not clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness – you must forever perish. [H]e is the best friend to American liberty who is the most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.”

John Witherspoon – Signer of “Declaration of Independence, ratifier of the “U. S. Constitution”, & President of “Princeton”.

“The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through His messengers again and again, because He had pity on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against His people and there was no remedy.”

2 Chronicles 36:15-16

Country at a crossroads: Much is at stake if we are want God to continue blessing America rather than receive His judgment. The article, “How Can We Save Our Country?”, by Shari Abbott for “Reasons for Hope*Jesus” sheds light on this point. Our founding fathers understood that God’s laws were good for society and that if power goes unchecked, men would seek power and self-interest – leading to corruption and possible overthrow of the government. They understood well that America was blessed by Almighty God and that His Word (the Bible) was the key to good government.

“Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!”

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”

2 Corinthians 10:5

Prayer: Please join me in praying diligently for individuals and our nation as a whole to repent of rebellion against God and His Word, and that each person would vote for candidates whose agenda lines up more closely with biblical principles. Only the Holy Spirit can work in the hearts and minds of people for another “Great Awakening” and revival of God’s people. Let us speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect. Let it not be said of us that when it was our turn, we did not have the courage to speak truth in the midst of lies and deceptions. As was said to Esther by her uncle:

“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?”

Esther 4:14

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

Isaiah 5:20

Resources: There are links on this site (especially under the Apologetics, Creation, History, and Outreach sections) to help equip people to have confidence in the truth of God’s Word. God made all humans in His image and loves us all, but also gives us the choice of whether or not to submit to Him as Lord of our lives here on earth. This is the most important decision a person can make. May the Holy Spirit empower us to live a life that accurately reflects Him so others can hear and respond to the truth and enjoy eternity with their Creator too. Only Jesus can fill the deep-seated needs we all have and has the power to set us free from past pain and mistakes, giving us new life.

“Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God’s justice protect you like armor. Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Let God’s saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God’s message that comes from the Spirit. Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people.”

Ephesians 6:14-18

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

© Constance Rice 2020

Avoiding Deception

by site founder, Connie Rice

I would venture to say that none of us want to be deceived, but the nature of deception is that we are unaware. We might ask, how do we protect ourselves from being deceived by others who may have an ulterior motive in deceiving us? Another question that applies to all people because of our human nature is, how do we keep from deceiving ourselves? The definition of deception is: “the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid”. Recent times have brought increased confusion as more and more public figures choose to use fallacies (a false or mistaken idea) in order to further their agendas. Unfortunately, logic is no longer taught in school so many people are unaware when an illogical argument is used. I was fortunate to have a father with a very logical mind, so learned about logic and how to identify illogical arguments from him. This issue is also a biblical one. Scripture teaches us not to be deceived and that we are each responsible for seeking truth; our choices have consequences.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Colossians 2:8

“Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly, but those who despise Him are devious in their ways.”

Proverbs 14:2

Identifying deception from others: There are various methods used to deceive. Some are blatant lies, but some are more subtle:- mostly lies with a modicum of truth, mostly truth with a modicum of lies, leaving pertinent facts out of the discussion, perverting the truth with false assumptions, repetition of false statements, attacking the character of a person rather than addressing an issue, and using illogical arguments (ie. circular reasoning, “straw man” arguments , etc.). Dave Coppedge, founder of “Creation Evolution Headlines” (CEH) helps us identify these in his “Baloney Detector”. A book on this topic is “The Fallacy Detective” by Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans Bluedorn. A book on logic by astrophysicist, Dr. Jason Lisle, might also be helpful for preteens and older. “Introduction to Logic” is his student book that answers questions, but there is also a leader book that even offers tests for those interested in teaching logic to a class.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Galatians 6:7-8

God’s Word tells us in John 1:1-3 that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made”. Later in the verse 14, we learn that the One being referenced was Jesus: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth“. We see in John 14:6 that in answering his disciples about heaven, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.” Later in the book of John (verse 8:31), Jesus says more about truth: “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’.” Those who are genuinely seeking truth can find it if they reach out to their Creator, Jesus Christ, with their whole heart.

Are we deceiving ourselves?: I found it both enlightening and a little concerning that the Bible teaches that being Christians does not negate our ability to be deceived or to deceive ourselves.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Galatians 6:7-8

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

1 Timothy 4:1

Again, the nature of deception is that we are not aware, so we need to seek the Lord in His Word and receive its truth, ask Him in prayer to reveal truth to us, allow the Holy Spirit to help us, and listen to people we trust who are close to us. Unfortunately, our tendency because of our human nature is to become defensive and reject these efforts by the Holy Spirit and other people (I unfortunately speak from personal experience as this tends to be my first natural response to criticism). When we deceive ourselves, not only can it cause unintended negative consequences in our lives, but it also limits what God can do through us. He is continually working in us to make us more like Christ and this is an area that can really limit our efforts to reflect Him accurately. The root issue is really pride and in order to be free from deception, we need to humbly seek the Lord and accept what His truth reveals in us. The article, “What does the Bible say about self-deception?” from “Got Questions” may be helpful.

“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.”

Proverbs 14:8

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

James 4:6b

In our culture (especially recently), stating what is true requires one to have both courage and conviction. There are so many now who are quick to verbally attack those who believe differently. America has historically valued the Constitution – the right to free speech, property rights, and due process, just to name a few. We have recently seen private property aggressively destroyed at will and people vilified and their reputations and careers destroyed even before the facts of a case are known. The farther our nation moves away from God, the more we see our society breaking down. The Constitutionally protected rights of free speech belong to everyone – not just to those who share our same opinions and/or beliefs. An open debate of ideas is healthy, but each person is responsible to promote and practice civil discourse. This is necessary for a nation of free people to flourish. Please join me in praying that our nation turns back to God – so that the words of our 2nd President do not become completely prophetic:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams

Openly and respectfully stating the truth is one way to counter lies and deception, and choosing not to participate in perpetuating them is another. As Daniel Moynihan said, Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. If each of us refuses to repeat something until we have researched the facts for ourselves, it would make a positive difference. If each of us would also make a conscious effort (I need the Holy Spirit’s help here) to be respectful of those who believe and think differently, it would truly help. None of us are perfect, but very few people are completely evil – speaking of people in those terms is inflammatory and unjust (sin).

“Censors of all sorts depend on the cooperation of their victims. Don’t cooperate. Don’t participate. Serve only the truth. Live not by lies.”

Michael Egnor in article for “Evolution News”

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:13-17

© Constance Rice 2020

Expecting Blessings

by site founder, Connie Rice

It is common for people to expect to receive God’s blessings. Unfortunately, some even pull away from God when they don’t experience His blessings, thinking that He does not keep His promises. Is this true? The Bible offers examples of God being faithful to keep His promises. He initiated a covenant with Abraham – that Abraham would be the father of many nations, that he and his descendants would have land, and that all nations would be blessed through Him. That covenant was repeated by God Himself to several of Abraham’s descendants and in spite of the unfaithfulness of His chosen people, God was faithful to uphold His part of the covenant throughout hundreds of years to ensure all mankind would have a way of salvation from their sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since God cannot lie, the promises He gives will be kept.

“God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?”

Numbers 23:19

If God always fulfills His promises, then some might ask why they have not personally received what He promises in the Bible. Years ago, I used to give books of God’s promises to nonbelievers and new believers so they would see how amazing He is. I quit doing that when I realized that some of the promises included were not in context and were meant for particular people in a particular time and not meant for all people or even for all believers. I pray that those who received those books from me did not turn away from God, thinking Him to be unfaithful.

We are all dead in our sin outside of God’s gracious offer of forgiveness to all who ask with sincere hearts – a free gift that we don’t deserve – it is only by His grace that we can be saved.

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

Those who receive God’s free gift by believing in Jesus Christ for salvation also receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a seal of salvation. The Holy Spirit helps us understand the Bible, guides us in this life, intercedes for us when we don’t even know what to pray, empowers us with the supernatural ability to obey and serve God, and provides us with a spiritual gift to use in the Kingdom and for the benefit of others.

“But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Romans 8:10-13

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

Even if God’s forgiveness was all He offered so we would not have to stand in judgment at the end of our lives for all of our mistakes, it would be an amazing testimony of His mercy and grace. However, He includes eternity in heaven and power to live a life free from sin’s power through the Holy Spirit. These gifts are are free to us when we turn from our sins, ask for forgiveness, and believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man, for salvation. His sacrifice paid the penalty for our sins so that His righteousness covers us. We have new life.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. “

Romans 8:1-3

“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:20-23

In addition to those amazing free gifts, God offers even more blessings. What many may not know or understand is that these other blessings are conditional, so we need to fulfill the conditions in order to experience the blessings. Does Scripture teach that there is something we need to do or stop doing, or to change? Is there an attitude we need to adjust? Are our motives pure? What might be standing in the way of receiving God’s blessings? What does He say about who He blesses?

“Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they are ever praising You. Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

Psalm 84:4-5

“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you’. He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it’.”

Luke 11:27-28

“Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart.”

Psalm 119:1-2


“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 1:25

God does not keep hidden how people can be blessed by Him. Some of the ways listed above include:

  • Being in His house praising Him (church attendance).
  • Placing our strength in Him (trusting God).
  • Setting our hearts on pilgrimage (following His plan for our lives).
  • Hearing the Word of God and obeying it.
  • Walking according to the Lord’s law.
  • Keeping His statutes (God’s commands).
  • Seeking Him with all of our heart.
  • Seeking intently into the perfect law – not forgetting it, but doing it.
  • Keeping a tight rein on our tongues.

Jesus also teaches about God’s blessings in “The Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:1-12) in His “Sermon on the Mount”. “Bible Study Tools” explains the Beatitudes in more detail here. A short video is included on that page.

  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
  • “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
  • “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
  • “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
  • “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
  • “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.”  
  • “Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
  • “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

We can miss blessings that the Lord has for each of us in other ways at various times in our lives, as Scripture reveals below:

  • If we neglect to ask or ask with selfish motives;
  • If our pride gets in the way.
  • If we have unforgiveness in our heart toward someone.
  • If we have unconfessed sin.
  • If God knows the timing isn’t right.
  • If God knows that the blessing we want is not in our best interest.
  • If we are stubborn or rebellious toward God’s teaching.

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

James 4:2

“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble”

1 Peter 5:5b

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:14-15

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”

Proverbs 28:13

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

Psalm 84:11

“If anyone turns a deaf ear to My instruction, even their prayers are detestable.”

Proverbs 28:9

Being able to receive God’s blessings is not complicated. It begins with us accepting God’s free gifts and having a thankful heart for the blessings that He has already bestowed on us. Hopefully, the above examples will be helpful as reminders or in identifying areas where we may find ourselves at times. In fact, Jesus tells us which commandments are most important:

‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one’, answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.‘ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

When we love the Lord with all of our being, we will want to obey Him and trust in His plan for our lives. That allows us to experience so many blessings from God. I’ve found that reading through the Bible over and over again, asking the Holy Spirit each time I read to help me understand, has been hugely helpful in knowing God. He didn’t have to reveal Himself to us, but chose to and has protected His Word throughout history – yet another gift and a blessing!

© Constance Rice 2020

Gaining Perspective

article by site founder, Connie Rice

Gaining perspective is crucial in life; it gives us a healthy appreciation for the things and people in our lives. Our attitudes are affected by our perspective. It is so easy for us to take the positive things in our lives for granted, resulting in our finding fault in petty or insignificant things. When the bigger things in life are secure, it seems that we become more irritated by the little things. I have met people who have experienced tremendous challenges in their lives who seem happy and even look out for the well-being of others, but I have also met people who have not experienced near the same level of hardship, yet seem to live in a continual state of misery or unhappiness. This reveals that our circumstances do not have to dictate our state of mind. We can choose our perspective. We can choose to step back and look at the bigger picture, recognize our blessings, and choose to be content with others, ourselves, and life. Not only is that the biblical response, but there is actually freedom in it.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:11b-13

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

G.K. Chesterton

Gaining perspective in creation: It has always amazed me that each fingerprint is unique and that snowflakes, animal markings, flowers, etc. are all a little different from each other, yet still have characteristics in common allowing us to immediately identify them. Each person is a one-of-a-kind original. Ponder that for a moment. Humans are such complex creatures – with intellect, creativity, talents, all kinds of emotions, and the abilities to love and wonder. Each of us wants to know that we matter and have a purpose for being here. The human brain is beyond our own comprehension. Besides having its own filing system for memories and knowledge and having the ability to learn multiple languages and complex sequences, the brain controls most of what goes on in our bodies without us even thinking about it. The systems are autonomic and are constantly at work on our behalf. In a healthy person, the skeletal system, nervous system, circulatory system, respiratory system, skin, organs, etc. all communicate and work together seamlessly. Some think this is a result of random material processes, but I see it as powerful evidence for a masterful Designer who chose to share many of His own attributes with us. Just contemplating how our blood clots after a cut and how our immune system is designed to protect us fills me with a thankful heart and causes me to be more in awe of our Creator’s genius.

“O Lord, how manifold are Your works!  In wisdom have You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.  Here is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.”

Psalm 104:24-25 

Gaining perspective in relationships: During the pandemic, some marriages and families face more conflict as people spend more time together without some of the outlets they are used to having. It is so easy for irritations and minor disagreements or differences to seem larger than they really are so that we lose sight of the big picture and the blessings that we enjoy. This lack of perspective can cause more pain in the end for all concerned. The miracle to me is that any two people can get along at all, given how complex we all are – albeit for a lifetime. It takes determination, selflessness, and commitment – but the rewards make it a worthwhile goal. We must choose in our mind first, and each time our frustration or irritation level rises, take a deep breath and do not allow it to bring out the worst in us. I have found that putting myself in a time-out can be helpful (hey – it works with kids; why not adults?) because it allows me a chance to cool off, pray, step back and look at the big picture. Sometimes God gives me insight into the other person that I hadn’t previously considered, providing me with better understanding. Other times, He shows me that I am the one in need of an attitude adjustment.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:2-3

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13

Gaining perspective regarding our country: Without sufficient knowledge of other forms of government and what it’s like to live under them, people may not understand how blessed we are to live in America with its republican form of government and guaranteed freedoms. The most recent generations have enjoyed more prosperity than American generations before them as well as more freedom to choose their own paths. However, there is an overall decrease in gratitude and satisfaction as well as an increase in depression and suicide. This is both troubling and sad. Historically, generations have faced more serious circumstances (famine, disease, devastating wars, the Depression, oppressive totalitarian governments, genocide, torture, severe poverty, loss of multiple loved ones, lack of rule of law, etc.) which prevented them from concentrating on lesser problems. The trials of life are what shape us and I believe that the faith of previous generations was part of their amazing strength and resiliency. They did not expect this life to be easy and so had a better perspective and response to challenges. Those who have come to America from oppressive and/or poverty-stricken countries understand that our country is amazing.

“Pure democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

James MadisonFederalist 10, 1787

Gaining perspective regarding law enforcement: I have had the privilege of knowing many people in law enforcement. Like nurses, teachers, those in ministry, and others who believe they are called to serve others in their respective fields, those in law enforcement that I have known personally also believe they have a calling to protect and serve communities and those who live and work in them. They choose to put their lives on the line every time they leave their families and go to work. I am so thankful for the service they provide and the sacrifices they make. Their efforts to keep communities safe allow us law-abiding citizens to pursue our goals, raise our families, and enjoy our freedoms. Without law enforcement, the ensuing chaos, violence, and increased crime would cause law-abiding citizens who have respect for others and respect for the property rights of others to live in fear of mob rule. One of the amazing foundations of our country is that it is one based on the rule of law, with everyone having equal rights under the law. Even if it doesn’t play out in every circumstance, we also have a voice with free speech rights – but not at the expense of someone else’s free speech or property rights. The role of government is not to constrain its citizens, but to protect their rights.

“Without authority there is no liberty. Freedom is doomed to destruction at every turn, unless there is a recognized right to freedom. And if there are rights, there is an authority to which we appeal for them.”

G. K. Chesterton

Gaining perspective in life: Look around – every person you see struggles with life’s challenges. Just as each of us are unique, each person’s set of experiences are also unique. However, the human condition is shared by each of us. We all want to be loved and accepted, and none of us can live up to our own expectations. Is it fair for us to expect other people to live up to our expectations? Only one person who lived on this earth was perfect; He was God incarnate, and His name is Jesus Christ. That is why only His death on the cross could pay for the shortcomings of all people, including yours and mine. He conquered both sin and death through His death and resurrection, breaking the curse brought into the world by Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Jesus not only offers us the free gift of eternal life when we die, but in the meantime offers us a life of meaning and purpose here on earth. Life this side of heaven is not easy and being a Christ-follower has a cost. Our lives are no longer our own, but His love is so amazing – He knows us inside and out, and even with all of our faults, loves us anyway. The Lord created us with that desire for purpose so we would pursue Him and follow the plan for which He created us. He already knows what lies ahead, so He knows exactly what we need before we do. Once we find unconditional love through Jesus, we are free to love others and appreciate them – even with their differences and faults.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:17-19

“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4:9-11

Looking at the bigger picture, appreciating the differences in others, being thankful for the blessings in our lives, and being content are all choices we make, and they come when we gain perspective. People who find their redemption and purpose in Christ and learn who He is and who they are through God’s revealed Word are generally more content, have hope in Jesus’ finished work for our eternal salvation, and have a better perspective to the extent they have adopted His perspective, which is perfect like Him.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.””

1 Peter 2:21-22

“And He said to the human race, ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom,
    and to shun evil is understanding’.”

Job 28:28

© Constance Rice 2020

America’s Unique Freedoms

by site founder, Connie Rice

Free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press are all part of the rights guaranteed to all Americans in the 1st Amendment. The Covid-19 pandemic has created global concern about close contact and has subsequently caused some of America’s precious and hard-won freedoms to be partially and temporarily suspended in a way not seen before in American history. Of course we should be cautious with an air-borne pandemic – the Bible taught distancing as a response to airborne illness. Old Testament laws were unlike the practices of their time, and in retrospect, appear to have been far ahead in its treatment of disease. Scripture teaches that God will protect His followers spiritually, but does not promise that they will avoid physical harm. Our broken world is due to the entering of sin. God promises a new heaven and earth, but that time has not yet arrived. Thankfully, the Covid-19 death rate is proving to be much lower than the wildly inaccurate models initially given.

The system of government set up by America’s founders was and is unique in the world. Our founders rejected the idea of a monarchy with a king. They also “feared a strict democracy” because of the strong tendency seen throughout history that even a slight majority tends to end in mob rule and cause those in the minority to live under oppression. The system they created is a constitutional republic based on the rule of law where representatives are elected by and are subject to the citizens who voted for them. American government includes checks and balances in order to minimize corruption and oppression, and guarantees individual rights – not from the government, but based on each person’s rights as a human being given by our Creator so that government cannot take them away. This has given rise to the most free, innovative, and prosperous nation in the world, unleashing people to follow their dreams and take risks with the potential and opportunity to succeed (or fail), regardless of where they came from. With hard work, everyone has the opportunity to improve their lot in life.

“Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. . . . What a Eutopia – what a Paradise would this region be!”

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

Interestingly, America tried a socialistic economy at first, but it failed miserably. It was then that they followed the biblical principles of respect for the rule of law, personal responsibility with each person working so they could eat (while caring for those who were unable to work), and received the fruit of their own labor while trading with others who offered a different crop, product, or service. The result was the free enterprise system or capitalism which, even with its faults, offers the best hope for citizens by providing equal opportunity rather than equality of outcome. Competition pressures businesses to offer a better product, service, or job than their competitors, which provides more choices for consumers and employees while being beneficial to society as a whole. It also provides opportunity to anyone with a vision to innovate and offer a product or service that meets the needs of individuals and society as a whole.

Those who tout socialism as “more fair”, “more compassionate”, or a “better alternative” have not learned from history. Unfortunately, the public education system has not provided younger Americans with an objective view of history and so many are unaware of the strengths and positive contributions of their own country. Focusing on equality of outcome rather than equal opportunity necessarily prevents individuals and businesses from rising up in life. Nothing is free and government does not produce revenue, so whatever it spends comes from taxes imposed on the productivity of the private sector (taxpaying businesses and individuals).

Businesses all start out with individuals who have a vision, so big businesses are those who have been successful in communicating and implementing that vision while concurrently meeting a demand by providing a needed or wanted product or service. Equality of opportunity allows for limitless potential. No form of government is perfect, but anyone fairly assessing history would see the brilliance of our founding fathers. Unfortunately, we have drifted toward some of the very things they were concerned could occur and went to great pains to prevent.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

Our founding fathers understood the dangers of a strict democracy, a monarchy, a large central government, the tendency of mankind toward self-interest and corruption, and that too much power invites corruption. They instead relied on the biblical principles of respect for the rule of law, a strong work ethic, personal responsibility, property rights, strong moral values based on biblical teachings, a Constitutional representative government selected by and accountable to their voters, and a deep respect for the God of the Bible because they recognized His miraculous intervention and favor throughout America’s early years.

The 20th Century brought much bloodshed and oppression with two world wars, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Desert Storm, the Iraq War, and the war in Afghanistan. The earlier of those were fighting against oppressive communist regimes whose quest to gain and maintain power resulted in the murder of millions of people. The latter were fighting against Islamic terrorism. The sheer magnitude of death brought about under 20th Century communist regimes is mind-boggling as millions were slaughtered so those who gained power would be protected from opposing influences and dissenting voices.

“[T]he Christian religion… is the basis, or rather the source, of all genuine freedom in government… I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of Christianity have not a controlling influence.”

Noah Webster – Revolutionary soldier, judge, legislator, educator, & author of “Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary”.

It is so surprising (and very concerning) to me that some Americans do not see the dangers of socialism when in our own lifetime, we have seen Venezuela go from being a thriving, rich country full of opportunity to a place of intense poverty and oppression with loss of freedom in relatively few years, causing residents who could fleeing the country in droves. Those who are a little older saw the same thing happen to Cuba, also once a thriving culture and travel destination. The shift in Venezuela began with citizens voting in a candidate offering “free stuff” with big government “solutions” and touted they were “for the people”. In Cuba, it was the violent overthrow of a previous oppressive government by those also touting they were “for the people”. Both became dictatorships who silenced political opposition through fear, intimidation, prison, torture, murder, or with people just disappearing. Even if these moves began with good intentions, the result was devastation of the economy, elimination of the middle class, and loss of individual freedoms. That was replaced with equality of poverty for all except the ruling elite who get richer and more powerful. Good intentions do not necessarily provide good results. People may feel good about wanting to solve what they see as problems with capitalism and solve problems in society, but we should objectively look at how those “solutions” have played out and judge the actual results.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

“Reagan Freedom Speech” in 1964; also known as “A Time for Choosing” speech

America’s political parties have historically been made up of mostly liberals and conservatives, who have both historically shared the same basic values – love for America, love for the Constitution and America’s unique system of government (Constitutionally protected rights & separation of powers, etc.), respect for God and the Bible, respect for the views of others, and the same goals for America – they just disagreed on how to accomplish those goals. Unfortunately, the leftist movement in America gained more power and influence (especially since the 60’s) in politics, education, entertainment, and the media. The left does not share the same goals as liberals and conservatives, but share the atheistic Marxist/communist philosophy.

The 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms and was intended to prevent future possible tyranny, recognizing that an armed populace is not easily conquered. These as well as other Constitutionally protected freedoms are foundational to liberty and are what makes America unique among nations.

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”

John Adams – 2nd U.S. President, signer of the “Declaration of Independence & “Bill of Rights”, judge, & diplomat.

The other issue recently contested is the Electoral College because of a few elections that gave victory to someone who did not win the popular vote. This system was much debated by the founding fathers and was a compromise between those who wanted Congress to elect the President and those who wanted the people to directly elect the President. The concern about Congress electing the President was that it would create greater opportunity for corruption while a direct vote by the people could result in small, but heavily populated areas of the country making policy for the rest of the country (essentially nullifying the voices of the larger geographical populace). Interestingly, a look at the 2016 and the 2000 presidential elections (especially on a map of counties) reveal that the founding faithers were prophetic in their concerns – a geographical majority of the country chose the eventual winners (blue on maps) over their opponents (red on maps) because of the Electoral College. It succeeded in preventing a few heavily populated areas from dictating policy for the rest of the country. The concept of equality and liberty in our system of government is explained in this a 3-minute “Bill of Rights Institute video:

Some people now believe that others must agree with their point of view, and if they do not – then it is not just a disagreement, but the speech of those who believe differently is wrong, dangerous, and must be shut down. Free speech is the right of every American, regardless of their views. We need to accept that not everyone sees every issue the same way and if we disagree, be committed to treating each other with respect. Name-calling and inflammatory language are not productive and when adults (especially those in leadership or in the public eye) respond with hysteria and behave in ways more representative of a toddler’s temper tantrum, what are we teaching our young people? Leaders should recognize that they are role models and be responsible examples by exhibiting basic rules of a civil society where all people have equal rights of expression without fear of intimidation, verbal attacks, physical attacks, loss of employment, etc., as we have recently seen.

Our universities used to be places where different ideas were welcomed and discussed openly, but that is no longer the case. America is the most amazing country that has ever existed and has been blessed beyond measure. It is ironic that most of the people who are rioting, destroying property, burning flags, and painting all peace officers with a broad brush seem to benefit from our free enterprise system (cell phones, name-brand athletic shoes, etc.). I would challenge them to go to a communist country and behave the same way and see what happens. Are we going to strive to be a nation that once again honors God and His Word, protects the freedom of every citizen, and welcomes honest, open debate using love, grace, and respect, or are we going to allow that to be destroyed on our watch to the detriment of future generations?

History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.”

Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964)

© Constance Rice 2020

The Great Apologist

article by site-founder, Connie Rice

This post is inspired by Ravi Zacharias. Those familiar with his lifelong ministry through “Ravi Zacharias International Ministry” (RZIM) know that this brilliant, gracious, articulate, and godly man was not only uniquely gifted as a clear communicator of the truth of God’s Word, but was also an ideal example of how to communicate with those who hold different beliefs in a way consistent with Jesus’ teachings – with love and grace. White House Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnaney, summed it up well in her “Christian Broadcasting Network News” (CBN) interview with David Brody in her comments, “You know, my dad said to me that Billy Graham was the great evangelist. And I think Ravi Zacharias is the great apologist.” I agree and can relate to some of her other comments as well: “To have someone from an academic place, as an apologist could equip you with those arguments where you didn’t have to check your brain at the door when you became a Christian where there is the intellectual foundation for everything we believe,” McEnany explained. “There’s prophecy. There’s the human cell. There’s the amazing creation of the human body and all of its complexity and the planet, the universe.”

Listening to Ravi Zacharias was so helpful to me in not only finding answers to my own questions, but in how to help others find answers to theirs. The goal for me is truth – I want to know what it true. If it differs from my opinion, then I must be humble enough to admit that I could be mistaken. God has given us the truth – both in His revealed Word and in His Son, Jesus Christ. He loves us so much that He has gone to great lengths to show us His love and to have a personal relationship with us.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 5:6-12

Before accepting God’s free gift of salvation made possible through the voluntary sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I lived out of my own wisdom and as most people these days, developed opinions based on what I had learned and from my personal experiences. Once the Lord opened my eyes to the spiritual realm and I experienced His love and mercy, I was overwhelmed by His grace and began to read the Bible and go to church so I could know Him more. Since then, I’ve grown closer to Him and because of what He has already done for me, want to serve Him every day that He gives me on this earth.

“Once more Jesus said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will look for Me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.’ This made the Jews ask, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, Where I go, you cannot come?’ But He continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins.’ ‘Who are you?’ they asked. ‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,’ Jesus replied. I have much to say in judgment of you. But He who sent Me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world.’ They did not understand that He was telling them about His Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing on My own but speak just what the Father has taught Me. The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.’ Even as He spoke, many believed in Him. To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’.”

John 8:21-31

The truth has set me free and more than anything, I want others to be set free too. God created a perfect world and mankind, and gave them the freedom to choose – free will. They had everything they needed and lived in a place of perfect harmony and beauty. Unfortunately, like we’re so many times are tempted to do, Adam and Eve took their blessings for granted and wanted the one thing that God told them not to take. They chose to disobey His only command and consequently brought curses into the world – sin, death evil, sadness, pain, sickness, etc. They paid the price with the loss of their fellowship with their Creator and having to make their way in a harsh world. Sadly, we share their sinful nature – but God had a rescue plan:

“Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ: “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Thankfully, with God’s rescue plan to reconcile us to Himself for eternity, He will conquer evil once and for all, and He promises a new heaven and a new earth to His followers.

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’. He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death’.”

Revelation 21:1-8

When I get to heaven, I look forward to meeting Ravi Zacharias and the “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before me. There are many more not written in the Bible or even in history books, but they lived their lives surrendered to their Savior and accomplished what He had in mind for them, making a difference in the world. I have no doubt that they and Ravi Zacharias have been received by their loving Creator with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. If you have not had the benefit of hearing Ravi Zacharias yet, check out some videos on the RZIM YouTube Channel.

The most important question we can ever answer because it affects not only now but how we spend eternity is the same one Jesus asked His disciple, Peter:

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ He asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then He ordered His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah.”

Matthew 16:13-20

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.”

John 14:6

If finding out what is true is important to you, how will you answer Jesus? Who knows? Maybe you will be the next great apologist.

© Constance Rice 2020

What is a Good Person?

by site founder, Connie Rice

What is a good person? Well – I guess that depends on your definition of good. It seems that for the most part, we tend to think of ourselves as basically a good person. However, it also seems rather easy for us to find fault (and many times point it out) in other people. Dictionary.com defines good as “morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man”. Is the determination of who is good really subjective (“existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought”)? When individuals (or a culture) move away from objective views (“not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts”), and some words are used with different meanings so they are no longer common, understanding and values can disintegrate. A common language is crucial to understanding. One example is the word “tolerance” (which has always been an accepted virtue in our culture). It was historically understood as showing respect for people with whom we disagree. In recent years, the term has been equated with approval and acceptance, which it had never previously meant.

“Language is the expression of ideas, and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas they cannot retain an identity of language.”

Noah Webster, author of the first American dictionary

“The principles of all genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that book may be assessory [original spelling from quote] to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer.”

Noah Webster, author of the first American dictionary

For an increasing number of people in America, the standard for good and truth is based on their opinions – which does not offer an objective standard that would be true for all people everywhere. Since each of them believes that their opinion = truth, they become less tolerant of those with differing views – even to the point of considering those holding different views to be evil and that their views are dangerous and should be shut down. What has set America apart for hundreds of years is its freedoms, and that those freedoms are granted by our Creator rather than man so that man cannot take them away. The lack of civil discourse, respect, and true tolerance for those with differing opinions endangers those very freedoms. Our universities have historically been a place for the discussion and open debate of all ideas and students were encouraged to hear all sides and determine which were the best arguments. Over the last 60 years, the opposite has developed and open debate has even brought protests. For those who believe the Bible is true, the standard for good is set not by individuals or by man collectively, but by God, and would apply equally to all of humanity. Jesus spoke about who was good:

“‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother’.”

Mark 10:18-19

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,through the shedding of His blood – to be received by faith.”

Romans 3:23-25a

The opposite of good is generally considered to be evil or bad. Dictionary.com defines evil as “morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life”. It defines the term “wicked” as “evil or morally bad in principle or practice; sinful; iniquitous: wicked people; wicked habits.” In digging further, the root of sinful is sin – for which the meaning is a “transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam; any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle”.

“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.”

Ecclesiastes 7:20

“Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to Your love remember me, for You, Lord, are good.”

Psalm 25:7

Some might say that they don’t believe in God or His moral standard of perfection, so are therefore not concerned. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to consider a few questions:

  • “How do you explain the existence of your own innate sense of morality, sense of right and wrong, sense of good and evil?”
  • “In rejecting God, how do you explain the existence of evil?”
  • “In rejecting God, how do you explain the existence of good?”
  • “What if you’re wrong and stand before a holy God in judgment using His definitions and His standard?

Perhaps the question that we should be asking is, does our opinion on the subject even matter in light of the One who created us who has communicated that He is also the sole determinant of what is good and what is evil.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:8

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? ‘I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve’.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10

Repeatedly in the Old Testament God warned His people and “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (subjective). Each time, judgment followed. One person may believe that it’s wrong to lie while another person may make justifications for why it’s okay for them to lie (although it is ironic when those same people get upset if someone lies to them).

“Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Judges 17:6 & Judges 21:25

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James 1:22

Jesus was poignant about the subject. His love and compassion was and is for everyone and Jesus made that clear both by His Words and His sacrificial actions, even to the point of death. However, He had some pretty harsh words aimed at church leaders at times. This should serve as a warning to all Christ followers. Our sinful nature can cause us to think we have overcome sin’s hold on our lives because we have access to the Holy Spirit, but we may just be deceiving ourselves.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

Jeremiah 17:9

“Again Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, ‘Listen to Me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.’ After He had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples asked Him about this parable. ‘Are you so dull?’ He asked. ‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body’ (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean). He went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person’.”

Mark 7:14-23

Another question to ask is – if according to the Bible, we are all sinful beings and have evil in our hearts, why would Jesus come to earth (fully God and fully man) and live the perfect life we never could and then allow Himself to be mocked, tortured, and killed to pay the price for our sins – so we could stand before a holy God and be accepted instead of judged? This, my friend, is the extent of His love for each person.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:1-3

In view of our sin problem that separates us from a holy God whose standard is perfection and considering what Jesus has already done for us, what should our response be?

“We love because He first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:34

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them’.”

John14:23

So – what is a good person? Each of us have our own opinions, but according to the definition given by our Creator – there are no good people because His standard is perfection. God created a perfect world and offered Adam and Eve everything they needed, including beauty, sustenance, and His own presence. He also gave them the gift of free will to choose whether or not to obey and then gave them one command – not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They succumbed to temptation and disobeyed that single command, bringing sin, evil, and death into the world. We now live in a broken world, but God has promised to restore it and conquer evil once and for all. I cannot remember where I read it, but was reminded about something in Scripture with an insight that I had not realized on my own – that the Tree of Life was in the garden too and available to them (eternal life), and they were deceived into thinking they could be like God and chose the knowledge of good and evil over living forever and living with God. God offers us the same through Jesus Christ, who overcame both sin and death with his death and Resurrection and offers us the power to overcome sin in this life and to live forever in His presence.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 1:3-9

My hope is that no more people will be deceived into thinking that their opinions = truth, that there is no standard for all of humanity, that they can be god in their lives, or that they know better than God so they can make a better choice, trusting in Jesus so they too can have the hope of salvation – enjoying a relationship with their Creator right now and for eternity.

© Constance Rice 2020

Elephant in the Room

by site founder, Connie Rice

Most likely, we have heard the phrase, “elephant in the room”, referencing something that is obvious, yet ignored by people. Recent culture has put death in this category, not wanting to think about it or plan for it, and in some cases being crippled by loss of a loved one. Throughout history, death was understood as part of life and it was uncommon for a family not to have suffered loss of a close family member. My husband and I have been watching a British WWII documentary series and the scale of death from not only warfare, but the starvation, cold, and intentional murder of people by dictators boggles the mind. Our present American culture has made such strides in medical technology and has been generally prosperous, resulting in longer lives and less hardship than previous generations, and interestingly has also seen much higher incidences of depression and suicide. Of course, dwelling on our own death or the death of those we care about is not helpful either because that can cripple us with fear, but with the panic recently about the possibility of contracting an illness with way less of a probability, it compels me to broach the subject.

It is both rational and healthy to consider the fact that the death rate is 100% – that should not cause us to panic as we are all aware of it, but should prompt us to really think about the decisions we have or have not made and to plan for the inevitable event. My husband’s father sold life insurance and it made him so sad when a family’s wage earner with whom he had spoken would brush off the possibility of dying and later pass away unexpectedly, leaving his family to suffer not only his loss, but also the loss of their home and financial security. As important as it is to consider and plan for our families when our life here on earth is over, there’s something else to consider – what we believe about our Creator. Jesus Christ came to earth to suffer and sacrifice His life so that we as sinful people, as we put all of our trust in Him as our Lord and Savior, could stand before a holy God without judgment and live with the promise of no pain, no sickness, and no evil in heaven for eternity.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans: 23-24

Ironically, more people in recent history are professing that there is no God, when at the same time, science is revealing incredible complexity of the genome, design of animals, plants, and even of the so-called “simplest life forms”. In view of the serious eternal consequences, honest seekers of truth may want to watch this 4-minute interview, “Does God Exist?, and article from The One Minute Apologist”, Dr. Bobby Conway, and Ken Boa, author of “Reflections” online teaching letters and the book, “Shaped by Suffering: How Temporary Hardships Prepare Us for Our Eternal Home”.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

1 Peter 5:10

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Hebrew 9:15

End times prophecy is not something I tend to focus on because so much of the discussion is based on speculation, as the Bible does not spell out every detail. However, knowing what the Scriptures do teach breaks my heart for those who have not yet accepted the free gift offered to them through Jesus Christ, who came to earth as fully God and fully man with the sole purpose of rescuing mankind from their sins. He lived the perfect life that none of us could and endured mocking, torture, and a painful death on the cross so that we can stand before our holy God to give an account for our lives, but not have to stand in judgment of our sins.

“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

The more time that goes by, the more I see Bible prophecy coming to pass. Throughout human history, God has used trials to get the attention of His people – to warn them of coming judgment, hoping they will choose to return to Him. Unfortunately, many have it backward – creating God in our image instead of understanding how He created us in His image. This is actually idolatry – worshiping a god of our own making, a god we can understand, accept, and fit in a box. God didn’t have to, but chose to reveal Himself to us through His Word (the Bible). If we do not seek Him through His Word, we will not have an accurate understanding of who He is. Although we can never understand Him completely this side of heaven, the more we understand and personally experience our good Shepherd (Jesus Christ) and His holiness, love, care, mercy, patience, faithfulness, grace, goodness, & sovereignty, and acknowledge what He has already done for us, the more in awe of Him we become.

“Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Revelation 5:9

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

John 3:16-18

‘Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

2 Peter 3:3-13

If you do not yet know the Lord, please seek out what is true. Seek Him with your whole heart, mind, strength, and soul and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Open a Bible and read the book of John, then Matthew, Mark, & Luke, and then the book of Hebrews. Read about the early church in Acts and then finish the New Testament. Then read the Old Testament chronologically – it will provide the background needed to better understand the New Testament and allow you to see how God revealed His plan through particular people over a long period of time. I was not brought up in the church – God used desperation and a miraculous answer to prayer to reach me as an adult. He uses different methods to reach different people; in other parts of the world, especially, some are experiencing visions and dreams. Testimonies of how some people came to know Christ are found on this site. The people below are some of those who sought truth (some of them to prove the Bible wrong), and came face to face with their Savior:

“My people, hear My teaching;
    listen to the words of My mouth.
I will open My mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old –
things we have heard and known,
    things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    His power, and the wonders He has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which He commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget His deeds
    but would keep His commands.
They would not be like their ancestors –
    a stubborn and rebellious generation,

whose hearts were not loyal to God,
    whose spirits were not faithful to Him.”

Psalm 78:1-8

Let’s address the “elephant in the room” and use this opportunity of uncertainty to seek what is true and make the most important decision of our lives while there is still time. The choice is simple, but no less serious: Do we face judgment for our shortcomings with no defense before a holy God or do we accept the free gift He offers through the voluntary sacrifice of Jesus Christ so we can be forgiven of our sins and live in God’s goodness for eternity, as well as have access to His power to live a life pleasing to Him while still on earth with the peace, strength, joy, and sense of purpose that only comes through our relationship with Him?

“So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried Me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation’; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest’.”

Hebrews 3:7-11

I for one, second what Paul said (below) and look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, a future that is secure in God’s presence with no pain, no sickness, and no evil. As the lyrics of an older hymn by Helen Lemmel state (and more recently a Newsboys’ song) say, “the things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace’.”

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’.”

Romans 1:16-17

© Constance Rice 2020

Living in Victory

by site founder, Connie Rice

It seems that whether we live in victory or not can have less to do with our circumstances and more to do with how we view ourselves and how we respond to life’s inevitable trials. Nobody is perfect, so we all have regrets and are trying to make our way in the world. Life is a mix of trials and celebrations, broken or lost relationships and close relationships, failures and successes, people who have hurt us and people we have hurt (both may be unintentional), misunderstandings between people, and then there are the unexpected detours and challenges that seem to come out of nowhere. This can all be quite difficult and confusing at times. Being grounded in God’s Word provides us with a foundation, a mooring, solid truth to hold onto, and it also provides a corrective lens in which to view God, ourselves, others, and life itself. Otherwise, the tendency is to view ourselves through other ways or in a combination of any or all of them:

  • through how others see us, which is limited to their perceptions and opportunities, and misunderstandings can be common. It is better to see ourselves through who God says we are.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ … that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”

Ephesians 2:4–7
  • through our past or present pain, which can make us angry, bitter, confused, defeated, or depressed, (even to the point of despair). God wants to free us from past pain and never wastes any of it. What we do not understand at the time may be enlightened in the future or maybe it won’t, but we can be assured that God will use it to draw us closer to Himself, to grow or humble us, to build our character and make us more like Christ, or to minister to someone else going through a similar trial.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

Isaiah 61:1-3
  • through broken or lost relationships, where there seems to be a tendency for us to either place all the blame on the other person or take all the blame on ourselves, neither one bringing needed healing. It is better to reflect on on our part in the process through the lens of Scripture so we can learn, make amends where necessary, and move forward with greater understanding.

“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:11-18
  • through negative words and being poorly treated – when we read and study God’s Word, we discover who He says we are: beloved and valued, so much so that He made a way to rescue us for eternity.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”

Romans 5:8
  • through not forgiving others, which is a type of bondage that keeps us from moving forward in freedom. God commands us to forgive in order to be forgiven – thankfully, when we agree with Him and consciously make the choice to forgive, He helps us to do so.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 6:14-15

through our own failures, which can cause us to be discouraged or give up and create false feelings of worthlessness and loss of hope. It is important to not allow our failures to define us, but to seek God’s help in learning from the experience and move forward. God uses others to speak truth and life into our lives. This is timely for me as this week my failures caused me to be humbled and embarrassed and they affected others negatively when my intention was to be helpful. The encouraging words I heard that day were meant for a lot of people, but God used them to minister specifically to me. A heart-felt thank you to Ryan Frank, Sean Sweet, and others at the 2020 Preteen Onference! Words can also take the form of concern or criticism, which may or may not be what we need to hear. Praying about what was said and comparing it to the truth of God’s Word, we will know how to proceed. If the words are strictly negative toward our person, it is not from God and should be rejected. If the words cause us to see mistake(s), then they are restorative and we can ask God to forgive us and help us take responsibility, apologizing if we have wronged anyone.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:3-6

through our own successes, which can lead to an inflated sense of self and pride (can sneak up on us unaware), causing pain and difficulty to ourselves and others. The Bible warns us that God hates pride and wants us to seek humility, honoring Him first and foremost, and putting others before ourselves. It seems as if those who are self-focused are the most unhappy and many who serve God and others seem to exhibit joy even in the midst of difficult personal circumstances.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8

through unexpected challenges, which seem to present themselves at the most inopportune times and can create added stress, concern, confusion, fear, and insecurity. Unexpected challenges were at the root of my failures this week. In trying to hurry, I unintentionally created a situation that threatened to wreak havoc for other people who were counting on me and prevent me from fulfilling a commitment. There was no way for me to fix the situation (my attempts were futile). I needed a miracle, for which I frantically prayed. A few minutes later, God answered that prayer – even though I brought the situation on myself (although He did let me sit in the mess of my own making for a while to humble and teach me). He’s so faithful to those who trust in Him. Sometimes the enemy (Satan) works hard to stop or limit what God is doing by tempting us or discouraging us through fear, insecurity, or through our failures.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Living in victory also requires that we are aware that there is a battle going on between good and evil, God and Satan. We need to be on guard to avoid temptation and to prevent ourselves from being deceived and from believing lies that can lead us astray, drawing us away from God.

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.”

James 1:16-18

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

The more we study the Bible, the more we discover that God loves us more than we can imagine and greatly values each of us. It is through a working knowledge of His Word that we develop a right view of ourselves and others and can gain an understanding of how to live in victory while keeping the Lord in first place in our lives, where He rightly belongs – He deserves all honor and glory.

“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:10-11

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:1-10

As many before this have explained, following Christ not about religion – it is about our relationship with our loving Creator and understanding that our response to His love is to obey. He knows better than we do what we need and even gives us the wisdom and power to obey His commands when we seek Him with our whole heart, mind, strength, and soul.

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 5:3-5

Nowhere in the Bible does God does promise that our lives will be comfortable, but He does promise that He will be with us always and that the Holy Spirit will help those who are following Christ. This is possible through His sacrifice and resurrection when we accept the free gift of salvation, ask for forgiveness for our shortcomings, and choose to trust the Lord’s plan for our lives. When we obey His commands and allow Him to be on the throne, we experience an amazing freedom. It requires constant effort because our natural bent is use our own wisdom and power, but victory is not found there. Through the power of Scripture, we are able to see ourselves and others as God sees us. God’s Word has the power to transform, giving us the ability to obey Him and allowing us to follow the path He created us for and to live out our lives with purpose and in victory.

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:57

© Constance Rice 2020

Do Worldviews Matter?

by site founder, Connie Rice

Before determining whether or not worldviews matter, let’s define the term: Merriam-Webster defines a worldview as “a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint. In other words, a worldview determines how a person perceives the world around them, providing the foundation for forming ideas and opinions, which affect their attitudes and decision-making. A person’s worldview generally depends on what each person has experienced in their lives, what they have been exposed to, and who or what they consider to be an authority.

For the purposes of this article, the focus is between a secular worldview and a Judeo-Christian biblical worldview in America. A growing divide in the country is revealed through cultural and political battles leading to a disturbing decline in civil discourse on both sides and attempts from some groups to block the rights of those with differing opinions to speak. How many of us even agree 100% with all of our family members? I remember as a teen, my mom told me that she strongly disagreed with a particular vocal public figure, but that she would defend to the death that person’s right to express themselves (roughly quoting biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in referencing Voltaire). America is unique among nations in its protection of free speech for every person.

The secular worldview has been exclusively taught in our public schools and universities for many years now and most museums and scientists adhere to it. Many think that Darwinian evolution is proven science, but beliefs about the origin of the world cannot be repeated or tested as is required for the scientific method, so it actually does not fall under the realm of science. It seems to fit better under philosophy or religion. According to the secular worldview, mankind and apes came from an ape-like common ancestor. This worldview rejects the existence of God, offers no hope of eternal life, and considers humans to be animals. It rejects the existence of absolute truth, which had previously helped to hold American culture together with shared values.

A secular worldview cannot explain why only humans are self-aware and have the capacity to reason, create, imagine, ponder, love sacrificially, seek justice, have a sense of morality, use logic, have language, and look for meaning in life. It also cannot answer how life arose, why order exists, why creatures reproduce only within their kind, or how reproduction could have developed at all. Recent scientific discoveries bring into question that everything (complexity of the “simple” cell, DNA discoveries, diversity of animals and plants, soft tissue in dinosaur bones, etc.) could have come about through random evolutionary, materialistic, and chemical processes over millions of years.

For people professing to belong to a religion, their worldview is affected by the beliefs of that religion. Of the approximate 327 million people in America, those who profess Christianity are about 65% (compared to 77% just 10 years ago). Those with the religion of Judaism are almost 2%, but many of whom tend to align with a secular worldview. According to Pew Forum, those who declare themselves as not having a religious affiliation make up about 26% now (compared to 16% just 10 years ago). Of those, there are people who consider themselves to be agnostic (which when literally translated is “without knowledge”), but the term is used according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary to describe “someone who doesn’t know whether there is a god, or even if such a thing is knowable”.

The Judeo-Christian biblical worldview adheres to a belief in a personal, loving, holy, triune Creator God outside of time and space, who created the heavens, the earth, the plants, the heavens, creatures, and mankind, and revealed Himself through His amazing, diverse, and complex Creation (general revelation) as well as the inspired writings of the Bible (special revelation). His Word is accepted as absolute truth and good and evil (right and wrong) are defined by God.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

2 Peter 1:20-21

Mankind is made in God’s image, with the capacity to love, create, reason, imagine, ponder, desire justice, use logic, etc. This worldview also recognizes that mankind has a sin nature and needs a Savior to bring reconciliation between them and a holy God. Knowing mankind could not save themselves, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to live the sinless life that mankind could not and gave His life sacrificially to pay the penalty for the sin of mankind. Jesus rose again, conquering both sin and death. He offers forgiveness and abundant life to all who receive His free gift of salvation.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:23-24

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

Jesus promises all of His followers eternal life in heaven and they are given the power to overcome natural tendencies so they can treat others with respect and forgive wrongs. This worldview recognizes that all will be accountable before God for how they lived and how each person treats others. It helps to create a sense of accountability to God and of the need to respect and accept others, resulting in a culture with greater mutual respect and acceptance.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:12-14

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before Me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”

Romans 14:10-12

According to Lifeway Research (see chart below), only 9% of adults have read through their whole Bible more than once. That means that only a small percentage of adults in our society (including Christians) have a biblical worldview. Evidently, recent generations of Christian families have neglected to make reading their Bible a priority. Children follow their parents’ example. Leaders have evidently not communicated how important it is to know God’s Word and pass that on to the next generation.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-9

As our nation becomes more biblically illiterate and subsequently influenced by secular culture, should we be surprised that our culture is drifting farther and farther away from God’s ways and deeper into confusion and moral decline? The incidence of depression and suicide is at an all time high. People are seeking meaning in all kinds of areas that put them at risk (alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.). It is critically important for parents and Christian leaders to know God’s Word themselves in order to have a biblical worldview themselves and to disciple the next generation.

“God has no grandchildren. He has only children, so being a born-again Christian is not an automatic thing.”

Reinhard Bonnke

If reading the Bible is difficult, pray for God to give you a love and passion for His Word – that is a prayer He is assured to answer (I know because it is in His will and He answered that prayer for me). Christian parents have adopted the parental values of our culture rather than following God’s standard for parents and their children and grandchildren are paying the price:

“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Matthew 7:26-27

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

“To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.”

Proverbs 17:21

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’. Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Galatians 6:7

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.”

Psalm 33:18

Do worldviews matter? Absolutely! A person’s worldview is how they see everything else and motivates not only their thought and attitudes, but also their opinions and decision-making. That cannot help but affect not only their own lives, but that of other people in their families, schools, workplaces, and people in public places. The nation’s law-making, judicial decisions, and the future direction of America is at stake, but more importantly – the next generation is depending on us to show them the way.

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him.”

Psalm 37:23

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

Psalm 71:18

© Constance Rice 2020

In Need of a Savior

article by site founder, Connie Rice

We’ve all heard the cliche, “Nobody’s perfect” and we all know that although most of us would consider ourselves a good person – we have still made mistakes. As John Piper puts it, “A life without regrets is built on a mirage”. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that keeping our own selfish desires at bay does not come naturally, but takes a conscious effort.

Of course, whole books have been written on the subject of the origin of life by experts in their respective fields of science and theology, so this is meant only to motivate people to ponder the issue and pursue answers for themselves. The 3.5 minute video clip, “Do You Have to Choose Between Science and Religion?” from “What Would You Say?” by “The Colson Center” can bring clarification. The chart below addresses a few points to consider when comparing worldviews – one without God and purely materialistic in origin and one with a loving Creator God who exists eternally, not bound by time or space, and who chooses to reveal Himself:

Materialistic Origins

The Big Bang created the world and the heavens, and everything on earth came about through random, gradual, evolution over millions of years; this view cannot account for how life began. Science has shown that life cannot come from non-life.

A random materialistic worldview does not explain how things that we know exist came to be: order in the universe, laws of nature, mankind’s conscience, logic, love, creativity, sense of right & wrong, desire for truth, and search for meaning. It also cannot explain why beauty, music, and art exist if survival and reproduction are the driving forces. It cannot explain sacrificial acts made that only benefit another person, and that in some cases can even endanger themselves.

Materialism assumes that creatures evolved into more complex and even different creatures through mutations and natural selection. Mutations are mostly harmful and incur a loss of information. Natural selection can only select from existing information. Evolution offers no mechanism for adding new information to the genome, so how could creatures become more complex? If that kind of evolution occurred, then transitional fossils should be prevalent. However, that is not the case even according to an evolutionist:

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.”

Dr. Stephen Jay Gould

Creator God Origins

God created ex-nihilo (out of nothing) the world, the heavens, plants, and animals. He made humans in His image and gave them dominion over Creation; this history is recorded in the Bible (the revealed & inspired Word of God).

A biblical worldview can explain all of these things. The Bible teaches us that God never changes, that He created the universe with order, put the laws of nature in place, and that He invested in mankind logic, a conscience, love, creativity, a sense of morality, a desire for truth, and a longing for meaning because we are made in His image. Beauty, music, and art are gifts to us. Evil entered the world when mankind disobeyed God, but we can still reflect God (ie. sacrifice for the benefit of others).

The Bible teaches that each creature was designed and reproduces after its kind, which is supported by scientific studies and what we see happening in nature (feline, canine, etc.). Recent research has revealed incredible complexity and purposeful design in both creatures and humans. Famous scientists throughout history accepted biblical Creation. The Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute was an atheist, but came to realize that the existence of God was a better explanation of life’s origin:

“In my views, DNA sequence alone, even if accompanied by a vast trove of data on biological function, will never explain certain special human attributes, such as the knowledge of the Moral Law and the universal search for God.”; also wrote the book, “The Language of God”.

Dr. Francis Collins, PBS interview article

According to the Bible, God is Spirit and love, and exists in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). God is also holy, just, sovereign, good, wise, eternal, omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at once), merciful, gracious, compassionate, faithful, gentle, patient, and slow to anger. However, He knew mankind could not be perfect and that our sin separates us from Him. Therefore, He put in place a rescue plan for us:

Jesus (Son) came to earth as fully man and fully God, lived the perfect life that none of us could, and because of His love for us, took our sin upon Himself. We are all sinners who will stand before a holy God who will judge sin and evil, so we are in need of a Savior. Jesus Christ voluntarily gave His life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. Then He overcame sin and death through His Resurrection, giving those who believe in Him for salvation victory as well with help to live the life we were created for and the assurance of life in heaven for eternity.

As we celebrate this Christmas season, please give some thought to Jesus and that He came because “nobody’s perfect”. Use the logic and critical thinking ability that God gave you to discover what is really true. This site can point you to many resources. If you are not familiar with the Bible, The Bible Project offers a series of short videos called “How to Study the Bible”. When we seek God sincerely with our whole heart and soul, He does not hide from us:

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.”

Acts 17:24-27

© Constance Rice 2019

Tribute of Thankfulness

article by site founder, Connie Rice

As I’ve been reflecting during this season of Thanksgiving, it struck me that God not only gave us Himself through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He also gave us the “great cloud of witnesses” in the Bible listed in Hebrews, Chapter 11, as well as many more people of faith throughout history to inspire and challenge us. What struck me is that He also provides those trusting in Him with their own personal “great cloud of witnesses”.

I’m thankful for those in the Bible who had faults, but God still used them in mighty ways. Whether they are from the Old or New Testament or whether they were being a good or a bad example, we can learn from them. Below are many of the names from Hebrews 11 as well as a few that are not listed there, but they are people God has used to teach me through His Word:

  • Abraham – an example of trusting God even when it meant leaving everything behind and going to an unknown area and believing God’s promises even though they were not seen in his circumstances;
  • Noah – an example of believing and obeying God in spite of being mocked by others;
  • Job – an example of trusting and praising God in spite of intense trials;
  • Joseph – an example of trusting God and choosing to obey Him even when rejected and falsely imprisoned for years;
  • Moses – an example of trusting God to empower and guide him as a leader of Israel, taking then to the promised land;
  • Joshua – an example of believing and obeying God even against seemingly impossible odds and with strange instructions (Jericho);
  • Samson – an example of how temptation can blind and deceive us;
  • Gideon – an example of how God can use the least of us and how He creates circumstances that help us know that He’s accomplishing something through us, but that it is His power and not ours;
  • Ruth – a great example of loyalty.
  • David – an example of someone who sinned in worse ways than most of us, but was quick to repent and considered by God to be “a man after My own heart”,
  • Solomon – an example of a young leader who asked for wisdom and received it plus many blessings from God, yet still allowed himself to be drawn to idols;
  • Jonah – an example to us that trying to run or hide from God’s call on our lives is not good for us and reveals God’s love and mercy for those who are far from Him;
  • Isaiah – an example of a prophet who was faithful to God and His call without fail over the entire scope of his life and provided numerous amazing prophecies of the Savior to come, Jesus Christ;
  • Jeremiah – an example of a prophet whose heart was broken over the people’s refusal to follow God, knowing that judgment was coming if they did not repent;
  • Daniel – an example of how to live a godly life in the midst of sinful culture and subject to ungodly leaders;
  • Shadrack, Meshach, & Abednego example of 3 young men taken into Babylonian captivity who did not eat food forbidden by their faith and would not bow down to an idol, even while facing death.
  • Nebuchadnezzar – an example of someone whose pride was his downfall and how God uniquely humbled and then restored him;
  • Esther – an example of a queen who prayed and then stood up for her people in spite of the danger involved; her uncle told her that she was in place “for such a time as this”.
  • Nehemiah – an example of someone who was compelled to respond to God’s call, in his case to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls in spite of opposition and threats.
  • Paul – an example of someone radically transformed by Jesus.
  • Peter – an example of someone who was impulsive and had a tendency to speak before thinking, but Jesus was referring to him when He said, “on this rock I will build my church” (Peter means rock in Greek).
  • James (Jesus’ earthly half-brother) – an example of someone who struggled with believing that Jesus was the Messiah promised by God (John 7:5), but became a strong leader in the faith and early church.

My encounter with Jesus brought about a radical change in my life – one which I have never regretted. Written and video works in addition to the Bible have greatly impacted my walk with the Lord (C. S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers, G.K. Chesterton, Os Guinness, Francis Chan, David Platt, Ray Comfort, Ken Ham, John Piper, D. James Kennedy, Alister McGrath, Wayne Grudem, Al Mohler, J. Daniel Hays & J. Scott Duvall, Dave Coppedge (“Creation Evolution Headlines” & “Creation Safaris”), Mike Riddle (“Creation Training Institute”), Timothy Mackie & Jonathan Collins (“The Bible Project”), Allen Parr (“The BEAT”), Bobby Conway (One-Minute Apologist”), and Bible studies by Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, just to name a few). I just found a book today in a used book store that I look forward to reading (not thinking it was a coincidence) – “A Cloud of Witnesses: The Greatest Men in the World for Christ and the Book” by Stephen Abbott Northrup D.D. (book link is to a reproduction printing). The book includes quotes about their faith in Christ from Charles Dickens, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Charles Lyell, Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Jefferson, Sir Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Mozart, and hundreds more.

However, I would also like to take an opportunity to acknowledge and thank the personal “great cloud of witnesses” that God has used in my life to help me grow in my faith. The names below may not end up in history books and most do not know who they are, but their lives have had a great impact on me and I’m sure others as well:

  • Melba Goodman, a good friend who had the courage to share Jesus with me when I had no interest in hearing it.
  • My family, who help me grow spiritually and as a person.
  • Jim Ryan, who followed God in moving to California, enabling me to hear the gospel plainly once God led us to a church.
  • Carol Ryan, whose gentle, loving, gracious, patient, and godly example had a huge impact on me when I was trying to understand God’s Word and how to live His way.
  • Jack & Judi Winkel, who grew alongside us as new believers and Jack later invested in my kids as a junior high leader; they were examples of what it looks like when God fills His faithful followers with supernatural strength (in the tragic loss of their precious teen, Jill).
  • Dave & Heather Krogstad, pastor and his wife who greatly impacted both of my kids in junior high and beyond; their love and caring ways reflect Jesus well to everyone they know.
  • Kathie Kallestad, who invested in my younger daughter in junior high while making her feel loved and accepted.
  • Jim Jackson, pastor who is gifted by God to teach in creative and effective ways; I’m so thankful for the investment he and his wife, Julie, made in my older daughter’s life.
  • Jeff Steele, pastor who was my personal “Bible Answer Man” and a great example of a godly husband & parent, who always made time to speak with me and provide honest feedback and direction.
  • Dr. Wong, professor of one of my Bible Institute classes who in spite of severe persecution in his and his family’s lives, stood out as a gentle, caring man and brilliant scholar; when our younger daughter was ill and doctor’s had no idea what happened to her, he told me, “God must think you’re pretty strong.”. It was strangely comforting and I’ve shared those words with others since.
  • Ron Jones, pastor who gave a message that has greatly affected and challenged me – to be “fully present” with people.
  • Paul Luna, pastor who helped me see “outside the box” in ministry and directed me to my second ministry position; he was the first one to suggest I start a blog.
  • Sue Marshall, Julie Sandeen, & Debbie d’Amico, fellow children’s ministry leaders who were part of a network group that provided prayer, encouragement, and brainstorming; we worked together to provide local, inexpensive training for children’s ministry teams; Sue’s suggestion that I start a blog (she said because I knew of so many resources that might be helpful to others) eight years after Paul suggested it caused me to pray about it; she helped me set up the basic structure and this website is the result. 🙂
  • Todd Smith, pastor who is a godly shepherd who helped me see blind spots and encouraged me to always leave time to teach; it was powerful for me to see him almost physically shake off a compliment of his preaching to prevent pride from gaining a foothold in his mind.
  • Tom Halstead, professor at a Bible college and elder who is one of the most godly, patient, gracious, caring, & encouraging men I’ve ever met, as well as a Bible scholar.
  • Wayne Dell, elder whose faith, service to God, wisdom, and sense of humor never waivers – even in the midst of severe trials, which was a powerful witness to me.
  • Students, leaders, parents, and friends at Heart of the Canyons, Crossroads, Valley Christian Fellowship, and now at Harvest Church.

It’s been an amazing time of reflection that causes my heart to overflow with thankfulness for how God has revealed Himself to me through the people He’s placed in my life. Our time on earth is filled with trials, but when we’re on the path God created us for and we choose to partner with Him in our spiritual growth, it’s also the greatest adventure anyone could have. God fills us with a sense of purpose as well as the peace and joy that is only found in Him. As if that wasn’t enough, we also look forward to being in heaven with our Creator and loved ones who have gone before us – where there’s no more sickness, no more evil, and no more of this world’s trials. I especially look forward to not having to fight my sinful nature any more. Until then, I will follow God as His plan for me continues to unfold – but now with a greater awareness and with more gratitude than before.

My prayer is that God will empower me to live a life worthy of the calling He has given me, that my life would accurately reflect Christ, and that I would be intentional about sharing His love and truth to whomever God places in my path as others have invested in me. To God be the glory!

© Constance Rice 2019

Doesn’t God Deserve Upper Case Pronouns?

article by site founder, Connie Rice

This post is rather short, but covers an issue that has been on my heart for some time. Over the last few years, upper case pronouns when referring to God have been disappearing. Bible passages on online Bible study sites, lyrics for Worship songs, and other Christian sources are not capitalizing pronouns when referring to Him. Why is that? God is not the same as we are. He is the Creator of the universe as well as the Creator of all mankind. His holiness, power, and majesty have no equal. Through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Only Son, Jesus Christ, God’s plan of salvation is made available to all who will receive it as a free gift by His grace because of His great love for us. In copying the verses below, I had to change all the pronouns to upper case and will continue to make that effort every time I reference Bible passages or anything else because I believe God is distinct and certainly worthy of that honor.

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power     and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,      for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all.”

1 Chronicles 29:11

“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You.”

2 Chronicles 20:6

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving
     and extol Him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
The sea is His, for He made it,
     and His hands formed the dry land. “Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for He is our God
    and we are the people of His pasture,
    the flock under His care.”

Psalm 95:1-7

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

John 10:27-30

Using upper case pronouns when referring to the Triune God (God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit) may seem like a small or insignificant issue to some. However, in the eyes of those who do not yet have a relationship with their Creator, it communicates what we as believers already know to be true – that God is set apart from mankind. He is not bound by time or space, He is holy, merciful, all-powerful, all-knowing, and sovereign – the only One worthy of all honor and praise: the name above all names!

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
     did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage;
rather, He made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    He humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
    and gave Him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 5:2-11

Doesn’t God deserve upper case pronouns?

© Constance Rice 2019

Why Apologetics for Preteens?

Imagine if God has called particular people in such a time as this to minister specifically to preteens to help them develop the knowledge and confidence needed to stand firm in their faith throughout junior high, high school, college, and as adults in the midst of an increasingly hostile culture! Imagine if they were armed for victory! Imagine if they were equipped to engage their world with love and truth and excited to live out their individual calling from the Lord! I have seen it happen, but it requires the intentional and often sacrificial investment of churches, parents, and leaders. Even then, there are no guarantees – but without it, few young people can effectively navigate the trials of life and avoid the pitfalls, lies, and deceptions with which they are targeted.

As many of us have heard, nearly 70 % of students brought up in the church walk away by adulthood (that figure does not include the majority of children in America who do not go to church). When I look upon the innocent faces of children, it breaks my heart that the world’s lies and deceptions will be successful in drawing many of them away from the relationship and life that their loving Creator has for them. My 27 years of ministering to kids has shown me that they can begin learning as infants in the Nursery and that they are capable of learning at a deeper level than has generally been offered in church curriculum. In the preteen years especially, students are beginning to think abstractly – allowing them to grasp complex issues when taught in engaging, interactive, & fun ways.

People who have have worked with preteens already know that they can be silly or serious, loud or quiet, tall or short, active or reserved, like to read out loud or hate to read out loud, enjoy competitive games or prefer low-key games, can blurt out thoughts or be irritated when others do, can think they already know everything about the Bible or feel that they do not know what the other kids do, can be uncomfortable or at ease, or anything in between. Across the board, preteens enjoy having fun, are easily distracted, and can become bored quickly. This can cause leaders to be intimidated or hesitant to minister to preteens and can cause some churches to move older preteens on to youth ministry because they are seen as a distraction to younger students and a challenge for teachers.

However, I believe that just as God calls particular people to minister to the nursery or preschoolers, younger elementary children, junior high, high school, college-age, adults, seniors, or a myriad of other groups or people – He has also called people to specifically minister to preteens. Sadly, in many churches, preteens have been undervalued, underestimated, and under-served. Prayerfully consider the following:

  • What if they understood the Creation vs. Evolution debate having learned about recent scientific evidence that strongly supports the biblical account?
  • What if they learned about logic and how to identify assumptions, circular reasoning, straw man arguments, etc.?
  • What if they knew about geological, historical, zoological (including dinosaurs), & genetic evidence for Noah’s Flood and how the Ark shows God’s mercy and serves as a symbol of salvation?
  • What if they knew how the Bible came about and why we can trust it?
  • What if they knew of archaeological evidence that supports the biblical account?
  • What if they knew how to interpret the Bible for themselves and developed the habit of a daily quiet time, allowing God to speak to them through His Word?
  • What if they understood the heart of God and trusted His guidance in every aspect of their lives?
  • What if they understood what God says about prayer and are provided with opportunities to actively pray for each other, family, friends, church, community, state, country, & world.
  • What if they understood what real worship is and the importance of keeping God in first place in our lives (what it means to follow Jesus).
  • What if they understood how God uses the trials in our lives for good?
  • What if they knew their spiritual gifts and had opportunities to serve using them – thus personally experiencing God’s power & faithfulness?
  • What if they understood what God says about forgiveness and could live a life free from bitterness?
  • What if they understood the gradual revelation of God through His Word and how His love and mercy are evident throughout?
  • What if they understood more about heaven and the rewards Jesus has for those who choose to follow Him?
  • What if they understood the principles of spiritual warfare and how to live in victory?
  • What if they were aware of people God has used throughout history to make a positive impact on the world (sometimes one person sold out to God accomplished amazing things) and understood that this is their time in history?

Imagine what God can do with a generation of believers who learn these truths as preteens? Is God giving you a glimpse of His vision for this age group? Is He calling you to minister to them? If you are a pastor, is He calling you to reevaluate what your church is doing? If you haven’t yet read it, please scroll down to read my earlier blog, “Why Intentional Preteen Ministry?” posted on 10-28-2018 for additional details.

You may see this as a daunting task, but remember that when we join God where He is working (Henry Blackaby in “Experiencing God”), our own limited ability is supernaturally infused with His power and faithfulness. Prayer is critical because God may give us the vision before it can be implemented. Each church would need to adapt to its own needs & facilities. God may have you start small, adding different aspects on a gradual basis. You could start with just bulletin inserts from “Creation Moments” (can can also be used as handouts). We need to pray for the Lord to guide our steps and cast the vision clearly to church leadership. Once they support it, share the vision with others. Pray for God to raise up just the right leaders who share a love for the Lord and His Word and that they will hear His guidance clearly.

This is exponentially more effective when parents participate with series and events because it opens up more discussion and shared insights at home, providing tools and excitement for parents as their kids’ primary spiritual leaders. I do not believe it is an accident that so many amazing resources are presently available for kids, preteens, teens, & adults. Perhaps that’s why God had me create this website – so people can easily find available resources. Parents can start with just a membership to a Creation or other Apologetic subscriptions (some are even free).

Is God calling you to invest in preteens with God’s love and truth, walk beside them as they begin to take ownership of their faith, and help equip them to rely on the Lord to do what is not possible in their own strength so they can experience His power and faithfulness? A number of people have not only answered the call to intentionally minister to preteens, but make it easier for churches (no need to reinvent the wheel) by offering great resources and training for other people and churches to use:

  • Sean Sweet of “FourFiveSix” preteen ministry uses the analogy of kids learning to ride a bike. Preteen leaders hold on to the bike at first and then run beside preteens as students step out in faith – all the while encouraging, equipping, and providing resources for them. Sean also offers an annual in-person preteen conference, an annual online preteen conference, training at your church, & other online training.
  • Clint May founded “L.I.T.” (Leaders in Training) and trains other church leaders in implementing the program in their church. They now have complete programs for younger kids as well.
  • Nick Dilberto, founder of “preteenministry.net” also offers curriculum and resources.

Believers who develop that kind of faith when they are young will not be easy prey for Satan and his schemes, and they can serve as valuable members of the body of Christ now (not just in the future – David Walters coined the phrase and other leaders have also communicated, “Kids Don’t Have a Junior Holy Spirit”).

Imagine how much preteens could inspire others (even those much older), as they follow Christ, join His Kingdom work, and experience a sense of purpose and the abundant life Jesus offers. I and others have responded as Isaiah did – “Here am I. Send me!”. Interestingly, God gave me a love for preteens after I answered His call to minister to them. He does have a sense of humor. Sometimes, God has passion, joy, fulfillment, and fruitfulness awaiting us in unexpected places. Is He calling you?

© Constance Rice 2019

The Bondage of Sexual Freedom

article by site founder, Connie Rice

Since the 1960’s brought in the “sexual revolution” and the promise of freedom from the restraints of biblical teachings, our culture has experienced serious negative consequences. Since removing God, prayer, and the Bible from our schools and increasingly from our culture over the past 65+ years reveals to the objective observer:

  • more sexually transmitted disease (just since 2000 – rate per 100,000 people for each: Syphilis 2000 – 2.1; 2016 – 8.7; Chlamydia 2000 – 251.2; 2016 – 497.3; Gonorrhea 2000 – 128.6; 2016 – 145.8).
  • more forcible rape (rate per 100,000 people: 1960 – 9.6; 2017 – 41.7).
  • increased expectation of casual sex between partners (can contribute to higher incidences of date rapes, sexually transmitted diseases, more abortion, higher rates of infertility, and emotional pain).
  • more divorces, resulting in more fatherless households.
  • more kids suffering from feelings of rejection.
  • more children home without supervision.
  • increased gang membership & violence.
  • increased pornography use & addiction, affecting younger & younger ages (easier access to Internet a huge factor).
  • increased anxiety, affecting increasingly younger ages.
  • increased suicide, affecting increasingly younger ages.
  • increased abortion (with its negative effects on women & society).
  • video games with more graphic violence.
  • movies with more graphic scenes of sex & violence.
  • TV shows with more graphic scenes of sex & violence.
  • rise of radical feminism with contempt for all things male.
  • lack of regard for innocence of children.
  • language in public becoming increasingly coarse & vulgar.
  • lack of respect and civility for those who disagree.
  • increased focus on self to the point of narcissism for some.
  • more people seeking plastic surgery.
  • kids at higher risk of sexual abuse to favor “rights” of adults.
  • increased number of people as victims of sex trafficking.
  • more kids on brain-altering drugs.
  • rise in violence committed by minors.
  • increased hostility toward the Bible & people of faith.
  • fewer good role models for kids.
  • increased sexual identity confusion.
  • increased emotional pain & regret over past choices.

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5a

It’s time to address the “elephant in the room” – that this over 65-year experiment in so-called sexual freedom has been an abysmal failure in America – both collectively and individually. We have been sold lies wrapped up in nice-sounding words and the consequences have been devastating for our society, our families, for us as individuals, and especially for kids.

“The Sexual Revolution has been going on for my entire lifetime. Millions of people have been harmed by its empty promises”

Dr. Jennifer Morse , founder of the “Ruth Institute”

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.”

1 Corinthians 6:18

Other times in history have gone far from God with the outlook being pretty bleak and Christ-followers prayed fervently that God would move in a mighty way. Those of us who know that His ways are best need to continually pray for another “Great Awakening”, that people would see their need for a Savior and recognize that God provided just that in the person of Jesus Christ, who suffered and gave His life because of His love for us – as we are incapable of saving ourselves. He does not want anyone to perish:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9

“A Recipe for Repentance” – article by Josh Squires for “Desiring God”.

According to Jesus Himself, an evil one does exist and hell is a real place that God created for Satan and his fallen angels. However, we will all face our Creator on Judgment Day for how we lived on earth. It can be a day to look forward to for those who are covered in the righteousness of Jesus, but it will be a day of “gnashing of teeth” for those who have no covering for their sins. The following are verses that refer to Satan:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on My own; God sent Me. Why is My language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me’!”

John 8:42-45

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.”

Jesus speaking – John 10:9-13

“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.”

Jesus speaking – John 12:31-32

“And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

Revelation 12:9

“6 Times Jesus Talked About Satan: Our Savior is clear about the evil power the devil holds” – article by Megan Bailey for “Belief.net”.

There is no real and lasting freedom in what the world offers because Satan has dominion over this world. He is the ultimate deceiver and father of lies. He is a master of counterfeiting what God does and making sin look attractive, but it does not satisfy and can cause pain and brokenness.

“Why Satan Is Left on Earth: Incentives in the Battle for Joy in Jesus” – article by pastor, author, & speaker, John Piper, founder of “Desiring God”.

True freedom is found through Jesus Christ, as He has been revealed to us through the Bible:

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’.”

John 8:34-36

How can we know true freedom? – What is the Good News?

© Constance Rice 2019

Is God’s Plan Really Best?

article by site founder, Connie Rice

As humans, each of us has a unique personality, fingerprints, DNA, and talents. Most of us do not spend much time contemplating how amazing that is. Despite those distinctions, we share characteristics in common with each other. We all have a deep desire to be loved, accepted, approved of, and to belong. We also want our lives to have meaning. In addition, we have a deep desire to want to be in control of our lives and have the freedom to pursue our own interests – in other words, have things our way. Anyone who has been around children recognizes that we need to be taught to consider others – our natural tendency is to be self-focused.

The pursuit of these things takes people down different paths, and in some cases those paths cause harm to themselves and others. Some people have clear future goals at a young age, but others do not have such a clear path in mind. The paths we pursue can be altered by our own choices (good or bad), based on our life experiences or by our perceptions. The choices of others and circumstances beyond our control can also alter our path and at times can create unexpected challenges and hurts. When younger, I wanted to be a teacher, but was unable to attend college after high school so took an entry-level job in the jewelry field. Then I decided to get married the next year. My strong work ethic (taught and modeled by my dad) allowed me to be promoted and I pursued the study of gemology. My choice to relocate and then an economic downturn (fewer jobs in that industry), along with an unrequested divorce, changed that path altogether.

How does what we believe to be true affect our choices? If our decisions are based on incorrect perceptions or false beliefs or what others say to us or how we have been treated, it can result in our blaming others or becoming fearful or insecure or angry or discouraged or resentful or envious of others or develop misguided compassion or any combination thereof. We can view ourselves as inadequate, unworthy, or without value. These incorrect perceptions can cause harm to ourselves and others.

On the surface, it may seem counter-intuitive for us to surrender our lives to Jesus and His plan for our lives because of our deep desire to have our own way. However, He created us, loved us, and even died for us – a love beyond our comprehension. When I finally reached the end of myself and realized that my way was not working, I cried out to God and submitted my life to Him and His plan. That was the best decision I ever made. He revealed Himself to me more & more, overwhelming me with the extent of His love, mercy, grace, compassion, patience, holiness, wisdom, and justice. He does not waste any pain – even those brought on by our own previous poor choices. God gives us access to His peace that this world cannot offer and sustains us through the trials of this life. There really is a battle between good and evil and God is the “good guy”! He taught me what truth is and who I am in His eyes – beloved, forgiven, and set free!:

“Who am I?” by “Casting Crowns”

Sadly, some blame God for the pain in their lives or even choose to reject Him altogether. An honest comparison between the atheist worldview and a life accepting and following Jesus Christ reveals interesting results:

Atheism:

Life with Jesus:

Humans are a cosmic accident from random chemical reactions.

Each human was created in the image of God.

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Genesis 1:27

Since all came about by random processes, there is no stated purpose for humans.

Each human was created to have a relationship with their Creator.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will,  to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.”

Ephesians 1:3-6

Life on earth is difficult, and we only have ourselves and other people to guide us.

Life on earth is difficult, but we live in a fallen world because of man’s sin. However, Jesus sustains us and offers His peace.

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Jesus’ words in John 16:33

We know morality exists because each person has a sense of right and wrong. However, an atheistic worldview cannot explain where that sense of morality comes from.

We know morality exists because each person has a sense of right and wrong. However, God determines what is right and wrong, revealing it in the Bible.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:23

We know logic exists because humans have a logical mind and the ability to reason. However, an atheistic worldview cannot explain where logic comes from.

We know logic exists because humans have a logical mind and the ability to reason. This makes sense because God is logical and made humans in His image. This is explained in Ravi Zacharias‘ book, “The Logic of God”; related audio interview on “The Ben Shapiro Show Sunday Special.

“Come now, ‘let us reason together’, says the Lord: ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool’.”

Isaiah 1:18

When humans die, they just decay and are no more.

When humans die, their soul lives on eternally – either with God or without God, based on each person’s choice. God made a way for each person to be with Him in heaven – through Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection.

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

Humans try to be good and want to think of themselves as a good person, but an atheistic worldview cannot explain why that desire even exists. However, no matter how hard people try – they make mistakes.

Humans try to be good, but acknowledge they can never be good enough to please a holy God. Those who ask for forgiveness and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are a new creation. The Holy Spirit helps people overcome their inner battles and past regrets.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

Activists in America began an aggressive movement to push God and the Bible out of the public square in the 1960’s. The fruits of removing prayer and the Bible from schools, the resulting Bible illiteracy, the “sexual revolution”, and other cultural shifts are evident today with increases in problems across almost every spectrum of society. We have seen a rise in fatherless homes, increased anxiety, depression, & suicide with increasingly younger people, increased gang violence, continual promotion of sexual activity, lack of respect for human life, lack of protection for innocence of children, parents hurting kids, kids hurting parents, increased behavioral problems in classrooms, violence committed by younger & younger people, attempts to silence debate on controversial issues resulting in less free speech, disrespect for authority & the rule of law, abortions being celebrated, increased narcissism, attitudes of entitlement becoming common, rise of atheism, rise in sexually transmitted diseases & resulting rise in infertility, rise in gender confusion, and loss of civility in public and private discourse. Bible prophecy foretold some of this:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5

I propose that if we each decided to follow God’s plan for our lives, many of the problems facing our nation and world would lessen dramatically until God brings about His promise of a new heaven and a new earth. Since He allows each of us to choose whether or not to submit to Christ and then allows us to choose whether or not we will obey Him, it is inherently unfair to blame God for the evils we see and attempting to deny His existence when He has revealed Himself clearly through His amazing Creation and His revealed word is denying the obvious and has eternal consequences:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Romans 1:18-21

How we respond to God is arguably the most important decision we can ever make. Our Creator knew we had no power to save ourselves from the bondage of sin that separates us from Him, a holy God. Unfortunately, with the disobedience of Adam and Eve, sin entered the world and all of mankind subsequently has a sinful nature. Even from that time, God promised that His plan included a way of salvation through which Jesus Christ’s voluntary death paid the penalty for the sin of all mankind and His resurrection conquered death.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

When I chose to trust in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation and asked for forgiveness for my sins, my eyes were opened (hence, Eyes 2 C website) to an amazing spiritual reality that I was unaware of previously. I choose to keep God in His rightful first place in my life, humbly seek His guidance, and allow the Holy Spirit to make me more like Christ so I can reflect His love to others and to empower me to give glory to my Lord during my life here on earth by pursuing what He planned in advance for me to accomplish. I look forward to eternity in heaven with my Savior, trusting in His justice to make all things right. God’s plan is truly the best plan!

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

James 1:21-22

© Constance Rice 2018

Why Pro-Life?

article by site founder, Connie Rice

I am pro-life because I am a surviving victim of a culture that lies about abortion – what should have been my first-born child was a victim who did not survive. Abortion is not pro-woman – we were created to be nurturing and protective of our offspring (as is also evident even in the animal kingdom). Abortion is a violent, unnatural intrusion into what was once referred to as the “safety of the womb”, as was plainly portrayed in the movie “Unplanned”. For me, the actual surgical abortion procedure was painful and gut-wrenching – I felt as if life had been sucked out of me (it literally was). Now they send women home with chemical abortions to suffer alone with the resulting intense cramping and bleeding that accompany expelling the tiny dead fetus, as also seen in the film, Unplanned”. How is this pro-woman? We are told the lie that casual sex brings freedom and empowerment and the increase in sexual activity in our culture set the stage for more crisis pregnancies and has caused women untold emotional pain.

Abortion is not always the woman’s choice – in my case, my husband of 7 years gave me the ultimatum of choosing between him or the baby. I went with him to the clinic, but still asked the clinic worker before having the abortion if it was a baby because I didn’t want to go through with it if it was – I was told that it was only tissue and blood – not a baby yet. He left the following year anyway, soon after our baby would have been born. It is time for the truth to be told. My story is only one of many – some are revealed at “Silent No More” and at “SaveOne”. I am not sure if accurate documentation exists, but have observed personally that many people strongly committed to the pro-life position are women who have had one or more prior abortions (three of whom I have met personally) who were unable to have another child. “Feminists for Life” says it well: “Women deserve better than abortion – abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women”. The idea that to be pro-woman is to be pro-abortion is just not true.

The clarion call that the developing embryo or fetus is part of a woman’s body is debunked by biological science:

To begin with, scientifically something very radical occurs between the processes of gametogenesis and fertilization the change from a simple part of one human being (i.e., a sperm) and a simple part of another human being (i.e., an oocyte usually referred to as an “ovum” or “egg”), which simply possess “human life”, to a new, genetically unique, newly existing, individual, whole living human being (a single-cell embryonic human zygote). That is, upon fertilization, parts of human beings have actually been transformed into something very different from what they were before; they have been changed into a single, whole human being. During the process of fertilization, the sperm and the oocyte cease to exist as such, and a new human being is produced.”

Basic human embryological facts from article, “When do Human beings Begin?: Scientific Myths and Scientific Facts” – by Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D., (copyright Feb 1999) in journal, “International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy” 1999, 19:3/4:22-36 for “Princeton”.

Human development in the womb in the first ten weeks after fertilization:

  • “The cardiovascular system is the first major system to function. At about 22 days after conception the child’s heart begins to circulate his own blood, unique to that of his mother’s, and his heartbeat can be detected on ultrasound.
  • At just six weeks, the child’s eyes and eye lids, nose, mouth, and tongue have formed.
  • Electrical brain activity can be detected at six or seven weeks, and by the end of the eighth week, the child, now known scientifically as a “fetus,” has developed all of his organs and bodily structures.
  • By ten weeks after conception the child can make bodily movements.”

Points above are from article, “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences” By Rob Schwarzwalder for “Family Research Council” (FRC); references are given there.

Abortion is a money-making business as revealed in Carol Everett‘s books, “Blood Money: Getting Rich Off a Woman’s Right to Choose”, and “The Scarlet Lady: Confessions of a Successful Abortionist”, as well as the film, “Unplanned”. Many of today’s feminists and media outlets have been convinced that abortion is somehow a Constitutional “right“, but the same FRC article referenced above “cites a long and growing list of prominent “pro-choice” legal commentators who call Roe v. Wade indefensible”; references for the quotes below are in the article below:

“The late John Hart Ely of Yale, for instance, argued that Roe was wrong ‘because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.’; The law clerk of Justice Blackmun, the Justice who authored the Roe v. Wade opinion, calls it ‘one of the most intellectually suspect constitutional decisions of the modern era.’; The Washington Post’s legal editor says it has ‘a deep legitimacy problem.’; Even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been critical of Roe, saying that it ‘ventured too far in the change it ordered and presented an incomplete justification for its action’ and that the Roe decision was ‘not the way courts generally work’.”.

from article, “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences” – by Rob Schwarzwalder of “Family Research Council” (FRC); quote references are in article.

The public was misled in the arguments for legalizing abortion.This is clear from the articles, “Jane Roe Tells True Story Behind Roe v Wade” – by Dave Andrusko for “National Right to Life News” and “The Pro-Life Legacy of Norma McCorvey, the ‘Roe’ of Roe v. Wade” – by Katrina Trinko for the “Daily Signal”.

I remember when abortion supporters told the public that abortion should be “safe, legal, & rare” and they have regularly used terms that devalue the humanity of the child – “clump of tissue”, “not a baby yet”, “product of conception”, “terminate a pregnancy”, “residue of rape”, etc. Many of the talking points leading up to legalized abortion were exaggerated or untrue as discussed in article, “Does Legalizing Abortion Stop Filthy, Back-Alley Abortions?” – by Brian Clowes, Ph.D. for “Human Life International”; Since abortion was legalized in 1973, Jason Noble confirmed in his article for the “Des Moines Register” that 50 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. – is that rare?

“92% of abortions in America are purely elective — done on healthy women to end the lives of healthy children.”

from same FRC article above; breakdown listed there: Lawrence B. Finer et al., 113-14.

Radical feminists today equate women’s rights with unfettered access to abortion until (and now even after) birth. Imagine how shocked America’s first feminists would be with that based on their own views about abortion:

It [abortion] is also at odds with the views of America’s first feminists, all of whom opposed abortion. Chief among them were ‘Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who not only led the fight for the right of women to own property, to vote, and obtain equal education, but also spoke out against abortion. Susan B. Anthony’s newspaper, ‘The Revolution’, called abortion ‘child murder’ and ‘infanticide’.”; quotes given in FRC article references d below, but sources are “The Revolution”, April 9, 1868, “The Revolution“, July 8, 1869, & Susan B. Anthony, “The Revolution”, July 8, 1869.

from article, “The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences” – by Rob Schwarzwalder of “Family Research Council” (FRC); quote references are in article.

An unintended reality of the legality and promotion of abortion is that it has encouraged numerous men and family members to avoid responsibility and embarrassment by pressuring women to have abortions. Another side of this is the very real issue of dads, grandparents, & other family members who have had no voice when a woman chooses to abort. There has been no cultural support for those dealing with that kind of grief (or for the women who experience grief from a prior abortion) outside of pregnancy care centers and now from “SaveOne” an international ministry committed to helping men and women heal from a prior abortion. Sharon Osborne’s quote from “Focus on the Family” site:

I had an abortion at 17 and it was the worst thing I ever did. … I was two months gone when I realized. I went to my mum and she said, without pausing for breath: ‘You have to get rid of it.’ She told me where the clinic was and then virtually pushed me off. She was so angry. She said I’d gotten myself in this mess, now she had to get me out. But she didn’t come. I went alone. I was terrified. It was full of other young girls, and we were all terrified and looking at each other and nobody was saying a bloody word. I howled my way through it, and it was horrible. I would never recommend it to anyone because it comes back to haunt you. When I tried to have children, I lost three — I think it was because something happened to my cervix during the abortion. After three miscarriages, they had to put a stitch in it.”  

Sharon Osborne (TV personality and wife of Ozzy Osborne) in Sharon Unxpurgated, (Dec 18, 2004, Associated Newspapers, Ltd)

Some women share they have not been negatively affected by their abortion(s). The after-effects of my first-trimester abortion were not realized for years, but there were definitely negative consequences – I just did not know they were related. My sub-conscious awareness kicked in when I was pregnant with my second child and read about child development in the womb. I had already experienced unexplained and deep-seated guilt and feelings of unworthiness that presented itself in relationships, but those became more intense and I developed a deep sadness that I could not explain.

With the birth of that child, I suffered a 6-month period of depression with overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy in being a mom, which prevented me from bonding with my baby. When she was 5 and my younger child was 2, God answered me as I cried out to Him because of the problems in my 2nd marriage. As a result, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and began reading the Bible. I realized that He considered every life precious and considered the taking of an innocent life an abomination. My intent had been to be a good mom to my kids, so facing the fact that I had taken the life of one of them and deprived my children of their older sibling caused me to be overcome with grief and regret. I asked for and received God’s amazing mercy and forgiveness. That was a huge turning point in my life. It wasn’t until a few more years that I discovered the emotional harm my firstborn had suffered from the lack of bonding.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”

2 Corinthians 5:17

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Romans 8:1

To truly help women and to offer them a choice other than abortion as a viable option, our culture should support pregnancy care centers across the nation. They offer the truth about abortion methods and fetal development as well as emotional and practical support before and after the baby’s birth. All of their services are free made possible by donations – emotional support, parenting classes, maternity clothes, baby clothes & supplies, healing post-abortion studies. referrals for adoption,& more. Allowing a loving adoptive family to parent the child provides the birth mother with the peace of knowing she gave life to her child. I know numerous people who have been unable to bear children and have adopted or hope to adopt.

I am overwhelmed by God’s mercy and grace that He has forgiven me even though His Word says that the taking of an innocent life is an abomination to Him. I found complete freedom through taking a post-abortion study and am now prepared to lead one so other post-abortive women can also find freedom. If you have an abortion in your past, please consider taking a study in your area. It is emotionally challenging, but God’s supernatural healing and peace are so worth it, as Jesus tells us:

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32

© Constance Rice 2019

How Do We Know What is True?

article by site founder, Connie Rice

Humans have a deep-seated desire to know what is true. Otherwise, why would we get upset and feel betrayed when someone lies to us? It’s easy for us to to rationalize and justify our thoughts, actions, speech, and attitudes and our natural tendency is to develop opinions based on what we hear, see, read, and experience. So how can we know what is really true?

FIRST, we should define truth. Starting with the actual meaning of words is important to mutual understanding. My personal favorite dictionary resource is Noah Webster’s 1828 Webster’s Dictionary. This momentous task took him 28 years and he learned 26 languages in the process [reference]. Wow! That level of determination and scholarship is not common in our culture today.

“Language is the expression of ideas; and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas, they cannot retain an identity of language.”

from Noah Webster’s preface in his 1828 Dictionary

How thorough Webster was is evident in his definition of truth:

1. Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies. My mouth shall speak truth Proverbs 8:7. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth John 17:17.

2. True state of facts or things. The duty of a court of justice is to discover the truth. Witnesses are sworn to declare the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

3. Conformity of words to thoughts, which is called moral truth. Shall truth fail to keep her word?

4. Veracity; purity from falsehood; practice of speaking truth; habitual disposition to speak truth; as when we say, a man is a man of truth.

5. Correct opinion.

6. Fidelity; constancy. The thoughts of past pleasure and truth.

7. Honesty; virtue. It must appear that malice bears down truth.

8. Exactness; conformity to rule. Plows, to go true, depend much on the truth of the iron work. [Not in use.]

9. Real fact of just principle; real state of things. There are innumerable truths with which we are not acquainted.

10. Sincerity. God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth John 4:23.

11. The truth of God, is His veracity and faithfulness. Psalms 71:22. Or His revealed will. I have walked in thy truth Psalms 26:3.

12. Jesus Christ is called the truth John 14.

For a more recent definition of truth, the following is from dictionary.com

TRUTH:

  1. The true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
  2. Conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
  3. A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
  4. The state or character of being true.
  5. Actuality or actual existence.
  6. An obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.

SECOND, we should recognize that truth and reality differ from perception and that all of us have preconceptions that affect the way we look at the world (our worldview). In recent years, some have adopted the philosophy that there is no absolute truth and that truth is an individual concept and different for different people. We all have our own perceptions, as evidenced by having been misunderstood or having misunderstood someone else. However, that is not the same as each person having their own truth, which has been termed “relativism”. Truth by its very nature is exclusive and different people cannot have their own truth if what one person holds to be true is opposite to that of someone else. This is evidenced by the “Law of Contradiction”, one of the rules of logic.

“Absolute truth” is defined by “All About Philosophy” as “inflexible reality: fixed, invariable, unalterable facts. For example, it is a fixed, invariable, unalterable fact that there are absolutely no square circles and there are absolutely no round squares”. The whole article is helpful. Another helpful article is:

“Is there such a thing as absolute truth / universal truth?” – by “Got Questions”.

THIRD, where does the concept of absolute truth come from?:

It comes from God through His revealed Word, the Bible. Some will immediately reject and scoff at this because of preconceived opinions, but please consider that God did not have to reveal Himself to us and gives each of us the freedom to choose whether or not we accept the truth He gave us. However, like all choices, there are consequences and this choice carries with it eternal consequences – so deserves to be carefully considered.

“I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek Me in vain.’ I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right.”

Isaiah 45:19

Not only did God choose to speak into human lives and has preserved His Word through countless attacks over thousands of years, but God also loved us so much that He provided a rescue plan through the voluntary sacrificial death of Jesus Christ to pay for our sins – knowing that we can never be good enough before a holy God. How much more could He have done to show His love for us?

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’? Woe to the one who says to a father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to a mother, ‘What have you brought to birth’?’ This is what the LORD says – the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: ‘Concerning things to come, do you question Me about My children, or give Me orders about the work of My hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it’.”

Isaiah 45:9-12a

“Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: ‘Should you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD. ‘Should you not tremble in My presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.’ But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest’. Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.”

Jeremiah 5:21-25

If we genuinely seek what is true, then also consider the words of Jesus:

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’.”

John 14:6

IN CONCLUSION, if we honestly want to know what is true, we must first seek God through His revealed Word and by humbly asking Him. When I cried out to God, He met me right there. How we respond to His absolute truth is also up to us, but when we align our opinions with God’s and submit to His guidance, it gives us access to His promises and the peace, strength, and joy that this world cannot provide. It only offers counterfeits. Our Creator patiently waits for us to figure out that His plan for our lives is better than anything we could come up with. However, this world is still broken – but through Christ, we have the hope of heaven after this difficult life is over, where there will be no evil, no pain, no sickness, & will wipe away every tear.

“He only can be esteemed really and permanently happy, who enjoys peace of mind in the favor of God.”

Noah Webster

“The Bible must be considered as the great source of all the truth by which men are to be guided in government as well as in all social transactions.”

Noah Webster

“No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people… When I speak of the Christian religion as the basis of government… I mean the primitive Christianity in its simplicity as taught by Christ and His apostles, consisting of a belief in the being, perfections, and government of God; in the revelation of His will to men, as their supreme rule of action; in man’s… accountability to God for His conduct in this life; and in the indispensable obligation of all men to yield entire obedience to God’s commands in the moral law and the Gospel.”

Noah Webster

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”

2 Chronicles 16:9

© Constance Rice 2019

Why Intentional Preteen Ministry?

article by site founder, Connie Rice

Over the last 27 + years that I have served the Lord in children’s ministry, God has shown me how critical it is to be intentional about ministry to preteens. What decades ago became apparent to church leaders and parents regarding teen ministry now needs to be apparent to church leaders and parents regarding preteens.  Preteens are capable of abstract thought and can understand adult concepts.  They are internally questioning everything they’ve been taught.  It is the ideal time to reinforce their Bible knowledge with answers about why God’s Word can be trusted in every aspect of their lives, to build deeper relationships with peers, leaders, and parents, and to make their faith their own.

Apologist Josh McDowell in a 2013 “Christian Post” article said, “Twenty years ago, the phrase was, ‘If you don’t reach a young person by 18, you probably won’t reach them.  Now, atheists and agnostics have the same access to your kids as you do; it’s just one click away. The Internet has leveled the playing field, and now if you don’t reach a child by their 12th birthday, you won’t reach them.”.

2 Timothy 3:14-15 says:  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”.

Use It or Lose It!  Kids may lose their early spiritual foundation if it is not used and reinforced.  “The Journal of Adolescent Health” states that “Throughout childhood and into adolescence, the cortical areas of the brain continue to thicken as neural connections proliferate. In the frontal cortex, gray matter volumes peak at approximately 11 years of age in girls and 12 years of age in boys, reflecting dendritic overproduction. Subsequently, rarely used connections are selectively pruned making the brain more efficient by allowing it to change structurally in response to the demands of the environment.”

Preteens are in a time of transition in every aspect of their lives!  At this age, transition is the key factor.  Preteens do not feel like kids and are not yet teens because they are in transition physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually.  What many children’s ministry leaders feel is disruption to their class is actually a huge opportunity for the church to meet the spiritual needs of preteens at arguably, the most critical time in their lives.

1 Peter 3:15 teaches, But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.”.

An effective preteen ministry should include:

  • a focus on apologetic teaching in an engaging, fun, and interactive way so students get excited about their faith, make their faith their own, and become equipped to effectively engage those who believe differently.  Areas to be addressed would include:  
    • how to interpret Scripture for themselves (context, grammar, etc.)
    • who God is (attributes/character) & correcting common misconceptions.
    • how recent scientific discoveries support the Flood and biblical teaching (biology,  zoology, genetics, geology, astronomy, archaeology, etc.).
    • how Jesus is found in the whole Bible from Creation and how He fulfills the elements of the Tabernacle.
    • what it means to follow Jesus (how to tap into supernatural joy, peace, strength, grace, wisdom, and how testing and trials build a mature faith).
    • how Christianity differs from all other religions and finding common ground to begin conversations.
    • how God has worked through ordinary people since the beginning of human history and how this is their time in history.
    • how God has gifted them to serve Him and others.
    • about spiritual warfare and how to be victorious.
    • how we got the Bible and why it can be trusted as absolute truth.
  • events for fun and to serve God & others and deepen peer relationships:  
    • serving food together at a local senior center.
    • ice skating, trampoline park, mini golf, go-carts, hiking, movie and/or game night, scavenger hunt, glow-in-the-dark night, “build night” with various blocks, attend Christian movie together at the theater, sleepover lock down, Creation field trips (Creation museum – if none close enough, go to local zoo, natural history museum, aquarium, etc. & talk about incredible animal designs (Answers in Genesis has guides).
    • helping at local food bank.
    • preteens helping together at events already offered to local community.
    • preteens planning, praying for, & implementing a fun night for younger kids with leaders available to encourage and support.
    • create way for preteens to help together at existing church events.
    • provide training for preteens to serve on a kids’ worship team, with tech needs, in classes with younger kids, with setup or cleanup needs, as part of a greeting team, etc.
  • a team of committed leaders who will build relationships with them, leaders who: 
    • love Jesus and Scripture.
    • grasp God’s vision for investing in the next generation.
    • can enjoy students who are in a time of transition in their lives, creating an atmosphere  where students feel love and acceptance and have a place to belong – even when they are silly, squirmy, or blurt out answers or questions.
    • recognize parents as the primary spiritual leaders and actively partner with them for the benefit of the kids.
    • lead a weekly life group or Bible study for preteens, giving students a place to belong with game & hang-out time, deeper teachings, interactive discussion/questions, and prayer time.
    • are available to organize, host, and/or attend preteen events on a regular basis (scroll up for ideas).
    • provide opportunity for a panel of elders & church leaders to answer questions from preteens.
    • provide opportunities for preteens to hear from missionaries.
    • partner with youth leaders and parents to facilitate smooth transition to youth ministry.

In praying for God to show me why so many kids who grew up in the church were leaving as young adults or sooner and in seeing their excitement when I shared with them what I was learning about recent scientific evidence that supported the biblical account, the importance of equipping kids to have answers before they enter youth group became clear to me.  Our culture is changing rapidly.  The time is now to meet the needs of preteens by equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to stand firm in their faith and by preparing them to engage their world with the life-saving eternal message of hope through the sacrifice and victory of Jesus Christ.

© Constance Rice 2018