Being Wrong

I Kissed Dating Goodbye

This post originally appeared on Engaged Pentecostalism on October 29, 2018.

If you were an American Evangelical Christian in the late 1990’s, you are almost guaranteed to be familiar with Joshua Harris’ culture-shaping book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Disenchanted with the idea of conventional dating, Harris penned his seminal work at age 21, inviting readers to reimagine the process of selecting a mate, proposing instead that courtship should be the ideal. He redefined Christian romance with the concept of emotional purity, whereby one does not “give his/her heart away” in dating relationships but rather saves all romantic thoughts and feelings for one’s future spouse. Harris purposed to solve many relationship problems by pursuing a partner with the intent of marriage, involving family in the selection process, encouraging group dates for preparatory social interaction, and revering certain relationship milestones – such as kissing – so much as to withhold those acts until after marriage. In so doing, marriages resulting from courtship were supposed to be more pure, holy, and satisfying than those that had spent their emotional energy dating.

If you’re having a strong emotional reaction right now — positive or negative — rest assured you are in good company. From the time of its release in 1997, I Kissed Dating Goodbye was met with overwhelming response from the Evangelical Christian community. At first, feedback was very positive. The book quickly became a bestseller and graced the shelves of Christian stores, church libraries, and teenage nightstands all across America. Youth pastors preached whole sermon series based on the book, while countless teens and young single adults pledged to “kiss dating goodbye” and follow the standard provided for finding “the One” God planned for them to marry.

This worked great for a lot of people… until it didn’t. As it turns out, while Harris’ suggestions brought peace and health to many young Christian relationships, they bound others in chains of shame, fear, and legalism. It’s probably hard to say if more people were helped or harmed in the wake of the I Kissed Dating Goodbye tsunami, but ultimately the most important opinion on the matter is from the one who is currently most vocal about it:

The author.

For the last two years, author Josh Harris has been publicly reevaluating his preeminent book and its effects both in Christian culture and individual lives. Last week, he released a formal statement disavowing the ideals he once espoused and committing to end all future publication of I Kissed Dating Goodbye and any related supplemental materials, including two additional books he authored sharing similar content. (You can read the full statement here.)

In short, Josh Harris, author of one of the most influential Christian books of a generation, was wrong.


To continue reading, please visit Engaged Pentecostalism by clicking here. You can also engage with this post on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisements

Use Your Voice: It Starts at Home

Use Your Voice.png

“Will you tickle my back, mama?”

I heard her whisper from halfway down the stairs as I sat scrolling Facebook on my phone. She had been in bed for 30 minutes already, but on this night she was needing that extra touch only mom can give.

“Okay hon, I’ll be up as soon as I finish this,” I said softly, hoping none of the other kids would hear. I had just come across a news article shared by a friend: One dead and 19 injured as car strikes crowds along route of white nationalist rally in Charlottesville; two police die in helicopter crash. In just the few hours it took to eat dinner and put the kids to bed, I had missed important news.

The more I read, the more my heart broke. Just yesterday, before the torch-bearing hate march began at the University of Virginia, I shared a blog about the need for racial reconciliation in the Church, evangelicalism in particular. The responses were varied, but it met a good bit of criticism and defensiveness from my white friends (as expected). I had spent several hours on my phone throughout the day responding to people I love and respect who, for whatever reasons, do not see the problems I am seeing – and so many of our brothers and sisters of color are screaming! – in the Church.

How to we bridge this divide?

When I saw news of the march Friday night, I cringed, prayed, and honestly hoped for the best. Then my privilege and I went to bed and enjoyed a good night’s rest that was not afforded to the people of color that fear for their lives in the face of emboldened domestic terrorists who gather on public university campuses. I won’t get that kind of rest tonight, because friends, I am staying up with you, praying with you, asking God how I can use my position and privilege to defend and protect you. And I am doing everything in my power to influence a generation that will do the same. How do we bridge this divide? Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” For me, it starts at home.


“Sweet girl,” I whispered, fingers gliding gently along her skin in fluid strokes as her breathing became slower and her shoulders melted into the pillow. “I am so proud of you.”

“Why, mama?”

“I am so proud of the way you love other people, and when you see someone hurting another person, you don’t just sit back and watch. You do something about it. You aren’t afraid to stand up to bullies and tell them not to talk to your friends that way. You tell the teacher when someone is hurt. You don’t back down. I want you to promise me you will ALWAYS do that. Because in your life, you’re going to see a lot of people doing the wrong thing. And even worse, you’re going to see a lot more people not doing a thing about it. They’ll ignore it, justify it, or say it’s none of their business. They will tell you to stay out of it. But don’t you listen. When you see someone doing something wrong, you stand up and do what is right. You have that deep inside you, I know you do.”

“How do you know that, mama?”

“I know because that is the Holy Spirit in you. God made you so very sensitive. You hear when he talks to you, and you are upset when you see people hurting others. God gave you a voice and position, and you must always use it to help other people. You remember when we talked about our words, how they can be hurtful words or healing words? I want your voice to be healing, because there is so much hurt, baby. God wants to use you to help people. Don’t you ever be afraid to help. Okay??”

“Okay, mama,” she whispered. “You know, I really want a guitar, so I can write songs. Maybe that’s how I can use my voice.”

Baby girl, you got it. This child, her brothers, the children and teens I love and lead – they will know how to use their voice. They will bring healing. I promise.

My Favorite Christmas Tradition

My Favorite Christmas Tradition.png

The following post originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of the Church of God Evangel in a segment called “Viewpoints.” The prompt was to talk about a Christmas experience that has made a lasting impact on my life. For the sake of clarity and consistency, below is the edited version as it appears in the original publication.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:1, 4-5, NIV

I love the way John tells the Christmas story. Sure, it’s missing the angels and shepherds and star, but John’s version gives us so much more, in a way.

The miraculous birth of Christ is an amazing story, but what is even more amazing is that it began long before that night in Bethlehem. It began long before the angel visited Mary, before Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist, even before Adam and Eve.

“In the beginning,” John tells us, before anything else existed, there was Light. Not the physical kind that was created on the first day, but a metaphysical kind, “the light of all mankind,” which allows us to see not just what is in front of us, but to see God himself.

In the beginning, God had a plan to reveal himself to humanity through the Light. On that first Christmas, the Light entered our darkness in the form of a baby boy. As The Message puts it, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (v.14). Christ came to us, waded deep into our mess, and brought us hope we never could have found on our own. That’s what Christmas is to me – light and hope where there was none before.

That’s also my favorite way to celebrate Christmas: bringing light and hope where there was none before. This year I will share my fifth Christmas reaching out to women in the adult entertainment industry. It’s not the only time I visit them; my friends and I take gifts and treats on every major holiday and several times in between, sharing love and friendship with those often hurt or ignored by the church.

I believe if Jesus were walking around our “neighborhood” in 2016, he would be leading the way through those doors to reach the people who don’t feel wanted, worthy, or good enough to approach him.

When I think about the darkness in our world, there aren’t many things that come to mind so quickly as the sex industry. Every day across the globe, millions of women, men, and children are sold for sex or adult entertainment, either by a pimp, trafficker, or – like many of my friends – by their own choice. The spiritual darkness is even darker than the literal dimness of the clubs I walk into, and it can feel overwhelming. In those moments I turn to John 1, where I am assured the light of Christ “shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (v. 5, NLT).

Christmas is my favorite time to visit my friends, because as we carry that light into the darkness of the sex industry, I picture Jesus entering our dark world, illuminating truth and hope for all.

Don’t Hurt My Baby! Christ’s Love and the Mama Bear Instinct

Don't Hurt My Baby.png

They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned… Except a mama whose baby has been scorned, and that might scare the pants off the devil himself!

A few years ago my 4-year-old daughter started taking dance lessons. She loved the giant mirrors on the walls and the tap-tap-tap of her shoes on the hard floors, and I loved the small, Friday morning class where everyone knew each other. There was one girl in her class who was a close family friend of the studio’s owner, and the girl’s two adorable younger sisters were often sitting in the waiting area with me and the other moms during class. We often chatted about our kids and newfound role of “dance moms.”

One day after class, the toddler sisters of the girl in Princess’ class must have been hungry or cranky or I’m not sure what, but the owner opened a typically-locked door and came out with popsicles for all 3 of them. As my daughter looked on, she turned to me wistfully, longing for a treat for herself. The owner was handing out the popsicles as the other students were standing around, so I assumed those 3 had been the first recipients of special treats for the class. I smiled at my Princess and motioned for her to go stand behind the other girls to wait her turn. Grinning with anticipation, Princess politely waited as the owner passed out the 3 popsicles. However, her smile quickly faded when the owner turned around, closed the freezer, and shut the door behind her. Without even glancing down at my girl, she locked the door and went back to her office.

My Princess was bummed about not getting a special snack, but honestly, she got over it pretty quickly. I, however, flashed back to every moment of my dorky, awkward childhood, desperate to be accepted. In my daughter’s brief moment of preschool exclusion, I was swept under a massive wave of my own insecurities and buried hurt of being rejected over and over again.

Look, I know I overreacted, but to say I took it a little too hard would be doing me a very gracious favor by underestimating my obvious baggage. I was furious at the owner’s lack of consideration for the other students in the class, her apparent dismissiveness of my own precious angel, and at the other parents for not taking up arms with me. (Well, there were only 4 of us, so I guess it wouldn’t have been a very impressive revolt anyway.) But most of all I was hurt. Certainly the appropriation of my own feelings of rejection was overkill, but it was probably the first time I realized the critically important truth of being a mama bear:

Seeing my children hurt is far more painful than enduring it myself.

 Don’t Hurt My Baby

Last week I shared that loving my children is the purest, most effective way to love me. As parents, we see the long-term positive effects of having others care for our children, so it means that much more to us to see it happen with our own broods. In the same way, we know the scars that can come from even the most trivial slights by another (I’m sure I’m not the only one still carrying some baggage from my childhood hurts!) and dread our children experiencing the same. Whether it’s the helplessness of seeing our children in physical pain when they are sick or injured or the torture of watching them endure emotional pain from a mean kid, unfair teacher, or a shocking encounter with the real world, our souls bleed when our children hurt.

It’s a trait we inherited from our Father when we were made in His image…

God has always been concerned with the needs of his beloved. Jesus reminded us in Matthew 22:37-40 that the entire story of Divine work in humanity is centered on love – love for Himself and love for others. The Lord’s heart is especially tender toward the poor, the helpless, and the vulnerable – much like our own children.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

“This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 22:3

“Don’t rob the poor just because you can,
    or exploit the needy in court.
For the Lord is their defender.
    He will ruin anyone who ruins them.” Proverbs 22:22-23

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” James 2:14-16

Jesus went so far as to say hurting his children is a direct wound to God himself:

 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”

Matthew 25:41-45

The Mama Bear Instinct

Parents are fiercely defensive of their young: it’s an instinctive response to threats that has helped our species survive. We hurl ourselves into gorilla pens dangerous circumstances to protect our children from physical harm; we monitor travel and lifestyle choices – even decisions about vaccines – to protect our children from illness; we step onto the playground or lunch room or whatever social situation to protect our children from emotional harm. As parents, we are compelled by nature and compassion to tend to the needs of the ones whom we love.

God mysteriously chooses to use human connections to accomplish his work in humanity; therefore he has charged us with the task of looking out for each other. Jesus said it this way:

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35

Christ took care of the finishing work to protect us against the work of the enemy. His atoning death on the cross and victorious resurrection from the tomb defeated death and sin once and for all. Now, with access to the living power of God through the Holy Spirit, there is nothing holding us back from living out the Kingdom of God…

…Except ourselves.

Are we caring for the needs of the poor, helpless, and vulnerable? Can others identify us as disciples of Christ by our love for one another? Do we truly love our neighbor as ourselves? Are we only looking out for those who are like us, or do we follow the biblical precedent and invite everyone to the table?

If we understood our offenses against one another as offenses against God himself…

If we all truly lived by that Golden Rule that parents of all faiths and non-faiths teach their children – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31)…

If we applied our Mama Bear instincts to all of God’s children and not just our own…

Then we would be fulfilling that Kingdom work of really loving our neighbors. If we want to love God, we start by loving each other.

“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

To Love Me Well… Love My Children

design

How can I have a relationship with a God I can’t see?

Last week we celebrated my son’s 6th birthday. The party was more than a month after his actual birthday, but he insisted on having a bounce house and sprinklers, so a belated celebration it was. We settled on Memorial Day weekend with an inflatable water slide that turned our backyard into a swamp suitable for Yoda to train young Jedi warriors, but hey, it was fun, right??

We hosted a gaggle of children in addition to my own crew, all precious to my Sweet Prince. However, the ones who stole my heart weren’t there for the water slide. Of course, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t get some play time in…

These two may have been the wettest of the bunch, but there were others who showed up to love my boy with wicked Nerf guns and Pokémon cards before they went about their adulting business. Yes, these special guests are grown men and women, not related to us, no kids of their own, with nothing obligating them to a 6-year-old’s birthday party when they could totally be out doing grown-up things like driving motorcycles or whitewater rafting or shopping for appliances… And yet they came.

They come over and over again, week after week, year after year. They come to birthday parties, preschool graduations, and over for dinner when my socialite 8-year-old begs for “company.” They make Play Doh creations, give us special treatment when we visit them at work (Chick-fil-A, of course), teach the kids’ classes at church, and model a life that is following Jesus. They simply love my children, and in turn, they are loving me.

Love me well

One of the great mysteries of faith is the idea of loving a being which we cannot experience with our 5 senses. Certainly we can connect with the divine in less tangible ways – the work and power of the spiritual realm is often misunderstood and vastly underrated by the exhibitionism of the internet age – but aside from recognizable theophanies, interacting with an invisible God can feel like explaining Pinterest to your great-grandmother… Where do you even begin??

Jesus was once posed a similar question:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

The Pharisees get a bad rap for being the bad guys in the Gospels, but truth be told, the whole Pharisaical movement was born out of that one question: how can I have a relationships with a God I can’t see? 

Seeking to understand the Mosaic traditions of Judaism in their contemporary context, the Pharisees wanted to shift the focus of Hebrew worship from temple sacrifice to personal study and prayer. Their endless lists of rules missed the heart of the Law, to be certain, but ultimately, they were asking the same questions we are. Their answer landed on legalism; Jesus pointed to loving people. 

Love my children

To anyone who is a parent, it should come as no surprise that the best way for us to love God is to love his children – each other. He spent over half of the Ten Commandments (plus the majority of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy that you never read because it feels rote) telling us how to respect one another, and the critiques of literally every minor prophet in the Old Testament boil down to Israel failing to care for the needs of her most vulnerable people groups.

Jesus’ entire ministry is devoted to loving God’s children. His miracles may be symbolic of large-scale principles, but let’s not forget they were still worked through individuals. He saw the needs right in front of him, and then he met them. We ought to take that as lesson #1 of “How to Be Like Jesus.” In Matthew 25, he gives us this familiar parable:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Matthew 25:34-40

If I had the job of writing section subheadings in the Bible, this one would be, “Jesus Tells Us How We Can Love a God We Can’t See.” It’s so simple: love his people.

We are created to live in community, and family is both the primary foundation of community and the primary vehicle through which God demonstrates his relationship to us and vice versa. We are most moved when others minister to our children, therefore, so is God.

If you are new to following Jesus, or if you’re considering it but not sure where to start, look to the greatest commandments – the second answers the “how” of the first! Love God, and love your neighbor. Look at the needs right in front of you, and meet them. Mentor a kid. Help someone who is struggling. Visit someone who is alone. Feed someone who is hungry. Get involved in community. That’s where the magic happens, because that’s where God’s heart is.

God is saying to us now, To love me well… Love my children.

Raising a Hero

“Mom, did Abraham Lincoln change the world?”

My kindergarten son was doodling on the dry erase board and recreated a picture I suppose he had seen at school.

AbeLincoln

“Oh yes, bud, he sure did,” I replied. “Abraham Lincoln made a law that people could not own other people like property. He believed everyone should be free.”

“I know,” my boy sighed wittingly. “See, here he is telling all the people about the new law. Right here is the microphone.”

I smirked and held back a giggle about the microphone. This kid thinks of everything.

“I know something else, Mom,” Sweet Prince continued. “I know Martin Luther King changed the world too.”

President’s Day next week, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day last month… I’m glad he’s listening at school! “You’re right, bud! He did change the world. He said…”

“He stood in front of people and talked, just like Abraham Lincoln,” he interrupted. Turns out he really was listening. “Martin Luther King talked to all the people, and he said they should be friends. He said all the kids should play on the playground together. Before, only the white children could play. All the black children had to just stand. But Martin Luther King wanted them to play together.”

My heart swelled as I smiled proudly. “Wow, you’re right, Prince. I’m so glad Martin Luther King, Jr. and others worked so hard so we could all be friends and play together.”

My boy’s eyes turned down. “He was arrested, you know.” I wasn’t sure how much he had learned at school. Before this year, our discussions of civil rights leaders had mostly centered on people loving each other and wanting to share. “The white people,” Prince said, “they hated the black people. And the black people hated the white people.”

“Not all the people hated each other,” I was quick to correct him. “Many people wanted to be friends. That’s why it was so important for leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. to stand up and talk like he did.”

He paused thoughtfully. “They shot him, too.” Sweet Prince spoke in a hushed, solemn tone.

“You’re right,” I said. “Some people did not like what he said. But his friends were not afraid. More people stood up and did the right thing, and now you and all your friends can play together on the playground.” Sweet Prince started to look up with hope. “Did you know Abraham Lincoln was shot too?”

“WHAT!” Apparently his kindergarten left that part out of the curriculum. Whoops.

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “There were people who didn’t like what he said either. They wanted to own people like property. But again, his friends were not afraid. They stood up for what was right, and now we don’t own people. We respect people.”

“Yeah, we don’t do that.” My Prince seemed aptly disgusted at the thought of slavery.

“Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr… They were super heroes, you know.” His eyes grew wide, picturing his favorite Marvel characters. I went on, “They were heroes because they did what was right, even when it was hard. There were bad guys who tried to stop them, but they weren’t afraid. They risked their own lives to help people. That’s what a hero does.”

He thought about this for a minute, then I pulled out one of his assignments from the 100th day of school. He had to write a few thoughts about if he was 100 years old.

If I Was 100

If I was one hundred years old, I would be in an army. If there was danger, I will be there to save the day and rescue the people.

That’s my boy.

“You know, Prince, I believe God made you a hero too.” He laughed, incredulous at the idea that the Wolverine costume he was sporting could be his real uniform. “No really!” I insisted. “Look at what you wrote here.” I pointed to his writing assignment. “You want to save people from danger. When you play on the playground or climb way up in trees or jump off the high diving board, I see that you are so brave. God made you brave so that you can stand up to help people when they are in danger. I believe God will make you a hero, Prince.”

I pulled him in and hugged him with all my might. Suddenly I was keenly aware that he won’t always be there for me to hug. One day, he may risk his life to save others… He may even give it. And nothing would make me more proud, for him to demonstrate this great act of love.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13

God has gifted each person to ultimately fulfill his or her calling, and those gifts are present from birth. We don’t have to wait until our children are grown to see glimpses of their destinies. I could have told you before Sweet Prince was a year old that God’s plan for him would be big and daring and would probably scare the pants off of me. He has always been a thrill-seeker. (For those of you who don’t speak Euphemism, that means he has been climbing – and falling – from the moment he became mobile.) He has always challenged me with his huge personality and desire to experience everything, good and bad. My prayer through the challenges – sometimes they are shouted at the sky in desperation or whispered through bitter tears in the shower – is that I might raise the man God created him to be rather than the easy, obedient, controlled child I often want him to be.

When we ask God for spiritual eyes to see our children as he created them, not only do we have more patience for their antics, but we are given vision for how these traits play into His Kingdom work. As we call out our children’s gifts – especially when they go against the grain of accepted behavior – we speak life and purpose into them. This builds confidence and gives them a sense of value that cannot be replicated from any other source.

Peggy O’Hara famously said, “How we speak to our children becomes their inner voice.” When my children face challenges, I don’t want their inner voice telling them, This is too much; I want them to hear, You were made for this.

Raising a Hero

The Opposite of Fear

The Opposite of Fear

I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

John 14:27, NLT

Peace.

It’s something our world is so desperate for. Last week, within 24 hours, a terrorist group took the lives of 190 human beings and injured hundreds more in a coordinated series of attacks between Paris, France; Beirut, Lebanon; and Baghdad, Iraq. Never before in my lifetime have I known such a clear and present enemy.

The enemy is not Islam or Muslims. Please hear me. Our Muslim brothers and sisters are not the enemy. Our enemy is terror, and our enemies are those who would pursue it. Fear is the enemy of peace, and that is the New World Order that ISIS hopes to usher in.

But it won’t.

How do I know? Well, I’ve read the back of the Book. In times of tragedy, I always turn to the back and breathe in those words – “There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Rev. 21:4, NLT) …But we all know it has to get worse before it gets better.

Thankfully, Jesus’ gospel isn’t just about eternity; it’s about the here and now. Certainly heaven is a beautiful end for God’s plan to redeem mankind, but if we get too focused on the future, we will miss the divine right in front of us. What is the Kingdom of God? It is Christ’s eternal reign, where love, joy, and peace rule in the hearts and lives of the whole of creation. So Jesus was right when he said that this Kingdom is both coming and here: we anticipate a heavenly home, but love, joy, and peace can still rule in our hearts and lives even now.

The truth is we do not wage war against flesh and blood, but rather we battle against demons and principalities that would seek a rule of fear and hopelessness. So when we look at the outside world and see fear and pain and brokenness, we must turn our gaze inward to the hope that we have in Jesus. What is the opposite of fear? Love.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18, NIV

How do we bring about peace in a world so lost as ours is today? Start with the love that drives out fear. Believe in the hope that God will restore all that has been lost. Tell your story of how the Lord found you in your mess and made you whole. Share the peace that is only found in Christ. Pray for the lost and the hurting. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV)

If you feel like losing heart, know that when you walk in love, you will see the goodness of the Lord – not just in the afterlife, but here and now, in the land of the living. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, NIV)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13, NIV

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident…

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14, NKJV