Category: FEATURES

Written By Teresa Goodnight

Ever have someone walk into your life and you just instantly feel connected? Like you have been friends all of your life?  When Jamie walked into my house, it felt a bit God ordained. She was so lovely inside and out; I knew exactly why my long time BFF introduced us.  We had an instant connection we both felt.  Talking to her was so easy. We didn’t stop. Then, she started sharing her story.  It was her mission birthed from an experience she had buried deep inside her heart.  That is, until someone touched the scar and sent her reeling.  All of a sudden, I didn’t know what to say.  She continued pouring out her heart. We both realized, this story needed told.  We changed the entire focus of the next issue in fact.  People aren’t talking about it, but they desperately need to talk.  There are people in our churches who are suffering all alone and they need to know God loves them.  Someone needs to share that overflowing undeserved mercy and love God offers to all of us who have made mistakes–ALL of us. 

Someone needs to break the silence.  

Abortion is a tough topic in the world in general.  You can’t breathe it without stepping on a landmine.  In Oklahoma, one in four women have had an abortion.  In the country, that stat jumps to one in three according to local Catholic Charities workers.    “In the United States, where one half of all pregnancies are unintended, almost one third of women will seek an abortion by age 45.” according to the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG).  The stat doesn’t improve much inside the church.  It’s a decision defined as a woman’s right to choose what happens inside her own body.  For that reason alone, it’s a political hot button.  

Churches steer so far clear of it that in Oklahoma, 25% of the women in our congregations are left facing this alone.  Many believed what Planned Parenthood told them when they walked in the doors.  Then, when they found out it was different—they were left to suffer alone, without anyone to help them walk through it.  There was no one to help talk through the shaming—done both by well-meaning but hard core protesters and the convicting shaming led by Satan himself.  They were left without anyone to help them with that shame Satan uses to minimize them.  They are without anyone to help them know what God thinks about what’s been done and where to go from there.  These women, for the most part, are just alone.

So, we want to start this off and set the record PAINFULLY straight:  God absolutely offers the same grace, love, forgiveness, and removal of all sins as far as the east to the west to anyone who has made ANY mistake. 

To the liar, the adulterer, the person lacking any trace of integrity, the convicted criminal, fill in your blank here–He offers His love and grace as a free gift. We don’t have to earn it.  We do have to turn to him, humble ourselves, and confess our mistakes to him.  He absolutely will forgive anyone.  The difficult part of finding God’s grace though often comes in a battle of trying to find our own.  No matter what God offers, if we feel so much shame—and there’s no one to talk with us about it—we will find ourselves nursing our scar rather than ever being set free from it.

These women were encouraged to save this joyous occasion for a time in their life when they were more ready.  Some were told they were just carrying a blob of cells.  Some were told by the child’s father this was the only way to face the situation. Others knew exactly what they were doing.  Almost all believed they could just go on with their life just as it was after the choice was made.  Jamie said, “The biggest deception in this war on women is that you can just go on with life.  It’s just not true.  You are forever changed.  Your lenses for seeing life are altered.  The truth is, you will never be the same.” 

We run around offering God’s forgiveness He has promised to everyone who has made regrettable choices. However, somehow, as a church (and not all, but most), we’ve decided it’s just too controversial to address from pulpits, where we are supposed to help our congregations.  There are large churches in town, where we have heard it is absolutely a policy that abortion is not an allowable topic for discussion.  

We know the silence, because Jamie heard it.  Over, and over, and over again.  She even heard it when she tried to launch a recovery group inside her church and found her request lost in the shuffle in what seemed like purposeful avoidance.  She heard what no one wanted to offend her with loudly and clearly.  But, when no one addresses your pain, what you hear becomes a deep-seeded pain buried inside your heart for you to bear alone.  That is, until someone accidentally punches through.

Jamie is involved in a women’s group started through a local church.  The women get together, study God’s word and share things they are facing, needing advice or prayer.  They also laugh and fellowship together.  One day, at this group, Jamie mentioned something about not singing anymore.  The woman, unknowingly said to Jamie, “God will use your singing again.  He will.”  Jamie looked up at her with rage in her heart and thought “Don’t you ever say that to me again.  You don’t even know what you are talking about.”  Then, she left her friend’s house.  Jamie said, “I think I didn’t speak directly to her for a month. I just didn’t know what to say.”  Jamie then explained, “When I had come clean about my abortion my church in Minnesota asked me to step down from the praise and worship team. I had decided that this was the price I would pay for what I had done. I vowed that I would never sing again and that God didn’t need someone like me to lead people into His presence.”  Jamie locked away her torment, her pain, and so much more of her heart than she realized until her friend accidentally punched through. 

Jamie said, “I was so upset by what she said. I just felt she had no idea what she was saying, and the vow I had already made.”  Jamie continued, “Honestly, I didn’t even realize how much it mattered to me.”  She went on, “When I lived in Minnesota, I sang on the worship team at my church. The people there became like family to me.  I just knew my boyfriend would get saved and our relationship would change. However, I found out I was pregnant causing my two worlds to collide.  I didn’t know what to do. I talked with my boyfriend, who was very convincing that we would never be together if we tried to be parents right now. He wanted me to terminate the pregnancy. It was not something I ever thought I would even consider.  I just wanted everything to go back to normal and I was desperate to make things work with him. So I compromised everything I believed in for the sake of convenience and what I thought was love.”

Jamie shared, “I walked in to a waiting room full of other people aborting their babies. There were so many people. Really? Is it always this busy? Probably not. I waited and waited and was finally told that the doctor was involved in a car accident on her way to the clinic. My eyes were big as saucers and I distinctly heard God say, “Stand up and walk out. I’ll take care of you.” I shrugged it off, but was visibly shaken by the way this was unfolding. By this time, the waiting room was almost standing room only. I couldn’t believe it. People were laughing and talking like it was no big deal. Was I the only one that was battling a war in my spirit? They finally called my name and I went back alone. The counselor talked to me and told me they had to do an ultrasound to see how far along I really am. So I laid down and she put the cold gel on my belly. She asked me if I wanted to see and I said yes. I saw flashes of light on the screen and what looked to be a pinto bean. The beating of my baby’s heart was right there. Trying to grow, trying to live. The gravity of what I was about to do hit me for a split second and I asked her to turn the screen around. I prayed at that moment that God would just “leave me alone.”

Jamie said, “I was lead to the ‘procedure room’ where I was asked to undress from the waist down and the doctor would be in shortly. Fifteen minutes go by, then thirty, then forty-five. I finally poked my head out of the door and asked if they forgot about me. It was torture just laying there in a cold, sterile room without God’s presence and with the weight of my sin. Why didn’t I just get up and leave?” Jamie went on, “Once the doctor and nurses came in things moved pretty quickly. Bright lights turned on. Clanking of sterile equipment. The nurses were talking amongst themselves about who knows what and I was just laying there with tears streaming down the sides of my head. I finally spoke up and said, “How can you just talk like that when I’m laying here crying?” One of the nurses looked me square in the eye and said, “Sweetheart, we haven’t done anything yet if you want to change your mind you can.” I’ll never know why I didn’t get up and get out of there. It’s a question I’ve asked myself time and time again. I just knew that I wanted to go back to ‘normal.’” Jamie was so solemn, as she shared the events of that day.  She said tearfully, “I had no idea that my ‘normal’ would never look the same again. It was gone. There was no such thing as that anymore.”

Jamie said she left the clinic and went to eat with her boyfriend and then worked an 18 hour shift. It was done.  However, it would never be done in her heart.  Just a few months later, she was working her church booth at a music festival. She saw a booth across the walkway showing graphic video of mid and late term abortions. Jamie said, “I lost it. My mind began reeling, taking me directly back to the clinic, replaying over and over the decision I made. I started to shake and eventually knelt down on the ground to hide my emotion. My pastor’s wife came over and asked if I was ok. I eventually told her what I had done. She was heartbroken for me. She prayed for me, loved me and accepted me where I was. But in reality, no one could have shamed me or judged me more harshly than I had already done to myself. After some discussion, I was asked to step down from the praise and worship team. I understood. In my mind, this would be the price I would pay for what I did. I vowed to never sing again, I wasn’t worthy to lead anyone into His presence.”

The difficult part for Jamie was that she was now all alone.  There was no one to talk with about her situation.  Who would understand?  She said, “I just dealt with it the best I could.  I think I covered it up—buried it deep inside, and finally found the strength to move on.”  Jamie said she and her boyfriend broke up within a few months of the decision. She didn’t want to have anything to do with him.  She didn’t want to think about it anymore.  Then, she was back in church.  About two months later, she was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Israel where she met her husband. She went with her church in Minnesota and he was with his church from Oklahoma. They talked long distance for a while and he eventually came to visit her. 

During their first date, she just blurted out “I’ve had an abortion. Is that gonna be an issue for you?” Not exactly first date material. Jamie said, “I really was just so ashamed and felt so unworthy of anything.  I thought I would just go ahead and end it there. Turns out he actually did have to take some time to pray about how he felt about it. It just further seared into my heart the lie “What you did is unforgivable.” He eventually asked me if I would date him exclusively. I told him I wasn’t going to move again for a guy. So, he moved to Minnesota and the rest, as they say, is history.”

“I can’t really share all the emotions I experienced about my decision over the years. I couldn’t go back. It was done. I was never the same again and I had to learn how to be ok with that place.  It was a dark, lonely place—so I just decided not to go there.  I think I buried it and decided to go on with life.  However, the scar and the pain were always heavy on my heart.” lamented Jamie.  

After marrying, Jamie found herself pregnant.  About 5 weeks into the pregnancy, she miscarried. She was devastated. She said, “I just felt like I was being punished because of what I had done. Would I even be able to have kids? What if God decided He couldn’t trust me with children? I actually understood that. I was just heartbroken.” Fortunately, shortly after, she was pregnant with her third child.  She was elated.  She was so excited to get to meet her Jacob.  Jamie said, “I just couldn’t wait to hold him, to look in his eyes, to be the best mom I could possibly be to my baby, but my previous decision was always there haunting me in the back of my mind.  It crept up enough to shame me and condemn me until I suppressed it again.”  

When Jacob was born, Jamie’s heart was overwhelmed with instant love for his precious face. Being the best mother she could be to him became a top priority for her daily.  Then, just a few years later, she gave birth to her fourth child, Payton.  Payton was a bright, beautiful baby girl with a joyous heart.  Jamie’s life had never been more right with her better-than-dreamed-of family, except for that nagging voice of condemnation always trying to steal her moments of joy.

That’s where we started, Bible study with the friend who drove into Jamie’s scar like a bulldozer speaking words of encouragement that felt like a knife through her heart.  The incident forced Jamie to reexamine her choice, and search God’s heart for what He wanted to with it. How would He turn these ashes into beauty? Jamie said, “All I had was my story, my guilt and shame and a willingness to share it all.” With that, she began sharing her story with close friends, at first, and then acquaintances and eventually people she’d never met.

“The more I shared my story, the more I realized how many people were suffering in silence. I started to become painfully aware that we are in the middle of a crisis. Not only with abortion itself, but the souls caught in the aftermath.

I decided I wanted to do my part. I said ‘YES’ to God’s heart and am willing to do what I can to bring healing, wholeness and restoration to the hearts and destinies of men and women suffering with the torment of a sin that no one is willing to openly talk about.” 

Jamie said the more she talks about it, the more healing it brings–the more God shows her how much He loves her and how His grace covers her. So, that’s what she is doing. Creating space for men and women who have been touched by the effects of abortion. Jamie said, “A lot of people can’t explain why they feel stuck or why they feel depressed, unworthy or don’t feel ‘alive’ anymore. I didn’t realize until much later that the lies I chose to believe about myself as a result of the abortion caused me to sabotage my entire life. Once I realized that, I was blown away. I wasn’t going to allow Satan to steal my destiny. In fact, I was determined to fulfill the destiny God has for me AND the baby I aborted. Her life is going to matter.”

Talk About Destiny:

Jamie’s humble heart is in ministry to help men, women and families who have been touched by silence of sins like abortion to find God’s grace and healing.  Her message of God’s overwhelming mercy can be restorative to people facing Satan’s army of convictive thoughts like shame and guilt.  Let the church be silent no more. 

You can reach Jamie at: talkaboutdestiny@gmail.com.  Get her on your calendar to speak to your group, church or event.  

Caring for broken people is a beautiful path towards helping God’s kingdom be restored.  When restored, we can all operate from His powerful platform of mercy and grace. 

We can be the mighty warriors for Christ He has called us to be and ALL LIVES can come out of the silence and matter again.

Written By Missy Nicholas

Greeta and Jami had been friends since childhood and now were pregnant with boys, due on the same day.  Conversations assured the strengthening of their bond as they planned to raise their sons together, as friends.  I had not known either of them long and did not know either of them well; I was merely a witness of what was about to unfold.  I met Greeta after she found out that she would not raise her son because of a terminal prognosis.  He would only live for hours, if he lived at all.  She would love him for as long as she was given–just 8 hours after his birth. 

Jami’s pregnancy resulted in a beautiful baby boy–a drastic difference shattering all of those fantastic fantasies of fun. Instead of walking the same path, it seemed that a crossroads was forcing them to go different directions.  Jami organized for the normal things a new baby brings.  Greeta, bulldozed over with loss,  was preparing for a road of grief.  

Most friendships fall apart here.  Many relationships end when there is still affection left to be shared. We are not skilled at being in someone else’s reality when it is different from our own. We prefer swimming in the warm waters of comfortable emotions in order to keep our friendships intact.  The difference between what Greeta and Jami had planned and what occurred seemed too drastic to comprehend. Impossible, it would seem, to move through it together while remaining present in each others lives.  It’s often easier to allow these kind of differences to create distance and let the relationship fade into a memory with nobody to blame other than life’s tragic turns.  It wouldn’t have been the first relationship lost at the crossroads of “I don’t know what to say,” and “I don’t know what to do.”  And yet, what I witnessed between these two friends has forever changed my heart and life regarding love in the differences. 

Imagine a new mom stepping out of her euphoria after childbirth enough to sit with her friend in grief because she just lost what you brought home.  Jami could have stayed home in the joy of her new nursery, relishing the gift of health.  Instead, she showed up for Greeta in ways nobody else could have.  Without knowing what to do or what to say, Jami bridged the gap between gratitude and grief simply by just being there. Later, she was brave enough through tears to ask Greeta to be the caregiver for her son, Jericho when she returned to work.  An uncertain and potentially damaging conversation.

Yet she extended an invitation to share in the blessing of life to her friend who had been swallowed by the grief of death.  Jami took a risk to find the solid ground of friendship instead of allowing it to get lost in the unspoken and assumed.

On the other hand, imagine a grieving mom, who experienced the birth and death of her own son cradling and loving her friend’s baby within days of her own loss.  Greeta likely didn’t have words but she was present with Jami in her joy, grateful for what her friend experienced though it was so tragically taken from her.  Resentment and bitterness were surely vying for a place in her thoughts, but she welcomed into her heart a healthy baby boy.  She allowed herself to sit in the joy of new life with her friend, when grief was still her constant companion.  She not only became the primary caregiver when Jami returned to work, but she loved Jericho in ways that only she was able.  She loved him despite her grief, and because of her grief–a love so rooted in grace it formed an amazing bond between these families. 

I have been just close enough to understand that between these two friends is an intentional and compelling love. The place between them can only be described as holy.  Holy, because moving between them is a love that can only be seen as the hand and the heart of God.

Missy Nicholas is a professional psycho-therapist, an amateur photographer and a lifelong writer.

Catch her blog at www.sunsetsandsnowflakes.com



CRITICAL UPDATE:  

This article was written in early January and we loved it so much, we wanted to share it in our Mother’s Day issue.  Two days after Missy published it in her blog, Jericho who is 3 years old was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia.  Now these women with their beautiful friendship are arm in arm fighting together again. Jericho recently had an allergic reaction to the chemotherapy, causing him to code in his mother’s arms.  After 40 minutes of CPR and 3 days in the ICU, Jericho shocked medical staff with his miraculous comeback.  As of the printing of this article only weeks after coding, Jericho is back to his chemotherapy regime. These two women are a living, breathing testimony of love and grace for one another and an example to each of us.

There is a Venmo account for Jericho Roberts, as well as an account at RCB bank in NE Oklahoma (just drop by or mail) if you would like to assist with medical expenses.

Ephesians 4:3-3-16 (NLT)

“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit…Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

The unification of the body of Christ to do good works together…ahhh that sounds nice.  At least we think so.  Although we’d like to take credit for the concept, it’s actually woven throughout God’s word.  At the end of the day, we are to be united in Christ as His Body.  Sometimes we get so caught up in being a certain church, denomination or organization that we lose sight of the advantages for God’s Kingdom when we come together as His “Body.”  When you have an amazing group of arms, who can flex their power inside their realm effectively, can you imagine what they could do paired together with some legs to move around? A torso for stabilization?  What if they found some super fingers, who could be instrumental in finer tasks of detail?  Sometimes we just think too small as the “Body” of Christ.  Can you imagine if we applied our strengths and abilities in a unified manner? 

With decades of diversity training in the workplace under my belt, I can attest that Corporate America spends gigantic budgets teaching the value of diversity in the workplace. When we bring together people with different skills, different vantage points looking at a situation, and varied approaches to being effective, we can create a more powerful solution to the problem.  When we bring together all sorts of companies in an industry association, we can share those approaches, finding ways to work together for the common good of the industry.  

The application of diversity in effecting positive change under a unified movement can greatly expand the reach of that movement.  Just using the famous expression—we all understand resources can be saved from “trying to reinvent the wheel.”  So, it’s puzzling why, as a “C”hurch, who is directed by God to be unified in purpose, that we would hold so tightly within our own boundaries.  What could we do if we applied God’s direction, which is a proven strengthening tactic in the business realm, to our efforts to reach the community for Christ?  There are so many business skills that need applied to strengthen the church. (That’s for discussion another time!)

God already made us aware of His plan for our unity.  He also made us very aware of our varied gifts and strengths.  And, of course, he gave us the symbolism behind the “Body of Christ” to demonstrate exactly how we can work together for the greater good of the Kingdom.  (Check out the interview with Jason Law from “Unite My City” for another great demonstration of this plan!)

We recently found great strength in partnering with pregnancy resource centers, abortion recovery ministries, those with a heart to help little babies, and those in Tulsa who are here to help families in crisis or need.  We all partnered up proactively with Focus on the Family and their event “Alive from New York,” displaying a 4-D ultrasound in Times Square–showing our support for life here from Oklahoma.  The Alive from Oklahoma “Standing in Love” event held May 4th, is an exact representation of the power God puts in our unification of His body, working for His purpose.  None of us could have pulled this event off alone.  I can’t wait to see what we do together next! (Did I mention we also did a red carpet event together for the movie Unplanned, which beat all the expected box office records?  The movie rips the veil from Planned Parenthood revealing truths that need told!)  

We feel God is definitely calling us to continue to work together for His kingdom!  It is our prayerful goal to be a vessel to God’s followers, to the “C”hurch, so that we can have a greater impact together.  We’re here to help.  Let’s do this!  #Go.Do.Be

Written By Betsy Gwartney Catrett 

Celebrating the Joys, 

Minimizing the Pain, 

Maximizing the Gain.

Here we go!

As next to the last of 7, I missed out on Mothering 101.  I flunked babysitting, too. I didn’t know what to do.  So, when I married and babies came up, I felt, ummm STRESS. What was I to do?

I prayed and turned to God’s word for help.  I read Psalm 127:3 (NLT) “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” So how did that scripture truth jive with my feelings about motherhood?  NOT AT ALL.

So, I kept coming back to the Lord each night until my heart was at peace.  I told the Lord I trusted Him to guide our family size and my fears and concerns of ineptness as a mother!  By this time, I had already miscarried our first baby who was named Levi Joseph. Then, in barely seven short years, the gifts of Larry Paul (Lars), Lynden Dale (Len), Lance David, Lark Daniel, and then Luke Stephen were given to us.  Whaaat?  Don’t worry, it’s ok. 

Despite a wonderful life of exciting travel, amazing people, and treasured life experiences I couldn’t have imagined the one area that tops them all is being a mother!  Seeing the joy on each sweet child’s face when he entered into the light and life of spiritual birth and growing in that walk is ecstasy.   3 John 1:4 (NLT) “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”

So, what do we do with the sorrows?  And I don’t mean just the sorrows, but also the

SORROWS. Thankfully not all of you, but many of you KNOW exactly what I mean.  I had SORROWS that ended up lasting for decades. Little by little I believe the Holy Scriptures washed my mind and gave me a heavenly perspective that eased my pain. 

Family life can be a lot like the “no pain no gain” aspect in the gym. We can reframe the pain, frustration, sorrow, embarrassment, shame into a positive purpose that maximizes hope, energy and honor despite what one is going through.

Let’s give it a try by looking at 4 important foundational beliefs. 

1.  First things first:  Salvation is about becoming spiritually ALIVE; born again into a realm for which we were designed, but by the human choices of Adam and Eve the entire human race died spiritually.  Focus on being ALIVE, not saved.  (Salvation is a wonderful by-product, but tends to result in us trying and trying to be “good.”)

2.  Next, create a family atmosphere of LIFE-LONG LEARNING, with an emphasis on MATURING in our understanding of intimacy with God and the activity of spiritual warfare.  We LEARN by listening for God and acknowledging when we hear Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).  We LEARN from mistakes if we take the time to debrief, process and look for the truths in the experience.  A post I read recently on Facebook went something like this: “Boy did I mess up; Dad’s gonna KILL me!” Or is it, “Boy did I mess up, I’ve GOT to call DAD!” What kind of response does your belief system produce?

3.  Rather than life being about perfect performance of whichever Christian list you choose to follow, understand that life is about LEARNING TO LOVE and LIVE IN UNITY and HARMONY.  (John 17:15-23, John 13:35) How in this world do we authentically love people whose choices affect us negatively and their styles of relating are so irritating and frustrating? Try this, realize that we reap what we sow.  When we experience what we earlier “dished out” we have motivation for growth and change.  The irritating person does, so do we!  Give the amount of love and understanding that you want others to give you (Luke 8:31).  Another helpful tool is to “Get wisdom, but with all your getting GET UNDERSTANDING!” (Proverbs 4:7) Understand that our Creator’s plan is for us to defeat evil together, thus He uniquely designed us and placed us in family systems.  No mistakes on His part!  As we understand one another’s strengths, gaps and growth areas we can mature together resulting in a powerful synergy that dispels darkness and produces intimacy, peace, and provision in every way. 

4.     Thus (and lastly), every family has a spiritual ASSIGNMENT given by God. (Exodus 34:7) Beliefs produce behaviors in every family.  Identify the behaviors that rob of life and love and the beliefs behind them, then ask God for the Truth with which to replace them.  You will be delighted with the new fruit your TRANSITION GENERATION created!

You see, your children don’t need a perfect mother.  They need a mother who will show them where to turn when searching for answers, how to humbly receive God’s  heavenly perspective and the life-learning of others, and how to ask God for power to apply what they know.  You can relax and know that Elohim, our Creator, has a Master Plan for bringing us to spiritual life and maturing us in intimacy and spiritual warfare that results in a victorious harmony that will thrill our souls and delight His heart!  By focusing on spiritual life, being a life-long learner, growing in one’s ability to authentically love and unify, and accepting ones family assignment you position yourself to celebrate the joys, minimize the pain and maximize the gain.  

Let’s GO!


Written By Teresa Goodnight

What’s up with all the “Unite my City” Buzz?

We caught up with Jason Law, who has a passion to see the Body of Christ in cities work together in unity. Jason is the President of World Compassion Terry Law Ministries and the author of Unite My City. Jason shared, “Not only is Unite My City a book but a movement I believe God is reigniting in His Church today. Some people may be trying to figure out what Unite My City really is. That’s one of the reasons I wrote the book. Generally speaking, it’s the concept of unification of the Body of Christ. It takes a little bit of explanation and understanding of what this can look like in the context of a city. The main thing we want to communicate is that ‘Unite My City’ is a movement not just a set of events. It’s even beyond the efforts of what we help facilitate through World Compassion. There are other churches or groups that coordinate unity efforts among churches as well. We have met many in the Tulsa area who have a similar heart and vision. To me, this is a sign of a movement, when God puts something on the heart of many that is similar, I think we should pay attention to that.”

Jason went on, “The events we do are more catalytic to help inspire the movement. Unite My City’s message to the church is unity is not something that we do – it is who we are. We are one in Christ. Our heart is to encourage local churches in our city to continually walk in unity by finding ways to collaborate to serve our city in an ongoing way. So, it’s never just an event for us.”  

I asked Jason what was next on the horizon. He said, “We’ve got the big ‘Serve My City’ day June 8. The heart of the event is really to see churches work together to meet the needs of our community.” Jason continued, “So it’s nothing new in the sense of churches serving the community. We have done that, but we haven’t been great at doing it together consistently. It’s important that we serve with one another at such a high level that our city takes notice. I believe in doing so we point people to Jesus in a significant way.”  

Jason said, “John 17 is a very famous passage of Scripture where Jesus is praying for his entire church. He prayed we would become one, and then our unity would accomplish two things. First, the world would believe that God sent His Son for them. Second, our unity shows God’s love for the world just as He loved His Son – Jesus. For the world to experience these two truths, we must show them what the Church working and walking in unity looks like. This is powerful in the context of a city or town. 

It’s not enough to say we are united; our spiritual unity in Christ must be visibly manifested by the Church. When unbelievers in a city learn of churches and Christian organizations of diverse ethnicities, denominations, and generations united in citywide prayer and worship events and especially see our unity through community service projects, they witness our unity in action. I believe it presents God’s love in a refreshing and powerful way.

John 17: 20-23 (NLT) says “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”

Jason also quoted John 13:34-35 (NLT), ”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.” Jason shared, “It’s our love for one another that our cities will know we are followers of Jesus. That’s what Jesus said.  So, what does the world see when they look at the church? We know we all have our own banners on things and that’s great. We are each unique. In no way do I believe that Bible unity requires us to lay down our uniqueness. It doesn’t require us to give up our diversity or different cultures or styles. Rather, I think it calls us to come together with those differences and even our disagreements and say, ‘Our love for one another is stronger than what could divide us because that’s the command we have from Jesus. We are more united than we are separated. What unites us is stronger than what divides us. What unites us is more important than our differences  – that’s love.’” 

Jason emphasized, “So, unity is really a dissertation on God’s love. I don’t know if we really understand what the sacrifice of loving one another really means. I’m still learning this. Jesus commanded us to love one another as Christ loved the church. There’s a self-sacrifice that’s required. A lot of times we allow our opinions on social issues, politics or unforgiveness to get in the way of truly loving one another and defending the bond of unity we have in Christ as the Church. Events that we help facilitate in the Unite My City movement are designed to help begin to build and protect that culture of unity amongst the local church in the city.”

Jason said, “I’m a champion of the big ‘C’ Church and want to encourage the Church in our calling. I want the Church to know that we have an opportunity to share the love of God by how we interact with one another, how we speak towards one another, how we talk about one another or how we interact. The event is great because we get to set an example of unity through love to our city.  But, we also get to share the love of Jesus with people by practically meeting their needs.” Jason added, “For example, Chris Campbell with the 111 Project rallied the Church community and made a significant dent in the foster care issue in our area. Imagine what’s possible as the churches unite together to serve our schools consistently? What impact could be made if five or ten churches collaborated around serving one school consistently? Where could that school be in a year? What impact could we make if the Church improved our coordination on feeding the hungry and shelter for the homeless. What if? What’s possible? As we work together in unity, we hope we challenge us all to think bigger – to think about what once was impossible may now be possible.”  

Jason continued, “I get to travel to various countries through our international ministry World Compassion. Over the past 16 years of doing this, one thing I’ve learned is the love of my own nation has grown. I’m thankful for the services our government provides to our people, but I still believe there’s more the Church can do to better serve our communities even to the degree in which it could help decrease government provided services, saving our cities and state tax dollars. If that’s possible, it may be a perk in all of this, but our main goal is to inspire the Church to love people and point them to Jesus. Whether they are Christian or not, whether they choose to accept Jesus as their Lord or not, I think we should keep on loving and serving them.” 

As Jason touched on the role of tax dollars trying to alleviate the suffering of humanity. As soon as he did, I remembered Steve Largent, while in the House, sharing with the Tulsa World that the church was called to rally around the widows, orphans, poor and degenerate—not the government. Jason feels strongly, “I’d really like to see a movement begin to almost take the weight off of our city officials. I think a movement like this doesn’t only serve those in need but also serves our city officials, elected officials and allows the Church to come alongside them in a significant way helping to find solutions to better our communities for all. We’re here to serve with a united, servant-leadership mentality—it could really make an impact. 

The Unite My City Serve Day weekend will kick off at the “Great Lawn” at The Gathering Place on Thursday night June 6th, before the event day, June 8th. Jason said, “This is an opportunity to come together to celebrate our diversity and get our hearts and minds ready to serve our city. It’s another chance to promote unity, connect and get excited about serving our cities. It will be a fun night for the family with live music presented by a variety of churches. All are welcome to come even if they are not Christians. For those participating in the Serve Day, it’s kind of like a pep rally before the big game. We’re honored to be able to host this at the Gathering Place as they have created, with excellence, a space for our city to gather from all backgrounds.”

Jason shared, “Last year, the Unite My City Serve Day had 35 churches participate and 963 volunteers mobilized in one day. This year, we are expecting much more. The goal for the Serve Day is for churches to partner together with another church. It’s about churches interacting together, planning and preparing. It’s in this process that relationships are being established around a common cause they both care about. It’s through these relationships that we can begin asking the question, ‘What else is possible together?’”

“We’re not asking them to reinvent the wheel or to add something to their plate. We’re asking them to rewire the way they approach outreach.” Jason thought rethinking our approach was really the first step to becoming greater than our individual selves. He said, “They rewire it by doing it together rather than isolated. So, if one church was reaching an apartment complex or school, other churches could consider  coming alongside them and contribute. The hope is a church partnership will continue throughout the year and beyond.” Jason added, “We’re looking for the event on June 8th to be a catalytic event to help launch people into sustainable ongoing relationships to keep meeting needs together throughout the year. Our hope is every year, it just builds and builds and builds until this becomes the norm of how we serve our city.” 

It’s not too late! If you’re reading this and it’s ringing true in your heart—just reach out to Unite My City and they can help connect you and your church to other groups that may be a good fit. 

Beyond the events in June, if you’re interested in being a part of what God is doing in the Tulsa area, feel free to reach out to the Unite My City team. They would love to connect you any way they can. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination, heart and passion for serving and of course, the power of the One True God we serve!

Written by Andrea Stephens

I’ll never forget the Sunday morning when the Fertility Clinic called with the crushing news that none of the eggs from the IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) procedure had produced an embryo.  We had tried so many other procedures but this was the time we were going to actually see what was happening by putting the eggs and sperm together in a petri dish and watching for results.  

But nothing.  

Nothing happened.

The doctor explained that the next step would be using donor eggs.  I could look at the profiles of women who had frozen eggs, select one, then have her eggs used in another IVF procedure.  But we had already decided that we would not take that route.  Though others were making that choice and joyfully producing little bundles of joy, we had decided we would draw the line at this point.  No third-party intervention.

To say I was devastated was putting it mildly.  I was already ten years into this infertility journey.  Hundreds of doctor’s appointments, invasive ultrasounds, blood draws, fertility drug injections, ovulation kits, six surgeries to remove painful cysts and endometriosis and I still had empty arms.  The hand-knit baby booties on my dresser, intended to be a symbol of hope, had become a disheartening reminder of the loss I felt from being childless.

I had already worked through the jealousy of birth announcements from friends.  The Lord had brought me to the understanding that what He was doing in someone else’s life had nothing to do with me and I eventually could rejoice with them.  I had already learned that taking non-emotional gifts like diapers to a baby shower helped me feel stronger (shopping for cute baby outfits could land me in a puddle of tears).  I had already mastered the art of redirecting the conversation every time someone asked me when I was going to start my own family.

I had also already worked through the tough God questions. Why won’t You give me a baby?  Why don’t You love me? What have I done wrong?  Is there unconfessed sin in my life?  Do You not think I would be a good mom?  Why won’t you bless me?  I promise to raise my children to love and serve You! The majority of my wrestling with God over my childlessness had been resolved with the biblical truth that my infertility was not a withdrawal of God’s love, not a judgment call, not a source of punishment, not proof that I’d been abandoned or forgotten about, and not proof that prayer didn’t work.

Yet, that day after the phone call, I felt like I was still missing something.   I still needed the Lord to comfort my heart and give me understanding.  As I sat and prayed, I sensed a whispering in my soul.  It’s time to focus on the bigger picture.  The bigger picture?  What could be bigger than God’s instructions to be fruitful and multiply?  What was bigger than the biblical accounts of God opening the wombs of Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, and others in the Old Testament?  What was I missing?  What piece of the big picture was not in my puzzle?

I decided to dive into the Gospel of John, paying close attention to Jesus’ words in an effort to understand what God wanted me to see.  So, first we learn that Jesus is the Word, John the Baptist came with a message of repentance, Jesus turns the water into wine, then he turns over the tables in the temple.  Got it.  In Chapter 3, the nighttime chat with Nicodemus about being born again caught my attention in a fresh way.  Jesus said we must be born of the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and believing in Him, God’s Son, brings eternal life.  Hmmm. The eternal.  The kingdom of God.  A different kind of birth.

I continued on.  Finally, in chapter fifteen it happened.  A huge clue was uncovered.  Jesus is the vine, we are the branches; we are to bear fruit—eternal fruit!  I was starting to get it.  Fruitfulness was being given a new definition.  In the Old Testament, fruitfulness referred to bearing earthly children.  In the New Testament, it was about abiding in Christ and producing spiritual fruit.

God, does this mean that Jesus brought a new focus, a new sense of purpose? Could it be that being fruitful was not connected with having kids?

Jesus’ focus was not on the earthly development of the family of God, but the spiritual development of the Kingdom of God.  How?  Share the good news of saving grace found in Christ alone, so others might receive Him into their lives and be born again, born spiritually into the Kingdom of God, into His forever family.

Thoughts of New Testament people without children or without mention of children flooded my mind:  John the Baptist, Martha and Mary, Priscilla, Dorcas, Mary of Magdela, Apostle Paul, and Jesus Himself! If having biological children was the end all, then God would owe Jesus, John, Paul, and others an apology for leaving their lives unfulfilled and incomplete!  Not possible.  God was at work in each of their lives, he loved them, He had an obvious plan for each of them and they fully completed their calling before heading to heaven. 

Whew.

As the idea of spiritual children twirled around in my heart, my head realized that according to this definition, I had lots of kids.  Through years in youth ministry and writing for teen girls, I had indeed seen many be born spiritually and had the joy of discipling them—growing them up in Jesus!

I began to take note of some awesome women God had put in my life throughout 

my baby journey, other childless but Kingdom-focused women.  He was using them—right then—to help me see there was a bigger picture.  Rhonda had a local Christian TV show for women and taught a seminary class for soon-to-be pastor’s wives.  Susie was editor of a teen magazine and led groups of girls on mission trips.  Gail had a puppet ministry that told little ones about God’s love.  Rebecca had a worldwide music ministry.  Lori was an award-winning second-grade teacher who developed a mentoring program.

The dictionary says that part of being a mother is providing affection, protection, nurture, and guidance.  It’s what many of us childless women do.  We love, we teach, we train, we coach, we encourage, we guide.  We are an important part of building God’s forever family.  It seems that on some level we meet the definition of a mom.

The various clues had come together!  This the “big picture” God wanted me to see.

Over the years, I have been so grateful for the truths God has revealed to me and grateful for grasping an eternal perspective.  Now I celebrate each Mother’s Day in a fresh way.  I celebrate all the ways God has used me to be a mom in the lives of teen girls during the previous year.  And I smile, remembering all the young ones who took my manners classes—allowing me to have a tiny part in parenting them.  And I focus forward knowing that I am a mother.  Just another kind.

-parts of this article first appeared in Just Between Us Magazine.


The BIG, FUN, PEOPLE-LOVING event!

Download Press Release Here

Community event. Open to everyone.  We are showcasing the amazing services available to the community for men, women, and families who need them. 

When: May 4, 2019 12:30pm – 4:30pm

Where: Union High School Stadium


Schedule:

  • 12:30 Congressman Kevin Hern, opening speakers, and band
  • 1:30 simulcast starts with Focus on the Family 
  • 3:30 closing speakers and band

During the event, the following fun, free activities will be available for everyone (especially children):

  • Bouncy houses
  • Scavenger hunts 
  • Obstacle courses
  • Giant 6 ft soccer ball game
  • Frisbee contests
  • Throwing contest 
  • Art sections
  • Face painting and more

Want a table?

Table/chairs provided – $0.00 to $300. Show the community the services you offer! (Pregnancy resource centers, adoption, fostering, medical clinics/services, mobile ultrasounds, churches, community groups, and more).

Email info@communityspiritmagazine.com to reserve your table!

Want to volunteer?

We’re looking for loads of volunteers to host games, sell beverages (cans/bottles), and more. Send us your preferences for areas and we will try to accommodate. 

Email info@communityspiritmagazine.com to volunteer!

Exhibitor List

  • Birthright of Tulsa
  • Mend Medical Clinic
  • Crisis Pregnancy Outreach
  • Go Life Mobile Medical
  • Northeastern Hope Resource Center
  • Pregnancy Resource Center of Owasso
  • Stay Close to Christ
  • Compassion Women’s Center
  • May Be Pregnant
  • James Mission
  • Good Samaritan
  • YouthCare of Oklahoma
  • OKDHS Foster Care and Adoption Recruitment
  • Refiner’s Fire Ministries
  • Nightlight Christian Adoption
  • Dillon Adoption
  • LilyField Adoption
  • Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Owasso
  • Tulsa Hills Youth Ranch
  • Catholic Charities
  • Broken Arrow Pediatrics

Written by Teresa Goodnight

70%–that’s 7 out of 10 college students walk away from Christ by their junior year,

according to Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU). That statistic alone should petrify parents. His haunting question: “Are you THAT sure your child won’t be one of the 7?”

CSM reported in February on Carson Lowe, a student at the University of Arkansas (formerly at Mingo Valley Christian), listening to the professor of 250 students in just one classroom proclaim there is no deity. Sadly, we see college professors gaming on our children. Meanwhile, we smile at our kids’ Instagram photos from sport rallies to fraternity parties, ignoring the statistics and warnings. Or, maybe, we’re just in the dark and need someone to open our eyes.

Dr. Piper started his interview with two simple questions for every parent:

“WHAT are they teaching your kids?”
“WHY in the world are you not concerned?”

Honestly my mind was shaken in minutes talking with Dr. Piper. I felt like the Supers (superheroes with powers) in Incredibles 2, when someone rips the hypnotic mask placed on their eyes. OUCH.

Dr. Piper had quickly volunteered to be interviewed. I sought some perspective from colleges and universities. I wanted to understand from their vantage point what exactly was going on out there. I knew how bad it was—or so I thought. Then, Dr. Piper started to speak. Our discussion made me uncomfortable—wishing it weren’t true. It was so powerful, I scrapped it for March. We changed the focus of the magazine for April to center around his warning. It was too critical to the future of Christianity to be a secondary story, too dangerous for our children graduating in just a few months to be pushed beyond a cover story. Dr. Piper needed the platform to rip off as many masks of deception possible from parents’ eyes.

Walking onto the campus of a university, students expect to receive an education to change the trajectory of their lives. According to Dr. Piper, that’s exactly what’s being offered—a purposeful, powerful effort to steer Christians students off course from their faith in Christ.
With Dr. Piper’s reference to the statistic, think quickly of how that might look:

21 of every 30 children in your youth groups—lost.
7 of every 10 children of parents in your Sunday School —derailed.

Play it out however makes the point in your heart–wide is the path that leads to destruction and narrow is the road towards a life with God. Dr. Piper said, “More professors than you can imagine (even at purportedly “Christian” colleges) find it sporting to destroy your child’s faith. They take pride in tearing down a biblical worldview and replacing it with ideas that are in direct opposition to orthodox Christianity. Everything you have taught your son and daughter will be challenged and maligned before they even get unpacked in their dorm room or attend their first class.” If that is going on, and so many stories like that of Carson Lowe reflect it is happening today—then why are we just sitting back and waving goodbye as they drive off merrily toward such statistically verifiable destruction?


They Don’t Learn Everything in Kindergarten–Indoctrination

I asked Dr. Piper, “What are your thoughts on a Christian education vs. a regular secular university?” He answered, “Every parent should be asking is this – Why spend 18 years training up your child in the way he should go, only to then to send him off to a university, where the goal is to tear his mind, heart, and soul out?” Dr. Piper continued, “Parents do it every day. Homeschool parents do it every day. Some seem to think ‘Oh. my son and my daughter will stand up to the religious persecution, the mockery, and the marginalization. My child will be fine.’ I see this misguided confidence all the time, only to have that parent approach me later and admit it was the worst decision they ever made, because they have lost their child.”

“When I went to college, I may have benefited from the cultural assumption that Christians, while perhaps a bit boring, were “good moral people.” We were thought of more positively. Most of our professors knew we wouldn’t lie and wouldn’t steal and wouldn’t try to hit on their wives or any of that type of thing so we were shown favor. These days are long gone. Christians are no longer treated that way.” he said. He went on, “We are now thought of as adversaries. They call us closed minded. They have decided we are judgmental. We have no right to live our lives by our religious code. We are truly the last minority group that is fair game for prejudice and persecution. So why in the world would any responsible parent want this for their 18-year old child? Since we know 70% of our kids will walk away from their faith before their junior year of college, why would you think your son or daughter is outside of that equation?”

I sat there listening with my mind becoming a bit overwhelmed. It’s not like I haven’t been watching the news. There is absolutely persecution to say, “I don’t have a right to decide what is right or wrong—God decided that for me and gave me a nice little book called the Bible as a reference.” I feel the change in the air about which Dr. Piper talked. Honestly, when you think about it, don’t you? Saying “I am a Christian” now assumes “I’m a judgmental person, blinded by religious bias.” It’s not my imagination. I’ve read it on social media. I’ve heard it first-hand.
Dr. Piper is right. He sees it even more clearly than we do. Students like Carson tell us stories about it. So why do we just go on about our gullibly, sending our children off to the slaughter without much more thought than cheering with scholarships or pledging and football bragging rights? Do we even want to wake up? It sure is fun to head to the Saturday game wearing the team colors after all. However, universities today are NOT the universities of old. And, maybe more importantly, according to Dr. Piper, the Christian universities are not all not necessarily a safer place to go either.

Dr. Piper warned, “Don’t be fooled. Christian colleges might not be better than any state university. You can’t just assume their marketing and nice four color brochures means they are actually faithful to the Christian beliefs and values upon which they were founded. Many Christian colleges are missing the mark. Some are, to state it bluntly, simply dishonest. Remember this simply axiom,

Wolves in sheep’s clothing are dangerous. But, wolves in shepherd’s clothing are downright deadly.”

Dr. Piper emphasized, “Any school can put together a slick marketing campaign that claims they are Christian and Christ-centered but do they truly practice what they preach? Do they hold tenaciously to the inerrancy of the Word? Do they believe and teach objectively of truth? If you do not see clear evidence that all of their faculty, every single one of them, teach and live out a conservative and orthodox Biblical worldview, that’s a red flag. Many “Christian” colleges actually take more pride in challenging and deconstructing a biblical worldview rather than teaching their students why they should believe it and how to defend it. Parents have to do their homework.”

Dr. Piper advises,

“Never send your son or daughter to any college or university until you pull the President aside and ask him two basic questions: What’s your view of scripture? And, what’s your view on truth? If he or she doesn’t say scripture is the inerrant word of God—run. If he or she doesn’t answer clearly, concisely, and boldly that Truth is a revelation of God, run even faster.

If there is any hint that they have imbibed the Kool Aid that truth is not an objective reality but rather a mere product of cultural dialogue, this is a giant red flag. It’s just not a good place to go.”

One thing Dr. Piper tells parents and students is this, “When you go to college you don’t major in opinions. I don’t grant degrees in opinions. That would be absurd. That would be an insult to you. You go to college to learn something. The point is to graduate knowing at a least a little more about what is right and true than you did when you started. Opinions always lead to brokenness and slavery. Pol Pot, Mao, and Mussolini all had opinions and it didn’t end well. But Jesus said, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Never send your son or daughter to a university that doesn’t understand this.” Dr. Piper continued, “There is freedom in truth but opinions always lead to bondage. Almost every college I know of celebrates feelings rather than facts and politically correct opinions rather than God’s clear and unalienable truths and the end result is ideological fascism rather than academic freedom.”

Dr. Piper has had many experiences with the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). This Council includes about 120 national evangelical Christian schools. Dr. Piper stated “The council is a broad umbrella representing Baptists, Wesleyans, non-denominational schools and so forth. Within that multidenominational venue, we have discussions over differences like baptism, speaking in tongues and other such matters as you would expect.” Dr. Piper went on, “Back when same-sex marriage passed as a recognized legal status, two of our universities, Goshen and Eastern Mennonite, announced they would immediately begin to hire ‘married” homosexual staff. As the result, the President of CCCU sent out a note to all member presidents saying that we needed to come together for a time of dialogue to determine how the council would move forward on this new matter.” Dr. Piper said he was a bit frustrated at the mere thought of having such a discussion. He said to the CCCU president, “Where in the scriptures are we ever told to have a conversation about sin? The Bible tells us that we are supposed to confess it, not sit around and talk about it.” He went further to confront the leadership of the Council: “You seem to be intentionally conflating a disagreement over methods of baptism with a volitional act of sodomy. How can you even suggest that these two things are on the same moral plane?”

Dr. Piper said “Today’s universities, have embraced agendas that are explicitly condemned in Scripture and are clearly contrary to common sense, empirical science and natural law. Christian and secular schools alike support sexual fluidity, transgender accommodations, and all things LGBTQ. There are ‘Sex weeks’ on campuses from coast to coast. Schools invite in porn stars as guest speakers. Traditional morality is ridiculed as little more than the unfortunate product of bigoted white privilege.” He added, “You would also be hard pressed to find a university that doesn’t support socialism vs. capitalism.” Dr. Piper says, “We should be teaching the next generation the virtues of American Exceptionalism* rather than tearing it down. Our culture is something to be proud of rather than something to apologize for.”

*(Wikipedia defines American Exceptionalism as “an ideology holding the United States as unique among nations in positive or negative connotations, with respect to its ideas of democracy and personal freedom.”)

Dr. Piper referenced a quote from Gilbert Keith Chesterton, an English writer, poet, and philosopher to name a few of his known skills,

“When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty…you get the small laws.”
(July 29, 1905).

Dr. Piper shared, “We have come to the point where we refuse to teach the big laws of God; ten simple and clear laws (and frankly Jesus narrowed it down to two!). We disparage those laws. We mock those laws. We malign those laws and what do we get? Thousands upon thousands of little laws from D.C. and elsewhere rushing in to fill the vacuum. This is not intellectual liberty. It’s ideological fascism. Instead of liberty, you see more and more conformity and more and more control. If you refuse to parrot the party line and or to repeat what is popular and in vogue they will crush you.

Dr. Piper continued, “There’s a reason our culture is in a mess. Fifty percent of the country believes in socialism. We’ve lost the definition of marriage. We don’t understand the male and female physiology in our high schools and our universities. We are seeing the negative consequences bear themselves out in the nightly news. The sex-weeks on college campuses that I mention above have pornographers, adult film stars, sex therapists, booths with sex paraphernalia, lectures complete with X rated movies. This is not just in the Ivy league. It is right here in Oklahoma too.” He went on, “When you teach 18-year old men that this is the way they should think and these are the values they should embrace what do you expect? Why are we surprised to see the Matt Lauers and the Harvey Weinsteins of the world making headlines? You are going to get lechers when you teach lechery. We have taught them to behave this way. It’s really no surprise.”

Dr. Piper reaffirmed to me, there is a war for the hearts and minds of our young people. They are the future. Satan knows it. He’s armed and ready to annihilate them at every chance he gets. He’s beating down the doors to the schools. He’s running rampant on the campuses. We either have to put on the armor of God or admit surrender, as this fight cannot be won with passivity. A fight like Dr. Piper references needs sound instruction for our children in God’s word, God’s laws. It needs someone willing to stand up, who knows the reasons they must stand. It needs disciples of Christ, armed and trained in the inerrant word of God. Make no mistake. It’s a war. Don’t worry though. If you aren’t seeing it, you are exactly where the enemy wants you on his way to many victories at the expense of your children and your grandchildren. Just sit there. He will make you nice and comfortable, as he gently turns up the heat to boil you in the proverbial pot.


A LITTLE ON OKWU

Interestingly, as an example of a University clinging to the principles of the Bible, Oklahoma Wesleyan University is not afraid to boldly be pro-life. OKWU even has a mobile ultrasound clinic, which saved the lives of over 200 children. They are simply unapologetic over their pro-life stance. We have seen another Christian university in Oklahoma shy away from such a stance because of federal funds, which cause them to remain silent in fear. It was of no surprise to me when I read OKWU’s value statement: “Unapologetic in our commitment to the truth of Christ and the truth of Scripture, OKWU models a way of thought, a way of life,

and a way of faith. This is a place of serious study, honest questions, and critical engagement, all in the context of a liberal arts community that honors the Primacy of Jesus Christ, the Priority of Scripture, the Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom.”

THIS IS NOT AN AD for OKWU. If you were educated about what might set them apart for Christ, as I was in writing the article—well, good. I’d love to highlight all universities with this kind of commitment to the Bible and these sorts of values. They certainly aren’t as easy to find as my heart would like them to be.


Education. Does Where it Comes from Matter?

“’The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next’” Dr. Piper quoted from Abraham Lincoln. He expounded, “Where do our children spend most of their time? It’s in school. Think of the average hours in school vs. with mom and dad vs. church. There’s no question. School wins. So why would we think, when that’s where they’re getting most of their information, that these ideas aren’t going to sink in? How can we think they aren’t going to be influential in how they live their lives?” Dr. Piper is again spot on. We have to be equally engaged in the elementary and secondary school years about what’s going in, because it WILL come out. That’s how it works.
Dr. Piper also talked of Richard Weaver, author of “Ideas have Consequences.” He shared, “Why is publication date (1948) of Weaver’s book important? It is because it was just a handful of years after the Nazis holocaust. Weaver was writing to the German people, his own people. He was saying that ideas have consequences. His point was very simple: ‘The terrible things we taught in our schools bore themselves out in the terrible actions of our culture.’ We would be wise to learn this lesson.” says Dr. Piper.

Truth is, Dr. Piper isn’t saying anything our pastors haven’t warned us about before. It sinks in on some level. However, as Christian parents in our current culture, if we want our children following Christ, then we have got to take off the masks and see reality. We must arm them with Truth (the Bible) and an ability to study it, understand it and apply it with precision. We must TEACH THEM how to guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We know we have always heard that. However, in the current climate we live in—Dr. Piper is saying we need to wake up and take heed. Don’t just read his words and this article and think, “Hmm…that’s scary,” and then wonder about what you should eat for dinner. That’s exactly the response the enemy in this war is expects to get. It’s at best lukewarm. Just put the magazine back for anyone else to take. With a broken heart, I sadly guarantee, if your child later becomes one of the 7/10, you’ll wish you could go back to this moment and choose better. #GoDoBe


Taking A Stand. #GoDoBe

Read about OKWU taking it to the mat by taking an important religious freedom case to court and fighting for rights being stripped away by new laws:

• “A federal district court issued an order Tuesday (5/16/18) that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate against four Christian universities in Oklahoma represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. The order also declares that the mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Citation from https://www.okwu.edu/blog/2018/05/court-orders-end-abortion-pill-mandate/

• OKWU was the only university in the country to challenge the government’s imposition in the courts. “When Oklahoma Wesleyan sued the Department of Education in 2016, we alleged that the Obama DOE had unlawfully issued Title IX guidance in 2011 and had unilaterally imposed unfair and impermissible conditions on all colleges and universities,” said Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan. “The mandate violated the privacy rights of our female students, denied due process for all students, and undercut the role of local law enforcement to investigate and adjudicate sexual misconduct.” Their actions allowed the opportunity for all parties to comment on the proposed rules to result in a much fairer system for effectively addressing issues of campus sexual assault. https://www.okwu.edu/blog/2018/02/okwu-agrees-dismissal-federal-lawsuit-office-civil-rights/

Written by Teresa Goodnight

Community Spirit was able to speak with Robia Scott, starring in the newly released movie, Unplanned that hit theaters March 29th.

Robia had numerous roles in Hollywood, such as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before becoming a Christian and changing direction. Robia was randomly introduced to the directors of the movie in Nashville. She read a small audition for the role. They offered it. It was all pretty quick. Now she feels she’s back in the industry, as a believer, for such a time as this.

Robia bought the book by Abby Johnson and read it. She said, “I was a bit hesitant to take the part. My role is pretty intense. However, I knew quickly in prayer with my husband, I was prepared and positioned for this part.” Robia says, “Instantly, I was motivated by lifting the veil off Planned Parenthood. Even though I didn’t know a ton about the abortion industry to start, I began studying and realized what they were professing was very different from who they actually were.” Robia was troubled, because she felt people were making a BIG decision on misinformation. She said, “Recognizing this was a belief people were being programmed to believe about abortion, I decided I wanted to help expose Planned Parenthood and the entire industry.” Robia said,

“Interestingly, the directors had the movie rights for 6 years, but they said ‘The Lord said not yet.’’ They weren’t really sure why they were waiting. Then, they felt God released them to make it.

Coming out now with what’s happened in New York and the bills being passed,” Robia continued, “it is so ordained by God. I really believe it’s going to be a game changer.”

Robia also spoke of the film’s star playing the lead role. She said, “Ashley Bratcher found out once she was filming motivation for her character. Ashley called her mom after filming for a few weeks to tell her about what she was doing. Her mom immediately broke down. Then, she revealed to her that she was on the table ready to have an abortion with her. Her mom said something like, ‘Literally in a moment, the choice could have gone either way.” Now thirty some years later, she’s the face of this film.” Robia finished, “God knows the end from the beginning. It’s all in His hands.”

Robia spoke about the oddity of the R rating. She said, “We found it interesting Hollywood thought the topic unfit for those under 17, even though they can walk into an abortion clinic without parental consent and make that decision. However, it’s ok. We want parents to go with their children. You have to decide the right age, but just know Planned Parenthood is starting their message incredibly early.”

We should be seeing the headlines by the time this article is released, but Robia said, “You have to understand how Hollywood works. Opening weekend for the box office makes all the difference. As the body of Christ, we have to unite—and if you don’t want your state to look like New York, you can vote with your ticket.” Robia continued, “When there’s a big box office opening weekend, it gets Hollywood the media’s attention. It lets the movie get to stay there (in the theater) longer, to reach more people. Believers have to vote on this with our tickets if we care about this issue and it’s serious to us. How is my one little voice going to make a difference? Right here.”

Robia is a full-time minister, speaker, author, and one of the stars of the movie, which was put together by the same team from God’s Not Dead. She is a gifted teacher of the Word, specializing in offering Biblical tools for transformation that promote freedom, healing, and wholeness. Robia often teaches principles from her book, Counterfeit Comforts: Freedom from the Imposters that Keep You from True Peace, Purpose, and Passion.

Robia began her professional career as a dancer in Hollywood at the age of sixteen. She appeared in numerous music videos before traveling the world with Prince starring as “Pearl” in his international tour Diamonds and Pearls. When the tour ended, Robia began focusing on her acting career. She appeared in over fifty national commercials and starred in various popular television shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210 and CSI. Robia is well-known for her three-year role as Jenny Calendar on the hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was during her time on Buffy that Robia became a Christian. Yes, it is a great story! (We will be following up on Robia with a review on her book later this year!)

Shortly thereafter, she left her career in entertainment to venture into full time ministry. For the last fifteen years, Robia has traveled extensively across the U.S. and internationally, speaking at churches and conferences. Her God-given gift of artistic expression is now being utilized to communicate truth for the Kingdom of God. She has a teaching style that is dynamic, relatable, down-to-earth, and fun.

Robia resides in Orange County, California with her husband, James, and their daughter, Gemma.

Written By: Gary L. Richardson

What brought me to write a book on the subject of FEAR?

Growing up on a cotton farm in Deep South Texas, way out in the country, I was a kid that lived with a lot of fear. I didn’t ask for the fear, it was just there.

I could tell a number of stories as to how fear displayed itself in my life when growing up. But, as I grew older, becoming a teenager, I came to hate the fear that I lived with even more. Most wouldn’t guess it, since today I stand 6’ 2” tall, that I was very small for my age when growing up. When I graduated from high school I was still only 5’11,” having grown two inches in the previous two years. So, I was always small for my age until my second year in college. I later learned that this was something that happened in the Richardson lineage. The men got their height much later than normal, just as I did.

In my late 30s I decided to do something, whatever, to deal with my fear issue. In doing so, I went to the Scriptures to learn what was said about the subject of fear. Thus, my book evolved from several years of studying.

In this book, Fear Is Never Your Friend, you will learn what I have learned that has resulted not only in the book but also in my reputation for fearing no man. To understand more you will need to read my book and learn from a Spiritual basis as well as a practical basis why FEAR IS NEVER YOUR FRIEND.

Several years ago I had a meeting with a banker friend, and after greeting one another, she asked, “Anything new going on in your life, Gary?” I replied that I was working on a new book. “What’s the title,” she asked. As I said the words “Fear Is Never Your Friend,” I could discern by the look on her face that she wasn’t buying into that thought, so I asked her to explain why. She said, “Well, if I saw a snake on the floor that was set to strike, I think my fear could help me remove myself from danger.” I then asked what she thought a two-year-old child crawling on the floor would do under similar circumstances, and she responded, “Probably go to the snake,” to which I agreed. My point was that it was her knowledge (dangerous snake set to strike) and her wisdom (need to get out of harm’s way) that caused her reaction, neither of which the two-year-old was equipped with. When my banker friend and I had that conversation, I already had discussed the subject of my book with numerous friends and had received responses from them similar to hers.

The Bible is replete with the admonition that fear is never our friend (with the exception that we are to fear God, which is a reverence of God). Yet, it is all too common for believers frequently to use the words, “I was afraid to do” such and such, much like those who say, “I don’t do this or that for fear of getting hurt.” In Fear Is Never Your Friend, you will learn in a meaningful way the truth of taking fear out of your thinking. Again, it’s knowledge and wisdom that are your friends.

I have found over the years of doing seminars on this subject that it greatly impacts a person’s life by learning the importance of taking the word “fear” out of his or her conversations. In the seminars, time permitting, I give an overview of every chapter in the book, which is a great help, possibly a “must,” in impacting individuals to the place where they can walk away from the seminar totally convinced to remove fear from their lives and conversations. Much of the same can be accomplished by reading Fear Is Never Your Friend.

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

My friend Rev. Wade Burleson wrote a four-page foreword for my book, and in conclusion he wrote these words: Former Prime Minister of India Jawaharial Nehru is quoted as saying, “There is perhaps nothing so bad and so dangerous in life as fear.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American lecturer-philosopher, wrote, “The wise man in the storm prays to God not for safety from danger, but for the deliverance from fear; it is the storm within that endangers him, not the storm without.”

Fear has reached epidemic proportions in America today. It’s as if it is almost a contagious disease rendering a person weak and ineffective, robbing him or her of the joy of life. Noted Christian writer Oswald Chambers says in his daily devotional book, “If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that he was unable to equip us to accomplish he would be a liar.”

In reading the book Fear Is Never Your Friend you can come to the place of overcoming the fear that many live with. As I said to my doctor once when he commented, “The only thing we have to worry about is…” I stopped him and said, “Doctor, I don’t worry about anything,” and then I added, “but if you tell me it will help to worry, then I will.” Of course, he did tell me to do that.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Read Fear Is Never Your Friend and become one of the many that have shared with me over the years how they have been liberated in removing fear from their lives.

Here is what one reader wrote that stands out among the many responses I have received from those that have read Fear Is Never Your Friend.

It is rare that a writer captures just the right words with just the right story examples with just the right tone to create a desire for change by and within another person, but that is exactly what Gary Richardson has accomplished with his remarkable book, Fear Is Never Your Friend.
I have agonized many times about making a decision – sometimes professional, sometimes personal – simply because I “feared” that someone would like me less or think less of me because of my choice. Sound familiar? Well, making those torturous decisions got easier a few years ago after I first read Fear Is Never Your Friend, which I describe to others as “medicine for a bad case of ‘I’m afraid to …’”

In this inspirational book, Gary lays out key tactics to help overcome fear, and it is these life’s lessons of his that have helped me navigate through life a lot easier. Here are a few of my favorites: * We have the right to decide what will be a part of our lives. * If we allow negative and fearful thoughts to live in our minds, we will discover they are expensive tenants; instead, stop negative thoughts with hopeful, faith-filled thoughts. * Choose your thoughts wisely; monitor what enters your mind and heart. * Choose your words carefully.

My summation of these gems of wisdom is, “Do not fear your fearful feelings. Challenge them and focus instead on how you will defeat them.” Fear Is Never Your Friend will not miraculously get rid of fear in your life, but it definitely will teach you how to do so.

Joyce Gideon
Public Relations, Editor, Writer

Check out www.garyrichardsonspeaks.com where 3 other books I have also written can be seen. “Thank God They Ate The Apple”, “Black Robe Fever” and “I Want You To See Me”.