Tag archives: Culture

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

by Family Research Council

May 29, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Family Research Council

May 22, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Idaho Leads the Way in Pursuing Fairness for Women Athletes

by Blake Elliott

April 29, 2020

Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) has recently come under fire for signing the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. This common-sense law makes Idaho the first state to protect female athletes’ opportunities to compete (including for scholarships) without going head to head with male athletes who identify as female but retain immense physical advantages. Now, the ACLU is suing to block the law and undermine women’s sports.

In Connecticut, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing three high school women facing precisely this problem, after the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference changed its policies to allow men who identify as women to compete in women’s sports. As ADF legal counsel Christiana Holcomb notes, “Title IX was designed to eliminate discrimination against women in education and athletics, and women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides. Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women under this law. We shouldn’t force these young women to be spectators in their own sports.”

It’s not just athletic scholarships that are at stake. Sports play a crucial role in the development of young people by helping them build character, learn the value of hard work, and learn how to compete. Sports can bring people together and give a student-athlete the opportunity to be part of something bigger than him or herself.

I grew up in West Texas, and it was common for the whole region to rally in support of high school teams that were excelling. I see it now when 100,000-plus Aggie fans pack into Kyle Field to support Texas A&M football. During these times, peoples’ stances on politics or social issues are put to the side as fans unite to support their team. Sports can help develop life-long friendships and memories.

But in recent times, men who identify as transgender women have begun to dominate women’s sports, both at the amateur and professional levels. According to expert testimony filed with the Connecticut athletic complaint, “…the lifetime best performances of three female Olympic champions in the 400m event—including Team USA’s Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix—would not match the performances of literally thousands of boys and men, just in 2017 alone, including many who would not be considered top tier male performers.” Dr. Gregory Brown of the University of Nebraska, who provided that expert testimony, has also found that puberty in males creates for a height and body mass difference that gives a significant athletic advantage to males.

Chelsea Mitchell, one of the three Connecticut athletes who filed the ADF complaint, summed it up well by saying that the three athletes are simply asking for a fair chance. It is clear that they’re not getting it: Terry Miller and Adraya Yearwood, the two biologically male athletes at the heart of the lawsuit, have won 15 girls indoor and outdoor state championships since 2017. Just last February, they finished 1st and 2nd in the 55-meter state championship, with Miller breaking the state record. Miller has also set record-breaking times in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, typically blowing other sprinters completely out of the race.

Karissa Niehoff, the executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, spoke about the issues surrounding transgender athletes running with girls by saying, “A lot of people have asked, can you run a separate race, can you put an asterisk next to their name, do something that shows there is a standard that is different from that?” One sports league is trying just that: The Raw Powerlifting Federation is now in the process of creating a transgender division after Mary Gregory, who is a biological male, shattered various women’s weightlifting records. The federation’s president stripped Gregory of the titles and records after “it was revealed that this female lifter was actually a male in the process of becoming a transgender female.” When this story broke, former Great Britain Olympic swimmer Sharon Davies spoke out, tweeting: “This is a trans woman, a male body with male physiology setting a world record & winning a woman’s event in America in powerlifting. A woman with female biology cannot compete… it’s a pointless unfair playing field.”

The Connecticut women are still waiting for justice. Alanna Smith, an athlete in the lawsuit and daughter of MLB Hall of Famer Lee Smith, was a “three-peat” state champion in the 100-meter race in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, setting school and state records. While the 100-meter race was her strong race in middle school, she has recently excelled in the 400-meter race in high school. Despite her past athletic successes and clear potential, she cannot compete and win against the men.

Christiana Holcomb, the attorney representing the girls from Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement: “Having separate boys’ and girls’ sports has always been based on biological differences, not what people believe about their gender, because those differences matter for fair competition. And forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics.” It is revealing that these issues surrounding transgender athletes in women’s sports are not getting the support of Democrats, like Elizabeth Warren, even as they continue to push for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Rather than making this into a “trans rights” issue, it must be acknowledged that each girl and woman deserves the right to participate in sports knowing that they are competing on a level playing field and that they have an equal opportunity to win. Alanna Smith, Selina Soule, and Chelsea Mitchell are prime examples of female athletes whose athletic opportunities have been sharply curtailed by men’s ability to compete in women’s sports. (There are many more examples.)

Idaho Governor Brad Little should stand firm and stand for women. And the ACLU should be ashamed for seeking to deprive Idaho girls of these opportunities.

Blake Elliott is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

In This Season of Loss, God Wants to Hear Our Hearts

by Adelaide Holmes

April 17, 2020

With lockdowns and stay at home orders in place, the coronavirus is affecting everyone’s life, and Christians are not exempt from the sorrows that the world is experiencing. Ever since the fall into sin in Genesis 3, death, loss, and grief have been a common human experience.

Even so, many Christians are hesitant to admit their disappointment or sorrow. This is because we often believe that grief shows a lack of faith in God. But the lamentations throughout Scripture disprove this misguided perception. In fact, the Bible contains many examples of people lamenting. Even Jesus wept openly over the death of his friend Lazarus (Luke 10:35). Experiencing grief reminds us that this world is not as it’s supposed to be. But Scripture also teaches that everything—including our grief—can work together for good (Rom. 8:28). In this coronavirus season, it’s time that Christians learned how to lament and embrace their sorrow as a way to hope in God.

Death, sickness, and suffering afflict everyone: Christians and unbelievers alike. But as Christians encounter afflictions, their grief should be different than an unbeliever’s. In Mark Vroegop’s article “Dare to Hope in God” he says, “To cry is human, but to lament is Christian.” Lamenting is different than natural grief because it turns grief into a prayer. Through the three stages of a lamentation—crying out to God, asking for help, and responding in trust and praise—Christians learn to be real with God about our pain, rely on Him, and acknowledge our trust in Him.

In the first step of lament, God invites us to cry out to Him. This is difficult for some Christians who believe we must approach the throne of God in a put-together fashion. This most certainly excludes deep grief. But we forget that God knows our every thought, and our darkness is not dark to Him (Ps. 139:2, 12). God is not put off by our grief or the possible doubts that accompany it. He wants to hear our heart. In this season, almost everyone is experiencing loss: loss of a loved one, a job, not being able to visit sick or elderly family members, loss of wedding plans, graduation ceremonies, and sport seasons for athletes and spectators. Everyone is affected in some way by this virus, and it is painful. No grievance is too little or big for God. We can tell God we’re frustrated, deeply hurting, or angered by changes or loss.

A biblical example of someone honestly voicing their aching heart to God is found in Psalm 10. In this passage, the psalmist boldly asks God, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1). Clearly, the writer feels abandoned by God and candidly tells Him: I don’t feel You here. This cry—and the affirmation of God’s goodness expressed at the psalm’s conclusion—demonstrate an important truth: God can handle our strongest emotions, even when we struggle to believe His promises.

Second, a lament’s raw cry to God is followed by a request for help. Sometimes we are uncomfortable with being needy towards God. But this is the foundation of the gospel: that we need Jesus to restore us to God. Paul reminds us that if God did “not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). God is a good Father who encourages us to ask (Matt. 7:7-11). Whether we are asking God to provide the means to pay for groceries during this economic recession, asking for healing for a dying family member, or asking for a way to see college friends or a significant other, we do not need to be ashamed of the request, regardless of its perceived importance. He promises that He will supply every need of ours (Phil. 4:19).

This truth is evidenced again by the psalmist when he pleads with God: “Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted” (Ps. 10:12). Evidently, there were times in the writer’s life when he needed help. He knew that God was able to rescue him from any situation, so he persisted and didn’t hold back in asking his Creator for help.

The final stage of a lamentation focuses on expressing praise to God and declaring our trust in Him. Despite our feelings, God has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). When we praise God for how He specifically provided in our personal lives or praise Him for the promises that He gives us in His Word, we shift our minds from our changing and uncertain situations to the unchanging, faithful Savior. While God wants to hear our worries about the coronavirus or hear about what is breaking our heart in this season of loss, His deeper desire is to see us learn to rely on Him, regardless of our situation.

Despite the psalmist’s own feelings that God had abandoned him, he ends by saying, “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more” (Ps. 10:17-18).

As the coronavirus continues to rage around the globe, Christians must remember that we can grieve the losses in our lives. Whatever the loss, God wants to hear our hearts. In this stretching and trying time, it is important to be honest with God about our pain and learn to rely on Him for help. As we do this, we can say with David, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:5-6).

Ways to Read the Bible (Part 3): Inductive Bible Study

by Patrina Mosley

April 16, 2020

Read Part 1 and Part 2

Now, finally, we will take a brief look at how to study the Bible using the inductive method. Bible study, particularly with the inductive method we will be learning here, is where you are spending time looking into the Bible to see what it says about itself, God, and humanity. You are letting the word of God speak for itself. We accomplish this through tools and learning skills to help us “observe the text, dig out the meaning, and then apply it to our lives.” The three basic steps of the inductive Bible study method are: Observation, Interpretation, and Application.

There are a range of questions to ask the Scriptures throughout these steps, but this will be an overview to help get you started. If you’re looking to deepen your grasp of the three steps, I would highly encourage you to read Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible: Discover the Life-Changing Approach to God’s Word. She is a prolific author, speaker, and teacher of the inductive Bible study method and President of Precept Ministries that teaches people all over the world how to study and know the Bible for themselves.

Let’s get started!

Prayer: Pray “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions” (Psalms 119:18).

Tip: If you are new to this method, it is recommended you start practicing this method with a short book of the Bible, like the Book of James, for instance.

Step 1: Observation (What does this passage say?)

This is the foundation. This is where we are not only reading the Bible with our eyes, but also with our minds. Here you are reading and re-reading (repetition is the key to observation and understanding) to observe the context, discovering what the biblical author intended to communicate to their original audience. Understanding the context is key before making an interpretation and application. Without establishing proper context, we can easily read into the text what we want it to say based on our assumptions and experiences. This can (and unfortunately throughout church history has) lead to unbiblical and heretical applications of the text. The inductive Bible study method has developed some categories and questions to help you look more closely at the text and establish an accurate context that will serve as the basis for your interpretation and application: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

  • Who: Who is the author? Major ideas?
  • When: When was it written?
  • Where: Where was this done?
  • Why: Why was there a need for this to be written?
  • How: How was it done? How did it happen?

You are also observing:

  • Words that are repeated multiple times in a passage
  • Anything written as a list
  • Words that indicate a change in topic or time
  • Words that contrast one thing against another
  • Words that indicate cause and effect

Here you are learning the historical background, dates, key people, and whatever information the text plainly gives. This helps in setting up the context for accurate interpretation. This is where a good study Bible comes in handy because they often provide summaries at the beginning of each book that details a lot of this information.

More on step 1 can be found here.

Step 2: Interpretation (What does this passage mean?)

Here you are seeking to understand what the biblical author meant to communicate to his original audience by understanding the historical and cultural background of the text.

This may mean looking up words you do not understand in a good “Bible Dictionary” or using a “concordance” to cross-reference to other passages for better clarity and understanding. Again, this is where having a good study Bible that combines all these tools is helpful. The best interpretation of Scripture is Scripture. Letting Scripture interpret Scripture means considering the passage in light of the surrounding verses and chapters, the book in which it is found, and the entire word of God.  If you’ve already taken the step of reading the Bible from start-to-finish, you will already have a fuller understanding of God’s over-arching story, which is the context needed to interpret the Scriptures. You will find yourself remembering themes, characters, references to things in the past, and more. You will simply have a more complete context before digging into the nitty-gritty of a specific passage. Therefore, when seeking to know what something means, ask yourself (as Kay Arthur has written): “Is my interpretation consistent with the theme, purpose, and structure of the book in which it is found? Is it consistent with other scriptures about the same subject? Am I considering the historical and cultural context of what is being said?”

To gain an “interpretation” of the text, you are using the understanding you have gained from “observation” and the examination of the context to interpret the plain meaning of scripture, not a hidden meaning. I found these questions used in this article to be helpful:

  • What did the author intend for his readers to understand?
  • How does this passage unfold a broader theme of this particular book of the Bible?
  • What doctrinal or moral problem was he addressing?
  • What action did he want readers or listeners to take?
  • What is still unclear? (Are the confusing terms or phrases used elsewhere in this book, or elsewhere in the Bible?). Before reaching for your dictionary, allow Scripture to define its own terms contextually through cross referencing.

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

Study Bibles: All of the aforementioned translations are available in study Bible versions. Study Bibles typically include extra materials for greater understanding of the text by providing historical context, geographical information, character profiles, word dictionaries, commentary, etc. Some even provide book introductions for each of the 66 books, so the reader gets an overview of what they are about to read. I cannot overemphasize the advantages of having a good study Bible. There are libraries full of resources to help you study the Bible. You can pull out several  different kinds of books, commentaries, maps, and concordances to study God’s word, but for the average individual person who is not writing a theological doctoral thesis, a simple study Bible that combines several of these tools into one volume is a sufficient tool for better understanding God’s word.

You can find more on step 2 here.

Step 3: Application (How does this apply to me?)

The goal of Bible study is not merely knowledge, but to get to know God and apply his truths to our lives. Once we know what a particular passage means, we are now responsible for putting it into practice in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. As Kay Arthur has written, “When you know what God says, what He means, and how to put His truths into practice, you will be equipped for every circumstance of life.”

More on step 3 is available here.

Tip: Designate a study time once a week. Studying takes time. We don’t have to set unrealistic expectations for ourselves about studying the Bible by saying we are going to do it every day (even though we should make reading God’s word, even if it is just a chapter or a few verses, a daily goal). The goal is not how fast or how much ground we cover but that we habitually do it. The point is to get close to God by knowing, understanding, and applying his word.

Write it down: Certainly, all of this should warrant you to write it down! Either by notebook, computer, or even app—keep track of what you are learning!

During this time of isolation and quarantine, getting closer to the one who created us is a great use of our time. This life comes with so many distractions that can take our eyes off of who and what matters most. Let us see this time as a gift and use it to receive comfort and truth from God.

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

by Patrina Mosley

April 8, 2020

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

He is right.

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

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

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

So, let’s get started!

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

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

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

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

Devotional vs. Inductive Bible Study

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

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

Let’s start with devotional reading.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Part 2

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

by Laura Grossberndt

March 23, 2020

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

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

Do you know who Jehosheba is?

If not, you should.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Women’s History Month: Esther

by Patrina Mosley

March 19, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Esther 4:13-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women’s History Month: Shiphrah and Puah

by Patrina Mosley

March 11, 2020

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

Shiphrah and Puah are two women written about in the Book of Exodus:

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

- Exodus 1:15-22 (NIV)

Shiphrah and Puah defied Pharaoh’s order—risking their lives in the process—because they revered God more than man. In the New Testament’s Book of Acts, Peter and the apostles found themselves in a similar predicament. They had to choose between obeying the high priest, who ordered them not to preach the Gospel, or obeying God, who had commanded them to preach the Gospel to all nations. For Peter and the other apostles, the choice was clear: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29). They undoubtedly remembered Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:28, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Understanding God’s infinite authority and power—and humanity’s finiteness in comparison—will put things in perspective rather quickly. It gives us the courage to do what is right, even if it might cost us everything. Shiphrah and Puah understood and believed that God is the ultimate rewarder of righteousness and the ultimate punisher of evil. The faith of these two women saved many lives as a result. But that wasn’t the end of their story: God noticed Shiphrah and Puah’s faith and blessed them with children of their own. God takes notice of our obedience and love for him.

History could have easily forgotten these two midwives. Instead, Scripture mentions Shiphrah and Puah by name, ensuring that they and their fear of God would be remembered forever. While their story is brief—only eight verses in the book of Exodus—it has nevertheless been sovereignly preserved for all of us to learn from and emulate. Christians are exhorted to obey those in authority (Romans 13), but when their commands are in direct conflict with the commands of God, we should do as Shiphrah and Puah did and fear God rather than man.

A Hidden Life Is an Unparalleled Depiction of Christian Discipleship

by Daniel Hart

February 4, 2020

Are we merely admirers of Christ, or are we followers?

For all Christians, this profound question should shake us to our core. It’s a question that runs through the heart of A Hidden Life, a powerful new film from acclaimed filmmaker Terrence Malick, who wrote and directed the three-hour epic that explores the calling and consequences of true Christian discipleship.

A Simple Life Shattered by War

A Hidden Life is based on the true story of an Austrian farmer named Franz Jägerstätter, a devout Catholic and conscientious objector martyred by the Nazis, who lived with his wife Fani and their three daughters in a small village in the mountains during World War II.

The movie begins by showing parts of an old Nazi propaganda film of Adolf Hitler touring a town in Germany and the adulation he receives from the people. In stark contrast, the film then envelopes its audience into the majestic beauty of rural Austria, where Franz and his family live an idyllic life as humble farmers. Scenes of hard farm work mixed with the simple joys of recreation with family early in the film establish the fact that Franz, Fani, and their girls are living a peaceful, happy, and fulfilled life. Other scenes of genuine comradery between Franz’s family and the other townspeople demonstrate that they are well-respected and even loved by the village.

It is in these opening scenes that the unique filmmaking style of director Terrence Malick becomes apparent. As in his past films, most of the scenes in A Hidden Life are presented as a kind of vignette, often with minimal dialogue. Sometimes, the dialogue is muted intentionally, with music or even a voice over being what you hear. Frequently, Malick will intersperse scenes with gorgeously rendered shots of nature—the mountains, fields of grain waving in the wind, a waterfall cascading down into mist. For the uninitiated viewer, this style can be a bit disorienting at first, but the film has a way of drawing the audience into its world after the first few minutes. One reviewer of A Hidden Life aptly described it as “a movie you enter, like a cathedral of the senses.”

Soon, the ominous sounds of Nazi airplanes flying high above the village convey a distinct sense that the simple lives of the farmers and townspeople will never be the same. Sure enough, Franz is conscripted into the German army, and at first he willingly complies with their demands that he complete basic training. After months away from his family, he is allowed to return home, but the possibility of Franz being called back into full duty as the war drags on hangs over him and his wife. From this point on, the central conflict that Franz faces becomes the focus of the film—he knows that he will be required to pledge an oath of loyalty to Hitler once he is called back up to service.

A Heroic Act of Conscience

As Franz seeks counsel from his parish priest on what to do, it is clear that many churchmen of the time could not muster the courage to make the principled stand that Franz is attempting to make. “We’re killing innocent people, raiding other countries, preying on the weak,” Franz pleads with his priest, asking for guidance. Instead of answering, the priest defers and directs Franz to ask his bishop for direction. When Franz is able to get an audience with the bishop, he asks him pointedly, “If our leaders—if they are evil, what does one do?” The bishop’s response clearly breaks Franz’s heart: “You have a duty to the fatherland. The Church tells you so.”

After this, Franz and Fani try to go about their normal life, but they are clearly mourning what they know is likely to come: Franz’s imprisonment and execution for his conscientious objection. Through extended scenes of the couple lying together in the countryside, sitting in their bedroom, or doing farm chores, it is clear that an internal battle is raging inside of them as they contemplate the consequences of the unthinkable—to forever lose their tranquil and joyful life together for the sake of sacrificing his life for the gospel.

As if this weren’t enough, Franz and his family begin to experience ridicule from their fellow townspeople. It seems that Franz is the only man in his village to publicly and openly question the Nazi war effort, which is clearly too much to bear for their guilty consciences. The town mayor, a close friend of Franz’s at the outset of the film, eventually ends up denouncing him: “You cannot say no to your race and your home. You are a traitor!” Franz and his family are publicly insulted, spat upon, and even physically threatened at various points in the film.

Despite the almost unimaginable pressure that Franz faces from his church, his peers, and even his own family (from his mother-in-law and sister-in-law) to give in to the Nazi’s demands, he refuses to take the oath to Hitler after his inevitable call-up to military service.

Once Franz is imprisoned, we begin to find out more about what is going on in his soul. In a series of interrogations by the Nazis and during interviews with his court-appointed defense attorney, Franz is challenged over and over again to give in. “You think your defiance will change the course of things?” “Words! [referring to the oath to Hitler] No one takes that sort of thing seriously.” Franz’s responses are simple and direct, but somehow their simplicity makes his motivations crystal clear: “I have that feeling inside me, that I can’t do what I believe is wrong. That’s all.” “If God gives us free will, we are responsible for what we do, what we fail to do.”

What will never be simple, though, is the toll that Franz’s sacrifice takes on his wife Fani and their daughters, which is illustrated through numerous scenes of toil and heartbreak as she undertakes difficult farm work and tucks their children into bed without him. Even still, the fortitude that Fani exhibits is every bit as heroic as Franz’s. Toward the end of the film, she is allowed to see Franz one last time in prison. In an almost unbearably emotional scene, Fani displays the epitome of spiritual union with her husband as she assures him of her solidarity even if his decision means death: “Whatever you do, I’m with you, always.”

As A Hidden Life draws to a close, it is clear that Franz’s experience of imprisonment, interrogation, physical abuse at the hands of the prison guards, and the mental anguish of his impending death has molded him into a Christ-like figure. When a Nazi major promises him that he will be free if he signs a paper oath to Hitler, Franz responds, “I am already free.” In one scene, he gives his tiny ration of bread to a fellow starving prisoner, who stares at him disbelievingly. In one of the most subtle yet surprisingly touching moments of the film, he carefully replaces an umbrella he had accidentally knocked over back to its original position. These actions show that he has indeed become a truly free man, unencumbered by worldly concerns, whose only goal is to do good with the little time he has left on earth.

An Unparalleled Depiction of Christian Discipleship

From a Christian perspective, watching A Hidden Life is an unparalleled film experience. In the words of one reviewer, it is arguably “the best evocation of the Gospel ever committed to film.” The deliberate, reverential style in which it is acted, filmed, and edited allows the viewer to truly immerse themselves into and contemplate the deep mysteries of some of the biggest questions that frame the nature of discipleship in Christ. How far must we go to become a true follower of Christ, and how do we reconcile this with our familial obligations? Is there meaning to our suffering for Christ when it causes us such indescribable pain? Does standing for the gospel really matter if no one seems to notice? Why does God seem to hide Himself from those who most desperately need Him?

The most pointed question this film asks of its audience is one that remains extremely pertinent in our own time, in which Christians remain the most persecuted religious group on earth. The question is this: When we are faced with the wrath of the world for our faith, will we shrink and make excuses, or will we stand for truth, no matter the consequences? In the film’s depiction of Franz Jägerstätter, we are a given a true-to-life role model for how to accomplish heroic virtue with grace and serenity.

But perhaps the greatest gift that A Hidden Life gives the viewer is three hours of space—space for reflection and contemplation of these most paramount of questions that probe the deepest mysteries of the faith life. In this age of distraction and anxiety, we desperately need it.

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