Book Discussion: The Downfall of American Christianity

The first police cruiser pulled up in front of the park, followed by another police officer striding across the lawn. Two men lay beneath a tree, curled around their belongings, on top or near their own human excrement. I sat on the park bench across the way with the book, Hope of Nations opened in front of me, distracted by the scene unfolding. At the encouragement of both police officers, the two men eventually stumbled off in two different directions. It’s not exactly Mayberry here.

Every day there are real-life illustrations of Hope of Nations’ sentence on page 24, “A post-truth society is the only logical end of a post-Christian society.” Some of the points he brought up so far:

  • American college professors prefer not to hire Christians.
  • Journalists are not reporting news through the lens of ideologies.
  • Both Democrats and Republicans are struggling in a “truth-based war of ideologies” within their own parties.
  • Experts say America is 70% Christian. His sources indicate there are actually only 7-20% of meaningfully active Christians in America.
  • Most people don’t know the history of Christianity.

But, it was his chapter of 1938 Germany that struck me the most. On November 9, 1938, the Night of Crystal exploded in Germany. Formerly peace-loving Germans burned 260 synagogues, destroyed 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses, and mobs of architects, professors, brick-layers, etc murdered dozens of individual Jews. Wilhelm, Corrie Ten Boom’s brother saw Nazi Germany coming because he understood the power of ideas. Christians need to understand the power of ideas and see what they read through the lens of ideologies. 

At this moment in time, the power of ideas stream through your social media, manipulated by people schooled in marketing and communication. All have an agenda, even the groups we agree with politically. However, Christians can take back that power by making the Christian ideology more important than their own agendas through online sharing of the hope we have in Christ with people who don’t have a relationship with Him.

But first, are we someone people can trust? Are we discerning in what we post? Do we exercise self-control in how we respond or react online? Are we researching what we post before we post? Don’t take this lightly. If we always post or send information that later becomes disproven by other websites, how can people trust what we say when we talk about Bible verses and Christ? This went through my mind as I sat in the park, reading this book.

Watching the second man stumble away from the tree, a slave to his next high or his next drink, I wondered what decisions and circumstances brought him there? If Hope of Nations says only 7-20% of Christians are measurably active in their faith, and growth of Christian ideology in the future will be the result of births, not conversions, it’s urgent the Church body step up in this age of social media and technology. Thom Rainer said it on his blog that real church growth happens when a church is focused on evangelism. Otherwise, he said, it’s just a recirculation of the saints going from church to church.

Let’s change this. 

Learn more about what I do and how you can support a missionary organization: Book given by the publisher to review. 

Ralph Winter: Outspoken, Focused, and Fearless

The Ralph D. Winter Story by Harold Fickett (Kindle Version)

While the book tended to enthusiastically go long on Winter’s theories towards the end, I closed the last page inspired to persevere in my own field. The Ralph D Winter Story was written by a friend of his who lovingly shared about Winter’s life. How did it inspire me?

  • “He had to grow into his own identity, see its usefulness, and then embrace it despite what others might think. This took a long period of acting on what he did without seeing the big picture.” As I raise support to serve in this new field, I am stepping into the unknown and wondering what this will all look like when I am at 100% support. Right now, God is moving the pieces in place, and while I wait, I am serving at a day job where God has placed me. It is my intent to serve them honorably so they succeed. I am learning a lot in my day job. While working the day job, I am talking to numerous people about what I do with WorldVenture. This often gets a variety of responses. The reason it takes so long to raise support is because of people who need help seeing the vision more clearly on what a social media ministry may look like and how it can help the church.
  • “That was who Ralph was. After a lifetime of zeroing in on this elusive identity, he used virtually every moment of his last years to live it out without compromise, and without regard for the consequences.” A ministry that compromises on total obedience doesn’t succeed. Keeping the vision ever in front of me, I intend to get to 100% support so I can put myself fully into this work. My husband says, I am catching up on wasted years. This is true. I want the rest of my life to reflect the growing faith in the Lord and to share the hope and joy we have in Jesus with others. This will be done on a variety of media and in the face-to-face world.
  • “Ralph’s sense of life as a spiritual battle deepened.” Winter pursued the theory of evil intelligent design following his wife’s death to open up conversation with those who believe in intelligent design. What he meant by this was to pray against the evil of disease. If an intelligent designer like God created the world, what if Satan uses “intelligent design” to create the viruses, diseases, and death in the world to fight God? In my own journey, I could share stories on what I felt was evil targeting us as we worked to serve with WorldVenture more strategically and whole-heartedly. This new direction in my life is different from any other program or act of service.
  • Conflict and disagreement will happen, even in the best of organizations. Winter had his conflicts. He was outspoken. His theories weren’t always welcome, and his mannerisms were said in the book to offend people. In Guatemala, a nurse didn’t welcome his ideas on cross-cultural communication. She followed closely with traditional approaches. What if the church explored the creative side of evangelism and missions and supported this financially, prayerfully, and actively through implementation? We can support solid truths by simply changing how we share those truths.

No matter what obstacles I face, I am praying Matthew 4:19 (CEB) for the Lord to continue to show me HOW to reach those with no hope, no joy, and no future with the Good News of the Gospel. A former pastor once said that a person coming to love the Lord is a “supernatural miracle.” We must first serve on our knees, before we serve with our hands.

Support this vision by clicking here. Or to schedule an appointment with me, leave a comment or use the comment form here to connect with me. It would give me joy to share the full vision with you.

Book Review: To The Farthest Shore


To The Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden brings out some notable themes: Forgiveness, betrayal, and complicated relationships not so easily solved by a few glib words.

Jenny sees Ryan and rehashes in her mind the hurt of his abrupt break up letter. Trust is broken, but she still loves him. She is compelled in spite of her reluctance to seek out answers to his long absence and his sudden loss of interest in her. What she discovers is a little Japanese girl and bitterness suppresses every ounce of compassion when she learns that he not only went to serve overseas, but found a wife and had a daughter. It’s not just a present hurt that keeps her from seeing clearly, but a secret from her past she can’t forgive.

Jenny is a complicated woman—A nurse during World War II who prides herself on running a tight ship as a nurse helping wounded warriors. She struggles with a distrust that goes back to her childhood, built on a foundation of guilt. What’s interesting are the secrets Ryan keeps as he attempts to restore the relationship.

People, in order to protect others, tend to hide pertinent information. We do the worst harm avoiding the uncomfortable to keep others from distress. Ryan’s attempt to avoid reality nearly gets him killed and sends Jenny away again. Jenny’s resentment towards Ryan’s small daughter causes the reader to get momentarily angry at Jenny. To The Farthest Shores is yet another example by Elizabeth Camden how one can write realistic characters in fiction to deviate from the predictable cookie cutter personalities found in some fiction.

*Book given by publisher to review

Book Review: The Roanoke Girls

Billed as creepy, The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel grossed me out. In spite of this reaction, I thought it was well-written and reflected a part of our culture the Christian world doesn’t always address (especially in their fiction).

This novel helps us understand what’s wrong with the Roanoke family and why the girls in the family keep disappearing or killing themselves by skillful manipulation of the chapters. The book takes us from now to then and to the different girls in the family history. The family lives in a small town in Kansas and it is as broken and dysfunctional as the Roanoke family. However, the Roanoke family have their own special brand of dysfunctional.

You discover this in the first few pages. Grandpa loves under age girls that are related to him. He’s an incestious pediphile. The book shows us how the girls and Laney (the main character) has bought into his kind of “love.” The book has many twists and turns, showing us how Laney and the other girls really had nowhere to go or any kind of help to escape the nightmare of the Roanoke family.

Laney’s own fatalistic point of view that she can’t escape her family history, succombing to repeating the cycle of her past, should bother you. We know our hope is in Christ and second chances can come by making different choices. So, why should a Christian read this book?

First, it’s a fascintating book, truly getting mysterious as Laney is the only one concerned with her cousin/sister’s disappearance. Allegra leaves clues. Other plot twists begin to happen including an ex-boyfriend who has changed. We find out the psychological trauma Laney is suffering from and how it affects her other relationships.

Second, while this book is peppered liberally with swear words, this is the language of the culture and world we live in. White washing reality is not the answer to raising intentional adults to work in an environment that is troubling to say the least.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel was well-written with a twist you can’t see coming at the end. The end is a happy ending in the language of our world, but as a Christian, I wondered if they got married or were shacking up with each other?

Rating: 4 Stars

*Book given by publisher to review

New Book Review: No More Faking Fine

“The beautiful nature of lament is that it has a beginning and an end. No one is meant to live forever in grief and sorrow, yet without it, our life loses all meaning and our sense of immeasurable joy that is intended for our journey. Without lament, there is no joy.” Pg. 15, No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece.

The book arrived in the mail. I am always interested in books that help an individual develop intimacy with God. This appealed to me because, in my own lament, so many chose to shuffle into their generational comfort instead of being a true friend. Phrases like, “I don’t want to hear it,” followed by absolute disdain for the pain I was feeling pushed me into isolation.

In healthy community, we are meant to share the burden together, not silence the hurt, cram it down into the dark secret spots of your heart, and suffer indefinitely because it makes someone else feel uncomfortable. Church, in my mind, has always been a symbol of community, of family. It hasn’t always been that way for me though.

I will write up an interview of this book in the next few weeks. Because it was mailed late to me, I get a few weeks past the January 31 deadline to write it up.

If you need to talk, you can message me on social media or by email. I always respond. 

You Just Need One #Shaken


People say this a lot to especially caution pastors: “Don’t worry about the numbers.”

I’m reading Tim Tebow’s new book, Shaken. In it, he wrote about how one preacher did this fantastic preaching to a group of people in India. After the preaching, he was disappointed to find that only one person came forward during the alter call to accept Christ.

This person was Ravi ZachariasOne person who is now known by millions.

His impact on the world for the Gospel…unbelievable.

If I only touch one person in my life, I would hope that one person is a future Ravi Zacharias, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, etc.

That’s why I no longer worry about numbers on my online platform. Yes, I want to build my online networks, but every profile is a person that I want to pour my energy, love, and compassion on to grow disciples, not fans. We can get so caught up in marketing, we take the humanity out of it.



The Art of Great Presentations

3427627Required reading doesn’t have to be all work and no joy. As in the case of The Sower, Slide:ology I greatly enjoyed. Nancy Duarte gave me insight in how I can use Power Point to tell story, show data, and make impact. The case could have been made that reading this was unnecessary since I have been doing Power Point presentations for about eight years at my day job, but new techniques sharpen the mind.

So my top five takeaways?

  1. Pictures evoke emotion and tell a story. More pictures, less words was what she recommended.
  2. The presentation supports the person. The person doesn’t support the presentation.
  3. Font is important. Take the time to seriously consider the kind of font to use in a presentation.
  4. Data doesn’t all have to go on the one slide. Make the data easily manageable using simple graphs or simply a picture with a percentage.
  5. Mini-presentation. The one thing I plan on doing is creating a small presentation to keep on my phone and tablet so when people ask me questions on the spot, I can whip out my tablet or phone to show them pictures during the natural conversation. She relayed a story of someone wishing to raise money for building fresh water wells in Africa who had a short presentation ready on his phone to support his conversations.

The mistakes people make are too much text on a slide, the slide having too much information too quickly so the audience reads ahead of the presenter, and how people make the information hard to digest. Like writing a story, moving a paragraph makes all the difference sometimes, and in presentations, filing the information down to key words and pictures make a more emotionally appealing presentation.

During the reading of this book, I have folded corners, circled key things, and generally made notes on the pages. It will be in my reference library for future presentations.