Hello my friends! I hope this finds all y’all walking in strength… Taking your thoughts captive to the One Who loves you more than you can ever know. Listen… No matter what you have been through… No matter what you have done… And yes, even those of you who make jokes about a church getting struck by lightening if you were to enter…. That is just a thought that is detached from the reality of just how much He loves you!
Okay…. So there may be a few of you who know me well enough to question, ‘Jani, why are you using a term like “all ya’ll”??? You are from Chicago! Well technically, while I have lived in Chicago for a long time, I am actually from Pittsburgh, PA.
So there. That makes more sense! Okay… No, it doesn’t.
I actually lived in Texas for a year and half, and I refuse to let go of a few things that I picked up, that being one of them.
Although I have said for years that we change the color of our hair, we switch up the car we drive…. I would like to change my accent, because darlin’, you can say just about anything with a smile and get away with it in the south, bless your heart!
And if ever there were a podcast where I would like to pretend to have a ‘get ‘away with anything’ accent, this would be the one. I will spare you that disingenuous experience!
Today, as we wrap up our ‘What do you THINK about’ series, we are talking about what you think about culture.
I have at times regretted telling you in previous episodes that we would end the series with this topic… Not because I don’t want to tackle it, but because, there is more material to cover than ANY 20-30 minute podcast can begin to tackle!
And while ‘culture’ sounds like a geo-political term, what we are going to focus on today is the culture of the Church… with a big C…. Church. To be 100% clear, that does not mean the American Church, that does not mean any particular denomination or being non-denominational. And it certainly does not mean the building you go to once or twice a week.
Ironically, the BIG C CHURCH means little ole you… Little ole me…. We ARE the Bride of Christ…. We ARE the Church!
When Jesus said to Peter, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.”, He was referring to Peter and all of those who were willing to follow Him despite the inescapable persecution that would come with that choice. So that is all of us who love Jesus and are committed to living our lives for Him and being representative of Him, regardless of whatever culture surrounds us or comes against us.
So please know that I have prayed about this… Done a ton of research and I believe that the Lord has given me this direction… We are going to boil this down to a ‘Good News / Bad News’ approach. And unfortunately, in terms of time spent on good news vs. bad news, the bulk of the time is spent on the bad news, only because ultimately, the good news is the solution to any and all bad news we face. Did I just give away the ending?
I don’t know about you, but when given the option of good news / bad news… I always go with the bad news first because what I have found is that while the bad news might appear to be overwhelming and defeating, the good news often offsets and sometimes, even negates the bad news.
So let’s dig in… For the sake of time, I am not going to expound on the bad news. You have your opinion and I have mine…. Oh believe me… I have mine! I respect yours, and trust that you will do the same, but with regard to the bad news, I will withhold much of my opinion simply for the sake of time. It might eek out here and there… So please forgive me in advance.
I am going to go rapid fire through SOME of the issues, yet these are only the tip of the iceberg and ones that I suspect might impact most of my listeners…
Here we go!
The BAD NEWS:
‘Sexual freedom’. Is it??
Whoah… She’s not messing around today!!
Here in the States, this really gained a stronghold in the 60’s. Women’s liberation … Not only did new avenues of birth control come on the scene, but then the 1972 Roe vs Wade decision gave the right to access to abortions at a federal level. Now, I recognize the sensitivity of this issue, and while I am unapologetically in favor of life, I am going to briefly address this from a proactive standpoint, rather than make a case for why I hold that position. My role as a Christian life coach is not to judge the life of another, but rather, to help equip my clients in managing their lives through managing their minds… Their choices….
So let me be clear…. I have no judgment on anyone who has made this choice… Quite the opposite! I have great compassion for women who have made that choice, because there are countless testimonies of women who have suffered a lifetime of shame, depression, and deep sorrow in the aftermath… You can Google it, but I am going to warn you, you are not going to find those stories at the top of the list. What you will find are the ‘studies’ that say 95% of women, 5 years after their abortion, say that it was the ‘right decision’. The publishers of those studies don’t even try to hide their agenda… They admit the study is an effort to dispel the myth of the emotional harm that is caused to a woman. I would love to drill down with those same women to ask more questions. For example, if they were 16 when they had the abortion and they are now 21, just graduating college, they may very well believe it was the ‘right decision’. But that is a completely different question than a question that addresses all the pain that they carry with them every single day. In fact, just for the record, I feel the same compassion for the men who were party to the process. I know men who carry the responsibility, and have lived their entire lives in silent pain for never having known their son or daughter.
Did you know that from 2008 – 2020, legal abortions were 20 per 100 live births? Let that sink in… sit with that a moment… That is 20% of our population. One can only conclude that abortion is not being reserved for extreme cases. This has become a VERY common form of birth control!
I am going to get a lot of heat for saying this, but I am totally pro-choice…. Wait, what? She’s lost her mind….
No…. I believe that anyone can absolutely choose to engage in sexual activity or not… God’s position on this is clear, but He allows free will. At this point, I could quote Scripture that helps us overcome temptation, but instead I am acknowledging that there will be times when we give into the temptation.
We all make choices, and those choices write the story of our lives.
If that is someone’s choice, I am offering the option that those decisions can be made with great thought and precaution up front, using our own ability to plan and make decisions.
Some of you right now are saying, “Oh please, Jani… You know that’s not how it works!”
No… That actually is how it works.
That is how it works in every temptation in life…. from the temptation to overeat to sexual temptation.
In many ways, our culture has so normalized choices that are not what God intended, that we have become desensitized… We incorrectly fall prey to the thinking that, ‘This is just the way it is.. I don’t really have agency over this.”
I am not suggesting that temptation is easy to overcome. I am simply saying, you DO have control … Be prepared when the temptation arrives!
Proactive decisions … planning … using our prefrontal cortex…. ALWAYS creates a better outcome than reactive decisions. This is the basis of my coaching philosophy. It applies to all things, so I am simply applying the principle here. This is a great gift that God has given us, and only humans have this capacity to DECIDE. When we use our brain to decide ahead of time, that is when we have victory in life… We decide to exercise… we decide to not over eat or over drink. We decide to not return that flirtatious behavior with that person who is married. We’re getting real here, friends.
Deciding is simply another word for choice. We actually can CHOOSE ahead of time and in the present in order to become the best version of our future selves.
I am not being judgy here… I say these things to EMPOWER women, before they ever get to the point of having to make that life altering and painful decision. Protect your heart… Protect your future self!
The next culture topic involves our children as well… It is the topic of exposing our children to sexually inappropriate material and ideas at a very young age.
I don’t know if you have seen the same videos that I have, but blows my mind when I see a parent speaking up at a school board meeting, simply reading either the curriculum or a school library book from their child’s ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, and their mic is cut off because the material is found to be too offensive for the meeting… And YET, somehow.… It is okay to expose our children to it…. Their innocent brains cannot handle that! Much of what is out there is not appropriate for adult brains!! Our brains are woven together with incredible intricacy and masterful design, yet the one thing that God did not include was a brain eraser. Once you see it, you cannot UNSEE it!
She’s wading in deep…. I sure hope she can swim!
Trans gender…. Oh no, she’s NOT!
Again… I have great compassion for a child who genuinely experiences any confusion over this issue. Yet, I just want to bring to light…
UCLA School of Law’s, Williams Institute published a study that found that 1.4% of 13- to 17-year-olds and 1.3% of 18- to 24-year-olds identify as transgender; five years ago, both of those numbers stood at 0.7%.
First, I would like to point out the obvious… We have upended an entire moral and social structure for just over 1% of the population… Men who are inherently stronger, may now participate in women’s sports… Robbing years of training, focus and dedication of these women, intercepting the rightful awards and scholarships without shame.
But hey… Let’s not stop there… After the man has just clocked a time faster than any female in history, let’s all just celebrate by allowing him to take a shower with the team! Swimmer Riley Gaines has spoken out about 6’ 4” Leah Thomas stepping into the locker room, fully male, undressing in front of these young women and watching them while they are expected to do the same. When complaints were expressed, the women were advised to seek mental health counseling.
CHURCH! We cannot remain silent!
Secondarily, in that UCLA study… I just want to ask the question, ‘Exactly WHY DID the transgender rate double in 5 years?’
I’m going to get a little personal here….. I was SUCH A TOMBOY when I was kid!! Remember that term?? Tomboys were girls who would rather play baseball than play with dolls.. The girl who would count it a win when she could beat a (pre-puberty) boy in an arm wrestling match!
That was me! When I was 4 years old, for Christmas, I received a GI Joe doll so that I could somehow participate with my sister’s doll world. I also received work boots and boxing gloves!
Fast forward, my mom’s routine with the four girls was on each birthday, to pick the birthday girl up from school, go to the department store, and pick out a new outfit or two. For my 4th grade birthday, my mom picked me up from school… I was a total brat… I pouted the entire way…. Who wants dumb clothes for a birthday gift?? She explained that first she needed to stop at what would be the equivalent of Target. I went in with her and she walked straight to the sports section, and said, “Have at it!” WWWHHHHHAAATTT????
I got a new baseball, baseball mitt and bat, a football, some new tennis balls… I was in sports heaven!
You see, My parents knew what I enjoyed, but that meant NOTHING about my gender… She’s a tomboy! I hope her future husband enjoys sports!
You probably see where I am going with this…. If I were growing up today, while MY parents would never have bought into the culture, there are so many social systems and voices weighing in not only what our children’s options are, but heavily influencing them to the point of taking extreme measures to mutilate their God designed bodies. If you have not been following the news… And I know a lot of people who simply prefer not to because it is overwhelming, I just want you to know of the documented cases where teachers have ‘assisted’ children with their identity change via pronouns, etc, but furthermore, by taking the children to a clinic in order get them started on puberty blockers, even encouraging body mutilating surgeries…. without the parent’s knowledge. There are school districts that have official forms for the child to fill out if they would like to be referred to as the opposite gender. No parental consent required. What is the mindset of this thinking?
Olivia Garrison, who is a teacher in the Kern High School District in CA, is completely clear and confident in her role as a teacher. Garrison states, “’My job, which is a public service, is to protect kids…. And she goes on to say, ‘Sometimes, they need protection from their own parents.’
Yes, my friends… this is where we are. The social structure wants to parent your child. Your child needs to be protected from you and your values.
No, with all due respect, Ms Garrison… YOUR JOB is to teach our children how to read, write, learn math, and compete in the world they will be entering into.
Are we going to allow EVIL to insert itself into the most vulnerable in our society? Adolescence is already a confusing stage of a child’s life… If they have been primed since kindergarten to believe there are many genders, and then encounter the Ms Garrison’s of the world who are willing to say, “I know your parents don’t understand you… Come, let us be your family”…
REALLY…. No REALLY! We cannot stay silent in the face of such evil!
Going back to the UCLA study one last time… The reason I believe those numbers doubled in that 5 year span is because of the mindset of those in charge, like Ms Garrison, but at every level.. And of course, social media only serves to reinforce all of that.
The United States Surgeon General recently spoke up with the opinion that children under 13 should not be on social media. Hip hip hooray! And adult in the room!
And yeeeetttttt…. The Department of Justice has threatened states like Arkansas and Texas, who are attempting to put laws in place to restrict gender mutilating surgeries for minors, with the DOJ’s position being that parents do not have the right stand in the way of the children’s rights for ‘necessary treatment’.
I wish I knew where I heard this statement because I would love to give credit, but I actually found it on a note that I had written down years ago as I was recently going through some old paperwork. It says:
A society of adults that places itself before the needs, hopes and dreams of its next generation is destined to self-destruct.
And then there’s this…. We have universities who are limiting the number of qualified applicants to their medical school programs based on race… Didn’t we already do this?? This does not end well!
In a TX lawsuit, 6 medical schools are being sued for discrimination against male, Asian, and white applicants.
George Stewart, the plaintiff in the lawsuit says, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a GPA of 3.96 and scored a 511 out of a possible 528 on the Medical College Admissions Test but was still rejected. Meanwhile, students from minority backgrounds were admitted with GPA scores as low as 2.82 and MCAT scores as low as 495, according to the public records obtained by Stewart.
Listen, I don’t care if you are Barney the Purple Dinosaur…. When I go under the knife, skin color is irrelevant! I want someone who is the most qualified!
Statistics on fentanyl…. Speaking for the US now, one of the scariest things this nation has ever seen. It is the leading cause of death for 18 – 45 year olds. About 114 deaths per day in the US are directly tied to fentanyl poisoning… and it IS poisoning, not a drug overdose because more often than not, the victim is completely unaware.
That one pill looks like percocet or Xanax, but it is laced with fentanyl and it can kill!
Let’s bump that age down a bit… teens will be teens… Often times, these are great students… athletes, yes, kids involved in their youth group… first time… Thinking they are just going to experiment. That same one pill can and does kill them as well!
And most heinous, are the rainbow pills designed to attract children… LITTLE children. They have been discovered in what looks like a legitimate packaging of a candy like Nerds… Or have you heard this one? SIDEWALK chalk… manufactured with fentanyl… I am sorry, but I am going to offer my opinion on this one… That is an entirely different level of evil.
Listen, You may have your own opinion about our wide open borders, if you can even call them borders anymore, but the drug smuggling and human trafficking that is happening as a result of this is not only unprecedented, but literally killing our children and young adults, and quite frankly thousands of migrants who the open borders are touted to help, as migrant toddlers have been left in the desert to die after the cartels have collected their money… Or the young women who will literally ‘pay for’ their journey for years to come in the sex trades.
Last topic… Before I alienate every potential listener, understanding that ship may have sailed..
Say what you will about the COVID response, and I completely agree that there is an argument to be made that says, “No one knew what to do… Hasn’t occurred in our lifetime.”
Given what we now know, I am not sure that’s entirely true, but we’re not going to go there.
And… I am not going to get into the vax vs non-vax.
COVID is a real thing! My brother in law passed away a year ago from COVID complications… I am not making a case one way or another in this episode.
What I WOULD like to address is how it is linked to all of these other issues.
We all experienced, whether in the US, Europe, Australia or Canada, the latter two the most extreme, lockdowns. Remember, the 3 week reset? Eeh… Okay, I will be generous, some said 4-6 weeks.
Do you remember essential vs non-essential? I find it interesting that churches were deemed non-essential… Do you remember the Calgary, Canada, or the Florida pastors who were literally arrested for defying the lockdown, while liquor stores and in certain areas, strip clubs were permitted to remain open! Kinda makes you go ‘hmmmm’, doesn’t it?
Do you recall extremely credible immunologists offering alternate treatments as an option? Maybe you don’t because they were canceled on social media and shunned from the medical community. They struggled to get their message out in order to help people with treatments we now know are effective! Some of them lost their medical licenses for speaking out. Other physicians who had an opinion learned that lesson pretty quickly and thus remain quiet yet today. Huh… That’s odd!
It all started with bats in a wet market…. Anyone who suggested otherwise was persecuted as a conspiracy theorist and any communication in that regard was removed from social media as ‘disinformation’, though now, it is almost universally agreed that the wet market message was a complete ruse.
Lastly, how about those that actually do have debilitating illnesses as a direct result of the vaccine? They have been deemed crazy and told to be quiet from their wheelchair.
Folks, again, I am not trying to make a COVID case one way or another. The case I am making is that our free societies have emerged as extremely free in ways we never would have believed 5-10 years ago, and oh so NOT free in so many other ways.
We are expected to become SHEEPLE on one health crisis, while we watch our kids dying from something that can largely be brought under control, but no one is doing a thing about it.
I will go on record and say that GOD is my Shepherd… No one else.
We are supposed to stay quiet as our kids are exposed to everything from sexually explicit materials in school, drag queens in libraries…. Did you know that Kirk Cameron was recently denied access to 50 library story hours because his Christian values based book was not deemed appropriate, while these same libraries were hosting drag queen story hours?
Jani… This is sounding awfully political…. No see, that’s part of the game today… If you speak up for Christian values, you are somehow being political, and if not political, narrow minded and judgemental, non-inclusive. You are expected to keep your mouth shut because in this inclusive society, there is no place for people like you. Clearly, that’s what inclusive means….
GOD gave us a free society… Yes, I love my country and yes, I will defend it and its principles all day long, but I first answer to my God. We all do, whether we acknowledge Him or not. HE is the Shepherd… HE is Who we are called to follow… Not the pressures of the prevailing culture. He has entrusted us with this responsibility and in this cultural climate, that is a BIG responsibility!
We get to DECIDE what we do with that responsibility.
Official end of bad news….
So at this point, you are saying to yourself, “Jani… You have taken a hard turn down a dark road here…. What happened to the abundant life message? What happened to the peace and joy you’ve been talking about??”
Hang in there…. It all fits together because dear friends, because we are not VICTIMS of this world. We are conquerors because HE has conquered ALL SIN, every last issue that we just went over and all of those that we did not!
As I have said in the past, this is not about positive thinking! The only way we move forward in strength is with a sound mind and spirit, rooted in God’s Word so that we will NOT fall victim to the thinking of this world… so that we will not be persuaded even if ever so subtly, that good is evil and evil is good.
Isaiah 5:20 says:
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
We know how the story ends… Keep your eyes fixed on the prize, our Lord Jesus
This might sound trite, my friends…. These things are all temporal.
God is still on the Throne.
Eternal will ALWAYS WIN over temporal!
There are things we have control over and there are things we do NOT have control over. The fruits of our lives will be a direct result of how we think about and manage that simple truth. Manage that which you have control over. That is God’s work for us. Relinquish that which you do not have control over and DECIDE to trust the Lord with it. It is only in that place, where true peace can be found.
If you are at odds with your kids because the current ideology dominates their thinking, and they are lashing out at you because not only do they accuse you of being wrong, they accuse you of being a horrible person, you cannot control them. All you can do is honor your God and if applicable, your marriage, in your response to them so as not to create more pain. Ultimately, you will not be held accountable for what your kids thought about you… You will be held accountable for how you stayed true to the Lord. Thank you for that real life example from someone I love, as we recently had this very conversation. To his credit he has stayed true to his beliefs and his Lord.
If you are experiencing persecution for not buying into 57 gender varieties that were intended only for the Heinz corporation… Sorry younger audience, Google Heinz 57…. Get on your knees and then stand your ground. If you have children or grandchildren, THEY ARE DEPENDING UPON YOU! God made man and He made woman. Humans made every other gender variety. Period.
If you find yourself self-censoring (another term we’d never heard of 5 years ago), seek God’s wisdom. There are times when it is prudent to stay silent and there are times when it is at the expense of our Lord and Savior. He will show you the difference.
Friends, we have 90 year old great grandparents who don’t dare speak their values into the younger generation for fear that their great grandchildren will reject them … Not their values…. THEM!
1 Peter 5:5 says: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
There are countless examples of how you might be embroiled in the issues that face us today that were unthinkable only a decade ago. You might feel hopeless and discouraged, yet in Proverbs, we read:
My child, pay attention to what I say.
Listen carefully to my words.
Don’t lose sight of them.
Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
for they bring life to those who find them,
and healing to their whole body.
Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
Avoid all perverse talk;
stay away from corrupt speech.
Look straight ahead,
and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
Mark out a straight path for your feet;
stay on the safe path.
Don’t get sidetracked;
keep your feet from following evil.
Many verses throughout Scripture use the words heart and mind interchangeably and I think this is one of those examples because our heart feels what our mind thinks, so when verse 23 says ‘guard your heart’, in the context of these extremely difficult issues, I want to encourage you to guard your mind. CHOOSE YOUR THOUGHTS … Thoughts that are rooted in Christ.
Take on the mind of Christ…. Take every thought captive to His wisdom and plan for your life.
If you have ever noticed, throughout Jesus’ time on earth, He always loved the sinner, but simply did not tolerate the sin. Hang onto that word, ‘tolerate’… I am going to come back to it.
In every case, where he showed compassion and forgave sin, He finished with the command to leave the life of sin, in other words, repent. Change your thinking…. Change the direction of your life. Continuing in thee sin… Or Jesus tolerating the sin… Not an option.
Years ago… probably 25+ years ago, I was in an informal small group with a few friends… All highly educated and absolutely committed to their walk with Christ.
One gentleman in the group was a psychologist… I will call him Chuck…. Chuck was a very gentle spirit, quick witted, but soft spoken. Had a huge heart for anyone in pain and never spoke a harsh word… So you can only imagine the response when we were all sitting at dinner one evening and he casually dropped this prophetic truth like a nuclear bomb. He said, “I believe the greatest threat to the Church (big C), is tolerance.”
OH MY WORD! We all sat there speechless! Now remember…. This was 25 years ago… When being a Christian was often conflated with being nice! Look where ‘nice’ has gotten us! It breaks my heart to say that the thinking that if we are just ‘nice to everyone’, they will leave us and our Christian values alone, has contributed to where we are today. Chuck spoke great wisdom that evening and could not have been more spot on!
Chuck wasn’t telling us what to do that evening. He was exposing the truth and then challenging us to seek God’s wisdom in light of that truth. He was essentially COACHING us to get out of our comfort zone.
Friends, this is where coaching is much different than teaching. Initially, coaching doesn’t feel good, it is very uncomfortable, but in the long run it gives us the strength to become the best version of ourselves… The person that God designed us to be and to live the life the abundant He wants us to have.
I know this is a challenging message today. It has been for me as well. There will be people who will tell me I am a fool for tackling this topic! Afterall, you’d HAVE to be foolish to discuss such things when you are trying to build a podcast audience.
To all of my listeners around the world, I cannot tell you how much I love and appreciate you. But I also want you to know that I am playing in this arena and in all things in life for an Audience of One.
I am not telling you what you should or should not do. That is between you and the Lord. What I am offering to you today is that God has entrusted us with this time in history. We will each have to answer to Him, like the servants with the talents, what we did with them. In that parable, the third servant was the one who was punished…. because he did NOTHING.
Seek the Lord…. Ask Him what work He has for you in all of this. My work is not your work and your work is not the work of another. That’s okay. Please know that I am praying for each of you who dares to ask Him… That you will have the courage and that He will equip you in all that He asks you to do.
Until then, peace and grace to you, may you find joy in the journey!