How Does Prayer Change Us?

Prayer is the power tool for Christians to communicate with the Lord. It is our way of realizing that we have needs and the only provider of our needs is the Father in Heaven. The Bible tells us that He will never leave us, as it is written in Scripture,

The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

And we can lay our worries to Him because He promised to take care of us, as is written, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

As we pray, we can feel a change in our spiritual life. We are closer to God because we continuously communicate. Through prayer, we acknowledge that His love for us is infinite, and He will never leave us. Truly, there is power in prayer and it can change us in many ways. How does prayer change us?

Changes Us by Knowing God Better
Prayer changes us by making us closer to God and knowing Him better. The Holy Spirit guides us through prayer. The Bible tells us that Jesus assured us that after His resurrection, the Holy Spirit will be with us forever and that the Holy Spirit is all around us to give us wisdom in knowing God.

The Bible also tells us, “For I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).

It is written that through a very good relationship with God, through prayer, we are able to experience God’s omnipresence through the Holy Spirit. For this reason, we know God better because we experience Him in our daily lives.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen (2 Peter 3:18).

It is also through knowing God that we are able to understand God’s nature. We know that he will never leave us and that He is the great provider, but only through prayer that we may experience knowing him more. And that God’s love for us shines brighter than anything else.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Changes Us by Listening
Prayer also changes us by improving our attitude on listening to what God wants. Most of the time, we are always focused on presenting our request to God and praying constantly that our requests are answered.

Sometimes, we forget to listen to God and acknowledge that it is His will that should be followed. “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:20).

Listening to God is not an easy task. It requires constant discipline, and we can only achieve training through continuous prayer and practicing His command.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:9).

However, there will come a time when we are tempted to not follow His command or His will. That is why, we have to train our minds to avoid the noise of the world and instead, listen to God and God alone.

We can do this by continuously learning about God and communicating through prayer as we strengthen our faith in Him, as Scripture says, “But solid food belongs to those who are full of age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

Changes Us through Patience
Prayer also changes our lives by patience. Because as we pray, we are required to be patient in listening to God’s will. As Jesus Christ said,

Truly I say to you, If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Be you removed, and be you cast into the sea; it shall be done (Matthew 21:21).

However, human as we are, we are sometimes impatient. We become tired of waiting for our prayers to be answered. Do not fret. The Bible tells us that:

Have you not known? Have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:28-31).

Continuous prayer can change us and make us patient. Our communication with God will tell us that He will answer our prayers according to His will.

Changes Us through Faith
Prayer changes us by nourishing our faith in God. As we communicate with God, we learn that He is truly our great provider and it is only through God that we can receive impossible breakthroughs in our lives.

However, there are circumstances when we feel hopeless, especially when trial after trial happens to us. Remember, it is only in God’s will that we can understand the totality of each situation. As the Word says, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:3).

And “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

We are reminded that there is an inexpressible and glorious joy as we continue our faith in God because we know through Him, we can achieve impossible things.

Continued prayer to God makes us remember God’s promises to His faithful servants. That is why it is important for us to continue and communicate daily through prayer.

Changes Us through Our Inner Strength
Prayer has the power to change us by building our inner strength through Christ Jesus. As stated in Psalm 46:1-3,

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

The Father in Heaven promises to be the refuge in times of harsh circumstances. Therefore, prayers have the power to change circumstances to a better one by changing our inner perspectives to that of a perspective that has faith in Christ Jesus and the Father in Heaven.

Our life depends heavily on our prayer life and spiritual life. That is also true with our inner strength. As we pray, our inner strength is being built to be stronger and stronger until we become prepared for whatever circumstances we face because the Father in Heaven has promised in Isaiah 43:1-3,

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Whenever we need strength, we can count on God to be there in endless ways as written in Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.”

And rest assured your path is right as long as you have constant communication to God through prayer.

Changes Us through Ultimate Surrender
Prayer changes us through our ultimate surrender to God. Prayer is a form of worship and only through worship, we are able to surrender ourselves through God. As Scripture says, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).

Through ultimate surrender, we can rest all our worries to the Lord, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes” (Psalm 37:7).

Finally, we are reminded that, indeed, prayer is our most important tool in communicating with God. It is also equally important if we have faith in Him and we know Him better, which can be achieved through continuous prayer.

Having a continuous communication with the Lord will help us and lead us to the right path. A stronger prayer life changes us through our inner strength, through ultimate surrender, through patience, by listening, by knowing God better, and through faith in Christ Jesus as the Bible tells us,

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).

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Religious Discrimination: Christian Teacher Forced to Resign over Pronouns

I just read this article and had to share….and please share your thoughts with me about this article if you have time to do so!

A high school teacher who claims he was forced to resign because he declined to use the preferred pronouns and names of transgender students is alleging religious discrimination in a federal appeals court case.

John Kluge, a music teacher, was forced out at Brownsburg (Ind.) High School after he declined to follow a new district-wide policy mandating that teachers use the preferred gender names and pronouns of students, even though Kluge says he had reached a compromise with school administrators to only use the last names of students.

Kluge, who the suit calls a “man of deep Christian faith,” says the district violated his rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which requires employers to “reasonably accommodate . . . an employee’s . . . religious observance or practice” unless it creates an “undue hardship.”

According to Kluge’s brief, he is only asking that his compromise accommodation – the usage of last names – be allowed. The compromise “would allow him to stay neutral on transgender issues and focus on teaching music,” the brief says.

Kluge lost at the district court but appealed to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing Kluge and filed the opening brief with the court Friday.

“The district considered that accommodation reasonable and granted it,” the brief says. “But after a handful of teachers and students grumbled about his religious accommodation, the district pressured Mr. Kluge to leave the school and – when he refused to do so willingly – revoked the accommodation, brooked no exceptions to its transgender-affirmation rules, and forced Mr. Kluge to resign or be terminated.

“The voices against tolerance and religious accommodation had won, even though no one in our society – in school or out – has a right to demand confirmation ‘of their beliefs or even their way of life,’” the brief says.

ADF alleges the district has created a “heckler’s veto” to religious liberty.

“If avoiding undue hardship means finding a religious accommodation to which no one will object, few – if any – accommodations will survive, and Congress’ nondiscrimination mandate will be eviscerated,” the brief says.

The brief calls Kluge a “deeply religious man who believes that following the district’s policy would require him to tell a dangerous lie to his students and would be perilous to his own soul.”

The case is Kluge v. Brownsburg Community School Corporation.

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Seven Ways to Biblically Empower Other Women

We live in a culture where it’s finally politically correct to empower women. But how we do it makes all the difference in the world. Neither men nor women get their power or strength from within themselves, nor from others who give them opportunities, promotions, or positions of authority.

Psalm 75:6-7 says, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another” (KJV). Scripture makes it clear the Holy Spirit is the One who empowers (1 Corinthians 10:11). When we understand and acknowledge the true source of empowerment, we can strengthen and empower others far more effectively than training courses and positive affirmation. We can also lead them to a well of power that is constantly available to draw from themselves.

With the recognition of where true empowerment comes from, here are seven ways to empower other women, biblically.

  1. Encourage them to rely on God’s strength.
  2. Encourage their faith that with God, all things are possible.
  3. Teach them to be humble.
  4. Share your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
  5. Help them understand their new identity in Christ.
  6. Pray for and with them.

Ask how you can pray for a woman you’re hoping to empower – and then do it. If you’re talking on the phone or via zoom, pray for her right there. If you’re having coffee or lunch together, pray for her at that moment. Saying “I’ll pray for you” and then doing that outside her presence might rob her of the blessing of being empowered by your actual prayer. It also teaches her how to pray. Prayer is empowering in itself. Let women see it through your willingness to pray for them at the moment.

  1. Encourage them to suit up with the armor of God.

Take the concept of “power dressing” to a whole new level when you teach another woman to suit up with the armor of God. After we are instructed in Ephesians 6:10 to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might,” we are then told in verse 11 to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

To put on the whole armor of God (as covered in Ephesians 6:12-18) simply means to abide in Christ in every area of our lives – covering every part of our bodies with Christlikeness, so we can withstand the spiritual battle that rages around us. Scripture says, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (verse 12). There is no better way to be prepared for and empowered against the satanic realm than to literally “wear” Christ by abiding intimately with Him.

Specifically, we are told in that passage to fasten on the belt of truth and – because Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) – that means we are to be centered in the truth of Christ. Tell a woman to put on the breastplate of righteousness by explaining that the LORD is our righteousness (Jeremiah 33:6), and we are to cover our hearts with Him or make Him our first love. Encourage her to wear the helmet of salvation, covering her mind with the truth that salvation exists in no other name but Jesus (Acts 4:12), and she is to love Him with all her mind (Matthew 22:37). By encouraging her to suit up daily in the armor of God, you are giving her a whole new perspective on how to “dress for success.”

Be faithful in these seven ways to biblically empower women in your circle of influence, and you will be unleashing within them the power to change the world around them, as they glean the truth from 1 John 4:4 that greater is He who is in them than he who is in the world.

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Powerful Prayers of Thanks and Gratitude to God For His Many Blessings

Having a thankful heart can change your entire perspective and outlook on life. One of the best ways to experience the power of thanksgiving is to through prayer. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – with job loss, sickness and loss, we can experience blessings. When we offer a prayer of thanks to God, our focus shifts from our problems to our blessings. And that’s the beauty of faith – we can experience gratitude and give thanks despite the circumstances and storms that surround us.

We have a choice every day to give God thanks. Start expressing your gratitude today for His faithfulness and love in your life. Thank God for his sovereign control over your life. Thank God for the hope and joy that we regardless of how we may be feeling in the moment. Let him change your heart to strengthen you with HIS peace. The best way to defeat satan’s attacks of disappointment, fear, worry is through a grateful heart! We surely have so much to be thankful for because of the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and the peace He offers. Let’s learn to thank God for all seasons of life. Below are some of my favorite prayers of “THANKS”. May they inspire and grow a heart of gratitude in you today.

Prayer of Thanks to God
Heavenly Father, thank You for caring about my life. Thank You that I can talk to You about everything. I have lots of concerns so I’m bringing each one to You. Thank You for promising to give me Your peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Heart of Gratitude
Dear Lord, I praise You and I love being in Your presence. Thank You for the sacrifice you made for me on the cross. Thank You for helping my heart to rest in Your presence. In a busy world, it is here that I find truth, grace, and mercy. My heart is overwhelmingly grateful. As it overflows with gratitude, may You present opportunities for me to serve. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Thanks for Blessings
Father, thank you for intervening in my life and allowing me to have a personal relationship with you. Thank you for your love for me today and forever.

Thank you for the blessings you’ve given me and my family. Help us use those blessings to bless others. May I live a life of true joy as I see you at work around me today! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Prayer for Thanks-Living
Dear God, I hate to say it, but I have been guilty of grumbling and griping about all my problems and trials. I have failed to be thankful and to remember that You are at work in my life, even through all the troubles.

Please forgive me, God. I want to be a person who keeps my eyes on You and praises You, no matter what may come my way. So, thank you God for these blessings (name them) and these challenges (name them). I know You are in control of all things.

I know You love me and work all things together for my good. I choose to trust You, Lord. Teach me to be a “praiser” who always finds the good… and not a complainer who always finds the bad. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For Grace and Gratitude
Dear heavenly Father, please help me to accept both life’s little challenges and Your restoring help with grace and gratitude. Help me remember that no problem is too large or too small for me to call out to You. Please help me remember that a heart can be filled in with joy every day, not just the easy days. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Praise in the Storm
O Lord, thank You that You love me and that You give me comfort like no other. Thank You that You are a God who is well acquainted with all our grief and that You ache when I ache. Help me to remember that in the midst of struggles, trials, and utter heartbreak that You offer hope. You are the Author of Hope and Salvation. I praise You that through the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, all things are put under Your feet. Allow me to trust Your heart and believe that there is more to life than the heartache of this world. Allow me to lean ever closer to You in the midst of this fallen world. Thank You God for hope, peace, Your love, Your comfort, and Your salvation. Amen.

A Prayer for Blessing
Thank you for your great love and blessing over our lives. Thank you that your favor has no end, but it lasts for our entire lifetime. Forgive us for sometimes forgetting that you are intimately acquainted with all of our ways, that you know what concerns us, and you cover us as with a shield.

Establish the work of our hands and bring to fulfillment all that you have given us to do in these days. We pray that you would make our way purposeful and our footsteps firm out of your goodness and love. Give us a heart of wisdom to hear your voice, and make us strong by your huge favor and grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

For Hope and Joy
Heavenly Father, thank You for ordering my life. I choose to trust in You and find my delight in Your laws. I commit my ways to You and ask for divine guidance over my life. I rest in You, believing You’re working all things for good in my life. Come and have Your way in me. Keep my heart steadfast in hope, and fill me with joy today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Prayer to Give Thanks to the Lord
Lord, teach me to offer you a heart of thanksgiving and praise in all my daily experiences of life. Teach me to be joyful always, to pray continually and to give thanks in all my circumstances. I accept them as Your will for my life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). I long to bring pleasure to Your heart daily. Break the power of the enemy in my life. Defeat Him through my sacrifice of praise. Change my outlook and attitude into one of joyful contentment with my present circumstances. I thank You for… [Name a difficult circumstance in your life presently and thank God for it.]

Jesus, I want to be like You who obeyed the Father without complaint. You embraced the chains of humanity when You walked this earth. Convict me whenever I complain or compare myself with others. Give me Your attitude of humility and thankful acceptance. I want to be like the Apostle Paul who learned contentment in every circumstance. I choose to continually offer You a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that give praise to Your name (Hebrews 13:15). I long to bring a smile to Your face. Teach me the power of a thankful heart. I know that Your truth dwells in a thankful heart.

“I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 7:17-18:1). In Jesus’ name, amen.

For Faithfulness
Father, thank You for the testimony of Your faithfulness and goodness that I have in the cross of Christ. Thank You for Your loyal love and compassion that stocks my pantry with everything I need to live a life that pleases and serves You. Forgive me for the ways I have knowingly or unknowingly rebelled against Your truth. Resurrect the grand vision for my life that You have crafted just for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thankful for God’s Strength
Heavenly Father, thank You for life and hope and bravery. Thank You that even at my weakest, I can rely on You for strength. Remind me of the bravery You’ve called me to step into today, and help me to encourage others with the mighty hope of the Lord too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

For Creating Me With Purpose
Dear God, thank You that in Jesus, I am equipped, enough and loved. Period. Thank You for creating me with purpose and potential. Please use me to change the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Grateful for Salvation
Thank You Lord that Your finished work on the cross has made a personal relationship with You possible. You are our Maker and only You can truly satisfy. Thank You that we can seek You and that You can be found. Thank You that You minister to our spirits with Your Truth. Thank You that You are indeed our “Daddy” in heaven. In Christ’s name, Amen.

I hope these words inspire your own prayer of thanks to God and fill your heart with gratitude today!

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What Does Baptism Symbolize?

Picture of me teaching a fellow college classmate all about Christianity! I hope she decides to give Christ a chance!

The New Testament offers great wisdom and guidance to help us understand the purpose of baptism.

Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (See: Acts 2:38). When we are baptized, we repent by turning from our sinfulness and receive the forgiveness that Jesus provided through his death and resurrection.

Baptism is a symbol of our faith (See: Acts 8:12-13). The model we see in the New Testament is that when someone became a new believer (demonstrating faith in Jesus), they repented and were baptized. Baptism serves as a vital step for those declaring their faith in Jesus.

Baptism is a symbol of being buried and raised to life with Jesus (See: Romans 6:3-4). When we are baptized, it is the means by which we enter into the death of Jesus, and it is also how we are raised up into new life in Jesus.

When we take into consideration the scope of New Testament insight on baptism, we can conclude that Jesus did not need to be baptized for the same reasons that believers do. But, Jesus did need to be baptized, which is why he asked John to baptize him. By being baptized, Jesus began his work to take our place and to redeem humanity. He modeled baptism as something all believers need to do as a step in their faith walk. This remains true for believers today.

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Trump Administration Will Spare Bibles from Tariffs on Chinese Goods

The Trump administration has decided to give Bibles a free pass amid an escalating tariff war between the U.S. and China.

In May, Christian publishers began to panic as bibles and other religious texts printed in China, together totaling some 65 percent of the 2018 U.S. brochures and leaflet imports, were set to be slapped with tariffs of up to 25 percent.

On Tuesday, however, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) published two lists of items that will be subjected to a 10% hike in tariff charge starting in September and December respectively — the Bible, USTR said, will be spared from both.

“Bibles and other religious literature are among the items removed from the tariff list and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent,” USTR confirmed to Christianity Today in a statement.

Christian publishers and Bible translators were becoming increasingly concerned by the Trump administration’s refusal to back down from a trade war with China and repeatedly warned that financial restrictions on the printing of the good book would restrict its proliferation across the globe.

“For the past several months, there has been great concern among the Christian publishing community that our important work would be threatened by proposed tariff schedules,” the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, Ben Mandrell, told CT. “Today’s announcement by [USTR] has given us hope that the administration has heard our concern.”

Mandrell did, however, express concern at the word of God being “taken hostage in an international trade dispute.”

Other items that evaded the tariff charge included child safety seats, cranes used in ports and construction, shipping containers and certain types of fish, according to Reuters. Interestingly, rosaries, which are a staple in Catholic religious practice, remain on the earlier tariff list — they will fall victim to a 10% tax when the new charges come into effect September 1.

Still, the decision to axe tariffs on the importing of Bibles has been widely celebrated by Christian leaders. “I am pleased to see today that US tariffs on China will now exempt the Bibles printed in China,” tweeted Russell Moore, President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. The announcement is “welcome news” for many publishers and ministries, he added.

The ERLC also clarified why such an overwhelming proportion of American Bibles are printed in China as opposed to at home in the United States.

“Like encyclopedias and textbooks, Bibles contain a large amount of text that must be formatted to a bound book on thin paper. China has been specializing in this printing technology for decades and is home to the world’s largest Bible-printing company, printing at least 150 million Bibles in 2016,” the ERLC explained. “To import Bibles from a country other than China would require time, extensive quality tests, and higher prices incompatible with the high and consistent demand for Bibles in the United States.”

Source:
https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/will-maule/trump-administration-spares-bibles-from-tariffs-on-chinese-goods.html

The U.S. Church Isn’t Dying and Young People Aren’t Fleeing, Says Myth-Busting Book

You’ve likely heard the conventional wisdom: The U.S. church is shrinking. Teenagers and young adults are leaving in droves. Atheism and unbelief are growing rapidly.

But a new book challenges those assumptions – and even says the truth is exactly the opposite.

The book, Myth of the Dying Church: How Christianity Is Actually Thriving in America and the World by author Glenn T. Stanton, asserts that church attendance in the United States is at an all-time high, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of the population. That includes the colonial days.

Stanton also says Americans are more attracted to Bible-believing churches that discuss sin and salvation than to liberal churches that avoid both topics.

Stanton – the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family – examined multiple studies and bodies of research for the book.

Christian Headlines recently spoke to him. Following is a transcript:

We hear so often that the church is shrinking today – that young people are leaving the faith, and Christianity is disappearing. You say this is not so. Why?

First, as I got into the research while writing the book, I was really surprised how much stronger the data on this topic actually is. It tells this story: The best forms of Christianity, faithful, Bible-teaching churches calling its members to real discipleship and vibrant worship, are holding very strong, even growing in some ways. The most troubling forms, those that’ve compromised on things like the deity of Christ, the historicity of the resurrection, the reality of sin and miracles as well as caving on issues of sexuality, abortion and homosexuality, those churches are hemorrhaging members by the millions and have been for decades. So the story here is a separating of the wheat and the tares, but certainly not a decline of Christianity.

So America is not becoming more secular, more unbelieving?

Not in terms of the people themselves. Yes, our culture seems to be in terms of media, Hollywood and journalists. But when it comes to people themselves, there is certainly not a mass move toward unbelief. I read an article recently from a major conservative news source that said atheism is the largest “religious” group in our nation. Not even close, for goodness sake. The Pew Research Center tells us that only 3 percent of the U.S. population is atheist. Only 4 percent are agnostics. For the people of truth, we can spread a great deal of falsehood. I’m trying to change that through this book.

We hear so much about the growth of the so-called “nones” – those who say they no longer identify with any institutional church. You say these “nones” are not what most people have been told–that they don’t represent a growing population of new unbelievers. Explain what you mean.

The nones are certainly the most misunderstood, and therefore most misreported, part of the story in all of this. Most leading, university-based sociologists of religion explain these are certainly not a new and growing category of unbelievers. The nones are largely those who were never really attached to a church in the first place. They are folks who might have said, “Yes, I’m Methodist” or “I’m Baptist” but they were actually only CEO Christians… Christmas and Easter Only types. Their pastor never knew who they were. But now, based on how survey questions are being asked, they are more comfortable being honest, saying they have no real connection to any institutional church.

Thus, the nones only mark a new categorization, not new unbelievers. Again, like the Harvard/Indiana research and other sources explain, there is not a growing secularization among people in the United States.

We also hear about young people leaving the church in largenumbers–that they are losing interest in matters of faith. You say that’s not true. What did you discover?

This is a very interesting finding of the book. First, we must know that every generation has seen their young people cool their faith practices. If you read the Puritans of the colonial days, they complained about the very troubling secularization of their young people. There never was a golden age of stalwart young believers. Goodness, look at the kids of the parents that had direct, audible intimacy with God. Cain killing Abel could be understood as “walking away from the faith.” The Prodigal Son also. So this age of development has always seen more “independence” in many areas of life. It’s the nature of moving into one’s own adulthood. Nothing new there.

But the truth is that we have more young people, age 18-29, regularly attending church today than in the early 1970s. That was the time of the really remarkable revival of the Jesus Movement. And where are they going? To the more conservative, vibrant evangelical churches.

Young people are not bailing on biblical Christianity. It speaks to the emptiness of the human heart and soul, and it does so to young adults.

People will often tell Christians they need to get with the times, stop talking about sin, miracles, salvation and start accepting things like gay marriage, sexual freedom and abortion or the church will die. You claim the exact opposite is true. Why?

This is one of the strongest and most interesting findings of the book. I included a chapter in the book, one I didn’t originally plan on, entitled “Stick a Fork in It: The Major Fail of Liberal Christianity.” It’s time to call the liberalizing effort in the church a major failure. People are voting with their feet. They are leaving the liberal, compromising churches in massive numbers. Some of those are just tossing the faith while others are going across the street to the more faithful evangelical churches, those that actually believe Christianity is true.

Get this very interesting finding: Two scholars from Columbia University and UCLA investigated where same-sex attracted individuals who attend church, choose to go. To their utter shock –they are very pro-gay researchers –they found that such people are 2.5 times more likely to attend more conservative churches, those holding an unapologetically biblical stance on sexuality. These scholars could not understand why gay- and lesbian-identified folks would choose to go to such “gay-hostile” churches. Well, maybe they find them to be quite kind and gracious, and the Bible teaching and worship enriching to their lives. The very people the rainbow flag-waving “we welcome all” churches are trying to attract are not interested in their liberalizing compromises. We must never forget that people will be attracted to the loving and truthful presentation of Christ’s life-giving Gospel.

What’s happening with the Christian church around the globe? Is there any good news there?

Oh goodness. Philip Jenkins from Baylor University is perhaps the leading sociologist of religion on the global picture. He says the Christian Church is absolutely exploding in most parts of the world, particularly what scholars call the Global South. It is exploding on the African continent, South America, China and throughout many parts of Asia. God’s Word is doing everything but returning void.

It is important for us to have faith in the unquenchable work of the Holy Spirit. What He did at Pentecost, where “many were being continually added to their numbers daily,” He is still doing today. His character and power dictates that He cannot do otherwise. The Church is in very good hands.

So not only is the “church is dying” mantra bad sociology, but it’s also bad theology.

Source:
https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/the-u-s-church-isn-t-dying-and-young-people-aren-t-fleeing-says-myth-busting-book.html

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Meet the Christian Tech Executive Who Wants to Save Silicon Valley’s Soul

Of all the rituals of modern life that Silicon Valley technologists have burrowed their way into — eating, exercising, communicating, doing the laundry — one ritual that’s stayed largely undisrupted is religion. Despite its other advances, Silicon Valley remains one of the least religious parts of the country.

Vincent “Skip” Vaccarello is trying to change that. A 30-year veteran of the tech industry, Vaccarello was an executive at VisiCorp, an early PC-software-maker, and has been the CEO of Applied Weather Technology and Communications Solutions Inc., as well as a division manager for 3Com. He’s also a Christian, and has spent the last two decades trying to spread the gospel to Silicon Valley’s masses. He’s the chair of the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast, and the author of “Finding God in Silicon Valley,” a blog containing interviews with prominent Silicon Valley Christians that he is hoping to turn into a book.

I spoke to Vaccarello about his blog, his efforts to evangelize Silicon Valley, and what makes it hard to convert the tech-savvy. Here’s a condensed and edited version of our conversation.

Tech workers in Silicon Valley tend to be young, progressive, and very secular. Is this the hardest community in America to convert?

It is. George Barna [the evangelical pollster] did a survey and indicated that on any given Sunday, less than 5 percent of the people in Silicon Valley go to church. Silicon Valley people are smart skeptics. They also tend to live isolated lives. There are many transplants from other countries and states. Many of those people have not developed deep relationships. They desire to be successful. They want to change the world.

But at the same time, people are very skeptical of Christianity. Among the more successful, there’s a complacency. They think, Life seems great, I’ve got my stock options.

The guiding principle of Silicon Valley seems to be that the world can be perfected through technology. That hope seems to substitute for religious purpose in a lot of the tech people I know. Is that something you’ve seen?

I’d agree with that. I have a friend who did a book called Soul in Silicon, and his conclusion was that Silicon Valley is actually a very spiritual place, but that some of it is what you mentioned — people are, in a way, worshiping technology and success.

What I’ve found is that God is at work in Silicon Valley in the lives of many people. There really is a very committed group of people who have the desire to help others in their faith, who are committed to charity, who want to make the world a better place.

For a lot of people in Silicon Valley, though, the attitude seems to be that doing the work of technological advancement itself is a form of charity — that the world is better because they’re succeeding.

I’ve had many people say that. But people go through setbacks. It might be a divorce. It might be that stock options that were worth millions are now worth nothing. Or maybe they get fired from a job. When that happens, there are opportunities to talk about something that’s more important.

You’re saying there’s a counter-cyclical thing going on? When the tech bubble bursts and things are really bad for Silicon Valley companies, it will be good for Silicon Valley churches?

I do think there are absolutely those opportunities. I remember back in 1989, when the earthquake happened, Silicon Valley churches were packed with people. People were shaken up by it. People were saying, “There has to be something else.”

Skip, what made you decide to take up this cause?

I grew up in the Boston area – loving family, attended a Catholic church. But I was also a child of the late sixties and early seventies. And during college at Harvard, I kind of walked away from faith. Then, about twenty years later, a few people came into my life, and I began to think about faith. During that time, I was mostly building a career and a family. But the birth of our first child, I felt, was a miracle. And then our neighbors invited my wife to church. I was in Paris on business at the time, but she dragged me along when I got back. That was in the mid-eighties.

So I listened to what the pastor had to say, and over the next several months, I investigated the evidence for Christianity and really came to faith. And from that point forward, I really had a desire to live out my faith. So I got together a group of Silicon Valley executives, to say, “Well, how do we live out our faith day-to-day?”

And when did the blog come into play?

I went back to a Harvard reunion in 2008. There was a group of Christians who got together for a discussion, and right after that meeting, we got a book called Finding God at Harvard by Kelly Monroe. That planted a seed in my own mind to do something similar for Silicon Valley. One of [Monroe’s] purposes in writing that book was to show that you can be intelligent and still have faith. In Silicon Valley, a lot of people put material things and their career first, but I found it was really only God who could fill that space.

As a Christian in tech, what do you make of this issue, which seems to be a very contentious one, about start-ups and the homeless? Some tech workers have been publicly disparaging the homeless, saying that they need to get out of the “respectable” communities of Silicon Valley and go somewhere else.

I would hope that someone who is a follower of Christ would approach it differently. We’re to take care of the poor and the homeless.

Say you have a 22-year-old Google employee who is not religious, who is making a lot of money and living in Silicon Valley. How would you approach them and convince them to find Jesus?

There’s probably nothing I could do to convince such a person. It may sound odd, but it’s up to God. My hope is that some of the things I’m doing here will help. Service is one of the important ways to do it. Young people, whether they’re a Christian or not, have a desire to serve other people. That person might have his or her eyes opened if they were to go to a homeless shelter, to CityTeam or Freedom House, and in the process, they say, “Why are you doing this?” And we say, “Well, I’m a follower of Christ, and this is what I’m supposed to do.”

We also live in a little bit of a celebrity culture. I’m hoping that people might see someone like Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of VMWare, and a very committed follower of Christ, that someone might look at him and say, “Well, he’s different.” But if you’re talking about someone that’s happy, with lot of stock options and a cushy job at Google, it’s going to be difficult.

Who would be the ultimate convert? Mark Zuckerberg? Jack Dorsey?

Well, yeah, those are the current heroes. If any of those people were to say, “Okay, I’ve found the key to life,” that’d be great.

But some of it is going to come through service. The deficit that many Christians face is that people look at followers of Christ more for what they’re against than what they’re for.

That’s a big thing, I think. If you ask people in Silicon Valley why they’re not evangelicals, a lot would say, “Because I support gay marriage,” or “Because I support a woman’s right to choose.” How do you get around that?

There are people on the right and the left that are followers of Christ. But it’s unfortunate in some ways that Christianity has been identified exclusively as a right-wing group. When I have discussions with people, I don’t get into politics. To me, it’s not about politics. If someone’s gay, they’re gay, and that’s their lifestyle. I would talk more about the person of Christ.

Part of what’s interesting to me, about all of this, is that Silicon Valley is actually a place with a ton of faith. It’s just not faith in God. It’s faith in technology, in the future, in the power of innovation to shape society. Is there any way in which Silicon Valley might actually be well-suited to a religious revival?

People here live isolated lives. Christianity is about relationships and community. Yesterday, I was interviewing a guy, he’s a biotech guy, he’s brilliant. God has given him the mission in life of helping make the world a better place through biotechnology. He’s been doing stuff that is saving millions of lives with the product his company made.

Other people feel they’re on a mission to change the world in other ways. And maybe they make a billion dollars. But my hope is that when people go through a tough time, they’ll look at the site or read the book, find out more about what it is, and say, “Maybe these people aren’t as crazy as I thought they were.”