The declining respect for clergy


By John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera, Op-Ed Contributors

My pastor recently told me that 25 years ago, the first person that people would contact when they faced a marriage crisis was their pastor. Ten years ago, he continued, it was their counselor or psychiatrist. Today, it’s their lawyers.

A recent study conducted by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago concurs. “Doctors, teachers, members of the military,” and scientists are, according to the survey, esteemed “more positively than clergy.” Among infrequent churchgoers, clergy are viewed as negatively as lawyers. (For the record, that last line came from a member of our editorial team who’s been admitted to the bar in two states.)

As my pastor observed, the declining respect for clergy is a trend both in and out of the church, including among those who attend church frequently. While 75 percent of churchgoers “hold clergy in high regard,” they aren’t as positive when it comes to personal attributes and character qualities of their clergy. Barely half consider clergy to be trustworthy, and only slightly more regard them as “honest and intelligent.”

Remember these are people who attend church at least once a month! Among those who seldom or never attend church, the respective numbers on those questions are 23 and 30 percent.

The obvious question is why?

At least a significant part of the answer is cultural. As Religion News Service pointed out, “Historians say public attitudes about clergy have been waning since the 1970s, in tandem with the loss of trust in institutions after the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.”

Actually, the decline in trust and disregard for institutions predates Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War. After all, the 1964 Free Speech movement at Berkeley had a signature saying: “We don’t trust anyone over thirty.” It’s a line that came to sum up the view of many Baby Boomers towards all authority. Governmental, parental, and clerical included.

Institutions like governments and churches were, at best, obstacles, and at worst enemies of personal liberation. Though the VW vans that dotted the Woodstock landscape have long since rusted away, the commitment to personal liberation and autonomy has only intensified in the half-century since then.

Today, many Americans embrace expressions of personal liberation that wouldn’t have even occurred to the people dancing to Santana in the New York mud. It’s one thing to think you’re liberated from “the man.” It’s another to think you’re liberated from observable reality.

But, if we Christians are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that cultural attitudes toward authority and institutions aren’t the only reason for the waning respect when it comes to clergy. Some is the result of self-inflicted wounds.

Scarcely a week goes by without another report of clergy sex-abuse and/or some other horrible conduct. Given the scope and sheer number of these scandals and the fact that they cross denominational lines from Roman Catholic to Protestant to Evangelical, it would be a miracle if regard for the clergy had not diminished.

This is tragic news because so many lives have been devastated, and because so many people personally know someone who’s life has been devastated. I don’t need to tell you that the vast majority of clergy are honest and caring people who have answered the Lord’s call to shepherd His flock and are doing what they do out of love for others. But, their reputation is harmed also.

That’s what makes this such a huge loss—because when done right, clergy can represent, embody, and offer a kind of love that is simply indispensable during the inevitable bad times we face. It’s indispensable to individuals, families, communities, and to our entire nation. Theirs is a role uniquely gifted to the church, and one that cannot be replicated across the spectrum of society. And what they offer is especially missed when it’s needed most.

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Attitudes toward Clergy and Religious Leadership, The Associated Press, May 2019

Originally posted at BreakPoint.

During family crisis, here’s how the Helper offered solace


By Anne Graham Lotz


As my husband Danny’s health deteriorated due to Type 1 diabetes and its complications, I stopped traveling for the most part and embraced the joy of being his caregiver for three years. On an August afternoon, he was sitting by the pool, playing with our dog, and just relaxing in the summer sun. I stayed in the house to get some work done.

Suddenly, I realized it had been over an hour since I last checked on him. I ran to the window, looked toward the pool, and saw he was not there. With relief, thinking he had come in without my awareness, I ran through the house, looking for him and calling his name. No familiar voice responded. Only silence. A deep foreboding gripped my heart as I ran back to the window and saw our dog sitting by the water’s edge. When I called to him, he refused to come. I flew down to the pool and found what I knew I would.

There are no words to describe my desperate cry for help as I jumped into the pool, pulled my husband to the steps, and cradled his head on my lap. Even as I called his name over and over, even as I cried out to God for help, I knew I was looking at a man who was already seeing his Lord. The expression on his face was one of strength, confidence and utter peace.


What transpired next required all the Helper’s assistance to get me through: staying on the line after my emergency call to 911, EMS arriving, medics running through the backyard and dragging Danny out of my lap, news helicopters swirling overhead, sheriff’s deputies standing by the pool and guarding the property, cars filled with curious onlookers lining our street — and then the scene indelibly impressed on my mind when Danny was placed on a gurney and wheeled out of our yard as he left the house for the last time.

In His great compassion, the Helper sent visible helpers also: a chaplain with the sheriff’s department who quietly stood by me as the EMS team worked on Danny, my son-in-law who put his arms around me as Danny was wheeled away, my children who came to sit with me in the small hospital ER waiting room, our doctor who appeared at Danny’s bedside and urged me to put my husband on life support … just in case.

As I walked through the valley of the shadow that climaxed in Danny’s official homegoing on the morning of Aug. 19, 2015, I experienced moment by moment the quiet, gentle, loving presence of the Helper. Two days before our 49th wedding anniversary, instead of enjoying a celebratory dinner together, I buried my beloved husband.

If I spent the rest of my book describing to you the Helper’s aid and assistance to me during that time, I would still run out of pages. He poured out His help as I found myself in the position of comforting friends and family, speaking on Aug. 21 to over one hundred men at the Bible study Danny had led, planning the service of celebration, and overseeing funeral arrangements. The incredible evidence of His supernatural help was revealed in the joy, peace, strength, and clear presence of mind that carried me through not just somehow but with absolute triumph! I will never cease to praise God for the One who “is my helper.”

Recently when I went through my mail, I came across a note from the wife of a man who had served with Danny on the national board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Her husband had just died. She wrote that she had been his caregiver for over five years. Then she testified, “Never could I have carried the ‘thankful load’ without my dependence upon the Holy Spirit.” And I knew exactly what she meant.

What is your testimony? Whether you are a widower or a widow like me learning to live in a new reality, or a caregiver expending your life for an ailing spouse or elderly parent or disabled child, or a parent trying to raise your children to be followers of Jesus in a wicked world, or a businessperson operating according to biblical principles of integrity, or a politician walking a tightrope between truth and political correctness, or an educator teaching values along with the curriculum, or a cancer victim trying to navigate the maze of surgical options and treatments, the Helper is available to assist, aid, or furnish you with relief. I know. Just call on Him.

Excerpted from Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion. Copyright © 2019 by Anne Graham Lotz. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.




What Happens In A Tsunami?


October 31, 2019 hepsibahgarden

When a tsunami strikes, it brings along terrible destruction — uprooting trees, buildings and whatsoever that comes in it’s way. The huge floods of water sweeps the land clean of everything it had once.

Well, we’ve seen or rather even felt the after effects of a tsunami in the natural.

Nevertheless, can you just try and think of how a tsunami of God’s love poured into our little hearts would be like!! It’s just mind-blowing because all those who have experienced the tsunami of God’s love, have failed to convey their feelings verbally♥️ The whole experience of being filled with God’s love passes all understanding and is known as the Anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The fountain of Living Water that is, the Holy Spirit, sheds His love into our hearts and fills us with His joy. This means when we ask God sincerely for His outpouring of love, what really happens? Floods of revival enters us and we feel completely free and clean inside.

The Spirit of God does a clean sweep of our hearts so we can rebuild our lives in Him. Most don’t understand that and don’t know what to do after the Holy Spirit works in them. What should one do? Forgive all immediately. If you feel you need to ask someone forgiveness, go ahead and ask. Fill your heart with the Word of God so the Holy Spirit continues to work in fullness.

Now is the time of the Holy Spirit. Now is the time of revival for every Christian. Now is the time to build our life in the faith of the Son of God. May God revive, restore, renew and refine us for His eternal glory.

Be blessed 💕

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VIDEO Judge bans business owners from stating Christian beliefs

Affirms Colorado law supporting LGBT agenda

By Bob Unruh


A federal judge has affirmed a Colorado law that effectively bans business owners from freely expressing in public their religious beliefs about marriage and homosexuality.

Colorado was the loser in a similar dispute, the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state show “hostility” to the Christian beliefs of Jack Phillips in its handling of his refusal to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Since then, openly homosexual Democratic Gov. Jared Polis has pursued a gay-rights agenda that includes allowing people to indicate their sex on driver’s licenses according to their “gender identity” and banning counselors from helping young people who want to rid themselves of same-sex attractions.

Now, Judge Marcia Krieger has upheld a Colorado law that barred web designer Lorie Smith and her studio 303 Creative “from publicly expressing the religious reasons she declines” to promote same-sex marriage.

Smith, defended by the Alliance Defending Freedom, filed the lawsuit against members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Aubrey Elenis, director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

She sought preliminary and permanent injunctions to stop Colorado from enforcing provisions of a state civil rights law that prevents her from exclusively promoting traditional marriage by forcing her also to create websites for same-sex marriages against her Christian beliefs.

ADF, which will appeal the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, said Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act “gags creative professionals from talking about their beliefs when explaining their business decisions.”

Krieger’s Sept. 26 ruling conflicts with federal court decisions in Minnesota and Arizona. The judge insisted the state’s Supreme Court-documented “hostility” to Christianity was of no account.

WND calls to Polis on Monday were met with nonstop ringing or a recording that said the office was “unavailable.”

“Americans shouldn’t be forced by the government to create and publish websites that promote messages or causes they disagree with. That is a quintessential freedom that the First Amendment protects,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “The court shouldn’t have assumed Lorie’s decision not to create objectionable websites was illegal without any analysis of that question, especially when other courts have clearly upheld free speech rights in this context.

“Colorado must allow people like Lorie the liberty to make their own decisions about which messages they will promote. Lorie is happy to design custom websites for all people; she simply objects to being forced to pour her heart, imagination, and talents into creating and publishing websites that convey messages contrary to her core convictions.”

In Minnesota, courts affirmed the right of a filmmaking company not to endorse same-sex marriage. In Arizona, the state Supreme Court and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a calligraphy company.

“Creative professionals should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of coercion, discrimination, or intimidation by the state,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson. “Just because a multimedia artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean the government can require her to express all viewpoints, especially when that forced expression violates her religious convictions. We’re hoping that the 10th Circuit will affirm that principle just as the 8th Circuit and the Arizona Supreme Court recently did in similar cases.”

ADF explained Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act “prohibits creative professionals from expressing any views about marriage that could indicate someone is ‘unwelcome, objectionable, unacceptable, or undesirable’ because of their sexual orientation or that suggests that the designer won’t create particular expressive works because of those beliefs.”

Since the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 establishing a legal right to same-sex marriage, gay-rights activists have successfully lobbied for laws that conflict with the First Amendment rights of religious exercise and free speech.

In the Masterpiece case, a member of the Colorado human rights commission, Diann Rice, made a reference to the Nazi era in her condemnation of Phillips.

Rice said at a hearing that “freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination.”

“And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others,” she said.

Hear a recording of Rice’s statement:

The Supreme Court cited Rice’s statement as evidence of “a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.”

“As the record shows, some of the commissioners at the commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillip’s faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust,” the high court said.

“No commissioners objected to the comments,” the justices pointed out.

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Are You Out Of Alignment?


November 1, 2019  by Discerning Dad

Greetings brothers and sisters of Christ and all who are reading this! I would like to first preface this post by saying that this is more of an accountability post, for myself, than it is a sharable topic for Discerning Dad. I also will preface this by saying that it has been over 20 years since I had to write something of this nature and by no means am I a wordsmith. I would like to thank Discerning Dad for the opportunity, as well as constant follow-up, so that I can get this topic down in writing that the Lord put on my heart at our recent Men’s retreat in August.

As the title may suggest, the topic at hand is around the alignment of our lives and whether or not we are aligned (with our priorities) with what God tells us throughout scripture. Looking back in the days of Ward and June Cleaver, the man of the house would go off to work (9 to 5) while his wife stayed home and maintained the household and children. He would come home to a home-cooked meal and be present in the home for his family. All seemed right and family was the main priority.

As we fast forward to today, the average household most likely looks nothing like it did in the 1950s (this is true whether a Christian or secular household). Technology advancements now allow for work to follow us home. Both man and woman of the house work (or have work-like activities that are quite time consuming). Smartphones and social media have taken over the time that would have been spent with our kids, who are also spending large amounts of time connected to devices as well. The divorce rate is significantly higher and the rate of child drug addiction, teen pregnancy, and child suicide has increased in the hundreds of percent. What do these things have to do with the topic at hand? I think a whole lot.

What does God’s Word say about how we should have our priorities aligned? Well, there is nothing in one specific passage of the Bible that says the order we should have all our priorities. To figure this out, you have to look in multiple passages and add up the message for yourself. What I have found, I will present here. I am more than open to receiving any insight others may have, as I am far from an expert in this topic! Here is the order that I think makes sense and I will break down each one with references to scripture below.

1. God
2. Spouse
3. Children
4. Extended Family
5. Brothers and Sisters in Christ
6. Everyone (Everything) Else

God – Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

That says it pretty clear, in my opinion. If I am giving Him all of my heart, soul, and strength, then that pretty much puts Him at the top of the list! So….what does it mean to put God first? What does that look like? I have my ideas and would love to hear yours! I think that it would mean that the first thoughts, when I wake up in the morning, are of thanks and praise to God. That I get on my knees and pray to get my day started. Throughout my day, I am talking with Him and praying over decisions that I have to make, whether work or personal. That I do my best to prevent negativity to enter my mind, through my ears, eyes and thoughts. That I lead my family in daily reading of scripture, prayer and praise. That I tithe and give without any negative thought about that money leaving my account. That I help others in any way that I am able and that I be an example to others of what Christianity should look like.
Just a couple of things, right?

Spouse – “A married man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.” (Ephesians 5:25).

For you ladies, “In the same way, wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22).

All this adds up to the fact that our spouses need to be second, only to God. So, how should this look in our households? For husbands, I think it starts by being the spiritual leader in the house. We have to set the tone and our wives have to follow our lead, when it comes to our spiritual lives. Men, this is THE most important job that God has given us. Our number one priority is to protect our household, spiritually, and we do that by being obedient in this step. Ladies, that means we need your support! It is ok to kindly call out your husband if he is distracted and slipping on his spiritual duties, but to take his place would go against God’s will.

Outside of our spiritual duties, there needs to be dedicated time for husbands and wives to spend together, daily. This means no kids or distractions, just the two of you talking about your day. This is a great time to pray together! Men, this time means so much to our wives! You need date nights, and time away together!

Both husbands and wives need to agree on financial decisions for the household, as well as decisions made about your children and families. Remember that you have entered into a partnership with each other and with God!

Children – “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NIV).

We are raising the future Princes and Princesses of the One True King! This is an area that I often struggle with and have to be constantly reminded that what we do has much more of an impact than what we say. It is really easy for us to allow our busy lives to distract us from properly raising our children the way that God wants us to. That is the enemy at work! The enemy wants us to be distracted so that he can get to our kids unnoticed. As I said above, the rates of child drug addiction, teenage pregnancies and child suicide have rapidly increased and I believe this is due to our homes being out of alignment and our kids not seeing the proper example of what a Christian household should look like. If we are putting God first, our spouses second, then our kids will see that proper example and have far less of a chance for the enemy to get a hold of them. We will never be able to fully protect our kids from the world, we can only hope that the seeds that we plant, throughout their lives, bear fruit at the right time when the enemy (world) comes at them.

Family – “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV).

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8).

These are some pretty serious instructions given to us! Looking at these instructions, I am not seeing an age limit listed as to when we are no longer needing to honor our parents. Now, it says honor, not obey, as once we reach adulthood we should be leading our own households (one more reason why #3 is so important). As for the instructions in 1 Timothy, it is clear that we are to take care of our family. It does not say, “Provide for their relatives, as long as they agree with and obey you.” I myself have a multi-generational household and I think it is a really cool thing for my daughter to experience. I grew up living with my grandparents and I really cherish that time I had with them. I actually like how the downturn in the economy, back in 2008-9, forced many families to take in their parents and become multi-generational households. We can learn from and teach much to our parents, even after we are adults!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ – “Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14:13 NIV).

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17).

This is a topic that I have found to be highly debated in the church, whether or not we are to judge fellow Christians on their actions and beliefs. I have personally felt that passing judgement, on anyone else, is way above my pay-grade and that I just need to speak wisdom, when appropriate, and pray for my brothers and sisters that are straying from His teachings. I am not walking in their shoes and I do not know the struggles that they are dealing with. For the brothers and sisters that the Lord has placed close to me, I may feel a little more compelled to “call them out” with love, when needed, as I have more knowledge of their situations and can speak with wisdom. There are many verses, all over the Bible, that tell us to lift one another up, to be compassionate towards one another and to spur one another towards love and good deeds.

Everyone Else – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).

Jesus told us to share the Gospel with all that we can. If we are leading our lives in alignment with God’s word, then we will shine bright and people will come to us and ask us about what we believe. They will see how we react when we are faced with adversity, how strong our relationships with our spouses are, how our kids seem “so happy” and are great examples to the other children, and how we take care of our families and each other. Our actions will certainly be louder than any words that we can speak!

In conclusion, this is far easier said than done. Everything that I have written today goes against what is being thrown at us by the enemy. We live in a “me” driven society, which seems to only be going farther and faster in the direction opposite of God. We Christians must decide that enough is enough and stand in the gap for those that have strayed and for those that do not know the Good News! We must take action, which starts in our own households. We must get into proper alignment with God! May the blessings of the Lord be with you all! I hope you found this to be worth your time and I hope that it spurs you into action!

Mike Cataldi
Guest Discerning Dad

Guest- Mike Cataldi- Are you out of alignment?

A Vital Necessity

Have you ever sat down and considered what’s important in your life?



by Pastor Ray Patrick


Have you ever sat down and considered what’s important in your life? What do you consider to be vital or a necessity? What can’t you live without? Most of us would say food, water and shelter. Yes, you need those things to exist, but we can’t really live unless our minds and hearts are set on seeking the Lord who is the giver of life.

Sure, you can exist without a knowledge of God, but you can’t live without Him giving you the breath you need to stay alive, but if that’s all you want from God what’s the point? He has much more in store for you. Besides, you are called to more than just mere existence; you are called to live — to thrive — to enjoy your life abundantly!

Today, set your mind beyond mere existence, set your heart on seeking the Lord for all He has for you! Write down your needs and wants, match them up to God’s promises in scriptures, commit them to memory. Whenever you can, think about those verses. Meditate on God and His infinite love. When you see the Lord as a vital necessity in and for your life, you will truly live and enjoy the abundant life He has in store for you! Hallelujah!

“Set your mind and heart to seek (inquire of and require as your vital necessity) the Lord your God…”

(1 Chronicles 22:19, AMPC)

Pray With Me
Yahweh, today I choose to set my mind on You. Father, I need You not just for existence, but to truly live, therefore I seek You with my whole heart. God, please show me Your love and character today as You meet my needs and supply my wants. Lord, show me Your ways that I may walk and live close to You, in Jesus’ Name! Amen.

Can Life Be Limited For God’s Child?

Oct 16, 2019



When a child of God lives life based on their convictions(faith), according to the Word of God, he/she is pleasing to God.

Now the question is why should one live according to His Word? Because God set us free from the clutches of sin, the enemy, sickness and death and purchased us with His own blood. The freedom we received in Christ is spiritual and supernatural. It is the highest standard which mankind could ever imagine because Jesus Himself died, was buried and rose again from the dead to save us from death.

But there are times when we feel limited? When is that? When we desire the things of the flesh and in turn become burdened with life; or in other words when we become carnally minded. Secondly , also when we work under organisational and institutional rules, we feel limited. Any rule bound to be followed and isn’t liable to change, becomes tough in the long run.

The fact of the matter is — Everything in this world is limited. As children of God, the freedom we have received in Jesus will always have its challenges as we journey onwards. The more we desire to live by faith the more the opposition increases. The corruption in the world, the presence of evil and selfish desires will always make us feel limited. Therefore we must learn to set our expectations correctly.

Also, know who you belong to. Walk in the freedom of your faith. Let God be pleased with your living and giving. Give freely. May Gods Grace abound in us always!

Be blessed

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