Back to School!

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." 
~ C.S. Lewis

I'm delighted to announce I enrolled at Biola University in the Masters of Arts in Christian Apologetics program.

Never stop learning. Never stop growing. Never stop asking questions. Never stop searching for answers. Never stop helping others. Never stop growing in faith. Never stop loving. Never, never forget how much God loves you.

Teaching Peacemaking in West Africa

Sometimes opportunities come and you just can't say no.

On our last trip to West Africa, John and I met with a few Christian lawyers. They were very interested in the teaching I do on conflict resolution. The Christian lawyers in this town have a heart to start a mediation center. They asked if I would come and teach. This area has a history of heavy religious persecution, so the need was real and urgent.

When John & I returned the following year to teach, I had hoped for maybe 20 students. However, the interest grew. We were informed we should expect over 100 lawyers, judges, and other leaders in the community. We packed 6 suitcases to take with us, 4 filled with books and other teaching materials.

Thankfully they all arrived, despite cancelled flights, long delays, rerouting flights, and one suitcase temporarily missing.

Words cannot begin to describe this teaching opportunity. What do you say when a woman tells you story of bringing someone into her home to help flee from an attack, and then when she leaves to go get some food and returns, she discovers this person has killed her children? Or what do you say to the wife who's husband has never said he is sorry because the culture does not encourage that kind of communication? What do you say to someone who doesn't want to shop in a certain area for fear of being poisoned? What do you say to someone who decides to avenge a loved ones' death by killing the murderer and eating their organs in order to gain power?

These are very real problems facing very real people on a day to day basis. What could this white woman from America possibly do to help them? Share with them what I've learned about a peaceful approach to responding to conflict.

What did I teach? I started with the anatomy of conflict, explaining our tendency in responding to conflict (fight or flight) and how those responses can actually escalate conflict. Then I explained another way of responding, a peacemaker's way. It requires a new way of thinking, learning to see conflict as an opportunity.  Then we dived into how we must examine ourselves first in conflict. It is so easy for us to see what everyone else has done wrong, but do we take the time to look at ourselves first? If we honestly look at ourselves first and deal with our own wrongs, it helps us to see others more clearly. It helps us to respond to the wrongs of others more compassionately. We talked about how to talk to others respectfully, lovingly, and kindly to show them their errors. We talked a lot about confession and forgiveness. People who call themselves Christians are the most forgiven people in the world, so they should be the most forgiving people in the world. It is not easy to breathe grace naturally into the lives of others, but we can learn. We can change. We can do better.

The group has asked me to come back and teach conflict coaching and mediation. I am eager to return.

Greetings from South Africa!

Myself, John Stewart, John Njoroge, and J.T. Bridges

South Africa! When I first landed in Jo-berg, I asked "Where is Africa?" It looked more like Europe to me than the Africa I was used to. I would describe South Africa as "Africa meets Europe." The cities are much more advanced than the one I have visited in East and West Africa. And Cape Town was just as beautiful as I had heard.

This trip was fascinating and so different. We had the opportunity to travel and speak with some brilliant Christian Apologetic minds, including Dr. John Lennox, Michael Ramsden, and John Njoroge of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.  J.T. Bridges just earned his PhD from Southern Evangelical Seminary.
Charming Dr. Lennox

And of course, my brilliant husband! 

We visited several universities and churches. These college students had a hunger for truth that I've never seen.

The highlight of the trip was going to an "after glow." The day after Dr. Lennox spoke at Cape Town University, the Skeptics on campus held a lecture response to Dr. Lennox's lecture the previous night. John and I and a few other Apologists visited the Skeptics lecture and asked thoughtful questions of the speaker. But the best part was after the lecture when we fanned out to engage the students in a winsome way. We sensed some minds opening up and God was at work!

It was a memorable trip and I can't wait to return!

Welcome to West Africa!

How do I even begin to describe our recent trip to West Africa?  No matter where I go in the world, I am always at home with our brothers and sisters. Even in seemingly dangerous places.

This time I had the enormous privilege of teaching biblical conflict resolution to a group of leaders at a Bible school where John taught a class on Apologetics. How does one teach peacemaking to a people who know religious persecution in a way that I have never experienced? Although I don't have all the answers, I do know One who has the answers. And I do have the best Book to guide me in all things. And that is what I shared.

I will never forget one of the students in my class, a former Muslim who became a Christian. Toward the end of the week and end of my teaching, he stood up and publicly confessed he had been harboring anger and hatred towards Muslims ever since his conversion. However, after learning biblical principles for peacemaking and conflict resolution, he realized he needed to forgive and love. He had a new found desire to reach out to the Muslims in love.

Another person confessed feeling bitterness and fear towards some Muslims who had burned down his house. After learning a Higher way of thinking (seeing conflict as an opportunity to glorify God, grow more like Christ, and serve others), he reached out in forgiveness to these folks.

Christ's example. Christ's love. Christ's forgiveness. Christ's sacrifice.

These precious ones are my heroes.

What's wrong with the HHS Mandate?

          Earlier this year, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services unveiled a new policy now known at the “HHS Mandate.” The new Mandate would require nearly all private health insurance plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs—drugs that interfere with implantation in the womb and therefore destroy the life of a human being in the earliest stage of development. This Mandate is the result of Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare,” passed in 2010. Although the HHS Mandate provides an exemption for “religious employers,” the exemption is so narrow, most religious institutions providing health, educational or charitable services will have no protection.
          On February 10, 2012, responding to intense opposition from a broad spectrum of religious institutions all over the country, President Obama announced there would be an “accommodation” for religious institutions opposed to facilitating practices contrary to their moral teachings through their employee health plans. In the so-called accommodation, insurance companies—not the religious employers themselves—would be forced to pay for the abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. However, since any funds the insurance companies would use to make such payments ultimately come from the premiums paid by employers, the “accommodation” is nothing more than a kind of economic shell-game.
          The HHS Mandate violates freedom of conscience, a right that is guaranteed by the First Amendment and even several federal laws. The right to practice one’s religious beliefs is protected by The Bill of Rights. The Obama administration’s attempt to force all Americans to buy coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion, is a radical incursion into freedom of conscience.
          Christians across the country are rising up in response to this unprecedented attack on religious liberty, freedom of conscience and the sanctity of life. Learn how you can get involved by speaking out and signing petitions by visiting Stand Up for Religious Freedom.

(The above information was taken from Stand Up for Religious Freedom.)

Quest for the "Inner Ring"

"The quest for the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it." "If you follow that desire you will reach no inside worth reaching." C.S. Lewis.

Last night at LSL, Dr. Jacob Rodriguez shared some amazing insight to how universities are powerfully influencing our worldview in a way that is incompatible with biblical Christianity. Here are some of his thoughts:

"One of the most alluring temptations all people face in life is the desire to be inside and the terror of being left outside. That is what C.S. Lewis called the desire to enter the "Inner Ring." What he meant by this was that people desire the secret intimacies and confidentialities of some group or association, to be with those that are in the know, to be with some "in crowd," to be an inner ringer of wealth or political power and influence. The whole struggle to be on the inside of that invisible line and to avoid the loneliness and humiliation of being on the wrong side, of being an outsider, is one of the most powerful drives of human action...Today, one of the most powerful screening or sorting mechanisms operating in the world is the institution of higher education...[The pressure to conform is usually subtle and gradual] in the guise of something trivial; it will usually be presented in a welcoming and friendly manner. It is very important for the Christian to understand that this system of sorting is pernicious in that it requires acceptance of a world-view that is totally incompatible with Christianity [that is, biblical Christianity] and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The price of entering the inner ring is to abandon you most basic Christian beliefs about God, man, and the world."

Three primary university philosophies incompatible with biblical Christianity:
1. The origin and nature of man. Man has impersonal, materialistic beginning. Man is therefore no different from other organic life.
2. A new (sexual) morality. This vision of morality is based on instinct and emotion.
3. All religion (especially Christianity) is superstition and myth. Christianity is considered a threat and evil influence and must be purely a private affair. 
But remember there is GOOD NEWS! Jesus is our Good News and He is Truth.

"Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:13-15

Universities--a marketplace for only CERTAIN ideas

     Earlier this month I wrote a letter to the editor of Chapman University's student run newspaper, responding to previous articles printed by my alma mater about the gay marriage issue generally, and Professor John Eastman's appointment to National Organization for Marriage specifically. All the articles were from one perspective--in favor of same sex marriage. This was incredibly ironic seeing as how the editors boasted the university was a marketplace where ideas and views could be discussed and debated. Conveniently they had forgotten to print the other "side" of the gay marriage issue. I took them to task. Below is my letter, "edited" of course by the editors. Notice the title-- "Re: 'Gay marriage can be love story, too'." I had a different title for my letter. They made up this title to "control the debate." Interesting. As they say, "He who frames the question controls the debate..."

The Panther Online 

Re: “Gay marriage can be love story, too”

Published: Sunday, November 13, 2011
Updated: Sunday, November 13, 2011 23:11

     It appears from the October and November issues of The Panther that the editors have a liberal political and social agenda. In October, The Panther wrote a news article about professor of law and former dean of Chapman's School of Law, being selected as the new chairman of National Organization for Marriage. It also printed a staff editorial and two opinion-editorials from guest columnists on the topic.    
   Ignoring the journalistic equivalent of "piling on," the editorial board, incredibly, boasted, "A compromise will only be reached through conversation, but it's hard to engage in conversation when only one party may speak."
   If anyone held out hope that The Panther would engage in "conversation" on the marriage debate, that hope was dashed in the November issue. It contains a guest column by President Jim Doti expressing his personal opinion in favor of same sex marriage and reminding us that Chapman is a "marketplace where ideas and views are discussed, deliberated and debated."
   Somehow, The Panther seems to have exempted itself from this marketplace, since neither the October nor November issues included any editorials or guest columns supporting Eastman's National Organization for Marriage appointment or traditional marriage.
   Although I do not share Doti's opinion on same sex marriage, I have not demanded Chapman "dissolve affiliation" with Doti, nor would I imply such, unlike those calling for Chapman to take action against Eastman. Chapman really should be a marketplace of ideas where different opinions are openly discussed. Chapman has a diverse student body and organizations reflecting that diversity. The law school, for example, has a very active LGBT club. However, it is ironic that many gay rights groups don't provide forums where ideas and views really can be discussed, deliberated and debated.
   As one of Eastman's former law students, I speak from experience in saying that he is a brilliant legal scholar as well as a devoted family man. His professional and personal integrity and serious work ethic are some of the reasons for his amazing accomplishments. He deserved applause when he became dean of the law school. Now he deserves applause for courageously taking a public stand for traditional marriage as the chairman of National Organization for Marriage.  
   I caution those who demand respect and tolerance for their same sex marriage ideology and yet try to silence and intimidate those who oppose it, like the majority of California voters who voted twice to define marriage as between one man and one woman. After all, how is being a conservaphobe any different from an alleged homophobe?

With Love From Berkeley

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 1 Cor. 8:1b

Berkeley...What comes to your mind when you think of Berkeley? I used to think of the 1960's Free Speech Movement of course. But now I think of my daughter, who has chosen to live there for the next four years pursuing a Bachelor's Degree at the university.

John and I visited her at college this past weekend. It was Parent's Weekend and it was a blast. Not only did we get to catch up and find out all about college life, we toured the campus, ate delicious food, attended interesting faculty seminars, visited art and science museums, and made a quick trip to San Francisco.

We fell in love with Berkeley.

Yes, it is still a progressive town, but the university is a bit more tame these days. However, it still manages to makes the news occasionally.  Just Google the recent "Diversity Cupcake Sale" and find out about the on-campus Republican protest to affirmative action. The opposition tried to stop them. But hey, isn't this Berkeley after all? Isn't this the one campus that should fiercely defend the right of Free Speech? Ah, this is where the rubber meets the road and progressives reveal their true agenda. Only certain kinds of speech are free. So much for "tolerance."

Universities and colleges used to be the marketplace for exchanging ideas, stimulating discussion, and promoting critical thought. Now it is a place for propaganda and indoctrination. Well, I have a message for the students...Keep thinking! Test all ideas. If you search for the truth, you will find it.

"The truth will set you free." John 8:31b