Category Archives: Family

How Satan Enters Children’s Lives

Satan wants our children’s hearts. He wants to mess with their minds, deter their dreams, and take their hopes hostage. 

As praying parents, you and I can deter the enemy’s influence on our children, especially when we are aware of Satan’s strategies. 

So that you and I can know how to stand firm and pray specifically for our children, here are five areas of our children’s lives that Satan wants to enter: 

1. Their Minds 

This is probably Satan’s easiest tactic. After all, he doesn’t have to do much to get your children to think like the world. All your children have to do is listen to music, switch on the television, or surf the internet, and they are bombarded with the message that they are their own god and nothing matters in life but finding self-satisfaction. 

Yet studies show that your children are still mostly influenced by what they see and experience at home. It’s not too late to be a praying family (if you’re not, start by praying together before meals), to have worship music playing in your car and home, and to speak God’s words when they need encouragement, direction or advice. 

Pray that God will guard your child’s mind and that His words will be “loud” to them when they are in a situation of having to choose to whom they will listen. I’ve found that praying Romans 12:2 (and personalizing it for my child) brings peace to my heart – and hers: “And do not (let my child) be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of (her) mind, so that (she) may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

2. Their Choices  

Every day your child makes a choice. And when it’s not a good one, Satan will try to heap guilt, remorse and an “I give up” attitude within your child’s heart. That’s why it’s important for you to be there extending grace when your children are dealing with the consequences of bad choices as a way of showing them that God’s grace is always available in the form of second, third, and millionth chances to try again. 

Satan specializes in accusing and shaming us after we mess up, akin to a lion seeking to devour its prey (1 Peter 5:8). Yet God specializes in redeeming us and giving us a fresh start (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

You can show your child God’s grace and love even more during the times they are messing up than when they’re not. Some of the most meaningful, spiritually bonding times between my daughter and myself came after her failures, not her successes. Be there when the bad choice is made and be the loving voice of God, not the accusing voice of Satan. By doing that, you’re keeping Satan at bay through the power of God’s love and forgiveness. 

3. Their Disappointments and Heartaches  

Kids have many of these. Perhaps as many as adults have. And when the human heart is disappointed, it’s natural to ask “Where was God?” “Why did He allow this?” and “Didn’t He care?” Satan wants your children to doubt God’s presence, goodness, and love. 

When we teach our children, at an early age, to heed the instructions of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and be thankful in all things (even the disappointments of life) we are reaffirming to them that God is a good, sovereign God who has their best at heart. We can then lead our children in thanking God, even when the disappointing or heart-breaking things happen, modeling to them how to be obedient and expectant of God in spite of disappointment. 

Don’t underestimate the vulnerability of a child’s heart. Whether their pain is from being cut from a sport, experiencing a relationship breakup, rejection from someone they were crushing on, the loss of a friendship, or even the pain of their parents’ divorce, let your child know you are there for them, and so is God, and He can still work all things (even the disappointing things) together “for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).   

4. Their Insecurities  

Children have multiple insecurities that include feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure, poor body image, uncertainty about their likability, and so on. Yet, a child who is convinced that he or she is loved is a child on a firm foundation. 

When I wrote my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I discovered that a child’s deep need for acceptance is often at the heart of every choice he or she makes concerning friends, dating relationships, activities, and where and how he or she spends her time. When your children know they are deeply loved and accepted for who they are, it will cause them to set their standards higher in relationships, rather than making decisions so they’ll “fit in” or “feel loved.” 

One of Satan’s strategies is to lure your child toward friends or places or choices that will make them falsely feel loved or accepted. Deter that move head-on by convincing your children they are loved by you – and their Creator – so they will not be vulnerable to the attacks and distractions of the enemy to fill their love tank elsewhere.  Share with your child Psalm 139:14, which tells them they are fearfully and wonderfully made, no matter what other kids are saying about them, no matter how they feel about themselves, and no matter what taunts the enemy is sending their way. 

5. Their Schedules 

Just like with adults, children who are busy, over-scheduled and constantly tired (and this often happens during their pre-teen and teen years) will not be as on-guard and alert toward the schemes of the enemy as a child who knows how to rest and enjoy life. So Satan will start with his subtle messages like “You’re too tired to go to church. Just tell your parents you need the extra sleep,” and “You have too much homework to participate in the youth group again. Tell them you’ll do it next week.” 

A wise parent will notice that “next week” never comes because the enemy’s voice (or the child’s flesh) will continue to hold out. Encourage your children to rest, and keep God as a priority in their everyday lives. As they honor Him, He will honor them and that applies to their actions, their priorities, and their schedules, as well. 

Our children will often live lives as hurried and overscheduled as they see their parents live. So model a balanced life of work, rest and worship. God speaks to us in the stillness and Satan screams at us in the busyness. Ask God for discernment in how to keep your child’s life simple and sane so Satan doesn’t step in and confuse.

Remember, your best strategy to defeat Satan is not through endless conversations with your child about priorities, morality, and honoring God. Instead, have endless conversations with God about your child’s priorities, morality, and choice to honor God. There will come a time, especially when Satan is on the attack, that it is far more effective to talk to God about your child, than to talk to your child about God. 

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and best-selling author who helps women and couples find strength for the soul. She is the author of 15 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s HurtsWhen a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and her newest, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. For more on her books, ministry, or free resources to strengthen your soul or marriage, see her website:

Rabbi Sponsors an Afghan Refugee Family. Gets Help from a Mosque and a Church.

Adam Raskin, a rabbi at Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, Md., knew how difficult the situation was for Afghan refugees in the Washington region.

Since the historic airlift out of Kabul last year, more than 3,700 Afghan evacuees have been resettled in the District, Maryland and Virginia, overwhelming social service agencies and leaving some refugee families waiting for housing and in limbo.

Raskin and his congregants decided to help by sponsoring a refugee family.

“We thought it was very much in line with our values,” Raskin said. “For Jews, many of whom were refugees from places of persecution, there is a special sensitivity for this issue.”

As members of the congregation began researching the resettlement process, they quickly learned how complicated it can be, and how many resources are required.

“We could do this on our own,” Raskin recalled thinking to himself, “but wouldn’t it be amazing to collaborate with a Christian and Muslim congregation?”

His idea was to “demonstrate to the family what kind of country they’ve relocated to.”

“This is a country where religions don’t have to be at odds with each other, but actually where religious communities collaborate and find common ground,” Raskin said.

He reached out to St. Francis Episcopal Church and the Islamic Community Center of Potomac to gauge their interest in an interfaith initiative, and both congregations were enthusiastically on board.

“We definitely wanted to get involved,” said Sultan Chowdhury, who was one of the founding members of the Islamic center, and currently serves as its trustee. “God gave us an opportunity to truly learn about each other. It is wonderful to see how close we are.”

Kathy Herrmann, the parish life coordinator at St. Francis, agreed.

“I have felt such a kinship with them and such a warmth and love emanating from the other two,” she said. “We all have the same goal to help this family become acclimated and feel the love that we have for them.”

The three houses of worship have collectively sponsored the Wahdats — an Afghan refugee family that resettled in College Park, Md., at the beginning of the year.

The Wahdat family — a 36-year-old father, a 30-year-old mother and their 19-month-old daughter — was not able to participate in an interview with The Washington Post because of a language barrier. Before arriving in Maryland, the Wahdats, who speak Pashto, were at Fort Dix, a U.S. Army post near Trenton, N.J.

The congregations have recruited volunteers to collaborate, including Stew Remer, who has been a member of Congregation Har Shalom since 1982 and has spearheaded the effort.

“We created an informal partnership where we are working together to provide support for the family,” Remer said. “It’s amazing that we’re doing this with other organizations.”

He started by contacting various resettlement agencies to learn more about how to sponsor an Afghan family. He got in touch with the Immigration and Refugee Outreach Center, which connected him with the Wahdats.

For the past month, the congregations have divvied up responsibilities to support the newcomers. The church has taken on a health-care advocacy role, identifying doctors and dentists willing to provide pro bono services for the family. The mosque, meanwhile, has been helping with translation services and assisting with cultural needs, such as providing traditional Afghan clothing. The synagogue has been organizing transportation, legal and financial support, as well as helping the family to apply for food stamps and Medicaid.

“Everybody is putting their heads together and strategizing and discussing what contacts and leads they have,” Raskin said. “It has been an outpouring of effort and generosity from all three congregations.”

The family is awaiting work authorization and Social Security cards, Remer said. Next steps will include helping the Wahdats enroll in English classes, find job opportunities and eventually register their daughter for school.

While each house of worship has taken on separate duties, they have all fundraised within their respective communities, collecting hundreds of dollars’ worth of gift cards for the family. The congregations have scheduled regular meetings to discuss how the Wahdats are adapting and to determine what other supports are needed along the way. They are also planning to start a card-making project for children and teenagers from the three faith groups to write welcome letters to Afghan families.

Remer, who has visited the Wahdats in their one-bedroom apartment several times, said they have been deeply touched by the interfaith effort as they transition to their new life in America.

“Each and every time we brought something to their apartment to help furnish it, or donated clothing to them or clothes for their daughter, or took them shopping with gift cards we provided, the father was very thankful to us,” Remer said. “I recall him placing his hand over his heart and nodding.”

The Wahdats are just three of the more than 124,000 civilians who were evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August. As of late December, 25,000 Afghan refugees were still living in American military installations.

Sasha Chanoff, chief executive and founder of the nonprofit organization RefugePoint, said there is critical need for more support as resettlement agencies are struggling to manage the influx of Afghans.

People are stepping up to fill the void, in part through an effort the State Department launched in October called the Sponsor Circle Program, which recruits families and other volunteers willing to help Afghan refugees secure homes, jobs and other support.

The volunteer sponsor circles serve as a “primary anchor” in the lives of Afghan families, said Chanoff, who is a lead partner in the program. Although the three religious congregations are not technically a sponsor circle, their efforts are similar.

“It’s so cool to hear that a mosque, a church and a synagogue are coming together to do this,” Chanoff said. “This kind of engagement can help to soften America’s very polarized stance on immigration and around refugees in some way.”

Christianity, Islam and Judaism are all considered Abrahamic religions that view Abraham, a prophet, as the patriarch of their faith. The Bible highlights Abraham’s hospitality and his willingness to welcome strangers.

“That is perhaps the original bond between Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” Raskin said. “We are kind of living out that legacy by collaborating in this way. I think the fact that we’re doing this together is a beautiful example of what the best of this country can be.”

“We have enjoyed the privilege of being together, trying to understand each other better and propagate peace,” Chowdhury said. “It’s eye opening for all of us, and it’s a blessing.”

“This isn’t a short-term project. We are in it for the long haul,” said Herrmann, adding that the congregations plan to continue interfaith collaborations.

“I have felt that we are not even different communities,” she said. “We are all one.”

Help, My Loved One Is Suicidal

Talk to anyone who has experienced suicide in their family and they will tell you it has changed their lives forever. 

Many people know the tragedy of suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and white males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016. Over 45,000 deaths occur every year due to suicide, making this not only a mental health issue but a public health one as well. 

Statistics don’t really tell the story, however, until it hits close to home. What is the impact on the family when a loved one commits suicide? Suicide is devastating and the effects of suicide on family members can be severe and far-reaching. 

Consider some of the effects on family and friends of someone who has committed suicide:

  • False guilt for not preventing the suicide
  • Feelings of failure 
  • Anger and resentment at the person who committed suicide
  • Extreme and long-lasting sadness and loss
  • Confusion

Death by suicide is much more complicated than natural death from health issues. Loved ones are often afraid to talk about the suicide because of the stigma attached to it. They fear being judged and blamed for the suicide. They struggle to know how to talk openly about it and subsequently they tend to keep silent and feel profound isolation.  

Recently a writer sent a question addressing the issue of suicide. 

Dear Dr. David,

My husband has recently told me that he has considered suicide, but decided against it. He is a Christian and is a worship leader at our church. He’s told me in the past that he has also attempted suicide when he was in high school. His parents do not even know about this. 

He thinks that he does not have a problem and that it is normal for people to go through this type of depression from time to time. He tells me that I am the only one who can fix his depression and that it is my fault that he feels this way because I am not affectionate enough and I do not thank him for every single thing that he does. 

I believe that he and I really, really need some counseling, but he says that this is not something that you can throw counseling or pills at. He believes that I am solely responsible for fixing this and I am just not sure what to do. 



I really appreciate Stephanie’s candor in talking about her fears of suicide. While it is true that feelings about suicide are common, and threats of suicide are prevalent, talking about it is generally taboo. Her openness and willingness to talk to her husband about it are likely to lessen the likelihood of it occurring. Let’s consider other aspects of her email: 

First, a history of suicide attempts increases the possibility of it occurring in the future. 

Studies show that a history of suicide attempts is a positive predictor of possible attempts in the future and thus should be taken very seriously. We should never be afraid to talk to others about suicide nor hesitate to ask if they have considered suicide.

Second, while suicidal ideation is common with many people, it is concerning and should be taken very seriously. 

Suicidal ideation is a very serious symptom. While many have considered suicide, talking openly about it takes away some of the shame and opens one up for receiving help.

Third, keeping suicidal feelings a secret is a mistake. 

Facing suicidal feelings and the issues one is facing helps bring problems into the light and opens up the possibility for intervention. Don’t be afraid to talk about your suicidal feelings or to ask a loved one about it if you have any concerns that suicide could be on their mind.

Fourth, the person with suicidal feelings is ultimately responsible for their own healing. 

While we can be helpful to one considering suicide, ultimately we cannot be responsible for someone taking their own life. It is very unfair for the husband in the above email to place the responsibility for his happiness and well-being on his mate. This is an unfair burden to place on them and highly inappropriate.

Finally, counseling and medication are helpful. 

Fortunately, help is available for anyone struggling with depression and suicidal feelings and ideation. There are suicide hotlines, suicide prevention resources, and mental health services available for anyone struggling with suicidal feelings. Counseling and medications are helpful, as are support groups. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal feelings. 

Do you know of someone struggling with suicidal feelings? Don’t be afraid to talk openly to them and assist them in getting the help they need. We are also available to help and would like to hear from you. We at The Marriage Recovery Center are prepared to walk with you through any challenges. Please feel free to contact me at or email us at

Editor’s note: If you are struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, call the the National Suicide Hotline for help at 1-800-273-8255. This is a free, confidential resource that is available 24 hours a day.

Study: Religiously devout Americans living sexless lives

Young adult Americans 35 years and under are having much less sex than previous generations, and the biggest increase in sexlessness is among the dwindling population of the religiously devout, a new research brief from the Institute for Family Studies suggests.

The data highlighted in the brief from IFS research fellow Lyman Stone suggests that from 2008 to 2021, the share of young adults forgoing sex more than doubled from 8% to 21%.

The data was fielded from the 2021 General Social Survey from NORC at the University of Chicago. 

Since 2010, “there has been a sharp rise in the share of males and females ages 18 to 35 who report not having sex in the prior year,” Stone reported. 

While married young adults are less likely to be leading sexless lives, there has been a growing trend of delayed marriage among young adults, contributing to a worsening of the problem, Stone wrote.

“Married people are more likely to be sexually active than unmarried people: in 2021, only about 5% of ever-married people under 35 reported no sex in the past year, versus about 29% of the never-married. As a result, declining marriage tends to reduce sexual activity as married people make up a shrinking share of the population of people under 35,” Stone offered, pointing to data from the General Social Survey showing how the never-married share of under-35s jumped from just over 50% in the early 1990s to between 60% and 75% in the last 10 years.

Multiple studies have previously shown how factors like high unemployment among men have contributed to declining marriage rates. It was reported last year that a record 35% of American adults ages 25 to 50 had never been married. The economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a further decline.

The report “Mismatches in the Marriage Market,” headed by a scholar from Cornell University and published in 2019, also noted that America faces a significant shortage of highly educated “economically attractive” unmarried men who earn at least $53,000 per year and have a college degree.

Experts argued the situation could result in unmarried women remaining unmarried or marrying not as well-suited partners.

However, in his brief, Stone contends that while delayed marriage is a significant factor in the rising trend of sexlessness among young adults, it isn’t the complete picture.

The analysis found opinions of premarital sex among young adults, which skews 70% in support of the practice and 30% against, according to recent studies, have also played a role.

Young adults who say premarital sex is wrong, explains Stone, have consistently been about two to three times as likely to be sexually abstinent for several decades.

“It seems like most of the increase in sexlessness among never-married under-35s has been among those who say premarital sex is at least sometimes wrong,” Stone found.

“Though it is true they are a minority of never-married individuals in this age group, their distinctive behaviors are driving the trend. In other words, much of the rise in sexlessness has been driven by people who have moral concerns about premarital sex. It might be better to call it abstinence than sexlessness, since it’s consistent with expressed values.”

And Stone argues that most young adults who choose not to have sex because they believe premarital sex is wrong are primarily from the religiously devout demographic.

“While there has perhaps been a modest increase in sexual abstinence among religious non-attenders or occasional attenders, the lion’s share of the increase in sexlessness has been among the relatively religiously devout,” he wrote. “Since 2008, among never-married individuals under age 35 who attend religious services more than monthly, the rate of sexlessness has risen from about 20% to nearly 60% in 2021. Among their less religious peers, sexlessness has risen from around 10% in 2008 to 20% in 2021.”

He argued that since there is little evidence suggesting this group of single young adults was choosing pornography over sex, it is likely that younger generations of Christians may likely be choosing to honor their religious vows more closely than previous generations.

“Since at the very least, most religious communities in America view premarital sex as a less preferred sexual arrangement than marriage, the increase in sexual abstinence among religious young adults could speak to an important change among religious communities,” Stone wrote.

“Perhaps religious young adults are simply complying with the norms of their communities more determinedly than previous generations. In this scenario, we aren’t seeing religious young people change their metaphysics to validate sexual liaisons, but rather, we’re seeing religious young adults adopt more intense behavioral norms than prior generations.”

End-of-Life Decisions in the ICU

Tinslee Lewis has been on life support in the neonatal ICU at Cook Children’s Medical Center, Fort Worth, Texas, since her birth in early 2019.

Born with a rare heart defect that left her with chronic lung disease and severe high blood pressure, Tinslee requires full respiratory and cardiac support. Her physicians say she has no prospect of getting better and that her irreversible condition is deteriorating. Her family disagrees.

Doctors want to discontinue Tinslee’s care under a Texas state law that allows physicians to withhold what is known as “futile” or “non-beneficial care,” a provision that can be exercised if other hospitals refuse to accept the patient.

Since no hospital has expressed interest in receiving Tinslee, Cook Children’s has gone to court to try to end the medical intervention that doctors say is “ravaging” her body. As is typical of patient cases involving extended life support, the high cost of care is also at issue. Through 2020, Cook Children’s had already spent $24 million in Medicaid funds to pay for Tinslee’s care.

In other prominent cases it has sometimes been the relatives of individuals living in a persistent vegetative state—not the hospitals—that have fought for the removal of life-prolonging treatment. In the 1970s, the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court to have her ventilator removed. In the 1980s, the parents of Nancy Cruzan took their quest to have her feeding tube removed all the way to the US Supreme Court.

In the 1990s, the husband and legal guardian of Terri Schiavo argued that Terri would not have wanted prolonged artificial life support without the prospect of recovery. He sought the withdrawal of her artificial nutrition and hydration against the wishes of her parents.

Technological advances have only made legal clashes over end-of-life decisions more inevitable. Increased use of extracorporeal membrane-oxygenation machines, for example, which can keep patients alive even after their heart and lungs have ceased functioning, is causing relatives to push even harder for continued treatment.

Says Robert Truog, director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics, “it’s very hard to die in a modern ICU these days.”

Complicating the debate is what moral theologian Richard McCormick once called the secularization of medicine. With the medical profession and many patients largely divorced from a moral tradition, clinicians, hospitals, and families often turn to litigation for protection when medical care seems futile. But here is where those of us in the church can contribute to the moral discourse.

Some of my most rewarding conversations through decades of ministry have been those that helped people talk about death and the meaning of life in nonclinical ways. Too many patients die in over-medicalized conditions because of someone’s confidence that technology will ultimately triumph over death. Yet no matter what we throw at the fight against death, by faith we discover that eventual victory is more likely to be divine than technological.

There’s no obvious answer or perfect moral consensus when sorting through Tinslee Lewis’s case. But Christians know two important truths: life and its flourishing are great gifts from God, and death is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Coming to terms with these twin truths can help us realize that there’s more to a life in Christ than survival at all costs.

Original Article:

Vermont Punishing High Schoolers Who Attended Religious Schools

“Faith, academic excellence, service, and community.”

These are the “four pillars” that support Rice Memorial High School, one of the best high schools in the state of Vermont. These pillars anchor the topflight academics and athletics that make Rice a great option for Burlington-area families.

But the state has turned one of those pillars into a stumbling block for several families who hope to send their kids to Rice. Care to guess which one?

Vermont maintains a Town Tuition Program, which provides a tuition benefit for students who live in towns without public schools. Towns that provide tuition for their students instead of maintaining a public high school are called “sending towns,” and they provide families with the full amount of their student’s tuition, up to the town’s approved tuition rate.

It’s a dream scenario for parents, who can use the benefit to send their kids to whichever school they believe is the best fit for them.

At least it would be, if the opportunity was being applied fairly.

As it turns out, students who wish to attend public or secular private schools have no problem obtaining tuition benefits. Students who wish to attend religious private high schools, however, are being excluded. That includes Rice Memorial High School, a ministry of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington.

Set aside for a moment the fact that Rice students scored better than average for the state of Vermont on their SATs and ACTs. Or that 90 percent of Rice students go directly to four-year colleges like Dartmouth, the University of Southern California, and Clemson University. Or the fact that Rice is one of only two high schools in the state to offer the prestigious AP Capstone Diploma, as a reward for a rigorous course load that offers 14 honors, and 12 advance placement classes. Rice’s 11:1 student-teacher ratio helps students meet and excel with this challenging curriculum.

If you’re a Vermont parent, that’s already probably too good to ignore. But beyond academics, Rice focuses on forming students as whole persons—even Vermont’s governor has recognized Rice students’ public service and sense of citizenship. Add in the fact that tuition is $5,000-$6,000 less than most other private and public schools, and you have a hard-to-beat choice.

But according to the State of Vermont, Rice is not an option – simply because it is a religious school.

To combat that clear and unconstitutional prejudice, Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit against the school district and the state Agency of Education on behalf of four Vermont families and the Diocese of Burlington.

And we did so, packing heavy precedent.

Similar circumstances arose in 2013, over a policy that also excluded participation by religious groups. Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri submitted an application for a state grant to replace their preschool’s playground surface with safer materials. The preschool’s qualifications led to their being ranked fifth out of the 44 requests received – but they were denied, anyway.

The reason? The preschool was operated by a church.

Trinity’s case went all the way to the U.S Supreme Court, whose 2017 opinion was abundantly clear:

“[T]he exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution… and cannot stand.”

The song remained the same when the state of Montana sought to deny a state tax credit for donations that helped students and families afford secular and religious private schools in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. In its opinion, the High Court “condemn[ed] discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them.”

And now, although the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit has agreed that families who want to send their children to religious schools should have equal access to the same public benefits that everyone else enjoys, Vermont’s discrimination appears to be continuing.

Schools like Rice are now being asked to fill out certification forms meant to determine exactly how much of their programming is “religious.” The government is asking them to compartmentalize their faith or to establish a litany of extra procedures in order to somehow stop tuition benefits from supporting anything religious in nature.

Multiple Supreme Court rulings have shown that denying equal access to public benefits is unconstitutional. That much is clear.

But if “faith, academic excellence, service, and community” are the elements that are helping Rice students excel, perhaps Vermont should consider strengthening those pillars, rather than trying to tear them down.

Paul Schmitt serves as legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom

Original Article: Vermont punishing high schoolers who attended religious schools | Voice (

Hit Biblical drama inspires community at Christmas

Hit Biblical drama “The Chosen,” which was the highest crowd-funded project of all time, continues to captivate audiences, with tickets for its Christmas special, “Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers” breaking Fathom Events’ record with $1.5 million in sales in the first 12 hours.

Tickets for the special, which shows the story of Christmas through the eyes of Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, airs in theaters beginning December 1 and is released through Fathom Events. 

Previous seasons of the series, which give viewers a unique and personal experience with the gospel, can be seen on Fox Nation, YouTube, as well as a stand-alone streaming app.

Creator and Director Dallas Jenkins told Fox News Digital he believes the series has resonated with so many fans because they are “getting an experience with Jesus and an experience with the gospel story they’ve never gotten before.” 

This experience is especially important at Christmas when Jenkins said viewers are “looking for an opportunity to be with other people.” 

This community allows Christians to join in the tradition of celebrating the “greatest moment in human history,” he said.

“Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers” will include performances from stars like Phil Whickham, Maverick City Music and For King and Country among many others, as well as an all-new Christmas episode of “The Chosen.” 

Fathom Events CEO Ray Nutt told Fox News Digital the record-breaking sales “blew up in a good way.” 

The timeframe for the special is important to its success, said Nutt. 

“It’s Christmas, people are ready to get out of the house, they’re ready for a normalized Christmas,” he said, adding that there is significant demand for both the content of “The Chosen,” and a sense of community. 

"Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers" shows the birth of Christ through the eyes of Mary and Joseph. 
“Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers” shows the birth of Christ through the eyes of Mary and Joseph. 

For two seasons, “The Chosen” has brought the gospel to life through the eyes of those who knew Jesus, and the Christmas special is no different. 

“The message of this episode is that Jesus was one of us,” said Jenkins. “We explore certain elements of his birth, like Joseph scooping manure with a shovel to make room for Mary to give birth.” 

“It’s a story for people who are lonely, who are struggling, who are scared,” he said.

‘Divine’ Intervention Leads Man to Missing Toddler

After a 3-year-old boy went missing in his community, Grimes County, Texas, resident Tim Halfin said he felt God was leading him to the boy’s location.

Christopher Ramirez went missing around 1:30 pm last Wednesday after he chased his dog into the woods by his house. Ramirez’s mother, Araceli Nunez, knew something was wrong when the dog returned home without her son.

Lost for four days in the woods, Ramirez was finally found on Saturday by Halfin.

According to Faithwire, Halfin was sitting in a Bible study on Saturday when he first learned about the missing toddler. ABC News reports that as soon as Halfin learned of Ramirez’s disappearance, he felt called by God to go and search for him.

At around 11:45 am, Halfin began searching for Ramirez in the woods near his home when he suddenly heard the voice of a child.

“I said, ‘Christopher, is that you?'” Halfin recalled. “Then he speaks again, and I’m like, ‘Whoa! Praise God!'” 

Soon, Halfin would stumble upon Christopher, who had removed all of his clothes and was in the woods alone. Halfin quickly called 911, and Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene with Nunez.

“I don’t know what to make of it,” Halfin told Good Morning America. “All I know is he was found safe. When I picked him up, he was still talking. He wasn’t shaking, he wasn’t nervous — the things I would expect. Maybe he just sensed, ‘I’ve been found.'”

Halfin added that it must have been “divine” intervention that led him to Ramirez.

Before being found by Halfin, the county sheriff’s department had spared no cost looking for the toddler, deploying drones, aircraft, K-9 units and search parties to find him.

“Words cannot describe how I felt when I held him for the first time,” Nunez said of being reunited with her son. “It was incredible.”

In a Monday news conference after the toddler was brought to the hospital, Nunez also called his rescue a “miracle.”

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

The celebration of Halloween creates a lot of division among Christians. Some believe we should completely boycott Halloween, whereas others view it as an outreach opportunity, whereas others want to dress up and hit the streets. This begs the question, “Can we, in good faith, redeem Halloween?” “Redeem” means to recover the ownership of something.

Redemption and celebration are not unfamiliar to Christians. God “redeems” man from a state of darkness, and we “celebrate” this transformation of the heart. Simply stated, it’s about why, who, and how we celebrate.

For example, Halloween, a mixture of Celtic pagan superstition and early traditions, is associated with witchcraft and satanic activity. This is not something to be celebrated, nor can it be redeemed as it stands with themes such as horror, death, and fear. We must be careful, especially when it comes to costumes that represent evil and participating in ungodly things. The Bible says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).

We have children and we can’t always avoid the gory and grotesque decorations, so we change the theme in order to redeem. We use the opportunity to redefine Halloween to “good overcame evil day.” We don’t celebrate Halloween as such; we remember Jesus’ victory on the cross and how He overcame evil and enjoy roasted pumpkin seeds. Many churches offer Fall Festivals and celebrations for this very reason—to redeem the theme of Halloween.

What About Other Holidays?

Shifting gears: What about Christmas and Easter, with their roots saturated with paganism, superstition, and the occult? Rooted in pagan practices, these holidays are abused and commercialized, but can they be redeemed? Christmas, unlike Halloween’s message of horror and death, celebrates eternal life through the birth of Christ. We don’t falsely worship the tree and the decorations referred to in Jeremiah 10:1-10; we worship the Creator of heaven and earth.

Conversely, rich in symbolism, the Christmas tree can point to the cross: once a dead and barren tree, supporting a lifeless Savior, it now stands evergreen as the symbol of eternal life that darkness cannot overcome (cf. 1 John 1:5).

Gift-giving can also represent peace and goodwill among men (cf. Matthew 2): “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). It can, however, lead to extravagant spending and debt; this should be avoided.

What about Easter, with roots in neo-paganism and ancient Celtic and pagan rituals? Can it be redeemed? Many Christians who celebrate Easter are not swayed or influenced by pagan roots, Celtic rituals, or cult-like experiences. They are not worshipping the false goddess Easter.

Like Christmas, the historical roots and secularization do not undermine the message in a person who has a sincere heart. Easter celebrates the reality of an empty tomb and the power of the cross to cleanse and redeem…to release us from sin and death. It offers hope and peace to a dying world. This is cause for great celebration. Holidays, in many ways, are redeemed when the focus is on Christ.

An Issue of the Heart

These issues are heart issues. God does not desire superficial sacrifice and religiosity; He desires a broken and contrite heart. Pleasing God is the most important issue of the heart. We can avoid celebrating holidays, yet still be rigid, arrogant, and judgmental. The “heart” is the real issue.

For example, during the 2011 Christmas season, I received the following email from an online viewer: “I’m sorry, but every time I tried to watch the sermon, the decorated Christmas trees in the background were disturbing to my spirit. I turned it off. I am discouraged and disappointed because of the trees.” What this person failed to realize was that I did not place the trees on the stage. The building was not ours. She neglected to err on the side of grace.

Liberty Has Limits

Considering that liberty has its limits, if all that we do honors God, He is pleased. Again, the key is to avoid arrogance and judgmentalism and to avoid worshipping the wrong things. Strive to follow Paul’s advice and not “dispute over doubtful things” and “live peaceably with all men” (cf. Romans 14:1 & 12:18).

For example, if a family allows their kids to dress up as Mary and Joseph, eat candy, and decorate their house with Fall decor, we should allow them that freedom (cf. Romans 14). But fixating on ghosts, witches, and death does not honor God and should be avoided. Darkness should not entertain us, nor should we trivialize it.

The Real Question to Ask

Whatever your position, the question to ask is, “Is my stance leading to love, joy, peace, contentment, gentleness, and kindness? Or, is it leading to rigidity, arrogance, legalism, divisiveness, criticism, and anger over non-essentials? Or, am I compromising my walk by entertaining darkness?”

There are those who deride Christmas and its commercialism, but they purchase a $2500 Plasma on credit, book expensive vacations each summer, and never serve the community or help those in need. Or, they spend time posting videos exposing the roots of Halloween, but still allow their family to watch ungodly entertainment. Others ridicule the secularization of Easter, but they spend no time truly seeking God in prayer.

This Halloween, don’t celebrate darkness; instead, celebrate the power of the cross. “There is no peace until we see the finished work of Jesus Christ—until we can look back and see the cross of Christ between our sins” (D.L. Moody). This offers peace and hope to a dying world. Truly a cause for celebration.

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