Thursday, April 28, 2016
Three men share their stories of sexual abuse
as an encouragement for others to share theirs
From Penn State to the Catholic Church scandal, stories of sexual abuse are covered in the national media, but news reports do not reveal all the facts of how prevalent abuse is among males. “The standard statistic is that one in six boys is sexually abused before the age of 18 (1in6.org). However, Male Survivor recently reported one in four men has been sexually abused,” Andrew J. Schmutzer, co-author of Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors (Kregel Publications/April 27, 2016/ISBN: 978-0825444005/$14.99), explains. “One thing to understand about these statistics is that they are largely based on self-reporting, so they have been historically hard to come by. As specialists know, men don’t readily talk about their abuse.”
Given the staggering statistics, why then does the church seem to be averse to addressing the issue? This was the question asked by Schmutzer and his co-authors, Daniel A. Gorski and David Carlson, as they began their own journey toward recovery from childhood sexual abuse in their church support group. They also found most of the books on bookstore shelves were written for women. In response, they joined together to tell their stories in Naming Our Abuse.
Having experienced the horror of sexual abuse themselves, the authors are uniquely qualified to address the healing process. Each one shares his story, modeling for men how telling — and writing — their stories can play a significant role in recovery. “Writing helps the brain process the significance of what happened, not just the fact that it happened,” Schmutzer explains. “Dignity is recaptured by remembering rightly, honestly and deeply. Writing honors pain by putting it in black and white.”
Using the easily relatable metaphor of a car accident, Naming Our Abuse leads the victim from their “Wreck,” to writing the “Accident Report,” on to “Rehabilitation” and ultimately “Driving Again.” The four-step model also illustrates for readers that healing is a process, rather than something that can be healed through a single counseling session, support group or some kind of spiritual experience.
Naming Our Abuse also appeals to men by requiring active engagement as opposed to passive reading. Readers are encouraged to go at their own pace, allowing themselves to identify with the fears, experiences, relational fallout and emotional pain that the authors share. After reading through each stage of recovery, the book prompts readers to reflect on their own experiences (journaling) and consider next steps (questions to answers and action points) and concludes by offering coping tips to help readers on their journey.
Learn more about Naming Our Abuse and its authors at www.kregel.com.
“This book will be a great help to those who have suffered in secret not knowing if they can tell anyone their story or if they will be believed. Please read this book so you will better understand what many men are facing; and if you have been abused, you will be glad it has been put into your hands.”
~ Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, senior pastor, The Moody Church, Chicago
“In Naming Our Abuse, these powerful stories bring us that much closer to shattering the silence and shame that has choked the lives of too many for too long.”
~ Boz Tchividjian, executive director, GRACE
About the authors
Andrew J. Schmutzer is Professor of Biblical Studies at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. He holds a B.A. in Theology from Moody Bible Institute, a Th.M. in Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies from Trinity International University. Schmutzer’s writing includes numerous academic essays, articles and study note contributions to the New Living Translation Study Bible (Tyndale). He’s a member of Christian Counseling Professionals of Chicagoland, as well as an associate member of the Trauma & Transformation project to address sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. He serves as a consultant for www.1in6.org., an organization to help male victims of sexual abuse.
Schmutzer was born in South Africa and raised by missionary parents in Zululand and Swaziland. He and his wife, Ashley, are co-founders of a support group for sexual abuse survivors called CHAI (Courageous Healing of Abuse and Isolation). The couple has three children.
Daniel A. Gorski is a 30-year veteran software engineer who has worked for companies such as AT&T and Nokia. He earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Illinois and a M.S. in Computer Science from Kansas State University, specializing in expert systems and software automation.
David Carlson is a special education teacher, working in the suburbs of Chicago for the majority of his adult life. He takes great pride in being an advocate for his students and their families, helping them to navigate whatever challenges life may present.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Crystal M. Sutherland draws from her journey
to offer hope to those on the same road
A woman who was sexually abused as a child can wrestle her whole adult life with questions such as, Am I worthless? How can I move past the hurt? Do I matter to God? This internal turbulence can carve a deep hole in an already wounded soul. Crystal M. Sutherland’s own experiences as a child led her to write Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (Kregel Publications/April 27, 2016/ISBN: 978-0825444012/$14.99).
With more than 42 million victims (both male and female) of child sexual abuse in the U.S. alone, the need for healing is enormous. While there is no simple formula for those seeking recovery, Sutherland believes the Bible contains essential guidance for moving toward peace. Journey to Heal is a practical and comprehensive study of seven steps specifically for female survivors who want to progress from simply coping with life to living abundantly. Calling her book “a road map to recovery,” Sutherland invites readers to process their stories, reject shame and discover God’s love for them.
Many of the lessons Sutherland shares in Journey to Heal were learned in the trenches of her own prayerful and painful recovery. Abused by a stepfather for several years as a child, she lived in a broken state. Acting out promiscuously in high school, she soon found herself in the midst of a teen pregnancy. Even after she married, started a family and reconnected with her childhood faith, she still attempted to mask her pain through food, shopping and staying busy all the time. After years of hiding, her world started to fall apart. She finally responded to God’s call to seek him and his word and found her path to healing. “As the Lord brought restoration into my life, I sensed He was encouraging me to share my journey with others so they too could experience the freedom His love brings,” she reveals. “Telling my story is a small part of this book. I share it so my readers know I am a friend who understands what they are going through.”
Sutherland is now a Biblical counselor and mentors fellow survivors, assuring them that their abuse is not the end of their stories. She speaks boldly in A Journey to Heal, offering answers to some of their toughest questions. With compassion, she deliberately avoids detailed descriptions of her own abuse story, which can be a hurtful trigger for victims, focusing instead on helping them tell their own stories from a healthy place. Infused with biblical truths, stories of hope from other survivors and practical wisdom, readers will be moved along their path toward wholeness.
“My heart is to come alongside other women and encourage them in their journey of faith,” Sutherland says. “I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t have the power to heal their heart, but I will endeavor to point them to the One who does.”
“Crystal Sutherland’s Journey to Heal is an empathetic guidebook for those suffering the ravages of past sexual abuse. Readers will discover a clear pathway through the muck toward wholeness and health in its pages, written by a survivor who understands.”
~ Mary DeMuth, author of Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing After Sexual Abuse
“Sexual abuse hurts children at some of the deepest levels experienced in our broken world, but you don’t have to feel alone. This book can help you reject shame and discover God’s love and care.” ~ Michael Prasse, MACC, LPC, counselor specializing in abuse recovery
Crystal M. Sutherland is a speaker, ministry leader, mentor for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and author of Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse.
Sutherland holds a MA in Theological Studies from Liberty University and has more than 18 years of ministry experience, including women’s, youth, worship and Bible teaching. She is also a biblical counselor at her church. Her work can also be found on her blog and in contributions to lifelettercafe.com.
Sutherland and her husband, Wes, have three children and two grandchildren. The couple makes their home in Wilmington, NC, with their youngest child. Sutherland is in her 13th year of homeschooling, which she says is a pretty big deal for someone who once promised herself she would never be a mini-van-driving stay-home mom! Her passion is to encourage women in their faith and lead them to the hope and healing only found in Jesus Christ.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
An interview with Ruth Logan Herne,
Author of Back in the Saddle
Family relationships are never easy, and loss, grief and greed can compound normal everyday tensions. Ruth Logan Herne offers hope for hurting families with the messages contained in her new book, Back in the Saddle (Multnomah Books/March 15, 2016/ ISBN: 978-1601427762/$9.99).
Q: Your latest release, Back in the Saddle, is a modern twist on the biblical parable of the prodigal son. Can you tell us a little bit about the story?
Take one smokin’ hot hero with a chip on his shoulder, turn his hard-won world upside down at the same time his estranged father is diagnosed with deteriorating liver disease and watch the sparks fly!
Colt Stafford grew up with resentment burned into his soul. His mother told him to trust God with all his little heart and soul, and when Colt lost her to a tragic car wreck, he realized that if God existed, he sure wasn’t anyone who could be trusted. He was left with a power-loving, money-hungry father who saw gold in establishing a new kind of beef empire, but Sam’s quest for world beef domination left little for his son. When he tried to rectify that mistake with more mistakes, their relationship dissolved.
But grown-ups see things through a different reality lens, and Colt’s return sets a new normal in motion. His presence disrupts the status quo for the better, and when he gets beyond his initial affront of having a woman running part of the show at the Double S, he realizes that maybe God does exist. And maybe, just maybe, that imperfect timing of his youth was pretty perfect after all.
Q: Your leading man, Colt Stafford, is a proud man who has to return home in disgrace after a personal misfortune. How did you tap into some of your own life experiences to paint his character?
Great question! I took that time I was crazy rich and gambled it all on one roll of the dice and rolled snake eyes. . . . OK, I wasn’t ever rich, and I don’t throw dice, but I have two sons living in Manhattan. I watched their skilled, brilliant friends get rolled under a financial bus with the crash of 2008, and examining the underpinnings of what went wrong, I saw an area ripe for character development.
And that’s where Colt came from. But the expert advice on pegging Colt in Lower Manhattan came from my youngest son, Luke, who is currently working in hedge funds. Fans of Michael Lewis books will recognize that Wall Street doesn’t talk easily or freely, so having an insider point of view was clutch for developing Colt’s career and his downfall with accuracy. I did buy Luke a lot of coffee out of gratitude!
Q: When you’re caught at a crossroads in life, such as a couple of your characters were, what process do you have for weighing your options and making a decision?
Then or now?
Because younger people might go at this very differently than a mother who’s raised six kids through various levels of Ivy League education while waitressing in a Greek diner.
When I was younger, I tended to jump first, ask questions later, and I was pretty sure I was right. Maybe for that time I was, because what working mother of six has time to think? So I acted often on instinct, but when faced with a particularly tough crossroads, I always turned to prayer and patience. The prayer was easy. Sitting back and letting God take lead? I have found that smart folks have a hard time with that initially, and when I finally broke through the “But I should be able to do this!” wall I erected, life got calmer. I got calmer. It wasn’t age; it was learning I don’t have to do it all. Sometimes, I can simply be an enthusiastic (or sad) bystander. And that was OK.
Q: For the Stafford family, marriages don’t seem to last a lifetime. What advice do you have for those who want a healthy marriage but didn’t have the opportunity to observe one in their own family?
Marriage is work.
Let me repeat that.
Marriage is work.
And in that work comes the essence of love, patience, grace, forgiveness (lots of that on both sides, I reckon!) and joy.
Now having said that, I think there is a formula. First, marry the right person as best you’re able. People don’t mature at the same rate, and the ideas of twenty-somethings are rarely the reality of thirty-somethings. That State Farm commercial “All the Nevers in Life” is a perfect example! What we say “no” to initially often comes back to be our new normal.
I believe faith is a huge binder, but faith alone can’t hold two people together. But faith, love, respect, flexibility, understanding and forgiveness go a long way. I’m a firm believer that you should always marry someone who loves different snacks than you do. For instance, if you like ice cream, marry someone who’d rather have something salty — such as potato chips. I’ll tell you why. At the end of the day, when you want that last half-cup of Chunky Monkey, and you’re tired and you’ve been thinking of it all day while eating celery leaves and twigs to fit into your jeans, working your job and tending kids, house, taxi service for sports and dancing, committees and shopping for the packaged cookies your kid needs for school tomorrow, it is in everyone’s best interest if your husband, when faced with a choice, wolfed down the half-bag of chips instead of the Chunky Monkey.
That’s all I’m saying.
Q: Sibling rivalry is one of the major themes in Back in Saddle. What do you find is the best way to handle tension in family relationships?
OK, now that I’m up off the floor, let me just say that the newly visible accidents of genetics should give us a much better idea of how diverse siblings are and how amazingly blessed we are when any of them get along!
“Daughters! You think it’s going to be like Little Women, and they’re at each other’s throats every day!” —Cora Crawley, Downton Abbey
Laughter. Honestly, give them a good faith base to help offset the chronic craziness of an instant gratification world around them, but beyond that, help them learn not to sweat the small stuff while expecting them to respect one another. They don’t have to be best buddies, but respect is a huge component. A dear friend of mine, a Sister of St. Joseph, once said that holding grudges in families is one of the most grievous of sins because how can we expect to change the world if we can’t forgive one another? I’ve always held that close to my heart. Forgive, put a smile on your face and move on.
Q: Despite all of the challenges the families face in Back in the Saddle, when push comes to shove, they stick together. How has the love of family been important to you?
Well, cowboy lore dictates that we might die separately but most assuredly we will all stand together, and I think that’s a good backbone for family dynamics.
I look at the good and the bad of the families I know, see and work with, then I try to build on the good and minimize the bad. That’s really not a difficult concept if you simply adopt it as your go-to methodology.
My children are a God-send, a huge blessing to me. I see their uniqueness, and I love their diversity. It makes me laugh that out of one set of parents, so many variances emerge. However, now that we can actually see gene sequencing, it makes perfect sense! They grew up in complete ignorance of my parents’ alcoholism and depression problems until they were old enough that they needed to know. I like a little bit of fairyland for kids so they can grow those imaginations. Reality hits all too soon, and I wanted them to have a chance to know and love the grandparents on both sides. If that meant I had to eat a little humble pie and do some strategic planning, that was OK.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your heroine, Angelina? Will readers find any parts of your own personality in hers?
That’s a loaded question! I like strong heroines. I like strong women. I like championing for strong women, and even if a heroine has reason to cave, my goal as an author is to show how she picks herself up and gets back on her feet. And if there’s a wonderful hero to make the picture complete, better yet!
There’s a little bit of me in every heroine, but I had to make Detective Mary Angela (Angelina) even more self-protective, defensive and tough than, let’s say, a kindergarten teacher. So I took a little bit of me, a dash of Kate Beckett on Castle, a hint of the household staffs from The Help and a smidge of Catherine Zeta Jones from Zorro. A woman cop, skilled in negotiation techniques and trained in undercover work, is the perfect setup for dealing with a huge, busy ranch kitchen filled with sometimes-clueless men. One of my greatest joys is how women are loving Angelina as a heroine because I was pretty much guaranteed they’d love Colt. But to have them embrace and cheer on a tough-girl image heroine, that’s awesome!
Q: Is there a way to balance meeting one’s own needs with the biblical principle of putting others first?
I think so. It’s called sacrificial love or selflessness. I think that’s a missing component in too much of today’s society, and worry about self and meeting our own needs is far too prevalent. How easily we talk about the sparrows and the birds of the air in Scripture and how readily God cares for them, but then we freak out if our iPhone breaks down or we have to wait 30 minutes for a doctor’s appointment because we’ve grown accustomed to here-and-now, instant answers.
We taught JOY to junior high kids in religious education classes — Jesus, others, you. The simplicity is perfect and mind-bogglingly easy, but it’s tough to do because we tend to be somewhat selfish creatures.
Q: You talk on your blog about your upbringing and how you were born into poverty. In what ways did your early life experiences shape the writer you are today?
I cannot even begin to say what a huge influence all of that was on my life as a wife, mother, employee and now author. I see all of that as God’s preparation for me for the job he and I both knew I would do some day: write books people love and help women see and build their inner strengths through faith and love.
It is so easy to blame the past and let it wither us. Far too easy. Parts of society actually encourage that.
No. Grab those bootstraps, avoid negative people, surround yourself with positives and thank God daily for all the wonderfulness in your life, no matter how big or how small! No matter how menial the job, do your best every day.
I’ve held a great many nametag and hairnet jobs in my time, and the blessing of that was a paycheck to help put shoes on my kids’ feet . . . and research for books! Take those down times and use them to minister to others.
Take the good and run with it. The rest is up to you!
Q: Other than writing, what are some of your interests? Tell us about your roadside vegetable stand back home in upstate New York.
My love for gardening comes straight from my grandma Myrtle Herne. It’s funny how things get passed down, but I could literally live in a garden if time allowed — and it hasn’t for many years. However, my husband is retiring this year, and he’s started up our truck farm again. We’d done it for a dozen years when our kids were younger, and that gave us lots of field hands when they weren’t playing soccer, tennis or baseball or running track-and-field or cross-country.
A truck farm is an old-school name for a small farm that trucks this, that and the other thing to roadside stands, so in front of our big, old farmhouse (160 years old, and when you fix one thing, you break two others!) we haul out the produce stand every spring . . . and it begins. We have a henhouse of nearly 50 laying hens I handle, and the initial farm work comes down to my husband, Dave, our son Seth, and son-in-law Jon. In the fall during pumpkin and squash season, it’s all hands on deck! A great pumpkin year is a wonderful thing, and there are no worries about staying in shape when you’re hauling 30-pound pumpkins from the field to the tractor path! It’s so pretty to fill the yard with hundreds and hundreds of pumpkins and watch folks drive in with little kids and fill their trunk.
When there’s time I bake bread and cookies for the produce stand . . . and the customers love it, so I don’t tell them that bread’s supposed to be bad for them!
Q: Can you give us a hint as to your plans for the Home on the Range, the next book in the Double S Ranch series?
I love Home on the Range! Oh, poor Nick, he is just so beside himself with what he thinks he wants and the image he’s tried so hard to portray of the modern-day cattle breeder with one foot in suburbia and one on the rugged terrain of the Double S. He was so sure he could do it right and best his father, but one marriage later and two very unhappy little girls means that somehow, someway, Nick’s got to get his life back in order.
Who better than an emotionally-tanked therapist, leading a reclusive life while hiding in the woods in a hobbit-style house because she can’t come to terms with life, to do it? It sure sounds like a match made in heaven to me!
Monday, April 25, 2016
As the music fades and a chasm separates her from the passion of her heart, will Lucy's faith song go silent, too? Find out in Cynthia Ruchti's new book, Song of Silence. The musical score of her life seems to be missing all the notes. When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees—and hears—everything.
Celebrate the release of Song of Silence with a blog tour and giveaway. Two winners will be chosen!
One grand prize winner will receive:
Celebrate the release of Song of Silence with a blog tour and giveaway. Two winners will be chosen!
One grand prize winner will receive:
- A copy of Song of Silence
- A $150 Visa cash card
- A copy of Song of Silence
- A musical medley prize pack filled with goodies hand-picked by Cynthia
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Their first choice was "I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N, but then they didn't know all of the words, and I didn't either. In a pinch with the bell ringing, they settled on something quick, but tried their first choice one more time at the end.
Yes, that’s the book for me
I stand alone on the Word of God
Saturday, April 23, 2016
So, I have nothing interesting to blog about, no pictures to prove I was at the annual family reunion today, and my craft pictures are pretty boring because they are just more books that I cut out to have an at event next weekend.
I have also had a headache every day this week for every various reason that I might have a headache. It's been a stressful month. I'm ready to be back in a routine at work. I was training our new "chick" this week, so hopefully things will settle down soon. Hopefully, I'll have something interesting and fun to post about soon.
Oh, here's a question for you... where should I go on vacation this year, and who can go with me?
Friday, April 22, 2016
Thursday, April 21, 2016
A female bodyguard plus her star NFL client plus danger equals a great recipe for romance! Her One and Only, book four in Becky Wade's Porter Family novels, releases May 3. To celebrate, Becky is hosting an author chat party on her Facebook page on May 5 at 5 PM PDT/8 PM EDT. Join Becky for an evening of book chat with other bookworms and prizes.
Plus a portion of all pre-sales and sales the release week of Her One and Only will be donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. For more details on how to purchase a copy, click here.
About the BookAfter ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?
Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.
Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives — and their hearts — to one another.
Learn more and purchase a copy.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Part 2 of an interview with Tom Gilson,
Author of Critical Conversations:
A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing
Homosexuality with Teens
Christian parents need to be prepared to answer the myriad challenges teens might hear in today's increasingly pro homosexual culture. Why shouldn't gays get married? Who says gay sex is wrong? Does the Bible actually say there's anything wrong with homosexuality? Don't you care that kids are being bullied just for being themselves?
To start the discussion in Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens (Kregel/February 27, 2016), Tom Gilson provides a brief history of the issues beginning with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He explains how and why cultural attitudes have reversed on this subject in such a short timespan, leaving Christians scrambling for answers.
This is perhaps the most complicated and contentious issue Christians face in today's culture. Most churches are poorly equipped to handle it; parents are even less prepared. The good news is that parents need not have pat answers ready before they dive into conversations with their teens and preteens on this difficult topic. Learning together—parents struggling through these issues alongside their kids and leading them to biblical answers—has relational benefits.
Answers are important, though, so manageable, nontechnical answers to common questions surrounding this issue are provided, as well as a guide to further resources.
Q: Christians are often painted as being prejudiced and out of touch for their beliefs. Is there a way to speak truth about homosexuality without being perceived as hateful or homophobic?
There are actually a couple of questions that come before that one. Can we speak out about it without actually being hateful or homophobic? The answer to that is yes, certainly. We disagree with LGBT advocates, sure. But that isn’t automatically hateful or phobic. If it were, then they would also be automatically hateful and phobic for disagreeing with us. I don’t think they think that’s true of ourselves, and I don’t think that’s usually true of them, either.
The second question is whether we can speak out without being perceived as hateful or homophobic. I think in personal friendships we can often do this. In larger contexts, we’ll probably be perceived in all kinds of bad ways, and the best thing we can do about it is to make sure we’re living in Christian integrity no matter what people say about us. We can also make our case for our position respectfully, knowledgeably and with conviction. This book helps with that.
Back to the original question. Some Christians have unfortunately acted in hateful and homophobic ways. (I don’t usually like to use that term, but it does fit sometimes.) That’s a matter for increased knowledge and for repentance.
Q: Why is it such a popular belief that Christians hate homosexuals simply because they disagree with their lifestyle?
There has been an intentional, concerted campaign by homosexual activists to paint Christianity that way. This is not paranoia or conspiracy theorizing. It’s documented in their own strategy documents, which they have followed quite effectively. (I detail this in the book.)
Q: What are some ways parents can prepare their children for the possibility they could be bullied for their beliefs?
Kids need to be confident in their beliefs, and they need to see their parents living in confidence too. That’s the main thing.
It’s great if they can be part of a group of friends who share that confidence; it’s the best protection possible for them at school, and of course there’s a biblical principle of mutual support and encouragement involved there.
Q: How should parents coach teens on being wise in manner and timing when making a stand for their convictions? For example, when and where is the appropriate time and place?
It’s hard to advise on this from a distance. The more important thing, in my view, is for teens to have a solid, almost easy sort of confidence in what they know to be true. Then they can speak their convictions authentically when the pressure is off — in everyday conversation with friends, for example — or when the pressure is on, and their faith is being challenged. It’s a whole lot easier for any of us to assess a situation and respond to it appropriately if we’re confident in our ability to respond when the time comes.
Q: If you had to simplify your argument in support of biblical marriage into a few sentences, what would they be?
God gave us plenty of good reasons in both the Old and New Testament to know that he designed sex to be for a married couple, and that he designed marriage to be for a man and a woman. It’s in Leviticus, in Jesus’ teaching on marriage and all over the Pauline epistles.
Marriage between a man and a woman is good. It’s a comprehensive human good that supports the nurturance of children and the growth of strong communities. Because children come out of marriages (normally), marital love is an outward-looking form of love, in contrast to the inward-looking and comparatively self-focused “just you and me, babe,” form of relationship found in non-marital sexual relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Children thrive in homes with a mom and a dad.
So there are both biblical and non-biblical (common experience) reasons working together to make the point.
Q: Describe the “Bible brush-off” and how parents can avoid it during discussions with their teens.
“The Bible says it. Believe it.” That’s the Bible brush-off. That’s not much help: You can’t command belief. (You can’t make a person believe by telling them to.) Parents need to help their teens understand how to know the Bible is true and how to know the Bible’s teaching is good too.
Q: What are the eternal and cultural implications for helping Christian young people understand this issue?
Let’s not be fooled here: The big question isn’t whether homosexual behavior or same-sex marriage is moral. The big question is whether Christianity is credible. Gay activists have tried to tear down Christianity’s believability. The more they succeed, the harder it will be for anyone to put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Q: What should parents do if their child has questions about his or her own sexuality or gender identity?
The first thing is, keep on loving unconditionally, no matter what – which is what “unconditionally” means. If that is at all challenging for you, find the support you need so you can do it – support that’s steeped in biblical grace and truth.
Don’t think you can go it alone! Don’t even assume your pastor is fully equipped to help with this issue. Rely on your pastor, yes, but find a Christian counselor with specific expertise in this area. Parents should spend time with that counselor, learning how to handle their relationship with their teen. If the teen will see that counselor (or a different one, equally qualified), that’s great.
Even before that’s set up, though, parents should gently seek to find out whether their teens have friends who are encouraging them to “explore” their sexuality. If so, it would be wise to set a firm and loving boundary between the teens and those persons.
If there’s been abuse (which is a factor in some, though certainly not all, such sexual questioning), then get the law involved — and again, a qualified counselor.
Learn more about more about Critical Conversations and Tom Gilson at
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Become a hope hunter
Author Nika Maples draws from her own dark season
to inspire courage in others who suffer
Finding hope in dark times is not an accident. Sometimes it has to be hunted, and that chase takes great strength. Author Nika Maples wants to help others find the fierce bravery required to excavate hope from hardship with her new book, Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light (Worthy Inspired/April 19, 2016/ ISBN: 978-1617956652/$15.99).
Nika Maples certainly knows of what she writes: at age 20, she suffered a massive brainstem stroke that left her a quadriplegic. Doctors warned her loved ones she could have as little as 48 hours to live, and if for some reason she survived, she would never be able to walk or talk again. When Maples pulled through those critical hours, she awoke to find there was no hope on the horizon. So, she started to hunt for it. Today she not only walks but speaks to audiences all over the country about the power of relentlessly holding to faith when a situation appears impossible.
Maples warns those who have the opportunity to observe Hope Hunters not to be fooled by the light in their eyes and the smile on their faces. If bystanders look a little closer, they’ll notice the dirt under their fingernails and the sweat on their shirts. These pursuers of light rake through the rubble of unwanted situations and dig into difficult circumstances because they know enough about God to make them confident adversity can produce good in their lives. This is not the delusion of the eternal optimist. The Hope Hunter acknowledges things are as bad as they seem, but they understand they can still search for — and find — God in the midst of it all.
The easier alternative for confronting trials is confusion, anger and despair. “Questions about suffering are questions about sovereignty,” Maples reveals. “We want to be the ones in control, the ones who decide what can be used for good in our lives. If God is omniscient, He knew about your catastrophe before it hit, and if He is omnipotent, then He had to have allowed it to happen. The key to making peace with this idea is trusting His character. That is how we hunt for hope. Jesus is hope. And if we let Him, He will always lead us to Himself.”
Hunting Hope was written for anyone in the midst of a desperate situation, whether a medical trauma, financial challenge or relational crisis. Maples offers empowerment and encouragement as readers learn to cling to 20 truths about God's character and practice five daily disciplines that will develop their own character.
Maples reminds readers to remember they are not defined by their suffering. “You are not the sick person. You are not the divorced person. You are not the unemployed person. You are not the depressed person. You may have lived through these seasons, or you may be there still, but that label is not your name. You are a child of the High King of Heaven. That is the only label that should stick enough to affect your actions and decisions throughout your life.”
Join Nika Maples on Thursday, May 26 at 8:00 PM EDT for a live webcast. She will be discussing Hunting Hope and answering reader questions. Watch her Facebook page (nikamaples) for more details.
“Readers will appreciate Maples’ candor as she lays out her pain and feelings of inadequacy in plain sight and will find comfort in her uplifting lessons for overcoming personal difficulties of any kind.”
~ Publishers Weekly
“Pain and suffering are found in unexpected places along life’s journey. I highly recommend this book for those in darkness now but also for those wanting to prepare for either their own journeys or to help another through the journey of uncertainty.”
~ Beverly Ross, MA, LPC, Founder and Executive Director of Wise County Christian Counseling
About the Author
Nika Maples is the author of Hunting Hope and Twelve Clean Pages, the memoir of her survival of lupus and a massive brainstem stroke that left her quadriplegic at age 20. She could not speak, swallow or blink, but her faith sustained her and a year later she walked back onto her college campus on her own two feet. Eventually, she became a public school teacher and taught English for 10 years, winning 2007 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Maples holds an MA in English Education from Columbia University and is currently pursuing an MDIV from The King's University. She writes and speaks full time, sharing messages of hope and endurance with education, business and church groups across the country. When not traveling, she lives, writes and laughs as much as possible in Fort Worth, Texas.
Keep up with Nika Maples and Hunting Hope by visiting www.nikamaples.com or following her on Facebook (nikamaples) or Twitter (@nikamaples).