30,000+ Taking Ziglar Pro-Family Challenge

In my last book You Will Be Made to Care: The War on faith, Family and Your Freedom to Believe, my co-author Bill Blankschaen and I offered specific strategies to help us experience a resurgence of strong families in America.

My next book due this fall also seeks to strengthen families—and fathers especially.

As any of you know who listen to me on my show or read what I write here, family is very important to me.

That’s why I’m thrilled to see more than 30,000 families already coming together in the 7-Day Family Challenge from Ziglar Family.

I told you it was coming, and now it’s gaining some serious momentum—30,000+ in just four days with no end in sight.

Check out a few of the off-the-charts positive comments from the first few days of the Challenge:

  • “Just finished challenge #2. Good stuff. Yesterday, we all did the love language test online and it stimulated a lot of really good discussion. In fact, the results of the test were not what we expected and gave us the opportunity to apply the challenge the same day by putting into practice some of the results from our love language test. Exciting!”
  • “Had a wonderful talk around the dinner table last night. My daughter and I came up with 21 questions in a jar and we will pick one every night. These 3 days have been SOOOOO rich for our family, THANK YOU SO MUCH for putting this together for families, what a blessing!”
  • “Today’s challenge is really emotionally inviting which will go a long way to transform families.”
  • “Thank you for the inspiration! We have young children, 9 & 7, and we are all extroverts so lots of talking is done at dinner time in our home! My take-away from your sharing is the honoring concept, giving attention to each person and one conversation. I can see that bringing loyalty and respect in a new way for us.”
  • “I’m so inspired by the family legacy you all have created. Thank you for sharing with our family! My husband and I have a daily morning walk we take, but we’re going to try to add in a 20-minute walk as a family.”

In case you missed the details, you can discover more about the free Challenge here.

Bill Blankschaen has been instrumental in creating this Challenge to help today’s family experience a resurgence. The free Challenge delivers advice and a daily challenge from a stellar lineup of experts:

  • Dr. Gary Chapman (Relationships)
  • Michael and Gail Hyatt (Communication)
  • Dr. Josh Axe (Physical)
  • NFL coach Tony Dungy (Work-Life Integration)
  • Brian Buffini (Community)
  • Dave Ramsey (Financial)
  • Zig Ziglar’s own children, Tom, Cindy, and Julie (Spiritual). 

If you’re looking for practical ways to strengthen your family today, I encourage you to start now.

Click here to join this free pro-family movement. 


 

 

 

The #UnintendedJoy of Reluctant Motherhood

This week is the week of “choices.” It is School Choice Week (a passion of mine) and it is also the week of March for Life, where we are once again made aware of the issue of “choice” in pregnancy and abortion.

As we head into the annual March for Life on Washington this Friday, #UnintendedJoy is currently popping up across Twitter – women and men sharing their stories of how an unintended pregnancy led to unimaginable joy and thanksgiving. Pundit Mary Katherine Ham penned a particularly moving article about her amazing baby girl, born just two months after the loss of her husband, Jake in a tragic accident.

I don’t have any stories of such magnitude. I’m blessed to be parenting two amazing children with my husband of 18 years. I’ve never had an unplanned pregnancy and since I was very young I always knew I wouldn’t want to be a single parent and planned my life (and sex life) accordingly.

My story feels inadequate compared to others, but I wanted to share it anyway, in case a young woman is out there who might be moved in some way by my very simple but life-changing tale.

I never wanted to be a mother. I always viewed children as a burden.  I knew of almost no one in my own family who actively planned their families. Rarely did I see a pregnancy met with joy, only concern and disappointment. Of course, that always changed once baby arrived, but the sentiments stuck with me and I unknowingly internalized them. I didn’t want to create the same kind of burden for myself that I had visited upon my single mother.

Then something crazy happened. I fell in love with a family man. A wonderful man, the son of a dedicated pastor and stay-at-home-mother, raised in a stable home with three other siblings. A “traditional” man. We did what few black couples do these days (statistically speaking)…we got married. Once we’d decided on marriage it happened quickly…within months. Tongues started wagging at church. The pastor’s son marrying so fast? She must be pregnant!

I was not. But just like that famous line in one of our favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally.

When you meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Despite our commitment, I was sure I could do no child any good as a mother. I just wasn’t the “mothering” type.

My husband was patient and understanding. As I matured into my marriage my love for him deepened and there seemed no more natural way to express that love than to create a life together. After a few years I agreed to start a family and within a year we were the parents of a healthy, handsome baby boy.

I couldn’t have known how utterly and joyously helpless I would become the moment I held him. I was suddenly a slave to love and there would be no turning back. Years later we added another bundle of joy. What my kids gave me was a deeper sense of purpose than I’d ever known. Suddenly I wasn’t just living for myself.  I was right that children were a heavy burden to bear…I was wrong about how terrible that burden would be.

It is the sweetest load I’ve ever borne.

Becoming a mother has also gave me a whole new understanding of God’s love for me, for each of us. I suddenly saw myself from His perspective…the perspective of a parent.

I once overheard my toddler son singing some praise and worship songs from church as he played. I stood behind his door for 30 minutes and just listened to him singing and playing.  It was as if I’d never heard singing before. In that moment I couldn’t have imagined a more moving, amazing, talented singer in all the world. My love for him seemed too big to fit in my heart.

That is how God sees us – with warts and flaws, yes but also as the most beautiful of creations. Our voices are His music. Even when we are disobedient or selfish He still sees us as stunning and perfect, the way were created to be. Just like I see my children as incredible, delightful and wonderful human beings even in their flaws, so does He see us.

Ironically, as opposed to stopping my forward momentum I strongly believe being a parent has at times been my only reason for continuing to move forward when all I wanted to do was stop everything and give up.

Parenting has made my husband and I closer in ways I didn’t know possible. We’re an exclusive team and this is the family we’ve made together. No one knows what we know about this family, this life, this experience called the Davis family. It’s a sweet secret that will always bond us.

I am so glad God changed my heart toward parenthood. It frightens me to think of all the #UnintendedJoy I would have missed out on had I let my fear dictate our path. In pro-life circles we (rightly) focus our efforts on women and men who are struggling with the fear of unintended pregnancy. They need our encouragement to know that while right now it might feel like the end of the world, in reality it is only the beginning of something great.

I only wanted to add to that encouragement. You don’t have to be single and alone to be terrified of parenthood. Even the comfort of having a partner didn’t spare me from the insecurities about my future if I allowed myself to be a mother.

I’m fourteen years into this parenting thing and I can say with full and complete honesty that there has never been one day, one hour, one second, one iota of a moment that I have regretted my children and their presence in my life.

That is the true legacy of #UnintendedJoy.

Pray and Give: 6 Children of Congressional Staffer Killed in House Fire

There’s some news that just makes your heart hurt in a way that defies articulation. This is one of those times.

Long-time House Staffer, Katie Malone was injured in a late-night fire which killed six of her nine children. The surviving children all have injuries, two of whom are in critical condition.

Katie has served as a Special Assistant to Rep. Elijah Cummings for nearly 11 years, focused on Immigration and Military constituent service matters, including Service Academy nominations.

I cannot fathom the loss of a single child, let alone losing 6, and seeing my remaining children hurting so badly.

As I read about the tragedy that the Malone family is enduring, I was reminded about the story behind one of my favorite hymns, It is Well With My Soulwritten by Horatio Spafford.

In late November, 1873, Spafford’s wife and four daughters were sailing ahead of him from the United States to Europe when their ship sank due to a collision with another vessel. While his wife survived, his four daughters perished.

Following her rescue, Mrs. Spafford’s wire to her husband began, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Later, to another survivor she shared, “God gave me four daughters, Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”

It was during Mr. Spafford’s trans-Atlantic journey to rejoin his wife that he wrote his famous hymn.

When peace, like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows  roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul

Please join me in praying for the Malone family and those close to them. May God give them peace and may they feel His love like never before.

If you are so inclined and able, consider donating to a GoFundMe which a family member has set up to support them in this awful time.

10 Characteristics of The Resurgent Family

Shortly after Bill Kristol tweeted on Memorial Day weekend that a candidate was ready to step into the ring, I noted that our focus should be on what matters most—faith-focused communities, friendships, relationships, children, marriages, and thriving families. These are the building blocks of culture and the ones we must rebuild if we are to see substantive change in politics.

Not that we should ignore politics. Not at all. But if the family fails, politics won’t matter. Political moves may slow the decay or soften the blow when we fall, but fall we must if the foundation be destroyed.

As Hugh Hewitt put it to me in You Will Be Made to Care, marriage, and with it family, is a load-bearing wall of civilization. When we knock it out—as we have done now—the house may continue to stand for a time, but it eventually must fall. The only question is when and how significant will be the damage.

In You Will Be Made to Care, Erick and I call for a resurgence, not only of engaged citizens, but of community, individual believers, the Church, and family. We add a special section calling fathers to action, as well. Because the cultural challenges we face today will require family-centered, not Washington-centered, solutions.

My own background as a former pastor and educator has focused my attention on family and the Church in particular. Over the years, I’ve counseled thousands of children and parents struggling to walk by faith in the face of cultural pressures to conform.

As I engage parents today, I sense fear and uncertainty in the face of an increasingly hostile culture. Yet I also see determination, a refusal to bow to these false god of secularism and a commitment to never surrender their children and the future to the dark side.

But what are families to do exactly when pummeled by such insanity? When parents are labeled as freaks and bigots for teaching their children basic but counter-cultural truths like men and women are different, God’s not dead, and character matters? How are we to respond as families—quit, coast, or experience a resurgence in the years ahead?

I sure don’t have all the answers, but as I’ve pondered the path forward, I’ve identified 10 characteristics of what we call The Resurgent Family. See if these make sense to you:

  1. Faithful. The first thing families must be is faith-focused. All families believe something to be true, even if they are not clear on the focus of their faith. But the Resurgent Family actively cultivates its faith—together. It does not let the surrounding culture shape what it believes; rather it stands firm for what it believes to be true and forces cultural currents to bend around it. As Christians, my own family’s faith is focused on Jesus Christ and centered on the Scriptures. Every day we seek to more consistently apply biblical truths to how we live our lives. You don’t have to share my particular religion to recognize the vital importance of faith to the moral health of a family. But you do have to be intentional about cultivating that faith in your family or it will succumb to the secular pressures assailing families today.
  2. Intentional. Not surprisingly then, the Resurgent Family must be intentional. It cannot afford to drift, because the cultural currents will quickly take it to places we do not want to go. Consequently, the family must be goal-oriented, having a clear understanding of its purpose, values, and long-term destination. Certainly eternity should be first and foremost on the list of priorities, but so should leaving an earthly legacy. Too many Christians in recent decades acted as if this world didn’t matter because Jesus was allegedly due back any minute, in spite of His warning not to occupy ourselves with trying to predict His return. The Resurgent Family intentionally reaches back in history to teach children the wisdom of the ages past even as it prepares them to be people of influence in a society infatuated with what’s next. Among other things, being intentional means parenting on purpose, a phrase my friend Mark Timm coined that captures what we need to do. Drifting only takes us in one direction—downhill.
  3. Generous. This family that is focused on the future appreciates what it has been given and gives generously because of it. An attitude of gratitude pervades all it does. A thankful spirit saturates all interactions. We must recognize the blessings bestowed upon us and hold them loosely, being quick to share them as needed. When our fingers close around God’s goodness to us, we’ll see his blessing slip from us. Far from being caught up in the materialistic culture around us, a generous family isn’t trying to keep up with the Joneses. Instead the tone is more akin to the early church in Acts which had all things in common and was quick to share voluntarily wherever she saw a need. While not opposed to making money, we recognize the temptation it can bring and set up safeguards to ensure we don’t begin to love it. Children need to see us give until it hurts—and then give some more, knowing God will provide for our needs when we give with a cheerful, trusting heart. Our generosity should not focus on money but also include our time, our possessions, our positions, and intangible resources like grace, truth, and love.
  4. Full of grace and truth. The Resurgent Family is all about grace. It has been forgiven much and always seeks to forgive others because of the grace it has received. Holding grudges for past wrongs or slights has no place in such a home. That also means that when discussing cultural issues, parents set the tone by not doing so with vitriol, hate, or cynicism. (I fully understand how challenging that can be in this current election cycle.) Grace produces hope. And the Resurgent Family is always hopeful—because of what it believes to be true. Like Christ, we must be full of grace and truth, without contradiction. (John 1:14) Our culture tells us that if we are honest, we are not being gracious. But God says otherwise. In fact, the two find their meaning in His very being. “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and God is truth (John 14:6). We must continue to speak the truth in love, not seeking conflict, but not running from it when it comes. Our children must learn to stand courageously for what is true. And they will learn best by observing our own example as happy warriors, grateful recipients of grace who delight in truth.
  5. Optimistic. Because we’ve received grace and believe that the battle has already been won—good wins, evil loses in the end—we can and should be optimistic about the future. The Resurgent Family recognizes that the future is not determined by what we can see, but by what we cannot see. Although what we see, read, and watch tells us the world has succumbed to a raging wildfire that will burn us straight into hell, we know the grave is still empty. Victory has already been secured. Evil has already been defeated. And we get to be part of carrying out that outcome in time and space. “We are not of those who draw back in fear,” says the writer of Hebrews. We stand with the psalmist and say, We will not fear though all the entire world turn upside down. Because there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God…. (Psalm 46:1-4) We must teach our children that our attitude will determine how good our story will be when it is told in eternity.  If you find yourself struggling to maintain an optimistic outlook, remember the words of Zig Ziglar, a family man of great faith: “You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind.” Maybe you need to change your mental diet if it is making you and your family ill.
  6. Learning. The Resurgent Family culture is one of growth—always learning, always improving, always growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord” (2 Peter 3:18). It values imagination, creativity, and the God-given strengths of each individual and understands that all truth is God’s truth. We recognize that nothing is neutral. We all comprehend facts within a system of thought, a worldview that shapes our assumptions about the nature of reality. Consequently, we take pains to stretch the minds of our children, encouraging them to read great books and wrestle with timeless ideas in order to understand the latest cultural shifts in historical context. Critical thinking is key as we question everything, even our own reasoning. We are not afraid of our children asking why we believe what we believe. In fact, we delight to answer. Of course, this approach assumes parents have first sought the answers themselves or are willing to search Scripture and trustworthy sources to find the answers. It also presumes parents are taking pains to guard against the indoctrination of their children by secular influences. I have made no secret of my concerns about sending children to government schools. Homeschooling and Christian schooling are looking increasingly better as gender madness descends upon public schools. Never forget that most learning is caught, not taught. And when your children are surrounded throughout most of their day by people who do not share their beliefs, the outcome will usually not be good for their faith.
  7. Culturally aware. As the cultural wildfire burns, the temptation for The Resurgent Family will be to pull back, to cut itself off from contact with the culture. Yet Christ has called us to “go and make disciples,” not run and hide until I return. Our children must be well-versed, not only in the challenges facing culture in their lifetime, but also in the biblical solutions to those challenges. So we must talk about those issues at an age-appropriate level, not run from them. In our own home, we have candid conversations about the madness surrounding marriage and gender. We don’t want them to hear about it first from a progressive college professor seeking to undermine their beliefs. Instead, we want them prepared to “give an answer” in those settings with humble boldness. Each family must choose according to the dictates of conscience how much to expose children to cultural issues—and then ignore pressures to soften its position. We should invest in resources to help teach our children well. We should invest in positioning them for maximum influence in life. We should model what it means to live in, but not of, a world dominated by secular forces. [I highly recommend Hugh Hewitt’s book In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World. I partnered with Hugh to create the study guide in the book and offer a free leader’s guide you can use in your family or small group setting for high-school through early career.]
  8. Influential. The Resurgent Family is all about making a difference in the world, not merely running out the clock. Thus it functions with a leadership bias. As John Maxwell put it, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Consequently, our families must be intentional about developing relationships, as leadership rises and falls on relationships. No relationships equals no influence. So we must do the sometimes challenging work of inviting people into our homes, forging connections, networking with like-minded, and not-so-like-minded people, in order to be a blessing to them. As a result, our influence will grow and we will be better positioned to speak into their lives. Because we are influence-oriented, we invest time and resources into positioning our children for maximum impact in the world. We instill character into them and teach them how to turn their dreams into goals and their goals into reality. The Apostle Paul calls us as parents to “bring them up in the training” of the Lord. Especially in these trying times, our kids need the discipline to follow Christ faithfully and to achieve great things for the greater good. But they need us to instill that discipline in them in order to become the leaders God calls them to be.
  9. Healthy. The Resurgent Family recognizes the importance of being healthy—physically, spiritually, and psychologically—because each member of it is carefully crafted in God’s image and can best fulfill his or her purpose on this earth when fully healthy. We don’t worship at the altar of physical beauty or perfect fitness, but we don’t ignore healthy habits, moderation in appetites, and the benefits of regular exercise and activity. We have no need of federal programs that dictate what food our kids should eat because we already take ownership for their health. We don’t claim our faith as an excuse to live unhealthy lives, blaming God for our extra pounds because we’re so busy helping others we choose to ignore the bodies He has given us to steward. We teach our children the value of holistic living and healthy habits so that they may maximize their influence in the world and lead their families forward with vigor. Perhaps most importantly in our artificially urgent age, we insist on making rest part of our regular cycle of life. We remember a sabbath day each week, we get plenty of rest each night (even if that means we miss some shows or games we won’t remember a week later), and we schedule time off to recharge and “sharpen the saw.” After all, The Lord gives rest to His beloved. It is a gift to us that we ignore at our own peril (Psalm 127:2).
  10. Connected. More than ever, The Resurgent Family must know that it is not alone. The media and the growing cultural pressures will say the opposite—you are freak and a bigot in need of therapy. But it is a lie from the pit of hell and smells like smoke. We must intentionally surround ourselves with other like-minded believers, families who share our beliefs and who will support one another as we do life together. Our natural tendency is often to draw back when overwhelmed. To pull inside our two-car garages, shut the door, and stay there until we have to go back to work. But the example of the early church—and the Church all throughout history—is to form authentic community with other believers. Our children need to see that we are not alone. They need to know that when the secular college professor tells them their parents are freaks of nature for their faith, that it is the professor who is deluded and isolated. We address this call for community extensively in You Will Be Made to Care (the perfect gift for dads, by the way) as the foundation for the resurgence. But it doesn’t happen by accident. You need to make the first move. At church this Sunday, approach another family you don’t know and start a conversation. Invite other families over to your house—don’t worry about everything being spotless. Sure, clean up a little. Be polite and gracious hosts. But don’t let a passion for cleanliness stop you from exercising true godliness and breaking bread with other believers. After all you’re already family.

I know we’ve only scratched the surface of what The Resurgent Family looks like going forward. But we would love to know what you think. We don’t do comments here at The Resurgent to keep your experience clean and uncluttered. But we would appreciate your feedback on this topic.

We’d love to know if you are interested in hearing more about The Resurgent Family and how we can best serve you and yours in the months ahead.

So you can leave a comment to let us know your thoughts on The Resurgent Facebook page.

Click here to share your thougths.

God and Family

Yesterday, I finished my first semester of seminary. Thanks to so many of you for your prayers. A lot of people cautioned me when I started to be careful not to lose my faith. I’m not sure what seminaries they went to, but my faith has been well served by spending time in seminary.

As I told my wife, I have found my tribe.

Examining passages of the Bible I’ve read before, but in more depth, has really been eye opening. I put off this journey for two years, but after more and more requests to get in churches and preach and not feeling comfortable doing so, I finally decided I need to get serious. I spend a lot of time here and on radio talking about faith issues and I think seminary is helping provide a deeper understanding.

I’m also now more willing to accept invitations into churches on Sunday. I finally feel up to it and competent.

There is one observation from my first semester that I want to draw your attention to. And before I get all sorts of secular outrage, let me be up front that I’m only writing to those of you of faith. And I’ll give you the conclusion before even starting: if you want to build a better America, build a better family. If you want to build a better family, build a better church.

I have concluded, from this first semester, that being a better Christian is, for me, the key to being a better American. If you’ll allow me, let’s go back to near the beginning.

In the sixth chapter of Genesis, we are introduced to Noah. He is found blameless in God’s eyes. Note that this does not mean Noah is sinless. Noah is, in fact, a sinner. But he stands out from the rest of humanity as righteous. He tries to do what is right in God’s eyes with all humanity around him doing what is right in their own eyes.

God tells Noah to build an ark. Interestingly, note that he tells Noah to build the ark before even telling Noah how it is to be used. In any event, God tells Noah to build the ark and pay attention to Genesis 6:18:

But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

Then look at Genesis 7:1.

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.

Notice carefully that the “you” is singular. God did not find Noah’s wife righteous. He did not find Noah’s sons to be righteous. He did not find even Noah’s sons’ wives to be righteous. God found Noah righteous and his family was entitled to the blessings and protections because of this one righteous man.

I think there is an overlooked lesson in this. Fathers have ceded a lot in society, but the father needs to be a pillar for his family and the father needs to take a strong role in getting the family into church.

But there is more to it than that. The waters prevailed on the earth for 150 days. During that time Noah and his family stayed in the ark. Too many of us head into church on Sunday and that is it. We live as Christians for two to three hours on Sunday, then head off to NFL games on TV and a life separated from the church.

We need to focus more time on being Christians 24/7/365.

The Lord said, in Genesis 6:7, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” In Genesis 3, it was man who had sinned. The animals and creeping things and the birds did not sin. But man’s sin so polluted the world, God decided to reboot humanity through the one man he found righteous.

Look at the effects of man’s sin. In Genesis 7:11-12, we read

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

This is a complete undoing and disordering of creation. In Genesis 1, God had separated the waters from the heavens. Then the waters, as collected, were separated into land and sea and the waters under the earth. Six chapters later, the effects of man’s sins are to undo all of this. The waters spring up from the earth, the windows of the heavens are opened, and creation itself comes undone. All living things perish save for those in the ark.

And lest any of you have hesitancy on this point, I fully believe this is a literal story, not a metaphor or myth.

We are promised that God will not destroy the world again by flood. But the world will again end, and this time with finality into a new Heaven and a new Earth. The refuge from the sin of the world is now as it was then — the refuge in the ark, or in the church.

And God’s blessings flow through families. We can learn a lot from the story of Noah. We can learn that fathers need to be involved and need to be righteous before God. We can learn that families receive God’s blessings not just as individuals, but as families. Families are so important.

Churches can learn that they must have a vested interest in strengthening families. Instead of spending 100% of their time on Vacation Bible School, churches should have a vested interest in parents having date nights and solid networks of babysitters.

If we want a better America, we need stronger families. And if we want stronger families, we need more churches not just focused on the individual’s path to salvation, but on the family’s path through a fallen world together.

Too many Protestant churches think once we’ve gotten to Christ they can move on. Instead, the church needs to realize God did not seal the door and let the ark drift with Noah’s family in it. God ministered to that family the whole time in the ark. When Genesis 8:1 says God “remembered Noah,” that word choice does not mean Noah and his family went out of God’s mind and then back in to God’s mind, but rather that Noah was never forgotten and left alone.

The church should not stop once a person has come to Christ, but should work to mature the Christian by remembering always the family.

“You’ve found Jesus, so here is what’s next,” should be a mission in churches so that mature Christians from stable God-centered families can go out and minister to others seeking refuge in the ark that is the church in this fallen, turbulent world.

And that, my friends, is the first semester. Thanks again for the prayers.

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