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Millennial Monday: Doctor’s offices and disciple makers

Millennial Monday: Doctor’s offices and disciple makers

In the first year of a child’s life, if you are an otherwise healthy person, you will go to the doctor more times than you have gone to the doctor in YEARS.

“Well-child” checks are every month until the six month mark. Then they are every three months until the child is a year old, and then just once a year after their first birthday.

That doesn’t count, however, the “not-so-well-child” checks that come much more often, and these visits aren’t free. As the baby’s immune system strengthens and gets used to the world of germs, these visits come with mysterious rashes, crazy symptoms, and first-time parent worry.

My son was born in July 2018 and got his first sickness in October, and then again in November, in between the times that he would have visited the doctor for a well-child check-up of course. We also visited the ER one of those times, which was a whole other experience.

All of this time in waiting rooms and driving to and from the doctor gave me time to think (before I have to leave the office today for a doctor appointment for my son, go figure).

If we place such importance on visiting the doctor and immunizations and well-child check-ups in the first year of a child’s life, why don’t we emphasize the same importance when someone becomes a new believer?

Like a newborn baby, this person who has just made a profession of faith in Christ will need extra nurturing. Like a newborn baby, they are not born-again as a self-sufficient Christian who just knows what to do next.

Like a newborn baby has a parent that dotes over them and cares for them with devotion, newborn Christians need active discipleship relationships to help them grow into the healthy, well-rounded believer that they have potential to become.

Too often, we as the Church see baptisms and conversions to faith at camp, or family events at the church, and fail to follow up with the person who just made an extremely important life decisions.

This person needs one person to come alongside them and help build their faith in God, answering questions for them along the way and, like a baby who is learning to walk, this person will be there to catch them with they fall, and support them as they get back on their feet in their efforts to pursue Christ.

Think back to someone who made a profession of faith in Christ you may have invited to church, or someone you went to camp with, or if you helped volunteer at a church event. Now, think about the level of involvement you’ve had in their life since they made that decision.

Have you been there for them as a friend, a disciple, someone they can look to for godly nourishment and growth? If you haven’t, there is still time. Reconnect with them and begin to build relationships that last and relationships in which you both benefit from your discipleship relationship.

Jesus didn’t just pick 12 disciples and say, “Okay now go tell others about me!” No, He spent time with them, He answered their questions, dealt with their unbelief and loved them and corrected them through their mistakes. Be that person for someone in your life.

DHD: Responding to ‘America founded on slavery’

DHD: Responding to ‘America founded on slavery’


We just celebrated Independence Day. Americans everywhere took time to enjoy the freedoms we have in our country, spent with family, friends, food, fun and fireworks.

There were parades, observances of military appreciation, patriotic musical performances and reflections of our nation’s history.

I enjoyed July 4 along with my fellow patriots.

Earlier this week, I heard a comment mentioning that America was founded on slavery. It bothered me. I thought it was not accurate and could lead to a misrepresentation of the founding of our country.

I decided to use this week’s Doyle’s Half Dozen to offer an historical analysis as well as how best to respond when the topic of America and the practice of slavery is discussed.

1. Many of the Founders opposed slavery

I found an editorial by John Gutekunst titled “The Founders thought slavery would die on its own” as a good source.

Gutekunst pointed out that many of the Founders were against slavery. He quoted John Adams who said slavery was “a foul contagion in the human character.” Benjamin Franklin said, “Slavery is… an atrocious debasement of human nature.”

George Washington once was a slave owner, but he offered them freedom. He also observed other actions to promote and offer freedom to slaves, and he said, “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it (slavery).” Later in life, Washington said his biggest regret was that he and the other founders did not abolish slavery once and for all.

And there are others who outright opposed or at least admitted slavery was an inhumane practice.

2. Slavery was progressively diminished

To reiterate, I am directly responding to the popular belief that America was founded on slavery. Consider the fact that slavery existed prior to the founding of the United States, especially in Europe. England, France, Spain and Portugal practiced slavery, as well as other countries.

I bring this up not to excuse early Americans but to clarify the place slavery has in world history. I would speculate that the unfortunate popularity of slavery across the globe caused insensitivity to even some who opposed slavery, which hindered immediate action to abolish slavery entirely.

“Perhaps the best way to describe the Founders is they accepted slavery as a matter of convenience,” Gutekunst wrote. “They were trying to forge a coalition to fight the British, and then they were trying to turn these former colonies into something resembling a nation. They had to make negotiated compromises. They accepted slavery because that’s what was needed to achieve a greater end.”

It is unfortunate that the founders did not take a more aggressive approach, but their actions do not outright support America being founded on slavery, rather a tolerance in order to become a nation.

However, legislation did pass to discourage slavery. Eight of the original 13 colonies outlawed slavery by 1776. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 made it illegal for slavery to be expanded in new territories. Congress actually hindered slave states from having full representation in the federal government.

As Gutekunst wrote, the Founders appeared to believe slavery would die out on its own. Even though this approach did not bring immediate success, it hardly supports the view of America being founded on slavery.

3. Cotton industry hindered abolishment

Slavery began to increase after the cotton gin was invented in 1793, 17 years after the U.S. was founded. This is where abolishment took a wrong turn.

Those who hype up America being founded on slavery would have its strongest argument at this point of history. For 87 years, slavery did flourish in our country, and this is definitely a black mark on American history.

4. Civil rights leaders support founding documents

“Though arguments could be made that the Founders made too many compromises, their overall project was to set anti-slavery principles in place so that they could be enforced at some point in the future,” wrote Michael Sabo of The Heritage Foundation.

One of the bigger support aspects of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution being anti-slavery is how historic civil rights leaders Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King, Jr. praised the writing of both documents.

Douglas called the Constitution “a glorious liberty document.” King said both the Declaration and the Constitution had “magnificent words,” and in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he quoted the Constitution saying everybody would have unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

5. Be factual and sensitive

As mentioned, it is shameful when reflecting on how slavery was practiced in America.

But from the evidence I presented, instead of thinking that America was founded on slavery, consider how the founders promoted freedom and not slavery, which eventually came to an end.

To those who hold strong feelings about the practice of slavery being a part of American history and believe slavery is a founding element of this country, I share your view that freedom is for all people. But founding documents have also been used to gain freedom for all, proving the Founders were instrumental in the end of slavery.

6. The greater message

As a Christian, I know how great the Gospel message of Jesus Christ is. The Gospel is reflected throughout the Bible. Many Bible characters demonstrate what Jesus did once and for all, providing the ultimate freedom from sin and death.

And the Gospel can be presented even when discussing the Founders of America. I believe God intervened through the Founders—many were professing Christians and many were not. The Founders fell short, even though intentions to end slavery were good.

Just like God provided freedom to the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt, He provided freedom to slaves in America.

And just like He can provide freedom from the physical practice of slavery, God can provide freedom from sin to anyone who will believe in Jesus Christ.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18).

REVIEW: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ is web-spinnin’ fun, with a few caveats

REVIEW: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ is web-spinnin’ fun, with a few caveats

The movie ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ has less violence and language than most Marvel films but still has a few scenes that may give parents pause.

Peter Parker is an average-looking high school sophomore who has the power to save the world from the latest evil villain.

Yet all he can think about is his crush, MJ.

As Spider-Man, he is as brave as a lion. As Peter Parker, though, he is as scared as a mouse—especially around her.

Perhaps a class trip to Europe will give him courage. He and his friends will tour Venice, Prague and Paris. They’ll see the sites. They’ll learn the history. They’ll escape all their worries from home.

But nothing is ever easy for Peter Parker. A water monster attacks Venice. Parker helps save the day, but then another villain, made of fire, descends upon Prague.

Meanwhile, Avengers boss Nick Fury is trying to persuade Parker to take on a larger role in the superhero realm.

And all Parker wants to do is ask MJ out on a date.

The movie Spider-Man: Far From Home (PG-13) opens in theaters this weekend, picking up where Avengers: Endgame ended and continuing the new Spider-Man saga begun by 2017’s Homecoming. It stars Tom Holland as Parker/Spider-Man, Zendaya as MJ, Marisa Tomei as Parker’s aunt and Samuel L. Jackson as Fury.

In Far From Home, the world is mourning the death of Stark/Iron Man and Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow, and the retirement of Steve Rogers/Captain America.

“What is it like to take over for Tony Stark?” a reporter asks Parker/Spider-Man, who has no desire to succeed the legendary hero.

A new superhero named “Mysterio” (Jake Gyllenhaal) then arrives on the scene to help defeat Hydron and the other villains, leading Parker to wonder: Is Mysterio the next Tony Stark?

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!

(Scale key: none, minimal, moderate, extreme)


Moderate. Far From Home has less violence and disturbing content than did Homecoming or most other Marvel movies, even though it still has plenty of stuff blowing up or getting destroyed. The villains—part of a group of bad guys called the Elementals—will give only the most sensitive children and tweens nightmares.

Drones shoot guns. Hand-to-hand combat scenes are virtually nonexistent.    


Minimal/moderate. The film’s most problematic moment involves an adult female employee telling Parker (who is 16) to take his clothes off in order to put on a new costume. It’s an odd moment. With Parker’s pants down (he’s still wearing underwear), a male classmate walks in. He makes a joke about Parker wanting to “hook up” with a random “European chick.”

Later, Happy Hogan references Parker renting an “adult” movie in a hotel. Parker takes off his shirt and puts on his costume when MJ’s back is turned.

Romance is a major theme of the film. A couple share a kiss at the end. 

Coarse Language

Moderate. OMG (6), h-ll (4), a– (3), s–t (2), d—wad (1), b–ch (1), d–n (1) and one unfinished f-word. It’s less language than most Marvel films. A classmate flips off Peter.

Other Positive Elements

Peter may be unsure about his future role, but he still puts his life on the line to save others.

He says “thank God” twice. Perhaps it’s just an expression, but it carries meaning among some moviegoers.

The humor, minus the caveats already discussed, is family-friendly and truly funny.

At a bar, Peter drinks lemonade.

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

Characters drink alcohol at a bar.

The movie contains mid-credit and post-credit scenes. Both are critical to the future of the
Spider-Man and Marvel series.

Life Lessons

Experience brings wisdom: Peter Parker seemingly proves he’s not ready for prime time when he misuses a weapon and nearly kills a classmate who is interested in MJ (he launched the weapon on accident). Fury becomes, well, furious. Yet Parker learns from his mistakes and matures.

Mistakes can be overcome: Parker is distraught after he makes the biggest mistake of his young superhero career. But he gets a second chance and fixes it.

Appearances can be deceiving: A major plot-spoiler is behind this lesson, but it’s significant.  


Far From Home sparks a series of questions worth a discussion on the drive home. Such as: What’s real and worth pursuing in this world? What only seems real… and should be rejected? Christ and His Kingdom are the source of true goodness, peace and joy, yet there are literally millions of other things in our world—money, sex and fame, among them—that promise joy… but deliver exactly the opposite. They may appear innocent on the surface, but they’re not.     

What Works

The action. The plot. The humor. The toned-down violence and language, which is welcomed.

What Doesn’t

A joke about an adult woman hooking up with a 16-year-old.

Discussion Questions

1. How do you know what is real and worth pursuing in life?

2. What is required for wisdom? Can a young person have wisdom? Can a young person be mature?

3. Why did Peter fail? What was the key to him overcoming his mistakes? 

4. What would you want your last words to be? Is there something you would confess in your finals seconds, as several characters did?

Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.

REVIEW: ‘A Dog’s Journey’ is a pet flick wrapped in a reincarnation plot

REVIEW: ‘A Dog’s Journey’ is a pet flick wrapped in a reincarnation plot

The movie A Dog’s Journey (PG) opens this weekend, following a dog named Bailey as he cares for a girl named C.J.

Bailey is a dog who wouldn’t change a thing about his life. He lives on a huge farm. He rides to town in a big pickup truck. His owners, Ethan and Hannah, treat him like their own child.

“I feel like the luckiest dog in the world.”

But not everything is rosy in Bailey’s world.

A few months ago, Ethan’s adult son died in a tragic car accident, leaving behind a widow named Gloria to raise a baby daughter, C.J.

She and C.J. moved in with Ethan and Hannah, her in-laws. And after a misunderstanding and argument, she moved out, promising never to return.

“She’s my baby — not yours,” Gloria said before leaving. 

Then Bailey became terminally ill. Then he died. Then Gloria started drinking, leaving C.J. to fend for herself.

It may sound like the lyrics to a honky-tonk tune, but this story has a happy ending.

Bailey was reincarnated as another dog, Big Dog, and then another dog, Molly, and then another dog, Max. Each time, he was sent to care for C.J., who found his companionship priceless through her childhood and young adult years.

The movie A Dog’s Journey (PG) opens this weekend, starring Dennis Quaid (The Rookie) as Ethan, Marg Helgenberger (Erin Brockovich) as Hannah, Betty Gilpin (GLOW) as Gloria and Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast) as the voice of Bailey.

The film is based on a book by W. Bruce Cameron and a sequel to the 2017 film, A Dog’s Purpose (2017), which also was based on a Cameron novel.

It is aimed at children and families and — apart from the worldview — has few other non-family-friendly elements for Christian parents. For lovers of pets, it’s a fun flick.

Yet the movie’s strong focus on reincarnation isn’t a small problem.

Let’s examine the details.    

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!

(Scale key: none, minimal, moderate, extreme)


Minimal. We see C.J., as a toddler, walk into a fenced-in area with an out-of-control horse. (She is rescued.) As a teenager, C.J. dates a boy who grabs her arm when she tries to leave. He doesn’t hit her, but part of her clothes tear. The same boy later chases her in his truck, resulting in her crashing her car. (She survives, but the dog dies.) C.J. dates another boy who grabs her arm when she tries to leave. (She has a tendency to date irresponsible men.)   


Minimal. It’s implied that Gloria lives with one or two men, although we never see them kiss. (The movie has no bedroom scenes.) When C.J. asks her if one of her boyfriends is nice, Gloria responds, “They always start off nice.” Gloria wears one or two outfits showing too much skin. C.J. kisses a boyfriend passionately in the backseat; the scene cuts away. She moves to the city, where she moves in with a boyfriend. When that doesn’t work out, a platonic male friend lets her stay with him. She kisses a man at the end of the film.

Coarse Language

None/minimal. One possible OMG. One other misuse of “God.” At least three to four instances of Bailey referencing his or another person’s “butt.” 

Other Positive Elements

The love that Ethan and Hannah show for Gloria and C.J. is touching.

When Gloria moves out, Ethan and Hannah display patience and never lose hope that the relationship will be restored.

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

Gloria is a young widow whose husband died. After he passed away, she becomes an alcoholic and an irresponsible mother who often leaves C.J. home alone at night while dating. Gloria often drinks glasses of wine.

C.J. impersonates her mom during a phone conversation and lies in order to get Bailey. A few minutes later, she lies again. (Eventually, she is caught in her lies, but her mother lets her keep the dog.) 

C.J. goes to a party where beer is served. (She asks her boyfriend to take her home.) Two teenagers exchange a package that looks like drugs. C.J. is arrested but released.

We see several arguments. Gloria argues intensely with Ethan and Hannah.

Life Lessons

We learn about the power of words — both positively and negatively (Gloria moves out after she is offended by something Hannah says.)

We learn that bad choices lead to bad consequences (C.J. opts to date an irresponsible man.) 

We also learn about unforgiveness and bitterness (Gloria moves out of Ethan and Hannah’s home. Later, C.J. moves out of Gloria’s home and pledges never to return.) Yet we also learn about redemption. (The movie has a happy ending.)


What is the purpose of dogs? Of pets? Bailey has an idea.

“Loving people is my ultimate purpose,” Bailey says.

Perhaps he’s onto something. 

When you watch a joy-filled child chase a dog or an elderly person pet one, it’s easy to agree with Bailey.

Pets, after all, are one of God’s great gifts to mankind. Why else would He have created certain animals that are so easily domesticated and that treat you like a king? They provide companionship. They remind you of the simple pleasures of life. They make you … happy.

It’s just too bad that the story is wrapped in a pro-reincarnation plot.

The Bible teaches that we die once, and only once (Hebrews 9:27, Matthew 25:46). The concept of reincarnation is unbiblical, for both humans and animals.

And while a good case can be made that animals will be in heaven (Isaiah 11:6, 65:25), the Bible is silent on whether specific pets will be there.

What Works

Bailey’s interaction with people. It’s a joy to watch.

What Doesn’t

The scenes showing men getting physical with C.J. They don’t belong in a film geared toward families.

Discussion Questions

1. What does the Bible say about reincarnation? 

2. C.J. initially did not want to forgive her mother. Have you ever harbored feelings of unforgiveness? What does Scripture say about forgiving others? Why is it hard sometimes?

3. Gloria and Hannah have an argument early in the movie. Who was right? Who was wrong? Why? 

4. Why is cohabitation (living together before marriage) wrong — both biblically and practically?

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Rated PG for thematic content, some peril and rude humor. 

Temptation: a burden turned blessing

Temptation: a burden turned blessing

It’s here again.  Dark.  Familiar.  Frightening.  The moment you’ve been dreading since the last time.

Your mind races, your pulse quickens, and the joy you felt just moments ago dissipates as you watch yourself do the very thing you hate, not helpless to resist, but painfully limited in your human resolve to do so. 

Even as you push the button, take a bite, speak the words—perform whatever deceptively simple act that goes against God’s will—you’re sorry. 

Deeply sorry. 

Satisfaction succors, yes, a wave of warmth most welcome, but it’s fleeting and incomplete. 

Exposed, cold, ashamed, your heart begins to weep. 

It’s not supposed to be like this.  You didn’t think it could be like this.  You’re a child of the living God, for cryin’ out loud!  

At least you think you are. 

Once upon a time, you put your faith in the Gospel and were rescued, supposedly, from sin and its consequences.  So why the struggle?  Why this agony? Could it be you’ve finally run up a sin bill too high for Jesus’ blood to cover?

No.  Never.

The Enemy would like you to believe that, of course—in fact, he’s working very hard to make you believe it—but Jesus’ blood was more than enough to pay your sin bill, past, present, and future (1 Peter 3:18). 

Rest assured, if you have accepted God’s forgiveness made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection by surrendering control of your life to Him, as proven by your continued desire to please Him over anyone else and obey Him in all things (1 John 2:3; Philippians 2:13), you are a child of God, rescued not only from the consequences of sin, but also from its present power and future presence in Heaven (Romans 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:15, 5:5). 

Don’t be discouraged!

We all struggle with temptation.  It just comes with being stuck in these earthly bodies we’re wearing, but your soul is just as saved as it ever was, even if some of the choices you make as God moves you toward Christ-likeness don’t leave you as content and peaceful as you could be (Philippians 1:6; Romans 7:15-25).  

Instead, be encouraged! 

Your aching heart is proof that you belong to God (1 John 3:24; Ephesians 4:30), as the Holy Spirit only dwells in the hearts of His children (Galatians 4:6; 1 John 5:12), strong evidence that He is still at work in your life.

Christian, through Jesus, you have everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), whether you feel like it in this moment or not, and if you let Him, God will give you the power going forward to do all the important things He’s planned for you to do for your good and His glory (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10-11, 3:16). 

All you have to do is cooperate.  

Heed the Holy Spirit’s warnings (Isaiah 30:21).  Look for the escape routes God provides and take them (1 Corinthians 10:13).  If and when you fail, accept the Holy Spirit’s conviction with gratitude (John 16:8), confess and turn away from your sin (1 John 1:9), and keep stepping forward in faith (Romans 1:5). 

Ignore the Enemy’s lies and leave the past in the past like God does (John 8:44; Hebrews 8:12).  

Keep choosing Jesus, moment by moment, day by day, year by year, and before you know it, this present struggle will be nothing but a distant memory, useful for encouraging others with the same sin inclinations as yours, a heavy burden turned blessing. 

Doubt it?  Don’t!  All things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26).

Millennial Monday: Doctor’s offices and disciple makers

Millennial Monday: How becoming a mom changed my relationship with God

Yesterday we all celebrated the mothers in our lives. Whether biological, adopted, no longer with us, new mothers or someone who has taken the initiative to treat you like their own child regardless of DNA, we can all agree our Moms deserve a trophy.

Something I admire about my own mom is how in every part of her life, whether she intends to or not, you can see Jesus.

You can see Jesus in how she works for others, never wanting anything in return. You can see Jesus in the mercy she bestows upon those who by the world’s standards should receive harsh judgment. You see Jesus through the way she intentionally spends time and listens to the people by whom she is surrounded. The list goes on.

There are other women in my life who I am thankful for the role of mother that they played in the lives of those I love.

My mother-in-law Kimberley raised a caring and compassionate man who works hard and respects those around him. She also taught Casey to do his own laundry (score!). I am eternally grateful for her and blessed to call her Silas’ Memaw.

My Grams, who raised my mom, is a fierce soldier for Christ. I have always said she has a direct line to Jesus, because when she prays, there is no mountain that can’t be moved. She is strong, and she has gone through two husbands dying, yet her faith stands firm. She is unshakable and I hope to be just like her.

My sisters and sisters-in-law that raise my nieces and nephews are some of the strongest and most intelligent women I know. It takes grit and determination to raise children, and I see proof of that every day through the lives of my sisters/sisters-in-law.

But what I have learned since becoming a mother, which I couldn’t fully grasp before embarking on this journey 10 months ago, is about God’s unconditional love and the sacrifice he made for us when He sent His Son to Calvary’s hill.

My favorite things about myself are that I am a child of God, Casey’s wife and especially that I am Silas’ mama. I never knew how my heart would grow once I became a mom. My heart swells with pride and joy as I spend time with Silas and experience him growing and learning new things.

Nothing that Silas could do would make me not love him. In these first 10 months of his life there have been hard times, starting with bringing him into this world, to utterly exhausting times, when I never thought I would sleep through the night again. Even still, I love him so powerfully I feel Iike I could burst at times.

This is only a fraction of how God loves us, and that is how my relationship with the Lord changed — once I began to understand how a parent loves their children. His only Son, Jesus, was offered as a living sacrifice to make up for the sins and faults of the rest of his children, all of mankind.

I wouldn’t trade Silas for the world, but that’s exactly what God did. He traded His only Son for the world…so that we could have freedom from our sins and join Them in heaven one day. The thought of that kind of sacrifice astounds me, and makes me shutter in reverence for the God who calls me his daughter.

What an incredible gift and the ultimate meaning of love:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16