Columns

Why Are Liberals So Afraid of Prayer?

Prayer-Bishop-Jackson-LiberalsThe need for the nation to pray about her problems would be high on my grandmother's to-do list. In fact, she often said, “Prayer changes things!” As a black woman who was also part Native American, she was very proud to achieve the status of licensed practical nurse.

She was a natural caregiver whose profession was simply an extension of the way her mother before her had lived out her faith—visiting the sick and shut-ins her church. Her generation saw America change because of a non-violent civil rights movement that was fueled by civil disobedience and the power of prayer. Her personal life also changed because of prayer and faithfulness.

In fact, she lived long enough to see her four daughters and her 15 grandchildren all graduate from college. Two of us even attended a prestigious Ivy League graduate school, with one of her grandsons becoming the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

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Meyer Practices What She Preaches

Joyce-Meyer-Practices-JMM-Kyle-RogersAfter 37 years of covering most of the world’s major ministries, I believe Joyce Meyer’s is one of the best.

We were honored to have Joyce as the guest editor for Ministry Today’s September/October issue. When I became aware of her enormous outreach, I asked if she’d be willing to tell how her family and ministry have made such a huge impact through their missions efforts, both domestically and overseas, as well as their commitment to a lifestyle of radical generosity.

I wondered if she’d say yes. After all, she has one of the largest ministries in America. With her ongoing teaching and travel schedule, along with leading a global ministry, she’s obviously in high demand. In addition, she has the ability to get out her message through her own media.

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Complaining Won't Change the World

Complaining-person-Phil-CookeWhen it comes to engaging in public policy and challenging today’s culture, some of the least successful strategies are ones built around criticism. The growing number of churches and ministries that are constantly “against something” is a disturbing trend. 

Every month, I see an avalanche of direct-mail campaigns and magazine articles by organizations upset about the latest movie, court decision, TV show and cartoon series, or mad at the homosexual community or some other special interest group. 

But while a healthy debate is the cornerstone of a vibrant democracy, the truth is, just being critical creates very little change. After all, as Christians, we of all people should be known as being for something. 

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Study: Americans Don’t Know the Facts About Jesus

Jesus-MT-Know-FactsDo you know Jesus? Do you really? Following the recent unveiling of a papyrus fragment in which Jesus reportedly says, "my wife," many historians are now questioning what people know about the life of Jesus.

Aside from the bearded, longhaired, Sunday-school image of Jesus, a new poll reveals that Americans are not at all familiar with the impactful life of this man.

According to the poll, most people do not grasp Jesus' influence on culture despite recognizing His image some 2,000 years after his death. Sixty-six percent believe Jesus is the most-recognized figure in history, but most were not able to correctly answer questions regarding His influence.

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A Lesson in Culture Engagement

C-KingdomCulture-DaleySilence can be a powerful tool for communicating a message of truth

Watching the recent Super Bowl game reminded me of a powerful kingdom lesson we learned a few years ago. 

It was October 2009, and I was sitting in a recording studio at Focus on the Family. A colleague had suggested a wild idea for Focus to film a pro-life TV commercial with Pam and Tim Tebow. At the time, Tim was the University of Florida’s star quarterback and his mother, Pam, had publicly shared her decision to refuse a doctor’s suggestion to abort baby Tim years earlier. 

I loved it. “That should be a Super Bowl ad,” I said. 

But the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad was steep. As much as I wanted to do it, I wasn’t sure we could pull it off.

A remarkable series of events began to unfold. Several generous friends of Focus stepped forward and pledged to cover the cost. We were introduced to Bob (Tim’s father) and Pam Tebow, and they agreed to work with us. Under a veil of secrecy, a single day of filming was scheduled for early January.

On Christmas Eve, a newspaper columnist broke our story. His report missed several key details, but we declined comment. The writer speculated the advertisement would be an anti-abortion spot and then proceeded to lampoon us.

Within days, several abortion rights groups around the country objected to news of the rumored advertisement. Throughout January reporters called for details, wanting to know who would be in the ad, what they would say, etc. We accepted invitations to talk about it, but declined to offer any specifics—only confirming the ad would celebrate the beauty of family and the wonder of life. 

It quickly became one of the most talked about commercials in Super Bowl history, garnering us an estimated $45 million in earned media coverage.

Ironically, the attention happened as a result of us choosing not to argue with our critics or challenge faulty assertions or insinuations—namely that we were bigoted, intolerant and determined to foist our opinions on others. 

I’d like to claim credit for such genius. Our silence was intentional, but we didn’t do it because we thought it would make for good press—rather because I don’t think retaliating or picking a fight is the right approach. So instead of fighting back, we trusted that the Lord had His hand on the project. Even as the pressure mounted on CBS to cancel our ad contract, we stood our ground and didn’t publicly defend ourselves or even our right to free speech.

For one of my favorite commercial-related interviews, I was invited to debate Jehmu Green, at the time the president of the Women’s Media Center, who was brought on to represent those who disagreed with CBS allowing our spot to run. The conversation eventually turned to Pam Tebow’s courage not to abort Tim. She and I agreed that Mrs. Tebow was a remarkable woman. At that point, I had an opportunity to foreshadow the coming ad, saying, “Jehmu, I’m glad your mother chose life for you.” She smiled at that comment.

Shortly after the game, we received a note from a woman named “Susan.” She had seen the ad, was pregnant and considering an abortion. The ad had changed her mind. Almost a year after her daughter, Avita, was born, I had the privilege of hosting them in my office. Had we chosen to argue with our critics before the big game, just to make a point or show our strength, I believe the CBS censors would have bounced us from the lineup.

When it comes to engaging the culture, it’s never the right time to pick a fight. Instead, pick the right time to share the right word.   


Jim Daly is the president and host of Focus on the Family. His latest book, ReFOCUS: Living a Life That Reflects God’s Heart, released last fall. He and his wife have two boys.

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