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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Fulfilling the Mission of Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Fulfilling the Mission of Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Historian and Bible teacher Ray Vander Laan inspires Christians to engage the culture for Christ by looking at Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension, explaining what it meant in 1st century Rome. (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date: June 28, 2016

Opening:

John Fuller: On a previous “Focus on the Family” radio program, we had historian and Bible teacher, Ray Vander Laan with us and he gave a challenge to those who follow Christ.

Teaser:

Ray Vander Laan: Our mission is to be willing to engage in culture with sinful people. to bring the grace of God to them. So, in that moment, it’s almost as if we have to be willing to run, so that people sense the love of God, not just in the words we say, but they discover the love of God in our willingness to care about them.

End of Teaser

John: And you’ll be hearing more about that mission God has for us, to care about those around us and to love in His name as we continue our program today. Thanks for joining us. Your host is Focus president, Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, I so appreciate Ray’s sentiment there. That’s probably one of the deepest things I’m feeling right now with the work here at Focus on the Family. How do we engage a culture that literally is fallin’ apart? And we’re not gonna draw them to the Lord or to a better way, a better path without expressing the kindness of God. It’s right there in Romans 2:4: “Don’t you know it’s God’s kindness that leads one to repentance.”

I don’t want to go out of my way to be hated. Let the Scripture be the offense. We need to get our personalities out of the way, and I’m so looking forward to this discussion with Ray, because I trust his insights. We have worked together for over 25 years. We have done the That the World May Know series, which is now in its 14th releaseand we’re gonna talk about that new release today.

John: Yeah, it’s a phenomenal series and we’ve got samples for you to see at www.focusonthefamily.com/radioand this newest release is Mission of Jesus and it was filmed in Israel and in Rome, Italy.

Body:

Jim: Ray, welcome back to the program.

Ray: Thanks, it’s an honor to be back with Focus on the Family. This partnership has been absolutely the blessing of my life for the last 23 years.

Jim: Well, it’s a–

Ray: It’s an honor to be here.

Jim: –well, it’s great to have you. It’s like old friends, you know.

Ray: (Laughing) Amen.

Jim: When you get together, sit around the table and—

Ray: Amen.

Jim: –talk about spiritual things, and I know many of you, you do that with friends, and that’s just what this is like and Ray, it’s so inspiring to be with you. When we look at what you’re getting at there in The Mission of Jesus, I mean, there’s no more important area of Scripture than the mission of Jesus, right?

Ray: Amen. You know, behind this is our previous discussion that God had a mission for Israel. Israel was to be a kingdom of priests, that is, a community of people who put on display what God was like, who He was, and His love for all of His lost children. And they were to demonstrate that by their compassion for the stranger, by their righteous living, by their willingness to welcome those who were broken or marginalized.

And in that, others would come to know God. God commanded them, make My name known. Be a light to the Gentiles. But often, Israel was either so like the nations around her, that she had nothing unique to display, or was so determined to be what God wanted that she put off the nations and isolated herself from involvement. So, Jesus came, in a sense, both to fully complete that mission of God, putting God on display in every way, and to teach us how we oughta put God on display in our own lives.

Ray: So, when Jesus was born, He was the Word in flesh, as if God said, “You want to see the whole Bible lived correctly? Here’s My Son. Watch Him.” And the call, then, is for us who follow Jesus, to find ways to put the Word into practice, to be the Word in flesh in the world we live in today.

Jim: Ray, let me ask you this. Set 14 is The Mission of Jesus. The setting is partly in Rome, because as Jesus is born and walks this earth, the Roman Empire is perhaps at its height at that point. Talk about Rome, being in Rome, filming in Rome. What did Rome represent? And are there parallels for us today?

Ray: Well, that’s a great question. The initial part of this next set will deal with Jesus teaching the Jewish people, His disciples included at this point, how they oughta carry out the mission of showing the world what God was like.

So, we started out with Jesus crossing the sea to the pagan area and intersecting with this man that had a legion of demons and discovering that Jesus said, “I don’t approve of someone whose life is in a shambles because of sin, but I love them yet, and I want to engage them, and I want to be involved in their lives. And that was a lesson the First Century Jews needed, because they were so determined to be righteous, they had separated from the very people who needed to know and to see God in them.

Jim: That’s important, because some of us carry that attitude today.

Ray: It’s huge, and it’s a tension the Jews lived with a lot. In the Old Testament, they were so much like their pagan neighbors that God sent them off into captivity, and they suffered tremendously. They came back and in effect said, “We’re not gonna make this mistake again. Now we’re gonna be so holy, so pure, so set apart that He’ll never punish us again.”

Well, as a result, they wouldn’t engage with sinners, the outsiders, the marginalized, because they said, “We want to remain pure.” And it’s as if God, you know, looked down and said, “But that’s not the point either, because if you’re not engaged with them, what good does it do to be holy and righteous? You’re supposed to be holy and righteous because it shows the world what I’m like.”

Jim: So, it was like a pendulum swinging from—

Ray: Exactly.

Jim: –one extreme to the other extreme.

Ray: And Jesus had to bring that pendulum back.

John: Which we do, that pendulum, we do that all the time in our Christian walk, don’t we?

Jim: Oh, I—

John: I mean, we—

Jim: –think we do.

John: –we miss.

Ray: Oh, yeah.

John: Finding the balance is so hard.

Ray: Amen.

John: Why is that?

Ray: Amen, amen. Well, I think there is that normal human tendency that when we become involved with people who do not follow God, our own weakness, our own sinful natures make us susceptible to the very sins we seek to address in their lives.

Jim: Ah.

Ray: And so, in fear of that, we like to find a safe place to raise our kids, is the way I always say it. We want someplace where we don’t have to engage a broken world, because it’s much safer that way, although the devil finds his ways in anyway. But Jesus said, no, no, you are a city on a hill. You have to live your lives before the broken world and in the broken world, so in you, they discover who I am and what real shalom looks like.

Jim: When you studied the Roman Empire at that time of Jesus, talk about the system of the government, what you saw in that, again that parallel today, what it’s like to be under a[n] emperor’s rule. There [are] references in the Scripture about Christians working in Caesar’s court.

Ray: Uh-hm.

Jim: Was that a compromise?

Ray: Uh-hm.

Jim: I mean, think of a Christian working in a presidential administration that doesn’t support life or traditional marriage.

Ray: That’s a question that honestly, I’ve got on the little pad I leave on my desk that I hope I can ask someday when I get to meet Jesus in person.

The second part of this next release is going to deal with the issue of, how did Jesus prepare His disciples, not only to put Him on display in the broken communities among which they lived, but how could they demonstrate to the Roman world who and what Jesus was? Now, there was a historical reality going on in Jesus’ day. Shortly before His birth, it became accepted in the Roman world, and even pushed greatly by imperial Rome, that the emperor himself was the son of God.

Jim: Right.

Ray: It really started when Julius Caesar was assassinated. His adopted son, Octavian, who will be the Caesar Augustus of Jesus’ birth, had it declared by the Senate, by the priesthood of Rome, by his own imperial decree, that Julius Caesar has ascended to take his place with the gods and was deified. So, there’s an ascension story, which of course is fascinating to me, because our faith has an ascension story, too.

Jim: Right.

Ray: And they’re both competing. But because Augustus believed or taught that his father had ascended and was deified, not became an eternal god, but was granted the rights and powers of deity, that made Octavian the son of God. And so, the early Gospel had to go out into a world where there was an emperor who believed and an empire that believed that their emperor was the divine son of God.

And they had to proclaim a message that said, “No, the Son of God is the One born in a manger in Bethlehem, who was executed on a cross, and who gave His life for others.” Now, you have to realize what a difficult message that must have been for the early followers of Jesus to bring, because their so-called Messiah, their so-called Savior, Lord and King, had been executed as a terrorist—

Jim: Yeah.

Ray: –by the Caesar who called himself “lord and god.” How do you explain to your neighbors that you’re following a God you now know, a Savior you now believe in, who your emperor executed in the name of the state? And so, somehow that message has to be presented in a way that not only is faithful to God’s calling that He had for His people, but it also had to declare to a Roman world that Caesar isn’t Lord, Jesus is.

Now, it’s fascinating to me that the New Testament doesn’t say a whole lot directly to Rome. [It] makes a few comments about the government. Caesar’s name is mentioned a couple of times, but very little that you would say, well there, Rome is being critiqued.

But if you look at the way the Gospel message is framed, you begin to discover that the claims of the early Christians made it clear that they were teaching that Caesar’s claims were fraudulent. Let me show you what I mean.

There were a number of terms that had become legal, official terms in imperial Rome. For example, Caesar is called “lord,” “lord and god.” And if you read the Gospels, notice how often Jesus is referred to as Lord and God. Now that’s a theological statement which Christians believe, but in that world, that was radical stuff, because if Jesus is Lord and God, who is Caesar? That’s a critique of Caesar.

Now, by doing that, the early believers, by their life and their testimony, and the way they lived, made it clear that their claims were in a sense, in conflict with the claims of Rome. They didn’t criticize the emperor. They didn’t say nasty things about him, at least that are recorded either in church history or in the Bible. What they simply did is they criticized by creating an alternative that Jesus was Lord.

John: Well, we’re getting some great insights into the Scriptures, into the claims of Christ and we have historian and Bible teacher, Ray Vander Laan with us today on “Focus on the Family.” I hope you’re leaning in. There’s so much here and as we do this, let me remind you, set No. 14 is The Mission of Jesus and there’s a DVD and discovery guide. We’ve got that, and you can find out more at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-A-FAMILY.

Jim: Ray, let me ask you this. We’re setting the scene, I think rightfully. I mean, you have Jesus born. You have the Roman Empire, the Roman rulers. And here He is hailed at the Messiah and then He gives His life up.

Ray: Yes.

Jim: And that had to be a twist. I mean, if He’s the King of Kings and the Son of God, how did they feel from Friday, Good Friday to Easter Sunday? I mean, those three days had to be dramatic in that their King, Jesus, was dead.

Ray: Yeah, you know, that was a question. As I began to get more and more into the Roman world, and scholarship today is increasingly aware that while we’ve focused, I think correctly as a church, on the theology and the teaching of Paul, we may have not seen as clearly as we ought, how much Paul’s message, and the message of the New Testament presented conflicting claims—claims of the emperor, claims of Jesus.

Caesar’s claim to power came through victory, violence. It came through the strong crushing the weak. It came through using others for the benefit of the Roman Empire, and there was an imperial lifestyle that communicated values and what matters in life.

Now, Jesus came with conflicting claims, and the early Christians saw that. He is Lord. He is Savior of the world. He is the Son of God. This is the Gospel. But His claims indicate that the kingdom comes, not with legions of angels, but the kingdom comes by living sacrificially, caring and loving the broken folks around us.

So, Jesus comes as this ultimate example to say, the empire doesn’t come with a thunderous military victory. The empire comes when the King is willing to suffer and die for anyone who wants to be in the kingdom. I thought about that a lot, and then I came across a study. In fact, I found it in several places, that is, of the Gospel of Mark. Mark as much or more than any of the other Gospels for sure, and maybe even Paul, frames the message of Jesus in a way that makes really clear that Jesus’ claims undermine the imperial claims of the emperor himself.

And this particular study took a look at the story of the crucifixion, exactly as you described it. How do you explain to your friends and neighbors in Rome, if you’re an early Christian, that your King, your emperor, your Savior, Jesus, was executed by our emperor? How can He be valid?

In the imperial practice, the emperors had seized on an ancient custom as a way of putting their authority, their imperial title, and even their deity on display. In the ancient world, long before there was an emperor, in the Greek world, there was a ritual connected with the worship of the wine god, Dionysus, called a “triumph.”

In that ceremony in the spring, it was believed that Dionysus came back to life. So, they would take the robe that was normally on the statue of the god in the temple. They would put it on the high priest, and he would make a dramatic appearance to say, “Dionysus has returned.”

That was adopted by early Roman military conquerors. A general would win a great victory. He would come into Rome. He would get permission from the Senate. He would put on the robe of one of the gods, and he would be paraded before the Roman citizens to say, “Here he is, the conquering general!”

Jim: The great conqueror.

Ray: The great conqueror! The emperors seized that practice, probably starting with Julius Caesar before he was even emperor and used it to declare, “I am lord.” And later, “I am lord and god.”

John: Hm.

Ray: And it followed a number of practices, fairly rigidly. It would start with a gathering of the Praetorian guard, that was this inner group of the best military units in Rome that protected and supported the emperor. They would acclaim him as emperor publicly in the praetorium. They would put a robe on him, probably the robe off Zeus, or Jupiter, in the Roman tradition. They would give him a scepter, put the gold olive wreath on his head as a sign that he was deified.

Then they would process through the city. Incense altars lined the streets of the city, smelled of that incense. There would be a bull led by the emperor himself. I doubt that’s literally true. The one carving I saw, they got an 1,800-pound animal led by this emperor to be. But I doubt he was able to do that.

But next to the bull was a slave, carrying the instrument of death. And they would process on the Via Sacra, the Sacred Road through Rome, through the Forum to Head Hill, no less, Capitoline Hill. When they got to Capitoline Hill, the emperor would be offered a bowl of wine, sweet wine, which he would refuse and pour out.

Then, the bull was sacrificed, and then the imperial candidate, the one who was to be lord and god, would make his way up the steps of the Temple of Jupiter. And they would climb those stairs and stand to the acclaim of the crowd, who would say something like, “Hail Caesar, Lord and God! Hail Caesar, Lord and God!” Somewhere in that process, prisoners would be brought, and Caesar would order them executed to demonstrate that he had the power of life and of death. And then they would wait for a sign from the gods.

Now, as I was reading that and reading those who’ve studied it, it suddenly hit me that I became aware—let’s say it that way; it’s probably a better way to say it—I became aware that if you look at Mark’s account of the crucifixion, he organizes it along the same lines. He has Jesus brought to the Praetorium and the whole cohort gathers. They put a robe on Him.

Jim: Huh.

Ray: They put a wreath, now mocking yes, suffering brutal torture, yes. And then they acclaimed Him in mockery and yet, telling the truth, “Hail, King of the Jews.”

Jim: They just didn’t know they were telling the truth.

Ray: Exactly.

Jim: Yeah.

Ray: And then there’s a procession through the streets of Jerusalem. There’s a sacrifice being led, which is Jesus Himself. And Simon of Cyrene is stopped and he carries the instrument of death. And they go to a place called “Head Hill?” Golgatha, where they offered Jesus sweet wine, which He refuses. It was the first time it had ever dawned on me that in Mark, the wine is given before He’s crucified. I had always remembered the story of Jesus being offered wine on the cross. Well, apparently it was both.

Jim: Huh.

Ray: And Mark picks up on the former, but not the latter. And then Jesus is executed, a rebel on His right and a rebel on His left. And the crowd hails Him in mockery, “Hail, King of the Jews! If you are God, come down from the cross.” Again, not even realizing what they were saying. And rather than executing prisoners, Jesus turns to the rebel next to him and said, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” Live! And grants him life, eternal life no less, at least, so it appears.

Jim: Man.

Ray: So in other words, if you were an early believer, you could say, wow! This march to the Cross wasn’t a defeat. It was His coronation. But notice, God exalted Jesus above every name, above every power, seating Him on His right hand, how? By His willingness to suffer and offer Himself to others, not with military conquest. Not by crushing those who disagree with Him, but by sacrificing Himself for others.

Jim: Ah.

And it’s as if, God says, “Do you see? Do you see? This is who I am? I am a God who loves you so much that I’ve even willing to offer Myself on your behalf to bring you back. Won’t you join Me?” And what’s so powerful to me is not only that idea that now in the early Roman world I could say to my neighbor, this isn’t gonna make any sense to you, but Jesus’ walk to the Cross was the greatest victory ever. Nothing Caesar can ever do will provide what Jesus’ walk to the Cross did.

Jim: Ray, let me ask you though, as we end today, ’cause I want to come back next time and continue the discussion, ’cause the insights are brilliant. I love it. This is exactly why I enjoy talking to you.

John: Uh-hm.

Jim: But the idea of today’s application, it’s almost like we want to fight. How did that Early Church react after Jesus’ crucifixion, His resurrection? They seemed to do those things that drew people’s attention to, I don’t know, to better understand the love of God, not the victory of God in the political arena or wherever it might be. How do we apply that to today’s environment, what you just said?

Ray: And that’s so good. It reminds me of a quote I came across from one author, who said, “They did believe in victory, but it’s victory by suffering and love for the undeserving.” It seems to me that when Jesus said to us, through His challenge to His own followers in His day, Take up your cross and follow Me,” that, that wasn’t simply an invitation to be willing to suffer for what we believe. For many, that’s exactly what it is, even in the world you and I live in. But it was also a challenge to say, do you realize the way the kingdom comes is when you are willing to selflessly love even those who up till this point have rejected me completely?

Jim: Ah.

Ray: And I think the implications of that are staggering. The Early Church had no choice. It was largely made of up of the lower classes. It was largely made up of the slave class. There were a few wealthy and a few powerful, but not many. They’re the exception. It had no choice. It could not have brought out its influence by the ballot box, or by the army. It couldn’t have. It didn’t have that kind of power, by God’s design.

What did it have? It had a far greater power, that’s far greater than any government, far greater than any economic system. It had the power of the selfless love of God. And when that Early Church was willing to love their neighbor, and even more amazing to the Greeks and Romans, love their enemy, it changed the world.

Jim: Love your enemy.

Ray: And then something happened, and one wonders whether all of that was all that good. Christianity became in many places the majority.

Jim: Hm.

Ray: It got power–

Jim: From the bottom up.

Ray: –from the bottom up.

Jim: Yeah.

Ray: And it had now the ability to pressure and force people into certain things.

Jim: Yeah.

Ray: And all of a sudden, that world-changing willingness to selflessly love, following the example of Jesus’ selfless redemptive love, begins to fade a bit. And I wrestle with my students and I wrestle together with this right now in the high school classes I teach. It is so tempting to think, if we could just have the right political power, if we could have the right economic power, if we could have the right media power, that somehow the kingdom would come.

Now, we want to reclaim politics, of course. We want to reclaim economics; we want to reclaim the media. Praise God, it should all be used to honor His name. But the key is to realize that the way you change the world is to be the love of God in flesh, even to those we disagree with.

Jim: Oh, man, that is so true, Ray and this is all good teaching and I think people can see why we’re excited about That the World May Know, set No. 14, The Mission of Jesus, and why each of us need to get a copy of that DVD.

You know, here at Focus on the Family, we are passionate about bringing the Bible to life and Ray, you do such a good job with that. We want to help change lives for the sake of Christ. And this series is another way that God is doing that and using it to do that.

And our research shows that in the past year more than a million people have grown stronger in their faith through Focus on the Family. You’re a vital part of reaching others for Christ and strengthening their faith when you support the ministry here.

Would you pray about being on that support team and helping us to continue these efforts? We need your help. It won’t get done without you. And if you haven’t supported us in a while or maybe ever, can I ask you boldly to send a gift today? When you make a donation of any amount, I want to send you set No. 14, The Mission of Jesus. And because of some generous friends, when you give today, your gift’s going to be doubled. So, I if you give $20, it’s $40. And that will extend the ministry here.

Ray again, this has been so good. We’re comin’ back next time and pick up the conversation where we left off here, but thanks for being with us.

Ray: Oh, it’s such an honor, excited

Closing:

John: And you can learn more about That the World May Know, set 14, The Mission of Jesus and donate generously at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-232-6459; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I’m John Fuller, inviting you back next time. We’ll hear more from Ray Vander Laan on the next “Focus on the Family” and once again, help you and your family thrive.

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Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Effective Habits to Embrace in Parenting

To be an effective parent, you must be a leader in your child’s life, guiding with a gentle hand and setting a solid example. Dr. Randy Schroeder provides the insight you need to be a leader-parent. As he explores the foundational Rs—relationship, routines, responsibilities, and rules—you’ll better understand the role you play in your child’s life. You’ll learn great phrases to employ such as “Either/Or/You Decide” and “When You/Then You”. While there is no perfect parent, this nuts-and-bolts material will equip you to lead your child in a loving, confident manner.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder has spent more than four decades writing, counseling, speaking, and teaching. For nearly 25 years, he was Vice President of Student Personnel Services, Dean of Students, and a professor of pastoral counseling at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. He’s also led a successful counseling practice helping individuals, couples, and families to thrive in their lives and relationships.

Cover image of Dr. Randall Schroeder's book "Simple Habits for Effective Parenting"

Simple Habits for Effective Parenting

Effective parenting is now within your grasp! With this inspiring how-to comprehensive book, achieve extraordinary results in raising a child to be self-assured, self-reliant, and responsible! You will be able to successfully lead and lovingly encourage your child toward a Godly life!

The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

God designed marriage to reflect His love to the world; and because of this, the enemy wants to destroy God’s beautiful design. Based on his book, Defending Your Marriage, Dr. Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff share about the reality of spiritual warfare against marriages, and how to combat the enemy’s lies with the truth of God. Couples will be encouraged that they’re not alone in the fight for a godly marriage and better equipped to be a shining example for the world around them.

Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution.  Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships  where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast. 

Defending Your Marriage

Is your marriage under attack? Sometimes it can feel like the world is trying to tear your marriage apart. Internal conflicts or external pressures might make you wonder if something sinister is going on. How can you tell if you’re facing spiritual opposition? And what can you do about it? Tim Muehlhoff provides a straightforward resource for protecting your marriage from the threats of the evil one. He looks at what Scripture says about spiritual warfare and how our everyday struggles have deeper spiritual realities. And he provides practical steps for guarding our marriages with the whole armor of God.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 1

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 2

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage - Part 2

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 2

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

As a spouse, you have three roles to play—a friend, a partner, and a lover. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Pastor Kevin A. Thompson explores those different roles and challenges you to live them out by investing emotionally, physically, and mentally in your relationship. As friends, he suggests we learn to play and laugh together. As partners, he equips us with solid ways to handle conflict and communication. As lovers, he offers some thoughts on how to bring back the sizzle. He shares five keys to saving your marriage: humility, respect, mercy, communication, and resilience. You’ll be encouraged to intentionally invest in your marriage.

Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

Kevin A. Thompson (MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is lead pastor at Community Bible Church, a growing multi-site church with four locations in western Arkansas. Every year he meets with nearly one hundred couples with a range of needs, from pre-marital counseling to navigating the most serious betrayals. A marriage and parenting conference speaker, he and his wife, Jenny, have two children and live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He blogs at kevinathompson.com.

Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 1

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

How a Former Abortion Doctor Became Pro-Life

As an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood, Dr. Patti Giebink believed she was helping women. Later, she began reading scripture and God gradually changed her heart on the abortion issue. Patti tells the story of her long journey from abortion doctor to pro-life and encourages listeners to share the message of life with compassion.

Headshot image of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Patti Giebink

Mrs. Patti Giebink

Dr. Patti Giebink is an OB-GYN who serves on the board of the Alpha Center, a well-known pregnancy center located in Sioux Falls, S.D. She also travels intermittently to work in mission hospitals in Pakistan and other countries. After completing her medical training, Dr. Giebink worked for Planned Parenthood from 1995-1997, during which she was the only abortion-provider in the state of South Dakota. She eventually experienced a radical change of heart on the issue of abortion after receiving God’s grace, forgiveness, and love, and she is now a passionate advocate for the pro-life movement.

Cover image of the book "Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life"

Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life

Unexpected Choice is told from the perspective of a doctor who actually performed abortions through Planned Parenthood. The book chronicles her journey from being a pro-choice physician to someone speaking on behalf of the pro-life movement.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Thank you for committing to pray for the pre-born!

Sign up below for your free seven-day prayer guide. This daily guide will help give direction to your prayers for the pro-life movement. We will be praying with you! 

Focus on the Family

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