Season: 10 Episode: 150
Listen to episode 146 in Spanish:
In today’s episode, Shanda talks about how growing up in California challenged her as a wife, mom, and overall woman of God. She discusses what it’s like living in the Bible Belt, and how the recent George Barna study on a biblical worldview of Christians shows where we live might have something to do with the strength of our faith. She goes on to encourage you to be alert and watchful, and why there is no such thing as passivity for the Christian, regardless of where you live. When hard times come upon us, we will either rise to the occassion, or we will bury our heads in the sand.
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Hello and welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we tack cultural issues and tackle them with biblical truth. I have another great episode for you today but I first want to remind you of the Baseline Apologetics class starting this week. This is the last call because we have our live zoom session on October 13th. Go to shandafulbright.com/courses to register.
Ok, so I really struggled with the title of this episode, oddly enough, because I have really been thinking about the Christian in relation to where we live in America and whether or not where we live has anything to do with our worldview, making us more bold, more complacent, and all the things that have to do with how we live as Christians in this culture we are in.
What got me thinking on this, you ask?
I listened to a podcast episode of Natasha Crain’s and she had George Barna on to discuss the worldview of christians in the US and how that worldview is developed. Now, those of you who have been listening for a while know worldview isn’t a new topic discussed on my podcast, so that’s not what got me thinking. What got me thinking was what someone asked him about the geographical locations in the US where Christians with a biblical worldview come from. What he said was more Christians with a biblical worldview in America come from the south and from the far west – meaning places like California.
Now, to put this into perspective, the population of California is 38, 185, 605 people. The population of South Carolina is about 5.4 million and the South consists of many states, not just South Carolina. I said all of that to say it only makes sense that there are more Christians in California than in any other state because of the population. The problem is they are outnumbered by people who vote for people like Gavin Newsome who makes California a sanctuary state for pro-choicers who want to kill their babies and kids who want to transition from one gender to another.
So yes, there are a lot of Christians in California with a biblical worldview.
But what I really want to talk about today is why can places like California, with policies that go against Christian views, and public school systems that teach kids ideologies that conflict with a biblical worldview are places christians have an opportunity to become sharper, wiser, stronger, bolder, and alert.
I also want to contrast this with what I’ve seen about the attitude toward Christianity in places like the one I moved to in the south and discuss how easy it might be to become complacent, lax, not as alert, not as bold, passive and all the things we can so easily brush off because “things aren’t like that here.”
My aim is not to make anyone who hasn’t left California feel bad because I have a lot of friends and family who still live there and I am not going to tell people you should move or you’re not a good Christian. On the contrary, I wan to encourage everyone, no matter where they live, to do what the Bible says and be alert, bold, sober minded, and vigilant and what that looks like.
So here’s what we’re going to talk about today, and let me tell you, my thoughts were all over the place with this topic because I really wanted to tackle it but make sure I wasn’t jumbled and you couldn’t keep up with my sporadic thoughts.
Praying to Jesus I keep it organized in a way that you can follow it.
- What do I mean when I say California sharpened my defense of the faith?
- What the Bible says about being sober minded, bold, and vigilant.
- Why we can so easily become passive in our walk with God and how we stand up for truth that we allow culture to rock us to sleep.
I haven’t talked a whole lot about my experience moving from California to South Carolina because there is so much more to talk about than my life. But it’s been a year now since I’ve moved and besides the normal ups and downs of moving in general, there have been major adjustments between moving from one side of the country to the other. There are cultural differences – there seems to be a church on every corner and in between in the South. People here are more family oriented and kids in high school all seem to work and start working very young. They place an emphasis on career centers and skill sets other than on solely going to college, although there are tons of college opportunities as well … so it’s a good balance.
I see lots of friendly people who smile when they walk past you and neighbors who literally stop in your driveway and tell you they want to see the inside of your house because they’ve seen months of remodeling going on.
Southern hospital is real, ya’ll.
I feel like I have to throw in a ya’ll when I talk about southern hospitality.
I haven’t had to deal with public school indoctrination, although I do think kids are the same and struggle with the same things all kids struggle with no matter where they live – identify, drinking, peer pressure, etc.
What I’ve also noticed is that when people ask us why we moved and we tell them about the things happening in California, they seem pretty surprised although they are very leery of Californians. No one has been rude but once we tell them we are God fearing people, they seem to let their guard down and admit that they were concerned we would come in and try and change their state.
So they understand California has some major political, social, and ideological problems but when you get into the details they cannot believe it.
I was talking to someone about the homeless problem in California and they were shocked.
When I explain what I went through with my three boys in the public school system, they were floored. They hear about these things on the news but it’s not a reality for many. Now I am not saying that SC doesn’t have these issues, they do. In fact, someone added me to a group of Ca who moved to Sc and these people vow to fight to make sure SC doesn’t turn into a state like Ca, which I appreciate.
So there are things that creep in to states like this one.
Let’s face it -we live in the world.
There is no utopia. There will never be one on this earth until Jesus comes back and rules and reigns and establishes a new heaven and a new earth.
What I’ve noticed is that people in the Bible Belt (now remember, this is not all people in the Bible Belt, I am making a generalized statement) are used to going to church. I’ve heard from people who live here that the south has had God around them their entire lives because they are churched people and don’t always see their need for Him. I understand this thought because I was raised in church and don’t remember the exact day I gave my heart to the Lord. Now, I remember the day I realized I needed to follow God for myself and I remember God drawing me to Him apart from my parents, but I was very nonchalant about God for a good while because He was always there – with me and my family – in our Christian home.
I was complacent until I realized I couldn’t be any longer.
Living in California made me a fighter. It made me a diligent parent. It made me bold to stand up for what was right because I don’t know how to keep my mouth shut, and to be honest, if I keep my mouth shut when it comes to truth, I am a coward, and an undercover Christian (there is no such thing).
When our church shut down for months, MONTHs, because of COVID, we looked for other churches that stayed open and there were some. The pastor of Cross City church in Fresno (shout out to Pastor Dave) preached phenomenal messages and encouraged the believers to seek God and he challenged us with messages that encourage us not be complacent. I appreciate pastor Dave fighting to keep the doors open and standing up for truth even when he got pushback. Do you know why he stood out? Because he stood up! And let me tell you, during that time in 2020, you knew the pastors who stood because there weren’t many of them in California.
While many churches and schools opened back up, we were one of the states, if not the last state, to open up.
Our kids youth group was shut down for a year. Me and my siblings did youth group every Sunday evening and invited all of the kids from the youth group in the area. We rotated teaching them.
Jack Hibbs, pastor of Calvary Chapel, Chino Hills, stood up and kept his doors open. His church exploded. People were driving, and still are because some of you have messaged me and told me you’re still attending his church, but people were driving 3-5 hours to attend services because they were desperate for worship. Why did they have to drive that far? Because their churches, like mine, were shut down.
Why did Jack Hibbs stand out?
Because he stood up! A trying time in a restrictive place like California spurred on Christians to become bold in their faith. And many answered the call.
I was raised in church, like I said, but I didn’t start studying apologetics until 2020. That might surprise you because apologetics is something you continually study if you’re in it, and I soaked it up like a sponge. But my husband found Frank Turek on YouTube and I found Voddie Bachaum, who wrote Expository Apologetics. We latched onto strategies in defending the faith.
Our boys were being bombarded by gender theory, feminist ideologies, meditation, and self-care through the public school syste. What did we do? We rallied the family together and learned apologetics together around the kitchen table.
My boys said 2020 was the best year of their lives!
A couple of months ago I was driving with my middle son, and we talked about what we were going to study next. He told me he doesn’t feel like he is as sharp in his apologetics knowledge or study skills. He said he doesn’t need it here. I told him that’s the catch-22 of hard times and life’s challenges. When you’re going through them, you hate it and want out of the difficulty. But when you look back you realize those are the times that make you sharper, stronger, bolder, and alert.
And that’s what living in California did for me and my family. Now here’s the disclaimer: do I want to back? In the year that I’ve been gone, Gavin Newsome made California an abortion sanctuary for women who want to abort their babies. He has made California a place where children who want to have trans surgeries can go and get sex changes. If parents do not consent, the children can be taken away from them.
I do not miss California. I miss my fiends.
A lot! I miss Shaver Lake because I grew up in those mountains. And you don’t get mountains like that on the East Coast. I miss real Mexican food. So much. I miss fruit stands on every corner. That’s it. Unless God were to call my family back to California, we will not go back.
What I am saying is this: hard times, challenging situations, and trials that test our faith can all be used as opportunities to make us strong in the Lord if we let them.
I was at an elderly woman’s house the other day and she heard me talking to another person in the room about apologetics and evidence for God and she said, ‘I can’t believe you’re from California and you talk like that.” That’s the misconception many have – ‘you’re from California and you know all of that?’ They’re are some good, strong, contenders for the faith there.
And I commend every single one of them for standing for truth.
The church we are in now is one of the most solid churches I have ever attended. They have a high view of Scripture and intentionally make disciples. There are a lot of people in this church that know their Bibles. So the south can bust them out too.
Again, what am I saying? Let’s anchor all of what I said to the main point of this episode: as Christians, we will either be lulled to sleep or we will be alert. We will be bold or we will be passive. We will be sharp or we will be unable to content for the faith.
And as the world gets darker, which one are you becoming? Because no one stays where they are – the go forward or they go backward – even in our faith. And it’s usually the testing of your faith that produces strength.
And that leads in to the second point:
What does the Bible say about being sober minded, bold and vigilant for the Lord? What is the warning against complacency?
There are so many verses I could have chosen for this point but I had to narrow them down. Let’s start with what Peter said to the Christians in 1 Peter 4. It’s a little lengthy but it sets up the context for this point. It says:
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
Peter starts by saying do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come upon you.
I don’t know about you, but I am always surprised by fiery trials. Like, “Why God, why?” This is so contrary to what you’ll hear those female Christian influencers tell you about how you’re going to experience life when they tell you to chase your dreams and God will give you the desires of your heart, blahdy blah blah. Peter wants us to remember that fiery trials as a Christian should not surprise us. Why? Because we’re Christians! We are salt and light. We remind the world of its unrighteous deeds when we expose them in Christian living. Not only that, we live in a fallen world. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” Do you know why that’s not on a t-shirt? Because it probably won’t sell.
Life has its challenges – Christian or not. The good news is we have Christ. We have the Lord.
So the first point to all of this is don’t be surprised and think God has left you when you go through hard times. Trust me when I tell you that I don’t like them either. I don’t like the hard things we went through during COVID in Ca. Or the fact that my boys were being bombarded by ideologies that conflicted with a biblical worldview. I definitely wasn’t rejoicing. These are hard asks. Peter is talking about a perspective we should have when our faith is tested through trials. And he said we should handle it by bearing the name of Christ without shame, and continue to be faithful and do good.
James 1:2-4 tells us to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
There it is again – a perspective of joy over trials and hardships.
We face them head on. We don’t back down from them or shy away from them because we know God is going to use that trial to mature us.
But only that type of response to a trail will allow the opportunity for growth. If we say, Ah forget it. I’m not going to fight the school over this issue. Or, I’m not going to make a fuss over this abortion issue. How about – I’m not going to cause a stir over the transgender debate because it’s too hard. I want to live and let live. I want status quo. To me, it’s about being comfortable and I don’t want the strife. I don’t want the backlash – then we grow complacent. And the Bible warns against this.
1 Peter 5;8 -9 says, ‘be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
There is so much in this verse that will help put into perspective what God is asking us to do. And it’s not just during a trial or hard time in our lives. It’s not just when our faith is being tested. It is all the time.
All the time we are to be alert and sober minded.
To be alert means we are to be watchful. In fact, “to watch” means to have the alertness of a guard at night.” We are to watch the culture and see which way it sways. We are to be diligent over our homes and children. It is our responsibility to watch what makes its way into their iPhones, TV shows, and friendships. Our job is to be watchful over our marriages. It’s our job to guard them well because the enemy would like nothing more than to drive a wedge between husband and wife to destroy the family. Especially because the culture frowns upon the terms mom/dad, husband/wife. These define the family unit.
We are to be watchful in prayer and take these things to the throne of God. A lot of times, watchfulness and prayer go hand in hand. Jesus asked HIs disciples to pray in the garden and He said to them, “Could you not watch and pray with me for one hour?” Their physical needs overpowered the spiritual need before the hour that would test their faith. It happened in a way they never thought possible. Jesus knew they needed to watch and pray.
Next, Peter says to be sober minded.
Sober minded means to be free from intoxicating influences. The sober minded individual exercise self-control and will be alert to the need. They are able to think correctly and they can make sound judgment when it comes to sin and deceit. I mean, look at all of the “Christians” who use bible verses to promote abortion. Speaking of Gavin Newsome, he used loved your neighbor as yourself to promote abortion just a few weeks ago. Those who are not sober minded will latch on to that and think it’s ok to intentionally kill innocent human beings.
It’s why some believe gay marriage is permitted by God – because they are not sober minded. They are under the influence of a culture that is feeding them the poison of sin and deception.
Going back to 1 Peter 5, Peter then says to resist the devil.
To resist is to strive against, oppose and not give in. This can mean both to resists temptation and to take action against the enemy by using the word of God. The word of God is part of the armor of God.
But we can only resist if we are willing to resist. We can only resist by using the word of God if we know how to use it. God questions says this, “Why will resistance cause the devil to flee? Because he knows he cannot have victory over us if we are prepared to do battle against him. There is nothing more frightening to Satan than a believer who use fully equipped with spiritual armor.”
And again, let me say from experience, that difficult times make you realize how equipped or ill-equipped you are. But don’t wait until it’s too late.
So everything Peter tells us to do – has an opposite. We can be alert or we can be asleep. We can be sober minded or we can be intoxicated by the influences of culture. It’s about resisting the devil and opposing him or giving in and be overtaken. It’s really a this or that scenario.
Why is it easier to become passive in our walk with God?
Honestly, I think it’s easier because we want comfort, right? I don’t like change and don’t like to be out of my comfort zone. To constantly be in turmoil about the state of the world or be in conflict with it is tiring.
I think about the children of Israel a lot when it comes to comfort. Moving across the US actually put this into perspective for me. When we left California, I voted with my feet. I voted with my tax dollars. But we revisited the question often – isn’t it easier to stay?
It is easier. There’s something comforting about knowing what to expect, even if you know it’s not good. Even if you know there’s better somewhere else. There’s comfort in familiarity – even if the familiar isn’t the best.
The children of Israel had this experience.
They were slaves in Egypt for 400 years and they were beaten by Egyptian task masters. Their babies were ordered to be killed by pharoah and thrown into the Nile. They cried out to God for years and God sent Moses to deliver them.
But when they reached the promised land, 12 spies went out and 10 came back to say it’s too hard. We have to fight. We have to fight big men. Yes, it’s true. The land is better, the grapes are bigger and the opportunities abound, but it’s too hard. And what they said next is astonishing . They said, “We want to go back to Egypt because at least we know where our next meal will come.”
Insane! But human nature.
Some just don’t want to fight because we settled for comfort. The American Christian has had it too easy for decades. And thank God we live in a country where we have enjoyed the freedoms we’ve had and we’ve been able to go to church and worship freely. But we have grown complacent. We are like the disciples in Gethsemane who fall asleep because our physical needs outweigh the importance of spiritual needs. And I believe the Lord is telling us to wake up.
So what do we do? In all of my experience and learning, I have realized that as much as I hate difficult times, they make me sharper. They change me for the better. But I also know that if I am not passionate about the word of God on a daily basis, regardless of where I live or smooth days or hard days, then I am being lulled to sleep.
The foundation of being alert and sober minded is to love God with all of our hearts no matter what, and then, when we hear about children’s body parts being cut off, and we hear about babies being aborted at full term pregnancies, it lights a fire in us to move and to uphold the word of God because we love Him and we do what we’re called to do. We move out of our comfort zone and into the war zone and we battle.
But just like any soldier trains for the war, so we must be in the word each day.
Just like Olympic champions train day in and day out for the Olympics before they compete, so we must each day because testing day is coming. It’s coming. As James said, your faith will be tested.
I’ll leave you with the words I told my teenager when he said he felt sharper when he had teachers challenging his beliefs. I said, “You don’t wait for the challenge to prepare. You commit to the preparation now so you’re read when the challenge arises. Because it will. You will be challenged again. What are you doing now so that you are not knocked off your feet because you let your guard down?”
Places like California can make you stronger or maybe they won’t.
The children of Israel were in Egypt and couldn’t handle the task of taking over the land God promised them. They missed out and never got to enter it because when their faith was tested, they failed. Your geographical location isn’t the point of this episode – the point is that hard times and challenges are opportunities to grow our faith and mature us. But we must be alert every day, diligently seeking the Lord, and willing to come out of the comfort zone and step into the war zone – because we’re in a spiritual battle.
If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and please leave a 5 star rating if you enjoy the podcast. I am almost at 200 stars and would love to get there before the end of the year. You can also leave a review – that’d be great. And don’t forget to sign up for Baseline Apologetics starting this week. I’ll catch you on the next one!