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Seeing Through Our Culture to Find God

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 31, 2022 6:00 am

Seeing Through Our Culture to Find God

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 31, 2022 6:00 am

Alexandra Kuykendall explores ways we can cling to and offer God’s goodness and love while interacting with others. She shares ways to find truth and moral courage in the tough moments and encourages you to lead with grace.

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To learn more visit focusonthefamily.com/careers that's Focus on the Family.com/careers clearing doesn't matter if people are kind to ask polite respectful of at me still are expected to be living through the Holy Spirit and believing the vast to love our neighbors as well means we are doing our part in that prayer, that's Alexander Kirkendall she's our guest today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us I'm John.

John, do you consider yourself to be a positive person.

I am trying a lifelong struggle to lighten you look on the brighter side of you do is is the byproduct of life and you know, I can see how people in this world can be disheartened and discourage there's a lot around us. That could pull us down, especially the last couple years has been rough with the culture with pandemic politics division in our country that 50-50 thing we always talk about. It's easy to get overwhelmed with that doom and gloom feeling but the good news is right there in the New Testament, the book of John chapter 1633, Jesus tells us in the world you will have tribulation, but take heart. I've overcome the world that a great statement that I like how you deliver. Don't fret. Those words are so comforting and today with our guest room and talk about leaning more in that direction rather than into the fear of this life. I'm looking forward to this are some really good content in the book, seeking out goodness written by our guest Alexander Kirkendall.

She has been with us before she's a wife and mom of four girls and somehow tween life. She finds time to write great books like seeking out goodness. Finding the true and beautiful all around, and we got copies of that here at the ministry, call 800 the letter a in the word family or check the episode notes for the link Alex welcome back to focus thinking out something to be here.

It's great to have you. I guess that kind of that opening salvo here is very serious. How can you be cheery in this kind of environment where were at each other's throats and now the country seems to be going. You know where I'm seriously you want us to be happy. I think it's not so much about happiness or cheering as it is remembering that God has not left us.

So what is called confidence. Maybe a confidence walking through the world remembering that God is good and he is with us and he is still working, especially in those moments when we think where is he what is happening. I only feel darkness or sadness or frustration or fear right now to remember that God is good and he is with you know Alex so much of life is about expectations.

You know when we have failure in marriage. It's usually around expectations. He's not doing this or she's not doing that parenting is around expectations. Oh my goodness, I thought you're a better student than that. All that stuff and then when you look at our Christian walk in our relationship with God can be unfortunately about expectations. What we expect God will do for us the country we live in the neighbors we have, you know, our pastor and how well he did on Sunday and it it's a it's a just this never ending expectation that we put on people. So in that regard with your book and what you've been researching how do we how do we get a better grip on what we expect out of the Lord out of it feels odd, even saying it, but it is true yeah yeah every day I wake up and I looked out the window of my office and live in Denver my neighbor across the street has a big tree and as the sun rises. I see the colors behind the tree now, especially in winter or early spring. The branches create this silhouette and I can either focus in on the branches or I can focus in on the color behind them and what I choose to focus in on is what then jumps out at me still going through life through our days to our very ordinary conflicts boring moments frustrations to say okay God I want to see you.

I want to see you at work and when we put that lens on we are more likely to see evidence of him. It's like the practice of gratitude right that the more we are grateful for how that is working in our lives, the more were going to see things to be grateful for. So it's really about minds.

Well, I guess.

Are we different than 100 years ago 2000 years ago was humanity still basically the same. It seems like there's more avenues to express our discontent more mechanisms, more technology can write more public forum.

Yeah so I mean, maybe it's not the heart of people's changes just are our capability and our technology is allowed us to be more demonstratively negative but you know what you think and that the heart of mankind is still the same.

Absolutely. And I talked about in the book the big dark humanity is that we had creation was good. We had fall separation then reconciliation and redemption that are being art and we see that pattern played out in the micro throughout our days throughout our own lives and stories so the heart of the matter is the same. I don't think that we have changed and I don't think that the world has changed all that much.

We live in a sinful world. Yet the things that are available to us right now and the ways that we interact with each other are unique to this time. So how do we as people take this big macro story and live out reconciliation and redemption with in the context of the tools we have with you could be technology could be within the context of a pandemic with technology could be at this point in history, and for those living in the United States for this point in history. Right now it yes it's unique and it's not like that Jean and I noticed her this morning my habit as I get up early, read the prep that the producers created and go through the book and look for anything that sticks out with Gina picked up she really liked the cover.

The title caught her attention, and I think I think even as a woman I think that idea of seeking goodness resonates with somebody wives and mom's right. I just think women have more natural but said I've got to be experiencing more goodness in my life lately or I'm not sure if mentor is dialed in that way and I don't mean to be stereotypical, but I like it I like the idea. It's a battle in that regard. This idea of knowing truth has always been something I use her focus in management. You know that we as managers have to know truth as best as we can so we can correct issues and keep moving forward and honoring the Lord etc. but boy knowing truth in your life outside your vocation, knowing who you are who God is who you are in relationship to God what your responsibilities as a husband as a wife as mother or father. Those are critically important things you have somewhat amusing illustration of the cooking bacon.

But I love this idea of knowing truth again all say as best as you can as a human being in a sinful world and with the sinful nature but how do we go about doing that and use your bacon yeah I call it the burning bacon principal because I have burned bacon plenty of times in a night or two. I would eat work, but that's not bacon in my oven and I often will forget that it's in their right, the smoke start indicating that there is a problem and I can either deny that it's burning or I can recognize that it is, but often we want to deny we have new information about something smoke that might show us a new truth that we don't want to believe because we are tied to the truth that we've been holding onto for a long time and I just want to encourage us as believers to walk into a pursuit of truth holding a posture of humility to remember that God is God and we are only able to understand this world with the human minds that we have. He gives us some good information in Scripture. He gives us these guidelines that we can live by and at the same time we are not God, and to walk into every relationship and every conversation saying yes I want to think on what is true and I don't have the full picture of the world. I have the picture of my lived experience of what Scripture tells me and maybe let good counsel has told me and with those three things we can walk into the world looking for truth, but still holding that posture of humility right. The difficulty is when we are observing that truth through biblical lands and others are not. The castle culture is a great example and I I know people who have been fired from their jobs because they espouse Christian values. For example, traditional marriage and they lost her job over that.

It seems unfair to me that we can no longer tolerate a diversity of opinion on things that to me it's more insidious than I use that example of China where they had the one child policy, but the people of China would look at the man government and say they're heavy-handed and they're forcing this policy on this, the United States, to me it's more insidious because it's coming from the bottom up from the social classes that you need to behave a certain way and if you don't come in after you.

It's not from the government per se.

You know what I'm saying and so in that whole castle culture environment first describe what we think we mean by counsel culture. If you would and then address that idea of knowing truth when we can even get it on the nightly news because it's all over the map. Yeah well it's interesting. I call myself a kitchen anthropologist where I stand in my kitchen a lot and I look at the world and I try to make sense of it and so I was in the process of starting to write this book before the pandemic and counsel. Culture was a thing before the pandemic and by that I mean we take one person's opinion on one issue, and we disagree with them on that particular issue and then we cancel all of who they are. We disregard any good thing they might have to offer us any good wisdom they might have to offer us because we disagree on one topic and that's painful to have experienced aspect. I think as sinful people. We have the propensity to do that as well to I can make assumptions about somebody because I know they voted a certain way or they think about a certain topic a certain way and I can instinctively cancel them myself, and so I want to be sure. Not only that I'm protecting myself from cancel culture.

But then, I'm not perpetuating counsel, culture, and that's that posture of humility right to say I want to give people the benefit of the doubt and part of that is believing the best in them and saying I believe that you've come to your opinion because you have been thoughtful about it and I am going to trust you to believe the same about me. Instead of going into conversations already ready for a fight going in and saying okay, let's believe we can have this kind of conversation I'd like to push on your little bit and I think the scriptural references will be obvious, but maybe you can connect them force because so often in that environment of the cancel culture.

It's a I'd say fleshly responses okay will just fight fire with fire. And I for not tooth for tooth right so if that's how that side. Whatever this is going to pick on me in my side than I'm in a pick on them the same way that is very nonbiblical.

That's not what Jesus came beside Luke six is pretty brutal and that's everything about how you love your neighbor those two paragraphs before that statement are very demanding. If somebody asks you for your jacket.

Make sure you give your shirt if they ask you for money.

Give it, and don't expect payment back and don't just do it to those who love you everybody could do that even centers but I'm telling you do it to your enemies that is tough and I think in this context of how we fight back spiritually. It's very different than what my flesh wants to do exactly and I talked about an experience I had in the book I posted something on Instagram something I thought was pretty innocent about a historical moment, and I dressed nice and fluffy. Well guess what, it's not. I got all of these private messages and them were from people that I didn't know.

I thought people were taking it out of context or it wasn't what I intended. They were taking the message in a different way. But what were people who knew me personally and he said I don't know that I can trust you anymore and I'm questioning your faith because of this post that you had one friend in particular. I was very hurt and I really wanted to defend myself and I wanted to do exactly what you're talking about. I wanted to say wait a minute, and you're not a good mother to come back with the Right and and it took a lot of humility and it took me stepping back and saying I'm not going to respond in the energy of the moment. I'm going to pray through this and I didn't do it perfectly because my instincts were tipped to put up the fifth and to fight but I knew that wasn't what he's making is about peacemaking is about that part of the process we had creation we had separation in our relationship how making a move towards reconciliation and redemption with this friend and to do that meant to hold onto that posture of humility and approach her as I would want to be approached. If the seats were switched. If I had been the one in is just by God's grace that in that moment I wasn't the one who was going after her but I wanted to approach her, like I would want to be approached which is with gentleness and self-control and goodness and but that meant that I needed supplies because my emotions in the moment were going to allow me to do that one thing that always corrects my thought life is Romans 24. This is, don't you know it's God's kindness leads one to record things and that is so true. If you're ever in the heated debate with especially nonbeliever. Just remember that Scripture does come to Christ going you know you Christians were so tough on me.

You treated me so harshly.

I decided to become one of the slow testimony you ever hear this man. I was mean toward those Christian people and they just kept responding with love and it caught me will know you're listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly I'm John Fuller in our guest today is Alexander Kirkendall and her book is seeking out goodness. Finding the true and beautiful all around you. It really is a mind shift and we encourage you to get a copy of this book from us.

Just call one 800 the letter a in the word family or stop by the episode notes for the details. Alex again with Philippians 48 Paul encourages us to think on whatever is right, so this this complicates that idea of some way.

Being kind because there is something true that we need to stand up for. There is something right or righteous that we need to defend and so often.

That's always the complication right the softer side of the church is simply expressing too much love and the other in this simply too much judgment. These are the contradicting issues within the body of believers right what is God's character or what we do. It's both truth and love. And somehow God is the only one that can handle that successfully. I think we as human struggle with that. But how do we defend what's right, without being offensive in the process. While I think two things come to mind. I think of the Lord's prayer that kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And so when we are faced with something that we feel is not right. We can ask God. Okay, what look like for your kingdom to come. In this situation and often if I'm having conflict with somebody a disagreement. The question I ask myself, and this is what I did with my friend when I felt offended by her comments is where would Jesus be standing in this conversation.

Where would he be facing. What would his posture be and that is a challenge. It's really something to think of it in those terms. Because only usually my heart softens towards the person and having a disagreement with but also Jesus is going to let up on what's wrong. He said he still get a push for what's right for that reconciliation and redemption tasking but he's going to do it in a way that offers gentle strength and kindness and so the I think about that.

What does it look like for your kingdom to come God in a situation where would Jesus be standing where would he be facing. And then I ask myself the fruit of the spirit out here because I can't do this on my own so I can say something is wrong.

But if I say it in my own voice in my own town is going to come off as harsh because my emotions.

My feelings are going to be there. Feelings are bad, it's that instinct in me that says this is wrong. This is right and I want to stand up for me to do it in a way that is palpable to be effective and to be effective. I need the fruit of the spirit because that like you said for a nonbeliever is how they receive the good news that they receive God's goodness when it comes them through the fruit of the spirit well and I've often said you know we were not relying enough on the fruit of the spirit because those are the things that thankfully Paul, in the spirit wrote down for something that's so funny that the Lord knew we need to know what the list we got it right there. We just need to remember and apply it but you know, love, joy, goodness, peace, mercy, kindness means all right there we fail. I think to read right above it again in Galatians 519 words describing the fruit of the other guy, Satan, and know once you get beyond sexual debauchery. It cuts close division disunity lying conniving. I mean those are things that we can all do. We can all be prone to so I try to memorize both lists one to know what God expects of me and then what not to do and we can easily lean into those things that Alex will master to your friend Rachel is a good example of balancing the right thing. Describe her and her husband James what they were facing, and that example go to Rachel and James were experiencing secondary infertility and they thought okay will immediately be open to adoption and so they went to a training project 127 here in Colorado and they have were interested in fostering in order to adopt a child to be part of their family goal that was our goal when they win in a good goal right that that's a good goal and as they learned about the foster care system and the needs of foster kids to have safe temporary housing. They decided they would be open to that.

And they got to know the there birthparents at their first placement on the two boys that were placed with them.

They realized these parents were working very hard to do the things they needed to do to create a safe home for the kids to return to and all of a sudden Rachel and James had a broader understanding of how complicated the situation was. It wasn't just an easy right or wrong, and they started cheering for birthparents because they knew that in the end. If these parents could get sober. Do the things they needed to do it really was in the best interest of these boys to return home to their birthparents and they have continued to foster and they are still open to adopting a child through foster care. They haven't adopted a child yet, but they have seen that there is a larger story at play that they can be part of an they went in with a certain and to the story and they realized they might be part of a bigger story that God has orchestrated them to be part and the thing that Rachel said to me that stuck out when I was talking to her about this to write about it in the book as she said we decided to give up the good for the sake of the past yeah of going in and adopting kids out of foster care was a good idea.

Their idea of then cheering for birthparents as they foster their children and kept them safe while the birthparents did what was needed was best for those kids and so they were giving up their own dream of God for the sake of the past and that's what I think doing what is right is about and that's why I called the chapter having moral courage developing moral courage because it's scary and that's hard and they've experienced a lot of heart ache as foster parents because they've grown attached to kids and then they had to let those kids leave their homes and but they believe that they are doing good as a family and giving up their good plan for the sake of the past.

What I like about what you're saying is knowing the mission so they had an idea what that mission is. It's for us to potentially adopt and give this child. We adopt out of foster care. Beautiful life. That's a good thing.

But they failed to realize in June and I were in the same boat so I'm speaking from our own experience. We have bright 15 kids when we were fostering through the home that same ideas are anyone we can adopt and so we went exactly through that same pain and realizing that that's not the mission. The mission is reconciliation with their birthparents writing, but in that same context it's true culturally own bring us back to that. What is the mission and what you're saying when you get down to what is our mission as we engage people that really push our buttons and drive us the wrong way. Alex is her mission in here other than subdued conqueror right well I think he is clear about what are our big mission is right back to the macro plan is to is to love God with all of who we are and to love our neighbors as we would want to beloved ourselves and I don't like that mission so much it's hard. It is hard especially if we are not feeling that same love and you said, it's very clear instructor.

It doesn't matter if people are kind to us polite to us respectful of us. We still are expected to be living through the Holy Spirit and believing the best in others because to love our neighbors as well means we are doing our part in that prayer of thy kingdom come, thy will be done if we carry this posture of humility, love people.

Well, show them the fruits of the spirit that is about as good a life as we can live walking this planet as missionaries to the world because people will see God's goodness manifested in our lives, not because of us but because of him working in and I think for the church. Alex and I want to hear, but it's a tough question were at a crossroads where we take on the character of Christ, and we fight with the fruit of the spirit which one social warrior said to me one day who's not Christian is a Jewish gentleman and he said Jim, don't you know you're in an alley fight in the other side has switch blades and I said yeah were not stupid.

We get that our weapons are Lovejoy P's goodness he went.

While those are bad weapons. That is exactly what the world would say when you're fighting hate with love in her eye for an eye back and we need to recalibrate and understand what the big mission is what Jesus has us here to accomplish and Alex's been so good I I'm grateful thanks for writing down so much what I've been thinking about you know the heart of it and trying to get people to remember what the main mission is you done a wonderful job in your book, seeking out goodness finding the true and beautiful all around you.

Thanks for tackling really hard issue appreciated in queue and let me encourage you if you'd like to say it this way get closer to the spirit of God and make sure that you know what spiritual battles all about. I'd encourage you to get a copy of Alexandra Kirkendall's great book and you can do that right Focus on the Family get in touch with us and when you do if you make a monthly basis or one-time will send it to you as our way of saying thank you, you know, we've got lots of great resources course Jim, as you said, the book from her guest seeking out goodness. Finding the true and beautiful all around for that on a website link in the episode on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back.

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