Truth Guides the Way
About the Guest
Standing for truth isn't popular, but necessary. Barbara Rainey talks about her latest project, Growing Together in Truth, a book comprised of seven true stories about people holding fast to God’s truth. She tells the story of Karen Loritts, a girl in the Philadelphia projects who banked her life on the Word of God, and Martin Luther, a young man who bargained with God and ended up revolutionizing the Church.
Standing for truth isn’t popular, but necessary.
Truth Guides the Way
Bob: Are there ever times when you’re tempted to back down, or shy away, or shrink back from standing firm in the truth of the Gospel? Here’s Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: There are many times in our lives when we get asked questions around what Christ said—when we just need to let it stand—what He said as the truth. We need to embrace it, not back down from it—and like Martin Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no other.”
Dennis: —and train our kids to do the same.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, October 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll talk today about what we can do as parents to help our children stand strong when the winds of culture are pressing against them. Stay tuned.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Do you think that the reason that people tend to shy away from standing firm in the truth is because it won’t be a popular stand to take?
Dennis: Yes. I think it involves being rejected by people, maybe hated by people, or worse. So, I think the easiest thing to do is to conform—
Dennis: —is just to blend in with the masses and be a chameleon. We have far too many families today, unfortunately, that look a whole lot like their non-Christian counterpart.
Bob: Well, certainly, as young people are going through adolescence, they are wrestling with their own sense of, “Who am I? What’s—”
Bob: “—life all about?”
Bob: In the midst of that, there are plenty of voices suggesting to you that this is where life is found or this is what truth is. You can see where a young person can get tossed to and fro.
Dennis: I think the junior high years, somewhere around grade seven, eight, even the ninth grade, can ultimately be the real testing of a young person’s life. I don’t think a lot of young people do real well with it. I think a lot of them cave in to the peer pressure. We have a friend who really saw her life transformed during that same age range.
The reason I know this story is because Crawford and Karen Loritts are very good friends of ours. Also, I know more of the story now because Barbara spent some time not long ago with Karen Loritts, on the phone, wanting to hear the whole story—the rest of the story—of how she ultimately turned to the truth as a young person. It’s all about a new resource that Barbara has created for families to teach the truth of Scripture to children today.
Bob: You included Karen Loritts’ story, Barbara, in a new devotional book that you’ve put together called Growing Together in Truth. First of all, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Barbara: Thanks, Bob.
Bob: This is the first time that I can remember that you’ve included a story in one of your devotionals—this is the third of these devotionals that you’ve put together now—but included a story of someone you know—someone who is a contemporary of yours— who is alive. You really brought us a very fresh example of what truth looks like in someone’s life.
Barbara: Yes. I’m trying to include at least one person in each of these—someone who has lived it out and is still living—that we can look to. It’s not just all about people who have lived in the past—so, therefore, all of this truth and all of these principles died with them—but it’s still relevant today.
I wanted to tell Karen’s story because Karen grew up in an incredibly difficult situation as a child—that she survived; that she thrived; that she, today, has a healthy marriage; that she is a godly woman; and that she has great kids and grandkids—is a testimony to the power of the truth, the power of Scripture in a person’s life.
Dennis: Bob, we had dinner with Crawford and Karen one time (this was years ago). We were good friends, but I had never really heard Karen’s story of where she’d come from. She’d grown up in the, really, the hood in Philadelphia. My admiration for her as a human being just went through the ceiling because she overcame enormous adversity in what she faced day in and day out. I just thought, “What an incredible story of redemption!” God did redeem—
Dennis: —Karen’s life.
Barbara: Well, Karen, as a little girl, was lost. That’s where I start her story, talking about how—here’s a little girl at seven years old who is lost. It’s not that she didn’t know where she lived. She knew how to get to her apartment, but she was lost in this sea of craziness. She lived in a concrete, public housing project area of Philadelphia.
Her mother wasn’t married. Her mother worked odd hours, and Karen was in charge of her little brother. She and her little brother would come home from school. They would climb the stairs to that apartment. They would step over broken bottles. They would step over drunks in the hall. They would smell the smell of urine as they went up the stairs to their apartment. They would go into the apartment and close the door. There would be no one to welcome them because her mother was working.
So, here’s this little girl, who at seven years old, is as lost as she can be. She has no one giving her direction; but God, in His great mercy, introduced Karen to some people who did know Him. When she was a few years older, she met this couple who belonged to a church down the road. Her mom actually encouraged her to go.
So, she grabbed her little brother by the hand, and they’d walk down the street to this church. They’d go to Sunday school. Sometimes, they’d get something to eat, which was really appealing to them as kids.
Then, a few years later, she, her mom, and her little brother moved to another place; and she started attending another church. As Karen tells it, she says, “I started going to the white church,” because Karen is African-American. The pastor of the white church was actually from Russia. He was Ukrainian.
So, Karen grew up in those years, those middle-elementary years, going to this little white church in the suburbs. There she heard about Jesus. She heard that Jesus loved her. She heard that Jesus had a plan for her life. She kept hearing it over, and over, and over. The contrast between this Ukrainian man and his wife—
Barbara: —pastoring this little white church in the suburbs of Philadelphia and the things that they were teaching her out of the Bible about Jesus and that Jesus had a plan for her life—and what she saw at home with her mom and her extended family, who—they never got along, and they were always changing where they lived. There was so much instability in her home life; but in that church, she felt secure.
She found a sense of stability. It drew her, and it kept drawing her until she was in her junior high years, as you mentioned a minute ago. She decided that this was what she wanted. This life that she was learning about in this church was what she wanted. She gave her life to Christ. She said, “I want to do life God’s way, not the way I was raised. I want stability, not instability. I want peace, not constant disruption.” So, she chose to give her life to Christ when she was in junior high.
Bob: That was a turning point, and you make the connection in Karen’s story with another story of the exploration of Antarctica. Karen really stepped from darkness into light in that moment, and you look back to those Antarctic explorers who were trapped in darkness years ago.
Barbara: They were lost in utter darkness, too, as Karen was; only, Karen’s was a spiritual darkness, and theirs was a physical darkness. In both stories, in Karen’s life and in Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to the South Pole, both of them found their way out of darkness by following the truth. Karen, by following the truth of Scripture; and Shackleton, by following the truth of the sextant, which was the instrument they used to calculate their distance and the direction they needed to take.
It was because they believed the truth of that instrument—that the instrument wasn’t lying to them—even though it didn’t feel like they were going in the right direction. The instrument took them to safety. They were rescued, and they lived.
Karen found the same thing to be true because she banked on the Word of God. She said, “This is the truth. This is right, and I’m going to give my life to it. I’m going to follow what it says.” Because she gave her life to Christ and because she followed the truth of Scripture, God took her out of that unstable life of darkness that she was born into and redeemed her and gave her a life of light and hope.
Dennis: This chapter in the book is subtitled “Truth Shows the Path.” That’s what you’re talking about here—that the truth leads the way. It guides the way. It is like a flashlight for our paths.
Dennis: That’s what Scripture is. If you think about today, we may not be growing up in a ghetto in Philly, but we’ve all got enough cultural darkness around us today clouding our direction—how we’re living and the choices we’re making. There is pornography. There are choices on the internet. There is adultery. There is the rejection of the absolute standards of Scripture.
What you are trying to do in this devotional book for families is give parents a tool to tell stories—to be able to drive truth into the hearts of young people so that, as they encounter darkness around their lives, they’re going to know their way. They’re not going to be lost like Karen was, but they’re going to know the direction to go.
Barbara: The key is—is once you know the truth—is that you believe it even when it is dark, even when it’s confusing, or even when everybody else around you is saying, “Go this way.” If the truth is your guide and you’ve banked your life on it, you will go with what the truth says, even if it doesn’t feel right, because we know that God’s Word never changes—that He will not lead us astray; and we can count on the truth of His Word, no matter what.
Bob: Well, you tell the story in your book, in your devotional, Growing Together in Truth, about a somewhat famous, historical figure who was pursuing truth by trying to find it in religion and, ultimately, found it in the Scriptures.
This was interesting. I was reading something the other day that was talking about the fact that the word religion, if you take it apart, the word—the “ligion” side of that—the “ligion” is the same word that we use for ligaments, those connective tissues that hold things together.
Bob: Religion is an attempt on our part to reconnect with God—re-connecting. Of course, Christianity is not our attempt to connect with God, but it’s God connecting with us through Christ. It’s—
Bob: —the other way around. Here was a young monk pursuing God, trying to connect with Him by obedience—who, ultimately, found truth. God connected with him.
Barbara: Well, this is a story of a young man who had a very dramatic occurrence early in his life. He was caught in a thunderstorm with a friend. They were both riding back to the university on horse. His friend was struck by lightning and was killed. It left this other young man badly shaken (as happens to all of us) if we’re in a car wreck and someone else in the car is very seriously injured, and we aren’t. It rattles our faith because we say, “Why him and not me?” I mean, we hear those stories all the time.
So, this young man was saying the same thing, “Why him and not me? Why was I left, and he was taken?” He began to try to find the answers in religion. He was studying religion; and he thought, “This is the answer. This is how I find out what God means, and what God wants from me,” and all that.
In the process of studying his religion, he was reading the Bible. He came across the verse in Romans that says, “The just shall live by faith.” When he read that, it was as if a light bulb went on in a dark room.
We hear that phrase a lot, but it’s really true. It was very true for him because he thought he had to earn his way to God. So many of us think that; we feel that way. We think, “If I just do enough right, God will be pleased with me, and He will accept me.”
What this young man discovered in that verse is that it had absolutely nothing to do with his performance—absolutely nothing to do with how good he was, or how smart he was, or how anything he was.
Dennis: Or how religious.
Barbara: Or how religious, exactly. It was by faith.
Bob: In fact, his pursuit of trying to live right—he had just realized every day how far short he fell.
Bob: It was casting him further and further into despair. I imagine some of our listeners by this point know who it is we’ve been talking about. This is the account of Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer—
Bob: —in the 1500’s, who, ultimately, faced a showdown later in life where the issue of truth was paramount.
Barbara: He was in the church at the time that he made this discovery. He began to teach others what he had discovered in the Bible; but there was a practice in the church that was common in those days, where people were paying money to the priest—to the church—for their forgiveness of their sins.
Martin Luther is looking at this going, “Wait a minute! The Bible doesn’t teach that. There’s nothing in the Bible about paying money to have your sins forgiven. What’s with this?” As he watched that, the conviction in his heart grew. He finally thought, “I’ve got to say something about the truth.”
So, famously, Martin Luther wrote up everything that he believed about this practice and what he believed about being saved by faith alone—he nailed it to the door of the church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. It caused such a stir that, not long after that, he was asked to renounce what he believed—what he had written—what he stood for. He very famously said before that body of church leaders, “Here I stand. I can do no other. I will not recant.”
The truth that he discovered in the Scripture changed his life. So, therefore, he was teaching others the truth that had changed his life, but it cost him. He had to stand up and defend that before those who didn’t believe it. Often that happens when we believe the truth. We are going to have to stand up and defend it at some point with those who don’t believe it. It makes them feel very uncomfortable.
Bob: His life was on the line. This was not simply a case of—
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: —“Well, I’m leaving the church.” This was a case of, “Would he be charged with heresy, and would he be put to death”—
Barbara: Yes, would he be killed?
Bob: —as a result of espousing what others thought was heresy?” That moment you describe—where he says, “Here I stand. I can do nothing else. God, help me,” is a powerful moment in all of history.
Dennis: It really is. For some reason (I’m not sure why), I’m just having a flashback of a number of TV programs with evangelists who are on a talk show, and you’re sitting there waiting for the question to be asked by the secular interviewer, “Do you really believe Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life? Do you think that there is only His way to go to heaven?”
There is just a moment when everybody eases to the edges of their seats to go, “What will this guy say? What will this evangelist do? Will he hunker on up to the counter and say, “You know Jesus said it, and I believe it?” Will he back away, try to explain away, and try to have a more popular message that says, “You know what? He’s just a
way,” or, “You know, I believe there are a lot of good ways to get there from here”?
But Jesus said it, “I am the way, the truth, the life.” The same courage that it took Martin Luther to say, “I’ve got to stand right here on the truth.” I think there are many times in our lives when we get asked questions around what Christ said—when we just need to let it stand—what He said as the truth. We need to embrace it, not back down from it; and like Martin Luther, “Here I stand. I can do no other.”
Dennis: And train our kids to do the same.
Bob: Well, because it is going to be more and more unpopular to take even that stand.
Barbara: Yes, it is.
Bob: I remember speaking at one of our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways a number of years ago. I had just presented the claims of Christ in the Gospel, and a woman came up to me afterwards. She said, “You know, I was listening to you very carefully.” She said, “It sounded like you were saying that you think that Christianity is the only legitimate religion.” She said, “I’m a Jew.” She said, “Is that what you were saying?”
Now, that’s a moment that gets a little uncomfortable because, obviously, here was a woman right in front of me who I didn’t want to offend.
Dennis: Yes. You are not talking to a TV camera. You are talking to a human being, and this is what she believes.
Bob: I said, “Well, I don’t think your issue is really with me.” I said, “When it comes right down to it, what you’re going to have to grapple with, is the same thing I had to grapple with, and that is John 14:6”—the verse you just quoted—“which is, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.’
“Jesus either said it, or He didn’t. If He said it—He either meant it, or He didn’t.” I said, “If He said it, and He meant it, then, your issue is not with me, it is with Jesus.” Well, she wasn’t exactly sure what to do with that at that point. She said, “I don’t know that I agree with that.” I said, “I understand that you may not agree with it, but you really have to grapple with that issue because I believe He said it; and I believe that it is true. I think everyone of us has to wrestle with that.”
Now, that was not a comfortable moment—stuck with me. It is one of those things that you’ll never forget, if you live through it.
Dennis: If it was left up to me, I’d much rather take a popular approach—
Dennis: —on subjects that’s loved and liked by all, but—
Bob: I would have liked to have said to that woman, “You know, you seem like a nice lady. I’m sure God’s going to have grace for you because you just seem pleasant.” I can’t say that! On what authority can I say that, right? None!
Dennis: Based on how you feel about it? I mean, it’s not a matter of feelings. It is back to Barbara’s illustration of Shackleton going to Antarctica. The sextant was the guide, and you had to believe the readings on that instrument if you were going to make—
Barbara: if you wanted to survive.
Dennis: —if you wanted to get to your destination—not a matter of what feels good, what looks good. It is a matter of what is—
Barbara: —the truth.
Dennis: —the truth. Now, here’s the thing (moms, dads, grandparents—listen to me): “The next generation of young people—right now—are in our homes. We’re raising them. They are going to be sent out to a culture that does not embrace this truth. They are not going to embrace the truth. So, you’ve got to prepare them to know how to do battle. You have to prepare them with convictions that can withstand the darkness of the day.” That’s why Barbara wrote this book.
Read these stories to your kids and listen to them yourself. Gain courage for your own faith in God and your own personal walk. We all need it! I mean, Barbara said that the ages for these books she’s written here—these devotionals for families—is ages 5 through 18. Well, you know what? It’s 5 through 95. Anybody who has got a heartbeat needs to hear great stories of faith, of courage, of gratitude—people who have embraced the truth, no matter what it costs them.
You know what, Bob? I really like the guest we’ve had on the broadcast over the past week. (Laughter)
Bob: I saw you making eyes at her during the program.
Dennis: I’m just sitting back, going, “Man, did I out-marry myself?! I really love this woman! Thirty-nine years; this is good stuff! She’s not perfect but close.”
Barbara: Don’t say that. (Laughter)
Dennis: Will you come back and join us again on FamilyLife Today, Sweetheart?
Barbara: Is that an invitation?
Dennis: It is.
Barbara: Yes, I’ll come back.
Dennis: I’ll see you for dinner. (Laughter)
Bob: I think there are probably some families who have heard us talk about your new devotional, who weren’t aware that you’ve already written a couple of other devotionals. We should let them know that the first book in the series was called Growing Together in Gratitude; then, Growing Together in Courage; this new one, Growing Together in Truth is just now out.
All of these are devotionals designed to reinforce a particular character quality. They are good to revisit from time to time to help your children understand how to be grateful for what they have, how to stand with courage in the midst of adversity, and how to stand firm in truth and to acknowledge that there is absolute truth.
If our listeners have not gotten the first two devotionals, they are available from us at FamilyLifeToday.com. Just go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. There is more information available there; or you can call toll-free at 1-800-FLTODAY. We can let you know how you can get a copy of Barbara’s devotional books. This new devotional— we’re making it available this week to those of you who can help support the ministry with a donation.
All you have to do is go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Up in the upper right-hand corner, where it says, “Donate”, click the donate button. Type the word, “TRUTH”, in the key code box on the online donation form; and we’ll know to send you a copy of Barbara’s brand-new devotional book, Growing Together in Truth. We want to say, “Thanks,” for your financial support of the ministry as well.
You can also make your donation over the phone; call 1-800-FLTODAY. When you do make a donation, just mention that you’d like to receive the Growing Together in Truth devotional by Barbara Rainey; and we’ll arrange to have a copy of it sent to you. Again, we appreciate your financial support of the ministry.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to continue to talk about compelling ways to connect with our children around important matters of truth. We’ll introduce you to a man who has developed a series of devotionals for families that take your kids through the entire story of the Old Testament—starting in Genesis, all the way through. He calls his series of devotionals Long Story Short. We’ll meet him tomorrow. Hope you can be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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