The 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity tells how social and economic factors relate to the success of individuals, families, opportunity, and freedom. Through charts that track changes, and commentary that explains the trends, the Index shows the current state of some key features of American society and tells whether specific indicators are improving or getting off track.
>>>>>Click HERE to access The 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity on line.
Wisconsin Family Action also recently released the new publication, Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition, which is the only document of its kind, giving statistical overview of Wisconsin, her values, and the impact on traditional families. We trust that public officials, educators at all levels, business leaders, pastors, ministry leaders, and lay citizens will find this Wisconsin Cultural Indicators 2014 Edition instructive and helpful as they make decisions affecting Wisconsin’s future.
>>>>>Access YOUR copy of Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition, HERE
This week, President Obama signed an executive order that will force federal employers to hire homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders against their religious tenets and excludes religious exemption.
WFA president Julaine Appling responds, “So this man who would be king once again takes matters into his own hands and tramples on the constitution. This time our religious freedom is very much at stake. Our founders called religious liberty “the first freedom” because it is foundational to our other freedoms. Christians should be alarmed and on high alert. Churches and Christian ministries are in the crosshairs.”
>>>>>Julaine was a guest on Q90FM’s Stand Up for the Truth program this week to discuss this issue. Listen to the podcast HERE.
(Part 3 in a 3-part Series)
Are you parenting with purpose and intention or are you just kind of winging it and trying to survive each day, hoping that somehow your children will grow up with strong character and a sincere desire to know, love and serve the Lord? Are you parenting for today or for eternity?
I ended up with a $20 bill in my hand over the weekend—not for long, I assure you. But for a change, I was still enough long enough to really look at the bill. The way I was holding it the words “In God We Trust” loomed large. It was almost as if I had never seen them before. They fairly leaped off the bill.
I paused and pondered. “In God We Trust.” For a few moments I allowed myself to be transported to 1776. Did the founders of this great country really trust in God? Who did they look to for direction in a time of great adversity, a time of the heavy hand of government taking away their individual freedoms and their ability to self-determine? We don’t have to look much beyond the words of the Declaration of Independence for a reasonable answer.
Fifty-six different men signed this document. Men from all walks of life, representing the diversity of the various colonies. They knew what they were doing. The Declaration of Independence represented the sentiments of all of those who took the quill, dipped it in the ink well and with their signature pledged to one another, their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
While written relatively quickly, the Declaration of Independence was not hastily or casually considered. Records show that some 86 changes were made including the insertion of three complete paragraphs, before the final vote on the document on July 4th. The deliberations and the number of and types of changes tell me that they were extremely careful about the wording.
In the opening paragraph of this incredible document, the signers make a bold statement regarding the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” with the word God capitalized. For those men, there was no doubt as to which god they were referring. This was God Almighty, the Creator God.
The second paragraph has that phenomenal declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Again, there was universal agreement among the signers that the Creator was the same as “Nature’s God.”
In the concluding paragraph, the colonists through their elected representatives to Congress, boldly declare their decision: “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown…”
Strong words. Frightening words. But I note that their trust was not in themselves, individually or collectively. Rather their trust and their appeal was to the “Supreme Judge of the world” to God Almighty. In those days, no one asked, “Who were they talking about using that phrase?” Everyone knew. It was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
For those 56 men who risked everything signing this document, “In God We Trust” was not a nice-sounding national motto showing up on paper currency. It was a rock solid belief. It was direction in the midst of oppressive circumstances. It was the light of hope in the midst of the darkness of tyranny.
How the times have changed. One of the most profound, world-changing documents ever penned referred 3 specific times to God. Today, some 238 years later, we seriously entertain abolishing the motto, removing it from coins, taking out “one nation under God” from the pledge and completely eliminating God from our culture and government.
I assert that such actions would be absolutely unthinkable to those who risked everything so that you and I could, as their posterity, live even today in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” So what does “In God We Trust” mean to you as you prepare to celebrate July 4th with friends and family? Is it just a nice motto or is it a bedrock belief lived out every day?
From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:
Doug, father of four children in our private Christian school, sat across from me in my office early one school day. After very brief pleasantries, Doug sat up straighter in his chair and looked at me and said, “So what do you think are my kids’ God-given strengths and abilities? I want to know if what you see is what we are seeing at home. Our children are God’s gifts to us; we want to be good stewards in every way and help our kids cooperate with God in using the gifts and talents He has given them.”
The question surprised me. I’d never had a parent ask me that. I answered him thoughtfully and carefully, suggesting that he also make sure to talk with their classroom teachers.
As we stood and shook hands later, I candidly told Doug that I had never had a parent ask me that question and that I was impressed. “From my vantage,” I said, “it means you and Gail are truly intentional about how you are raising your children. It’s not often I have the honor of working with parents who take the time to really know their children individually and then purpose to work to build their character individually and to intentionally strengthen the family unit.”
Intentional, purposeful parenting is not easy, but it is absolutely essential if parents want their children to grow up to be all that God intends them to be and if they want their family unit strong and healthy.
Recently, I came across a blog that featured a post entitled “10 Ways to Build a Healthy and Happy Family.” As I read the piece, it seemed to be at least a good starting point for some practical suggestions on intentional and purposeful parenting.
The post is actually practical applications extrapolated from a book by Jim Burns, The 10 Building Blocks for a Solid Family. Wendy Hopler, of Crosswalk.com wrote the blog article from Burns’ book. I think the main points are worth mentioning. It may take a week or two to get to them all, but they are, I believe, important reminders to all families.
The first building block according to Burns and Hopler: “Be there.” It’s so obvious but so important. Someone has said showing up is half of life. For kids, parents showing up is likely almost all of life. Kids know when they aren’t a priority. When parents are really “there”—mentally, emotionally and physically, kids know that, too. They sense interest, involvement, importance. As Hopler says, “nothing can make up for your absence.”
Building block 2 is “express affirmation, warmth and encouragement.” The blog author encourages parents to be wary of “shame-based parenting,” which she contends is performance-oriented and approval focused. Don’t make everything about doing, not doing, or achieving or not achieving. Spend some relaxed time just being with your children, listening, interacting, expressing interest, letting them know you love them for them, not for what they do. This is the kind of investment that lets you learn about them and enables you to direct the child into areas of strength and help him or her on those areas of weakness.
Building block 3 is “build healthy morals and values.” This requires much prayer, study and wisdom in order to know what is going on in the culture that is influencing your children and then seeking God’s will for how to, on purpose and with intention, help each of your children—individually and collectively as a family—deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. It means making tough decisions about television, movies, the Internet, video games, and events and it also means having difficult decisions about personal purity. Parents need to come up with a personalized game-plan for each of their children. All children won’t struggle with the same areas, but all children must know what God says about what is good for them and what is bad for them.
We’ll get to the other building blocks in future commentaries. But these 3 get us started and allow for careful examination of your parenting. Are you being intentional and purposeful? Are you being personal in how you parent? No matter how much time and energy it requires, I can guarantee you this is an investment with returns so high they cannot even be calculated.
Fatherlessness: A Crisis of the Highest Magnitude in Our Culture
I probably ought to do this commentary on marriage in Wisconsin. Maybe I should address some of the amazing statements Judge Barbara Crabb made in her ruling that ignored the votes of 1.6 million Wisconsin citizens and overturned the marriage protection amendment. Or maybe I should address the judge’s apparent desire to delay clarifying her order and issuing a stay so that all persons of the same-sex who wanted to could get marriage licenses in the seven-day window her disregard for the rule of law opened. But I’m going to resist the pull to do any of that.
Instead I’m going to talk about fathers—yes, I know Fathers’ Day was this past Sunday. No matter.
Now, I can’t resist the obvious here. In declaring Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment unconstitutional, Judge Crabb basically said children do not need both a mother and a father to grow up to be productive, healthy, contributing citizens. Yes, that’s exactly what legalizing same-sex marriage does. It purposefully and legally deprives a child of either a mother or a father.
This I know. Children need their fathers. Late last month, Wisconsin Family Council released our new publication, Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicators, 2014 Edition. A couple of weeks ago in this commentary, I discussed some of the data in this document. I noted that written all over it is the impact of fatherlessness on our families, communities and state. When fathers are not in the homes, children are subjected to an unbelievable host of problems. It’s a miracle when a child is in a single-mother home and isn’t profoundly affected by many of these ills.
So here are some of the problems single-mother children are much more likely to experience over children who live with their married moms and dads. They are more likely to experience poverty, to experience truancy, to drop out of school, to live dependent on government, to get in trouble with the law, to abuse drugs and alcohol, to be sexually active before marriage, to have health issues, to be subjected to physical and sexual abuse—and the list goes on.
I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say fathers are pretty much irreplaceable in the lives of their children. More and more research is showing what we should know by experience and common sense that fathers don’t parent like mothers. That they are typically the parent that lays out the boundaries, encourages some risk taking, provides a very real sense of comfort and security, toughens up boys and protects girls, comes at life and parenting from a more logical than emotional approach. All of this balances the incredible, also-irreplaceable contributions from a mother. God, the designer of male and female and marriage, gave to both of them all that they need, in a complementary way, so that they can together provide exactly what children need.
Fatherlessness is a crisis of the highest magnitude in our culture. I am haunted by the closing verses of the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 4:5 and 6. The prophet Malachi writes: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
That verse tells me, sadly, that fatherlessness is not new—and that it takes work and determination for fathers to stay connected to their children. Apparently God thinks that a strong father-child relationship is important, even if federal judges don’t. He tells us that if the hearts of the fathers and children aren’t turned towards one another, He, Almighty God, was going to smite the earth with a curse. His plan is for men and women to marry, generally to have children, and to together bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When society skips the marriage part of God’s plan but still has babies or breaks this lifelong commitment by divorce, we reap the natural consequences of our choices. The problem is the children are the ones who suffer first, most and longest.
In a time when judges and liberals are bent on destroying God’s plan for marriage and family, we as Christians must hold God’s standard high and we must certainly rally around fathers and fatherhood—for the sake of the children. May we seek, like Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.
WFA president Julaine Appling via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/9/2014:
“With the single stroke of the pen of a single, unelected, unaccountable judge, marriage has been turned on its head in Wisconsin, the will of the people thwarted, the rule of law disregarded.
Some are saying same-sex marriage is now “allowed” in Wisconsin. That’s not true. We the people did not “allow” this seismic change in our foundational societal institution. We had it thrust upon us by an activist judge with an agenda.
The citizens of our state spoke on this issue in 2006 with a solid vote (over 59%) in favor of keeping marriage between one man and one woman. Our votes and voice were wrested from us by this judge and by those who took the cowardly way and ran to the court rather than try to dismantle the amendment the same way the amendment was enacted.
Now that U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled, presto — state’s rights and the will of the people notwithstanding, restricting marriage to one man and one woman is somehow, almost magically, unconstitutional. The message from this ruling is clear. The millions of citizens who voted to protect marriage in 38 states, including 1.6 million Wisconsin citizens, and all the lawmakers who were involved in crafting and approving the language of the amendments were too ignorant to understand the U.S. Constitution. Crabb and federal judges in 14 states have ignored the expressed will of the majority and instead allowed a well-organized, well-funded, vocal minority to redefine the institution of marriage.
The fallout from Friday’s ruling, should it stand, will be profound. While it may take some time for the effects to be noticeable, they will begin, in subtle ways, immediately.”
Read the rest HERE.