Category Archives: Family Life News

News features from a Biblical perspective.

Inside Out – Avoid “sketchy views” about God – 10/04/23

If our understanding of who God is and how He works in the world doesn’t have a foundation in the Bible, it’s possible that we hold “sketchy views.”

A great many things work to pull us away from Jesus Christ. That’s not news. “The Scripture teaches us that the world, the flesh, and the devil are all going to be agents of temptation for us,” says Dr. Daniel DeWitt. The pull away from Christ can feel stronger if we’ve based our view of who God is on something other than Scripture. 

“I think that often Christian young people will make their experience in the world the chief authority by which they think about God,” he says. “And I’m reminded of a line from a Christian rap artist who said, ‘God made you in His image, and He didn’t ask you to return the favor.’” He believes that the way we think about God is the most important thing about us. DeWitt says we develop poor theology, or what he calls “sketchy views,” if our faith is unexamined or unfounded. We also have “sketchy views” if our beliefs are true but neglect love, or if they contradict the Bible. 

“We need to test everything by Scripture. And that means even the teachings of people we really might appreciate or enjoy. We always want to come back to Scripture as our ultimate authority.” 

We all know people who are deconstructing their faith–pulling it apart and examining what they’ve believed. DeWitt says the process may help them jettison aspects of the faith that were not actually based on what God says about Himself in Scripture.  “If they’re deconstructing an unfounded faith or an unbiblical faith, the deconstruction could be helpful to the degree that the goal is, in the end, to construct something new, and more reliable,” he says. “My prayer would be for young people that they’re working through these issues because, Lord willing, this is God’s way of refining what they truly do believe. And if on the back end there’s no belief at all, may the Gospel be demonstrated as the power of God to save them.” 


Dr. Daniel DeWitt is a senior fellow at Missouri’s Southwest Baptist University and leads the Center for Worldview and Culture. His newest book is Sketchy Views: A Beginner’s Guide to Making Sense of God.Learn more about Dr. Daniel DeWitt and his writings here and here

Human Trafficking – A Family Life special feature – 10/03/23

You might think that slavery in America ended a century and a half ago. Advocates for runaways, kidnapped individuals and desperate people say that slavery is alive and active even now, in the form of human trafficking.

Family Life interviewed two New Yorkers involved with A21 Ministries to address human trafficking — prevention, rescuing, and follow-up. Mary Gillis is coordinating awareness in the Corning area. She says there are more people trapped in the slavery of trafficking around the world now than in the slavery of any other era.

Lawrence Morey has an adult daughter who is doing ten months of training in Nepal with A21 to fight for the girls and boys and women and men caught up in the violence and abuse.He speaks passionately about the heart-wrenching realities of human trafficking.

A21 this month sponsors multiple dozens of “Walks for Freedom” throughout the USA to raise awareness — not only about the massive problem, but also promoting the effective solutions. Other parallel walks also happen this month in many other nations.

Saturday, October 14, will see five Walks for Freedom in New York (including Corning and Binghamton), plus three in Pennsylvania (including Lewisburg). There is also a virtual version of the Walk For Freedom in which you can participate from anywhere.

Inside Out – When your friend is hurting – 09/20/23


When a friend is suffering, we want to help, but so many of us just don’t know how, or feel inadequate for the task. 

Vaneetha Rendall Risner is familiar with suffering. She also knows how it can draw us to God. Her first suggestion for those of us who don’t know how to support a hurting friend is to pray. Risner grew closer to God through her own suffering: polio, partial paralysis, bullying, the death of a child, an unfaithful spouse, and an unwanted divorce. She knows the value of friends showing up. 

“We should pray for their needs—like their spiritual needs, their emotional needs, their physical needs–that they would turn to the Lord and find peace. That’s the biggest thing: just that they would find God in their suffering,” she says. “Show up at their doorsteps, go to the hospitals, sit in the waiting room, ask them if they want company to go somewhere. Just be there,” she says. “Jesus, we see Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He just wanted His disciples with Him, so presence is such a powerful thing.” 

And if your friend has been hurting for a while but you’ve never known how to help, Risner says showing up even now has value. Show up, encourage, and listen.

“I would also say, ‘It’s never too late.’ If something really hard happened to a friend and it’s been months, even, you can still reach out. Don’t think, ‘I wasn’t there in the middle of the crisis, I can’t be there now.’  It’s never too late to reach out.” 

Risner’s Desiring God article that inspired this conversation is titled “S.L.O.W.: How to Love Suffering People.” Learn more about Vaneetha Rendall Risner here.

Issues in Education – Unruly fans, Rushed cafeterias – 10/02/23

Issues in Education” — A weekly Family Life news feature

Are schoolkids getting enough time to eat lunch?

What is the proper role for cell phones during school hours?

How is the new “3 Strikes & Your Out” policy working at scholastic sporting events?

Education watchdog Ralph Kerr offers his insights on this week’s school and classroom topics.


Dr. Kerr is founder and president of the Teaching and Learning Institute. More information on their take on education and school-board topics is available here.

Faith Under Fire – Politics & Faithfulness – 09/28/23

Family Life’s “Faith Under Fire

A national Christian watchdog is concerned that too many big-name  Christian leaders seem to emphasize political positions rather than theological ones — or at least can be perceived that way in the culture. How then should churches — and local church leaders — seek to be faithful to their Biblical callings, while still being socially and culturally active with the public issues of the day?

Christian journalist Warren Smith is our guest on this week’s “Faith Under Fire” interview. He commends the congregations which are visiting the sick, feeding the poor, and caring for neighbors. He also says there are important times for Christians to step into the social ills (and political battlegrounds) which surround the church buildings. Smith contends that some Christians are too easily drawn into supporting or opposing populist demagogues who thrive in chaos. That said, there are some issues in which he sees clear Biblical mandates which lead to a spiritual position which may align with only one of the partisan stances. 

He cautions, though, that Christians’ tone and techniques matter. Rather than arguing stridently with people who disagree with you, the most faithful — and successful — action often is to simply ask a few good questions. Have the other person tell you what they have determined and why they hold that stance. (Smith notes that Jesus himself took part in debates by simply asking questions, so that the person or group would come up with their own answers — often the correct ones.)

Ministry Watch is a North Carolina-based ministry which provides donors and philanthropists information about the finances and openness of large Christian organizations, and they highlight faithful ministries and mission agencies carrying out Gospel work in the U.S. and around the world.  Warren Cole Smith writes more about this feature’s topic of political stances and positions of Scripture-based truths here in his weekly column online. In it, he urges preachers and congregations to reduce people’s fear, not add to the fear that already is dominating parts of today’s culture.