Lauren Daigle: A Biblical Evaluation

I often wonder if we Christians aren’t like those proverbial frogs boiling in a pot. Cultural Christianity has changed so slowly and so subtly over the past fifty years that some of us still may not realize that it has become a completely different religion than what the Bible teaches. There is no place this is more clear than in the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) world. Here an “anything goes attitude” regarding biblical doctrine goes utterly unchallenged and often unnoticed.

At what point do Christians actually start listening to the lyrics playing on their “Christian” radio stations? At what point do Christians start looking at the artists that are filling their heads with words about God and life?

A great time to begin is now. Today.

Today we will look at one particular artist but I want to encourage you to look into any favorite “Christian” artist. Look at their testimonies. Look at who they hang around with. Look at what they stand for. You will most likely be very disappointed but this is better than filling our heads with things that are not only false but are also in complete opposition to God and His Word.

As I think back over my own music journey (which I wrote about here), I recognize that God can and will remove the desire for ungodly music that displeases Him so that you no longer even miss it. It takes awhile, but the first step is actually being willing to give it up. That step took me far, far too long I am ashamed to say. I truly hope you won’t make the same mistake I made, clutching on to something that not only is useless for a deeper walk with God but is actually harmful. 

Today’s particular post will help you get started on evaluating the music you allow in your mind. It is regarding a music artist that has a huge fan base of Christians. My daughter, Jess, posted the information below on her Anchor for the Soul Facebook page yesterday. As I was reading what she wrote, I recognized that this may be something you would want to know. Lauren is wildly popular and even if you don’t listen to her, there’s a good chance that someone you know does.

Jess did some research to find out just what Lauren believes, what she stands for, and who she stands with. I hope you find it helpful–not only in evaluating this one artist but also in learning how to evaluate all musicians who claim to follow Christ. Here’s what Jess wrote–

I’ve avoided discussing Lauren Daigle for a long time now. I know she’s incredibly popular and well-loved by a lot of people. And I don’t want it to ever look like I’m attacking individuals for the sheer pleasure of it. I only choose to write about someone when they are so far from Biblical truth that they have become dangerous and are leading others down a destructive path. Therefore, there is a lot of thought, prayer, and research that comes before an article like this one.

Lauren is incredibly talented. Her gift for singing and song-writing is undeniable. And she really seems to be a likable, kind, and fun person. I truly wish I didn’t have to warn you about her. I am not judging her motivation or her heart. I’m simply going to share her words and actions and compare them to God’s Word so that you can make your own decision. I’ve broken it down into my seven main concerns.

1. 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗼𝗻𝘆. Lauren’s testimony begins as a teenager when she wad diagnosed with an illness that kept her homebound for nearly two years. She could tell, during this season, that God was setting her up for something. “𝘋𝘶𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦, 𝘎𝘰𝘥 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘦 𝘷𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘥𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘰𝘯 𝘐’𝘮 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘯𝘰𝘸. 𝘏𝘦 𝘢𝘧𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘏𝘪𝘮.” She said she had visions of stages, tour buses, and awards. “𝘐 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘎𝘰𝘥 𝘶𝘴𝘦𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘬 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶.” No mention of Jesus Christ, sin, or the cross. Only mystical dreams and visions that ironically predicted a future that would fulfill her own dreams and desires. I looked for the rest of the testimony. The part where she shares the actual Gospel. But I wasn’t able to find anything beyond what she shared above.

2. 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙎𝙝𝙖𝙘𝙠. Lauren Daigle contributed to the soundtrack for the movie, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘤𝘬. It’s an anti-Bible, blasphemous movie (and book). Lauren was interviewed in a promotion for the film and was asked what she liked best about it. She answered: “…𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘎𝘰𝘥. 𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘎𝘰𝘥 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘧𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘦…𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘩𝘦 (𝘎𝘰𝘥) 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, ‘𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘵 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦.’” Complete and utter heresy. God is not a “she” nor does He ever appear to us in different forms because of “what our heart needs.”

3. 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗻 𝗵𝗼𝗺𝗼𝘀𝗲𝘅𝘂𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆. After she appeared on the Ellen Show (and failed to talk about her faith in any way), she was asked if she thinks homosexuality is a sin. Her answer? “𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘤𝘢𝘯’𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵…𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘹𝘶𝘢𝘭, 𝘐 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸. 𝘐 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 ‘𝘐 𝘤𝘢𝘯’𝘵 𝘴𝘢𝘺 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳, 𝘐’𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘎𝘰𝘥’…” No, Lauren, you aren’t God. But God does tell us what He says in His Word and His Word says homosexuality is a sin. (1 Corinthians 6:9, Romans 1:26, 1 Timothy 1:10, Jude 1:7)

4. 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝗳𝗮𝗶𝗹𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗼𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗹. Lauren doesn’t share the Gospel or anything faith-related on her website. She doesn’t share the Gospel during her interviews or guest appearances or at her concerts. In all my research, I couldn’t find even one semi-clear presentation. Can you imagine this being said of any true Christian?

5. 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝘂𝗿𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗺𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗰 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗺𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘂𝗻𝗯𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀. Lauren gets asked a lot about her music during her interviews. She constantly mentions “𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤” and how people have told her that her songs have “𝘴𝘢𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘶𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘥𝘦.” Notice that? It’s the song that saved them. She never gives the glory to God. She said her “𝘩𝘰𝘱𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘰𝘶𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮, 𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘮𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘢.”

A radio host asked her how she felt about her music hitting the top of the secular charts and reaching far beyond the christian world. Her answer? “𝘐𝘧 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦 𝘪𝘯, 𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘰.” She said that “𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯- 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘳𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦. 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘢 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳. 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘧 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘨𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴, 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘴.” That’s the purpose? Not sharing the Gospel. Not showing people their only real hope in hard times. Not pointing people toward the Bible. Not even worshipping the Lord. No, just togetherness.

Billboard asked her, “why should people listen to your music?” She answered: “𝘉𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘩𝘰𝘱𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺. 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘰. 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘪𝘵. 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘥, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘪𝘵.” She told a reporter at the Grammy Awards that she “𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦. 𝘎𝘰𝘥’𝘴 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘏𝘪𝘴 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴.” By telling the secular world that God is only love and kindness, she is robbing them of the good news of the Gospel. There is no good news without the bad news of sin, judgement, and the wrath to come. (Romans 1:18, John 3:36, Hebrews 10:31)

6. 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀. James chapter 4 is very clear that you cannot be both a friend of the world and a friend of God. When the world applauds you, there is usually something very wrong. Lauren has soared to the top of the secular music charts. She was invited onto the Ellen Degeneres show, the Jimmy Fallon show, and the Kelly Clarkson show. She has been interviewed and lauded by secular magazines, radio shows, and youtube channels. She’s attended award shows like the Grammy’s and AMA awards. She even enthusiastically gave an award to an artist at the AMA Awards- an artist who’s lyrics would make any Christian sick to their stomach. When asked about her musical inspirations, her answer is always a list of secular music artists like Billie Eilish and Adele and Amy Winehouse. She was thrilled when Grey’s Anatomy featured one of her songs. Her actions perpetuate the lie that you can be loved and adored by the evil world and also be a child of God. (1 John 2:15, John 17:14, James 4:4)

7. 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄 𝗼𝗳 𝘀𝗶𝗻. Lauren says her popular song “Losing My Religion” is about removing the idea of striving and seeking perfection in Christianity. She says that “𝘖𝘯𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘐’𝘮 𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘰𝘮 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘧𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘰𝘹𝘦𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘶𝘭𝘦𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘶𝘥𝘥𝘺 𝘶𝘱 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘧𝘢𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘪𝘴…” When asked about a Pastor who was caught in adultery with his secretary and asked to step down, she said: “𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩, 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘶𝘴𝘩 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺. 𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘴𝘰 𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘶𝘴𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘱𝘪𝘤𝘬𝘦𝘵 𝘧𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘨𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘨𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘤𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘫𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘱 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵.” She talks a lot about humanity (aka sin) and how God’s grace just covers it all. We don’t need worry about it. Yes, rules for the sake of rules aren’t good. And following rules will never get us into heaven. But following God’s rules in the Bible as an outpouring of love toward Him is a necessary result of true Salvation. We are to always be striving for holiness and obedience. (John 14:15, Philippians 3:12, Hebrews 12:4, 1 Timothy 4:10)

This is really just scratching the surface but there’s simply no room to elaborate much more. She a big believer in dominionism and the idea that we’re “bringing heaven to earth.” She told her concert audience that “𝘮𝘺 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘤𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 – 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵.” No preaching, no Bible, no fellowship but sure, that’s church. She’s partnered with Steven Furtick, Hillsong, Bethel, and Joyce Meyer. Her recent Instagram post about fasting included words like “stillness” and “clearance of mind” and “the transcendence of a mind, spirit, and body reset” and “awaiting secrets to be revealed.” Guys. These are occult buzz words. Oh, and she no longer wants to be considered a “Christian” artist but prefers simply “artist” since those labels really get put on you by other people, anyway.

Lauren Daigle is leading “worship” to the masses. And yet she seems to love the world, partners with false teachers, and fails to proclaim the truth of the Bible at every opportunity. She wants everyone to come together and be unified and experience the love of God. Did you know that that’s exactly what Satan wants? He wants people to have a good experience and feel unified and happy and think that they’re loved by God. All without having to turn from their sin and repent. He wants people to believe they can have both the world and Jesus. And Lauren is being used as a tool to further his goal.

Hopefully this opens your eyes to why we need to steer clear of her influence and her music in our lives and in the lives of our teenagers.

Jude 1:4 says “Beloved, although I made every effort to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt it necessary to write and urge you to contend earnestly for the faith entrusted once for all to the saints. For certain men have crept in among you unnoticed— ungodly ones who were designated long ago for condemnation. They turn the grace of our God into a license for immorality, and they deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Let us contend earnestly for the faith. Biblical faith. And let us not praise and follow people who are blatantly turning the grace of our God into a license for immorality and therefore denying our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

 

Self or Truth? (It can’t be both)

I came across this quote yesterday–

He who loses his temper in argument has begun to care more about himself, and less about the truth. (Alfred Plummer)

What an interesting thing to reflect upon in this age of strong opinions and thoughtless, angry words. There is no dearth currently of harsh judgements, often accompanied by flaring tempers.

Even if we Christians struggle with losing our tempers at home on occasion, most of us have learned (or are learning) the importance of not allowing that to happen in public. We understand the damage that does to the cause of Christ.

But the losing of one’s temper isn’t the only thing that shows one cares more about oneself than about the truth, now is it?

I believe there is another very acceptable way that Christians show their priority of self over truth. It’s lauded even. And this is a problem.

You see I think for most believers the temptation isn’t to talk too much but to talk too little. The temptation isn’t to prove the rightness of a point as much as it is to not speak up when it’s important.

And this can be confusing. After all, doesn’t the Bible teach that we are to be slow to speak (James 1:19) and that he who restrains his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19). It sure does! So then it is important we interpret these in light of other scriptures (Mark 16:15; Philippians 1:13-14; I Thessalonians 2:4; Titus 2:1 and others) that encourage us to speak up.

You see, it isn’t so much in the speaking that we run into problems. What God knows (and what we quickly learn about ourselves) is that the sinful issues arise when we speak without thinking first or we talk before we actually listen to what the other person is saying.

It’s obvious that the Bible can’t mean to never speak up, given it’s many verses (and also the examples of godly people) encouraging us to do that very thing. But so many believers cling to those verses as if that gives them God’s permission to never speak the truth–even at the most opportune moments.

I guess each one of us struggles with this in one way or another. We all struggle with loving ourselves more than loving the truth. Whether it is exhibited by the relentless desire to prove we are right (and smarter than the other person) or it is by staying quiet so as not to draw unwanted antagonism or ridicule, both show the ugly love of self.

Only we can know why we are choosing to speak up or not to speak up. Only we can examine our hearts as to why we are responding as we are in times of opportunity.

James 3 reminds us just how dangerous the tongue is. It is an important reminder! There is so much potential to cause tremendous amounts of damage with it. But when we read the end of that chapter we begin to understand that it isn’t in the speaking but in the motives when we speak that the sin lies.

James 3:14-18 puts it like this–

But if you have bitter envy and [h]self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Bitter envy and self-seeking in our hearts are the proof that we are using earthly, sensual, and even demonic wisdom. When we speak up with these things in our hearts and minds, no good fruit can result.

But when we use the wisdom from above, then all is changed. Speaking up becomes about our dedication to the truth. It’s about being willing to admit we were wrong when necessary, it’s about being willing to yield on issues that are not of biblical import. It is peaceable and gentle.

I like how the ESV puts it: “open to reason”. This means are willing to have a loving, thoughtful discussion. And yet we must always go back to the Word of God as our standard and guide. This is our foundation for any opinion that truly matters.

God gives each of us many opportunities to share the Gospel and to point people to His Word. The question is do we love that other person and truth more than we love self so that we willing to speak up? And, if so, can we remove our love for self and our need to be right from the conversation?

 

Do we love truth more than we love self?

It is a very important question for any sincere follower of Christ.

 

 

Without Excuse

Several months ago now, we sat down around our conference table in the office and made the difficult decision to discontinue services for a few customers. These are excruciating decisions for any entrepreneur but the reasons were important and varied and the list was a very short one. For some of them, snow removal was included in their contract. We wanted to get this letter of discontinuation of services into their hands as soon as possible so as to give them plenty of time to find a new contractor. The letters were written and sent out.

A few days ago, we had our first snow of the year. Imagine our surprise when no less than three of these customers whom we sent letters to in a timely fashion called to yell at us for not showing up. One claimed they never got the letter. However, because we know of this particular person’s penchant to ignore letters such as these, we also emailed it to her. We know she got it. A second flippantly said he just didn’t bother to open the letter. I am not sure of the third’s excuse.

At first, I was astounded at the lack of professionalism that plagues this world. One of these was an apartment complex. Another was a business. The third was a homeowner. How do you justify not opening a letter if you are in charge of an apartment complex or a business? I have to admit I was floored at the lack of responsibility.

But even stranger– they berated and scolded us for not doing their snow. They listed all of the reasons why we should do their snow. They listed what all their good “customer” attributes were. One just yelled.

As if this were our fault. How dare we discontinue them as a customer?

As I thought about this, I couldn’t help but think on how this is such a wonderful analogy for man’s approach to God’s Word.

God has written them a letter and they refuse to open it. They refuse to read it and see what it says. In it, He has told us His wonderful plan on how we can be saved from eternal damnation. It’s amazing! But people just don’t bother.

And yet, people will shake their fist at God and blame Him. Why didn’t you tell me, God?? How could you send a nice person like me to hell, God?

But He has told us. He has told us everything we need to know.

But, you may be asking, what about that person who doesn’t have a Bible?

The Bible says in Romans 1:20 says that all men are without excuse. That there is something inside all men that tells them there is a God. It’s up to man to search after God rather than to give heed to their own futile thoughts and follow their darkened hearts.

I know of several Christians who tell the story of searching after God. For each of them, at some point in their journey, God provided someone to tell them the truth about Himself. Someone to point them to the Bible and to pure doctrine. God won’t let anyone suffer from the lack of His Word who truly desires to know the truth. Even illiterate Pacific islanders and tribes in the heart of Africa back in the 1800s were able to understand salvation. God will make a way for the searcher to find what he is looking for.

And so all of us are without excuse.

Just as our company wasn’t responsible for whether or not our customers chose to read the letters we wrote, so God is not responsible for the whether or not we read His letter.

May we choose to read that letter. Because nothing is more important. It’s life and death. Eternal life and eternal death.

 

 

Twin Truths

A few years ago, a discernment ministry I had trusted to speak truth promoted an erroneous book. Recently, I was surprised and extremely disappointed to see another ministry I trust promote this book. Needless to say, I don’t quite trust them anymore. I wanted to take today and write about this because the book’s topic is so very important.

Well, I actually don’t want to write about this because, not only is it an important topic, but it’s also an incredibly inflammatory one. But the topic keeps coming to mind since I saw that post and I believe the Lord wants me to write about this. I ask you to read this thoughtfully. I am in no way claiming to be an expert on this topic nor do I have any interest in debating with anyone about it. I simply want to share what I have learned in hopes that it may be helpful to others who are struggling through this particular thing.

Let me back up a few years to when the “book” first came out. I received an email promoting this book and I was curious. The book’s premise was that Calvinism is heretical. Why would this author (and then this ministry in its promotion of it) put a line in the sand and say such a thing? That would have to mean that they believe that anyone who believes in Calvinism is a heretic, which means they are not saved. That is a very strong (and absolutely FALSE) statement and that, alone, turned me off greatly to the book and, if I am honest, to the entire ministry.

It is one thing to say I disagree with a certain secondary doctrine. It is quite another to say that the person who doesn’t agree with me is going to hell.

As I read the intro to the book in the email, I spotted something troublesome that caused further concern. Here was how the sentence started out: “We cannot believe in a God who…”

Do you see the serious problem with that sentence?

Who are we to decide who God is? God’s Word tells us who He is. We don’t get to decide which doctrines we do or do not like and what we will or will not believe. This was a huge red flag and discounted anything further that was written regarding the book.

But let’s back up a few years before this book to when I had no idea what I believed about free will and election. I had some wrong notions about how it all worked and was okay with that. Eventually, as I started to study the Word more, I began to understand that my conclusions were flawed. And then God led me to a sermon by John MacArthur called Twin Truths: God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility. It was by far the most clarifying and scriptural resource I have ever had the pleasure of listening to regarding this divisive topic. I recommend it highly.

Here is what I learned (in a nutshell): Both are true and run like parallel tracks into eternity. We can’t figure out how they work together and that’s okay.

You see, it’s man’s pride that makes him insist on choosing one or the other. It’s man’s pride that causes these arguments and divisions. It can’t be his dedication to God’s Word because no man dedicated to God’s Word could possibly deny election. And no man dedicated to God’s Word could deny free will. They are both clearly in the Bible.

So what does that mean? It means that our finite brains can’t understand.

We think we have to understand everything and we can’t understand this. And so men come up with (unbiblical) arguments that deny clear passages of scripture. It’s so tragic, really.

The funny thing is that Satan will seem to get you one way or another. Those who believe in God’s sovereign election rarely believe in God’s prophecy regarding the future of Israel. And those who believe in a future for Israel rarely believe in God’s sovereign election. I am here to tell you that both are clearly true. If you cast your preconceived notions aside and just read scripture, both are so very obvious.

But we get caught up in man’s systems and our denominations and intellectualism and following men and we get so confused. We don’t want to be viewed as stupid or unintelligent or unintellectual and so we follow the crowd. Ridiculous and destructive pride often keeps us from backing away from our wrong argument after we have made it.

The one other thing I believe it is important to mention is that, if you believe John Calvin was an evil man set on spreading an evil doctrine, I rather doubt you really know who he was. Spend some time getting to know this man. He was not perfect (as none are) but he did some tremendous things for the Kingdom and has been so wrongly maligned. I learned this upon my own study of him many years ago now.

So what do I want to communicate today specifically regarding this topic? Why am I writing about it?

I think the answer to that is simply that we cannot understand how these things work together and we must humble ourselves and be at peace with this.

The Bible clearly teaches election (Ephesians 1 is the passage that brought this home for me when studying it so many years ago but there are many others). To deny this is to deny scripture. Yes, it’s a hard and unpleasant doctrine to wrap our brains around but we do not have the option to say “we can’t believe in a God who…”! That is just plain sinful.

But the Bible also clearly teaches free will (that man is responsible for his choices).

So the only conclusion we can draw–if we believe God is absolutely fair- is that these two things work together in a way we can’t possibly understand.

As students of the Bible, may we be willing to believe what God says about Himself within its pages. Even when we don’t like it. Even when we can’t understand it. Even if it brings the ridicule of man.

This brings to mind an old song by the Heritage Singers. Here’s the chorus–

God said it and I believe it
and that settles it for me
Though some may doubt that His word is true
I’ve chosen to believe it, now how about you?

 

 

What Do You See?

 

In the photos above, your eye probably goes immediately to the bright lights. But look closer.

Last night, we walked through a Christmas light display that was designed and installed by our landscape company for a local organization. The hours and hours of work invested by our son and other employees somehow seemed worth it as we meandered through the bright lights on the warm, rather dreary evening.

As I am prone to do, I started snapping photos. The photos weren’t anything special because it wasn’t clear out and I only had my iphone, but I got a few for memories’ sake.

The two photos above are my favorites from last night. You see the overwhelming object of the photo — a tree filled with lights. But when you look closer you see a little child standing beneath.

As I reviewed my photos from last night, I also reviewed my past week. It wasn’t the dream week I had hoped for. Sickness tore through our family and that, combined with some other things that aren’t necessary to share here, made for a really disappointing week. Normally when our daughter and her family are here for Christmas we are together nonstop but that was put to a halt quickly with all the sickness. Last night was only the second time during the whole week that our family was all together. We met outside and took this little walk through the lights. God was so very good to give us a warm evening with no rain (an answer to prayer) to spend that last precious hour together before they went back home this morning.

When it all began I was so very upset. I was questioning: Why God? Why? We can only be together a few times a year. Why would we get sick? So. Disappointing.

But I bowed my will to God’s and made the best of it. No, it wasn’t what I dreamed of for the holiday but there are so many who have it worse. Perhaps even you were sitting at the holiday table this year without someone you love because they are in heaven. Or maybe you don’t even know if they are in heaven but they are gone from this earth (not knowing someone’s eternal destination leads to a whole different kind of sorrow.) Many have lost jobs or are worried about losing jobs. Trials, great and small, abound on this earth. They always have and they always will.

But I had to think of the photos above as I thought through this past week. At first, I could only see the trial. It was the “lighted tree” that filled my entire screen. It wasn’t until I yielded my will that I saw the precious treasure underneath the tree.

You see, one of the most difficult things of the week for me was coming face to face with my own sinful heart. If we are believers, we understand that our hearts are wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). But, every now and again, we come to recognize this in a whole new way as we are faced with unexpected events and encounters and happenings totally outside of our control. And so God showed me–yet again– how much I need Him.

About halfway through the week, Romans 8:28-29 kept coming to mind. It struck me anew that God doesn’t promise to work all things out so that we will be happy. That’s what I want. I want Him to make me happy. We all do, if we are honest. We want happy and we want easy. But this isn’t what God promises.

Instead, He promises to conform us to His Son’s image.

This isn’t always a pleasant endeavor as we must endure the things that show our sinfulness and areas of weakness and rely on the Holy Spirit to bring transformation to our lives. As God gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) pries our hands, eyes, and hearts from this life, we look more like Christ and set our minds on things above. God uses all trials, no matter what size, to grow us. Through our submission to His will, we are given an opportunity that He has specially crafted just for us.

And so, eventually, I saw that tiny precious treasure standing beneath the trial. It took me too long. But I did eventually spot it.

As we head into 2022, I pray that we all will keep our eyes searching for the precious treasures that God has for us amidst the troubles and trials that are sure to loom so large in the coming year.

Because we know:

God is good all the time. And all the time God is good.

 

 

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 

Romans 8:28-29

 

 

The Lost Son (Part 5)

The final part of this year’s story is presented today. Instead of a “happily ever after” story this year, there was an unexpected twist. Life is so much like this, isn’t it? It’s so unpredictable. And when you least expect it, tragedy strikes. And, yet, God takes those tragedies and trials and weaves them together for His glory and our good. And then–when we least expect it–He gives us wonderful and unexpected gifts. I hope that you like how this year’s story ends–

       Christmas dawned bright and clear. The kids were jumping on the bed by 7am, excited about their gifts. John and Abby groaned playfully as the kids begged to open presents. After a wonderful, chaotic, and loud morning, they got ready to go to Abby’s parents’ house for Christmas dinner.
       It was around noon when they pulled out of their driveway. Abby’s mind went yet again, as it so often had over the past few weeks, to the disappointment of Uncle Charlie not being there this Christmas. Grandma had taken it pretty well, overall. She had been pretty shaken up by the whole thing but was somewhat comforted by the fact that he had been actively walking with the Lord, which meant she would see him again one day.
       Abby was not so comforted. She had felt a real connection with him upon their phone conversation and her disappointment was profound. She knew he would have fit into their family so perfectly. Why had God allowed him to die at such a horrible time??
       She gave an imperceptible shake of her head, as if to rid it of unwanted thoughts. Today was no day to be having these maudlin thoughts. And she certainly knew she shouldn’t be questioning God’s sovereignty. Sometimes that was hard, though.
       The kids started singing Jingle Bells in the back seat and John soon joined it. Abby left her depressing thoughts behind on this lovely Christmas Day and joined in, as well.
       Soon they were all piling into Grandpa and Grandma’s house with joyous shouts of “Merry Christmas!” and lots of hugs. Grandma Belinda sat smiling in the recliner, hugging anyone who came over to wish her a Merry Christmas.
       Tom and Janet smiled joyfully as the house began to fill up with Abby’s family and the families of her two brothers.
       The delicious smell of baked ham wafted through the air and pies, cakes, and cookies sat on the counter. Abby laughed to herself. Mom always did cook for an army. She knew they’d put away containers and containers of leftovers, just like they did every year.
       Tom thanked the Lord for the meal and the family began to eat. Suddenly, the doorbell rang.
       “Now who could that be?” said Janet, wonderingly.
       Tom glanced her way as he spooned a large portion of mashed potatoes on to his plate, “I have no idea.”
       Janet got up from her place at the table to go answer the door.
       When she opened the door there stood three strangers, smiling.
       “Merry Christmas!” They exclaimed.
       “I am Shelly…” said the woman with the short, blond hair.
       When Abby heard the familiar voice she hurried to join her mother.
       “Shelly! What in the world are you doing here?” She said with a huge smile.
       Janet looked questioningly at Abby.
       “Mom, I’d like to officially introduce you to your niece, Shelly.”
       “Oh, my goodness! How wonderful to meet you!”
       “This is my husband, Shawn,” she pointed to the tall, thin man that stood smiling by her side and then, pointing to the woman with long brown hair who looked very much like herself, “this is my sister, Lori.”
       “Oh, come in, come in. Please!”
       Grandma Belinda sat quietly eating at the table, not realizing that two of her granddaughters had stopped by for a visit.
       Janet brought the two women over to the table and said, “Mom, I’d like you to meet Shelly and Lori. These are two of Charlie’s children.”
       Belinda’s eyes grew wide and she was speechless in her delight.
       They quickly added an extra leaf to the table and retrieved some extra folding chairs from the closet. Cooking for an army had served Janet well on this occasion and they enjoyed a wonderful Christmas dinner together.
       After everyone was filled to the brim with the delicious holiday home-cooked meal, they went into the large family room. Sending the kids down to the basement to play for a bit, the adults sat and talked. Shelly explained how they had happened to come there on Christmas day.
       “After Abby called dad, it became his dearest held plan to come and see you after the holidays. I had never seen him so excited. A few weeks after he died, us kids talked about perhaps continuing his plan. We knew it would never be the same as meeting your own son,” she directed this to Grandma Belinda, “but we wanted to fill in this missing piece to our family puzzle. A few weeks before Christmas Lori and I realized that neither of us had anything special planned over the holidays. Shawn and I don’t have any kids…yet,” she added the yet with a glimmer of hope in her eyes, “and Lori’s two boys are with their father this weekend. Instead of staying home and mourning dad over the holidays, we thought, why not go meet our grandmother at Christmastime? We were going to call in advance, but then started thinking how fun it would be to surprise you. Abby had given every indication that you would welcome us and so we decided to take a chance and here we are!” she laughed.
       Grandma’s heart was full, “Oh, how I would have loved to meet your father. It would have been my greatest gift ever!” but then she continued on, smiling broadly at her two granddaughters, “but having you girls here today– why, it’s just so very wonderful!”
       “Jessie and Kevin want to meet you sometime, too,” said Lori, referring to their other two siblings, “But they have families and so much going on over the holidays so they just could not come along today,” and then she told Grandma Belinda a little bit about her other two grandchildren that she had yet to meet.
       Abby watched them all talk and laugh and thought about how comfortable it all felt. The cousins she had never met already felt like family within a few short hours. She sighed with contentment.
       No, this Christmas had certainly not turned out how she had dreamed. In what felt far too early, Charlie had left this old earth for his permanent home in heaven. A home that is only for those who recognize their lost and sinful state before God and their utter helplessness in being right with Him and, in that helplessness, turn to Christ alone for salvation (John 3:16; John 14:6).
       All at once, Abby realized just how much hope and comfort this really did give. How kind of God to assure Grandma that, even if not in this life, she would see Charlie in the next.
       And then Abby thought of God’s goodness in bringing her two cousins to their door today. Oh, how wonderful for them to surprise Grandma. Amazingly, there was no awkwardness between them and the girls and Shelly’s husband, too, all fit in like they had always been a part of the family.
       Janet came and sat next to Abby and touched her arm, “Thank you,” she said, her eyes bright with unshed tears.
       Abby smiled and hugged her mom. No, this Christmas wasn’t anything like she expected but it was a wonderful Christmas, nonetheless.
       
       
       

An Encouraging Word (and a personal note, too)

Here we are. It’s Christmas of 2021. Last summer we wondered if we’d even see this date. And if we did see it, what in the world would it look like? But here we are.

Oh, the “ship that set sail” certainly hasn’t turned around. We can see and feel that in a thousand small ways: The anxiety we feel about going to under-staffed hospitals; The restaurant that closes at 5pm because they have no workers or perhaps has shut its doors altogether; The rumblings of terrible tyranny going on throughout the world; The censorship and lying by media, government, and the healthcare industry that has become so blatantly obvious.

Oh, yes, we clearly know the ship is still sailing full force towards what is prophesied in scripture. But then again, it always has been, hasn’t it? It’s just picked up a lot of steam as it nears its destination.

Sometimes we can forget as we live our busy lives.

Although, for too many, life won’t ever be quite the same. A chair will be empty at the holiday table this year and many are trying to cope. My heart hurts for you. Far too many are dying. Someone mentioned to me recently that it’s almost like we are getting used to people dying.

And for most people in the past and even now, throughout the world, that was and is the norm. Death was a common occurrence and people expected it. Most of us have lived in a cushioned, unreal way that is really not normal. Many of us have been sheltered from so much awfulness by being blessed with clean water and wonderful healthcare and access to nutritious food and helpful medicines. Particularly here in the United States, the “land of plenty”, we have been spared so much.

I am not sure that this abundance will serve us well going into the future, as it has spoiled us and ripened our hearts and minds to sacrifice our rights in order to keep the “plenty”.

The plenty: Health, wealth, and security. The big three. They’ve become idols in so many of our hearts.

The thought of losing them brings fear and dread. Of course it does. We are human, after all.

There’s only one way to truly overcome that fear and dread and it is to surrender all to God. Our hopes, our dreams, our future, our safety, and, yes, even our health.

Fully surrendering is a long, arduous process and certainly not a one-time decision. But the peace that accompanies our complete submission to God’s Will is truly a peace that “surpasses understanding” (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:6-7).

I am fully aware that I have become so redundant as I try to encourage us all to keep our eyes on Jesus in this strange, new world and to be ready for the trump that will call us to the marriage supper of the lamb at any moment. The rapture feels oh, so close and yet it could still be a few years out. How long we will need to stay on this ship that is sailing to certain doom is unknown to all but God.

But what we do know with complete certainty is that God will take care of us. These promises are scattered all through scripture and are not given lightly. When God says something He means it.

Of course, this doesn’t mean (as so many are saying in this warped and twisted “Christian” culture) that God will help us fulfill our dreams and life will be wonderful. Scripture doesn’t promise this.

What it does promise, however, is that we will never be alone (Hebrews 13:5), that God will be protect us (Psalm 18:30), that we will be given new mercies each day (Lamentations 3:22-23), that all things will work out for good for God’s children (Romans 8:28) and that we can never be lost if we are saved (John 10:28). There are so many more precious promises for those who have trusted in Christ alone for forgiveness of sin. They are overwhelming in their goodness!

As we approach a new year that is even more uncertain than the last, may we remember God’s great love and care for us. Great is His faithfulness!

________________________________

And on a personal note: This will probably be my last post for the year (other than the final part of the story, which will be posted on Friday. I hope you are enjoying it! I know I threw a little twist in there last week that you weren’t expecting!) I have family coming for the holidays (yay!!!) and I will be caught up in all kinds of wonderful activities and get-togethers.

As this year comes to a close, I did want to take the time to thank you for reading this blog. Someone said to me recently that people aren’t really reading blogs anymore. And, honestly, I’ve noticed that, if I’m honest. Most don’t really click on links from Facebook or take the time to actually read something unless it’s very eye-catching or extra-fascinating. And, let’s face it, this blog certainly doesn’t specialize in either of those categories.

But God has shown me, at least for now, to keep going. And that is through many of you who have kindly reached out and encouraged me–usually at just the right time. Your emails and messages of encouragement never go unappreciated. If you’ve sent something to me and I’ve not personally responded, please know that I am filled with gratitude. I do try to respond to every email I get but I know that things get missed on occasion.

There is one other item I do want to bring to your attention. Several months ago now, I asked you all to email me if you’d like to stay on my mailing list. I have kept that list and am compiling it. I do plan to make a switch to a different subscription service sometime in the new year so if you’d like to be on that list so that you continue receiving Growing4Life updates, please email me and let me know. (You don’t have to email me a second time if you have already emailed me.)

I hope that you can thoroughly enjoy the holidays, knowing that God is still on His throne and, if we are His, then all is well! Merry Christmas!

 

 

The Lost Son (Part 4)

Here is Part 4 of this year’s story! December is just flying by, isn’t it?

       John and Abby pulled up next to an old home. One half was painted blue. The other half was a dingy white. Abby looked at the numbers. She was going to the blue half.
       “Ok, I’ll be right back.”
       “You are sure you don’t want me to come with you?”
       “I just think it would be better to not overwhelm him. Going alone seems the wisest.”
       John nodded and then gave a small wave, pulling his phone out of his pocket to check on what was happening in the sports world.
       Abby noticed the well-maintained little yard and the happy little snowman on the painted porch. Soon she was at the door.
       She took a deep breath and knocked.
       As she waited, she thought about how she ended up here in front of this sweet little home. She had never dreamed how hard it would be to find her uncle. Charlie Clark was apparently a very common name. The fact that Ned and Harriet Clark had moved overseas at some point really complicated things. The fact that none of the family were anywhere to be found on social media complicated things even further.
       Finally, after weeks of searching and talking to what felt like dozens of “Charlie Clarks”, she had found a Charlie Clark that lived in this little half house in a suburb of Kansas City. His kind voice had responded to her questions. Yes, his parents were Ned and Harriet. Yes, he has two younger sisters named Pam and Beth. As the conversation marched on it became very evident that this was finally Uncle Charlie.
       Abby had broached the subject very carefully but she had had nothing to fear. He was aware of his adoption and had been planning to search out his biological mother after the holidays. It had taken him long enough to find her already but “life had always gotten in the way” as he had put it. He went on to talk about his busy life as a plumber and the four kids he and his late wife, Nancy, had had. Uncle Charlie was a delight to talk to, inserting humor into the conversation but also talking seriously when the occasion arose. He was actively involved in his local Baptist church and oversaw the widow/widower ministry there.
       Providentially, John already had a business trip planned to Kansas City the following weekend. Abby couldn’t help but believe this was a God-given opportunity and so she asked if she could stop by for a visit, which he had warmly welcomed.
       That had been two weeks ago. And this is what brought her to this door today. She was hoping to convince him to meet Grandma for Christmas.
       Wouldn’t that be the most awesome Christmas present ever? She thought excitedly as she waited.
       After a few very long minutes, her knock was answered. There stood a woman about her age with short blond hair. She had dark circles under her eyes and looked exhausted.
       Abby cleared her throat in her surprise, looking down at her phone to confirm the house number, and then nervously started to speak, “I…um…I’m sorry. I must have the wrong house. I was looking for Charlie Clark.”
       The woman sighed, “You have the right house. You must be Abby. Dad told me you were coming, although he never did tell me when. Come on in.”
       Abby looked out at the car where John was watching. She subtly shrugged her shoulders at him and then followed the woman inside.
       As she walked into the front room, it was full of boxes and containers. Photos and artwork had been removed from the walls and had been carefully placed on the coffee table. Knick-knacks were piled high on the table that Abby could see in the next room. The tired woman offered her a seat on a comfortable sofa covered with muted blue flowers.
       “Oh, Abby,” she gave a tired smile, “I feel like I know you already. Dad was so thrilled to talk to you. You just have no idea.”
       Abby’s hopes started to fade. Something was very wrong. She was soon to find out what.
       “A few days after he talked to you, Dad had a massive heart attack. It must have happened during the night. My sister found him the next morning. She had stopped by when he hadn’t answered her phone call,” The words were said robotically, as if she had repeated them many times.
       She continued, “I am so sorry, Abby. He was so very excited to meet you and, particularly, to meet his biological mother. It had taken him so many years to finally start the search. Both Grandpa and Grandma had blessed his search and had given him what they knew about your Grandma. I am not sure what was going on inside him, as he tended to not speak too often of his feelings, but there was something in the past year that was driving him on his search. He was planning to reach out after Christmas,” she said the words sadly.
       Abby sat there, stunned and deeply disappointed. She mourned the uncle she would never really know. It was almost made worse by the fact that she had talked to him and they had hit it off so well.
       “I guess I should introduce myself. I am Shelly, Charlie’s youngest daughter. I am working on cleaning out the house and getting it ready to sell. It all feels… surreal,” her eyes looked around at all of the mess.
       “I am so sorry you have lost your father. How awful! I can’t even imagine,” Suddenly, Abby realized that Shelly’s loss was far greater than hers.
       Shelly sighed deeply, “it is. And it was so unexpected. Dad was in such good health.”
       They sat there awkwardly for a minute or two. There seemed to be little else to say, under the circumstances.
       Finally Shelly broke the silence, “I guess, officially, we are cousins…”
       Abby smiled brightly at that, “Yes, I guess that’s true. Very nice to meet you, cousin.”
       Shelly continued, “I know my sisters and brother would love to meet you but this may not be the best time. My sister, Lori—the one who found him—isn’t handling this well at all. She’s been really struggling.”
       Abby’s brow grew concerned as she said “Oh, I totally understand.”
       The two women made arrangements to stay in touch and to perhaps meet at a later time and then stood up. As Abby made her way to the front door she heard Shelly say, “Wait!”
       She turned around and she could see Shelly digging around in one of the boxes. From it she pulled a family photo in a wooden frame. She then went to another box and pulled out a tiny, porcelain angel.
       “Can you give these to your Grandma? This will show her dad’s family,” she held up the frame and then gave a brief description of everyone in the photo. Abby hoped she would remember.
       “And this,” she said, holding up the tiny angel, “meant a lot to dad and I want your grandma to have it.” She went on to explain that most of the abundant knick-knacks they were busily packing away were her mother’s but that this tiny angel had been a gift to dad during a very difficult time and he had treasured it.
       “I was planning to keep it but it just seems right that your grandma should have it.”
       “Thank you so much. I know this will mean the world to her.”
       Abby reached her arms out to Shelly and gave her a warm hug. They had met as strangers but were parting as family.
       John was waiting anxiously and was relieved when Abby opened the car door.
       “Well…?”
       Sorrow filled Abby’s eyes, “Oh, John. It won’t be the Christmas I had hoped for, after all.”
       
       
       
Find the rest of this story (as well as all of the other Christmas stories) here.
       
       

The Doomsdayer, The Ostrich, and the Faithful One

In the spring of 2020, right about the time it became obvious that what was going on was about more than a virus and would most certainly last more than a couple of weeks to “flatten the curve”, someone sent me an article. The article predicted such impending doom for that following fall that I lost a whole night’s sleep over it. It is generally best for me not to read those at night. Actually, it’s best not to read them at all.

The following morning, I was able to refocus myself on the Lord and to remember His promises, but I will never forget that long night of panic. Since that time, predictions of doom and gloom have only multiplied exponentially. It is easy to understand why, considering the strange and unprecedented times we are living in. But predictions are just that…predictions. The only predictions that come true 100% of the time are in the Bible. While we can reflect on others and consider them (if that is something you are wont to do), we dare not take them too seriously.

These times are challenging, no question about that. And I’ve noticed that most Christians respond one of three ways. Some people (like myself) have responded all three ways on different occasions. Let’s take a look briefly at two types of responders–

The Doomsdayer-– These are the ones that are all about what is going on in the world. Their conversations and communications are generally along the line of what is happening. Nothing else really exists for them and they are obsessed by the events, the news, and the future of this world. Some of these doomsdayers are working hard to “save” the world. Others are intently focused on how these events all fit into the Bible and what we know is coming.

The Ostrish– These are the ones who don’t want to hear anything. They surround themselves with only the positive and close their ears to anything that threatens their way of life. It’s actually been rather difficult to be an ostrich in this past couple of years with all that’s going on, but we all try to dig our heads in the sand at one time or other through various means of escape and endeavors of industry.

__________________________

Both of the above are incorrect ways to approach anything in this life. Although it may be tempting to handle anything difficult or vexing in one of these ways, as believers we are called to something higher.

This has been such a learning process for me and I’ve not arrived (to say the least) but the Lord has been very patiently teaching me over these past two years that all I need to be as we face these weird times is a faithful one. He may be teaching you the same thing.

In the Bible, we find many examples to follow during any trial–even a situation as strange and unusual and, yes, sometimes frightening as this one. Let’s consider just a few of them–

Noah was given the worst prediction in the world: The whole world would be destroyed and he and his family alone would be saved (Genesis 6:13-14). We don’t read much of Noah but what we do know is that he was faithful and obedient in the midst of the greatest world tragedy in existence up to this point (Hebrews 11:7).  So, too, we must be faithful and obedient in the midst of what appears to be the preparation for the “as in the days of Noah” time (Matthew 24:37).

We are called to obey.

 

Abraham faithfully followed after God, having no idea where he was headed (Hebrews 11:8-9). So, too, must we follow hard after God, even when we can’t see where we are going. Amidst the questions, the what-ifs, and the confusion, we remain faithful.

We are called to be faithful.

 

Joseph faced the unimaginable but God worked all things out in and through these unimaginable circumstances (Genesis 37-50). From being sold into slavery by his own brothers to being falsely accused, Joseph was probably very discouraged many times. And, yet, God was intricately involved in the timelines and minute details of Joseph’s life and used all of it to eventually save the nation of Israel during a dreadful famine. This account reminds us that God has every little detail of our lives under His sovereign control and we can trust His plan.

We are called to trust God.

 

Esther put her life on the line to do the right thing (Esther 4:16). It was a very different time and place and her audacity in approaching the king could mean her death. Can you imagine how she felt as she waited to see if the king would hold out his sceptre and welcome her? But, even knowing it could mean her life, she did what was right. How often we are unwilling to do or say what is right because of a little ridicule that might come our way. Oh, that we may be more like Esther and be willing to sacrifice whatever necessary in order to do the right thing.

We are called to sacrifice.

 

Job lost everything and still bowed to God and surrendered to God’s will (Job 1:21). As we read Job, we see this man struggle through great trial and finally come to understand that God is immeasurably great and man is called to surrender in the face of God’s greatness. So, too, must we understand that God’s plans and purposes are far higher than ours and only through surrendering our own will to God’s will can we find any peace at all in the midst of trials and tribulation.

We are called to surrender.

 

Stephen faced his death with valor, while calling upon the Lord to forgive those who stoned him (Acts 7:60) He remembered–even as he was dying–what was really important. So, too, must we face the truth of our circumstances with eternal souls in mind. May we never lose sight of what really matters amidst the craziness and chaos of all that’s going on.

We are called to remember what really matters.

 

Paul bravely faced much persecution for speaking the truth (Read the book of Acts to find out more). So, too, must we be willing to speak up with courage and boldness, pointing people to God and His Word. Amidst great unpopularity and ridicule and, yes, even coming persecution, we must speak the truth.

We are called to speak the truth.

 

Can you think of other examples in scripture that we can pull wisdom from for this current world we live in? There are so many others, including Jesus Himself. God has not left us to our own devices in this world but has filled His Word with examples of men and women for us to emulate. He has filled His Word to us with promises, encouragement, commands, and guidance. He has told us how to face anything that we may have to face.

I have been both doomsdayer and ostrich over the past couple of years. But what I want to be is a faithful one, being and doing all that God has shown me to be and to do– no matter what the circumstances.

None of us can know what lies ahead. None of us can know what God’s specific and detailed plan is or the timing of that plan. But we do know what we are called to do. And so we live one hour at a time in obedience to His call.

Rather than to be known as the prophet of bad news or the scaredy-cat unwilling to face bad news, may we be known as the faithful Christian who is willing to face the truth with courage and to live in such a way that always points people to Christ.

 

 

The Lost Son (Part 3)

I present Part 3 of this year’s Christmas Story. I hope you are enjoying it!

       Abby could feel the tension in the room. She glanced at her mom, who was sitting stiffly on the striped blue chair. Her back was straight and her mouth was tight as she waited for her mother to reveal the details surrounding the brother she never knew she had.
       Grandma gave a shaky sigh and then continued, “I am not proud of this part of my life. The first twenty-five years of my life were…well, let me just start at the beginning.”
       Janet tried to think of what she knew about her mother’s life prior to her birth. Come to think of it, she didn’t know very much.
       “I had a wonderful childhood with parents who loved me. And my neighbor, Harriet, was always my best friend. But when I was around fifteen, I started hanging around with a new friend. Patty was not the kind of girl any parent would want their daughter to hang out with and my parents were not very happy. I am not really sure what drew me to Patty. I guess it was because she was popular and fun and, at that point in my life, that was all that really mattered to me. Anyway, Patty and I struck up a friendship and she was the one who introduced me to her cousin, Felix.”
       Ahhh, the mysterious Felix mentioned in the letter. What did that letter say? That he was “out of the picture”… Abby remembered.
       Grandma Belinda continued while the other women sat quietly listening, “Felix was bad news from the beginning. But I was young and dumb and he was so handsome and charming,” she smiled wryly, remembering this young man.
       “Felix was one of those guys that could charm the mittens off of someone freezing in the wintertime. He could talk anyone into anything. But, underneath all of that charm and charisma, unbeknownst to me was a darker, uglier Felix. But I am getting ahead of myself.”
       “At any rate, Felix was an older boy. He worked at the local garage, pumping gas, and he took a liking to me. I was so enamored. I couldn’t believe this older, handsome boy would ever choose me. I was a plain and rather boring sort of girl. I had wondered who would ever choose one such as I and, lo and behold, this boy did! You can see how I was so easily infatuated and then deceived…” her voice faded, remembering.
       Abby, considering her grandmother’s large brown eyes and curly white hair, couldn’t imagine anyone thinking her plain. She tried to recall photos from yesteryear but she hadn’t opened the “photo” box in the attic yet and couldn’t remember ever seeing any on display.
       “Soon Felix and I became an ‘item’, as they used to say in those days and much to my parents’ dismay. I know they didn’t know what to do. A few months after we started dating, tragedy struck.”
       Janet dug back into her memory, vaguely remembering that she had never met her maternal grandparents because of an accident.
       “My parents were walking to church one day and a drunk driver swerved on to the sidewalk, killing them both. He had been out at the local bar all night and was on his way home,” a tear formed in the corner of Grandma’s eye and spilled down on to her cheek as she shared this.
       “I will always regret that I was not right with them when they were taken home to the Lord. They were so disappointed in me and that’s how they left this earth—filled with disappointment at their youngest child’s foolish escapades,” she sighed deeply.
       “You would think that this event would have put me back on the right path, but it didn’t. Instead, in my desperation and hopelessness, I made some really bad choices. Finding myself without a place to live and ignoring my sister’s plea to come live with her, I moved into an apartment with Patty. There, without the watchful eye of my parents, I found solace and comfort in Felix’s arms and finally gave in to his pressure to…well, you know,” her face grew a bit red at this vague confession.
       Abby and Janet exchanged glances as she continued, “Soon I found out I was pregnant. This was when the real trouble began. Felix was always selfish but, after this, he grew mean. He wanted me to get rid of the child but I refused. His abuse soon moved from verbal to physical and I was beat up pretty badly more times than I can count.”
       Janet’s caught her breath. All this had happened to her sweet and kind mother. How could she not have known?
       Grandma Belinda looked at Janet with clear eyes, as if knowing what she was thinking and said quietly, “it’s okay. You couldn’t have known.”
       Janet asked the question that had been gnawing at her since this had first come to light, “Did Dad know?”
       Grandma Belinda sighed, “well, not at first. But I did tell him eventually. But I’ll get to that. The uglier Felix became, the more sure I became that I needed to get away from him. But he didn’t want to let me go. So you can see how this went. I had no home, no support. He wanted me but only under two conditions: No marriage and no children. I actually moved in with Felix, believing he would change and eventually want to marry me. Back in those days, this branded me as a very loose woman. I still can’t believe I actually did such a thing but I felt so lost and alone,” she hung her head. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose on the crumpled tissue she was holding tightly in her hand and then continued, “I hung around for awhile, thinking that the baby would soften Felix’s heart, but it actually got worse when Charlie arrived. It was one thing for me to be the recipient of Felix’s abuse but when baby Charlie became a target, I knew it was time to escape.”
       Abby’s heart ached, thinking of this young, forlorn woman making a choice to escape a man who was set on hurting her and her child.
       “I guess I should mention here that Felix did have good days. The abuse wasn’t constant. And he’d always promise to change. I guess that’s what kept me there for so long.”
       She continued on, “by this time my sister, Edna, had moved to Omaha and my brother, Carl, had moved to Canada. The only safe person I could think of nearby was my favorite Aunt Betty. So I ran to her.”
       Janet remembered Aunt Betty. She knew that her mom had a very special relationship while she was alive but had never understood why.
       “Aunt Betty took me in and was like a lioness in protecting me. She had been so worried about me and gladly supported me in my desire to change my life. I will forever be in her debt. It was Aunt Betty who suggested I give Charlie up for adoption but I just couldn’t do it. However, somewhere inside of me, I knew that Charlie needed some stability in his life and I needed to get a job. Aunt Betty was unable to watch him while I worked due to a chronic illness so, finally, in desperation, I asked Harriet and her new husband, Ned, to consider taking him in. I knew this was a lot to ask, but they gladly welcomed my sweet boy into their new little family. This seemed like the best option— not final, like an adoption, and yet getting him into a stable home while I tried to put the pieces of my life back together.”
       “I found a job at the local shoe factory and that is where I met your father, Janet,” she looked at her beloved daughter, “He was everything Felix was not. He wasn’t dashing or charismatic but, instead, very staid and solid. He was handsome enough but in a rugged way, rather than the dark, brooding way Felix was. This was all that drew me to him. And he was a godly man. He insisted on me attending church with him and, soon, I was back in fellowship with the Lord, after all those long years.”
She stopped for a moment in deep reflection.
       “I did not tell Marvin about my past. I was so ashamed. All he knew was that my parents had died and that I had had an abusive relationship in my past and that I still feared this man. I didn’t offer much more than that. When I introduced him to Harriet and Ned, I introduced Charlie as their son,” she smiled wryly, “I am actually surprised he never said anything because Charlie was dark with black hair and they are both blonde. He told me later that he never suspected a thing. But that is how men are, isn’t it?” She laughed briefly but it was without mirth.
       “Marvin was soon offered a job back east in the family business. He talked it over with me and we decided that this might be the perfect solution. We would get married and move far away from Felix. In the back of my mind always was Charlie. But I knew how much Ned and Harriet loved him and that he was so safe and secure with them. I stopped by one day and explained the situation to them. They offered to keep him for as long as I needed. I had no idea how long that would become.”
       “We moved to Ohio and started a new life. Susan and Micheal came along, and then, you, Janet. We were so happy. My life in California became like…well, like a dream. And then, one day, I received a letter from Harriet. I can remember it like it was yesterday,” her eyes grew moist once again.
       “In this letter she mentioned that Charlie was going to be six on his next birthday and that they were tired of living in limbo. She also mentioned that Felix was out of the picture. I wasn’t sure what she meant so I called her later that week. She told me that she had heard from a woman at church who knew his aunt that Felix had been killed in a bar fight. It was a sad ending to a sadder life,” she murmured and then went on, “I knew I had to finally tell Marvin about Charlie. And so we sat down one night after the kids were in bed and I told him everything. We talked and prayed and then talked some more. In the end, we decided that, if Ned and Harriet were willing, we’d ask them to adopt Charlie permanently. It just seemed in his best interest.”
       She looked up to answer the unspoken question in both of their eyes.
       “I know you think I must have been a horrible mother to desert Charlie like that. And I know I was. But it wasn’t that I didn’t love Charlie. I always have. I always will. I only wanted to do what was best for my boy. Ned and Harriet were wonderful God-fearing people and loved Charlie as their own. In the end, we decided to never talk about it again,” she explained further, “That’s how things were in those days. You just didn’t talk about things like you do today.”
       The story was an age-old story and nothing new. Both Janet and Abby knew that it happened over and over to innocent, starry-eyed young women who fell prey to handsome, abusive men. They just never dreamed such a thing had happened to their dear mother and grandmother.
       She continued, “In the end, we decided it would be a secret between just us four. Even Charlie never knew. Eventually, we lost touch with them, being so far away and all. Harriet sent me a few photos through the years but, eventually, even those stopped.”
       She stopped and sat quietly for a few minutes, unsure how to continue. Finally, she said quietly, “And so I just lived my life like Charlie didn’t exist. But, always, in my heart, is an empty Charlie-shaped space. I loved Charlie dearly and it was a great sacrifice to give him up. I still love him,” she said softly and then looked up, “and that’s the story.”
       The three of them all just sat quietly, unsure of what to say upon this revelation. The silence remained unbroken until Abby’s Dad came in from the garage and stood in the doorway, “My goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the three of you this quiet in all my days,” he joked.
       They turned serious eyes upon him. It was Janet who spoke up, “Mom’s been filling us in on her big secret.”
       Tom raised his eyebrows and then wisely returned to the garage but his entrance had broken the silence.
       “Thank you, Mom, for telling me that. I truly had no idea,” said Janet, still reeling from this unexpected confession of her mother’s.
       Abby realized, maybe for the first time in her life, that her grandmother was an actual person. She had hopes, dreams, fears, and…yes, even sinned—just like everybody else.
       It was Janet who suggested they pray. And so they prayed. They prayed for the situation. They prayed for Charlie. They prayed for her grandmother. As they prayed an idea began to form in Abby’s mind. As it grew, she began to grow excited. Yes! She would find Charlie for Grandma. She would find him by Christmas. She smiled broadly to herself as her mother continued to pray.
       
       

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