A Few Thoughts on the Uvalde Shooting

I wanted to share today what my daughter wrote on her Anchor for the Soul social media sites this past week. I think it’s important because it goes to the root of what we see taking place in culture. But it’s not a popular perspective. It’s much easier to dig our heads in the sand and pretend that this “just happened”. It’s much easier to ignore–or even deny– the really good reasons behind what we see taking place in the current culture.

And, I might add, what happened in Texas is the extreme of what we see taking place. The world is made up of so many hurting and broken people who only care about themselves and their dreams and their desires. Society has changed dramatically and much of it is because of what Jess writes below.

This is a hard read but it is true. If we believe the Bible and that what God says is best for us both personally and societally than we know this must be true.

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that we won’t change the culture. But we can change ourselves. And that’s all the Lord asks of us. Submit, obey, be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And, in this process, He will use us to help change and encourage others.

Here’s what Jess had to say over on Anchor for the Soul

 

So, let me get this straight.

We take moms out of the home, leaving their children to be raised by daycares, schools, coaches, and the television. We cheer for them as they sacrifice their children on the altar of their career dreams.

Divorce rates skyrocket. Kids are shuffled back and forth. Children are increasingly born to single moms or unmarried parents. It’s rare to see fathers actively involved in their children’s lives for a full 18 years. The stability and security that the family was intended to give children crumbles.

We schedule their sports and their camps and their after-school activities. We force them to study to get those straight A’s. We medicate them when they can’t sit still for 6 hours in a row. We skip church because we’ve got sports tournaments to go to. We want them to be the smartest, the most athletic, the most liked. Meanwhile we steal away their very childhood.

We tell kids to follow their heart and that truth is whatever they want it to be. Don’t tell them no. Gentle parenting, remember? Just redirect. They don’t need to obey. When they misbehave, we label them with some disorder instead of calling it sin. We take away God, discipline, values, and morality and then we’re somehow surprised when we see the consequences of that.

Our boys play video games in isolation for hours upon hours while they use guns to shoot real or cartoon characters. Kids spend hours watching things that glorify evil and darkness. Then we pretend it won’t affect them.

Parents don’t care enough (or “don’t have the time”) to instill value and worth in their children at home. So they’re faced with an identity crisis. They join whatever group gives them attention or helps them fit in. We tell them it’s normal to switch genders or be both genders or whatever it is their heart desires. Then we applaud them and pay for their life-altering surgeries while we ignore the statistics that show most plummet into regret, depression, and suicide.

As they grow, they give into peer pressure or the allure of a new experience and try smoking and drugs. They don’t have parents who have time to check up on them. It’s easy to hide. They don’t have a family at home who is providing them with acceptance and fun times together so they have to find them somewhere else. Then they face a lifetime of addiction. We shrug it off and call to decriminalize it. It’s no big deal. Just a coping mechanism.

We cry about these 10 year old children while simultaneously fighting for their deaths if it was 2012 and they were tucked away in the “safety” of their mommy’s wombs. We shout about how banning abortions will only ban safe abortions while claiming gun laws will somehow stop these people from obtaining a weapon.

We throw out morality and turn our backs on God’s rules, His design, and His way and then somehow act surprised when one of these children walks into a school intent on killing 4th graders. It’s horrible. It’s heartbreaking. But it’s not surprising. And we should expect it. This is the result of unrestrained, evil hearts. Access to guns did not create this problem. We’ve created this problem. Our God-hating, self-worshipping, reprobate culture.

And the Bible told us these evil days were coming. Days like the days of Noah. We won’t change the culture or the world as a whole. So what can we do?

Pray that the Gospel might shine a light in Texas through this tragedy. Hold on and fight against these cultural norms in your families. Christians are just as guilty of many of these things. Stand firm on the Word of God and do not waver. Be ready to be used by God to change individual hearts with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pass on your faith to another generation. And do your best to snatch any children God puts in your path (in your church, your family, your classroom, your home, your team) out of the fire of this culture.

 

Something to Think About

This past weekend, I was sitting at the airport when a woman a few years younger than me sat down next to me. She was friendly and we struck up a conversation. I soon realized that she was someone who believed in God and traditional values. We chatted about her kids for awhile. As is often the case, she was happy to talk and I was happy to listen. What I wasn’t expecting were the interesting –and rather disturbing–things she was going to tell me.

Keep in mind that I was not directing this conversation in any way. I didn’t ask leading questions or, honestly, any questions at all. She started talking and I simply listened, adding an “Oh, my goodness!” here and there. She had no idea that I blog or have any public platform whatsoever. She was just sharing what was on her heart. But I felt I needed to share it here with you.

She started telling me about her sons and their decisions, individually, to go to a Christian university after their experiences in a secular university.

She first shared that there was a required ethics class at the secular university. Only the students were never allowed to make an ethical choice. It should have been called “unethics.” If they were given a multiple choice option, it never included any good or right choice. It was always something that flew in the face of traditional, biblical values. And, to any normal human being, some of these options were simply horrifying. I won’t even bother to repeat what she told me. It was disturbing beyond measure.

While some kids, perhaps like her boys, can see this for what it is, far more are mightily influenced by these kinds of classes. And this is just one example. I know there are more because I’ve run into them multiple times. Some of you may be able to share examples from the experiences of your own children. They are plentiful and on every secular campus across this country.

The second thing she shared (and she had to wrap this up quickly because we had to go get in line for our flight so I wasn’t able to ask any questions or get more details) was that one of her sons has a gift for speaking and had risen pretty high within the college debate team. This afforded him many opportunities, including giving a speech at the UN. What he soon realized (and I was NOT expecting her to say this) is just how ORCHESTRATED the happenings in our world are. For example, she said, in this world he found himself in, he was given the job to help set up protests for lefist causes. He quickly realized that most protesters are paid actors who are told where to stand and what to do. In fact, he either recorded this happening or saw something that someone recorded. I was listening to flight information about this time, so I missed exactly what she said here. What I did take away is that what we see on the news is not what actually happens. I think we all suspected this already but it was interesting to hear it confirmed.

So, in essence, these kids are learning that morality is pointless and unnecessary. That people should do whatever it takes to reach their goal, dream, or desire. Or what the political party they are following desires. It’s all completely opposite of what the Bible teaches.

A few days before this conversation at the airport, a couple had shared that they had recently moved to Texas from Seattle because of what the schools were planning to teach their kindergartner about sexuality.

Someone also recently told me that their child’s history book had been re-written. That they had removed what were facts and are re-writing what is being taught to our kids. Think about the ramifications of that for a moment.

Ironically, as I was getting ready to post this someone sent me an editorial that was almost rabid in its disdain and hatred of traditional values and historical America. In fact, this person blamed those who held to and appreciated these things as the root of all kinds of evil and the cause of the issues America faces. And guess who this person was? A retired long-time professor at one of our local (nominally Christian) colleges.

Folks, these people are your professors. These are your teachers. It is what they were taught and it is what they are teaching. Are there some exceptions to this? Yes, of course, there are and praise God for them! But they are growing fewer and fewer.

And while some states may be miles ahead of your own in what they are pushing and changing in elementary, middle school, high school, and university classrooms, I think we are kidding ourselves if we do not recognize the serious danger that public education on all levels poses to our kids.

And I don’t say this as simply an observer of this particular type of education. While I have some very pleasant memories and some great friends from my years spent in public education, I have to admit that as I consider my education in small-town America (which took place over 35 years ago), I have to admit that I had my share of teachers teaching against traditional, biblical values already back then–

◆ A teacher promoting Romans 1 living (abandoning what is natural for what is unnatural).

◆ A teacher promoting evolution/atheism

◆ A teacher who was into witchcraft (and talked about it with her students)

◆ A teacher who declared that all roads lead to heaven

◆ And the “hip” P.O.D. (Problems of Democracy) teacher who stood against most everything my parents stood for

Now while two of these were not the kindest to me when I stood up and challenged what they were saying (because I was just that kind of kid), the other three were very tolerant of me and seemed to enjoy debating with me. But the core issue remains the same, does it not? Even back then there was an agenda. And most teachers were following it.

It is no different today. There is an agenda. And it is plainer to see now than ever. No matter which school in which state in which town. All of them are following orders to some extent. They have to…or they lose their funding.

And problems aren’t limited to secular schools and universities, are they? I had the privilege (insert dripping sarcasm) of recently attending the graduation of a small Christian college. In the opening the president quoted from and talked about a book that wasn’t even a Christian book! For twenty minutes he told us what this book had to say about changing society with nary a word of scripture or biblical counsel. I was dumbfounded, quite honestly. But it explained to me some other concerns I had had about that school as my child attended there. It was easy to see the direction he was planning to take the school. And this, a small Bible college in a conservative area of the country.

And even in the Christian school we sent our kids to there was an occasional teacher who told them something that wasn’t biblical. Christian schools are not “safe zones” where you can remove your radar and relax, which is what we hope to do. What we want to do. We are tired. We are weary. We want to rest.

But there isn’t any rest for the diligent, discerning believer. As I Thessalonians 5:21 says:  Test all things; hold fast what is good. This takes effort and intention. And it’s hard. And definitely not popular.

I believe the very best thing we can do for our kids is teach them from the Word ourselves. Talk about what matters. Don’t leave it up to church to do that. We need to stop focusing on the the grades and the games and the shallow stuff of life and turn our attention to the stuff that is going to protect and strengthen our kids for what they are going to face– no matter what school they go to.

Teach them what God has to say in His Word about Creation, about Israel, about love, about courage, about the future, about this world, about Satan. Show them that what the world is teaching them –and even much of the visible church–is just plain wrong, according to scripture. Teach them how to do their own comparing of things to scripture so that they are prepared.

And then be that parent that your student can come to with questions. Be open and honest and real. We don’t have it all together or have all the answers, so we might as well not act like we do. But we can help them find them and we can learn and grow together. The problem is that most people seem not to care about the stuff of life that really matters.

I am not telling you what education to choose. I am simply asking you to think about it. You are sending your kids to a place where they spend most of their waking hours. Be aware of what’s going on and teach your kids to be aware, as well. 

For this modern thing called “education” may be the greatest danger to our next generation.

 

 

A Few Thoughts From the State of Texas

I have spent the past week in Texas, visiting my daughter, Adrienne, and her family. It’s funny how you never really know where your kids will land. I never dreamed I’d make so many trips to Texas!

As we headed to the airport, the weather was overcast and the sky was gray. As the plane lifted up, up, up through the clouds, the gray soon was replaced by clear blue sky and white clouds below. Underneath all of those clouds was a rainy, cloudy world but above them was this beautiful crystal blue made even brighter by the sun.

I couldn’t help but think that we are living in that rainy, cloudy world right now with a new storm on the horizon every time we turn around. But this is not our final destination. And far above all of this chaos is the mansion the Lord is preparing for us. We will fly there someday. I just can’t think it will be long now.

___________________

My daughter had minor surgery and so I was helping her care for her kids a little more than I would usually. One of the things that always had me stumped this past week were when the kids would need a drink. The cups were on a shelf with all of the lids in a bin. I could hardly ever find the proper matching lid. And if I did, I was sure to be confused about what “plastic thingy” to put in the lid–if it needed any at all. But, to Adrienne, this was as simple as…well, breathing. She knew every lid and plastic thingy and cup in that cabinet and she knew exactly what went with what. I did not and I needed her help. There was no shame in me asking for help because there was no way I could possibly know. Now what would have happened if I acted like I knew and put the wrong lid with the wrong cup and got all defensive when the juice spilled all over the floor and she gently told me that that lid doesn’t go with the cup?

I didn’t do this, of course, but are you following my train of thought here? It’s easy to admit you don’t know which cup goes with what lid. Not as easy to admit some other things. Oh, how quick we are to charge right ahead when we should have gotten counsel from those who are wiser than we are. How quick to get offended when someone knows more than we do. About anything.

Instead of humbly admitting we don’t know everything, we tend to act like we do and then get upset when things don’t work quite the way we wanted it to. If someone kindly mentions something we could have done better or even avoided, we get defensive and offended. Whether it’s about our parenting, our marriage roles, our life choices, false teachers and discernment, or anything else, how important to remember that we can all grow and learn. We are never too old, never too knowledgeable, never too wise. As long as we are on this side of heaven, we will have things to learn and lots of growing to do.

___________________

Adrienne and her husband live in a nice housing development that has a beautiful pool and splash pad. The other day we headed down there. It was a lovely morning to swim but only a handful of people were there. Besides a few others, there were three in particular whom we noticed. In one corner was an older woman sunning herself. In the other corner were two twenty-somethings. The reason these three came to our particular notice is because they both had their radios blaring loudly. With two totally different stations. One was country, the other was pop. Or maybe it was rap. All I know is that the two together made a cacophony of displeasing sound to the ear.

Oh, how like this world this trip to the pool was. One side is playing all of the songs of social justice, communism, and leftism. The other side is playing the songs of revival, freedom, and patriotism, and maga.

It’s all so loud. All the time.

Just as my daughter and I sat there annoyed to be hearing both stations all the time, so we Christians find ourselves frustrated by the loud noises on either side of these issues. If you understand that what is happening in the world perfectly lines up with scripture, then you know that both sides are wrong. Neither side is biblical. They are both simply two wings of the same bird that is flying to the same place.

But if we were going to swim, we had to listen to the competing music. Thankfully, we can leave the pool. And if we are going to live in this world, we have to listen to the competing sides. Thankfully, we can retreat to no-noise places.

I believe the world will continue to get louder and more dissonant as it prepares to accept the coming antichrist, who will bring a short time of tentative peace before things get considerably worse than they already were (Revelation 6:1-2).

But this is all a part of God’s plan and eventually we will leave this stormy place for the skies of crystal blue. So stay strong by the power of His might and keep looking up!

___________________

So those are a few thoughts I had this past week while spending time with family. Living life and daily happenings have so many lessons for us if we but open our eyes to see.

 

The Titus 2 Woman

You can’t even read Titus 2:4-5 straight from the Bible without offending someone. Here’s what it says—

“…that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”

As an older woman, my calling from God (see verse 3) is to teach these things to younger women. But this is not a popular thing to teach, is it?

“WHAT? Work at home instead of out in the work force? What a waste of my talent and God-given abilities!”

“WHAT? Submit to my husband? I know as much as him. That is absolutely archaic and unfair!”

But God has good reasons for His design for the family and we can see that when a society doesn’t follow them, there is much destruction.

He knows that children need their mothers. He knows that the home quickly falls into chaos if it isn’t the priority for Mom. He knows that women are more gullible and less rational then men (yes, there are exceptions but you know that, for the most part, this is true) and that men often protect us from bad choices. Of course, this works best when the husband is a loving leader who cares about His wife and her opinion, as she also brings much to the table in decision-making. But the husband, as the leader, is accountable before God for his family. I have always been glad I don’t have that role. I don’t envy my husband for it.

I am not here to tell you the “rules” for women working. I know that sometimes it is necessary. And I am no judge. It is a topic for much prayer.

I was tempted to not even bring this controversial topic up. There are strong feelings about this and pretty much no one touches it anymore. But we must take an honest look at what the Bible teaches. We can’t ignore it just because culture—both world and Christian cultures—despise this teaching.

And so I want to encourage you young women to take a look today at your priorities. God never designed a woman to be career-centered instead of family-centered. God never designed for our precious children to be cared for in daycare centers and public school systems, where God is mocked and denigrated. He never designed for the woman to lead the man. It is clearly true, both from scripture and historically, that families will not be the best they can be if they don’t follow the guidelines laid out for us here in Titus 2.

I also want to encourage us older women. Are we teaching the younger women these things in Titus 2:4-5, both by example and by our instruction as we are given opportunity? How much time do we spend talking about the things that matter with those younger women in our lives? Maybe it is time to lovingly and kindly encourage these struggling younger women. It’s a hard time to choose family over career. It is difficult to keep your children home with you and be criticized for it. May they receive much loving support and godly instruction from us as they choose to follow the Lord in this area!

It is FAR PAST time that we look to the world or even the church for the description of a successful woman. Don’t look to me or to anyone else. For the only thing that matters is: What does the BIBLE teach us about this? If we ask this question with a surrendered and sincere heart, God will hear and He will answer. This is true for all questions we have regarding this life. And He will transform our worldly desires into godly desires. It will be a small miracle right within our own heart. God loves us and is so faithful. We must but submit ourselves to His will and His plan and choose to obey His commands as written in His Holy Word to experience the peace and joy that He has promised. And that is the only “success” that truly matters!

 

The Apostate Church

Sometimes it is only when we take some time to reflect on the past that we can see the vastness of the change that has occurred. Take our own kids, for example. We live with them day by day, hour by hour, but we never specifically notice their legs growing longer or their brain maturing. It’s not until they’ve grown up that we think through all the various changes and stages and recognize the enormity of the change. Or take a struggling marriage. Little by little, couples grow apart and possibly turn to others for comfort rather than to each other. It is not until it becomes painfully obvious that the couple stops and wonders how they got to where they are.

All change is like that and enormous change is no exception.

A few years ago, I was talking with my oldest daughter about the many changes that are taking place in the church. She told me that Uncle Dean’s (Pastor Dean Good) series on Jude was so helpful in regards to this subject. Preached in 2009, it gives a great picture of what the church of the last days will look like and gave her much insight.

So I listened. And then I listened another time. And this past week, I’ve listened one more time.

(If you’d like to listen, you will find the series here. Scroll down to the bottom for the first sermon of the series, titled Living in the Midst of the Worldly Church, and then work your way up.)

You see, God doesn’t just leave us wondering what the last days will look like. He actually gives us a picture. And He tells us that as we approach the end of this age, the church will become, by and large, apostate.

So you may be wondering: What does apostate mean, anyway?

Apostate, in this context, means to abandon true, biblical faith.

So, think with me if you will of how this has happened (this is not from the sermon series but from my own reflection of history.). This change has occurred –not over the last five years, not over the last twenty years, but over the last century or more. The change has been so gradual that most of us never took much notice. At first, it was just certain denominations that abandoned biblical faith. Others would soon follow suit. But there was still a core hanging on. For most of the 1900s, there was this core of evangelical, fundamental churches that hung on to sound biblical doctrine.

I was born in the 1960s. By the time I reached high school that core was starting to be carefully and intentionally corroded. But I, along with millions of other believers, had no idea. Now, I can look back and see. The worship battles that took place in churches all over the country were part of that change. As was the “purpose-driven” (or can you say BUSINESS) model for operating a church. The push to move the church’s focus from the Bible to personal experience was not an accident. Neither was the insistence that we must be “relevant” if we were going to reach the lost (a lie from the pit of hell.)

We can probably all look back and see signs of change. Now. We couldn’t see it then. Because we didn’t know.

I remember my youth pastor showing us worldly movies as a “youth activity” in the 80s. And I remember a pastor bringing in the Purpose-Driven church book to the board my husband was serving on. I can see now that many of the “Christian” books I read and the “Christian” music I listened to were filled with mysticism and all other kinds of false (but oh, so subtle) doctrine.

But, as with any change, I couldn’t see it then. It is only in looking back that I can see these signs (and so many others) of a church that was falling into apostasy.

And this is where Pastor Dean’s sermon series was so helpful. Because God gives us a description of this church of the last days. And it matches perfectly to what we have been seeing take place, not only in America but across the world. This simply serves as one more reminder that the time is short. Eschatologically, the mainstream “church” is just where we are told she will be at the end of the age. Remember, this is not the true Church, which is the bride of Christ that contains the remnant of those following the true, biblical faith. This is, rather, an apostate version that uses all the right terms and phrases but is godless.

Titus describes these types of people in chapter 1, verse 16–

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being [d]abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Lots of “professions” of salvation but no turning from sin or from the world. This is an indication that a true life transformation has not occurred. When these “professors” gather together in groups and call themselves a church, they make each other comfortable in their worldliness and acceptance of sin. They gladly grab on to the pleasant promises of God’s Word (if they pay attention to the Word at all) but ignore or rationalize away any of the unpleasant parts.

The church of today (almost without exception) is a church focused on self instead of God. It is a church focused on experiences instead of the Bible. It is a church that views discernment and negative words as evil and instead warmly accepts any and all new fodder that has a the label of “Christian”. And it is a church focused on embracing the world instead of separating from the world.

There are few churches left –even the ones we have counted on to be solid– that have stood firm against the tsunami of change that has washed over evangelicalism.

I was struck when I was studying Titus last week. Chapter 1 gives this qualification for church elders:  holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

If church elders would have obeyed this scripture, many churches would have been saved. Instead, they were caught up in other trivial matters as the serpent stole his way into the hearts of the churches.

Because of the lateness of the hour, there is no saving the church as a whole. But, with God’s help, you pastors and elders can save your own churches and you moms and dads can save your own families.

So what to do? Jude helps us! Let’s take a look at verses 20-23–

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And on some have compassion, [j]making a distinction; 23 but others save [k]with fear, pulling them out of the [l]fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

First, we must build ourselves up in the faith through prayer. We cannot withstand this Tsunami of apostasy without Bible study and prayer. It is truly our only anchor in this unprecedented and giant wave of change. And we must persevere, keeping ourselves in the love of God through our submission and obedience, as we look for Christ’s return that will take us to our eternal home.

And then we act. We take whatever opportunities God gives us to help. Sometimes that will mean showing compassion on doubters as we take them to the Word and other times it will mean snatching individuals from the serious danger of apostasy. The wisdom of what is needed for each opportunity will only come through walking closely with God through prayer and Bible Study.

So this is what God has told us to do as we navigate these last days. But Jude doesn’t end there. He goes on to give these marvelous words to conclude (verses 24-25)–

24 Now to Him who is able to keep [m]you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To [n]God our Savior,
[o]Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and [p]power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.

What an amazing reminder that it is God who works in and through us for His glory. And we cannot stumble if He is our guide. And, while our path may be difficult during earth’s final days, the day will come when we will be presented faultless before the throne–only because of Christ’s sacrifice. And then there is this wonderful reminder that the God we serve has all wisdom, glory, majesty, dominion, and power. We are loved and protected by the one and only God of the Universe. It’s an awesome thought.

And so we are not left without counsel and wisdom for where we find ourselves in these days–even if we feel lost and lonely in our own church. As Pastor Dean has said–expect to be persecuted by those who call themselves Christians. True, biblical faith is not and will never be popular (John 15:18-19). True biblical faith stands clearly separated from the world (James 4:4). True, biblical faith grows in holiness (I Peter 1:15-16). And true biblical faith avoids false doctrine (Romans 16:17).

As we compare these things above to the church of today, we can see the tragic departure from true biblical faith. May we unapologetically and courageously follow God’s Word as we strive to walk with God in this unique time of history. Only by God’s grace and mercy will we survive what is ahead. But God is able to keep us from stumbling! He will not forsake us.

 

 

On Racism

Do any of you remember when the Poconos in Pennsylvania used to be a hotspot for honeymooners? Back in the old days, international travel was only for the very wealthy or businessmen. Many of us only dreamed of leaving America and traveling the world. So when our fifth wedding anniversary arrived, we naturally thought about the Poconos. Only a few hours from here, it seemed a good place to spend the weekend and celebrate our five years. We left the kids with Grandpa and Grandma and headed out. When we arrived, we could see that even then already, their better days were behind them. It was already starting to look a bit run down. But we knew we’d have fun, anyway.

At dinnertime, we entered a room with tables for four. Much to our dismay, we were placed with another couple whom we didn’t know at all. This was not part of our plan and it was frustrating to sit with strangers on our anniversary trip. But, unbeknownst to us, God had a very special treat in store for us that would live on in our memories for the rest of our lives.

The couple that sat down to eat with us was a Nigerian couple from New York City. He was a police officer there and kept us entertained with many stories of both New York and Nigeria (it was there that we learned how different and luxurious American prisons are compared to the rest of the world.) But the most special thing of all was that this couple were vibrant believers. The bond we shared around that table was the bond of family. We were related in Christ and it was such an amazing time. It didn’t matter that they were black and we were white. It didn’t matter that they were from the city and we were from the country. We were family through Jesus Christ.

I have often thought of this dinner since this whole conversation about racism has cropped up in the “church” recently. (I use quotes because I don’t believe many God-fearing, Bible-believing churches have fallen for the lies that are being propagated by this movement.)

You see, when racism is truly non-existent in the Body of Christ, all people are treated with respect and love. No matter the color or race, all are welcomed in the bond of unity that we have in Christ. There is no special treatment or “reparations” for past hurts. We accept one another and think of others more than we think of ourselves.

This is not what you are seeing in this modern day movement. Not at all.

And this leads me to the conclusion that this movement is not of God, for they have not reached biblical conclusions.

I love Colossians 3:11–

where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

In a truly non-racist, unified church there is no thought to race or color. It isn’t an issue. Because we are all one in Christ.

Compare that to the shouts for fairness and the cries for reparations. Compare that to the discrimination that is now taking place against white males. Is this of God? Most certainly not. In fact, this is racism at its finest– sanctioned under the guise of evangelical religion.

Oh, how did we get here? How has this happened?

I want to close with this quote from James T. Draper, Jr., which is based on Titus 1:4. In this verse, Paul asserts that Titus and he have a common faith. I love what he has to say and I think that, although this is an old book, what Draper has to say is quite relevant for us all today–

“Titus was a Greek, Paul a Jew. But Paul was saying, ‘We have a common faith. (Titus 1:4) God loves us both. God has a purpose for both of us, God has a common desire for our lives and hearts.” God’s community is for everyone. His is a universal message, one that all can understand, one that all desperately need. It is good for rich and poor, young and old, black and white, educated and unlearned, men of all races, creeds, and nationalities.

That is the message of the Word of God. None of us are left outside by it. None of us are too insignificant to be touched by it. None of us are too untalented to be used in the community of the faith. That is the good news of the Gospel.”

So may I encourage you to look to the Bible for the answers to your questions about racism and not to the world? And particularly not to the mainstream church, who truly have it ALL wrong.

 

 

That Elusive Contentment

I sat at my computer working on one of my least favorite jobs in our landscaping company. It’s not something I have to do often but it is something that needs to be done. I reminded myself how much I hate this job (inside my head) a few times before remembering a conversation I had had with my youngest daughter a few days before.

She was telling me how she thrives on trying new things and pursuing new hobbies but that sometimes there are seasons in life that there is no time for that because there are other priorities. And how important it is to find contentment even when there isn’t the next and new hobby or adventure or experience. She went on to say how sad it is that her generation is being taught to always look for the next “experience” to fulfill them.

And that is what has happened. While my generation was about getting stuff, her generation is about getting experiences. Many of them hop from one to the next. Their contentment is driven by these new experiences.

But it matters not whether we search after contentment in stuff or in experiences. Both are deceiving us into believing contentment can be found outside of God.  In fact, our search for contentment in anything outside of God is fruitless and disappointing.

As I sat there at my computer, I thought about the impatience I feel when I am doing a job I don’t like. Let’s just get this over with and move on. But this time–and maybe for the first time ever–I took a moment to think about why I am telling myself I hate this job. It really is not that bad. God has given me the tools to do it and it’s a small part of my life. And I suddenly recognized the need to be content even in doing this mundane, ordinary job that I don’t like.

This really made me reflect on this idea of contentment. So many of us spend our lives jumping from one stage, one experience, one remodel, or one big purchase to the next. We have been taught that contentment comes with change. And so we are constantly changing.

Our culture has molded us to want and desire change. How often do we find a favorite scent or flavor of something just to find it has left the store shelves never to return? Or we go into the bank and the person you’ve talked to forever has been moved to a different branch? Just because. (That actually happened to me many years ago– my bank at the time moved their employees every three months so you could never get to know any of them. That was when I left that bank.)

But somehow in the midst of the constant changing, we became convinced that change is what it will take to make us happy. If my kid will just reach this stage. Or if my husband would just do this. If we’d just make more money or be able to redo the kitchen. Or if we could just lose weight or get a college degree. You can fill in your own sentence here. We all have our own “next thing”.

But I am learning–ever so slowly–that when that thing arrives that you thought would make you content, it only lasts for a bit and then your heart feels empty again and that next change calls your name. It’s a vicious and never-ending cycle.

So how do we find real and lasting contentment? Where does it come from and how do we get it?

As always, the Bible has something to say about this! Let’s take a look–

 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Before we get to that beautiful promise that God will never leave us or forsake us, we have this seemingly irrelevant sentence: Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. Why would the Holy Spirit direct the author of Hebrews to write that? Perhaps it is because God knows full well that His being with us and never forsaking us is enough. Why do we covet and crave the temporal? We can be content with whatever God has given us at any give time, knowing full well we rest wholly in His sovereign and loving care.

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (I Timothy 6:6-8)

These verses remind us that all of these things we hunger after are just temporary. We cannot take any of this with us when we die. It will all fade away back to dust. Does someone live a fuller, happier life because they have a million dollar house and can buy anything they want? Does someone live a fuller, happier life because they have traveled the world? Well, maybe…but maybe not. Because the Grandma over there who has submitted to the Lord’s will for her life and chosen to obey Him is going to have a much better life than the Grandma that hasn’t, even if they have everything money can buy. The young man who chooses to go into his trade job, joyfully living for Christ, is going to be far happier than the young man who has a prestigious career but follows his own selfish desires.

The choices we make in our lives that bring God glory always also bring us the greatest contentment. God’s plan and workings are both mysterious and quite amazing!

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

These are probably the most well-known verses regarding this subject of contentment. When we read Acts, we recognize that Paul isn’t just writing this out of thin air. He’s writing it out of his own personal experience. He has both abounded and has suffered need. He has learned this the hard way.

So what is Paul’s key to this contentment? First, we see from verse 13 that he recognizes that contentment comes from Christ alone. That it is Christ who strengthens us in all circumstances and that turning our eyes upon Jesus and taking them off of our circumstances is the key to this contentment.

But I think we can also gain a little insight into this contentment of Paul’s by turning back a few chapters in Philippians–

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. (Philippians 3:7)

It is here that we recognize that Paul was able to find contentment because he understood that earthly gain matters not a bit. Christ was his center. Christ was the source of his contentment. To live is to live for Christ alone. To die is to be with Christ for all eternity.

________________________________________

And so scripture reminds us that true and lasting contentment isn’t found in changing our circumstances. Rather, it is found in changing ourselves through the power of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13).

May we turn to the Word as we seek after contentment rather than turn to the world with all of its empty promises and fleeting feelings. The world might make fabulous promises but they are barren and hollow. The Bible, on the other hand, not only makes promises, but God keeps every promise He makes. True contentment only comes through trusting and obeying God.

 

 

 

A Trip to the Zoo

The monkey spotted something interesting. It jumped down and came over to the window to investigate. It moved its hand towards the window, trying to grab the food that was so enticingly being lifted to the mouth of my grandson on the other side. It stared for awhile. Almost like it was thinking, “How can I get that food?” Of course, the thinking was worthless because he could never get it. Not without some help from the zookeeper, which was about as unlikely as a 100 degree day in Alaska in January.

After awhile, he gave up and moved back from the window. Meanwhile the baby monkey’s antics entertained us. Trying to hang on to the rope as she grabbed bits of what looked like zucchini from the floor, she made us laugh. She was just like a toddler, learning to do all of the things her elders already knew how to do with ease.

On that same day, we had had the fascinating opportunity of watching a giraffe drink from the stream right in front of us. Have you ever seen that? It is an amazing feat of dexterity. She spread her front legs wide apart as she leaned her long neck down to take a drink. Then she’d lift her head high, seemingly to let the cool water flow down her long neck. And then back she’d go for more.

Of course, I just love flowers (which you probably already know!) and so I was not only interested in the animals but also in the many lovely flowers throughout the zoo. Especially gorgeous were the large camellia shrubs in full bloom. If you know anything about plants, you know that camellias thrive in warmer temperatures and are not normally found this far north. Apparently, there are some zone 6 varieties (which I need to hunt down. It’s one of my favorite flowers.)

The zoo is such a great place to be reminded of God’s awesome creation. How can one walk around a zoo without awe for our Creator? The variety, the colors, the incredible capabilities and designs, and the sheer beauty all literally shout that there is a Creator.

Some flat out deny that there is a God. The Bible has something to say about  these people–

The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1a)

We also know that all people know full well that there is a God, no matter what they say. In fact, the wonder of creation tells us–

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [g]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (Romans 1:20)

But there are far more people who give lip service to believing in God that live like atheists. While they might talk about Him creating the animals or go to church on Sunday, their day to day life is lived without Him. They are practical atheists, living as if God doesn’t exist. Uninformed and indifferent to what the Bible says about how we should live; uninterested in pleasing God, they passionately follow their own hearts and desires.

Which brings us back to that monkey and the snack he couldn’t get. Living life for our own selfish gain and to fulfill our own self-focused dreams has us grasping at the air, trying to reach the impossible. And if the impossible happens and the zookeeper actually allows us to have that “snack” , it doesn’t satisfy. It never does. It just makes us long for something more. Something different. Something better.

The things we so long for in this world are so very temporal. Not only do they not last but they just can’t satisfy. Power, popularity, wealth, fame… they are fleeting and do not fulfill.

I often think of this when I see movie stars from my era. No one cares much about them anymore. They have become yesterday’s celebrities and most have sunk back into insignificance. When you read the stories of these stars, they are generally sad, sad tales filled with the consequences of compromise and sinful choices to “make it to the top.”

Even in this current day, I watch so many who claim Christ make deep compromises in order to be popular. Can they be happy?

Compare these to the godly 90 year old who led a simple life loving and serving the Lord without compromise who dies with the hope of life eternal.

Which of these lives actually brings more peace and joy? Which do you want to be?

It all starts with acknowledging the Creator. Recognizing that God created the world. And then understanding His plan for mankind, which can only be found in the Bible, and submitting ourselves to Him, repenting of our sin, and accepting His wonderful gift of salvation as we recognize the utter impossibility of being right with God without Jesus Christ.

His transforming love and power then change us. He makes us a new creation (2 Cor 5:17); He gives us the strength to serve Him abundantly (2 Cor 9:8); He gives us joy and peace (Romans 14:17); He guards us from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3); He guides us (Proverbs 3:5-6); He works all things out for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29); He promises us eternal life with Him that is far beyond anything we could even imagine (John 14:1-4; I Corinthians 2:9).

Really reflect on these abundant blessings that we receive upon our salvation. Is there anything in this world comparable to these? Do you really think that a few years of popularity or some money can even compare to these blessings? Why do we get so caught up in the temporal?

Even we genuine Christians can struggle with this. As I write this out, I realize how silly we must look to God with our mixed-up priorities–chasing after fame and fortune (or hobbies or entertainment or having control) when we have what is really important right in front of us, freely given the instant we are saved.

But we are human. And the age-old battle still rages within us. The desire to be popular, rich, to have control, to be engrossed in things that are irrelevant and unimportant–these idols die hard.

However, the more we are in the Word, the more we see these for what they are– snacks on the other side of the glass that are often unreachable and always unsatisfying.

Oh, may we have the wisdom to take delight in the eternal and abundant blessings that are ours if we belong to Jesus Christ as we appreciate the beauty of creation that surrounds us each and every day.

 

 

The Sick Toddler

The mother eyed her whimpering toddler with grave concern. He had stopped crying. Like he had run out of the energy to even cry. That couldn’t be good.

“I think it’s time you take him to the doctor,” her husband said worriedly. The young couple had watched their little son grow worse and worse over the past two days.

Within a short time, the mother had the feverish baby strapped into his car seat and was on her way to the doctor. Every once in a while she’d look in the rear-view mirror to check on him. She grew more worried with each passing mile. What was wrong with him?

When she got to the doctor’s office, she was ushered into a room right away. Holding the hot and limp little boy, she prayed. Soon the doctor was examining him. His expression grew concerned. He sighed, stood up, and turned to the mother.

He explained what was wrong with the baby and said he had medicine to help the baby. The effect would be immediate. But there was a big problem.

“What is it?” said the mother with trepidation.

“The medicine tastes awful,” the doctor spoke as if this mattered, “he might not like it.”

“I don’t care. Make my baby well. Give him the medicine,” urged the mother.

Good health was more important than pleasant-tasting medicine to the mother who loved her son more than she loved herself.

It was more important that he be healthy than that he be happy in that moment.

I heard this illustration on a sermon series by Dr. John Whitcomb today (I’ll include the link below). I felt compelled to share in hopes that this would help you understand why the Bible clearly commands us to expose false teachers. It isn’t about dividing the Body of Christ. It never has been. It’s about loving and protecting the Body of Christ.

A few days ago I put a post on Facebook about a false teacher. He’s much beloved and, as expected, I lost many followers. Some expressed their disgust that I would share something negative about this man. The conclusion is always the same: You are absolutely sinful and wrong to do this.

But is this what the Bible actually says? Does the Bible clearly show that it is unloving and sinful to expose a false teacher? We know it doesn’t when we compare this premise to scripture. (I have written about this in the past so I won’t repeat what I wrote but you can go here for that post.) But let’s dig a little deeper into the why. Why does God want us to expose false teachers? Why does it matter?

The truth is like that awful-tasting medicine. It doesn’t taste good and, as humans, we’d just prefer not to have it. But the truth is the only thing that can keep us spiritually healthy.

There is a spiritual pandemic going on and it’s sweeping across this land and into the utter parts of the earth. It’s a pandemic of wrong beliefs without any biblical basis. It’s a pandemic of strong opinions dominated by personal experience. It’s a pandemic of declarations and prophesies and zero doctrine. The landscape is simply littered with teachers who twist and warp scripture as they shout their opinions and ideas from well-lit stages to packed auditoriums.

This has led to many sick Christians. They are sick because they are listening to and heeding false teachers. And there are so few who are willing to speak up.

But just like that mother who loved her baby enough to give him bad-tasting medicine so that he could be well, so, too, should we love our siblings in Christ enough to tell them the truth.

For only when we know the truth can we begin to be spiritually healthy. The truth truly will set you free.

Jesus said this in John 8:31-32–

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Do you notice that the truth is only known by abiding in His Word? The Bible isn’t just an old book. It’s where we find the truth. It has been provided to give us a litmus test by which to test everything. It is the tool given to us to examine ourselves and to examine any teacher, author, or preacher that comes our way.

And so, if we truly love and care about the body of Christ we must speak up. For only this is truly love.

“Niceness” and pleasant words will never prove your love. For love is proven by actions. As we can see from the illustration above, this mother loved her son enough to frustrate his desires in the short-term because she really cared about him in the long-term. Is this any less true in the spiritual realm? What an important lesson for us all.

Look, I don’t have this down. By no means am I saying follow my example, for I have such a long way to go. The fact that it took me so long to write about Disney (which is so obviously occultic) shows me that I am certainly not immune to compromising in order to please people. Oh, that we may all (myself included) be encouraged to love people enough to speak the truth, no matter the cost.

And so I write to encourage us all. May we be loyal only to God. May we be willing to risk reputations, friendships, and whatever necessary to speak the truth for the sake of sick and hurting siblings. And may we remember that we aren’t perfect. Sometimes it is us who is sick. Let’s be willing to listen when someone speaks truth to us as well!

For only through Truth–both speaking it and listening to it— will the Body of Christ be healthy and unified in the way God intended.

 

 

Here is the excellent series by John Whitcomb that I referred to above:

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 1)

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 2)

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 3)

 

 

Eating and Exercising God’s Way

From the moment my daughter announced her wedding date, my mind started turning. Surely, this would be just the incentive I needed to spur on my weight loss. I grew excited by the prospect of having a really great reason to lose weight.

But week after week after week passed by and I could never go more than two or three days of “eating right” before I’d just cave. I’ve never been skinny but these past few years have really been a struggle, as my age, the craziness of the past two years, and my thorough enjoyment of food are a really really bad combination.

A month or so before the wedding, my goal of being a thin and attractive mother-of-the-bride started to fade from the realm of possible and became the impossible. I told myself all kinds of things, such as: “The day isn’t about me, anyway,” and “so many women my age have this problem” but it didn’t really help with the deep disappointment that reverberated in my soul every time I looked in a mirror that day. And when the photos came–well, as is often the case–they looked even worse than the mirror.

This was just not how I had hoped to look on my daughter’s wedding day.

But, you know, I’ve been thinking about this whole subject for a long, long time. As I’ve traveled along in this world beside both slender and heavy people; athletic-looking and comfy-plump looking; overweight, just-right, and too-skinny people, I’ve come to understand something important in this discussion on eating and exercising–

You cannot tell a person’s relationship with food and exercise by their weight.

We’ve all run into those people who can eat junk food all they want and never gain a pound. Are they more godly because of this? We’ve also run into those people who seem to gain two pounds for each fry they splurge on (you may even feel like that’s you!). Do those few extra pounds indicate disobedience to scripture? What about the people that put fitness ahead of God and their families? Is this good or right? I hope the answers to these questions is obvious.

So this brings us to the fact that we must understand that this question of eating and exercising goes so much deeper than how someone looks. SO. MUCH. DEEPER.

Perhaps some reflection on the questions below would be helpful for all of us–no matter what our weight. There are some things we should all think about when it comes to food and fitness.

I’ve been working through this for what seems like my whole adult life. I have struggled so to find peace. And this has led me to ask myself some really important questions:

What is my motive to lose weight/be healthy?

How does it look to please God with eating and exercising?

 

I don’t actually have the answers to this yet but I have learned a few things (or, at least, am in the process of learning these things)–

In regards to the first question: What is my motive?

• If I want to be thin for my own pride’s sake (to impress, to draw attention, to look better than others), that’s not the right reason.

• If I want to be healthy, that could be the right reason–if I want to be healthy for the right reason.

• If I want to be healthy in order to please and serve the Lord and those He has put in my life–then this is the right reason.

 

I’ve also learned some answers regarding the second question: How do I please God in this area of my life?

• There aren’t good foods and bad foods.

• It’s more about moderation and wisdom than it is about avoidance of certain foods or entire food groups or spending hours on a treadmill or at the gym.

• Consistent self-control and intentionality regarding eating and exercising–day by day, step by step– is so key. The latest fad diet or running a marathon might work…but these extremes rarely yield lasting results that keep us focused on the real reason we want to be as healthy as we are able to be.

 

God doesn’t say a whole about weight in His Word but we can gather a few things about this area of our lives from the following verses (this list is by no means exhaustive)–

Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, Lest you be filled with it and vomit. (Proverbs 25:16)

We learn from this verse that there is nothing wrong with eating sweets– just don’t overdo it!

Do not mix with winebibbers,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags(Proverbs 23:20-21)

So we learn here that we must avoid gluttony (excessive eating or drinking). Some self-examination is probably helpful in determining what excess eating looks like for us personally.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (I Corinthians 10:14)

This verse reminds us not to give eating and exercising a wrong priority in our lives. (Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 9:24-27 that a physical runner receives a perishable crown, but the race we run as believers yields an imperishable crown. How important to remember that we must keep our spiritual race the priority!)

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

It is important that we discern truth from error as health and fitness movements sweep over our cultures. Is this practice, routine, fitness philosophy, song I’m exercising to–are these things compatible with being a Christian? It’s too much to get into here, but it is safe to say that much occultism has swept into the homes of Christians through this area of fitness and even in how we eat (see here for an example of how it’s influenced fitness and here for a way it is seeping into how we eat.)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

We know that instead of eating when we are anxious we should, instead, turn to prayer. The answer for anxiety isn’t in food, it’s in keeping our mind stayed on God (Isaiah 26:3). How funny that some of us (me, for example) turn to food when we are anxious–as if that will help at all. Emotional eating is a result of not trusting God fully for the present life we live and the days that lie ahead. It’s a lifelong journey putting this into practice for those of us that struggle with this–but we must keep working at it for it is a command: Do not be anxious about anything. That’s what it says. And so we must learn to trust and pray instead of eat.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (I Corinthians 3:16-17)

Here we see that we are the temple of God. We should treat our bodies as such, eating in moderation and with self-control and keeping ourselves as healthy as is possible. Of course, ultimately, this is in the Lord’s hands so we never want to believe that we can avoid disease and death by doing certain things. While this may certainly help we mustn’t count on this. We all know the healthy runner who has a heart attack or the health nut who gets cancer. These things are in God’s sovereignty and, ultimately, we must surrender our health to the Lord.

 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

and this one, too–

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

From these verses we women (in particular) learn perhaps the most important lesson of all when it comes to this topic of weight: We don’t want to be consumed with what we look like. If we are known for anything, may it be that we fear the Lord. May it be for our service to Him. Our top priority should always be seeking the Lord.

The world tells us what we should look like. But the Lord obviously doesn’t agree or there would be a verse like this in the Bible about it–such as “Thou shalt be thin all the days of your life” or “May there not be found an overweight brother or sister among you.”

Please don’t hear me saying it’s okay to be an unhealthy weight. The Bible teaches us to take care of our bodies. But, in doing so, it is so important that we have a biblical perspective on this: It’s about balance and pleasing the Lord. It’s not about what others think of us or our obsession with being the best-looking 30, 50, or 70 year old around.

So, yeah…

I obviously struggle in this area of my life. I am still such a work “in progress” and most times I don’t feel like there is much progress. Honestly, this is probably one of the most challenging areas of my life.

I hesitated to share this here…

I know assumptions are made when I share something so personal. Sometimes condescension or ridicule are in the thoughts of those reading, even if they are never spoken. This is a risk I take with this kind of post.

I have chosen to take this risk because I wonder if there is someone else out there like me? Someone who is working through the eating and exercising question. Perhaps today you just need to know that you are not alone. I am right there with you–looking to please the Lord in this area of food and fitness and trying to discern just what that looks like from God’s Holy Word.

 

 

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