Monday, December 31, 2012

The Web

I walked through autumn
the colors enchanted me
shining through a weakening sun
I was swept into the wood
Wandering through a rain of leaves
as I walked I spoke with my lord
exchanging pleasantries about the day
but soon a silken web wound about me
entangling delicately a sparkling silver  restraint
unable to go on I paused to be free

apprehended  as I was
I knew in my soul it was His desire to stop me so
apprehended by my lord
in gentle silken bands
of yearning and  mercy
caught in the tender trap of his love and call

apprehend me my lord
catch me away from myself and my intentions
capture me and hold me until the stillness is within my soul
and I am sure of the way to continue
hold me until I am subdued
at peace


The beauty of a winter afternoon
 is only found by a seeking mind

the soft sun backlights
the bones of the trees
like  moonlight
outlining her body
diaphanous and thin

cold wind
soaked in dampness
lifts your face yet
tries to close your eyes
it is too rare to put up for public display
the nakedness of this earth

the lovliness of grey
breaks my heart
until I cry
tear shaped ice glitters
in the gentle winter afternoon light

only a seeking mind
will find this beauty
beauty that is enough



Outside everything was easy to identify
Pleasant words
Easily traced the outline
everyone could see

One dimension
flat and shiny
She thought it once mattered
But it was worthless at the end of the day

Digging through the flesh
Cutting open the superficial
There was bedrock of

Above everything
Black and white
But she didn’t know if it had any value after all

She wasn’t made of pretty
She wasn’t only smiles and perfection
She wanted to find mercy and grace
But like the curves of a medieval angel
There were none inside her thin heart

She thought fairness was enough
Wasn’t justice His heart?
Her soul had never been parted from His
She ached to be apart from Him

But the shiny package was empty inside
All she had to give was
A whip that drove her
To uphold fairness at all costs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Distracting Noises

This morning I happened upon a verse I had not read before: Isaiah 30:33
"Topheth has long been prepared;  it has been made ready for the king. 
Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; 
the breath of the LORD, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze."

Pretty strong language.
 I was curious. What is Topheth? 
What in the world happened there? Why does God’s Holy anger burn against it so? 

I did a little research. And I found out basically, it all goes back to sin.

Doesn't everything?

First, there was a god called Molech. Its origins are in all ways evil. It was a god who produced sun, or warmth - in theory of course. In practice Molech was only appeased by death. Primarily the death of children. First born, new born, babies. Or perhaps, if the need was there, some children up to age six or so.
Really? The death, by sacrifice, of babies?

Think about it.
Don’t let your brain go all Hollywood and visualize drums beating and crazy people carrying babies to a big fire then…
Cut! Crying mother and its over.
This was real. You can go to archaeological digs in the Middle East right now and see thousands of dead baby bones. Thousands of dead babies. One account says at one point the nobles- the upper class, affluent people- thought the god was angry with them because instead of giving their own babies they were buying babies from poor people and giving them as a substitute sacrifice. So their response was to repent and offer up 200 of their children all at once. But in their zeal more than 300 children were actually slaughtered.

The god was represented by a large hollow metal statue. Being the god of the sun’s warmth a fire was lit inside of the statue. Some accounts have the tiny babies being dumped inside the hollow burning part all at once. Some say the statue had outstretched hands ready to receive the little ones. Perhaps it was spring loaded and then fed the children into its own fiery belly. One account says that was probably too mechanically complex. The babies were just placed in the statues’ hands and left to slowly burn to death over several hours as the fires grew hotter and the heat transferred throughout the statues’ metal body.

Do you think that precious innocent one was screaming in terror and pain?
Crying out in the confusion of being abandoned and tortured?
If they were old enough, calling out, “mama, mama”...

Without a doubt they were crying.

So how do you keep a parent from being moved by this? 
Play the drums louder. 
Add some horns and flutes. Chant.
How do you keep anyone from being moved by this?
Mask over their cries with distracting noise.

The practice of Molech’s sacrifices has gone on for a very long time. Leviticus shows us God’s admonition to the Israelites way back in chapter 18 verse 21 
 "Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD." 
 Even though this edict is very plain, some leaders and people of Israel actually practiced this ritual. Where?


It was a place right outside of Jerusalem where the sacrifices were performed. The word means “altar” but it was not a place of beauty it soon just became a garbage dump. It was a place where death and discard reigned. There was a continual fire burning, probably to mask the smell. It was also called the Valley of Hennon. This place was so vile it eventually gave birth to the Greek word Gehenna which we know today as Hell.

The Scripture from Leviticus is pretty plain and straightforward, “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD."  

Why shouldn’t you sacrifice your children?
Not because it is hurtful to the parents or will seriously deplete your population growth? 

No, because it profanes God’s name. It hurts the very core of who He is.  

We are all defined by our name. God chose to reveal Himself to us by His many descriptive names. He is our Redeemer, Provider, Healer, Shepherd and on and on. It is of great interest that God forbids sacrificing children because it compromises who He is. It profanes or negates His Holiness and goodness. What a connection. God must truly see these innocent ones as a reflection of His purity and power. He must value them as a piece of Himself; a precious reflection of the Creator of the Universe in a sweet small human form.  Don’t misunderstand, there were sacrifices of adults as well. But just as God has clearly explained to us what is right and wrong, so also the demons know evil and good. The worshipers of Molech were fully aware of the abomination, the blatant evil, involved in this practice and did it anyway because they knew, as well, the wondrous power of the holiness of God. If they were to effectively try to bring down the LORD they must fight fire with fire. Pure innocence compromised allows evil to reign.

Totally irrelevant to us today?

God’s Word is never irrelevant. It speaks to us throughout time.

I can hear the cries of the innocent babies echo from sacrificial fires burning strong and bright, right now, today. The children of the world are being sacrificed as easily as they were thousands of years ago. Every time I choose to indulge in a North American luxury and turn my face away from images of malnourished toddlers the drums beat louder. Every time I think the numbers are too great and I cannot possibly make a difference another worshiper pushes past me and tosses an innocent one into the flames.  Every time I ignore the cries of the children next door being beaten and silenced I pour fuel on the fires of evil triumphant. Each time I give in and say "some" abortions are needed...

Do not tell me that children are of value to you unless you can take a stand; do something besides cry and turn away. Do not raise your hands in praise beside me and offer worship to God as His name is profaned by your indifference and ignorance to the cries of the little ones.

I pray that one day we may truly see the Holiness of God and comprehend our unworthiness of His love. Then perhaps we can value what He holds most precious and guard it with our lives. Then perhaps we can understand how beautiful to Him our prayers for the protection of His children truly are. How valued are our few dollars when used to buy rice for hungry tummies. How life changing and life saving is our compassionate response to their needs. How tenderly loved by God we are when we simply hand a needy mother a blanket to hold her baby in instead of having it ripped from her to be tossed into the fire.

The weapons with which we fight this evil are simple: faith, hope and love. 

The greatest of these is Love.

The Bible and the End of the World: Should We Be Afraid? By Margaret Nutting Ralph

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Dalai Lama and The Christian

A man who has been assigned the title Dalai Lama will be in Williamsburg this week. I recently found out that some people, who are affiliated with a Christian Church, are going to hear him speak. They have paid for tickets and are eager to attend.


This gave me pause. I know that this Dalai Lama is a part of the Buddhist belief and is a proponent of peace. But I didn’t know much more about him. I am simply not the person to make assumptions and jump on the next train to Judgementville, so I have been reading and studying. Thankfully I have spent the past 30 years studying the Word of God and His son Jesus so I don’t have to find out what I, as a Christian, believe. I can now see the contrast and I know pretty easily where I stand on this issue.

If you are still with me I would love to share some of my thoughts about this man and His ideology.

 First of all he makes it quite easy to see what he believes and how important they are to him. On his website he states his three main commitments. They are:
the promotion of human values,
the promotion of religious harmony,
and what he sees as his responsibility to act as the free spokesperson of the Tibetans in their struggle for justice.

Sounds good.
Except for a Christian.

The promotion of human values is loosely defined as all the good things that people are capable of… Sure we can all understand that being kind and forgiving is something we should all do, but why? The Buddhist teaching wraps this around a word called Karma.
In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve. Usually, men of ordinary intellect cannot comprehend the actual reason or reasons. The definite invisible cause or causes of the visible effect is not necessarily confined to the present life, they may be traced to a proximate or remote past birth.
According to Buddhism, this inequality is due not only to heredity, environment, "nature and nurture", but also to Karma. In other words, it is the result of our own past actions and our own present doings. We ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own Heaven. We create our own Hell. We are the architects of our own fate.
They got the misery part right. According to Scripture we are all born with a sin nature that creates misery wherever we go (Romans 5:12). But this sin isn’t an accumulation of sin from our past lives. Each person is a unique and precious creation of God (Psalm 139:13-14), therefore they cannot be held responsible for the sins of another person who has died.
For the Buddhist there is only ethical living and meditative appeals to exalted beings for the hope of perhaps achieving enlightenment and ultimate Nirvana. More than likely, one will have to go through a number of reincarnations to pay off his or her vast accumulation of karmic debt.

The simple truth is we can not achieve a sinless state without Redemption from a Holy God. The Lord explains simply in the Bible that we all are far from holiness (Romans 3:23) but we can be forgiven and restored to His plan for our lives if there is a Sacrifice. And Jesus did it all for us when He died, an innocent holy offering for our sin (John 3:16)
As far as living in this enlightened state, that is what Christians do through the work of the Holy Spirit as we “grow in Christ” It isn’t difficult or unattainable to be a better person. But the key difference is that we are not doomed to pay for our sin through many sad hopeless lives. The kind things we do like feeding the hungry caring for orphans, treating the sick, we do out of love for Jesus not out of a need to break free of the sins of 20 reincarnations.

How about Number 2?
The promotion of religious harmony… Please understand that means making your religion (your personal belief) secondary to all other beliefs and not promoting your religion to anyone…ever…for any reason.
As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life. If anyone rejects Jesus he is cut off from God and eternally damned. John 14:6
This is pretty important stuff.
A person accepting Jesus’ atoning sacrifice is life or death in the largest understanding of those words to a Christian. So, if I truly believe this then sharing my faith with others is like choosing to pull a person from a burning building or from the path of a bullet.
If I truly believe my Christian faith, I must make it preeminent and not be willing to compromise my faith for another.

When asked, the Dalai Lama himself said this:
I believe it is possible to progress along a spiritual path and reconcile Christianity with Buddhism. But once a certain degree of realization has been reached, a choice between the two paths will become necessary. 

Hmmm… Make a choice is basically what he said.

His last point is about the freedom of Tibet. I am not too well versed in any of the conflict with China or the oppression of the Tibetan people, but I’m sure it is there. I applaud anyone who stands for the oppressed and tries to make life better for them. But I have a tiny inkling that this man is using his beliefs and the obvious appeal of peace for all to draw attention to a small poor country that needs help. So, as a Christian I do agree that the Tibetan people should be aided. They do not need to be converted to my faith for me to offer them help. That is not what my Jesus taught. But I certainly hope that the Dalai Lama would not place restrictions on uncompromising Christians who wanted to help his people if he had the chance to do so. As of right now it is a country closed to Christian missions.

My conclusion is this: the Dalai Lama is a simple religious leader who believes he is a reincarnated holy man. He may have a worldly peace but he does not know and trust Jesus as his personal savior. He is doing good to stand for the people of Tibet, but I cannot ascribe to his teaching about man’s karma or the need for homogeneous religions.

And finally, if you are a Christian and you are following this man as a teacher you are 100% on the wrong track. His teachings directly conflict with the basic tenants of our Christian faith and I strongly urge you to spend time with a Godly mentor and deep study of the Bible to decide which faith you truly do believe.

Some links I recommend for more information:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother’s Day a Little Early

 It was the second Sunday in May, I was almost 22, teaching preschool during the week and preparing to movie into a brand new house. I was also 4 and ½ months pregnant with our first child. My husband and I went to the nine o'clock service at our 200 year old Methodist church like we did every Sunday. After the service, as we sipped coffee, a gentleman walked up to me. He was a goofy, fun loving giant of a man who often teased the young people of our small congregation. But this time he spoke wistfully, confidentially. He leaned over to me and said,
“Happy Mother’s Day. I know the baby isn’t here yet but I don’t know why people wait to call you a mother. I think you are one now.”  

It still makes me smile to think of this great hulking man who was more comfortable with a shotgun or a fishing pole than a little pregnant woman, taking the time to talk to me about Mother’s Day.  But he said so much in those few words. 
He affirmed me as a mother.
He gave me credit for all those days of nausea and not being able to eat anything.  
All of my worry and prayers for this little one.  
All of the tiny clothes I was washing and putting away. 
All of the tiny kicks and punches.
All of the unknown fears of what would lie ahead.
All the silent secret things an expecting mother feels and thinks before other people ever acknowledge her as a mom. 
He also made me remember, my solemn responsibility to this little unborn life to guard and protect him, to nurture and love him before I ever saw him. And I suddenly felt like a mom. All those little doubts at the edge of my mind were banished with the thought, 
"I am a mother"
It was one of those small moments that you remember forever.

Thanks David, you probably never knew it, but you were the first person who ever wished me a Happy Mother’s Day.  And I treasure your words even still.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Go to sleep…Please.

I remember those years. I remember when the kids were little and feeling as if my life depended on them going to sleep. Because only when they were asleep could I be (partly) off duty. Bedtime was a time I looked forward to why couldn’t the kids?

I have to admit I was spoiled at first. My oldest son loved to sleep. I had to wake him up the first night home from the hospital in order to feed him. So bed time was no drama. And we enjoyed hanging out together anyway.

But #2 was a whole ‘nother story. As a newborn he would sleep…for 20 minutes at a stretch. With his fist coiled tightly in my hair. And his head on my shoulder. We went through some tough times for the first year or so. And the poor little guy was so unhappy. No wonder… he was exhausted.

That was when I realized the things that #1 and I did for enjoyment as we got ready for bedtime really were essential to help #2 fall asleep. Plus anything that is repeated and becomes a ritual is reassuring to kids. Children thrive on the assurance of knowing what is happening next because they have done the same thing every night. I began to think it through: The sun doesn’t just turn off like a light switch why should we expect our kids to? So here is the simple bedtime routine we used.

Everything in this routine pointed to downshifting. Life was getting slower and quieter on purpose. We sometimes watched a TV show together. One show which was preapproved and screened by mom. 
No rough and tumble wrestling with Dad. (That was done when they attacked him as he walked in the door.) Dad can be a huge help with this routine as long as you are both on the same page with the whole calming atmosphere idea. Sometimes dads can be vunerable to suggestions like pillow fights and racing up the stairs.

Having rough and tumble boys usually meant a bath was necessary before bed. But it also is a great means of relaxing, if you make it so. Warm water. Relaxing soapy head rubs. A big fluffy towel. And end with a lotion rub on little legs and shoulders, hands and feet.Then brush teeth and into their own beds.

But I had already made their room ready. Toys scooted out of sight. (My kids had to have a clutter free floor before nightfall because I always told them, If a fire fighter needs to come rescue you he shouldn’t have to walk on your Legos) Clean sheets and warm blankets turned down and ready. I had a dim light turned on so as not to use a harsh overhead light. Lights are getting progressively dimmer as they get closer to sleep. 

Then we would snuggle with our favorite books.
Invest in a collection of classic children’s books. Real paper books. No screens, just soft paper and the swish of turning pages.Use your best soothing voice and cuddle together with a story or two or three. I certainly can recommend some great night time reads.
Runaway Bunny  Margaret Wise Brown
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
The Beast in the Bathtub by Kathleen Stevens
Winnie the Pooh   by A.A.Milne (not the Disney version)
A Child’s Garden of Verse   Robert Louis Stevenson

A poll of my kids last week showed that all three named Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown as their #1 best remembered and favorite bedtime book. Every child should just be born equipped with their own copy as far as I am concerned.

Make sure the kids know how many are going to be read before you begin and stick to your guns about it. Even though this became my favorite part of the day and I could read all night we needed to have an end time.

When the books have been read, it is time for night time prayers. Even the littlest one can learn “Dear Jesus, I love you. Amen.” Use this time to begin to gently nudge them to a vibrant prayer life with their Heavenly Father. Take the time to talk about their prayer needs and encourage gratitude and worship as they talk to God. And don’t forget to pray for them as well. Your children need to hear you praying for them.

My oldest would then have me turn on music for him to fall asleep to (the child loved Motzart best) But the younger two liked stories. I highly recommend Adventures in Odyssey by Focus on the Family. They are amazingly well made Bible based stories done like old time radio dramas.  There is something dreamlike about having stories or good music floating around the room like a starry night.

Last is the tuck in and kiss. And leave the room. You are trusting them to learn how to fall asleep. And if the siblings talk a little, then that is a double bonus because whispers that mom cant hear help cement the love and trust between brothers and sisters.

Bedtime, can be your most treasured time of the day as the kids unwind and just enjoy cuddling and hanging out together. I urge you as tired as you are, don’t rush this tender sweet ritual, you will build a store of memories to hold onto forever.

links:  for Adventures in Odyssey info. They have podcasts and downloads avail here.

What is your routine? What has worked for you? Please share!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brother's Keeper

So I am worried this morning about one of my kids. They are all teenage or older and I can’t boss them around like I enjoyed doing when they were younger. What to do? Easy. Call the oldest and get him to take care of it; have him call, text, question, probe and make sure everything is ok. Yes, I did say that and I did it. And the reason why it works is because I deliberately created a relationship between them when they were younger. They were taught how to care for each other. They were taught to love each other, when they were very young.

Intentional Parenting: Deliberately building relationships.
Why not? Why not be purposeful with your kids. Don’t just react and respond to whatever they bring in. Anticipate their life needs in a month, a year, a decade. You, as a parent will not always be there. One day it will be just the brothers and sisters working together to take care of the family. And before I had kids I thought I just didn’t want the nightmare you sometimes see when mom is gone and the adult kids are feuding.

Let me start at the beginning. We wanted to have a second child soon after number one was born. But God didn’t see it that way. (See for the back story) So we ended up with a 5 (almost six year old) and a newborn. When I was pregnant people would sigh and say
Oh, it’s too bad they are so far apart in age. They will never be close.

Hmmmph. The way I saw it I had been praying for our family for years and had left it in God’s hands; if He had given us baby #2 five years after #1 then I guess He could help them love each other. And I was going to do my part to see to it that they would. Intentionaly.

To start, the age gap became one of the many reasons we decided to homeschool kid #1. The first few weeks of homeschooling with a five week old baby (who never ever slept) were like living through the zombie apocalypse, but we made it. Homeschooling gave us so much more time to spend together. We were able to do things like  kid #1 helping to bathe his brother and feel his first teeth cutting through *ouch!*. And kid #2 got to learn how to pull up to the piano and tap the keys while #1 practiced over and over. I have a delightful video somewhere of #1 trying to eat corn on the cob with no front teeth and #2 happily gnawing away at it with all four of his teeth.
They loved each other. They were brothers.

Then three years later #3 came along. It was a whole lot harder getting two boys to accept a girl into their world, but we did it. They loved her, even if she was not named WonderWoman as #2 wanted to call her.  The boys looked after her. Later on she cleaned up after them. Kid #2 came and played doll house with her, even though his house had a skate park and was owned by Anikin Skywalker. The guys baked in the heat to watch her at her horse show. She tagged along to their concerts and competitions.

And all along I would say things to them like,
“He is your brother, work it out”
“She looks up to you, don’t blow that.”
“All I want is for the three of you to come together to take good care of me when Im old: or just pay for a maid.” (haha)

I look around and I see families where the kids are cut throat about getting something more than their sibling. They keep track of everything the other siblings get. It is like there is a tally sheet of mine and yours. (And if you give each one the exact same thing that will happen anyway.) Or, God forbid, the parents instigate it by doing more for one than the other. Or parents outright belittling one sibling to another. Playing power games inside a family will tear it apart.

Please, please don’t do this.
Remember this is your FAMILY. Your tribe. Your kin. They will be there when everyone else runs. They are your blood. And when more are brought into the family  either by adoption or marriage, your cup runneth over. Don’t forget: Children are your REWARD, your INHERITANCE, Your BLESSING from God Almighty.
Your family is your treasure.

Make every effort to encourage your kids to love their siblings. Be deliberate. Say things to them like:
Your brother loves you.
Your sister needs you.
Your brother thinks you are the smartest boy in the world.
Your sister wants to do everything you do.
You can help your sister better than even I can
Your brother will listen to you when he won’t listen to anyone else.

If you create an expectation of a close relationship then it will happen. If you set them up to depend on each other then they will.

Just think about this: If your children can’t love and support each other with loyalty, who can they be loyal to?
Be encouraged today to cultivate close sibling relationships in your family. Build up and expect your kids to love each other fiercely and protectively. If your family is a big, soft, safe place your children will always run home to be with each other.

(Note: This does not mean that they will not push each other down the stairs in a laundry basket when you are not home...hahahaha)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Just for Moms: Letting Go.

I was going through some old journals the other day. (You remember when we used to write our thoughts with a pen and paper) Some of the writing was poetry, some story ideas, but mostly it was to and about my children. My oldest is finishing college and mostly not living at home now so it was quite bittersweet when I came across this entry dated summer 1988, he was almost one year old and I was learning a lesson in letting go.

“Yesterday Schuyler was sitting, playing in his room and I was hopping from one task to the other, when I felt him tug on my jeans to get my attention. One of his favorite things to do is to have me hold both of his hands as he tiptoes a silly goose-step walk as far and as long as I will walk with him. I reached down as he grabbed on and away we went down the hallway. I glanced down and saw his chubby stubbornly clenched fists wrapped securely around my fingers. I realized as we marched along that he was barely leaning on me for support to balance himself as he walked. The farther we walked the more he was balancing and stepping on his own, but he would not let go of my hands.
‘Schuy-ler’, I teased,
Big light brown eyes and a bald head mischievously turned to look up at me.
‘You really don’t need me. You can let go and do this by yourself.’ I admonished him in a semi serious tone.
He responded with a babytooth grin and an excited laugh. Then he tightened his grip and walked on.
I tried to pry his fingers from mine but each time I tried he would stop walking, begin to sway and loose that confident strut.
A little frustrated, I tried again,
‘Schuyler, you really can do this. Sometimes Mommys need to let go.’
Suddenly what I said hit me like a ton of bricks. Pride at his obvious ability to achieve his goals and keep trying was battling with a fierce protectiveness which fed my ego saying, See, he still needs you…
But I knew in my heart this truth:
Schuyler 1989
Sometimes Mommys must let go. Even though a child may be unsure of his ability sometimes the best thing a mother can do is let go and say
You can do this without me.
You can do this without me.
You can do this without me.
You can do this without me.
I just want, my sweet boy to know that I felt, in his hands that day, his inner strength and ability to do so much. I saw all the challenges and adventures life would bring to him one day and I knew he would meet them and succeed. He would, by God’s grace, make it just fine without me.”

Wow. You can imagine how those words written 25 years ago challenged me today. Had I been true to letting go? Did I give him the freedom to try to do it on his own? Probably not as much as I should have. If I had it to do over I would certainly step back a little more. It is just so hard as a mom to always know when to save the day and when to let them brush themselves off and get up on their own. I had to begin right there by taking my hand away and letting him learn to walk on his own. Falls and bumps certainly came with the autonomy, but he learned and thrived without me.

Just when you think they don’t need you they are desperately calling for help just one more time. I do remember the times when I let the children struggle to complete a task. 
Finish recopying a paper late into the evening. 
Brushing off the dirt and getting back into the soccer game. 
Struggling with a new song on the piano.
 It was not easy to keep from stepping in and helping, but I knew they would gain so much more from the struggle than from being rescued by mom. It certainly isnt easy to watch them work so hard at something that we could fix so easily. But, I encourage you to love your kids deeply, and remember sometimes Mommys need to let go.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Healing Anna

About a year ago my sweet sister sent me this message. But first let me tell you about her. She is 10 years younger than me and is one of my heroes. She has lived with MS for years and still works full time, is raising two wonderful children with her husband, and taking care of our mom. She does this with a vibrant faith in God and an uplifting inspiring outlook on everything. This is what she wrote:

  “I have had a question that has been pulling at me for quite a few months now involving healing. you know my health issues. lately i have been feeling as if i am not putting my faith where it should rest. i have been feeling that God is telling me that i am to "step out of the boat" and have faith. problem is it is scary and other people think it is not right for me to stop what i am doing and just depend on God to heal. i am at a crossroads and i don't know what to do. Other people don’t understand my conflict  i am unsure if it is a real spiritual pull or a subconscious detesting of my health state. i know this message probably makes no sense but i just had to ask. love you. take it easy.”

And this was my answer:

  I am humbled that you asked me this. This is a big question. All I can do is tell you what God has done in my life and the truths I know about Him.
I dont know if you remember that I had extreme high blood pressure when I was 18. I was on medication to save my life for more than 6 years. I was on it the whole time I was pregnant with my oldest. I began asking the same questions you asked after the first year.
I had people tell me,
 “God can heal you.”  “You don’t need to be sick.” “You need to believe God will heal you.”

I was scared to death to think about living my life outside of what the doctors were telling me to do. (You have to remember I had had two major surgeries before I was 7 years old. Sickness and Doctors were a way of life. My body let me down all the time.) So finally in 1988 I prayed and prayed about being healed. I didn’t tell anyone, I just took my pill bottle as soon as I got it from the store and wrote across the label     PRAY. 

And I did, every time I took a pill (3x per day) I would take it with prayer, thanking God for healing me. After 2 years of that and lower and lower BP readings the doctor said you don’t need this anymore. So I stopped the pills in June of 1990 and have never needed them for high BP since.

(Please note that I did not stop taking my meds, I do not believe God has given us medical advancement for no reason, if the medicine is integral to the treatment of the illness then DO NOT stop taking it until you have talked to your doctor and are sure it is absolutely the right thing to do.)

Did God heal me?
Did my prayers have anything to do with it?

The Bible says in James 5: 14-16 " Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
So I guess the answer is yes, 
God did heal me, 
                          by my faithful prayers... 
                                                           by His great mercy.

I have had other times of healing in my family but I wont go into them all here. Suffice it to say God is faithful and good.
But, I also know of a couple who had a 3 year old little girl whom they prayed for over and over, who died. And a friend whose 5 year old son died of brain cancer. Another whose step dad was killed by a doctor's mistake during a common testing procedure.

Does that mean God is not faithful? 
Does that mean God is not good? 
Does God heal everyone? 
Why not?

I dont know.

So if I were to try to answer your question I would say this: It isn’t about you. 
As much as you want to be free of this, healing is about God's glory and power, not yours. I know you aren’t looking for either of those things (power or glory), but make 100% sure that you examine your heart before you pray these prayers of outlandish faith.

Can God heal you? Do you have the faith to believe that? 
What if He doesn't? 
What.  If.   He.   Does.   Not.

Does that mean you didn’t have enough faith, didn’t pray long, hard, properly, enough? That you aren't good enough, don’t deserve His healing? 
You have to ask yourself the hard questions here, because so much is at stake.

 Basically, what I am saying is this:
Is your relationship with Jesus strong enough that if He doesn’t heal you, you two are still in love?
And if He does heal you it wouldn't make any difference in your relationship either, because you are so in love?

Do you see what I mean? Healing and miracles are not about us, they are about Him, His glory, His power, His Sovereignty. After all, your body is only a costume you are wearing for a short time. He is much more concerned with your eternity than this mortal coil.

I have a friend whose healing I have been praying for, for over 20 years now. They struggle with depression, addictions. I have wept and pleaded. I see improvement some days, some days are nightmares. They take meds for some of this and their faith has been really beaten up through this struggle. But we keep believing and hoping and pressing on.

To be perfectly honest as I typed this I have been crying and pleading with God for your healing, sweet sister. I am reckless in my prayer for you, I have nothing to lose. It breaks me to think about what you have to go through. I want with all my heart to be bold and pray great sweeping healing change into your life. But I need to remember God loves you infinitely more than I do. He has this in control. He has you in the palm of His hand and He is working in you to make you more like Him.

I hope this helps. God knows I wish I could be there and look you in the eye and tell you this. I hope this message will do for now.
That is what I wrote her about a year ago.

Post Script: As of today Anna gave me this update,
“You should also know that as of December of last year I stopped taking the medication (only on thyroid meds and vitamins) and I feel 100% better. I have had very few minor symptoms and not one relapse. I am thanking God for everyday because without him, I would be miserable. You can quote me and yes, it is a God thing. Odds are I should have had a relapse by now and God has kept me going stronger than before. I have been helping teach Lent classes, Reya's ATG group, I have had the energy to stay up and hang out with Russell and I even went to DC all day for RJ's robotics expo, then we went to the air n space museum and then Ben's chili bowl and I wasn't relying heavily on caffeine to keep me alert.”

Did you catch that? It’s “a God thing…God has kept me going stronger than before”
To Him be the Glory. Thank you Lord.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Invaluable Cargo

Let me start out with a disclaimer, this one may be a little rough around the edges. 
I am royally pissed.

I was driving home listening to a Christian radio station and the DJ was talking about some of the companies who put out April Fool’s Day ads over the past weekend. I saw some and they were generally poking fun at their product, Chick-Fil-A did one on steak burgers and so on. But this woman points out that a Canadian Airlines had one about having “child free airplane flights”.
So I look up the video as soon as I get home. Sure enough there it is with almost 250,000 views less than 24 hours after airing. It begins with an exec from the company introducing a new “service” from their company. He pleasantly asks, “…tired of kids running and screaming up and down the aisles and are looking quite simply for some peace and quiet?” 
Then a family is shown checking in with a preschooler circling a mom holding a toddler. After mom kisses the sweet little guys head the kids are seen sitting in a plastic bin (like you put your dirty shoes in) going down a conveyer belt like a suitcase. The voice over says that they will arrive “with the luggage and other kids” outside of the airplane. 
The children are then hoisted into the cargo hold where we are told they can run, scream and eat from a “state of the art feed trough”. At the end you are told this is to give you the “peace and quiet you need”.

April Fools!


So imagine this:  Next year I am going to make an April Fools video about oh, let’s see, how about handicapped people getting in line first and getting all the best parking spaces. It’s not like having no legs isn’t a choice, right? We can think of a way to get rid of them. Oh, and why not  lampoon senior citizens, good grief they aren’t going to be around much longer and what a stinking pain it is to have to wait behind them at the cash register as they count their change. They don’t even know how to get on the internet so they wont even know we have made a funny video about them. Or let’s see… what about all of those earthquake victims? The ones who are buried underneath of a shabby building didn’t deserve to live anyway, right? Gosh, is there anyone else left that I can make fun of… maybe war vets, or single mothers, starving orphans?
Do you really think anything is beyond being devalued and mocked? Don't kid yourself into thinking that I am being reactionary or extreme. 
Don't ask where do we draw the line? 

Ask Is there even a line anymore? 

 As I have studied children’s issues I have sadly found that our North American culture does not value children, for that matter most of the world doesn’t either. (And by value I mean, put your laws and your money where your mouth is.)

The numbers don’t lie:

There are 2.2 Billion children in the world.

Almost half of them live in poverty.

121 million have no education.

And 10.6 million of them died before their 5th birthday.

One fourth of the people who live in the United States are age 0-17.

21% of American children live in poverty.

For every 1000 babies under age 12 months 21 of them have been abused… and it was documented

Lastly I give you the most haunting statistic:
While they were still helpless in their mother’s womb 42 million of them from around the world were killed by abortion.

So you tell me was it funny to talk about children as inconvenient annoyances? Was it hysterical to think about pitching them into a cold dark cargo hold and setting them up with “feed troughs”? Is your peace and quiet enough to make you chuckle at the thought of storing the kids out of sight for a few hours?

Out of sight out of mind?

Maybe it wasn’t very funny to me because I see that the world has been chucking children under the floorboards of society for too long now and just turning up the music a little louder when they cry too loudly.

What in God’s name do we value anymore? What is beyond ridicule and mockery?
 It certainly doesn't seem to be human life.

Each one of these children that the video so lightly labels as cargo is a divine creation. Made with a purpose and a plan by a Master Builder. They are covered with God's hand prints; they are an eternal soul. Children are potential and power just waiting to be nurtured and tended. They hold the keys to unlock the mysteries that have stumped all of us more important adults our whole lives. For a while they need our hands to hold and our wisdom to lead them, but someday we will put our hand in theirs as they guide us to the end of this life. 
What more precious, beyond value, gift do we have other than children? Nothing at all.

Please be more careful how you hold them in your hearts, minds and words.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Keep Your Eyes on the Road

Captured Words Photography

It has been a beautiful day. I don’t know about you but when the weather is nice I seem to get distracted easily. I like to notice the new sights of Spring as I am driving along.
The trees and flowers blooming.
The home improvement projects going on.
The people driving by with their car top down.

And then I jerk back to reality.
I am driving and I need to pay attention to the road, not everything happening around me. Break lights can pop up suddenly, yellow lights turn red and cars suddenly change lanes. Paying attention isn’t a suggestion, it is a necessity. A life saving necessity. I need to concentrate on getting to my destination.

I think as Christians we need to remember there are things we can easily be distracted by. Just today I have had so many issues come at me; each one vying for my attention. Each one seemingly more important than the last. Here are just a few:

Bible prophesies. End times are coming. Have been for over 2000 years. Should I dig in and study deeply, find out every single hidden meaning, or should I just trust Jesus and keep on going. He wins in the end after all, right?

What about politics? As a Christian I should believe a certain way about a certain issue, right? And if I do then I should certainly vote for a certain politician who stands for my certain beliefs… The issues are urgent. My vote counts. Have I called my Senator/Representative/Mayor/School Board Member yet?

Raising my children. They should be smart, humble, respectful, obedient, modest, happy, self motivated, hard working, fearless, bold, friendly… And if they aren’t whose responsibility is it? Do I need to have another heart to heart talk?

Modesty. I need to be sure I am modest in my appearance. Because it is my fault if a man is tempted by me and my blue jeans. (Didn’t I hear that from a Muslim man as well?) So can I wear a tank top or not? What about shorts?

Stewardship? Do I really need those new curtains? Or should I send more money to my neighbor’s kid who is going to Honduras this summer? If I just give money am I doing enough?

Can I just offer one piece of advice?

Pay attention to the road.

What is going to keep you moving along? What is going to get you where you need to go? What is life or death? I have my top four listed here for you. Just trying to keep it simple.

#1 “In the beginning God…” Put God first in your life. Every morning wake up saying, ”Hello God, here I am ready to know you better and obey you more. Show me how.”

#2 Get to know Him more by reading His book. It’s a best seller, available in many languages with or without pictures.

And in the sequel (New Testament) you can find out about #3 His Son, Jesus. Very powerful Guy. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV John 3:16) Get to know Him better.

#4 Everyone else on the planet. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (NIV Matthew 28:19) Everyone needs to know Jesus too. Hear His words, see Him alive in someone’s life by their actions. Have the chance to breath eternal life for free.
And you know what?
                                 That’s stinking IT.

That’s all you need to worry about. Because if you worry about:
                      His Word,
                                              and telling/showing others about those 3,
                                                                                      then you have got it all DONE.

What about Prophesy, Modesty, Politics, Children, Stewardship, Organic Food, Save the Dolphins, Attend Bible Study, bla…bla…bla…bla…

In the grand scheme of things they don’t really matter as much as we let them matter.
(you have no idea how much I want to SCREAM that sentence, but I will be restrained)

All that matters is keeping your eyes on the road, keeping everyone else alive and reaching your destination. Can we strive to keep important things important? Can we just agree that we need to keep the focus on Jesus and stop fretting and beating each other up over the small stuff?

First things first.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What If You Never Accomplish a Thing

Is it any wonder that we cannot accept grace?
 I am beginning to wonder if it really is a blessing to be born a North American. All the advantages at my fingertips. I probably wont ever be homeless or starving.
I probably will always have health care for me and my children.
I probably will always have electricity, heat, ac, internet, tv, phones, clothes, shoes, any food I want.
I have spent thousands of dollars on my entertainment.
I can pursue an education from the time I am an infant until I am dead.
I have every advantage I need.
Therefore I should be perfect.

Well, maybe perfect is too strong.
Excellent. No limitations. No obstacles. No excuses. No pain no gain. No room for second place.
Good isn’t good enough.
Get the “A” in order to get the GPA. Get the GPA to get the scholarship.
Get the scholarship to get the degree. Get the degree to get the job. Get the job to get the money.
Get the money to get the power.

This makes me tired.
Not that I don’t like order and success. But really…everyday, in every aspect of life?

Perfect: education, job, car, house, spouse, kids, social life, spiritual life, retirement, death… oh, and you better look young and healthy while you do it all.

Christians are different. They don’t demand perfection. They accept.

 If only!

The Church seemingly has bought into the exact same North American definition of success. Bigger, slicker, smarter church is what people need. Make it appealing, easy, and comfortable and they will come. Study your demographics, target the people who will grow the ministry, give them what they need to make church fit into their lifestyle, and they will come.
And the more the better.

Was that the purpose?
Was religion the intention?
A Christian “lifestyle” that can be marketed and created and nurtured through more and more “stuff” (media, music and coffee)

I just want to find rest for my soul.

I want someone who loves me if I never get a degree or a scholarship. I want to be respected if I never live in a tony neighborhood or drive a shiny new car. I want to be forgiven without my offering being counted.

Captured Words Photography: Samuel D Burton

North Americans ask, “Why is God so real to Believers in Africa or South America…and not here?”
Why indeed.

Perhaps because He is the God who loves you truly madly deeply

                                                              if you never ever accomplish a thing.

                                                               That is the Jesus I fell in love with.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

And Nobody Cared

I just finished watching The Grapes of Wrath. The movie was made in 1940 with Henry Fonda and based on the award winning novel by John Steinbeck. I remember first reading the book in 11th grade. It was so tender and told the character’s stories so well that I completely missed the Socialist undertones that everyone said were there. I simply saw a family falling apart; hungry, honorable and just looking for a second chance. They needed a little help and then they would be able to overcome the devastating effects of the Great Depression and go on to be a success again. From the comfortable place of  years later I could easily see that outcome, but I am sure for those who lived through it, those were frightening times.  The numbers tell the tale today: 24.9% unemployment. That is one out of every four families… Two and a quarter million children between ages 10 and 18 went to work to help support their families and many many went hungry. I am sure it seemed as if there was nowhere for a family to turn for help. In the movie the mother of the family sums up their experience by saying,
” For a while there it looked like we was beat, good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too. Like we was lost and nobody cared. “
I cannot imagine how it was to live through that. But our country learned a great lesson and many government programs were started in the 1930’s to make sure children didn’t starve and didn’t go without clothing, shoes, and simple hygiene. Laws were passed to ensure that a terrible calamity like the Depression would not take its toll on the most helpless of victims, the children, ever again. Our country like very few others in the world has stood by that ideology ever since.
But I think everyone of us has felt a little of what Ma Joad said when she voiced her sense of loneliness and hurt, of being so helpless and alone in her desolation. Every one of us has had a time of trial when we thought, “There is no one out there who cares about me and my family. There is no one to help.” But the truth is if you are American, there is a lot of help. From the state programs that began 70 years ago to private groups who reach out to families in need.  Help is available.
This is beginning to sound like a Socialist treatise for government programs and big government. Couldn’t be farther from it. This is about defending the call to helping children everywhere.
You see, often whenever I speak about the needs of children from other countries someone somewhere will say, “What about the kids in your own backyard?”
Indeed, what about them.
I don’t often get into it but this time I am going to lay it all out.
First of all, I cannot answer for everyone who works with overseas non profits groups but for me and my family, we do care for the kids in our town. I am the mom whose house is always open to whosoever will. I hosted the big slumber/birthday/Christmas/Easter/Graduation Parties. I drove other kids to church. I bought extra Christmas presents for those who needed them. I have baby sat for single parents for free, I have given away a ton of shoes and clothes. Not bragging, Im just stating a fact. And I bet that 99.9% of everyone who works in Christian ministry to children overseas does the exact same thing. Because we love kids, no matter where they are.
Secondly, we need to help the kids in third world countries because their “Great Depression” has been going on for far too long. Economic distress, wars, famine, persecution. And they have no government to figure out how to protect them. There have been improvements in some places and some governments are trying, but mostly it’s too few too late.
There are children dying.
Every hour of every day.
For no reason other than the fact that we, who have most of the world’s wealth, can’t figure out how to live without a $4 cup of coffee everyday and share some of what we have.
A mother’s heart talking about the emptiness of being in need and feeling abandoned and alone should wrench  your heart, not just because they were true for our own people years ago, but because there is a mother in Rawanda tonight saying the same thing.
And Peru.
And India.
And Honduras.
Lastly, Jesus. This is only for those who have a close, personal, talk every night, kind of relationship with Him.  Why should we care about the children around the world not just at home? Because Jesus said to. 
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 18:10 ESV)
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
(Luke 18:15-17 ESV)
And of course there is His great command to us all,
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
So, should you care about Joseph Kony? Yes, he has done unspeakable things to our children. But you know what? You should also care about the children today who will be on the street looking through the trash for something to put in their bellies. And little girls who will be marketed for sale to the highest bidder. And the little boy who is huffing glue to forget about the pain and the cold.  And the nonprofit ministry who is crying out to God to supply the money needed to buy just a little more rice so all the kids can have one more meal tomorrow. And the national pastor who is tucking in five extra little ones who showed up looking for a place to sleep.
I know this country is full of great loving caring people who can and will take care of their own children and have enough left over to bring a few extra into their hearts as well.
There are so many groups who would love your $4 a day. Here are a few of my recommendations.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

When a Door Closes

Be careful with all of the pithy, artsy one liners you read today on Pintrest. They may come back to bite you. Yesterday I found out a desire of mine will not happen as I wanted. A prayer of mine was answered with a "no".
God shut the door.

Oh, but wait when God closes one door He opens a window
or another door
or something like that.
Isnt that what the greeting card said?
Well, Im telling you I am standing here in the hallway and all of the doors are shut.
the windows too.
And it stinks.

I texted a friend and told him as much. He replied he is there too in the same stinking hallway.

And he is ready to kick some doors down.

That is why he is my friend. He didnt fuss at me for my irreverence, He has heard enough over the years I suppose, to know better. He said he would keep praying for me and that he was ready to kick some doors.
I like that so much better.
When you are in the hallway of locked doors
Kick them down. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Samuel

“As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD.  I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there. 1 Samuel 1: 26-28

I suppose when someone gets married they usually want a family, children. It is the natural progression. To live out the love that brought the two of you together by having more people to love. I know I wanted children. I was scared. I had very little to look back on in my childhood that was right. So I thought I would just trust God and avoid the wrong.
Schuyler was 2 ½ when I thought about another child. We prayed and talked. The time would never be perfect, so why not now? Months later I was pregnant. But something was wrong. I lay on the exam table my little son beside me as they looked for a tiny heartbeat on the screen. It had been there, but not anymore. The next night I cried in pain as my heart was broken by a tiny little life that was so quickly gone. We had told everyone. I was beyond grief. My whole world was smashed. Why would God let this happen. I knew He wanted us to have another child. Why?
As my body healed my heart did not. I wept and wept. We moved far away but the unfulfilled promise of a family was unpacked with the linens. I prayed. And a year passed. And another. My little baby was now a big boy ready to go to school. I knew I heard God’s voice telling me we were incomplete. But His hand was stayed.
My young friend’s lives were full of kids, babies, diapers, husbands, school, church, kids, kids, kids. They envied me. You only have one. How wonderful. I didn’t talk to them about it. Then one day a woman older than me, her baby 10 years old, talked about wishing and hoping and praying for a baby but none came. It was my story. Someone understood. Someone else had raised her fist to God and said “what are you doing?” I sought her out. I am going to the doctor, I said. I just need an answer. No, she replied, you need a baby. God has placed this desire in your heart. He has filled you with this longing. He will be faithful to you. You have been waiting in order to be prepared for a special child. My head was spinning. This was the plan all along? Really? Pray, I told her, because I don’t have the faith right now, but you do. She placed in my hands a plaque. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.” Hannah’s prayer. Take this and return it to me when your baby is born.  My head was really spinning now. The quiet words of hope circled and danced around me. When…When… Not if but when.
I was ready to be pregnant the next day. But it did not happen; as a matter of fact I had a bad report from the doctor the next week. Her words came back: Sometimes God has a plan for a child and He prepares parents for this child. Sometimes God has plans for this special child.
My son was trudging through kindergarten. I was looking ahead to Christmas when it happened. I took the test and the answer was yes, joyfully and wonderfully yes. I was so humbled, for all of my anger and frustration God was faithful. He wasn’t even mad about all my rantings and tears.
Months into the pregnancy we had an ultrasound. We wanted to know. Boy. Girl. So many people assumed I wanted a girl. We had a boy already… But my heart whispered “ A special child, a special plan…” I knew he was a boy. Intended to be a Man of God someday. A leader.  Sure enough the technician confirmed my feelings. What to name him? I said, he has named himself…Samuel.
He was born on a warm July night. Even then he could not sleep. They thought he had lung damage. He did not. The doctor held him and prayed over him as he drew his first breaths. The he showed Joe the umbilical cord, tied in a complete, slightly tightening knot. We were told you don’t often see that. Most babies don’t survive it.
The nurses shook their heads and said gosh, I hope he sleeps for you… he did not, unless he was folded in my arms, his chubby fingers laced tightly in my hair.  Only then he slept. We were one for a long time. Sleeping, eating, and almost breathing together. He could not get enough love. Joe teased, well; you got your cuddly baby you wanted… Oh thank God yes, I did. He grew under my heart but he has never left it.
Special?  Most certainly. Just about everyone he knows can see it when they talk to him or meet him. He has a sweetness and vulnerability about him that is sometimes hidden by his mischief and adventure. What will be his call? What will he do with his life? I certainly do not know. I know he loves his Lord just like Samuel of old. And that he will always hear God’s voice speaking to him just like that little boy did in the temple’s bedrooms.
His dad and I talk at the end of the day about him. We are awed by his charm, his loyalty to his many friends. His unsinkable ambition. His ability to excel at almost everything he tries. His man like ways still wrapped in his little boy silliness. His quick temper. His firm convictions. His artist’s eye. We are so proud of him and all he has done. One day I hope he will have the chance to know this kind of crazy consuming love a parent has for their child.
I would not have changed a thing back in 1992. I still would not today.

I love you Samuel Dylan

Monday, January 23, 2012

Amazing Truth

Photo: Captured Words Photography
Yesterday in church I listened to another great message about God’s transforming power. I heard how as a young boy this Pastor learned he needed Jesus’ forgiveness, and he began to live under God’s grace as a changed, transformed Christian. It is a great story. As Christians we hear it all the time. Over and over, young and old, they come, telling about lives wretched with sin and unworthiness. Then they find God’s love and transformation in Jesus.
I love those stories but I don’t relate to them. I think it all sounds great but it isn’t my story at all.
I do understand in my heart the whole sin thing. Absolutely without a doubt I was a sinner too. Selfish, mean, lazy, vengeful… the whole ball of wax. I understand that I too need Jesus’ sinless sacrifice to make things right with God. But that wasn’t what got me to the cross. That wasn’t what turned the key and opened the door to Jesus for me.
It was truth.
Plain and simple.
The problem is that for years I have beat myself up with the idea that I wasn’t a very good Christian because I wasn’t undone by my wretchedness and my need for a Savior; a need for escape and forgiveness. I actually was a pretty good unbeliever, in the sense that I was a kinda nice person and could have slipped right by Jesus; living my nice person life without him.
Let me explain.
I was 16 and in my junior year of high school. I had a friend who had a Christian boyfriend. Not a boy who went to church but a living-breathing-every-part-of-his-life-sold-out-Christian. My friend also began to live out her new faith in the same way. They were quite a pair
We hung out together and I ate lunch with them every day.
And every day I got Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
I was asked what I believed and why I believed it. I had to think.
And that was the key to my heart.
You see, I didn’t feel wretched; no addictions, no crisis, I didn’t need Jesus. So in God’s wisdom my friends talked to me about Jesus, not me . They gave me Truth. With a capital T. That was all I needed.
We talked about what I thought I believed. And they simply asked, “Why do you believe that?” I had to think, to dig for answers. Then they said things like: “The Bible says Jesus is God’s Son, born to die. What are you going to do with that?”
That did it for me. I was challenged by the Truth. I wasn’t told how sinful I was. I wasn’t told I needed to pray, read the Bible, go to church or youth group, change my clothes, friends, or lifestyle. I wasn’t judged or shunned. These conversations went on for 9 months. They were patient and loving with me. But every day I was confronted by the mighty Truth of the Great IAM. The unquestionable LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And the Son, Jesus Christ. Messiah, Prince of Peace.
So when I tell the story of how Jesus changed my life, I say I just got to a point where I knew my friends were right. It made sense to me.
Jesus was Truth. And I wanted Him in my life.
Mr Lewis says it for me so well:
“One of the great difficulties… is the question of truth. People always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue “true –or False” into stuff about the Spanish Inquisition, or France or Poland- or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point. Only thus will you be able to undermine…their belief that a certain amount of religion is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. “
Christian Apologetics, C. S. Lewis
If you are praying for someone in your life who doesn’t yet understand or know Jesus as Savior, remember that the path to his heart may be different from the way you got there. Listen to the Holy Spirit and He will tell you the words you need. And don’t be afraid of the simple uncompromising Truth.