World View

posted in: Books, World Events | 0

Are you ever confused by everything you see on the news?  On your Facebook feed?  In the your Twitter feed?

Do you ever wonder how you are supposed to respond to all the happenings that take over everyone’s conversation?

New Growth Publishers and Marvin Olasky have put together a book of short writings that will help you know how to think with a Gospel-centered world view.  And there is nothing new under the sun.  So, while these essays will eventually not be headliners – the problems they talk about will just happen in a new way.  With new people.  In a new country or city.

Sin affects everything in our world.  And the entire world is groaning for the return of its Maker.  And Olasky helps us think rightly about the events happening in our world.  This is definitely one to read and discuss – or at least keep a journal on.  It is not a quick read – even though the articles are quite readable in length.  But, if you care about the world and how sin and the gospel impact our world, then you will want to read and digest the articles in here.

Thanks to Litfuse for this book.  All opinions are my own.

Dreamland Burning: a review

posted in: Books, World Events | 1

Earlier this week, so many of us in North America got to witness a beautiful display of God’s creativeness.  I was in the path of totality in SC, and I loved standing there, holding my almost 4 year old, seeing the moon cover the sun, shining in all of its glory, pointing directly to its Creator.

We don’t need to wait another 99 years to be in the path of totality witness the beauty of God the Creator.  We can see it every day.  In the people around us.  Whatever color we are, God created us all.

Dreamland Burning is definitely not my typical book I pick up.  But, when I have a deadline to return it to the library, I literally read 75% of it in one day.  It is so good.

Dreamland Burning is a YA fiction set in both modern day Tulsa, and in 1921 Tulsa.  It shares the story of a high school girl named Rowan (modern day) and a boy named William in 1921.  Amazingly, I didn’t get confused going back and forth, which means her writing two timelines was well-done.

Latham, the author, doesn’t make the connections of the two really cheesy or too predictable.  She uses words and names that are crucial to the story, but doesn’t use them for shock value.  She tells of the happenings, especially in 1921, in such a way that you know what’s going on but doesn’t drag out the details.

This book was captivating and I might recommend it for high school seniors, but would definitely not let them read it on their own.

Here are some thoughts: I wish books like this didn’t need to happen.  I wish my boys could grow up in a world where color really didn’t matter.  I wish my little boy could always have a little friend, named Austen, who is black, lives next door, have birthdays in the same week, and no one would ever thinks that’s odd.  I wish we didn’t pick out county that we lived in because the schools are better.  I wish churches didn’t have to exist so they could be the reconciliation – because reconciliation wouldn’t need to happen.

But, we live in a sinful world.  The only world where we will ever be free of racial injustice is heaven.  And for sure, there will be people of every race in Heaven, worshipping Jesus, because Jesus died for every race, tribe, tongue, and nation.

In the meantime, since we live in a sin-filled, broken world, we need to talk about race, the gospel of reconciliation, and how we can pursue peace.

Humility: A Christian Response to the Election

posted in: World Events | 1

The election and humility

West Wing.  Such a great show.  My husband and I had heard for so many years that this was definitely a show to binge on, and we finally started it about a year ago. We took a small hiatus, and finally started it back up again last night in season 4.  (No spoilers please).  Last night we watched an episode where they interviewed past Presidents and some WH staff.  It was very interesting, especially hearing Bill Clinton, who may very well be the “First Mister” in two days.

Every four years, we as Americans get the chance to witness an act that brings out the best and the worst of Americans.  The election of POTUS clogs up social media, runs every news hour, and is the topic of many church sermons.  Some of that is warranted, some of it is overdone.

I have been reading Hannah Anderson’s new book Humble Roots, and although the topic of the book is so far from the POTUS election, it is on a state of heart that would do us well to have during this election season.  If you follow social media at all, most people are uptight about this election, because no matter where you fall in political position, most likely neither candidate, or any write in, or third party, will line up exactly with all of your beliefs, or really has a chance of winning.  We joke about electing Charlie Brown, or Jed Bartlett, or George Washington, or any member of the Cubs baseball organization.  We can’t control the outcome of the election.

“All your anxiety, all your worry, all your sleeplessness, can’t change a thing.  And suddenly you come face to face with your limitations.”

As I have come to know the past couple of days, there are really only a few responses that we have as Christians.  After the voting takes place, we don’t need to fret, or complain, or trash the candidates, or even joke about moving to another country depending on who wins the office.  Below I’ve listed some of the responses that we can have:

  1.  We can realize that we aren’t the POTUS.  We aren’t the one sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office, jetting around on Airforce One, signing lots of bills into place.  And with that in mind, I don’t think we can even begin to criticize what the POTUS does.  When we criticize someone in the office, or any elected office, we display a heart of pride.  And ungratefulness.  Humility and gratitude go hand in hand like a beautifully wrapped package.  Our humility allows us to rest and not criticize or be anxious.  This goes with so much in life, which includes the coming election.  “So what does it mean to trust Jesus for rest?  How does seeking His kingdom free us from anxiety and stress?  He frees us from our burdens in the most unexpected way: He frees us by calling us to rely less on ourselves and more on Him.  He frees us by calling us to humility.”
  2. We can pray.  We can pray to a God who puts all the kings and presidents in place.  We can pray to a God who is in control of every election and every vote in every country in the world.  We can pray to a God who grieves over the sin of abortion and the mistreatment of refugees, and the abuse of women, and the lack of leadership, and a lack of acknowledgment of Him as the True King.  He is so more able than we are.  I think much of our anxiety regarding life, motherhood, or the POTUS election is based in our lack of trust and failure to pray.
  3. We can pray FOR the POTUS – whoever it might be.  Whether we have a Clinton or a Trump – we only have one response to them – to pray for them.  To respect them as their position calls for.  Our bashing of the POTUS speaks only of our disobedience.  We are to submit ourselves to the POTUS because God has put that person in place of leadership.  That doesn’t mean we have to perform abortions or do anything against the Word of God.  We don’t have to change our political beliefs.  We do need to pray, be gracious to others who might have differing opinions, and be active in a gracious, humble way.  Being rebellious to the Word of God by bashing the President will not bring glory to the name of Jesus, who has called to us obey HIM above all.

Humble Roots is a fabulous book y’all.  Especially as a mom of littles and a creative and blogger, I often read books that talk so much about how to deal with our frazzled lives.  How to balance, plan, organize, etc.  This book takes a different approach to our frazzled lives.  Anderson gets at the heart of our frazzled-ness.  She uses personal examples, the Word of God, and gardening (such wonderful illustrations) throughout the book to get at the heart of our wrecked lives.

“And so we must respond to Jesus’ call.  We must come to Him.  We must come to Him and learn of His gentleness and humility.  We must come to Him to be tamed.”

All quotes taken from Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson.  Published by Moody.  Thank you for Moody for sending me the book as part of their review program.  All opinions are my own.

Raising Boys in a Post-Biblical Marriage Culture

Raising Boys in the Post-Biblical Marriage Culture

It is no surprise to most people that the SCOTUS handed down a favorable win for same-sex marriage yesterday.  This doesn’t surprise me at all because we are not a theocracy nor are most of the people in government controlled by the Bible. In a way I don’t find fault with a non-Christian society to assume that all marriage should be allowed.

However, even though my family lives in America, we are more controlled by the God of the Bible and know that He is sovereign over all, Jesus is no longer in the tomb, and God even controls the government and the leaders and the decisions by His sovereign will.

That being said, I, as a parent to two little boys, have a God-given responsibility and grace to teach these little ones in my care (and my husband’s care) about a biblical view of marriage and how to be men of God.  So I’ve thought about it the last couple of days and here are some points that I will be instilling in their little souls and will pray that God captures their hearts at an early age, that they grow up to fight for Truth and freedom, and that they love God with all their hearts.

1.  God’s Word is the Truth.  There is no false teaching in the Bible.  Every word of it is true.  It is the final authority.  In our lives, it is the final authority now.  Unfortunately, those who don’t know Jesus don’t live under this truth.  They choose to disobey a loving God who has a great plan for their lives.  They will one day know that God is the only God and his truth is supreme.  2 Timothy 3.16-17

2.  God has called them to be men.  Men.  Men of truth, valor, and integrity.  Men who love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  Men who will unite themselves to one woman for the rest of their lives and seek to live out the Gospel in their home.  Men who will lead, provide, and protect their wives and children.  Men who will fight for justice.  Men who will stand for truth. Ephesians 5

3.  God is Ruler over everything.  Many places throughout the Bible we see God the Father orchestrating the hands of government to do his will.  This decision of the SCOTUS does not surprise him one bit.  He is the Ruler and He knows all.  He has a great plan for His great fame in this country and the world. Psalm 97

4.  #lovewins is not about gay marriage.  Love won the day Jesus conquered the grave after he died for our sin. ! Corinthians 15

5.  Gospel applies to all.  When we encounter those who do not believe the truth of the Bible we have one response – to love them as Christ loved them and point them to their need for a Savior.  Romans 3

6.  They are sinners.  My boys need the Gospel. Their mommy and daddy need the gospel.  Just because we will teach them that gay marriage is wrong (against God’s final authority) doesn’t make us better.  We need Jesus. Romans 6-7

7.  Love truth.  I will teach them to love truth in every walk of life.  In playing with their friends, in learning about the Bible, in standing up for justice and truth in their school, in not shrinking back when lies prevail.  Psalm 119.9

It was a sad day.  But, I have a responsibility to my children to train them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord and will pray that they will know the Truth and the Truth will set them free.

To Walk in Newness: A Response to Charleston

posted in: ethics, World Events | 1

Newness for Charleston

One of my favorite cities is under attack this week.  Not only the city – but more importantly a church filled with brothers and sisters in Christ – those who profess to know the Truth of the Gospel.  We’ve seen prayer vigils and heard stories and listened to news accounts.

While this event in no way surprises me, it does sadden me greatly.  It doesn’t surprise me because we live in a fallen world and sinners are just going to do what sinners do: sin.  At times that sin is so hideous that it makes the front page of every news station in America.  It shouldn’t surprise us because our country has never been free from racial tension and will never be free of racial tension.

It saddens me because all of us are broken people.  Every single person in this world is broken and is need of restoration.  Brokenness lies in the church and outside the church.  The best thing about this brokenness is that we can be pieced back together.

Scripture is so clear of our brokenness.  I’ve been studying the book of Nehemiah and the walls that he was called to rebuild were broken and in shambles.  So clearly evidenced in the lives of the people who lived there and the wall itself.  He was called to restore it.  Nehemiah showed the people how to restore.  Jesus is our physical and spiritual restorer.  He came to fix the broken.

Just as we’ve seen in Baltimore, in DC, in OK, in Charleston, and in schools and neighborhoods and stores and families all across this country every single day: race builds a wall – a shattered broken destroyed wall that shatters relationships and community and thriving.

As partakers of the Gospel we can share healing, restoration, and grace (aka CHRIST) with the broken who live near us.  I see this in so many ways as families I know personally adopt or foster children of different races.  This is such a picture of healing to me.  Of loving someone other than yourself.  Of being Jesus with skin on.

“Because of this decision we don’t evaluate

people by what they have or how they look.  We looked at the Messiah

that way once and got it all wrong, as you know.  We certainly don’t

look at him that way anymore.  Now we look inside, and what we see if that anyone

united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.  The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!

All this comes from the God who settled the relationship

between us and him, and then called us to settle

our relationships with each other.  God put the world square with himself

through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.

God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing.  We are Christ’s representatives.”

2 Corinthians 5

Hope in a Sexually-Broken World

Hope in a Sexually-Broken World

Sex. God created it. Blessed it. He saw that it was good.

Then sin destroyed it. Sin distorts and kills everything.

There is only one hope for sin: Jesus.

In the Fall, I heard Dr. Albert Mohler give a talk at my church.  He shared the trauma and results of living in a sexually-broken world. How far and wide its affects are. This one area touches so many other avenues in the churches, our homes, our societies, and our world.

Allow me to explain what I mean when I say a “sexually-broken”: anything outside of God’s amazing plan for a hope-filled, Christ-exalting sex life within a marriage of two people: a man and a woman, for life.  Everything else is sin.  And that leads to a sexually-broken world.

This brokenness can come in the form of physical/sexual abuse, pornography, lust, rape, addictions (think 50 Shades of Gray), homosexuality, sex-trafficking, prostitution…the list could go on.

Some of you might not be aware of how pervasive this brokenness is.  But, look that the Super Bowl for example: one of the highest profiting days for selling sex.

Some of you might not think that this brokenness affects you.  But, I assure it does.  Sexual sin affected me starting in college.  Not my own, but someone else’s.  This still affects my thought life to some degree.  Then my own sexual sin left scars of guilt in my heart that I still carry now (and I fight with the truth of forgiveness and the power of the Gospel).  You probably know friends who have been raped, abused, who are addicted to pornography, who struggle with lust, who have had sex before marriage, who do not have wonderfully fulfilling sexual relations in marriage, or who bring sexual scars into their marriage and suffer mentally and physically from them.

Now, that we know a little of the problem, how we do fix our sexual-brokenness? Hownestly – we can’t.  We need a Fixer. That’s why Jesus came.  During His time on earth, he did ministry in the life of at last three women who were sexually broken: Mary Magdelene, the woman at the well in John 4, and the woman who was caught in adultery.  His blood on the cross covered all of our sins – not just our sexual sinfulness.

You may be the cause of your own brokenness (your sinful addictions, etc), or the brokenness may come from the outside (rape, abuse, bondage, etc).  Once we have that relationship with Jesus, there are a few things that will offer hope in Christ and the Gospel:

  1. First, if you are in a dangerous, life-threatening, abusive relationships, get help now.  Exit the situation.  Cry for intervention.
  2. Realize your own brokenness.  This is something that has been helpful for me in the past year: admitting my failures and admitting how I am feeling.  Know that sin is sin.  If God would mark iniquity who of us could stand (Psalm 130:3)?  Here is an example: I am angry or hurt.  How often are we encouraged to hide our hurt or made to feel ashamed of it?  This admittance is helpful and not a sign of weakness.  We can confess our brokenness and engage our feelings with the Lord.  The Holy Spirit dwells in us and helps us in our weakness.
  3. Seek counseling. I personally would recommend a biblical counselor (See ACBC for help).  Another go to would be a Christ-exalting pastor/wife you know.  One of my sweet friends recently suggested this to me.  Find someone whom you can confide and who will weep with you and feed you truth (not let you continue in sin).
  4. Journal.  This is a form of meditation which is definitely recommended from the Psalmists.  This has been a huge help to me this year.  My friend and also a pastor friend of mine encouraged me in this and it has been a tremendous blessing.  The Psalms are a great place to start!  There are so many trials, blessings, Godward-cries, even sexual sin in this gem (Psalm 51).  Its answers are the very healing words of God.
  5. Seek repentance.  He is faithful to forgive (1 John 1.8)  If you are the committing the sexual sin then turn from it.  Keep turning from it.  My husband mentioned the idea of starving your sinful appetites.  They will diminish if you starve them. Satan may have you in a snare but Christ is the chain-breaker.
  6. Forgive.  Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.  Truely forgiving means not holding it against that person for the rest of his/her life.  Christ can and wants to bring healing.  In the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6), Jesus instructs his followers to pray that God would forgive their debts as we forgive our debtors.
  7. Believe God at his Word.  There is hope!  He is the deliverer.  He is the chain-breaker.  He is the Healer.  He wants your good!  Love protects.  God wins.  Heaven is real. You are precious and beautiful and bought with the blood of Christ.  I loved this quote in Megan Cox’s book Give Her Wings: “Hard men believe that Jesus is a hard man.  Which means they do not really know him.  Believe if you know Jesus you understand His mercies.” (p 100)

Please know that there is no easy answer for sexual brokenness.  Healing is hard.  Jesus brings freedom and healing and hope and love.  That doesn’t mean we still don’t live in a sin-plagued world that wreaks of death.  We will have the consequences of sin.

Jesus offers hope.

Jesus’ love protects and is faithful.

You can be victorious in Jesus.

(This post is sponsored by heart.hope.justice and Give Her Wings.  Megan Cox has just written this new book as a devotional for those who have been affected by abuse.  In is she shares her own story, or years of counseling, and Gospel-focused hope.  What I found helpful in this book is the Christ-exalting message on so many of its pages.  Counseling won’t solve all your problems.  Jesus is the answer for everything.  heart.hope.justice is a dream of mine.  Its partial goal is to bring healing and financial help in the area of sexual brokenness by an artwork that I did – and the proceeds will go to help some sex-trafficking end it movements.)

A Christian’s Response to Death

posted in: Bible, World Events | 0

Christian's Response to Death

There is so much heart ache in this world.  As I’ve been reading the Old Testament this morning, specifically Genesis and Exodus so far – there is much death in those books.  However, one key theme I see run across all those pages – and even the pages of my life today: the faithfulness of God.  There is hurt, there is weeping.  Those are right responses.  Death is traumatic because we weren’t created (in the beginning) to face it.  But…

He promises.

He keeps.

He covenants.

He remembers.

He is the same.

He never changes.

He is the giver of life.

He is the taker of life.

He is good.  He is faithful.  When all else fails.  Including Death.

Seeing Ourselves in the Face of Kermit Gosnell

posted in: ethics, World Events | 2

Yesterday, my husband, son, and I had the pleasure of seeing our next child on a television screen (an ultrasound machine).  Waving arms, moving head, kicking feet, beating heart.  These things told us this little baby was alive and well.  But, we also know that this little baby is a gift of God and life is precious.  There is no way that we would ever intentionally hurt this baby.

The reports of Gosnell, the abortion doctor in Pennsylvania, doesn’t seem to have the same regard for the human life.  I’ll spare you on the details, but they are gruesome and horrendous.  If you haven’t read any of the reports, trust me on that one.  I’ve read half an article and my husband stopped me this morning, “why are you reading this” – tears flowed as I started talking about it, wondering how anyone could do this to helpless babies or women.

But, I’m not here to point fingers at Gosnell.  He has done wrong.  He will either trust the Gospel on this earth or face the judgment and wrath of God in the next life.  That is for certain.  The wrath of God goes out to those who aren’t under the salvation of Jesus Christ.

However, we are in the same boat.  So many times we can cry over the sin of Gosnell or point fingers or call him a sinner, but how often do we look at ourselves and say the same thing.  The sin that we have committed and will commit is also under the need of the blood of Christ.  Just this week let me tell you the sins that I’ve committed: anger, pride, contempt, argumentativeness, the “silent treatment”, impatience, idolatry, gluttony, and probably many more.  Why aren’t I weeping over my sing –  more often then not I justify it?  Do I really think that those sins are also in need of repentance and the gospel?

So before we go pointing fingers at the hideous, inhumane actions of Gosnell, let us also remember the truth of Romans when Paul says:

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

And let us also remember our Hope:

“And are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)

Thoughts on CFA Day

posted in: World Events | 4

I wasn’t going to enter this conversation, but thought I would after reading a few of the blogs out there on it.

1.  I go to CFA a few days a week.  The town I live in has 2 CFAs and the busiest fast food restaurant in our town is the CFA closest to our home.  I go there because they have CF Diet Coke, a fabulous unsweet tea, and the best chocolate chunk cookies.  And they have free wifi.  They have free refills.  Need I say more?  I don’t go there because the food is cheap (because it isn’t, in fact I think it is overpriced for the most part).  I don’t go there because I will only support “Christian” companies.  I go there because it has what I need and it is convenient.

2.  I love listening to the workers interact with each other and the patrons.  Tony, the manager at the one I frequent, was having a training conversation with an employee the other day and was sharing life-leadership lessons from his own life, not just what was in the CFA manual.  I love hearing management pour into their workers life-long lessons that can be used outside of the workplace.  That’s just good management and leadership.

3.  I have known several CFA employees and I know every CFA is different, but I hear things about what goes on and what is said and there seems to be just as much disrespect for authority in CFAs as there is in any fast food restaurant.  And not every employee they hire is a Christian who lives a Christ-centered life.  They may be the majority – but it isn’t the exact way it should be.

4.  I am not going to CFA today.  I went yesterday.  Does that make me a person who doesn’t believe in what they are doing?  Ha – I support CFA.  But, I just don’t like crowds or bandwagons.

5.  What is this boycott really about?  Here are some ideas: 1.  Some business leaders don’t like the success of other companies above their own.  2.  No one likes being told they are wrong (any one not in favor of biblical family values would not agree with Dan Cathy’s statement).  3.  One leadership of one company should not be able to influence city management on whether or not to have or build new CFAs in their towns.  4.  This whole thing will blow over.  5.  CFA may take some hit on their books for July – but they are still standing behind what they said.  6.  We have no reason to discriminate against gays and lesbians or folks who just don’t like other people telling anyone else they are wrong.  Truth will win out (and that truth is found in the Word of God).  7.  As far as I know and have read Scripture, having unbiblical family values  or a different sexual orientation isn’t the unpardonable sin.  There are many other sins mentioned in the Bible – ones that I do and many other believers who are eating 3 meals at CFA today do: lie, gossip, gluttony, pornography, not go to church, not witness to their neighbors (eating 3 meals at CFA today and not mentioning Jesus is not witnessing in my opinion), debt, consumerism, etc.

6.  If you are eating 3 meals at CFA today, think about these things: what are your motives (is it to be right or is it done out of love and faith – since things done without faith is sin), are you spending more than you have budgeted for your food this week, is it gluttonous for you to be eating 3 meals there, and have you told anyone that Jesus loves sinners.  We were made to glorify God – not Eat Mor Chikn.