Saturday, April 18, 2015

What the Wives of Men with Servants' Hearts Want You to Understand...

...But Are Often Too Servant-Hearted Themselves to Explain to You.

Hi there.  It's me.  The wife of the most wonderful man in the world.  The Lord has blessed me with much, and with much blessing comes much responsibility.  I'm going to try my level best to keep this blog from sounding like a complaint and more like a simple explanation of a common complication that is not all that commonly understood.  Sound simple enough?  :)

I, like many women I know, am married to a man who loves to serve his fellow man.  When a need is present and a request is made, a simple "yes" comes naturally.  And when a young man is unmarried and a large portion of his time is his own, this is a wonderful, wonderful quality.  Not only do people get the assistance they need, but he has much less time to get into trouble.  This is a very good thing and should be encouraged.

Complications arise when a man takes a wife.  All of a sudden this same quality becomes both very good and very bad depending on the scenario.  And if they marry someone who loves to serve others as much as they do, which they often do, it can be very hard to know when a "yes" or a "no" is appropriate.  Bring a child into the home and the tension increases.  Add another one...and well, you get the gist.

The struggle in the home isn't usually one-sided or even a tug-of-war situation.  It's much, much more complex than that.  Husband and wife are both having their own internal conflicts because while they both want very much to meet someone else's need right away, neither of them are sure if they themselves, their spouse, and their children will be okay.

This struggle is something I understand very well because not only does my husband love to serve, he knows how to do everything.  Calling him Mr. Fix-It feels like an understatement.  Whether it's your vehicle, your appliance, your technology, your need for music, your yard work, or your heavy-lifting- he's your man.  He's also very nice to sit across a table from with a cup of coffee.  So should almost any need arise, he's a very qualified candidate for the job.  His abilities are great blessings from the Lord to our family and those around us, but as I said earlier on- with much blessing comes much responsibility.

I want to pause to make clear that the purpose of this blog is NOT to get everyone to stop asking us (him) for help.  I just want to help all who read understand that the difficulty we have when deciding how to answer you can be very profound, and to ask you to consider a man's situation when you consider asking him for his help or his time.

When a man marries, something very big happens in a very big way.  While no better than anyone else and no more important in and of himself, he becomes a vital part of someone else's life.  He becomes someone's head.  He rises to a position of authority over someone that no man outranks.  The way his wife's life goes from that moment forward is very much at his mercy.  While the Lord can and will overrule him in moments of weakness or absence, his weaknesses and absences have consequences to his wife and his children.  Like a garden that goes longer without seeing the sun than is healthy for it, so is a wife and children who go a long time without being encouraged and taken care of by the head of their family.

Do we require all of his time?  No.  Do we require most of his time?  Yes.  Do we wish he could multiply himself to take care of every need that's brought to him?  Yes.  Does God allow for that?  No.

If you only get one thing from this blog, I hope that it's this:  If ever my husband says "no" to you, or even just a "not yet",  don't let that tarnish your impression of our love for the Lord and the work that He is doing in us.  I suspect other wives in my situation experience a sinking feeling that comes after our husbands tell someone "no."  We wonder if you think that we're standing over his shoulder cackling wickedly and repeating, "He's mine!  He's all mine!"

That's just not the way that it is.  We're usually frustrated because we really don't want you to go without, but at the same time we know that our husbands can't always be the ones to help.  Someone else may be able to help you with what you need, but when it comes to our need for a husband and father, the pickings are more than slim.  He's all we've got in that department.

Again, this blog is not to say that none of your friends or relatives that are married men can help you with anything ever.  You just need to understand what you're asking when you ask it, and please be gracious with us and how we handle your requests.  (Speaking for Brad and myself) We are still very much newlyweds that don't know how to do anything right, and we need a lot of grace to be able to interact with anyone- each other and our children included.

Try not to forget how much we all need grace to live out our roles in God honoring ways.  We are guaranteed to get it wrong often.  Encourage each other and praise the Lord anyways.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Quick Testimony From A Calvinist

For most of my Christian walk I have been an Arminian by default.  Somehow Arminianisn has become the tradition held by the majority of churches in America, and it wasn't until recently that I learned an opposing view, or even that Arminianism had a name and was not the way that everyone understood the things of God.

For most of my Christian walk I have walked with nagging thoughts that I pushed to the back of my mind: "What if I'm not truly a Christian?  What if I prayed the believer's prayer wrong?  What if after I die I find out that I've missed something and God says to me, "Depart from Me for I never knew you?"

Calvinism has silenced those thoughts for me.  I realize now that that whole time the Holy Spirit had been letting me in on something, even though I couldn't understand it yet: if I have any role to play in my own salvation, no matter how hard I try, somehow, I'm going to mess it up.  If my right standing with God has anything to do with something I've done, I'm hopeless.  I simply cannot be good enough, smart enough, or holy enough under my own strength to get it right.

Now that I'm a Calvinist I have nothing to fear.  I know Who gave me the desire to follow after Christ, Who has put me in right standing with Him, and Who is making me holier day by day.  And unlike myself, He is perfect and will not fail.

Friday, August 22, 2014

What I Can't Wait Until Daylight To Tell You

If you've known me long and I have never said these words to you, I've been unloving to you, and I hope that you'll forgive me.

My friends, you're in danger.  Not all of you, but I'd be willing to bet the majority of you are.  There is a problem in our country's version of Christianity, and the problem is this:  We think that it's unloving to warn someone that they're in danger of spending eternity separated from God and in the fiery dungeon we know to be "Hell."  What we forget is that Jesus Himself modeled this for us, and when He did it, it was out of love.

Mark 10:17-27 (NASB)

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words [a]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “[b]Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Read verse 21.  Read it over and over until you grasp it fully.

My dear friends who take the time to read my blog:  I love you, and I want to know we'll spend eternity together in the light of the One True Almighty God.  That's why you must take these words to heart.  I'm willing to hurt your feelings if it means we might get to spend eternity together.  I'm willing to ruin our earthly relationship if it means that you're relationship with God might be secured.  If I don't tell you these things, I hate you, and I'm afraid I've unknowingly and carelessly hated many in my life that I'll never have the chance to love rightly again.  Tomorrow is never promised.  I sit here with the night still around me and the pouring rain outside my window, and I can't tell you with certainty that the sun will rise.  Here is one of the only things I can tell you with certainty:

You are not a good person.  You aren't.  A common misconception of God in our society is that good people are rewarded with Heaven and bad people are punished with Hell.  It's not in the Bible, and even if it were, look around you, and then look in the mirror:  there is no such thing as a good person.  Nowhere in this world can there be found a person worthy of Heaven.  A lot of you are living in comfort and disillusionment because you think you're better than those wicked people who deserve Hell.  You aren't.  I'm not.  None of us are.  Why not?  Because we've all broken God's laws.

The second I responded to my mother in a hostile tone when she told me to clean my room, I was worthy of Hell.   I was not honoring my mother like The Lord commanded.  All of the times I've been unsatisfied with what I have and wanted what another person has, I've been worthy of Hell.  I was coveting my neighbor like The Lord told me not to.  These seem like such little things to us, but they aren't to God.  He is perfect, and when we sin, we no longer belong in His presence.  If you know what God did in order to justly forgive sin, you should know that these little sins aren't really so little.

Some of you believe in a Jesus that tells you to, "Do your best, and Jesus' grace covers the rest."  Search the Bible for that.  Don't search the teachings of the Pope or the Book of Mormon- search the only Word of God that's proven truthful and infallible for thousands of years.  Search the Bible.  Here's what the Bible says about that:

Isaiah 64:6 (NASB)

6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Romans 3:10-12 (NASB)

10 as it is written,

“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”

Here's what we can glean from that:  Your best effort=like a filthy garment.  Your righteousness=not real, and useless.  If we scratch and scrape and think we have something good to offer God in return for Heaven, we'll do nothing but offend Him.  Handing Him your good deeds is the same thing to Him as handing Him something disgusting and offensive.  Nothing you can do on your own can save you from the fires of Hell.  Nothing.  Walk as many old ladies across the street as you want, it's not going to do it.  Sacrifice as much comfort and earthly possessions as you can, and you will still be too full of sin to enter into Heaven.

Here's what worries me about you, friends and family:  If this is the truth from the Bible, that I'm not good enough for Heaven and that nothing I can do on my own will get me there, why have only a few of you been so bold as to tell me this?  Either you don't love me enough to tell me, or you don't know the truth of it yourselves.  I'm afraid that for most of you, it's probably the latter.

In which case, I fear for YOU!  I've lost a lot of loved ones already in my life that never told me how sinful I was, but only encouraged me to feel good about myself.  Thoughts of them leave me in distress because I don't know if they knew the truth.  When someone knows the truth, how can they bear to keep it in?  How can they watch their loved ones walk down the wide road to Hell and never do anything to stop them?  They either don't realize it themselves and are on that same path, or they don't care enough to wan them.

This is my warning, dear friends and family.  I care about you.  I see many of you walking paths that, unless you turn back, will lead you to Hell.  It distresses me.  It keeps me up and night.  And frankly, I don't deserve to sleep until I tell you.

Now these are sensitive things, and I would much rather be talking to each of you face to face.  The problem is, many times when I suggest that sort of thing, I get avoided.  It's understandable.  I, too, was brought up under the presumption that it was better to just leave religion and politics out of conversation.  The idea was to believe whatever you want in private, but if you bring it up in public, you're only asking for trouble.  I tell you what, friends, if this sort of trouble might secure your place in Heaven, I'm asking for it.  I'm begging for it.  This is the confrontation worth troubling you about.  This confrontation is worth any anger I might receive from you initially or even life-long.  This confrontation must be had, and if the only way I can get to you is through a glowing screen, I'll go there.

This is about to get personal.

If you are pretty much any member of my family, I'm worried about you, and I want to talk to you.  If you are a Mormon, I'm worried about you, and I want to talk to you.  If you are a Roman Catholic, I'm worried about you, and I want to talk to you.  If you are a Word of Faith Christian, I'm worried about you, and I want to talk to you.  If you are a Universalist, I'm worried about you, and I want to talk to you.  If you are a Jehovah's Witness, I'm worried about you, and I want to talk to you.  If you simply think that there is no God, or that if there is one, it's not worth your time figuring it out, I'm worried about you, and I want to talk to you.  There are probably more groups of thinking that some of you hold that would worry me about your salvation, but these are the ones that most easily come to mind.  If you think I might be worried about you, I'm probably worried about you, and I want to talk to you.

We can do this any way you want.  We can talk online.  We can meet for coffee.  The best option of all: let me welcome you into my home.

If this blog scares you, it should.  It scares me.  I can't think of anything at this moment that scares me more.

Please, talk to me.

I'm not promising anything, but this will probably be my last blog for quite awhile.

I love to write.  Some days I get so inspired that I have an entire blog written out in my head before I even sit down at the computer.

However, God has laid something heavy on my heart.  I enjoy this, and I know that many are reading it, (the last time I checked, this humble little blog had 2,007 views) but I long for a more personal form of evangelism.  When I talk to you, I want to look into your eyes.  I want to hear your responses.  I want to reach you all with the Gospel by a more personal and out-of-my-comfort-zone means.  It's going to take a lot of time, effort, planning, and practice on my part, and until that sort of evangelism is happening in my life more regularly, this tool will have to rest.

Thank you for always reading, and please, please, talk to me.  I'll do my best to reach out to each of you individually with boldness, but if you think it would do us both good to talk things through, don't let me fail you.  I hope I'll reach out to you, but if I fail, I hope you'll reach out to me.  There's nothing more important than where you spend eternity.  Don't let the sun rise or set without being sure.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Quick! Before You Point That Finger, Use It To Examine Your Own Heart

It's been an unsettling week, friends.

Brad and I are not strangers to "online debates", but never before have the accusations flown so freely at us as they have this past week.  I've done my best to keep my mouth sewn shut, but now I think it might be wise to pop open a couple of stitches-just a couple-to keep the pressure from becoming a long-term injury.

I assume this could become a long-term injury because I've let it happen a couple of times before.

Everyone has regrets from their teenage years.  Mine is probably a bit different from most.

Here's something that most people don't know about me: I LOVE playing sports.  Love it.  Especially volleyball, but I also thoroughly enjoy a good game of basketball.  Why don't you know this about me?  Because in ninth grade I let myself be injured and stay injured.  Instead of standing up for myself or letting it roll off of my back, I held onto it.  I believed it.  I let it win.

Now, I knew I wasn't a star athlete.  I KNEW it.  I made mistakes sporadically when some of the girls got through every drill with absolute poise and grace.  But, I also knew that I was getting better.  I was learning.  I was training my body to move the way it needed to and to move faster.  I was confident, but I was self aware.  At least I thought I was.

During a volleyball practice, we ran a drill where we lined up and one by one did our best to get under the ball when our coach spiked it down at us.  If we missed it, it kept being our turn until we got it.  On my first attempt, I missed it.  Immediately (IMMEDIATELY) one of the senior girls began to shout at me.

"Come on, Aly!  Wake up!  What are you doing?!"

I thought it was a little unnecessary, but not atypical.  A lot of the girls were raised with that sort of thing being shouted at them as a sort of motivator.  I wasn't raised that way, but I understood it and tried not to take it personally.

Then I missed again on the second attempt.  The shouting continued.  I got more and more nervous.  I missed it the third time.  The shouting got more and more vicious.  I knew there was no way I could concentrate enough to be successful, but I had no choice but to keep trying.

Before I knew it, things were absolutely out of control.  If the situation could get more humiliating, I'm not sure how.  This girl was swearing at me at full volume.  My teammates and coach stood by, unwilling to do anything about it.  After what felt like years, the senior coach returned from the bathroom or wherever she was, and coming upon the situation in disbelief, shouted at the shouting girl, "*Anonymous*!  Shut up!  Not your job!  Aly, go get back in line."

While I was relieved that someone had stuck up for me, the damage was done.  Sports weren't fun anymore.  I thought I was getting better-I knew now that I was wrong.  I was horrible at sports and everyone in that room knew it.  No one was willing to stick up for me, but then, neither was I.

I didn't quit volleyball immediately, because I knew what the girls would say, but I knew I wasn't coming back next year.  I knew I didn't want to have anything to do with basketball.  I gave softball a go, but before we even made it to our first game, I reinjured my wrist, taking me off of the team and into the statistician's chair.  I have to admit now, I was relieved.  By the time tenth grade had come around, I had decided that it was better that I just stay out of the way of the real athletes.

The other time in my life that I've done this is when I got a dog on my own for the first and only time.

I was probably nineteen years old and I'd just been designated by my church to be our youth group's director and take up residence in the parsonage next door.  This wasn't my first place on my own, but the first place where I could have a pet.  I chose a rescued German Shepherd named Grace.

Now Grace was not as easy to care for as the dogs I'd grown up with.  She had a nervous demeanor and a nervous stomach.  She had to have a very special type of dog food because she was allergic to most of them.  When I went anywhere and left her in the yard, she would spend the entire time I was gone pacing in the exact same path from the front yard to the back yard and back again, leaving a dead trail in my lawn and working off any weight I hoped to put on her.  So, she was skinny when I got her and she stayed skinny.

It was a challenge, but I felt up to it.  Maybe she wasn't gaining weight, but she was gaining manners.  The first couple of days I had her, she wouldn't let me near her.  After a week or two she slept in bed with me and was at my feet whenever I was home.  She had digestive struggles, but I kept taking her back to the vet, trying different kinds of dog foods, and giving her whatever pills the vet prescribed (which I'm sure most of you know, is no easy or cheap task).  It was hard, but it was getting better.  I was confident, but I was aware of the difficult situation I was in.  At least I thought I was.

An obsessively dog-loving woman from down the street took walks by my house every day.  She had a few German Shepherds of her own, so she recognized immediately that mine was a special case.  One day when I wasn't home but some friends of mine were at the house, she knocked on the door and demanded that someone come out and feed the dog.  They explained to her that I had fed the dog before I left and that if her bowl's empty, it's because she just finished it.  Of course, she didn't believe them.  She began stopping by my house regularly to make threats to them to pass on to me that she was going to call the dog catcher and report me.  (I still think it's interesting that she only did this when my car wasn't parked out front.)

She didn't, but she did start dropping food over the fence when she went by.  My friends (this was a family that had found themselves temporarily homeless and were staying with me btw.  Just in case you were confused as to why there were always people at my house when I wasn't there), found this really funny because Grace always snubbed the food she tried to give her and it was usually just left out there until I cleaned it up.  A woman from my church who lived nearby saw her doing this one evening and reprimanded her, telling her that it was against the law to go putting things in other people yards.

So she came up with a different plan.  I got a call one night that this woman had opened the gate and called to Grace to get her to come out to where she could feed her on the street.  Instead of things going the way she had planned, Grace darted off and ran away.  Apparently the woman just went home.  A bunch of the youth kids and I spent an hour or two walking the streets and calling for Grace.  Eventually we found her and brought her home.

During this time, I knew this woman was crazy, but I wasn't totally sure that she was all the way wrong.  I should have been, but I wasn't.   I started to doubt myself.  I started wondering if maybe I wasn't doing enough for Grace.  Maybe it was my fault she was sickly.  Maybe I was negligent.  She started getting into my head.

Things seemed to die down for a couple of weeks, but I was still reeling over it in my mind.  I felt like no matter how much I was trying to do for Grace, it wasn't enough.

Then, I got a phone call from a different woman.  She told me that she had a house in the country, a few German Shepherds, and happened to be expert on training and caring for them.  She told me that she'd heard through the grapevine that I was struggling to care for one and said that she'd be willing to take her on if I was ready to give up.  It was a tough decision, but as thoroughly brow-beaten and confidence depleted as I was, I told her she could.

I assumed that she would call later to make arrangements to meet with me and hand her off.  When I got home from work, my dog was gone.

No one seemed to think I was capable of caring for this dog with her special needs, and neither did I anymore.  I assumed I had done the right thing and I was thankful it was all over.  And it was, for a couple of days.

With no dog to take care of in the evenings anymore, I started going over to the church pretty frequently to play the piano.  I never saw any need to lock the door behind me, until the night that made me sure to never make that mistake again.

While playing the piano and singing alone in the church, I heard the front door open.  I was a little embarrassed that someone might have heard me singing, but that little bit of humiliation paled in comparison to what I was about to experience.

A somewhat big, wild-haired woman appeared in the doorway of the sanctuary.

"Are you Aly Lugo?"
"I've got something to say to you-"

Thankfully I don't remember her entire speech well enough to remember in which order it went.  It included a few phrases that I'll never forget, though:  "You are pond scum," "I wish nothing good for you in your life," and, "I hope they tie your tubes before you reproduce, because you are not fit for motherhood."

When she was finally finished, I said what I thought was the only way I could respond in love, though I realize now that it probably only came off as snarky: "Alright.  Have a good night."

She left.  I left myself cool off for a day or two, and then I told my mom about it.  And then she called the police, like any good mother should lol :)  She suggested, and I admitted, that it was possible this woman was not satisfied, not sane, and could become violent.  So we filed a police report of the incident and he told us he'd make a call to her house to warn her to stay away from me or action would be taken.  I never heard from her again.

Again, like the volleyball incident, I went from being confident and motivated, to being mishandled, to giving up and siding with my accusers.  I let my teammate keep me from sports.  I let this woman keep me from owning a pet.  I even let her words into my mind enough that I was unsure whether or not I should have kids.  I can't tell you how many times I've doubted myself as a parent and her words have began ringing in my head as clearly as if it were yesterday.

Let's look back at this past week, shall we?  It's much different from these two incidents, because these wounds came from friends.  I'd go so far as to say well-intentioned friends.

Here's how Brad and I viewed our decision to post articles concerning the most recent news out of the Acts 29 Network:  Our faith had been encouraged.  Mighty men of the faith were standing together to tell the world, (I'm not quoting them) "Our dear friend Mark Driscoll is no longer fit for ministry.  He has produced scandal after scandal, we have approached him in seriousness time and again, and he is not repenting.  We love him, we pray that his lack of repentance is not life-long, but we will not continue to allow him to taint the name of Jesus Christ from within our association."  To us, and to many others, this is an encouraging message.  It's not encouraging that he's failing.  It's not encouraging that it's come to this.  But, it is wholly encouraging that if an under-shepherd of the Lord Jesus Christ becomes rebellious and out of control, more sober minded under-shepherds are going to do something about it to protect the sheep.  It's painful to all of us.  It is not a happy, cheer for joy celebration.  It is what it is, and God is good.

Here is the sort of response we have gotten (from people who appeared to have confidence in us up until this very point):  We have been called gossips.  We have been accused of publicly assaulting people.  We have been associated with the lynch mob (and I have no doubt there is one, but it's not going to be meeting in our home anytime soon).   We have been compared to spiders who eat their young.  We have been explained away as being jealous of a flourishing ministry (and our church's...isn't flourishing?).  And worst of all, we have been labeled bad representations of Jesus.

I love these people, accusations and all.  However, unlike the wrongful accusations I've received in the past, I'm not going to take these ones.  I'm not going to mull them over in my mind any more.  I've tried to see ourselves the way they're seeing us, and it's just not happening.  I've told my flesh to die and not keep me from seeing my error, but I still can't see it.  Should someone give me a Bible verse that rebukes me and that I can take upon myself and use to strip that sinful flesh away from myself and be made that much newer, I would take it on with absolute joy and hope.  I've tried my best to do that with these, and I just can't justify them.  So I'm going to stop trying.

And while I'm at it, I can't help but ask my accusers:  What you're accusing us of doing to Mark, are you doing it to us?  Have you watched us from afar and seen principles we've instituted in our lives that bug you, but you couldn't find a good reason from the Bible to rebuke us in them, so when something we said hit a little closer to home, it was the straw that broke the camel's back?  Is this really not the first problem you've had with us, but the first one in a series of problems that you felt justified in publicly correcting us for?

Because we know, though you've remained loving and kind to us over the past few years, that there are things we speak openly against that probably rub you the wrong way.  Youth groups.  Birth control.  Public school.  Dating.  There's probably more, but those are the ones standing out in my mind right now.  We know it kind of bugs you, but you've been okay with us.  You know we know the true Gospel, so it hasn't warranted a public squabble.  We feel the same way toward you.  We think those things might be hurting you, but so long as you have the Gospel right, it's not worth going to war over.  We want to stay good with you.  Friendships shouldn't end over things like that.

So I have to ask, why this one?  You might think you're sure from the Bible that we're wrong on this one, but we're not sure.  It may not show up on any news feeds, but we've been written encouraging messages and have been given pats on the back by quite a few Bible believing Christians that disagree with you.

So until I am given a convincing response, I'm going to treat this as a second chance.  I should not have quit volleyball.  I should not have surrendered Grace.  This time, the harsh words I've been given will not stop me.  We will continue to defend righteousness (and point out unrighteousness) so that as many as possible are not lead astray.  Where there is a way that seems right to man, but leads to death, I will call it what it is.  I will not do this in arrogance, but I will continue in boldness.  Embracing humility does not mean letting your lamp be put out, it means recognizing when something is veiling your light, getting rid of it, and shining even brighter because there is less of your sinfulness left to smolder God's righteousness.

I'm not angry at any of you who have made accusations.  I love you all and I'm ready to forget this whole thing ever happened.  I only ask that the accusations stop until you've considered all I have to say and are ready to dialogue with sobriety and openness.

Thank you to everyone who read this extra long blog.  I pray that popping open these couple of stitches does more good than harm, and if I'm wrong I pray I am found out with hope of redemption.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

To the Woman About to Phone Planned Parenthood: My Wealth for Yours

You've just found out you're pregnant, and it's unexpected.  While most people plan these things out when they're ready for them, here you are; unprepared, unequipped, and scared to death.  You are at the most important crossroad in your life, and there are many voices on either side encouraging you to walk in their direction.  I am unapologetically on the side shouting to choose life, and I know that my opinion is as biased as they come.  However, there is something that the other side is lying to you about, whether they know it's a lie or not, and biased or unbiased, I have to tell you what it is.

They are telling you that if you carry this baby to term and attempt to care for it in your present emotional and financial state, you and your baby will both be worse off.  Here's what they don't know or won't tell you:  Both of you have just won the lottery.

When they look at that tiny little life growing in your womb, they see nothing more than a rock to be discarded.  When I look at it, I recognize it to be a diamond.

Here's just how valuable that life is:  I would trade you everything I own to spend the rest of my life caring for that sweet little life.  Sparing only the other precious lives in my home, you could have it all.  I have a car that is beyond helpful to me.  The gas mileage is great, it's reliable, and life would be hard without it.  You could have it in return for that sweet little diamond, and I would know that of the two of us, I would be far richer.  My husband and I own a home that is sturdy and comfortable.  When given the choice between it and your child, it would not even be a question.  Take the house!  I would cherish your little treasure far more.  I still can't believe that I do, but I have not only a smart phone, but an iPhone.  Next to that son or daughter of yours, it absolutely worthless!  Worth less than trash by comparison.

That might seem like a lot to sacrifice for that tiny little person in there, but I'm not done yet:  Take my legs. You've heard the expression "It costs an arm and a leg"; your child is worth literally more than that!  That precious little one, that start of a man or woman made in the image of Almighty God, is more precious to me than my ability to walk.  He or she is more precious than my sight, my hearing, and all of my other senses combined!  Should I never walk again, but have the privilege of caring for your child, I will know that I am rich and blessed beyond measure.

You might wonder:  If this is true, that my baby is really worthy of all of that, how can so many people be pro-choice?  They must have some sort of compelling reason for believing like they do that could still convince me to go through with my phone call to Planned Parenthood.

Here's something else they don't know:  They don't know that they're believing a lie, and they don't know who's telling it to them.  I and Christians who believe like I do know exactly where the lies are coming from and exactly who is profiting from every single abortion performed:  our spiritual enemy- he who puts himself in opposition to the Lord.  The father of lies himself.  The serpent in the garden who convinced Adam and Eve to hand over all of humanity to sin, death, and devastation.

Genesis 3:13-15:

13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall [d]bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Verse 15 speaks in reference to the coming of Christ, but Satan knows from the beginning that Christ will come forth from the womb of a woman, and he has spent the rest of history pursuing ways to keep children from being born.  I am convinced that Satan loves infant sacrifices (a common pagan ritual in the Old Testament), homosexuality, birth control, and abortion for that purpose above all:  they prevent children.  And if children couldn't be born or live long after being born, that was his only hope of keeping Christ from coming.  Jesus's birth was the beginning of the end for him.  But now that Jesus has been born and has already given His life on the cross to free us from the bondage of sin, what purpose does Satan have in keeping children from being born?  The less people, the less proclaimers and hearers of the Gospel.  If the Gospel can be spoken less and be kept from doing it's miraculous work of saving souls from eternal torment, he will be a little less lonely on judgement day, and he probably believes that the Lord will be a little less glorified.

Now that last part might have been a little meatier than the rest of this blog, and I apologize if I got a little too wordy, but that might be as simply as I can explain the pro-choicer's true reasons for encouraging you to throw away your treasure.  They don't understand this themselves, but from a biblical perspective, that's what it boils down to.  Children glorify God, and Satan will fight tooth and nail to prevent them.  People defending abortion are puppets in his hands.

Psalm 8:1-2:

O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have [a]displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established [b]strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

The reason people will give to try and convince you that you are better off not carrying your baby to term is that you don't have the means to emotionally and financially raise a healthy happy baby.  What Satan knows is that when you feel your baby start to move in your womb, you will experience some of the goodness of God.  He knows that when you first hold your child in your arms you will experience some of the goodness of God.  He knows that when your baby first learns to smile and has a big one ready just for you, you will experience some of the goodness of God.  When he or she first says "Mama", you will experience some of the goodness of God.  He's convincing people to tell you that you will be poor and it's not worth the risk or effort.  However, he knows that when you experience these things, you will know it was a lie.

Your child is worth more than anything else you might gain in this life.  Please don't give away your treasure.  Once it's gone, there's no getting it back.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Challenge to the Facebooking Christian

"Number four, he says it is most supreme arrogance and pride for mere men to propose novel matters of faith or practice not revealed by God Himself in His Word.  He says it is the epitome of arrogance and pride as if you need some special private revelation like you’re someone really special that you’re better than everyone else in the world that just has to operate by the Bible that you think you are so special that God would have to give you a private little mystical revelation just for you, how self-centered you are, it is arrogance, it is pride.  No, what God has said to everyone He says to you."

-From Steve Lawson's message titled 'The Puritan Commitment to Sola Scriptura.'

13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is [h]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for [i]training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

-2 Timothy 3:13-17

A lot goes on on Facebook.  A lot.  Some things lighthearted and fun.  Lots of pictures that help us keep up with each other's lives though we be far away.  Some funny memes to keep the mood light.  Then there's the other side of Facebook.  The opinionated side.  I'm not saying it's a side that we should do away with.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that I'm not for keeping our opinions out of the public square.  However, I think a lot of carelessness comes out in this arena.  I've been troubled by the amount of biblical illiteracy I read from those I know to claim the name of Christ.  Ignorance isn't necessarily a sin (while it would make things a lot easier to become a Christian and then instantly understand all of the principles the Word of God has to teach us, it doesn't work that way), but with all the resources we have these days when it comes to searching the Bible, there is something you can do to prevent it. 

Here is my challenge to you, Christian who posts opinions on Facebook:  Should you choose to share your opinion, back it up with Scripture.  That's it.  That's my entire challenge to you.  If you profess to follow the Christ the Bible tells us about, show us where in His Word you get your opinions from.

Now that may sound easy enough, but there's a little more to it than that.  Back it up with Scripture-but in context.  I couldn't help but laugh aloud last night when Brad and I were reading the Bible before bed.  We were reading James.  James 4:2b-3 says this:

You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask [c]with wrong motives, so that you may spend it [d]on your pleasures.

What does verse 2b sound like?  The anthem of the Prosperity Gospel, right?  You don't have a Ferrari because you don't ask God for a Ferrari.  You're not being healed of your illness because you don't ask God to heal you and really believe all the way down to your toes that He'll heal you.  But then what happens in verse 3?  The Prosperity Gospel is destroyed!  In the very next verse!  "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives..."  What does the Bible say are right motives?

41 And He (Jesus) withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

-Luke 22:41-42

So what can you ask God for and have the right motives?  "not My will, but Yours be done."  When you ask for the will of God, you'll get it.  You'll get it if you don't ask for it, too, but your heart's in the right place if you're asking for it.

All of that to say, when I ask you to back up your opinion with Scripture, don't give me a short little disputed-in-the-next-verse answer like, "You do not have because you do not ask."

On Facebook Christians share a lot of contradictory opinions, and I'm sure it has the world feeling a little motion sick.  How do we find out who's right?  Back it up with Scripture.

Now, I know there's some of you who are thinking that giving a Bible verse for everything shouldn't really be necessary.  But let me ask you, where were you before the Bible told you that Jesus died on the cross for your sins?  If you think you don't need to stand behind the authority of Scripture, you've forgotten the gospel.  

When we form opinions and model our lives after them out of our gut feelings or by following our hearts, we've forgotten the deep pit of sin our gut feelings and hearts put us in.  It was the by the Word of God that you were pulled from that pit, and by the Word of God alone can you stay out of it.  Your own feelings and ideas are sinking sand.  The Word is the only rock on which we may stand.

So next time you post a quote by Rachel Held Evans or Joel or Victoria Osteen, see if you can back it up with Scripture.  Just try it.  (And if you think it's wrong for me to name names like that, show me your verse.)

Next time you want to talk about how unloving it is to name sin and heresy openly, give me a Bible verse.
If you should get the urge to quote St. Francis of Assissi, see if you can find evidence that he actually said that.  And then back it up with Scripture.

Should you get frustrated with someone and want to share some meme about ditching all the haters or something like that (I'm sure the meme will make it sound more flowery than I did), back it up.

Next time you want to proclaim the benefits of women rising up to take what is ours, show me where the Bible says that should happen.

If you think God's good with birth control or abortion, find where He says that.

Show me where it's okay for Christians to desire to have no governing body.

When you want to stand with Israel for biblical reasons, tell me what those are.

Anyways, this is my challenge.  I've tried to back off of even appearing to be picking a fight, so if you do post these sorts of things, I won't comment on it.  This blog is my comment.  Christian, before you share, make sure it's true to the Word of God.  It may be true to you, but if it's not true to Scripture, it's time for some transformation and renewing of your mind.  (Romans 12:2)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

An Open Letter to Todd Friel

An Open Letter to Todd Friel and to every preacher who does the good Gospel work of shining a light on pornography.

Dear Mr. Friel,

Thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  With the dedication you've given to addressing the sin of pornography and not shying away to keep people comfortable, I am doubtless that the Lord's used to you to change many lives for the better.  I'm praying you'll continue with steadfastness and not let the sensitivity of the issue keep you from speaking into men's lives and awakening their consciences.  You do good work.

That said, there is something I've been meaning to write to you about.  It's a personal request, and not one that I could give you a Bible verse or make a very strong case for.  As a woman who's been shocked into a very uncomfortable knowledge of the struggles of men by her husband's courageous confession and repentance of a porn addiction after two years of marriage, I have to ask you- when you speak on the issue, will you please remember women like me?  It's been about nine months since his confession, and the overwhelming sense of dread that comes over me when the very words are spoken has not lessened by much.

I hope to, in the absolute most encouraging way, give you a few hints into what you could do to help me when you present the topic.  Though this is a very different (and more rarely occuring) topic, I feel the subject of pornography is a little like the subject of rape.  It's bad.  It needs to openly proclaimed as sin.  Men need to know what a horrible thing they do when they commit such an act.  The thing is, though, when someone speaks about the topic of rape, they're aware that there are very likely victims of rape listening, and they choose their words carefully as to prevent harming them any further.  Like a victim of rape, I have nightmares.  I have sudden crying spells.  While minding my own business throughout the day, a punch-packing thought will suddenly hit my mind and leave me holding onto something and whimpering in pain.  It's very possible that I'm just more sensitive than other women (I am currently 9 weeks pregnant- it's a probable conclusion), but just in case I'm not, there are a few things I wanted to ask of you:

1.  Please be careful to not imply that my husband has damaged himself beyond repair.

Men need to know the long term damaging effects of porn.  They NEED to.  However, please don't forget to bring up that light at the end of the tunnel.

When my pastor was counseling us, he told me that while my husband can't unsee what he's seen or erase it entirely from his mind, he can lock it away-sort of like in the trash bin of a computer-and train himself to never access it.

Sometimes when you're emphasizing the damage, I start to imagine myself in ten or twenty years still living in fear of what he's doing in his mind.  I see myself wondering if he can ever truly stay away from that trash bin for good.  While I know you mean to point out to HIM the long term damage he'll have to deal with, you're also pointing MY future filled with the effects of his damaged mind.

2.  Please tread lightly when you talk about how a porn addicted man becomes less and less attracted to his wife.

I know what you're saying.  I do.  In this miserable weak flesh, the sinful craving is always stronger than the righteous craving.

However, when you bring this aspect up, please don't stay on it long.

This is the point that actually has me here typing at 1:37 a.m.  It's hard to sleep once it gets into your mind that it's possible that every compliment your husband pays your beauty is very likely untrue to him.  We've been married for almost three years.  Since our wedding day (when I felt my most attractive) to today I've had a baby and have become pregnant with another.  My husband was addicted to porn from the age of thirteen.  If he wasn't as attracted to me as he should have been on our wedding day, I can't help but wonder if at this point I look like nothing more than some sort of farm animal to him.

This has got to be the most common thread for women married to men who have been unfaithful to them in this way: I was just not beautiful enough to keep his attention.  Whether we're beautiful in reality or not, we don't really live in reality anymore.

3.  Please say enough to keep the topic from being just one more pin prick in our day.

The constant pin pricking.  It's enough to drive anyone insane.  When you know these things about your husband, and you live in this post- sexual revolution (sexual devolution) culture, you can't avoid the pin pricking.

I don't watch T.V. anymore.  However, sometimes friends of ours will ask us to come watch something with them, and we usually do.  I mostly quit T.V. because of the commercials.  All they ever seem to amount to is about 5 or 6 pin pricks in the span of 3 minutes.  After an evening of T.V. with friends, I have been pricked to death, and often need a lot of time to recover.

I wish I didn't have to grocery shop.  I can't go anywhere without seeing at least one beautiful young woman wearing much less than what I prayed fervently that she would.  All she has to do is appear for a second, and I will spend the next 10 minutes wondering if my husband saw her.  Is he battling in his mind right now?  Is he winning?  Is he losing?  I'm right here next to him- would looking over at me help him or make the battle harder?  I'm ready to move to a cave.

All this to say, please- when you speak to this topic, don't dwell on it so long that I feel faint, but don't fly past it so quickly that it's nothing more than a pin prick with no intent and purpose.

This was very confusing to write as it's such a hard and splitting issue for me.  I'm split between the attitude that says, "Please, say more!  Continue!  Don't let this sin remain in the shadows where it's eating people alive-get it out in the open and keep it there!", and the other attitude that is weary and wants nothing more than peaceful silence.

I hope my words have come across in humility and gratitude.  This is just one small request that I have to you who do this good work: when you address him, it all sticks to me as well.  If there is a way to exhort him out of foolishness while still protecting me from pain and bitterness, I pray that you'll find it.

Thank you so much for reading and the Lord be with you always,

Aly Kinch