If you know someone who can’t hold onto hope . . . yet

The other day I was helping a friend who was moving under extremely difficult circumstances. As she and I lifted a plastic bin onto a shelf, I saw this plaque inside and recognized it as mine. “Is that yours?” I politely asked. “No, it’s yours!” she said. “You lent it to me 4 or 5 years ago, remember?” (I didn’t remember.)

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The other kind of radical

This  post is also being published today at the blog of Give Her Wings, an organization that helps and supports women leaving abusive spouses. Please visit their site.

We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Last September for my Birthday Reflections post (an annual tradition), I wrote about going down into the dark valley called The Valley of Weeping.

Today, though, I want to express my boundless praise for the gift God has given me in that valley, the people I’ve been privileged to get to know there. I want to shout out my thanksgiving to God for the faithful trauma survivors He has put in my life. Most of them were traumatized by people who claimed to be Christians, even Christian leaders. But in spite of that, these women are still following God, or longing to follow Him, in faith.

My heart swells in even thinking about them. I would far rather sit at their feet than at the feet of the most popular speaker.   

Many of them will never stand before a microphone and speak. Many of them will never write a book. Many of them will not have any sort of following at all, because they are simply trying to live their lives. If we take David Platt’s Radical as a mantra, Continue reading

The other kind of hypocrisy

This post is being simultaneously published at the website of Leslie Vernick.

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I’ve been urged to watch 13 Reasons Why to see the 13 reasons [why] a friend hates it so much. (Though I’ve read and heard enough about it to understand it, so far I’ve been able to get through only the first episode). The bullying she personally experienced at her Christian school, she said, was pretty much everything that happened in this Netflix series, and more.

One of the most important things she described to me about her school was the dynamic of bullying. Some students there were genuinely nice people, but they lived in such an environment of fear that whenever the main bullies were around, they remained silent or even participated in the bullying if necessary, so they wouldn’t become a target. (You may wonder why no one tried to alert teachers or administrators about this massive problem, but someone did and it wasn’t believed, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog post.)

So while I was pondering the dynamics of a bullying school environment that went stratospherically beyond anything I had experienced in my own high school days of mild bullying, we heard a sermon on Galatians 2.

“Well, what do you know,” says I to myself, “there it is again!”

The story goes that the apostle Peter and the other Jewish Christians were actually welcoming the Gentile Christians and even eating with them (a truly big deal in those days) . . . until the bullies came.

The bullies weren’t swaggering studs or prima donna divas; they were Continue reading

Dear sister I read about on the CBCMoscow blog post

I don’t know you, but I’d like to reply to the letter you wrote asking for counsel, which was published on this blog post, with a troubling reply. Here is your letter:

Dear Pastor,    

You’ll never believe the terrible state of my marriage. I was raised in a Christian family. My father and mother never fought. I wasn’t rebellious as a teen and my husband and I went through all the “proper” courtship process before getting married. Now, five years later, everything has fallen apart.    

Roy, my husband, who was so loving and kind in the beginning has become rude, surly, and angry all the time. The good thing is that he doesn’t hit me or the children (one boy and two girls), but he gets really quiet and spends a lot of time in the basement. Every once in a while, he does blow up and wowser, what a blow-up. He curses, yells, calls us all kinds of names, and throws things.   


We never know when he’s going to blow and what is going to cause it. We’re all walking on egg shells all the time.   

Can you fix him? Can you help us?   

Hurt & Confused    

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Here is my reply:

First, I want to tell you that I get being hurt and confused. I’ve never been in your situation, but because of many friends of mine that I’ve listened to at length, I’ve tried to imagine what it must be like to think you were getting a loving and kind husband, but then realize he’s a completely different person, a scary person, and you don’t even know who he is. Hurt and confusion are appropriate responses.

You may have counselors giving you unhelpful advice along the lines of “What were you expecting, a bed of roses?” But Continue reading

Thoughts for the hopeless from Isaiah 40

I’ve received a few heartfelt responses from readers who read Part One in my Conscience series, about the weak conscience. The responses, though, weren’t so much about the conscience as they were about Mark Driscoll and how his teachings facilitated their abusers’ abuse.

I’m still working on Part Two, which will look at the three ways the Bible describes increasingly disturbed consciences: contaminated, seared, and jettisoned. I’m looking forward to posting that as soon as possible, but for now have another thought, from encouragement the Lord gave me in His Word this past week.

I’ve mentioned before the importance of learning to pray, before reading the Scriptures, to ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes and open the understanding to receive what He wants to give. This always makes a difference as I read and meditate.

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Isaiah chapter 40 shows the God of heaven to be truly glorious. From verse 12 to the end of the chapter in verse 31, God is seen high and lifted up. So I rejoiced in that.

But my eyes came back to verses 10 and 11.

Behold, the Lord God (Adonai Jehovah) comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. 

That sounds intimidating, and appropriately so, because we’re talking about the God of heaven and Lord over the whole earth, glorious and mighty.

Behold! His reward is with Him, and His recompense is before Him.

That’s interesting. So what is His reward and His recompense?  What reward and recompense will be great enough for a God that holds the waters of the earth in the hollow of His hand and measures the dust of the earth in His scales, who counts the nations as a drop in a bucket and brings the princes of the earth to nothing (as the rest of the chapter describes)? What reward could this infinitely glorious God be referring to?

How arresting it is, then, to see this next verse, verse 11, seeming almost out of place, Continue reading

Who is Jesus Christ to me and for me?

Many lists detail Scripturally-based truths about who I am in Christ, and I love them; they’re worth much meditation.

But I would also love to see lists about who Jesus Christ is to me and for me and in me. I got to thinking about this when I was meditating on I Corinthians 1:30.

Thoughts for rejoicing!

 Jesus Christ is my Passover Sacrifice (I Cor 5:7). He was offered in my place, my substitute.

 He is my Rescuer Continue reading

The Prayer of Jabez, revisited

PrayerOfJabezWhen a theme is trendy, I tend to avoid it. For good or ill, my gut reaction is if everybody’s doing it, to back off. Shucks, I probably wouldn’t have even followed Jesus when He was on earth, because of all those crowds.

That’s why it took me about eight years to read The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. When it first came out and was all the buzz, I scorned it and turned up my nose. Then, in 2009, when I saw it on the rack at a dollar store, I shrugged and picked it up. It wasn’t trendy any more, and besides, it was my price. Continue reading