Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

1.28.2011

The Best News of the Day: I Am One of Them and so Are You!

I must have sung “Father Abraham” thousands of times. With extravagent arm-flailings as a six year old. With shivering high steps when warmth was the motivator. With matter-of-factness as our annual Family Camp ritual. And yes, even with inner sighs and begrudgings at 6 am for family worship.
And in perhaps five of those thousands of chantings I’ve wondered briefly, “What does this mean? I’m not Abraham’s son--at least as far as I know!” just before effectively eliminating any intelligent wonderings with “nod your head, turn around” performed in fast and dizzying succession. So I never reached a conclusion, for I never devoted much thought to the aerobics-highlighting children’s song. Never, that is, until one day last fall when I was in the car listening to a radio preacher.

Somehow his topic led him to mention the song “Father Abraham,” and the handful of words he used to expound on the song set my mind spinning, and not because I was going in circles. The preacher moved on to the next bullet point in his sermon, but my mind was securely fastened on “Father Abraham.”

Abraham, of course, is the father of the Jews, the “father of many nations. (Gen. 17:5)” If you, like me, have not a drop of Jewish blood in your veins, then you read the references to “Father Abraham” and sing the songs with gratitude and appreciation for Abraham’s great faith and godliness, but not with the same pride that a Jewish descendant would. So you see, we Gentiles really miss out on the unique emotions that come from reading the record of your great-great x 500 grandfather’s conversations with God. We Gentiles miss out on the preciousness of the verses that say “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac (Gen. 28:13)” because Abraham is simply not our father! We Gentiles miss out on this storm of emotions and tower of heritage that Jews glean from the Old Testament, because, quite frankly, our father’s name was not Abraham. We are seemingly disqualified from ever singing “Father Abraham” again, because although we have right arms and left arms, the genetic code behind those arms is not at all related to Abraham. We (most of us) are Gentiles, after all—not Jews, and thus our sad lot in life is to read the accounts of him in Scripture not as a beloved son but as a bystander, an onlooker, an outsider.

So joy! joy! joy! when I realized otherwise. Excitement and ecstasy bubbling over from every part of my being! Bliss of the most charismatic kind and intense elation so great that, well, it kind of makes me want to stand up, pump each limb, and turn around in circles until I’m dizzy!

For the mystery beyond mysteries is that even DNA is superseded by grace. Yes, the Jews still are God’s own special people with their own promises from God and a love from Him that is beautiful beyond human understanding (Deut. 7:6-8). But in Luke 3:8 Jesus declares that one who is not possibly a descendant of Abraham can be more of Abraham’s son than his great-grandchild: “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” John MacArthur writes, “To trust one’s physical ancestry is to shift the focus of faith away from God Himself—and that is spiritually fatal….God can sovereignly turn a heart of stone into a believing heart. He can raise up children to Abraham from inanimate objects if he chooses—or even from stony-hearted Gentiles.[1]"

And the cherry on top of all this joy is Romans 4:16-18:

“Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations" ) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, So shall your descendants be.’” (emphasis added)

We Gentiles who are saved through Jesus Christ then have reason to sing “Father Abraham” with perhaps even more gusto and fervor than the Jews, for we are partakers of a great mystery. Galatians 3:7 declares, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” We are not descendants of Abraham, and yet we may shout from the rooftops that he is our father as surely as we gloatingly brag that we are related to the likes of John Adams, John Wayne, or Jesse James. And because of that, there will be no more begrudging performances of “Father Abraham” from me. So let’s just praise the Lord! Right arm, left arm; Father Abraham had many sons…



[1] MacArthur, John.  The MacArthur Study Bible: Commentary on Luke 3:8. Word Publishing, Nashville TN, 1997.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: tyler.wainright

1.25.2011

For Glory and For Beauty

These days, one brushes shoulders with a lot of different people in one trip to the grocery store. There’s the goth girl dressed all in black, her face smudged in soot-like makeup. A man walks by looking out of place next to the refried beans in his sharp argyle sweater. A woman in sweats and a sweatshirt stands in line—right next to the girl wearing a miniskirt (in the dead of winter!), and talks to the cashier dressed in his bland white polo uniform. In addition to taking in people’s attire, we also look at their faces—and whether we like it or not, we tend to make snap judgments of their beauty and handsomeness. Although the world certainly has their standard of beauty—and it seems to involve an ever-shrinking waistline, steroid-pumped muscles, less-is-more clothing philosophies, and Barbie-plastic features—beauty is not as subjective as we’d like to think, because God Himself has set a standard of beauty for both our outward as well as our inward appearance.

Beauty is most certainly not subjective. In II Samuel 14:25, we see the kind of gushing statement we might not have expected from Scripture: “But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.” God obviously has a measuring stick by which He gauges beauty—and that measuring stick is Himself. Ultimately, God has defined beauty by order, perfection, and virtue—the more something exudes the characteristics of God, the more it is beautiful.

It is our responsibility, you see, to reflect God’s beauty in the way we dress, in the way we do or do not apply our makeup, and in the way we arrange our hair. I Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Thus by dressing femininely or masculinely so that there is no mistaking our gender, by enhancing our features if necessary with makeup (but never distracting from our features with garish application or colors), and by avoiding androgenous hairstyles, we can bring glory to God. God Himself detailed everything about the Jewish priesthood, right down to their attire and the purpose of their attire: “And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty (Exodus 28:2).” Since we are now the royal priesthood, I can only conclude that it is our responsibility to wear garments for glory and for beauty. Beautifying oneself and one’s surroundings is both good and right.

We must beware, though, because beauty can not only be a tool with which to glorify God, but it can also be an unseen tripping hazard by which we fall flat on our face. Ezekial 16:15 condemns Jerusalem’s weakness in this: “But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown….” If ever we dress ourselves in the complementary colors of a modest pink skirt and green jacket, adorn our face with just enough makeup to please, and succeed in achieving the perfect updo, and then walk out of the house feeling oh-so pleased with ourselves and oh-so condemning of that goth girl and that sloppy girl and that bland guy and that immodest woman, then we have missed the point. We have achieved God’s standard of beauty on the outside, and missed the inside completely. God said to the King of Tyre, “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee (Ezekial 28:17).”

Remember Absalom, handsomest of the handsomest, and perfection personified? Sadly, his life ended much like the King of Tyre, Jezebel, Satan, and anyone else who has taken the glory for his beauty and become ugly and shriveled inside. Absalom cultivated bitterness towards his brother, eventually murdering him, before rebelling against his father King David, and leading a revolt against his rule. Ultimately, however, Absalom died the most ignominious death possible, his beautiful head catching on an oak tree as he passed under it on a mule, and his beautiful body left swinging in the air between heaven and earth (II Samuel 18:9).

Because God’s likeness and character defines beauty, it is not only our outward features and attire that make us beautiful, but also our inward spirit. “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).” In no less than four verses is holiness called “beautiful” in Scripture: “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 29:2).” This week, won’t you consider dressing not only for your King, but also like your King? Put a little extra time, effort, and thought into your morning routine, knowing that feminine and beautiful modesty pleases God and brings glory to Him. But don’t neglect putting a little extra time, effort, and thought into your morning devotional routine, because one without the other creates a pig with a ring in her snout. Make your surroundings and yourself for glory first and for beauty second.



All quotations are taken from the King James Version.
Picture Credit

1.21.2011

Heroes Wanted

Have you ever read tales of the valiants of by-gone days and sighed that if only you had lived during that time, you would have made a difference? I have. If all my inner boastings came to fruition, I would be Corrie Ten Boom’s right-hand woman right now, regardless of the danger. I would welcome Lobsterbacks into my home and serve them some good old American coffee, pretending to be oblivious, but all the while eavesdropping on their crucial military plans. I would gladly have several black babies safely stowed in my fake wall right now, and I would proudly label myself an abolitionist. Do you ever yearn for the times when heroicism was necessary, and you woke up every morning, yawned, and wondered whose life you were going to save that morning?

How foolish and deluded I was.

Because the simple truth is that the moment I sigh and wish I could have grown up in the time when heroes were born everyday is the moment when my stupidity is at its height. For if I cannot open my eyes to the need for twenty-first century heroes, then I surely would have been that girl who did not even know the Underground Railroad existed. I would have been the girl at Corrie Ten Boom’s church who talked congenially with her every Sunday, and then found out one day that she was gone. Where’d she go? She’s just a spinster-clockmaker, right? Right?

If I cannot find hero-work in this century, I never would have found it in a previous one.

So read on, if you want hero-work. But if you’re just going to scan and then go back to what you were doing before, then don’t bother even scanning.

I am sure that many of you have heard of the “House of Horrors” discovered in Philadelphia,where a doctor is being charged with murdering too many babies to even count. Abortion has made the step from murdering babies in the womb to murdering babies outside the womb a small one. I link to the news report on this tragedy, but so grotesque, gruesome, and horrific is it that I must urge caution and discretion in reading it. Suffice it to say, I weep every time I even think of it.

But that’s Philadelphia, right? No. I live in the least pro-life state in America. The least. And yet, Planned Parenthood is seeking even now to undermine any shred of decency Washinton state has left. Do you remember that bill that attacked volunteer-staffed, privately-funded pregnancy centers last year? It’s back, and with a vengeance: trickier wording, more burdens, and powerful supporters. HB 1366 and SB 5274 state, in the words of our CPC director, that these pregnancy centers “must provide notices that we do not provide abortions or referrals for abortions, we must make statements “in such a manner as to be reasonably understandable to the person seeking services” upon first contact….Also in writing [that] must be printed in 30 pt font or larger, on 8x11 ½ or larger paper, posted on our front door and inside our waiting area, and in absolutely everything we do for advertising (such as our brochures, church bulletins, yellow pages, etc.) Every advertisement must also be printed in, at minimum, English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian and Chinese. If we don’t do this, or if we leave one language out, we are subject to civil action. Any aggrieved (offended) person, county, or municipality can bring a lawsuit for monetary fines, damages, etc. and the court has the discretion to provide triple damages, plus an additional $1,000 civil penalty as well as attorney fees.”

Are you outraged? Are you ready to take heroic action and prevent these centers from being shut down? Because shutting them down is the none-too-subtle goal of Planned Parenthood. On this, the day before the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, are you ready to be the hero you thought there was no need for anymore?

Here’s what you can do, and keep reading even if you don’t live in Washington state, because I have some assignments for the out-of-state heroes, too.
-Pray, pray, pray. We are fighting spiritual warfare here, not a battle of flesh and blood.

-If you live in Washington state, look up your representatives and senators, and call and write them right now. Tell them this bill (HB 1366) destroys a woman’s right to choose what agency to use when she is facing an unplanned pregnancy, and is supported by Planned Parenthood simply to manipulate the government into crippling their competition as Planned Parenthood’s government funding dwindles. Tell them the Private Non-Profit Pregnancy Medical Clinics and Resource Centers are fulfilling a huge need in our communities, and that is all without one penny of government funding!

-If you live in Washinton or a nearby state, please travel to Olympia on Monday for the hearing before the Healthcare and Wellness Committee. Last year, the number of pro-life people there made a huge difference in stopping that bill dead in its tracks, and it is imperative that there are even more people there this year. Please make plans to travel there, and if you need details or are interested in going up on a bus that is being arranged, leave a separate comment with your e-mail address (which I will not publish!) and I will send you all necessary information.

-Visit this search page, type in the name of your state in the search field where it says "your state", and it should bring up any bills pending in your state that require your immediate heroic action.

-No matter what state you live in, please visit this page which lists Federal bills pending in Congress regarding abortion and makes it simple to contact your representatives and senators.

If you have ever thought you would not have stood idly by to see your brothers and sisters enslaved in past centuries, if you have ever read In His Steps and wished there was that kind of good work for you to do, if you have ever decided that you would in a heartbeat lay down your life to dash in front of a car and save a toddling baby, then choose to be a hero now.

Choose to be that person who uncovered his nose and opened his eyes when William Wilberforce revealed the stench and horror of the slave trader boats, taking Wilberforce's words to heart:
“Having heard all of this, you may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

Real heroes are never unemployed, so let’s roll up our sleeves; we have much work to do.


Picture Credit: wellkeptthing

1.18.2011

The Inheritance


The Prodigal Son: I’ve always admired the lost son’s repentance, adored the father’s ready forgiveness, and even sympathized with the elder son (actually quite ungrounded because he is not nearly as maligned as he believes himself to be). Yet lately, with trust issues swirling around as heavy as a dead-of-winter snowfall, and as I’ve been asking God what my part in all of this is, I have come to see another facet of the story: the inheritance. Why would the father (who signifies God) ever give his son one-third of all his wealth? Any father with one eye slit half open would realize that this boy was not planning to invest in good growth mutual funds, venture out into the world of entrepreneurship, or help a desperately needy family. Any person willing enough to brazenly demand his inheritance from a very-much-alive father is up to no good.

So perhaps this story has a different ending. Maybe it’s not the prodigal son’s fault after all! The father was enabling his errant son, misplacing his trust, and wasting his resources. What was he thinking?

As I look back through Scripture, though, I see many examples of this from God. There was the time Moses angrily hit the stone instead of obediently talking to it—and God brought forth water. There was the time the Israelites demanded a king for themselves—and God granted them Saul, the tall, handsome, and momentarily wise youth. Even the Promised Land that God gave to His chosen people—the crowning jewel in the Israelite’s glory and the empirical proof that they were set apart—even that became the altar for Baal, the site of wastefulness and want, and the comfort that brought lackadaisicalness and rebellion. God knew when He led the Israelites out and when He fed and cared for them and gave them His Law and taught them and blessed them and cleared the land of their enemies and settled them into the land of their dreams—He knew that one day, the Israelites would become so abominable and repugnant that He would be compelled to bring in conquering enemies to subdue the Hebrews and inhabit their land for centuries. What was He thinking?

Without an inheritance, the prodigal son would be safely tucked in at home, with none of that sinful living on his conscience. Without land, the Israelites would still be slaves in Egypt, living a hard life but having no opportunity for rebellion. Without the blessings of America, I would be living a much different life much more selflessly and much less materialistically. And then I look back at my trust soup—it’s thick and black right now. Do I give the inheritance, the blessing, and the trust, when I know as certainly as I can recite the story of the prodigal son that it will only bring more sin, rebellion, and pain?

The inheritance of Luke 15:11-31 represents much more than simply wealth, though, and understanding this is crucial to understanding how to deal with energy-takers in our lives. The word used in Luke 15:12 and 13 comes from a Greek word exclusive to the story of the prodigal son—the New Testament does not use this word anywhere else. Even more perplexing is the fact the ousia is generally defined as “being,” and was in fact used by the early church to show that God is three distinct parts in one being (ousia). Obviously, the prodigal son had a nominal relationship with his father, just as many Americans today have a nominal relationship with God. Based upon this, he demanded his being, his substance—his inheritance, just as many worldly Christians “endure” a relationship with God only for what He will give them (does the Prayer of Jabez ring a bell?). In demanding such a thing, however, the prodigal son emptied his soul and filled his being with earthly treasure.

Suddenly, the snowstorm is waning and my trust soup is becoming more translucent. Most of us have people in our lives who only tolerate us because of what we can do for them. It is at the moment when we exhaust ourselves and give them everything we can (which, honestly, is sometimes nothing but time and energy) that we discover if this person ever desired a relationship or if they will skip town and squander the blessings of our relationship. This is painful and difficult, and not always the correct course of action--but it is one God has consistently demonstrated through history because of His unconditional love.

This is when the fools will separate from the searchers. And if my relationship goes south in the back pocket of my friend the fool, then at least I know. In most cases, I should not (nor will I have to) be the rejector. Israel left God quite easily on their own, and the prodigal son happily tramped away from his loving father. After rejection, I will not interfere, and I cannot help with more time, energy, or resources—the natural consequences of sin must run their course. But if someone comes running back to me after running back to God in sincere repentance, then I will be ready, because forgiveness is not an option. It is the least I can do—after all, I was that fool once.




Painting: The Prodigal Son in Modern Life: The Return, James Tissot, 1882.

1.14.2011

Gold Rush Alert

For you, what is discovering a treasure? Is it scavenging through garish hangers at Ross, pulling aside yet another too silky, too neon, too everything top, only to reveal the most beautiful shirt you have ever laid eyes on? Is it putting on that skirt you haven’t worn in a while and having your hand meet with a wad of green folded bills in the dark recesses of the forgotten pocket? Is it browsing the library and landing on a certain unknown book that ends up making you laugh and cry and hug it when you’re done? Is it walking into a room full of strangers and leaving with a best friend? 

Every one of those things would be treasures in my trove. But there is another treasure that the most gold-gilded chest would not be complete without. Proverbs 2:4-5 aptly describes this treasure above all treasures: “If you seek [wisdom] as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”

Like most of you, I have tried to daily search the treasure of God’s Word, seeking wisdom and guidance for every day of my life. And at times, the seeking revealed so much treasure that I loved reading Scripture as much as if the pages were inked with silver and gold. But at other times, the search grew tedious, and the treasures seemed to be all mined out. Could there be anything left? I wondered. I’ve read through the Bible in a year, I’ve dragged out the 5 pound Strong’s and performed detailed study on the original words of specific passages, I’ve conducted topical studies, I’ve memorized chunks of meaningful Scripture, I’ve read through the Proverbs in a month, and I’ve done my fair share of random flipping.

Is there anything left? I know God smiles whenever I ask that. Because the real question isn’t, “Is there anything left?” but rather “Am I ready for what God has in store?” And all too often, the problem is simply that I am not ready, and the glittering jewels in the passage go unnoticed by my cursory reading.

A few months ago, I was just about to finish up my latest study, and I was praying about what God would have me to study next. Through God’s providential prompting, I discovered these ten simple questions on a website.

In all honesty, they have revolutionized my Bible study. I am ecstatic about what God has been doing in my life through His Word these days! God is giving me truths previously overlooked that change how I behave from day to day! I am truly seeing Scripture as God’s love message to me, His daughter. I can truly say with the Psalmist, "The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver. (Ps. 119:72)" And, most of all, this study has supplied the ingredient missing in much of my previous reading and study: serious, straightforward application.

Read through these questions from Rev. Alan Cairns and see if they don’t spark renewed excitement in Scripture!

1. What does this chapter teach me about God?
2. Specifically, what does this chapter reveal about Christ?
3. What are the doctrines taught in this chapter?
4. Who are the leading characters?
5. What are the leading events?
6. What sins and follies are stated or implied? Examine my heart in light of this list.  Which things in this list do I need to confess and forsake?
7. What are some virtues evidenced in this chapter that I should seek after and cultivate?
8. What new thing have I seen and what old truth has the Lord brought with fresh blessing to my heart?
9. What are key words and phrases that call for further study?
10. Which one may I remember this chapter by?

I have gone through Habakkuk in this manner, and am currently working on Hosea. Each chapter takes approximately 10 days, because I begin with a “general overview” of the chapter. I divide it into several sections, with a short description of each section. I then look up each cross-reference for each verse and write down the especially meaningful ones. After that, I answer these ten questions for the chapter I’m working on, being sure to write all this down in a notebook.

So if flipping through the Psalms to find the shortest chapter to read is something you routinely do at 10 o’ clock at night, if in all honesty your Bible reading has been dry and dull lately, if you can’t remember the last time you actually studied the Bible, or if you would simply like a change, I challenge you to try these questions out! This is by no means the perfect Bible study method, but God has richly used it in my life lately. Tough questions mine meaningful answers, and gold and silver simply can’t compare.

Picture Credit: dentedup
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Questions used by permission from an article by Lisa Bode.

1.11.2011

Here a Zig, There a Zag

For years, the debate has been raging. Votes have been called—votes have been cast. Ayes have been tallied, and naes have been recorded. Newspaper articles have been written, laws have been examined, protests have been waged. But starting last month, strange metal towers materialized, with expressionless prosthetic eyeballs surveying the scene. Traffic cameras have officially come to my city, and with them a small, but daily and growing infringement of my constitutional rights.

Suits have been brought against these noxious cameras on the basis of amendments four, six, and fourteen of the Constitution, not to mention state constitutions[i]. Ultimately, however, the key lies in amendment six, where I am promised the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against [me][ii].” Thus, if I am charged with running a red-light on the basis of a photo snapped robotically, analyzed by a worker in Arizona, and then approved by a police officer in my town, then I have the Constitutional right to be assured of the machine’s working condition (which is often dubious), to confront the layperson, and to cross-examine the police officer. Anything less than this is a violation of my rights as supported by the Supreme Court[iii].

However, the burden of my city to prove my guilt does not stop here. You see, my city has failed to consider that they are paying this company to procure traffic offenders—and the numerical success of the program will determine if it lives to a ripe old age, or dies in its infancy. How can I be sure—how can they be sure—that my traffic citation was not influenced by the desire for monetary gain? Justice Scalia wrote in the majority opinion of Melendez-Diaz vs. Massachusetts—which was based on the Sixth Amendment—that “a forensic analyst responding to a request from law enforcement officials may feel pressure-or have an incentive to alter the evidence in a manner favorable to the prosecution.”

I have never ran a red light, nor do I plan to. I do my best to contribute to safe transit via asphalt and rubber, and I appreciate the premise that photo-enforced intersections can be safer. However, I do not appreciate the fact that when Washington State made such photo-enforcement legal, it posed itself as a benevolent protector instead of the greedy money-collector it truly is: “I know that some people would perceive that a local government would use this as a cash cow,” said Senatar Mary Margaret Haugen. “That is not our intention at all … What this amendment does is it restricts them, so that they cannot have a fine higher than their parking violations. Which is about — the state recommends $20. The idea is to change behavior, not collect a lot of money[iv].” Of course, no one could help themselves, and municipalities soon found the most expensive parking ticket on the books to aid in boosting red light tickets into the triple digits (usually close to $200).

We’re in the age of technology—about which the writers of the Constitution never dreamed. So a little zig instead of a zag couldn’t cause that much harm, right? After all, these cameras have been proven to reduce instances of red-light running. They certainly must be making us safer. They’re bringing in revenue for cash-strapped governments. Everybody is happy! But when you are faced with the incapability to confront the only pertinent witness in the case—then will you be happy? When you suspect the camera of malfunctioning and falsely condemning you for a jaunt across an intersection glowing red—then will you be happy? When you are forced to scan your driver’s license to start your car and drive throughout your city with each and every road and intersection monitering your car for illegal behaviour—and recording your location at every point—then will you be happy? What about allowing an agency such as the TSA who does not even have law enforcement rights to violate decency laws in the name of safety? What about searches without warrants in the name of safety? How about censoring of the internet and the free speech you value so much? Shall we all turn in our firearms so that nine year old girls do not die and Senators are not shot at?

Dozens of zigs do not add up to one happy zag. Whether these Constitutional deviations are reality—and most of them are—or merely a storm cloud in the future, no good can come of them. Whether they realize it or not, law-abiding citizens live by a moral code established by the Scripture—the same moral code that is the basis for the Constitution. And whether we like to admit it or not, those who choose to disregard the God they will stand before some day will continue to zig through red lights, shoot up crowds of people, and blow up planes, regardless of cameras, weapons laws, and indecent scanners. Meanwhile, we will be huddling defenseless, ignorant, and humiliated, having given up our rights to the government long ago. All in the name of safety.

Thankfully, the good thing about zigs is that they can be counteracted with a whole lot of zags. People who understand the magnitude of obeying our Constitution and fight against every aberrance are doing their part, whether they are contesting a red light ticket in court or demanding their rights in an airport. Christians must recognize that this great nation of ours will topple like a clown on stilts when the majority of its citizens no longer live by God’s moral code. But to zag, however, we cannot just acknowledge this fact--we must brighten our corners and do something to remedy the erosion! We must let the Holy Spirit use us to bring others to a saving knowledge of our Holy, Righteous, Perfect God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer eloquently wrote, “Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God—the responsible man, who tries to make hiswhole life an answer to the question and call of God.”




[i]Automated Enforcement Myths, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, October 2010. http://www.iihs.org/research/topics/myths.html
[ii] Constitution of the United States of America.
[iii] Melendez-Diaz vs. Massachusetts, 129 S.Ct. 2527 (2009).
[iv] Westneat, Danny. “Red Light Tickets Veer off Course,” Seattle Times, November 2009. http://o.seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2010349143_danny25.html
Picture Credit

1.07.2011

The Man Who Had a Conversation With God


This great man, do you know him?  He who has appeared before kings and rulers is in his small, darkened room, prostrate upon the floor. Desperation is upon him; frustration has burdened him down, and he is asking the question of our day. “Why, God?”

On his face, weeping tears of discouragement and sorrow, his mind cannot let go of his question. For so many years, the nation has been full of apostasy, materialism, and idolatry. For so many years, God had been ignored and forgotten and rejected. And then, into this blackness had come a revival of mighty proportions, for God sent a godly leader. Worship had been restored—people were actually hearing the Word of God again! And this weeping man of God had rejoiced and basked in the warmth of the light of God.

And suddenly, all was dark again.
The leader: dead.
The new leader: depraved.
The people: evil.
The foreign empires: greedy and strong.
The future: exceedingly grim.
And God: silent.
This man reached the end of human hope on this dark day, and as the rain streams outside and the people run to do their evil, he is alone and isolated. He cannot help but ask God, “Why?”

“O Lord,” he whispers. “How long shall I cry, and You will not hear?”

There is no sound but the icy splatter of raindrops.

Every word the man of God voices is more fraught with anguish than the last, and every phrase is a crescendo louder than the one before it. “I even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ and You will not save. Why do You show me all of this sin and put all this trouble in front of me?”

Silence still.

“The law is powerless, and justice is nonexistent. The wicked surround the righteous, and corrupt judgment continues unhindered!”

But suddenly, the man is alone with his sorrow no more. Suddenly, there is no more silence, and the sounds of the people’s evil are utterly drowned out. Suddenly, his tears are not unnoticed, and he is lifted up off his face in amazement, for God is answering him, speaking to him, and His voice is real and deep and rich.

“Look among the nations and watch—be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

The man’s eyes well up with tears once again, but tears of joy, and his heart is full. At long last, God—Yahweh is here, and righteousness will triumph!

“For indeed,” the Lord continues, “I am raising up your enemies, a bitter and hasty nation…to possess your land. They are terrible and dreadful; their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves. Their army is swift and fierce.”

The man of God felt all the breath go out of him, and confusion dizzied him for a moment. What? After so long a silence, during which he had been begging God to right the wrongs, purify the nation, and return his people to their righteousness, this is God’s solution? To send the most wicked nation in the world to conduct God’s judgment on them, the most righteous nation in the world by comparison?

But the Lord continues to describe the nation who would march against them:“They all come for violence; their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand. They scoff at kings, and princes are scorned by them.”

The man cannot help it. He has to cry out, to give voice to his bewilderment. “Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, You have appointed these enemies for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction. You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?”

The man’s mind is reeling as he pours out his heart to God, inquiring why God would use such a notoriously wicked and cruel nation to judge his people, who were not nearly so wicked! “Shall they…continue to slay nations without pity? I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what God will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.”

And the Lord did indeed answer. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by faith.”

Yes, the enemy is more wicked than this man’s nation. Yes, the enemy is cold-blooded and vicious. But as God continues to speak, He promises that the very things in which this enemy trusted would be its downfall, and they would face judgment. Meanwhile, it is not in his own control over situations that this man should trust. It is not in his own political pull, or skill at diplomacy, or rational and reasonable good works that he and his nation would live. In those, he could exist, but it was only by faith that he could win empires, overhthrow wicked thrones, kneel with a man giving his life to God, start a reformation. And change history.

“The Lord is in His holy temple,” God concludes. “Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

And there was silence for a moment, as the greatest wrestling match of his life went on in our leader’s heart. He had just been pummeled with the foretelling of unheard of judgment, and was forced to the realization that God was not going to bring a great revival without cost. But, oh, the cost! Was it worth it?

And suddenly, like captures of moments gone by sliding before his eyes, he remembers everything. He remembers the plagues of Egypt, and the parting of the Red Sea, and the waters of the Jordan River moving aside for his ancestors. He remembers—miracle of miracles!—how the sun and moon stood still that day and gave Israel the victory. And he looks ahead, and sees devastation like no devastation yet experienced. And he must admit, “God, when I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself.”

But none of that really matters any more, does it? The wrestling match is over. His mouth is set, his eyes are glinting with determination and valor. And his voice—his voice is the voice of a leader, confident and sure of one thing. “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation. Yahweh is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”

And there we leave Habakkuk for now, standing in his small, darkened room. But there is no more silence. The room is still full of the conversation that would change Israel, and six hundred years later would reveal righteousness to a man named Paul, and 2,000 years later would change the world yet again when a man by the name of Luther would read it for himself. Habakkuk just had a conversation that would change his life, his destiny, his nation, and the history of the world. Habakkuk just had a conversation with God.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Bill Hicks

1.04.2011

2010 in Panorama


Ecclesiastes says that there is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…a time to gain, and a time to lose. God blessed us abundantly this year, but we experienced both times of joy and of sorrow in His good season and plan. Our family is growing up, and I cherish and value more than ever the time I have to be home with my three sisters who know me better than I know myself, with my two brothers who eagerly greet me in the driveway to find out about my day and help carry things in, and with my loving parents who keep me grounded and accountable.

Speaking of loving parents, Mama and Papa were able to go to the beach in February to celebrate their 26th anniversary. I’m so thankful for their loving example, a healthy year for Mama, and Papa’s continued employment as an engineer. Continuing as a preaching elder at Heritage Bible Church, Papa definitely stays busy!

We celebrated Susanna’s thirteenth birthday in April—it’s so hard to believe that she has grown up as much as she has. While I miss the three year-old, spunky toddler that she used to be, I love the close friend and confidante I have gained (and, for the record, she hasn’t lost any of that spunk either!). She continues to master piano and violin, and it’s my personal belief that she’s the most talented violinist among us, so expect great things! She also is growing into a supremely talented, gourmet cook whose criteria for a recipe is that it have no fewer than ten ingredients and no less than 200 words in the directions.

In June, we lost our dear “Bobcha” (a Polish pet name for our Great-Grandmother and Papa’s Grandma). She asked us once, “Why are you crying? I am going to heaven!” And she died with a smile on her face as she finally glimpsed Jesus for the first time—she was a true princess of the King.

June also brought excitement as Lauren and I received recognition (and then tens of thousands of new visitors) for our blog of almost two years from Blogger, one of the world’s top ten most visited websites. I received another amazing surprise because of my writing just a few weeks ago in November, when Focus on the Family let me know that my essay had beat out over 8000 other entries to win an all-expenses-paid trip for two (I chose Mama as my guest) to London for the World and Royal Premiere of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie. With just a week’s notice, we left on November 28 for a fabulous seven days in England attending the premiere, visiting London’s sights, and even venturing to Paris for a day. Besides these exciting adventures, Lauren and I (we’re 20 now) continue with music teaching, performing, and our distance education for a degree in Music Ministry.

In September, our family took the trip of a lifetime with Sandi and Ron, making our way through nine states: over 3,000 miles in fifteen days with ten people. We oohed and aahed through Bryce and Zion Canyons in Utah and Disney Land in California. Of course, the feature presentation of the trip was the Grand Canyon—tears came to my eyes when I first saw it, with the majesty and splendor perfectly representing a time to lose (the catastrophic worldwide flood God sent to judge the world) and a time to gain (the beautiful, glorious, unimaginably large canyon spread before us as the result of the flood). All but the wives hiked down to the bottom for the night in an epic, this-is-the-hardest-thing-I’ve-ever-done-in-my-life-and-whose-idea-was-this-again 36 hour trek.

Since then, Melanie has begun her senior year of high school, and I can’t wait to see how God uses her seventeen year-old pursuits of piano, computers (she’s designing a website for our church right now!), and all things science for years to come. I know that He has great plans for her and the talents He’s given her!

Micah is now eleven, and Jonah is eight, and they bunk together, “spar” playfully with swords together, and raise chickens together. Both love to read and to make music. In his fifth year of cello, Micah is becoming quite proficient, and we love to play quintets together with the oldest five. Jonah will be joining us soon, too—he’s been playing violin for a year and a half, and for the past few weeks has treated us to many Christmas carols he’s picked up by ear.

Everyone has been remarking how fast this year seems to have gone—but when I reflect back on the past 12 months, for the first time in a long time I don’t have that sensation. Instead, I am overwhelmed at all God had for us this year, and amazed that it all dovetailed so perfectly (He is certainly the consummate Planner). We have matured, grown, aged, added more wear-and-tear on these temporary homes (bodies) of ours—and then occasionally we just revert back to 8 overgrown children dog-piling on one another. God’s Plan has certainly been the best plan, and I frequently marvel at His incredible love and sacrifice that comes into full relief at Christmas time. How incredible is it that His Son willingly came to earth to become the sacrifice for my sins and your sins that the Law required and that we could never hope to satisfy? What a plan!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin