Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh, Precious is Aunt Flo

! Warning: The following discussion regarding menstruation may be uncomfortable or offensive to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.


Growing up, I was exposed to some very negative attitudes about menstruation. It was common for me to hear menstruation referred to as "The Curse" and I was regularly encouraged to view my period as an inconvenience. Specifically, a woman's monthly period was presented to me as a messy but necessary evil. It contributes to her emotional and physical discomfort, and it interrupts various activities in one's social life, like swimming at the beach or having sex. In essence, I was indoctrinated like millions of other women to despise a natural function that God created. But the Bible tells us that everything God created is good. Surely there is a reason God gave us menstrual cycle, but perhaps it is more than just biological.


During menstruation, the uterine lining (endometrium) is shed if fertilization has not occurred. When mammals menstruate, the endometrium is either absorbed by the body (covert menstruation) or it is expelled (overt menstruation). While there have been recorded instances of other mammals experiencing overt menstruation (i.e. blood loss), the research appears to show that in all of these species, the loss of blood is a non-event compared to the situation in humans! Is it mere coincidence that humans are the only creatures to experience significant bleeding during menses?

The Bible says that human beings were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and that the creation itself attests to God's existence (Romans 1:20). He bled to give us life. Is it any surprise that He would also make creatures in His own image that would bleed to bring forth life? The most significant thing that Jesus accomplished on this earth was to bleed and die for our sins. His blood is the doorway to eternal life. In the same manner, blood is the doorway to physical life. Most health experts hold the view that during menstruation, the body rejects the blood when pregancy has failed. However, I like to look at menstruation this way: the body retains the blood when pregnancy is a success. Why? Because the baby needs to live off that blood while it is in the womb. The Bible says the life of a creature is in the blood (Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:11-15, Deuteronomy 12:23). When a woman menstruates (and when she suffers pain during that cycle) her very nature is reminiscent of the bleeding and suffering of Christ. And just as a newborn baby is covered in blood when he comes into the world, a newborn Christian is brought into the Kingdom of God covered in blood.

But what about all those scriptures declaring a woman "unclean" when she has her period? The Bible openly refers to this time of the month as a woman's "impurity" (Leviticus 15:19-30, Ezekiel 36:17). Many people (particularly women) view this concept with smug indignance. They are offended that God would declare a woman "unclean" during her menstrual cycle. They are deceived into thinking that this is just another sign that God is a misogynist. That is exactly what Satan wants them to think. But nothing could be further from the truth.
First, let's remember that all discharges, whether vaginal or penile, were considered unclean. God did not discriminate against women. Secondly, many of the old testament laws forbid contact with blood at all. As noted earlier, blood is sacred because it represents life (Leviticus 17:11). The value placed on blood would naturally call for certain activities surrounding blood to be forbidden.

Finally, let's not forget that the most unclean thing of all is our sin. The Bible says that all of us are unclean, and that our righteous deeds are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). What is the dirtiest rag you can think of? I think it would be fair to say that God is actually making a comparison of our righteous deeds to menstrual rags in this verse. The function of a menstrual rag is to "soak up" the mess. When we present our good deeds to God, acting as though our righteous acts are going to absorb our bad deeds, it is like presenting God with a dirty tampon. What God desires is a brand new, unstained cloth. Our rags of righteousness are so stained by our sin they can hardly be considered pleasant to Him. So when God calls our menses "unclean" we should not get offended, but instead remember that our sin is more repugnant to Him than any of our bodily fluids could ever be.

That being said, let's go back to the original discussion regarding how menstruation is presented in our culture. It is largely considered a time of inconvenience. Women curse their menstrual cycle because it is viewed as an interruption in their regular activities. They also complain largely over the suffering that takes place during that time. (Incredibly enough, I have experienced both deep emotional turmoil during my period as well as physical pain in my head, hands, and feet! At other times I just feel intense fatigue, as if my limbs are a heavy weight I can no longer carry.) Like Christ, we endure this suffering because it is necessary to sustain life. However, unlike Christ, who never opened His mouth, we sometimes can complain very loudly about the suffering we experience. Some women have such painful or emotionally difficult periods, they would give anything to reduce their suffering. And our enemy is only too glad to help.

There are several new forms of "birth control pills" that are designed to reduce menstruation to only four times a year. While it may sound enticing to reduce one's menstrual "inconvenience" by 75%, could we be deceiving ourselves into rebelling against God's holy design by doing so?
From day one, Satan has done everything in his power to bring life to a halt. His attack on life has been both spiritual and physical. He deceived the woman into eating the forbidden fruit, in the hopes that she would then eat of the tree of life, thus sealing her fate as being dead in her sin forever. But God thwarted that plan (Genesis 3:22-24). He tried to block the Messiah from giving life by having all the babies His age killed (Matthew 2:16). He tried to disqualify Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 4:1-11). Where he is unsuccessful preventing eternal life, he compensates in promoting physical death by waging war on the womb. In addition to the gross slaughter of the unborn through abortion, Satan has achieved great success in convincing women to voluntarily induce amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) through self-induced eating disorders such as anorexia and submitting to unnecessary hysterectomies.

My period is not exactly what I'd call fun. But now when I wake up in the morning to find a brilliant splotch of red on my bedsheets or I feel like there is a knife in the small of my back, I try to make a conscious effort to refrain from complaining. When I feel as though there are spikes going through my feet and temples, I take two Advil and a hot bath. Then I remember the One who bled for me, and give thanks to Him for making me in His image.

If you are interested in further reading, here is a wonderful resource that describes some alternate biblical views on menstruation.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

So You Want to Help People!

My all-time favorite episode of The Twilight Zone is called, "The Obsolete Man." In this story, Burgess Meredith stars as a man on trial for his belief in God - a crime punishable by death in a futuristic society that has declared God "obsolete." If you have the time, I highly recommend you spend thirty minutes watching this episode. It is nothing short of riveting! There are several lines throughout this short little screenplay that send chills down my spine. One of them in particular is in the beginning, when the Chancellor boldly declares, "THE STATE HAS PROVEN THAT THERE IS NO GOD!"

Most Christians who are familiar with the fate of the earth can see the parallels between this sci-fi story and end-times prophecy. But we never have to worry that God will be declared "obsolete." This would only frustrate Satan's plan. He needs people to keep believing in the concept of God, because one day, the antiChrist will blaspheme the true God and demand that all worship him instead. Until that day comes, he is preparing by slowly pulling focus off the church and placing it onto the "state." How do I know this? Believe it or not, I learned this in graduate school!

After earning my B.A. in Theatre Arts, I wanted to do something meaningful, so I decided to study social work. One of the courses I took in my graduate social work program included a detailed history of the social work profession. It is common knowledge that social work is a fairly modern profession which has its roots in Christian charity. Up until the 19th Century, charitable acts were the handiwork of the Church. But by the early 20th Century, the movement was defending itself as an official profession, complete with services provided to individuals in need that would warrant changes in social policy if they were to be truly effective.

But what, pray tell, could the church do in order to lobby for social policy? After all, there was that little problem of "separation of church and state." The only solution was to declare social work as a legitimate, secular profession. This way, the profession could receive funding from the government, instead of relying on the tithes and offerings of church laypeople, as the church had done in the past.

So all those nice programs the government has set up (such as TANF) are designed by men to "help" people. But spiritually speaking, they are really designed by the enemy to suck the momentum out of the church. Sound crazy? Perhaps, but it's working! How many people do you know look to the church when they are in need? God has ordered the Church to take care of orphans and widows. But in this current chapter of human history, who is taking care of orphans and widows? The STATE. (In 1935, most of the single-mother beneficiaries of welfare were widows; by 1988, most of these women with children were either unmarried or divorced.) And thus, the natural, God-ordained female tendency toward "helping" was instrumental in setting the stage for the government to become a savior to the people.

People are looking en masse to the state to fulfill their needs. They are looking to the state to be their savior. Hard times? No problem. Uncle Sam will give us all economic stimulus checks. If we are good and continue to pay our taxes, the State will educate our children for free! What's that? Healthcare is too expensive? Well then the solution is to lobby for socialized medicine! This way we can be rid of all those nasty HMO's and have our medical needs covered by the tithe - I mean taxes - that we pay to the state.

"Separation of Church and State" was never meant to protect the State from the Church. On the contrary, it was the other way around. The government is not to meddle in the affairs of the church. But the enemy has skillfully twisted this phrase in order to increase power to the state. The church can offer outreaches, but it is no match for a government which creates competing programs that are backed by billions of dollars in funding. If this continues, the charitable acts of the Church in America will become obsolete, (if they haven't already).

And how did we get into this predicament? It was Jane Addams and others that founded Hull House in Chicago, Illinois who lobbied for the secularization of charitable acts. And thus the social work profession began. What would propel Jane Addams to take on such a noble endeavor?

Simple. She wanted to help people.

Today, the social work profession is dominated by females. Ask any of them, "Why did you want to become a social worker?" Their answer will undoubtedly contain the phrase, "Because I wanted to help people." (I can attest that was my reason for becoming a social worker.) Every day, social workers are "helping" people get connected to resources that our loving government has so generously offered to all who are in need. The crafty serpent had targeted women yet again to accomplish his goals. And thus, the natural, God-ordained female tendency toward helping was instrumental in setting the stage for the government to become a savior to the people.

Fascinating, isn't it?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thou Shalt Make Brownies?

Abraham Maslow is perhaps most famous for his Theory of Human Motivation, which involves a "hierarchy of needs." This hierarchy consists of five "levels" of human needs that range from the physical to the spiritual. The lowest level of needs is the physiological level, which includes needs like food, water, sleep, sex, and breathing. The highest level of needs is the level of self-actualization, which includes the need to address introspective topics such as morality, creativity, and other issues that can be labeled "spiritual". According to Maslow, the needs on the lowest level, the physical needs, must be met first. Then and only then will a human being be able to "graduate" to the next level of satisfied needs. Oh, really?


Consider this quote from Maslow (1943) himself: "Anyone who attempts to make an emergency picture into a typical one and who will measure all of man's goals and desires by his[her] behavior during extreme physiological deprivation, is certainly blind to many things. It is quite true that man lives by bread alone — when there is no bread." I don't think I need to slam anyone over the head with the incredibly obvious here, but this is in direct opposition to scripture.

Maslow is advocating the proper care and feeding of the flesh. The flesh takes priority over the spirit. He does have one thing correct: this certainly is a theory of motivation:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3, NIV, emphasis mine)

If we were to invert Maslow's "hierarchy," we would see the proper order of our priorities as God sees fit: The spirit takes precedence. The flesh is the last thing we need to be focused on. (Note: Maslow is also wrong in his thinking. We do not become more "spiritual" when we meet the needs of the flesh. The richest countries in the world that have all their physical needs met are also the most discontent.)

Now let me just switch gears for a minute.

Perhaps it's just me. But I've noticed that most "resources" geared toward Christian Women seem to coincide with the first level of Maslow's heirarchy. Do a quick Google Search on "Christian Women" or "Proverbs 31," and you are most likely to find physiological fluff that is supposed to pass for "marriage and parenting" issues. One example that comes to mind: online communities designed for Christian women are replete with endless threads on how to make a tasty casserole or knit a cozy sweater.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not taking a feminist stance and suggesting that these topics should be discarded. On the contrary, these topics often provide very useful information for everyday, practical affairs. (In fact, I enjoy baking and I still like to crochet every now and then.) But for a Christian woman who is looking for some kind of solid food upon which to build her faith, focusing solely upon recipes and sewing patterns can leave her asking, "Is this all there is?"

I think this is one of the reasons so many Christian housewives and full time mothers become so disenchanted with their lifestyles. I think this is why so many of them are tempted toward feminism. They are not properly taught that Biblical femininity starts with the needs placed at the highest level on Maslow's hierarchy. Where are the websites that encourage women to a deep study of God? Where are the books that cheer women on to a greater understanding of sound doctrine? Where are the Bible studies that allow women to focus on who they are in Christ, instead of who they are in the kitchen? When women continually focus their energies into activities that are designed to comfort the flesh, it is very easy to feel less than significant in God's kingdom.

Satan would love for women to remain on this basic level of operating in their femininity. But God wants every one of his daughters to grow in their faith! The Bible says that God's will is our sanctification (1 Thess 4:3). If you are increasing in knowledge of how to bake cookies and set grass stains, yet doing nothing or very little to feed your spirit, you are spiritually malnourished, and if you haven't already, you will most likely become unimpressed with all that biblical femininity has to offer.

God does not want you to just sit around baking brownies. He wants you to be a shining example of Christ to everyone you meet. This means sharing your faith. It's having the strength and the knowledge to teach your children the difference between truth and error. Don't sit back quietly - confront that sister in sin. Learn to exercise leadership within the boundaries of biblical femininity. Make a difference for the kingdom of God.

Christian wife, Christian mother, if you feel that your everyday routine has become mundane, look at the pyramid and ask yourself which level of the heirarchy are you placing the greatest importance? Continue to feed and clothe your family as Proverbs 31 directs, but do not let the physical become the main thing. The Bible tells us that Christ is the Chief Cornerstone. Let's flip that pyramid right-side up and put Jesus where He belongs: at the foundation of our needs and priorities.


Reference


Maslow, A.H. (1943) A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review,(50)370-96.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Living Word

!Warning: The following contains discussion of abortion that may be upsetting to some readers. Links are provided to websites containing extremely graphic images and video footage of actual abortion procedures. Reader/viewer discretion is advised.

Dan Hayden had planned to be a doctor. He worked briefly as a surgical technician but got the call to ministry just before attending medical school. God would later use the combination of Dan's medical background and his Masters in Theology to create the most compelling Bible study I have ever experienced in my entire life. (I say entire because I am confident I will not encounter another study like this in the future.) It's an eight part study given in one-hour increments called The Living Word, and it illustrates how the human anatomy is actually modeled after the Word of God.

I was introduced to the study in the Spring of 2005. A group of women I met with every Tuesday night decided to give it a try. As was typical of a women's Bible study, the evening began with incessant chatter and cackling. But at the end of each of Hayden's lessons, we were speechless. The study began with a discussion of the four gospels, and how they comprise four complete but different portraits of Christ as the head of the Church (Ezekiel 1:14, Revelation 4:7, 1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 4:15, Ephesians 5:23). The idea that Christ heads the Church just as the head controls a human body is not an unusual concept. We see it all the time in Scripture. But as the weeks went on, I was stunned as Hayden revealed how the Book of Acts was the neck upon which the head rests. The Books of the Law correspond to the legs. The Epistles to the Gentiles and the Jews correspond to the arms. And to top it off, Hayden was using only one reference to prove his points: Scripture itself. This was starting to get freaky.

One night, I distinctly remember being mesmerized by Hayden's comparison of Paul's pastoral letters with the circulatory system. In 1 Timothy, Paul explains how the gospel is to be preached across ethnic, gender, and economic criteria by which we are undivided in Christ(c.r. Galatians 3:28). In 2 Timothy, Paul provides encouragement for the times of hassle (Ch. 1) and hardship (Ch. 2). He encourages Timothy to refresh himself with the Word (Ch. 3) and to live in godliness (Ch. 4). Hayden then went on to compare the book of first Timothy to the left ventricle of the heart. The Christian is sent out to deliver the gospel to a lost and dying world. After being spiritually depleted, the Christian must return to the Word of God and the church to be spiritually refueled. This correlates to the right ventricle of the heart, which takes in blood that is depleted of oxygen, and brings it back to the lungs where it can be filled again, and then flow into the left ventricle to be pushed into the body all over again.*

The correlation was unbelievable, yet so thoroughly researched I couldn't deny it. The similarity between the letters to Timothy and the circulatory system had become staggeringly obvious. I sat there after the DVD was turned off, pondering what I had just seen and heard. A verse came to mind: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). I had always wondered, how could Jesus actually be the Bible? With the help of Dr. Hayden's study, I was beginning to understand:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . (John 1:14).

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . ." (Genesis 1:26).
I gasped. We are not just made in His image. We are made in the image of His Word - in the image of Jesus, the Word who became flesh. It was starting to make sense now. A deep sense of fear and awe came over me as I sat nearly paralyzed in my chair. I looked down to see my stomach rise and fall with every cycle of inhalation and exhalation. My Bible, which was on my lap, rose and fell with it, yet it seemed to be moving on its own: For the Word of God is living and powerful . . .(Hebrews 4:12).

I have never looked at my Bible in the same way again. I have never looked at the human anatomy in the same way again. Suddenly, I began to see why we are commanded not to sin against the body. An irreverance for the body is an irreverence for the very likeness of God Himself. This is why the devil hates the human body and seeks to destroy as many of these little images of Christ as He can, through alcohol, drugs, sex, eating disorders, suicide, and especially abortion.

Throughout history, Satan has twisted everything that God has decreed. God calls for the shedding of blood as a substitute -- a method of atonement by which the blood of a bull or calf is shed in place of the human. Satan has always demanded human sacrifice:

The Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. (2 Kings 17:31)
Today, we do not offer our children to the fire, but rather, we have been deceived into offering our children to the toilets. Every day, 4,000 innocent children are brutally murdered in the United States -- before they ever leave the womb. Consider some of the horrific ways in which abortion is performed. In the beginning stages of a pregnancy, a vacuum-like device is used to suction the baby out of the womb. In many cases, the baby is so tiny and fragile, it simply dissolves. Larger babies are grabbed with forceps and torn limb from limb. God declared that Christ would one day crush Satan's head. I think partial birth abortion - a procedure in which the baby's head is crushed - is Satan's response to God's decree.

Whenever I think of the brutal ways in which innocent babies are torn out of their mothers' wombs limb from limb, I get a visual of Satan tearing the Bible page by page. This really is his goal. He hates Christ, the Word who became flesh, and if he can't destroy the King of Kings, he will settle for merely destroying those made in His image. This is why the most evil method of abortion, and certainly the most symbolic, is what is called partial birth abortion. In partial birth abortion, the baby is near birth. Before pulling the baby from the womb, the abortion is performed by crushing the infant's skull. Is this coincidence? Consider Satan's fate:

The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:14-16)
God declared that Christ would one day crush Satan's head. I think "partial birth abortion" - a procedure in which the baby's head is crushed - is Satan's response to God's decree. The violent acts on the unborn are a deliberate assault of the evil one** against the only creatures on earth that bear a striking resemblance to the Creator who will one day crush him. Yet our society continues to tell us, "It's not a baby, it's only tissue." This is the physical equivalent to saying the Bible is only paper.

Satan hates woman and will do anything to destroy her offspring. I invite you to examine some of the "tissue" that he has managed to convince some women to have "surgically removed" from their bodies. Where words fail, these graphic pictures will illustrate the hatred he has for humanity:

Warning: These websites are very graphic. Viewer discretion is advised:
THE CENTER FOR BIOETHICAL REFORM
&
ABORT 73.COM


*Hayden's study is so complete and comprehensive I could not do it justice in this short space. I highly recommend you review this study in its entirety. It is available for purchase through Sola Scriptura Ministries.

**This post is not meant in any way to upset or condemn any woman who has had an abortion. On the contrary, this post seeks to unite women against Satan, our common enemy. Women who may be sensitive to this topic are advised to take comfort in the scriptures. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). If you have been born again, know that you are forgiven of all your sins and that God has removed your iniquity as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). If you are unsure as to whether or not your sin will keep you out of heaven, I invite you to take the
Good Person Test to determine where you stand with God.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Headscarves in Hades

!Warning: The following article contains discussion of a deviant sexual practice and may be offensive to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Lisa M. has worked very hard to maintain a growing database about the practice of headcovering. Her site is comprehensive in that it addresses headcovering from various religious perspectives, not just Christian. One of the things in particular about Lisa's collection of headcovering resources that strikes me as fascinating is that there seems to be a never-ending list of stories about headcovering in the news -- stories in which headcovering is seen as a negative thing; as though the world is becoming more and more hostile to the tradition of headcovering and the women who elect to participate in it. Looking through some of the articles Lisa has on her site almost feels at times as if there is an all-out global attack on headcovering. This is not a coincidence.

Satan hates God's creation. He has always sought to distort what God has made, but through the ages, he has taken a particular interest in women. In the Garden of Eden, Satan sought to pervert God's order for the sexes. He approached Eve, asking her, "Has God really said...?" and caused her to doubt her Creator. He told her that God had lied to her, that Lord had not been 100% truthful with her concerning the tree of life because He had alterior motives. Satan targeted the woman in the garden, and he's been targeting women ever since. He has millions of women deceived into thinking that Christianity is oppressive. The simple manner in which he does this is by confusing submission with oppression.

God has commanded women to submit. Satan lies to women and tempts us to rebel by telling us that God has commanded men to oppress. The Bible tells us that Satan is the god of this world. His loyal subjects are continually being raised to power in various governments that force women to cover their hair, face, neck, and shoulders. They declare women second class citizens who are blamed for the fall of man, and their punishment is to be covered. God's way reflects perfect balance that is centered in orderliness. Satan's way reflects violent deviations from this. Satan twists things to extremes: submission becomes oppression, and leadership becomes domination. God's use of the headscarf is symbolic. Did you know that Satan has a symbolic use for the headscarf as well?

There is a whole underworld of perversion known as BDSM. Wikipedia* tells us: "Many activities can be found under the umbrella of BDSM, which include - but are not limited to - forms of social dominance, submission, discipline, punishment, bondage, sexual roleplaying, sexual fetishism, sadomasochism, and power exchange, as well as the full spectrum of mainstream personal and sexual interactions." Within this deviant sexual culture is a subculture that takes pleasure in the use of simple, ordinary headscarves as their preferred "sexual aid".

I first became aware of this perversion a few months ago when I was researching the godly practice of headcovering for myself. I had just completed writing my first headcovering post and was looking for some images to post on my blog, when suddenly, I stumbled upon some images of women that were bound and gagged with headscarves. Interestingly, I did not happen to see any men in these photographs, unless they were playing the role of "captor." Women were the primary focus of these scenes.

My first reaction was typical - "This is obscene." But I suddenly realized that this was perhaps a much deeper perversion than anything else I had ever seen or heard about, because it was symbolic. God has told women to be silent; Satan has them gagged. God has told women to submit, Satan has them bound. And he has bound and gagged them with the very symbol of authority that pleases God! If this isn't a blatant defiance of God Almighty, I don't know what is. As I considered the parallels between the obscene pictures and the scriptures, two verses came to mind:

And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day? (Luke 13:16)

And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years . . .(Revelation 20:2)

A chill came over me. I suddenly realized my choice to start covering my head is so much bigger than me, so much more meaningful than I will ever understand in this life. This is more than just perversion. This is the giant iceberg lying underneath the the global hostility toward headcoverings in almost every society today. The headcovering has meaning to Satan. What exactly? I don't know. But I truly believe the headcovering has a very, very deep significance to him:

For this reason she should be covered: because of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11:10)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:11-12)

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (Revelation 12:7)**

Some feel that the practice of headcovering is not for today. Yet there is a war going on for our souls right now. Even those of us who have been redeemed are constantly fighting a battle we cannot see with our eyes, but we know it's real. I will put on the full armor of God. I will wear the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and have my feet fitted with the gospel of peace. I will take up my shield of faith and extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one as I wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. I will also put on the helmet of salvation. But as for me, I have chosen also to wear the headscarf of submission underneath!


*Due to the extreme graphic nature of this topic, I chose not to link back to any references that contained photographs, regardless of how "mild" the pictures were.

**Revelation 12 depicts the dragon waging war with a woman. The woman is not a literal woman, but a figurative expression of the nation of Israel. It is not to be confused with my assertion that Satan wages war on women. He makes war with all the saints, male and female alike.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Episode 30

Last night I had the privilege of being on the Reformed Think Tank, a new BlogTalk Radio Show from the Two Reformed Brothers Network. The topic was "Evangelistic Balance in Church and Conflict." In a nutshell, I wanted to share with others how God had used my experiences in street evangelism to help me manage conflict with other Christians in the Church. For those of you who missed the show, it is still available by clicking here. We mentioned some recommended reading on the air, so I wanted to post those recommended titles, along with some other resources, below for your reference:

The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande
The Gospel for Real Life, by Jerry Bridges
Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane

Discover the Word Series on Rebuke: (Audios approx. 12 minutes each.)
Discover the Word Part I
Discover the Word Part II
Discover the Word Part III

Overall, I think the show went well. I didn't think I'd have too much to share, but the show turned out to be two hours long, and the after show was an additional hour. I am surprised that even the following day I am thinking of some points I forgot to make! I was especially blessed to have Loretta and Steve call in and share their hearts with us. And I think the funniest point during the show for me was (90:30 - 92:00) when Paul Kaiser cautioned Officer Dan and Chosen Clay to behave themselves because there was "a lady" on the phone. I thought Paul meant that a woman caller was on the line. I didn't realize he was talking about me!

If anyone has any additional questions about this topic, please feel free to contact us. We'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Distraction and Division

John Piper is someone that both Geraldine and I respect tremendously. The main focus of his ministry is reflected in its title: Desiring God. So imagine my surprise when a brother in Christ recently told me that John Piper is a false teacher! Naturally I was puzzled by his claim, so I asked him to elaborate. In a nutshell, the brother told me that one of Piper's most well-known quotes is heresy. After he briefly explained his reasoning, which is better summed up by this article, the brother warned me to "be careful about endorsing John Piper" on my blog.

I was flabbergasted that this fellow would go through John Piper's ministry with such a fine-toothed comb as to uncover a tiny little technicality, a matter of semantics really, to such an extent that he is now poisoned against everything that is good and edifying and encouraging about Piper's ministry. Truly, if anyone took a complete inventory of all Piper's books and sermons, any concern surrounding this one little statement in question would be lost in a sea of solid teaching.

In recent weeks I have seen similar attacks on Ravi Zacharias and Ray Comfort. I confess I also sinfully became consumed in a similar discussion regarding Hank Hanegraaff. In all four incidents concerning these prominent and respected teachers, one thing remained constant: we were "straining gnats."

This phrase comes from Matthew 23:24, in which Jesus rebuked the self-righteous Pharisees: "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" One thing is certain here -- that there was a gnat to be strained. In the case of this scripture, Jesus was telling the Pharisees that they were focusing on something that warranted a legitimate criticism. However, the issue was miniscule in comparison to their own sin of which they had not repented.

In Christian circles, we often do this very same thing. In some cases, the "camel" we swallow is our own imperfection. We'd rather point the finger at what someone else is doing wrong in order to pull focus from our own sin. But in other cases, the "camel" we swallow is all the good qualities that are possessed by the target of our criticism. Instead of thanking God for the blessing given to us in the form of other Christians (Romans 1:8), we focus entirely on the flaws of these Christians. What often results is a forgetfulness over all the good these people have contributed to the kingdom.

Is John Piper perfect? Absolutely not. Has Ray Comfort made some choices I would not agree with? Most definitely. Has Ravi Zacharias bungled an opportunity to clearly enunciate the gospel? Who among us hasn't? And as for Hank Hanegraaff, well . . . let's just say there are going to be those members of the faith with whom I just don't see eye-to-eye. But do these human imperfections make these men heretics (or friends of heretics)? If we focus too closely on the flaws of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will be tempted to avoid them. This is exactly what Satan wants!

People's bad choices, poor communication skills, and character flaws should not surprise us, but even moreso, they should not distract us from the good qualities people possess. Yet this is exactly what Satan uses in order to cause division. He likes to take our eyes off the overall work and character of a solid brother in Christ and tries to convince us to focus on the tiniest little thing about that solid Christian that may be "unbiblical." What follows is a temptation to separate from that individual.

Saints, do you realize that if we were to renounce a solid Christian leader every time he fell short, we'd have no teachers left! The same thing can happen to us in our interpersonal relationships. If we focus too closely on the flaws of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will be tempted to avoid them. This is exactly what Satan wants!

In fact, the very sin I had committed which led to the creation of this blog began in this same exact manner. The man with whom I was angry for so long is a sinner. He has character flaws. He made choices I didn't agree with. But I chose to focus on his imperfections. As a result, I had forgotten everything about him that is good and righteous and godly.

Is there a friend or family member that you have been harboring resentment against because you are focusing too heavily on their flaws? Have you forgotten all the things about that person that you love because you are so consumed with their imperfections? Do you realize that the enemy is using these imperfections to keep you away from this person? Do you see that this is a distraction which has resulted in division? Do not allow the enemy to gain a foothold. Repent of your sin and love your neighbor. This was not only the Lord's commandment (John 15:12), it was also His prayer (John 17:20-26). We must learn to love one another unconditionally, knowing we are going to fail at times and disappoint one another. The Bible says none are good. And yes, that means that even John Piper is bad:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why The Ninth?

What comes to mind when you think of the word purity? Most Christians would define this word in the context of sexual chastity. But purity is simply the state of being free of any pollutant. Most of us don't realize how polluted we really are, until we consider the law of God. This is why Paul says, "Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, 'You shall not covet.' But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead" (Romans 7:7-8, ESV).

The Ten Commandments illustrate for us the very sin we harbor in our hearts. Most of us can easily see why God chose to include certain "pollutants" on the list (such as murder and adultery). But by comparison, lying doesn't seem all that bad. Those of us who use the law in evangelism know that the ninth commandment is the easiest to get people to admit they've broken. Why? The reason is that we as sinful beings do not see lying as being a serious sin. Part of the reason for this is that many of us unconsciously "rate" sin by the degree to which it "hurts" someone else. So I tell a little white lie here or there. It's not going to hurt anybody. So why has this sin made the "top ten"?

This takes us back to the original question at the top of this post: purity. Sin is not a matter of how "harmful" one's actions are to another person. Rather, sin is a matter of purity. Lying pollutes the soul.

It has also been said that the Ten Commandments are not just rules, but rather, they are the very reflection of the character of God. The commandments are more than just a way for you and me to keep the Golden Rule. They serve a much higher purpose in the life of a Christian, because we are commanded to be imitators of Christ. If we keep His commandments, we will actually reflect His character, which is the goal of sanctification.

Let me switch gears here for a minute and provide an illustration that I once heard used by Charles Stanley. Imagine you think to yourself, "I have faith that Jennifer is going to have dinner with our family on Saturday night." You have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that I am going to come to your home, but you make preparations to have me over anyway, on the basis of your "faith." You spend all week on preparations, and Saturday you slave over a hot stove, preparing the meal. At dinner time, you believe with all your heart that I will be ringing the doorbell very soon. But I don't. Dinner is getting cold. The sky is growing dark. Disappointed, you pack up the food and put it in the refrigerator. And you think to yourself, "I don't understand. I had such faith."

Faith is defined by the Bible as the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). In order for us to have faith, we need evidence upon which to build our beliefs. We don't just hope with all our might and call that faith. So now, let's imagine I say to you, "Say, what are you doing on Saturday evening? I've been meaning to stop by and spend some time fellowshipping and ministering to your family. Why don't I stop by at 6pm with a hot dish and we can all have dinner together?" Now you have something upon which to build your belief. Now you can freely prepare a meal with full confidence that I will come to dinner. Why? Because I gave my word, and my word serves as evidence that it will come to pass.

The most powerful evidence we have that God is going to keep His promises to us is His word. If God says it, then it's as good as done. The Bible says that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29). Since God cannot lie, His word is sufficient evidence. We can put our faith and trust in what He says. Likewise, if we make it a habit to be honest, we develop a reputation as a trustworthy people. Others will put their faith in us and believe what we tell them, solely on the basis of our word as their evidence.

But what happens when we don't keep our word? Simply put, we taint the evidence. If the evidence is faulty, the faith that others have in us is destroyed. In the natural realm, one lie can cost you your credibility. In the spiritual realm, one lie will cost you heaven.

As women, it can be hard sometimes for us not to lie. We feel that we have to say something "nice", even if it's not true. We will often give false compliments and tell ourselves that we are doing so for the benefit of the other person: we want to encourage that person. But is this our true motive for giving trite compliments that we really don't mean? Isn't the real reason we lie so that we can appear "nice"? I am not suggesting that we go around being mean and rude to others, and offering blatant honesty that is cruel and callous, just for the sake of offering truth. But when we are tempted to flatter, or when we are tempted to lie about our own flaws in an effort to preserve our image, are we really serving the other person or are we serving ourselves?When we lie to people or deceive them, when we do not keep our word, when we defraud another individual, we do not imitate a perfect, trustworthy, reliable God. Instead, we mimic the very actions of Satan.

Finally, consider this: "The ninth commandment covers any breach of confidence, devised to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage over another individual". God has commanded us not to bear false witness, because we are to be imitators of Christ. When we are dishonest, what we are actually doing is presenting an illusion in order to distract people away from the truth. Does this remind you of anyone? Who else can you think of that regularly seeks to distract people from the truth by persuading them to put their faith and trust in a lie?

Satan is a deceiver. The Bible calls him the father of lies. When we lie to people or deceive them, when we do not keep our word, when we defraud another individual, we do not imitate a perfect, trustworthy, reliable God. Instead, we mimic the very actions of Satan. This is why the ninth commandment is so vital to our Christian walk. While we as sinners don't think it's all that bad, the ninth law reflects back to us how unChristlike we are in comparison to the holy character of God, who never lies.