Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Faith that Sees Beyond Circumstances

Sometimes I forget that as a believer I am called to live life from an eternal perspective. When I forget, I'm prone to take my eyes off God, putting them on circumstances--circumstances that overwhelm, circumstances that terrify, and circumstances that out right confuse me. And when my eyes are on circumstances, my doubts diminishes my faith and I find myself responding to my circumstances from a place of doubt-induced fear instead of a place of faith-built courage.

As I was reading Romans 4 and I came across some verses about Abraham I found intriguing. Verses 18-21 say, "In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body which was as good as dead (since he was a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised." (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

I've grown to love Abraham and Sarah's story. When God first spoke to them, they were old and barren, living in the midst of a culture that worshiped fertility gods. Because of the value their culture placed on fertility, barren women like Sarah were disgraced in the eyes of others and their infertility viewed as proof the gods found them defective and/or sinful. Then God called Abraham and Sarah out of that culture, promising them a new land and a son who would be the first of many heirs.

I can't imagine being in their shoes. Having lived with the pain and the shame induced by infertility, they had already passed through years that should have been fertile and had come to the age that they could begin to accept the finality of dreams lost and longings unfulfilled. But, God stirred the proverbial pot. He promised an heir and planted another seed of hope in the heart of a wife whose whose dead  womb was now menopausal and in the heart of a husband so aged he was as good as dead in a reproductive sense. What could they have thought when God began to speak to them of offspring?

Abraham, the one called the father of faith, had a choice to make when God spoke. He could keep his eyes on what he could see--two wrinkly worn out bodies that even in their prime had never conceived or he could focus on what God said and believe God could and would renew their bodies to fulfill His promise. He chose to exercise faith in God and His ability to fulfill the promises He makes. Over time he became more and more certain that what God said was more true than the facts that lay before him. He made a decision to place full his confidence in God--the God who spoke the world into place. The God who hung the stars in space. The God who filled the oceans with fish , the sky with birds, and the land with vegetation and animals. The God who had breathed life into dust to form Adam, and the same God who had now called Abraham by name. He became certain that what God spoke would come to be.

Ten years passed from the time the promise was given. And in that ten years Abraham's faith was strengthened until he was fully persuaded God could and God would do what He promised. God used the moments doubt crept into to Abraham's mind to strengthen his faith. The word waver in the verses above means to act as a judge and to pass judgement on something. When Abraham was tempted to look at his or Sarah's bodies or ponder their ages, he had to choose again and again whether to judge God's ability with God's Words and God's power by what he knew of the Creator. Had Abraham judged God's ability only by what he saw, he would have concluded the chance of God fulfilling the promise was slim. After all they were beyond childbearing years, they had never seen God do anything like this before, and they knew no human being in their right mind would believe they could conceive. He had many human reasons not to take God at His Word, but he chose to not judge God's ability by what he could see. He chose to judge it based on God's character. Abraham's faith was strengthened when He focused on God's power. The more he saw the truth of who he and Sarah were and the truth of who God was, the more persuaded he became.

Faith can either be strong or weak, depending on how we view God. If we view Him as weak and impotent in comparison to our circumstances our faith will be weak. But if we view Him as the Word describes Him--all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign, and loving--our faith will grow exponentially until we are fully convinced He can and will do what He says He will do.

There was nothing in their aged bodies, their experiences, and their strong desire for a child that could strengthen their faith. All of those things had left them childless. It was only Abraham's choosing to trust in God that gave him a strong faith--faith that was counted to him as righteousness, faith that resurrected their dead bodies to reproduce. Every little wrinkle and every little ache that of their joints that comes with age during the ten years of waiting for a promise fulfilled was an opportunity to purged every doubt that they tore at their God-confidence. Abraham came to understand that he and Sarah were powerless and God was not. And in that truth, he rested.

I think God was very purposeful in choosing a barren, centurion couple to bless with a baby. In choosing them, He revealed Himself as the Creator of life, the giver of hope, and the mighty God who brings dead bodies to life. God had delayed Isaac's birth so He could reveal Himself and His power to two hurting people in the middle of a pagan world. Maybe he delayed it for our benefit as well. To walk by faith, we must say, "Lord, I believe You! I refuse to live life from a perspective of what I see. I choose to live in light of what You say and what You have shown yourself to be. I choose to take every thought captive when I become confused as Your Words are truth and wisdom. I am weak and powerless, but You are mighty and have all things under control. I choose see life through Your eternal perspective."

I choose faith in Christ because it's a faith that sees beyond the circumstances to what God can do.      

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Navigating Disgusting Times in a Godly Way

I was going to blog more on things God never said. But last week Trump's video stirred my heart in another direction. I've been victimized by that type of behavior. To get to my locker in high school, I had to pass a line of boys leaning against the wall looking girls over as they passed. And as the girl's PE teacher's assistant I was left alone in her office and several football players came in to talk. At first the conversation was fun, but it turned ugly as they crudely discussed someone's sexual conquest in graphic terms. I tried to take a stand, but the talk continued. I finally looked at one of the guys I respected who had a girlfriend who was beautiful inside and out and asked, "How would you feel if they were talking about your girlfriend like this?" He hung his head. So, I shook my head and went to the library. The teacher told my mom I disappeared and my mom told me not to leave like that. What my parents and teacher didn't know is I had already experienced sexual assault--the first time at the age of four and the guy's comments fed the shame birthed through abuse and fueled the hatred I felt toward my body. That shame that hindered me from feeling righteous anger that could have enabled me to more assertively confront the "Locker Room Talk."

Then during college our campus had several rapes reported and I was nervous when I left class after dark and walked to my dorm alone. One night when I got near the cafeteria, a group of athletes had gathered and one whistled and I started walking faster. Then the whole group started whistling and calling out things I didn't want to hear so I didn't respond and they began to curse me, getting louder and more verbally aggressive. During that time dates also ended in wrestling matches where "no's" weren't respected and shaming words were spewed when I wanted to go home. Guys exposed themselves and girls were groped in cafeteria lines. I didn't invite unwanted attention. I didn't give consent for touch. I didn't ask to hear the crude things spewed at me. I know women who have experienced this in work places and in churches as well. For awhile, I believed being born woman meant I had to bear with men's bad behavior and assume partial or full responsibility for it.

Even after marriage my husband's dad made comments about women's bodies and about my body in particular. His were along the line of breast size, booty size, and being too fat--too fat at 120, too fat pregnant, and too fat post pregnancy. People said it was no big deal, just to forgive him. But it never stopped and the problem was that he was constantly looking at my body, leaving me uncomfortable being a woman. That is not okay! I also had a male doctor grope a breast as he commented about the milk that size breast could produce. I had another male doctor whose time was more valuable than my comfort who sewed me up after childbirth without numbing me. He ignored my pleas to stop as he caused more traumatizing pain to an area of my body already hurting. A year later I had a panic attack as I walked in for my yearly check up and left. I avoided doctors for years until friends helped me find compassionate men and women and counselors taught me how to change doctors when doctors didn't listen to my voice.

Please hear my words! 


It mattered because it shaped my view of God, others, and myself in negative ways. It impacted my ability to give and receive love. It impaired my ability to trust even good men and women who meant no harm. The rape culture took away my voice and made me feel unsafe in my own skin. It hindered my ability to embrace the beauty of being created a woman and all of the joy that comes with that.    

I for one am not surprised by Trump's tape; it totally fits with the character he has had on display over the years. We must remember Trump's words were more than words; they were a revelation of sexual assault. He is either lying now or he in some sick way thought he would look better in another man's eyes if he bragged about assaulting women. Either is sick. I find myself wondering why a guy like him and a man like my father-in-law think they are qualified to judge the value and worth of women by appearance.

We've had a lot of bad behavior from presidents over the years. So, I get why some think its okay to vote for him. But I become enraged when people, especially believers, negate what he said to justify voting for him. I get even more enraged when they try to guilt, manipulate, and shame others into voting for him as well, especially when throw in that Trump claims he is against abortion. As a survivor, I will not let anyone emotionally or spiritually abuse me by using guilt, shame, fear, or manipulation to get me to vote for any candidate.

I will pray and I will seek God's wisdom and I will vote as He leads me. I wish we could have healthy, godly  conversations about political issues so we can solve horrible problems like abortion, illegal immigration, terrorism, and refugees in need. I wish we could share information without coloring it and misquoting people and spinning the truth to get votes. Yesterday I listened to two videos side by side of Trump and Clinton speaking on immigration and the truth is they agree on that issue when they are not misquoting each other or putting words into each others mouths!

There is a high correlation between abortion and sexual abuse, rape, and the demeaning of women. I hate abortion with a passion. I held my granddaughter when she weighed two pounds and was fighting for her life, wondering how anyone could believe a baby at six months gestation is only tissue. Her gold-spun hair, her precious personality, her expressions, and her fight to live were proof she was human, not tissue. Her coming out of the womb didn't change her from a blob to a baby and I hate it that women are being lied to about that. There are a lot of things we need to change to change our abortion culture. One of them is the rape culture in which we live.

We desperately need men who passionately love God to rise up with integrity and pursue purity to say no more to this rape culture! We need men to understand the rape culture is not harmless! We need them to commit to treating women with kindness, respect, and care. We need them to hold themselves and each other accountable to godly character, behavior, and conversations. We need them to obey the Scriptures and speak words that build up those who hear. We need them to realize it is more manly to respect women than it is to participate in vulgar speech. We need them to realize they are never more attractive than when they teach their sons to respect their moms, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, and granddaughters. We need men to rise up and teach their sons that they aren't victims to their bodies and they can be attracted to women and still treat them with respect and remain pure. Believers don't have the right to ask for sex before marriage and sure don't have the right to touch without consent. As God's image bearers, men do not have the right to look women up and down and leer at them and make lewd comments. We need men to show their daughters how good men act so they don't settle for anything less than a good man.

We women are not off the hook either. We are buying into the rape culture when we get our value and worth from the attention of men. We need to go against culture and carry ourselves in ways that commands respect. We need to guard our hearts and be sure our behavior and words gives a clear messages for our desire for pure, godly relationships. We need to rise up and teach out daughters to find their worth and value in Christ, not in boys who aren't mature enough to always make the best decisions. We need to protect them from abuse. We need to believe them when abuse occurs and care for them even if it exposes family, church, friends, or teachers so they can move past it and not let it define them. We need to teach our daughters that it is okay for girls to say, "No!" It is okay for girls to break up with a boy who is pressuring them. It is okay to ask to be taken home if boundaries aren't respected. We need to teach daughters that no job and no man is worth selling out our integrity. We need to teach our daughters that it is not rude to disengage from conversation that aren't safe and godly. We need to teach our daughters to not to contribute to the tearing down of women by participating in bullying. We need to teach our daughters to respect their fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sons. We need to teach our daughters that it is more godly to work together at changing the rape culture than finding power over it by becoming abusers.

We need to teach our sons and our daughters that men and women were created to complement each other in function and in relationship, but that we were created to find our completion only in Christ.

So, how do we navigate these disgusting times? We stand for truth--all of it! We seek God's wisdom. We don't guilt or shame others into voting our way and we don't let others guilt or shame us into voting in a way that violates our conscience. Finally, we choose to trust God's sovereignty.

As Max Lucaddo said in a recent post, on November 9 God will still be in charge and His throne will still be occupied. His providence never has, doesn't now, and never will depend on the president of the United States. God has used pagan kings in the past and can certainly use pagan presidents in ways we can't even imagine. He has already used Trump's own words to help scores of women find their voice and tell their stories of abuse for the first time. God can humble prideful leaders as he did Nebuchadnezzar.

Resting in God's sovereignty restores a sense of peace. It restores peace in our relationships when we accept that God is sovereign no matter how you or I vote and that neither of our votes will dethrone the King of kings. God is the only being worth trusting and maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons we're stuck with two immoral people vying for office is that God wants us to see His goodness, wants to see where our lack of integrity can take us, and wants us to recognize He is God and they are not. We do have the responsibility to educate ourselves best we can, but the bottom line is: God is still in control! To live like I believe that truth is the way for me to navigate these disgusting times in a godly way.


Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!