Archive for December, 2011

A long time ago, the paths of two women crossed.  People who serve together in Lutherans For Life can easily become friends for life.  Beth and I don’t get to talk very often, but our conversations always pick up right where they left off.   I wish she lived closer.  In my imagination, I see us lingering over coffee or a latte as we discuss what’s happening in our world in light of God’s Word.  Right now, I would like to live closer to Beth so that I could be of encouragement to her.  To sit in silence beside her.   To walk with her through the shadow of death.

It is not Beth that is dying.  It is her husband, Cal.  His long, courageous battle with cancer may soon be over.  Beth has been faithful to include family and friends on this journey.  She writes of Cal’s wit and wisdom.   She writes with appreciation for shared faith.   She writes only as a daughter of God in Christ can write: with peace.  This is because Beth and Cal know that he is leaving – but only for a little while — to go ahead to their heavenly home.   The Spirit within Beth is lifting prayers to God when she cannot.

I think Beth, and those around her, are finding many teachable moments in the timing of Cal’s journey.

Christmas, even for Christians, can be a time of chaos and confusion.  We are easily distracted away from the birth of our Lord Jesus by preparations.  Gifts.  Food.  Family coming.  Programs and festivities.  I sense that Beth knows that she is distracted from both the birth of Christ and precious moments with her beloved Cal by preparations.  Decisions.  Legal matters.  Finances.  In-home hospital beds and oxygen tanks.  Hospice and palliative care.  Even so, for Beth and her family, there is a difference.  Beth writes, “We don’t fear death for Cal, nor does he fear his own death.  He has the hope and joy of seeing God face to face.  How awesome is that?” 

Christmas, even for Christians, can make us feel obligated to add Jesus.  “I have this to do.  And this.  I’m running out of time!  Oh, of course there’s Jesus, certainly the reason for the season.”  We create for ourselves such high expectations.  We want the perfect gift.  The perfectly orchestrated event.  A perfect meal.  Then, as life in this world typically goes, we are disappointed.  But, Beth is not obligated to add Jesus.  She is fully depending on Him to get her through perhaps the most difficult time of her life.  She has not created for herself high expectations.  Instead, she trusts God’s will and promise.  It is the promise of hope and eternal life that came to her and all people on the Holiest of Nights.  Beth knows that she will not be disappointed by the Creator of her life and the Author of her story.  Every word that Beth writes seems to rise up not from a well that is running dry, but from a well that is always replenished just when she needs it.

Many dream of a world without suffering.  A pain-free world.  A world where no one goes hungry.  Gets sick.  Falls into depression.   Faces difficulty.  That’s how “enlightened” and “modern” people like to think.  “Man is capable,” the believer in self claims, “of rising to a higher plain… removing suffering… defeating death and, in fact, creating life.”  This is, in its most honest form, inflated ego.  Arrogance.  Idolatry.  Beth harbors no such arrogance.  She and Cal understand that we all live in a fallen world.  They know that the very death they face is a consequence of The Fall.  Sin.  Disobedience and rebellion against the God who calls Himself “I Am.”

So, for Cal and Beth – and for me and my house – there is a strange joy in Christmas.  It is the joy of realizing who we are as fallen, desperate creatures.  Of realizing that, yes, human suffering in the midst of a fallen, sinful, messed up world is reality.  For this reason, we sing:

O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear . . .

There is a curse in human suffering.  But, Jesus Christ is God come to earth to remove the sting.  Loosen the hold of death.  Take on Himself what we really deserve.  We sing “joy to the world” at Christmas because Christ is the only hope for a suffering world.  Failed expectations.  Hurting people.  Christ is Light in the darkness. 

My friend Beth knows this.  She clings to this Truth.  I think, based on Beth’s writing, that she and Cal find a special joy in the timing of their suffering.  For it is at Christmas that joy came to them.  The glory of Immanuel – “God with us” – is real to them.  His kingdom is open to them.

If I could, I would snap my fingers and remove Cal’s pain.  Beth’s sorrow.  The sadness of separation.  But, such wishful thinking does nothing for my friend.  Instead, I entrust Beth and her family to the Living Word for our lives… to Jesus Christ, Lord of Life.  Even though I am not sitting with her, I think I may hear Beth singing:

O come, Thou Branch of Jesse’s tree, Free them from Satan’s tyranny
That trust Thy mighty pow’r to save, And give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high, And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

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In March, I posted some observations on Planned Parenthood.  At the same time I invited any readers to contact their senator with a request not to fund PP with tax dollars.  Yesterday, I received a comment on  my post.  The gentleman wrote:

“I noticed the religious overtone to your perspective on the issue of abortion.  You have every right to your views and ideologies, but consider an “abortion” is no longer specifically a medical procedure.  It is most commonly a prescription of two pills.  It is now an induced miscarriage.  Your life  may be stable, as your health may be, but not everyone shares the experience of your comforts and bliss life.  These induced miscarriages save lives.  There is no regard for the living breathing woman from PP opponents.”  Mike.

Compelled to respond, I began writing.  I clicked a key and my text disappeared.  I started in again.  Once more, the text disappeared.  Still compelled, I started in again, saying:

Mike… It is because I have “regard for the living breathing women” that I warn against abortion  That I cannot endorse the profiteering of Planned Parenthood.  Thirty some years out and about across this big country have taught me valuable lessons.  I may have been the one invited to speak, but I also became a listener.  I have yet to meet a woman who wanted an abortion.  Instead, women tell me that they felt “trapped,” alone, and without support during a very vulnerable time in their lives.  They knew other choices had been made in their lives which led to pregnancy.  Sex is not recreational; it is, rather, procreational.  A woman who has an abortion is no different from me.  In a moment of temptation, she chooses to become her own “god” and decide for herself what is right or wrong.  I am guilty, far too many times in a difficult situation, of trying to take control and be my own “god.”  But, I am a believer in Hope after my wrong and hurtful choice.  Yes, you recognized the “religious overtone” correctly.  My hope is in Jesus Christ.  Without Him, I’m left to despair in my own miserable mess.

A last count, 24 of my friends, relatives, or acquaintances have shared their abortions with me.  They asked me to speak up.  To warn.  To help other women avoid what they experienced following their abortion choice.  It is precisely because of “living breathing” women that I became a part of a “hope and healing” ministry for post-abortive women called Word of Hope.  It is because of “living breathing” women that I co-founded a caring pregnancy center where we walk with women throught their pregnancy and offer help to them and their families during the months following birth.  It is because of “living breathing” women that I started a small, but caring ministry called Titus 2 for Life in order to help older women confront the mistakes of their past and help mentor younger women to avoid similar life-changing mistakes.

Abortion is not an “induced miscarriage.”  It is not natural.  It is the intentional choice to end the life of a fetus (Latin: “young one”).  The “common prescription of two pills” as you mention, reveals that action is being taken on the part of the doctor and mother to intentionally end a pregnancy or, more honestly, the life of a “young one.”  Miscarriage is very, very different.  It is not the choice of the mother.  It is something that happens beyond the mother’s control.

You are correct that I, as you, have “every right to [my] views and ideologies.”  That’s the beauty of living in a land where freedoms of religion and speech are protected.  It is because I believe in the God who creates, loves, and redeems life that I speak up.  Warn.  Help and support others in times of difficulty.  Because, you see, I believe I am more than body and mind.  I am also soul.  My soul, and therefore my relationship to the Creator of my soul, matters.  All may not be well with my physical life or with my emotional life (after all, it’s a hard and sinful world), but I most certainly desire that all be well with my soul.  I desire this, also, for every “living breathing woman” and man.  Our souls become right because of Jesus.

I appreciate the fact that you cared enough to comment, Mike.  Thank you.

Word of Hope — The Lighthouse Center of Hope Titus 2 for Life

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Do you have a daughter captivated by the romance of Edward and Bella?  Then you might be interested in an early morning phone call I received a few days ago.  A mother had one question on her mind.  “What do you think about the Twilight series?”  I admitted that I haven’t read the books, but previews of the newly released film have my attention.  “What,” I asked, “concerns you so much that you would call even though we’ve never met?”

With calm reason and logic, she defined Twilight as an example of “deception.”  It’s an attempt to “normalize an aberration,” she noted.  “You’ve pointed out such things in your articles and Titus 2 ministry.”  Twilight, she said, is fantasy — to be sure, but it is also a dangerous mix of the holy and unholy.  I’m frustrated, she confessed because “when I express my concerns to the younger ones in my family, they roll their eyes.” 

Mentoring and warning sons and daughters often receives this kind of response.  Parents may back away from dialogue because they’re described as “unenlightened” or “out of touch.”  This mom, however, was looking for encouragement to press on.  She was well aware of the battle for the hearts and minds of young Christians.   

I’m thankful this mom cared enough to call.  It motivated me to do further research.  I found a discerningly helpful article entitled “The Twilight Series from a Christian Perspective: Part I & II” by Mark Farnham.  Mark is Assistant Professor of Theology and New Testament at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, PA.  He and his wife have two teen daughters and a ten-year-old son.  Mark has served as a pastor and director of youth ministries. 

If there is a young woman in your family whose romantic yearnings are teased by Twilight, please take the time to read Mark Farnham’s review.  “The fact that Edward and Bella do not engage in sexual activity seems to be enough to warrant a stamp of approval from  many Christians who defend the series,” writes Mark.  “Some even praise Edward (a vampire) for his considerable restraint in not doing the one thing that is most bodily urgent to him – drinking Bella’s blood.”  But, cautions Mark, “What a work of culture promotes as normal and desirable – or abnormal and undesirable – is the crux of the matter.”  Twilight “drips with sensuality,” writes Mark.  “This aspect of the series should be a major stumbling block for a Christian reader who is attuned to biblical portrayals of holiness and purity.”  (Visit SharperIron to read more.)

Parents, what is Twilight promoting?  What is it compromising?  Might it change a young person’s attitude toward God?  “For Bella,” writes Mark, “God is unnecessary.  Only Edward is necessary.  In her mind, God is only an acceptable thought if He (in whatever form He exists) accepts Edward.  The roles are switched — Edward is supreme and necessary; God is subordinate and contingent.” 

It is spiritually risky business when we fear, love, and trust our self-determined happiness before God.

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The call was unexpected.  “We’ve never met,” the gentleman explained, “but I have a request.  Could you write something of comfort for parents who have miscarried?”

He went on to explain.  “I’m a pastor.  I’m expected to have appropriate words for every situation.  But, when a father and mother suffer the loss of their child through miscarriage or stillbirth, I really don’t know what to say.”  

It wasn’t that he didn’t have words of comfort, hope and healing to offer grieving parents.  God’s Word is everything we need in all circumstances.  But, this pastor was looking for something he could give parents to encourage them into God’s Word.  To remind them that their child could be entrusted into God’s loving care.   To remind them that, even when they cannot find the words to pray, the Spirit intercedes for them.

The devotional booklet that was inspired is titled Into His Loving Care.  Short devotions with Scripture include: “You Are the Creator,” “Fill My Heart with Peace,” “Where Are My Friends?,” “Emptiness,” “Why?,” “It Hurts,” “You Called My Child By Name,” and “Let Me Be An Instrument.” 

Into His Loving Care (#LFL902B) may be ordered from Concordia Publishing House Bajo Su Cuidado Amoroso (#LFL902BS) is also available.

It may seem as if God is very far away at such times of sorrow, but He knows every sparrow that falls.  How much more He must care for you and me . . . and our little ones.

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If you’re a parent, please take the time to watch — or at least skim through — the following.  There truly is a battle for our children.  Children, no matter what others might say, are entrusted by God to their parents.  His Word equips parents with exactly what they need to teach, mentor, and protect.  No one can love and guide a child better than his or her faithful parent.  Especially not those with an agenda that opposes God.  After watching, please visit www.parentalrights.org


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A cross has a special meaning for the Christian woman.  It is a reminder of a love so great that it was willing to endure ridicule, humiliation, pain, and even death.   The cross — hanging on her bedroom wall or on a chain around her neck — reminds the Christian woman of the amazingly  unselfish love of Jesus.  The “look” of Jesus’ love is one of humility.  The “behavior” of Jesus’ love turns away from self to others.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross  (Philippians 2:1-8).

Not long ago, I was with my husband and several male members of my family at a restaurant.  The woman who served our table was wearing a cross necklace which hung deep between her partially-exposed breasts.  When the men at my table looked (can I deny that they did?), what do you suppose they saw?  The cross — or something else?

The woman who served our table most probably had no intention of being a temptress.  She probably gave little if any thought to the partially-exposed look of today’s woman.  After all, from kindergarten through high school, girls are encouraged to be comfortable with their bodies.  Their “sexuality.”  This woman — like many of us — intended no harm.  But, perhaps she was uneducated.  Perhaps no one cared to explain to her how sin distorts a man’s visual appreciation of a woman’s body.  Or, perhaps she did not understand the look and behavior of the cross and her responsibility to lead away from temptation.  At that moment, the Christian men of my family were called to turn their eyes away from the woman and, instead, focus on the cross of Jesus.  This meant acting like gentlemen who are respectful of women.  (A Christian man finds wisdom in Job 31:1; Proverbs 4:14-15; Ephesians 6:10-11; and Luke 11:4).

The world’s look and behavior of love boldly screams: Look at me!  God’s look and behavior of love tenderly encourages: Look at the cross!  Jesus’ look turned outward toward others.  Jesus’ behavior placed the well-being of others ahead of His own.

For a number of years, Judy Hayen and I traveled the country with the purity lifestyle show called Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up.  We transported a collection of vintage clothing from Oklahoma City to Chicago to Detroit to help us illustrate what the first Fashion Designer — God — has to say about clothing.  On one of our journeys, Judy encouraged me to write a Bible study for girls and their moms to use at home, church, or a girls’ sleepover.  A pastor’s wife used portions of the study at volleyball camp.  One of the ten lessons is titled “The Look and Behavior of Love.”

Other lessons are:

  • Fig Leaves Aren’t Enough
  • Jesus Covers Our Shame and Embarrassment
  • Embarrassment on a Windy Day
  • Worldviews in Conflict
  • My Body, My Choice…or Is it?
  • Is Clothing a Language?
  • Beauty at Any Price?
  • Living in the Presence of God
  • The Perfect Dress
  • Dressing for Life… the Secret is Out!

At this time, the study is available as a reproducible PDF from Lutherans For Life or Concordia Publishing House (#LFLDFLWEB – $12).  However, with growing interest, ezerwoman may be encouraged to publish in a different format.  Hmmm.  What thinkest thou?

Do women need to know why it’s so great — not only to cover-up, but be covered?

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Some of you have great respect for C.S. Lewis.  The men in my family have been greatly impacted, most especially, by his book Mere Christianity.  As for me, I read portions a little at a time.   I chose to take the book with me on a recent flight and turned to Lewis’ chapter entitled “Sexual Morality.”  Here’s what Lewis had to say in 1943:

. . .[F]or the last twenty years [we] have been fed all day long on good solid lies about sex.  We have been told, till one is sick of hearing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon the silly old Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely.  It is not true.  The moment you look at the facts, and away from the propaganda, you see that it is not.

“They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up.  But for the last twenty years it has not been hushed up.  It has been chattered about all day long.  Yet it is still in a mess.  If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right.  But it has not.  I think it is the other way round.  I think the human race originally hushed it up because it had become such a mess.  Modern people are always saying, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.’  They may mean two things.  They may mean ‘There is nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that the human race reproduces itself in a certain way, nor in the fact that it gives pleasure.’  If they mean that, they are right.  Christianity says the same . . . Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body — which believe that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty, and our energy.  Christianity has glorified marriage more than any other religion . . . But, of course, when people say, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,’ they may  mean ‘the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of.’

“If they mean that, they are wrong.  I think it is everything to be ashamed of.  There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips . . . There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us.  Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance.  God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome.  What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.

“. . . Our warped natures, the devils who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda for lust, combine to make us feel that the desires we are resisting are so ‘natural,’ so ‘healthy,’ and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them.  Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humor.  Now this association is a lie.  Like all powerful lies, it is based on a truth — the truth . . . that sex in itself (apart from the excesses and obsessions that have grown round it) is ‘normal’ and ‘healthy,’ and all the rest of it.  The lie consists in the suggestion that any sexual act to which you are tempted at the moment is also healthy and normal.  Now this, on any conceivable view, and quite apart from Christianity, must be nonsense.  Surrender to all our desires obviously leads to impotence, disease, jealousies, lies, concealment, and everything that is the reverse of health, good humor, and frankness.  For any happiness, even in this world, quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary.

“. . . Many people are deterred from seriously attempting Christian chastity because they think (before trying) that it is impossible.  But when a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility.”

“. . . Virtue — even attempted virtue — brings light; indulgence brings fog.”

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