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My oldest grandson turned 18 this month. This is a sobering rite of passage (especially in an election year). Such a birthday deserves a special letter from grandma. In writing that letter, I shared some personal thoughts just between grandma and grandson, but also similarities between his 18th year and mine. Here is the historical portion of my letter:

Dear Grandson,

At 18, I was excited about the life that stretched out ahead of me. I remember riding in the car with a friend of mine. When the radio blasted out the song “I’m 18 and I Like It,” he cranked up the volume and sang along. Me? Not so much. I sensed this was a transitional time for me. I was looking beyond 18… to adulthood.

In chorus, we sang “The Age of Aquarius.” When the “moon is in the Seventh House,” did we really think we would experience:

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation…

A lot of troublesome ideologies and theories were floating around during my eighteenth year. Evolution was taught, but my biology and science teachers didn’t chastise me for believing in creation. One of my classmates was living with her boyfriend. None of my friends’ parents were divorced. Most everyone went to church. However, in looking back, I recognize that secular humanism in the form of sex education, “social justice,” and “liberation theology” were making their way into church bodies.

I turned 18 the November after Woodstock (August 1969). I remember thinking: What an odd thing to do. Sleep in the rain on a muddy field while smoking weed and getting high. All over the country there was a sense of “being different than our parents.” In 1967, the song explained:

If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re going to meet some gentle people there.
… All across the nation,
Such a strange vibration,
People in motion,
There’s a whole generation
With a new explanation.

When a few high school and mostly college-age people went to San Francisco with “flowers in [their] hair” they lived as “hippies” in “tent city” communes. Drug use was common. “Make love, not war” was graffitied everywhere.  Some may have thought they were creating a utopia. To me, it seemed lonely, dangerous, and hopeless. The full court press against institutions of family, church, and government had been set in motion. Too many in my age group seemed to want to “do whatever feels right to me.” By January of 1973, “free love” led to Roe vs. Wade. I admit to not knowing much about abortion during my 18th year. Ten percent of my graduating class was pregnant. All five girls gave birth to their babies and all married. Later, I would learn of at least two area college girls who went to New York for abortions prior to 1973.

In my 18th year, Black Lives Matter.inc did not exist, but the Weather Underground did. Originally called the Weatherman, this militant group of young, white Americans formed under the leadership of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dorhn in 1969 on the University of Michigan campus. The organization grew out of the anti-Vietnam movement and evolved from the Third World Marxists, a faction within Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). They represented the “New Left” that was active on college campuses during my junior and senior years. The confessed ideology of this group was a mix of Communism and Black Power. Their cause was to advance Communism through violent revolution and use of street fighting. They called on people my age to create a “rearguard” action against the U.S. government that would weaken and collapse the country.

Christianity stood in the way of Communism. This is true because Christians have hope. It is difficult to beat down someone who has hope and can find meaning even in suffering. It is difficult to divide people who see one another as members of one human race. For this reason–between my 18th year and yours, my grandson–Communists with their anti-God ideology worked tirelessly to infiltrate churches and compromise Christians by way of sexual and gender identity, same-sex “marriage,” transgenderism, social justice, and critical race theory. In part, I wrote The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity because I was beginning to see how many of the Communist goals for the U.S. had already been accomplished.

Communism sobered me up in my 18th year. But I only saw the consequences of its aggression in countries far away. Constantly in the news during my senior year was the war to prevent South Vietnam from being completely taken over by Communist North Vietnam. At that time, we weren’t told what to think 24/7 by “talking heads” on TV. Instead, we received “news” from on-location reporters who photographed and reported what they saw rather than offer their opinion for debate.

The Kent State riots started on May 1 just before my graduation in 1970 when a mix of bikers, students, and out-of-town young people assaulted police with beer bottles and engaged in criminal behavior. On May 2, the campus ROTC building was set on fire by arsonists. Protesters surrounded the building, cut a fire hose, and assaulted fire fighters with rocks and other objects. City officials and downtown businesses were threatened. I remember it well. A National Guardsman and four students were killed. It was a bit frightening yet seemed far away. Today the riots in Seattle, Portland, L.A., Minneapolis, Kenosha, Washington D.C., and NYC don’t seem very far away at all.

Many of the songs during my 18th year reflected the restless culture. There was “Woodstock,” “War,” and “I Want to Take You Higher.” Strangely, during our senior year your Grandpa and I went to a Sly and the Family Stone concert at Iowa State University. Neither of us liked the band but, hey! It was a great excuse for high school seniors to mix with university students.  Truth be told, the concert was a bust. Sly and the Family Stone did not show up because they were stoned!

In the fall of my 18th year, I was a student at our local community college. There was only a hint of rebellion and unrest. Mostly just talk. Curiosity. And stories told of soldiers going to and returning from a sadly politicized war. I sat next to a student in chemistry lecture who had just returned from Vietnam. He was very quiet. Very private. (Good looking, too!) I tried talking to him. But he responded with few words. I can only guess what images were etched in his mind. Later, it was important for me to stand at the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. Seeing the names of soldiers who gave their lives left an impression on me. I could never understand why Hollywood types like Jane Fonda could aid and abet the enemy and, therefore, betray the American boys, husbands, and fathers who sacrificed to press against Communism.

In my advanced writing class, I took on a big project. I wrote a lengthy story about the terrors of war from the perspective of a wounded warrior who was left a quadriplegic. It was a strange story for a girl to write. But I was a strange girl. I started reading books about the Holocaust and Nazi War Crimes in 8th or 9th grade. I believe that such reading prepared me for the pro-life work that I would one day be involved with. Perhaps I wanted to be more familiar with the past so that I could better recognize “good” and “evil” in the present. Like you, my grandson, I was trying to pay attention to what was going on in the world. I wanted to enjoy life, friends, and activities. I wanted to be involved in meaningful ways. I wanted to make a difference. But I did not want to compromise my faith. I won’t lie. There were a lot of temptations. Today I have to believe that the Lord of my life kept me from some dangerous choices and close calls.

A part of my 18-year-old person wanted to be in the city where “things were happening.” I assumed I would be moving on from the community college to a university. Eventually, I envisioned living in Minneapolis where I would be an interior designer. Well, that was one possibility. But I was also starting to be interested in theology. What a mix! An interior designing theologian. Ha!

Upon reflection, my grandson, I see so many similarities between my 18th year and yours. At 18, one is poised on the brink of adventure. There is excitement. But there is also some anxiety. We do better with both when we know who we are.

God gave you His name and His Spirit at your Baptism. Through water and Word, you became a son and heir of God because of what Jesus Christ has done for you. You are a character in God’s Story. No matter what is happening in the culture around you, remembering who you are to God will help you know how to think, speak, and act.

How do I know that? Because between my 18th year and now, God has been merciful and patient with me. He has taught me much about who I am and why I am here. There have been good days and bad. Successes and failures. Through it all, I didn’t hold on to Him nearly as tightly as He held on to me. I wonder. Do you think it might be that He had me experience the roller-coaster of 18-plus years so that I could be a better grandma to you?

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John Bunyan described Christian as a pilgrim progressing on an earthly journey. Christian travels over hills of difficulty and through dark valleys. He meets Despair and Doubting, but also Faithful and Hopeful. At one point on the journey,

Hopeful began to get very sleepy. Christian, shaking his friend’s arm, exclaimed, “Remember, the shepherds warned us about the Enchanted Ground. We must stay alert!”

“What would have happened to me if I’d been by myself?” Hopeful wondered. “I’m thankful you are here with me!”

Christian said, “To keep us from falling asleep, let’s talk….”*

Today, we might say that Christian is traveling through the Land of Covid. It is unfamiliar to him and like no place he has ever been. The River of Fear flows along the trail. Some travelers have already slipped into the River. Others have set camp near the River.

A voice calls to Christian. “Come camp with us. There is no need for talk here. Close your eyes for a while. We will keep you safe.” The invitation is tempting, but Christian is bold to ask, “What does this mean?

Stepping away from the camp, Christian scouts the area. His reason and all his senses are alert. He looks right, then left, then ahead. There, Christian sees other travelers walking away from the River. Moving closer, Christian hears them talking and telling stories of where they have been and what they have seen.

Christian looks back toward the camp where he was invited to close his eyes and feel safe. Then he looks to the talkers moving on the trail. Christian is deceived neither by the campers nor the talkers. He knows the Savior of his life and trusts the guidance of Wisdom.

In Wisdom, Christian walks.

To keep from falling asleep, Christian talks. In humility, he asks questions. With discretion, he listens. The way does not become easier.

But in Wisdom, Christian walks.

 

L. Bartlett, 5-7-20

*From Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s Classic Story Adapted for Children,
Great Commission Publications.

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A road trip might not seem wise right now. But one was necessary if my husband and I were to return to the fields of Iowa from the desert and mountains of Arizona. We socially-distanced at motels, picked up food for our room, and sanitized before and after fueling the car.

One morning we knew we could go no further until an unscheduled stop was made. We pulled off the interstate and into the small town where a dear, widowed friend lives. I called her. “Rubie, if you stand at your front door, we’ll come visit you!” And that we did. No, it wasn’t the same as giving her a hug, or sitting next to her on the sofa, but for a few minutes we were able to let her know that she matters to us. We sat curbside in our car and she stood on her porch. We exchanged news, shared a laugh or two, and told her we love her without placing her at risk. Pulling away, I’m quite sure I saw her wipe away a tear.

It is all quite surreal. Gazing out the car window at the beauty of Utah and Colorado, we could see that nothing had changed. It is still possible to love our neighbor. It is still possible because God first loved us. He loves us through His Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus. He loves us by holding His world together and sustaining it. He sends rain and then the sun. He sprouts leaves from bare and seemingly dead trees.

The Lord has not turned His face from us. He is asking us to turn our face toward Him.

 

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“Abortion is the sacrifice I made for myself.” That is the way that some women describe the most difficult decision of their life.

But God does not ask for such sacrifice. He does not ask for the blood of an unborn son or daughter. He asks that we turn our eyes to the cross where the sacrificial blood of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ has covered every fear, doubt, and repentant sin.

January 22 of 2020 marked 47 years of legalized abortion in the United States. The reasons for abortion are most often fear-based. “I fear for my future.” “I fear losing my boyfriend.” “I fear the disappointment of my parents.” “I fear inconvenience.” “I fear the unknown.”

Since 1973, Americans have offered the blood sacrifice of 61,628,584 unborn children. That is 2,362 abortions daily and 98 abortions per hour every hour in the U.S. Our nation cannot sacrifice the lives of sons, daughters, cousins, grandchildren, and neighbors and be better for it. There is no hope in the blood shed by abortion.

But there is hope in the saving blood of Jesus Christ. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7). Forgiveness for abortion—and any other sin—is costly. But it is a cost that Jesus was willing to pay. Why? Because nothing else would save us.

King David’s bones were wasting away under the weight of his sin. The blood of another human being was on his hands and for as long as he refused to confess his guilt he suffered. Day and night, God’s hand was heavy upon him. His “strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” But then David acknowledged his sin. He said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’” and he was forgiven. (Psalm 32:3-5).

“Yes!” says the woman who’s had an abortion “I believe that even a murderer like David can be forgiven. But how can God possibly forgive me, a mother who has killed her own child?”

To believe that abortion is “the unforgiveable sin” is to believe the lie of Satan. It is to sit in the darkness of doubt and despair, held captive by “the thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

The blood of abortion may stain the hands of a mother, father, or grandparent, but the blood of Jesus makes us white like snow. (Isaiah 1:18) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

God has compassion on “a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). Jesus sets the sorry heart free! Jesus says, “There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

Linda Bartlett
Titus 2 for Life

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There are dozens of different genders. (If I disagree, I’m a hater.) Women must allow men to use their locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers. (If I disagree, I’m a bigot.) Marriage can be between two men or two women. (If I disagree, I’m a hater.) It’s ok for a child to have two mommies or two daddies. (If I disagree, I’m a bigot.) Abortion should be legal up to the moment of birth. (If I disagree, I hate women.)

BUT… I don’t hate women. A great deal of my life has been spent listening to women who’ve had abortions explain their grief, regret, and hope that younger women will not choose to do what they did. With concern for mother and child (and in spite of my own inadequacies), I try to defend both.

I am not a hater or a bigot. I respect my fellow human beings. Even when someone chooses to live differently from me, I do not turn my back on them. Their personhood–body and soul–matters to me. If they want me as their friend, I will strive to be an honest and persevering friend on good days and bad. As a Christian, I simply believe that God the Creator of male, female, and marriage gets to define male, female, and marriage. I trust that He knows better than me how His creation and design benefits every generation for the good of society.

In this period of time described in Romans 1, I realize that some will call me a hater, a bigot, small-minded, deplorable, judgmental, and even dangerous. But, in the end, it matters most what Jesus Christ has done for me and, therefore, why I need to draw closer to Him rather than to the world. God help me.

L. Bartlett

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My dear niece,

In our communications, you have expressed the desire to see the “bigger picture.” I understand what you’re saying. You believe it would be helpful to know what God is doing through you and for what purpose.

Two people come to mind who most likely had this same desire. My mom–your grandmother–didn’t talk about her cancer very much, not even to her family. Instead, she lived. While she had strength, she kept doing the things she had always done. She kept working from home, stayed involved at church, kept up with her friends, and encouraged family activities. Your grandmother corresponded regularly with a man sentenced to life imprisonment. Every morning at 8:00, your grandmother called her recently widowed friend, Gladys, to help her start her new day. Gladys told me many times how important those calls were; calls from someone who put aside her own discomfort and fears to reach out to a grieving friend.

Edwin is the father of my close friend, Mary. When Edwin was 34, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He lived a faithful life into his 60s. Everyone who knew Edwin agreed that he was a humble, always cheerful, helpful, and encouraging man. He chose to live each day as he always had: working on the farm, raising his son and daughter, volunteering at church, and being a good neighbor. Edwin turned conversations to the matters of life that are most important. He seemed to realize that he had a window of opportunity, not to do something for himself, but to become more bold in directing people’s attention to the Word and work of Christ. Edwin was well-studied by medical students. He impacted lives with his “it’s not all about me” attitude. Even when Edwin’s vision and speech were impaired, he continued teaching Sunday school. He would laugh and explain to the children why he talked differently. He would ask them to be patient whenever he mispronounced a blurry word. Those children still remember him. Edwin didn’t just pass the Christian faith on to his son and daughter. He showed how it can be lived out. Mary remembers her dad saying, “Be kind to your mother. Support her. Be the family she needs you to be.”

Dear niece, I could speak to you like Job’s friends Zophar, Eliphaz, and Bildad spoke to him. They came to sit with Job in the ashes, but their words provided little comfort. Job asked: “Where is my hope?” I cannot come and sit with you, but I can be like Job’s friend Elihu who faithfully reminded his suffering friend of God’s Word and work. Elihu understood that he didn’t have any great wisdom or advice for Job. All he had was love for his friend and reverence for God.

“God is greater than man,” Elihu said.

“God does no wrong.”

“God is mighty in strength and understanding.”

“God delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.”

Elihu was faithful to his friend, not by showing him all the things Job could do but reminding Job of all that God does.

The Pharisees wanted to know why the man had been born blind. “Who sinned,” they asked, “the blind man or his parents?” Jesus replied that it was not because of a particular sin that the man was blind. Instead, he was blind so “that the work of God might be displayed in him.” God’s strength “is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:9). Elihu seemed to understand this, assuring Job that God often uses affliction not for punishment but for deliverance. Affliction opens ears to learn the Lord’s purposes and opens mouths in praises.

Elihu never presumed to speak for God. Nor do I. (Eve did that and regretted it the rest of her life.) But, Elihu was faithful in reminding Job to fear and love God; to be humbled and in awe of His power. I, too, want to be faithful in reminding you to fear and love God. Why? Because the best thing you and I can do for each other is to help one another be ready for God’s visitation. On the day that the Lord visits us, all that will matter is our confidence in the mercy and saving work of Jesus Christ.

My dear niece, I continue to pray that you have peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

A letter to my niece who bears the cross of brain cancer.

Photo credit: celebbabylaundry.com

 

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What did I see the night of the President’s State of the Union Address?

I saw people gathered, some believing that had come to tolerate the words of a fool.

When this fool exposed New York’s celebration of legalized full-term abortion and the governor of Virginia’s promotion of infanticide, I saw a senator from New York with a smirk on his face. This man, in office long enough to know that the camera might very well be focused on him, continued to smirk while a fool spoke what some pastors will not: “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children—born and unborn—are made in the holy image of God.”

I saw women dressed in white stand with applause when a fool recognized women’s rights and bursting opportunities as legislators but sit stone-faced when that fool spoke of “dignity of every person,” most especially “children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”

I saw those women dressed in white, but why? The early suffragettes once wore white as they sought the dignity of voting rights. But Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others agreed there was no dignity in the right to abort children. “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” (Stanton in a letter to Julia Ward Howe, 1873)

I saw a fool speaking against socialism. I saw people stand and applaud while those women in white remained seated and silent.

I saw a fool renewing his promise to “build a wall” in order to stem the tide of human trafficking and sexual slavery. When the chamber burst into applause, those women in white called attention to themselves by their silence and stone-cold betrayal of defenseless women and children. But another fool—his name Nehemiah—told the citizens of Jerusalem to build a wall. Of course, the neighbors surrounding the crumbled Jerusalem laughed at the ridiculous notion. Wouldn’t it, after all, be the mark of progressive people to see all ideologies as equal, all blessings evenly distributed, and a utopian dream come true? But Nehemiah understood human imperfection and the potential for corruption. So, for the sake of homeland security, he instructed that the wall be built, the gates repaired, and the citizens armed with weapons and the Word.

I saw a fool who was unafraid to speak truth. Admittedly, I have never spoken to this fool whose buffoonish ways irritate restless souls. But his words to American citizens remind me of who I am called to be.

“… We have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you [disciples] are wise in Christ … When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat” (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).

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My niece, a young wife and mom, is dealing with cancerous brain tumors. My husband’s nephew, a young husband and father, is dealing with thyroid cancer. It is my way to encourage them through written letters. Here’s the one I sent them both today.

This morning in my devotions I read about Ezekiel’s call from God. What happens between God and Ezekiel strikes me as very significant for you. Let me try to paraphrase:

God tells Ezekiel to stand up so He can speak to Him. The Spirit enters Ezekiel and he hears God’s instruction. God tells Ezekiel to go to the stubborn and rebellious Israelites. God tells Ezekiel not to be afraid of them, even if “thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions.” Then God tells Ezekiel to open his mouth and eat the scroll that He puts in his mouth. He tells Ezekiel to go speak “My words to them … the house of Israel.”

God explains that the people of Israel won’t want to listen to Ezekiel because those people have “a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.” But then He says, “Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” (Excerpts from Ezekiel 2:1-3:11)

Now, you haven’t been asked to go speak to rebellious Israelites, but you are up against a stubborn and rebellious enemy who hates the human life that God so loves. As God’s child you are not only living in a world broken by sin, but your body and soul are engaged in physical and spiritual battle. In sickness and difficulty, Satan wants you to doubt the mercy and work of Jesus Christ. He wants you to think that God has abandoned you.

God has not told you to “eat this scroll” and then speak to a rebellious nation, but He has told you to digest the Word He has given you for life—the Word fulfilled in Christ Jesus. He wants you to trust His Word and then use it to speak to the fear and doubt that comes in your weak and weary moments.

Here’s the profound part of the dialogue between God and Ezekiel that I think applies to you. God made Ezekiel’s “face as hard as their faces” and his “forehead as hard as their foreheads.” In other words, the Lord prepared Ezekiel for the challenge he would experience. He gave to Ezekiel the strength and determination needed to stand up to strong-willed and determined people. He comforts Ezekiel, saying, “Fear them not.” I believe that God has prepared you for your own challenge. With the faith He has given you comes determination and courage even in the face of cancer. He promises you His Spirit who comforts you and intercedes for you (Romans 8:26). And when a neighbor or caregiver struggling with their own difficulties and fears sees your eyes resting on the Cross of Christ, can you deny that God might work through you to turn their eyes there, too?

God is God. And He will be exalted (Psalm 46:10-11). Repeatedly throughout all of Scripture, we read how God is exalted at those very times when Adam or Abraham or Jacob or David or even the disciples believed everything was hopeless and lost. That is how it is with Almighty God. That’s how He works. Nothing overcomes Him. He overcomes everything. In His way. And for His purpose. If this mighty yet merciful Lord and Savior is our God, then you and I have nothing to fear.

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This morning, the FB post of a young friend of mine caught my attention. The post read something like this: My attitude is based on how you treat me. I took a deep breath and responded, saying: Or, my friend, there’s this. I’ve been working on having a better attitude… no matter how anyone treats me. Sometimes I need to confront my own negative spirit so that I can adjust my attitude concerning a person or situation.

My friend thanked me. But our conversation didn’t end there. My reason and all my senses encouraged me not to shy away from a deeper conversation. So, transitioning to a less public mode of correspondence, I confessed my fear of offending her. But here’s the thing, I told her: There is a negative spirit spreading not just across the country but in our congregational families and homes. At times, I feel this negative spirit wanting to consume me. I must call it what it is… and press back against it. It’s too easy to give myself a pass and just say what I want or maintain the attitude that justifies my cause. But, truth be known (and more often than not), it’s my own attitude that needs adjustment.

Stay the course, I encouraged my friend: Don’t forget who you are! You are God’s own daughter in Christ. Knowing that, you are equipped to battle all wrongs… in the spirit of humility and truth. Your family needs you. Your life and how you live it matters to more people than you know.

Only a few minutes passed before my friend reached out. “I appreciate your honesty and am not offended at all,” she told me. “But lately it seems as though I’m a literal rug laying on the floor of this home. Some days it’s so hard to keep going… to keep giving… knowing that everything I do is for people who don’t seem to appreciate me. Deep down, I know they do, but they sure could do a better job of showing it! I know… I’m selfish. I admit it. It’s hard to keep a positive attitude when I feel like I’m taken for granted.”

It wasn’t difficult to recognize myself in this younger woman. And it would have been unkind of me to just let her confession hang in thin air. I took another deep breath and wrote these words to her:

My dear friend, I do understand. Some challenging experiences in my life once prompted my husband to share this verse and commentary with me. I’ve never forgotten them. St. Paul writes, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:17). The commentary that speaks so well to this Scripture is from Oswald Chambers who wrote,

Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful—to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say—”I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching and saying, ‘Well done.’ It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a doormat under other people’s feet … Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?

Remember your Baptism! As Lutheran Christians, you and I are both God’s children through Baptism. God has given us the gift of faith! He has called us by His name! He has made us His heirs! We are redeemed by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit! Believing this, we begin to reflect more of Christ and less of ourselves. Our attitude toward others changes.

Oh my! I wish I would have better understood the Lutheran teaching of vocation when I was a younger wife and mom. God has been patient with me and now, as a grandmother, He is showing me that a vocation is the station in life where God places us and from where we serve others.

Think on this! You have vocations of woman, wife, mother, daughter, niece, friend, and so on. In all these vocations you are called by your heavenly Father to serve your neighbor. You are called to be faithful in these stations whether you feel appreciated or not. Why?

Because in doing good for others we are loving God. Those we serve—whether they acknowledge our service or not—are receiving the benefits of our love for God.

As for our own personal care and nurture, well, God knows our needs better than we do. He provides just what we need when we need it most.

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“People have trigger warnings and safe zones because they feel powerless against the ideas they’re facing, but when students grasp reality through a biblical worldview they don’t feel powerless.” (Jeff Myers, President of Summit Ministries).

When I was a young woman, I don’t remember being “triggered” or needing to seek a “safe zone.” But then, I wasn’t nurtured by parents, teachers, pastors, or the culture to think that an emotional gut reaction to a problem or alternate way of thinking is acceptable and healthy.

Ok. I get it. The times have changed.

But people have not. Women and men have always had–and on this earth will continue to have–emotions triggered by sights, sounds, smells and, yes, those ideas that oppose our own.

Whenever given the opportunity, we ought to engage not a whole crowd of “triggered” people, but one triggered person at a time. For example, when someone rants against Christianity, we can ask, “Why are you angry? What has caused you to respond in this way? What barriers stop you from living the Christian life?”

When we talk about the things we haven’t done right, we give others liberty to talk more freely about things they haven’t done right. Carrying the burden of guilt can prevent someone from living a life that’s wholesomely committed to Jesus. Holding on to guilt, pride, or fear puts us all in the position of being taken captive by some deception, myth, or dangerous ideology.

So perhaps, when we encounter a “triggered” person, we can be an example of how to confess sin. We can explain the mercy and forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ and, in this way, lead from despair to hope. We can make use of the fruit of the Spirit which includes patience and kindness as opposed to emotional outbursts and harsh rhetoric.

We can profess with confidence, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Source: “Generational Guidance,” WORLD, 9-1-18

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