In Other Words ~ The Holy Spirit

Our view of the Holy Spirit is too small.
The Holy Spirit is the One who changes the church,
but we have to remember that the Holy Spirit lives in us.
It is individual people living Spirit-filled lives
that will change the church.”
Francis Chan, in 

The above quote was chosen by Tami at The Next Step for today's In "Other Words.  Please visit Tami today to see what she and others have shared about today's quote.  Thank you, Tami, for hosting today!
Crazy Love is one of my favorite books I've never read. :)   You know the ones...you hear people talk about them, you read reviews, quotes, and exerpts, but you haven't managed to actually get your hands on the book yet?   Everything I've read about and from Crazy Love has intrigued, inspired, or convicted me.  I've been on the reserve list at the library for it forever, can't find it used at a price I like, and can't justify buying it new while I have a stack of "to be read" books staring at me from the shelf beside my desk.  But one of these days...:)
Anyway, I was excited to see it as the source of this week's IOW quote.  I also found it interesting because I have been looking toward doing a Bible study on the topic of the Holy Spirit soon.  I've thought often in the past few years about the Holy Spirit's role as intercessor...
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 
~ Romans 8:26
And I think often about the Holy Spirit's role in convicting us of sin.  But otherwise, I don't tend to focus a great deal on the Holy Spirit, and I've realized recently that that needs to change.  So...when I read this quote, that first line jumped out at me: "Yes, my view of the Holy Spirit IS too small!"  
I've mentioned several times here (in addition to my review) that the book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
   , by David Platt, has impacted me greatly.  It's one of those I'll be re-reading a bit at a time for a long time.  
One of the major points David Platt makes in that book is that the American Church has in large part completely "missed it" as far as "church growth" goes.  Platt, who had been called "the youngest mega-church pastor in history", began to realize that his model for ministry ~ Jesus ~ did not have a mega-church.  In fact, He had a mini-church.  He invested the great majority of His time in 12 men, and at the time of His ascension, there were about 120 people actually following Him.  Not quite the "successful church" as we define it today. 
Platt goes on to say that in many churches, the focus is on programs, buildings, all kinds of man-made resources.  But, as Platt says...
"The church I lead could have all the man-made resources that one could imagine, but apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, such a church will do nothing of significance for the glory of God."
He goes on to say...
"In fact, I believe the opposite is true.  The church I lead could have the least gifted people, the least talented people, the fewest leaders, and the least money, and this church under the power of the Holy Spirit could still shake the nations for His glory.  The reality is that the church I lead can accomplish more during the next month in the power of God's Spirit than we can in the next hundred years apart from His provision.  His power is so superior to ours.  Why do we not desperately seek it?"
I wish I had time and space to go into detail about Platt's description of God's gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It opened my eyes in a whole new way to the blessing and importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, while connecting to other things that God has been teaching me over the past several years in that mind-blowing way God has of teaching us sometimes.   I can only touch very briefly on it here, but perhaps will be able to expand a bit in another post.
In Luke 10:13, Jesus says that God gives us the Holy Spirit in answer to our prayers.   In a similar passage in Matthew 7, Jesus says that God gives "good gifts" to those who asks.  Platt says that those "good gifts" are the Holy Spirit.  We ask for comfort when we are hurting; God doesn't just give us comfort, He gives us the Comforter ~ The Holy Spirit.  We ask for guidance and help when faced with a decision; God gives us the Helper and Guide ~ The Holy Spirit.  We ask for strength, and God gives us the Spirit of Power.  God gives us Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit, inside of us.  What an amazing thought!  And one which I have so taken for granted.
God uses us ~ Holy Spirit filled believers ~ to do His work.  But any work we do apart from the Holy Spirit is totally worthless...as filthy rags.  As I've been working on this post, I've been thinking about the youth girls' Sunday School class I start teaching in a couple of weeks.  I am so excited about it...it's where God has laid my heart right now and I am so thankful for this new opportunity...and yet, there is a bit of fear as well.  It's a huge responsibility, and one I don't take at all lightly.  I'm so thankful for the reminders even through today's quote and the reading I've done to go along with it that it is not my power, or my wisdom, or my presentation that are important...if so, we'd be in trouble!  What *is* important is for me to get desperate for God's power and wisdom and strength and plead for Him to work in this class through the Holy Spirit's power in me, to do a work that only He can do.  
What are you desperate for the Holy Spirit to do in and through you today?  I'd love to hear in the comments, or pop over to Tami's blog and share your own post on today's quote. 


Simple Woman's Daybook ~ Transition

FOR TODAY...May 24, 2009

Outside My Window... Sunny, headed into another hot, muggy day.  We have crossed the line from pleasant spring weather into icky, sticky hot days...despite the fact that the calendar says it's almost a month until summer officially begins!

I am Listening to.... Quiet.  There has been *far* too little of that in recent days around here.  After a busier-than-usual weekend, I'm letting children sleep in a bit today, and enjoying a bit of peace and solitude before heading into a very full week.

I am Thankful for...  a Pastor who gives "ballast instead of blather."   Kevin DeYoung's column on Saturday described the importance of a pastor preparing his people not only to live well, but also to die well.   He talks about the fact that  often people don't fully appreciate the  weight and importance of the truth they have heard through the years (if they have heard it at all) until they are near death.  I would add  "or in time of great crisis."  A friend and I were discussing the other day how much the sound, deep, unwavering truth we've been taught in the past five years has helped us weather some very dark storms in recent years.  I love Kevin DeYoung's ending quote...

"Fellow preachers, our people are asking for living bread tomorrow. Do not give them a self-help stone. Our people may not know the weight of which we speak until they come to their end. And at that moment they will be infinitely glad they received ballast instead of blather."

I am Pondering... "Part 3" of the series I've been posting here on "Protecting Children."  (You can read the first part here, and the second part here. )   None of this series has been "planned"...it's a topic that has been heavy on my heart for a long time, but each post has been prompted by something I've read elsewhere which has practically demanded to be shared.  The (upcoming) part 3 is no exception.  This one, like the first, began with a  post by Tom Davis.  I am so thankful for his work to bring these issues to the attention of Christians.   These things are not just "out there"...they are "right here".   These are issues about which I don't want to just say, "Oh, how awful" and go on about life as usual.   I want to be part of the fight to protect children, whether "right here" or "out there" from these evils with which Satan intends to destroy children and families.  (For more information, see Tom's site, She Is Priceless.) 

I am Remembering... Lunch with my good friend Kathy on Friday and Bro. Kent's sermon yesterday morning.   It's not everyone who has friends with whom they can sit and have a two hour conversation on the doctrine of election, original sin, and the sovereignty of God while watching your  children play in the McDonald's PlayPlace.  :)   I'm actually blessed with more than one!  And I love that. :)   Anyway, we ended up in such deep waters as a spin-off of a conversation about a book I recently reviewed, and it just went on from there.  Then yesterday we were sitting in church and Bro. Kent preached right through our entire (well, not entire, but a good bit, anyway...there was some silly stuff interspersed in the conversation as well :)) lunch conversation from Friday.  Really, really good stuff.  Hopefully I'll have a chance to share some of my notes and thoughts here soon. 

Noticing... (Not for the first time!) that my children are growing up way too fast.  Because we school year round and don't pay a lot of attention to "grade levels" in our school, our official "promotion" from grade to grade coincides with promotion day at church, the last Sunday in May.  Next week my oldest will become a "youth", and my youngest will move from the preschool department to the children's department.  HOW did that happen so fast??!!  We will have 1st, 4th, 6th, and 7th graders as of next week. Another milestone to celebrate....but one that makes Mom a bit sad (and nervous!) as well. 

I am Reading...  Finally starting to get a bit caught up on book reviews after getting seriously "overbooked"...eek!   I have three reviews to post later today (I hope!), but I am  FINALLY, FINALLY reading Mary DeMuth'sLife in Defiance: A Novel (Defiance Texas Trilogy)

, which has been sitting on my desk taunting me for weeks!!!  So excited about finally reading the last book in the Defiance trilogy and seeing all the loose ends come together! 

Also re-reading Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
, by David Platt, little bits at a time.  If I were to recommend one book for everyone I know to read this year, other than the Bible, it would be this one.  Having read it through once and reviewed it here, I am now going back and reading little bits at a time and trying to really focus on not just "reading" but "living".  

Planning to finish Their God Is Too Small: Open Theism and the Undermining of Confidence in God
, by Bruce Ware this week, as I have two friends anxiously waiting to read it!  I was thrilled to realize this morning that the author is also the author of the Bible Study I have lined up for the kids and I (and hopefully Billy will be able to be involved as well) for this fall...Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God
.  I'm so convicted and excited about really digging and giving our children a firm foundation in Bible doctrine...not just "Bible stories", but "Bible truths", and I've heard wonderful things about this book in that area.

Also planning to spend some time studying Romans 9-11 this week after yesterday's sermon!

From the Kitchen... I had to bail in the middle of our two-week grocery trip on Friday, and then the rest of the weekend was so busy I never got back to it.   Soo...I'm not totally sure what the full plan is from the kitchen this week yet.  Hopefully we're going to finish that shopping trip later today and I will be able to sit down and finalize our menus for the next two weeks.

BUT...I do know that Billy is planning to cook garlic butter shrimp tonight.  I *love* shrimp, but rarely eat it anymore (and have never cooked it at home...it's always been an "out" treat), but one of my Mother's Day treats from Billy was his cooking a shrimp boil for me.  It was the first time he had ever done one, but it was SOO delicious!!   He had shrimp left over, so tonight he is planning garlic butter shrimp.  I can't wait. :)

On my Mind...  VBS planning!  I'm so excited about using AiG's The Egypt File this year.  Along with that, though, I'm sobered and convicted by a recent America's Research Group/Britt Beemer study cited by AiG that indicates that young people from Christian homes are leaving the church in alarming numbers in their young adult years.   The Beemer study indicates that many of these young people have begun to doubt the Bible by their high school years, and that they find Sunday School materials shallow and irrelevant.   This is particularly on my mind and in my heart as my children head toward the jr. high/high school years, and as I begin teaching youth girls' Sunday School in a few weeks.  So thankful for so many excellent teachers at our church who take very seriously the responsibility of teaching God's Word, and for the opportunity we have as parents to teach our children every day...and so convicted of the need to "make the most of every opportunity" in that area every day!

I am Creating... Clean spots in my house!  Between pain issues and general busy-ness lately, the house has rather gotten away from us.   In between school and other commitments this week, we need to get caught up on cleaning and straightening!

From the Learning Rooms...  Other than a Monday morning shopping trip, which isn't really part of our schedule :), we are trying to make a routine of our summer term schedule this week.  We'll see how it goes!

One of my Favorite Things...  Cool, breezy spring weather...which we seem to be saying farewell to for another year!

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week...  Today we plan to finish the two-week grocery shopping trip we had to abort on Friday, tomorrow we take a meal to friends and then go to Peter's first official "youth activity"  (how did we get *there* so fast??!! :-O ),  Wednesday church/choirs, and lots of wedding prep this weekend!  Other than that, just the usual schoolwork and household chores. :)

A Photo to Share...  Blogger is not behaving well for me today.  I've lost 3/4 of this post once already.   I have not been able to get photos to upload all day.  I think I'll give up and just hit publish. :)

**Update Tuesday...FINALLY!!  Blogger finally let me upload photos, so I thought I would upload *several*. :)  These are a teaser...hopefully later this week I'll finally get a whole post up about our quick trip to Lake Catherine a few weeks ago.  The top two pics are of the sunrise I watched over the Lake as I sat on the big screened in back porch having my quiet time while everyone else was asleep. :)  The bottom one is of the cabin we stayed in.  It was built by the CCC in the 1930s and is on the historic register.  Beautiful!

Thanks to Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook for hosting the Daybook each week.  Visit her for more Daybook entries!


Protecting Children, Part 2

One of the things I love about Facebook is the ability to easily keep up with some of my favorite authors/bloggers.  And one of my favorite authors/bloggers is Tim Challies.   I first became a fan of Tim Challies due to his excellent book reviews, but since becoming a "Facebook friend", I've kept up with his other blog posts and his daily A La Carte feature, which highlights online links of interest.

This morning's A La Carte post included another video that stopped me in my tracks and demanded a repost here.  Again, it isn't comfortable.  It isn't fun.  It isn't encouraging.  It's painful.  And maybe a bit offensive, in a "step on our toes" kind of way.  But oh, so important.  And it is so, so necessary that parents...and all of us...become aware of this and take whatever measures necessary to protect our children.  Lest anyone think that Alcorn is making too much of this...let me assure you that he is not.  And the consequences are not just for that individual and their immediate family.  The consequences ripple through extended family, friends, the church, and the community.  Our own family has been impacted by this in the life of someone completely outside of our household.  The devastation involved is immense.

I am convinced that this is one of the tools that Satan uses most effectively to destroy young men and families (and increasingly young women, as well). It is a tool that he can use to invade our churches where other ammunition would be completely ineffective.   And just as he was with Eve, he is so, so crafty in luring people of all ages and backgrounds into this snare, as I mentioned in Part 1.

Case in point.  Those that know Billy and I know that our "overprotectiveness" rating is off the charts.   I'm pretty sure mine is genetic...going back at least to my Papaw Brown, as those who knew him would no doubt agree :)...and Billy's, while not necessarily hereditary, is definitely inborn.  Remember "Big Mike" in the movie "The Blind Side", who scored 98% in "Protective Instinct"??  Well, my comment at the time was "Billy would have scored 100%.  Or higher. :)"  And he would.  The name "William" means "strong protector", and I have so seen that name lived out in my grandfather (Foy William), my dad (Foy William, Jr.), and my husband (William Aaron).  I'm already seeing it in our son (William Peter) who is a 5th generation William on my side of the family, and 3rd (at least) on Billy's.

As I've mentioned before, Billy and I also have a great deal of "life experience" (particularly from our DHS days and Billy's time at Harbor View and in the ER....) that has just reinforced our natural tendencies in that direction.  We are very, very careful about where our children go, who they are with, and what they watch and listen to.

A few weeks ago, however, we were reminded that we are *always* vulnerable and must *always* be on our guard.  We were travelling, and our lodging had satellite TV.   This was quite a treat for our children, who usually only get to watch cable or satellite on rare occasions when they are at Nonny and Granddad's or Aunt Shelly and Uncle Tim's.  We don't even have network TV at our house!  Just a tiny TV we use for DVDs and videos (yes, we are techological dinosaurs :)) and Netflix instant-watch on the computer (we don't even have the technology to stream that over the TV yet!)

So neither Billy nor I gave a second thought to the TV in the living room of the cabin where we stayed.  The kids enjoyed watching old cartoons for a while before they went to bed, and asked to watch a specific Disney program to which "mean old mom (and dad)" said no.

In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up and walked into the kitchen to get a drink.  Peter was in the living room wide-awake, watching TV.   I asked what he was doing up, he said he couldn't sleep, and I didn't think anything more about it.  At the time, he was watching an old re-run that I had no problem with his watching, so I told him not to stay up all night and went back to bed.

A few minutes later, I was up again, this time to go to the bathroom.  As I walked through the living room, the TV caught my eye.  Peter had been flipping channels, and there was an add for a Pay-Per-View program.  An x-rated PPV program.  I was stunned.  We had had trouble earlier in the evening with the controller "sticking"...we figured it needed new batteries and planned to tell the office the next morning.  Now, of all things, the controller was "stuck" on this particular ad.  I worked and worked with it and finally walked over to the set and turned the whole thing off.

Fortunately, at the place we were staying, those channels are locked, and other than the very distasteful *ads* for the PPV programming, the actual programming cannot be accessed.  That was a huge relief.  However, Billy and I realized that God had truly protected us...and our children...from our own stupidity(okay, maybe stupidity isn't the best word...naivete, perhaps? )  We are so used to the fact that everything our children can access on our "TV" is approved material, that it never occurred to us that danger might lurk right there in the living room of our cozy historic cabin.   We decided then and there that from now on when we travel, the TV will be going off when Mom and Dad go to bed, and the remote will be going with us.  NOT because we don't trust our children....but because there are dangers out there that they are not equipped to handle yet.

These dangers are insidious, and in our world today, they are literally lurking everywhere.  We must be vigilant.  We must do all that we can to protect our children.  As Randy Alcorn said on another video clip I watched...(not a direct quote)...we can't stop it from happening "out there", but we can do everything possible to keep it out of our homes.  He then added the Martin Luther quote which I love..."You can't keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from nesting in your hair."

We MUST keep them from nesting in not only our own hair, but that of our children.

NOTE about the video.  Right at one minute in, there is a gun reference that could be difficult for some.  Please be aware that it is there, and if needed, turn off the volume for about 15 seconds, or just skip from about 1:00 to 1:17.  And...for any young readers I might have who are still living at home with your parents, please consult them before watching, just due to the subject matter.

Would you buy your son a stack of pornographic magazines? from Randy Alcorn on Vimeo.

Also, here is an excellent article from Eternal Perspecitve Ministries on connecting sin with its consequences.  Although I haven't used this particular analogy, this is a topic I discuss with our children often.  Things that seem like "little tiny private sins" can mushroom into disasters that affect not only the individual's life, but the lives of everyone around them.  I am *so* convicted about the need for our children to "get this".  There is another good article from Randy Alcorn on this topic here.

I would love to hear your feedback on these posts on protecting children, particularly any additional helpful links, or ways that your family addresses child protection issues.  You can leave a comment below, or email me through the link in my profile.


Blog Tour ~ Deadly Disclosures

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Deadly Disclosure
New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (February 15, 2010)

Julie Cave


Julie first heard a creation science speaker at her church when she was just 15, igniting her interest in creation science and sparking an enthusiasm for defending the Bible’s account of creation. She has obtained a degree in health science, and is currently completing a degree in law. Julie is married with one daughter and lives on the east coast of Australia.


A Suspense-filled mystery which answers an ominous question: How far will some go to silence an influential Christian voice?

Thomas Whitfield, proud Secretary of the Smithsonian and its extensive scientific influence, has disappeared from his office with foul play suspected. Dinah Harris, an FBI agent struggling with alcohol and depression, is seeking answers amidst the fallout of her own personal issues.

Whitfield's body is eventually found, and other people connected to him begin dying as well, ultimately exposing a broader conspiracy connected to Whitfield's recent conversion to Christ and promotion of a biblical worldview in an academic world of financial gain hostile to this concept.

Will Dinah be able to experience the redemptive power of Christ before it's too late? Or will the ominous danger stalking her investigation claim another victim?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Deadly Disclosure, go HERE.

Watch the Video Book Trailer:


IOW ~ God's Voice Through Pain

“God whispers to us in our pleasures...but shouts to us in our pain.”
~C.S. Lewis

When I read this quote on Loni's blog this morning, I couldn't help but think of my own words in a previous blog post  I happened to read a day or two ago...

"Sometimes God speaks in a still, small voice.

Other times, though, it sure seems like He whacks us over the head with a 2 x 4." 

Obviously, I'm not nearly as eloquent as C. S. Lewis...which would be why he is one of the great authors of all time, and I'm excited when I have 15 blog readers a day. :-D

I think the gist is the same, though.  God's voice does often seem much louder and more clear during times of trial and suffering.  

But then I think...is it really that His voice is louder or more clear?  Or is it that we are listening harder?  Tuning out more of the world's distractions?  More desperately focused on His Word?

Pondering this today...what are your thoughts?   I've shared often here of the ways that God has "shouted" to us in times of difficulty.  Do you have a story of God's whispers in time of pleasure, or shouts in time of pain?  I'd love to hear in the comments.  

And be sure to visit Debbie at Heart Choices, our hostess for In Other Words this week to see what she and others have posted about this quote! 


Protecting Children, Part 1

I rarely post anything terribly controversial on my blog.  An occasional pitch for a political candidate (Go Gilbert!! :)) is typically as "contro" as it gets here.  Those who know me well know that confrontation gives me hives.  I almost had a panic attack the other night trying to write a book review for a book with which I disagreed.  (Eek!)

But there are times when God shoves me out of my comfort zone and I know I am not going to have a moment's peace until I post.  This is one of those times.  Last night I posted sermon notes from yesterday morning's sermon on I Samuel 17 and said, "I can't wait to see what God's 'next step' is..."   I certainly wasn't expecting this, but this is very definitely "a mountain worth fighting for".  And as huge as the giant of child exploitation (and the horrific things to which it leads) is in our nation and our world, it *is* just a giant.  And the battle *is* the Lord's (but it is definitely time for more of us to come out of hiding in our mountain and start fighting it...)

This morning, Tom Davis posted a link on Facebook to his recent blog post "The Exploitation of Children in our Culture".   His post opens with the fact that the video about which he is blogging made him sick to his stomach.   It made me sick to my stomach, too, and it's been very heavy on my heart all day.

For those who aren't familiar with Tom Davis, he is the director of Children's HopeChest, an international ministry to orphans, and the author of the based-on-true-experience novels, Scared and Priceless.  I haven't read Priceless yet...it just came out...but Scared had a tremendous impact on me.  It is an excellent novel, but very definitely *not* easy reading, particularly when you realize that Tom wrote the book using his real-life experiences in Africa.  Because of his experiences with orphans around the world, he has become very aware of the all-too-prevalent evils of child trafficking and exploitation.

I've really struggled with posting this link.  On the one hand, it is disturbing.  It is not something I would want a child or teenager to watch (I did not post the link on my Facebook page for that reason.)   It really isn't something I would want anyone to watch...that is part of the whole point.  On the other hand, it is disturbing.  And we need to be disturbed.  We need to be aware that not only is this type of thing going on in our culture, but that it is seen as totally *normal* and *okay* by many.  We need to realize that this is *not* okay, that it is, in fact, DANGEROUS...for our children, for our families, and for society as a whole.  And we need to *pray*, and then to *act*, as the Lord leads us, to protect our children...all children...from this type of exploitation and the dangers it leads to.

So...I'm not posting the actual video here.  I am posting the link to Tom Davis's post (which contains the video and his comments about it.)  I am also posting the link to the Good Morning America interview with a couple of the parents.  (If you watch GMA, you may have already seen it.)  It is almost more disturbing to me than the actual video because of the attitudes involved.

Tom Davis Blog Post

Good Morning America Interview

(Note about the videos:  The video on the Tom Davis blog post is the full-length video of the girls' "performance".  The GMA video shows clips that will give you a pretty good idea without subjecting you to the whole thing.  My recommendation would be to read what Tom Davis wrote about the video, but skip the actual performance video and watch the GMA video instead.   It is disturbing enough.)

There is so much that is disturbing about the two videos that I can't even begin to address it all here.  But here are a few thoughts (there may be more later...)

First, stop and think about the ages of these girls.  One article I read called them "pre-teen".   Really?  I suppose by the most literal definition (in which any child from birth to 12 is a pre-teen) they are pre-teens, but otherwise?  No.  A pre-teen is an 11 or 12 year old.  These girls were much younger than that.  (Most of what I read indicated they were 7.  The GMA interview indicates that at least two of the girls were 8 or 9.  Still *not* what I would classify as pre-teens.)   Seven is *less* than a year older than our Ammah Grace.  These are *little* girls.

Second, this is *not* normal.   And the fact that there are many in our society see nothing wrong with it is a frightening indicator of the state of our culture.  Child p*rnography and child sexu*l abuse are rampant in our society.  And *anything* that sexu*lizes children, in any way, is contributing to those horrors.  Actually, the fact that this "performance" is seen as "normal", or as "art", makes it all the more dangerous.  Many who would never look at anything billed as "p*rnography" will be drawn in by this type of thing because it's "okay".

Anything that blurs the lines in that way, anything that normalizes, in any way, the sex*alization of children, is dangerous.  It leads to a slippery slope of "soft p*rn" leading to "harder" stuff, which can, and often does, lead to personal contact and actual m*lestation.   My research in this area over the years, plus personal experience  in the child protection field during my "career days" have corroborated that.

(I'm not at this point even touching on the impact that this has on the girls involved themselves.  Maybe in a later post.)

I realize that for many this is hard reading.  It may make some angry.  I hope that it genuinely disturbs many.  Most of all, I hope that it leaves no one apathetic.  This is *not* something that only affects people "out there."  It affects people right here, where we are.  I've mentioned before that Billy and I both have a professional background in the child protective services field.  Over 15 years ago, when I was working for DHS/DCFS, I worked with girls 12 and under who were pr*stituting in the middle of our small (population @ 75,000) southern city in the middle of the Bible belt.

Child p*rnography is not "out there."  Child m*lestation is not "out there."  Child pr*stitution is not "out there."  It is right here.  I know for a fact that it is here.  I have seen it.  I have stared it in the face.  Not once, but many times.  And I can almost guarantee that wherever you live, it is there as well.  This is a mountain that needs to be taken.  Satan delights in destroying children and families through these "issues" that many of us choose to hide our heads and not see.  He delights in making the s*xualization of children seem "normal" and "artistic" and "talented".  And he delights even more when we stand by and let it happen without a word.

I have labeled this post "Protecting Children, Part 1".   I'm not sure how many posts there will be on this topic, and I'm not sure what "Part 2" will contain, but I know this:  this will not be the last post here on this subject.  This has been one of the hardest, if not THE hardest, posts I've ever written...but these things must be said.  This topic is very, very dear to my heart.   Children are precious to God.  We say children are precious to us.  If we really mean that,  we must show that...live that...in every aspect of our lives.

Protecting Children, Part 2

Protecting Children, Part 3


Sunday Snippets

Just a few days ago, a friend and I were discussing the fact that there are times when, no matter how much we would love to be at church, it just isn't possible...and that's okay.  Health issues, family crises, and other situations can keep us from being where we want to be on Sunday.   There are times when God's plan for us for that day includes rest and refreshment at home or meeting the needs of our family in other ways.

That said, there are times when for whatever reason and in whatever way, God causes us to push beyond what we *think* are our limits to "get there" on a particular day.   And those days always seem to hold the biggest blessings for me.

Today was one of those days.

I won't go into detail...suffice it to say that I seriously considered staying home, and once I got there, I thought more than once that I had made a serious mistake in going.

But, oh, how glad I am that I did!

First, we sang a hymn that has become a favorite of mine in the last few years:

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.


Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.


Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.


Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.


~J. Wilbur Chapman

I blogged here about this hymn and the story behind it, the way God has used this hymn in my life in the last few years, and the emotions it evokes.  I *still* can't sing that third verse without my voice breaking and tears filling my eyes.  And as I sang those words this morning, and then re-read that earlier post tonight, I was in awe all over again at the ways God has worked in that situation in our family over the 2 1/2 years since that post was written.  This hymn is ever richer as I reflect over the ways that God has shown the truth of those beautiful words in our lives during recent months and years, and as I look forward to His continuing to do so "until the end."

Then...the sermon.  Wow.  The sermon.

I always really miss Bro. Kent's sermons when he is away from the pulpit.  We are so blessed to be fed so richly every week!  But we are also blessed with some excellent "fill-ins" when he is gone, and one of our favorites is Lyndel's brother, Craig.  Almost every time I've heard him preach over our years at OCB, it's been one of those "hit right between the eyes exactly where I am that moment" sermons.  Today was certainly no exception!

I have to give a bit of background.  For almost four years, we have been dealing with a very difficult extended family situation that directly impacted our family.  I've shared, without giving any details, bits and pieces of what God has been teaching us and doing in our lives through this situation here on the blog.  The situation, however, has not been a public one, but a very private one, and for a long time I was sure we would never share any details with anyone other than the tiny circle of people who have been our burden-bearers, prayer warriors, and "arm-lifters" (Exodus 17:10-13).

For months now, however, God has seemed to be leading in a different direction.  Through His Word, prayer, wise counsel, and circumstance the direction increasingly seems to be toward more openness about our situation, and through that, opportunities to minister to families dealing with similar issues.  While in one sense that is scary (particularly since we know there are those who will not  be happy with that direction), in another, it is exciting.  God has taught us SO much in the last few years, and so much of our ongoing testimony has not been able to be shared with others because it is so wrapped up in what God has done through this area of our lives.

While I feel a great sense of peace about this new direction, I still struggle with aspects of it at times.  But God continues to confirm His direction and remind us that He will guide our steps every inch of the way, just as He has done from the beginning until now.

Forward to today's sermon...:)  Here are a few (very rough and rather random) notes...

1 Samuel 17

The Israelites were in "hiding" on the mountain..."dismayed and terrified" of the Philistine giant.

No "person" is the enemy..."we wrestle not against flesh and blood" (Eph. 6:12).   The Israelites enemy was *not* Goliath/the Philistines, but Satan.  We are either on God's side, or Satan's...there is no middle ground.

"This is YOUR mountain (mountain of Goliath), Christian...it doesn't belong to the enemy.  It is God's territory, it doesn't belong to the devil."  It is time to "take back the mountain!"  Everything about us...our time, our tempers, our attitudes, everything...belongs to the Lord...and it is time for us to "take back the mountain".  

The passiveness of God's people in this chapter a picture of the passiveness of God's people today.  For *40 days*, Goliath had been issuing his challenge, and for *40 days* God's people had been in hiding, terrified.  

"Is that mountain not worth fighting for?"  

They tried to dissuade him, to "hush him up", as people try today to silence those who are "too zealous".  But David said to Saul..."God has been preparing me."   Do you realize that God has been preparing you for battle??  Too many Christians have been hiding in the mountain, waiting for a David to come along.  God has been preparing you for a mission field...your mission field is that giant standing there in front of you...it's time to say, "I come in the power of the Lord."  

Even as David stood there, the people were probably saying, "Somebody stop him...somebody get that kid away from there".  People are always trying to stop us from God's work...from fighting the battle He has given us to fight.  

In David's mind, he wasn't the underdog.  "And all this assembly will know..."  For all time, all people would know that "the battle is the Lord's". 

Importance of being faithful in the lonely times...when no one else knows what you are going through.  David had been faithful out in the field with the sheep...no big audiences watching him slay the lion and the bear. 

When God brought victory, he gave God all the glory.  

God will bring you to the next step He has for you...

Isn't it comforting to know that whatever mountain we are facing right now is God's mountain?  And that the battle is His.  Our task is just to use the preparation He has already given, obey His Word, and take back the mountain that is already His to begin with!  

What a blessing this morning's service was...and what a blessing it has been to reflect back on it tonight, as this was one of those "no choice but to stay home" nights.  I can't wait to see what God's "next step" is for us! Did God bless you in a special way through today's worship services?  Or was this a "can't be there" Sunday?  What giant are you facing right now, and what mountain do you need to take back in God's strength?  I'd love to hear in the comments!