True or False? Denying Abortion Results in Unwanted, Neglected Children

One of the many abortion myths I’ll be addressing in the coming months is this: “Denying abortion results in unwanted, neglected children.” We hear this argument so often that even some Christians believe it. We must stop waffling in regard to the sanctity of life and be able to discuss these lies and offer people the truth. The lives of many, many children depend on it! So please spend the next ten minutes with me as I explain why this particular argument is utterly false.

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Breaking Ties with Halloween

Warning: this post concerns Halloween. If you love Halloween, you might want to keep scrolling. But if you’re feeling the nudge of the Holy Spirit to steer clear of it, keep reading.

Are you struggling with how to align your love for the Light of the world with that time of year that endorses fear, death, and darkness? Are you on the verge of saying, “I can’t do this anymore”? I want to encourage you to follow your conscience. Contrary to popular belief, your kids won’t die without celebrating Halloween. They’ll probably wail and feel persecuted, but they won’t be damaged. Think about it: When has obeying God, even when it involved sacrifice, ever damaged you? It might have caused you discomfort or even pain, but it also made you stronger, more settled, and perhaps even joyful. If you’re hesitant about forfeiting Halloween simply because it’s fun, ask yourself—Do you really want to make decisions about how to live the Christian life according to what’s fun? Good luck with that. (And no, I’m not implying that the Christian life is void of fun. Far from it! But I will say that when you stop indulging in certain types of “fun,” you start having joy.)

If you decide to replace typical Halloween festivities with something else, please consider a movie or pizza versus a “Christian replacement.” Don’t teach your kids that Halloween is so important that avoiding it altogether is simply out of the question. Dressing up in costumes and going someplace to collect candy equals Halloween. Your kids won’t be fooled into thinking otherwise just because it takes place in a church parking lot. If it looks, sounds, and tastes like Halloween, it’s Halloween.

And please don’t fret about robbing your kids of a childhood tradition. No doubt your children have iPads, soft beds, ice cream, trendy clothes, and more toys than they know what to do with. To deny them of one night per year because it flies in the face of everything you’ve tried to teach them the other 364 days of the year is not robbing them, it’s teaching them to have a backbone and to put the Lord’s wishes before their own.

I’m convinced that there’s at least one person who will read this who knows it’s time to break ties with Halloween but needs someone in his/her corner who will say, “You can do it!” Like I said, if you love Halloween, I’m not here to talk you out of it. Maybe I’ll do that next year. But if you’re in the “I-don’t-feel-right-about-this-but-my-kids-will-disown-me-and-my-friends-will-think-I’m-a-religious-nut” frame of mind, where you’d love to put a stop to it all but feel like you have no choice, I’m here for you. I’m here to remind you that you definitely have a choice, and this is a perfect opportunity to exemplify what it looks like to stand firm in your faith and devotion to Jesus. This year, turn off the porch light and order a pizza. Watch a silly movie. Play Uno. You’ll never regret forgoing the glorification of darkness and death in favor of what pleases the Lord.

Don’t continue to team up with unbelievers in mismatched alliances, for what partnership is there between righteousness and rebellion? Who could mingle light with darkness?  —2 Cor. 6:14, TPT 

When the Person You’re Caring for Isn’t Very Nice

Man pushing a giant, heavy stone, rock over the mountain. Conceptual, struggle, difficult task.Have you ever experienced that stripping moment when you realized God had assigned you to pour yourself into someone who had nothing to give you in return … or who wasn’t particularly nice to you … or who was bad-tempered much of the time? Maybe you’re there right now. When the call comes, we dread saying yes—but we will say yes if we realize that, more often than not, “doing great things for God” means carrying out the most menial and thankless tasks of all.

Jesus taught us this truth by example: He served those who hated Him, even washing Judas’ dusty feet just hours before Judas turned on Him. And think about it: “While we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us” (Rom. 5:8, Voice). Your thankless task might involve seemingly endless days of sitting bedside. It might involve adult diapers, the immediate needs of someone in crisis, or the rants of an addict.

Tasks like these can drain us until we wonder how we’ll have anything left to give tomorrow, but we must resist becoming lethargic or despondent—or assuming that God has abandoned us in our suffering and sacrifice. Selfless service is not just a nice thing to do, it’s beautiful to the Father. And it’s impossible to do well without the Holy Spirit. That’s why He’ll teach you how to exist in this new reality if you’ll allow Him to ground you in the even greater reality of His presence. He might even show you that it’s an honor to be among those appointed to love and care for the broken.

 My prayer for you is that you’ll “be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father” (Col. 1:11-12). Surrender to His will and ask Him to teach you to endure in grace (and yes, even joy) rather than by “white-knuckling” your way through this season.

 

 

Christmas: a holiday for the wealthy… unless we do something about it

EiYk3R1449178178Let’s face it: the Americanized concept of Christmas is for the wealthy. There are many who look to this season with dread because they cannot keep up with the demands that we, as a society, have put upon ourselves. As Christians, we can pretend that Christmas is still centered around Jesus, but in reality we know the truth: ‘Tis the season of gluttony, shameless materialism, selfishness, and “load[ing] other people down with unbearable burdens” (see Lk. 11:46).

The tragedy is this: If Christmas excludes the poor, then it’s not part of the Kingdom of God, because the gospel is always good news to the poor.

What can we do? If we truly want to bring Christ back into Christmas, let’s make sure we’re not just offering lip service. We can bellow, “Jesus is the reason for the season!” until we’re hoarse, but unless we actively and deliberately stop participating in the shameful aspects of what Christmas has become, and instead open our hearts, homes, and pockets to those who suffer during the holidays, we are, at best, annoying—and, at worst, hypocritical.

IMG_3655If you’re among those who are blessed enough to make it through the holidays without having to choose between groceries or a new toy for your toddler, please consider “adopting” a family. Take the burdens off a parent or two by committing to purchase presents for the kids, and then throw in an extra blessing for Mom and Dad. And don’t stop there. Pay attention to everyone around you. Determine that no one will spend Christmas alone if you can help it. Don’t assume that everyone has somewhere to go; if in doubt, ask. Surely we can all fit a few more place settings at our tables.

We’re already into the first week of December, so act quickly! Find a family to adopt, and then let them know they need not worry about the expenses that come with Christmas. (If you choose to do this anonymously, ask a friend to be your messenger.) This season wasn’t meant to be a time of anguish, loneliness, and anxiety, but that’s what we, as American consumers, have made it. Let’s do what we can to reverse the damage by “shouldering each other’s burdens” (see Gal. 2:6).

 

A Post-Christmas Confession

I admit: I’m always giddy with relief when Christmas is over.

i wantThe reason for this is that every year, it becomes more painful and even embarrassing to witness the great, sad irony of Christmas: the effort we put forth trying to convince ourselves and the world that Jesus is the Reason for a season that overflows with greed, gluttony, materialism, and marketing. Our efforts would make far more sense if 1) the Lord had instituted the season in the first place, or 2) the Church refused to bend its knee to the gods of self-indulgence and consumerism and the many practices that fly in the face of all that Jesus exemplified.

I respect those who strive to claim the season for Jesus, yet I feel no urgency to do so personally because those who assert that its roots and traditions are steeped in paganism are, quite frankly, correct. Add to this the increasing demand for bigger and shinier and more expensive gifts; the propaganda of modern-day media and marketing; the stress and irresponsibility of credit card bills; the license to party and drink and eat far more than any other time of the year . . . and the end result is a cauldron of hedonism that the Church drinks from just as eagerly as does the world. The only difference between us and the world is that we simultaneously try to turn the spotlight onto Jesus . . . and then we wonder why the world thinks we’re goofy and why we’re as exhausted, broke, stressed, and overweight as everyone else come January.

black fridayYes, there are things about the Christmas season that I enjoy, like the weekend trip that my husband and I make to Nashville in mid-December every year to do some shopping and carry out our own little traditions. I put up a tiny tree for the sake of the grandkids, and I love the happy chaos of a house full of family. But I am always thankful when the season is over for another year and we can all stop pretending that it’s about Jesus when the Church as a whole actually sold out long ago.

Please hear me: to teach our children about the birth of Christ the King at this time of year is a very good thing, but to teach them the same truths at all times and during all seasons is better. The danger of relegating a certain season (or two, if you count Easter) to the celebration of Jesus is that it’s too easy to excuse ourselves from focusing on what truly matters the rest of the year. The question of where to draw our boundaries as believers when it comes to Christmas is a tricky one with no easy or sweeping answers, but this one thing I know beyond any shadow of a doubt:

Jesus Is the Reason. Period.

Image: Nehemiah Project

Image: Nehemiah Project

Jesus is the reason for life, for existence, 365 days a year. He wants to be the constant object of our affections, the daily motivation behind our behavior, the ultimate purpose behind our career choices, the never-ending desire of our heart, the goal and prize for which we reach every day of our lives. We do not truly live unless we live and breathe and move in Him and for Him. Ultimately, nothing else matters. Perhaps that sounds too radical, but it’s the absolute truth, so I’ll say it again: Nothing else matters. He is the reason for all of it. Let’s keep this in mind as we take down our trees and tinsel, work off those extra five pounds, pay off our debts, and decide what 2015 should look like. As we set goals and enjoy the feeling of a second chance that a new year brings, let us ask the Savior to take His rightful place as King and Lord. Let us echo the song that says, “Jesus, be the fire in my heart,
Be the wind in these sails,
Be the reason that I live.”

Trusting God with Your College Kid

Image: HuffPost

Image: HuffPost

September is here—which means some of you have recently moved a son or daughter into a college dorm for the first time. It’s natural and healthy to feel a sense of loss, but don’t allow your child’s new adventure to become a source of fear and anxiety for you. Commit to surrender him/her to God daily while leaving no room for fear. At first you might have to “put on a brave face” that you don’t entirely feel, but allow trust in God to take root deeply, until your prayers are no longer frantic lists of concerns and fears and what-ifs, but genuine thanksgiving for God’s providence and sovereignty.

How do you transcend fear when the child you love so much has left the nest? By relinquishing control of your son or daughter’s future to the God who knows all, and by acknowledging that God loves him/her more than you do.

Don’t be temped to feel guilty for not fretting, as though fear is the hallmark of love! Too often, we assume that loving a person necessitates worrying about him or her, but this is a misconception. Love and fear are opposites, not equals.

When a Loved One Hits Bottom

Image

Are you feeling the pain and distress of watching an adult child or a friend make terrible choices? Maybe you’ve scrambled to fix their problems, you’ve given advice, you’ve bailed them out more than once, you’ve prayed more times than you can count—only to find out a week or month or year later that they’ve once again hit bottom.

C.S. Lewis says, “It is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in … every family since the world began. … In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

We assume that the proud man is the one who struts around like a peacock, but that is a caricature. Pride is usually far more subtle. When a woman, while in the company of friends, rolls her eyes at the way another woman is dressed, she is saying, “I am superior to her.” When a man monopolizes a conversation, his message is, “I matter more than you do.” But the ultimate pride is the belief that we are the gods of our own lives, a belief held by not only atheists but many individuals who give God a nod of recognition each Sunday while continuing in the illusion that they are capable of managing their own affairs.

“Pride precedes destruction; an arrogant spirit gives way to a nasty fall,” says Proverbs.* Dismissing the instruction of God in favor of going in one’s own direction inevitably ends in disaster. Therefore, when your loved one is suddenly crushed and it’s too painful to watch, remember that this might just be that turning point at which they realize how small and vulnerable they are. Humiliation as a result of hitting bottom is not at all a bad thing when it compels a person to finally look up and acknowledge, “I can control nothing; I am weak and broken. I need a Savior.”

16:18, the Voice