Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: A Year of God's Favor


2016 has been quite the whirlwind of a year for me! This time last year, I was in Kansas City, Missouri visiting my Williams family when Abba started speaking to me through His Word in the story of Abraham. When God promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations, it was 25 years before He fulfilled that promise by giving Abraham his son, Isaac. What patience and faith Abraham had! (Although he did make a few wrong turns... good thing he's not the one in control ;)

I turned 25 this year.

As I communed with Jesus after studying His Word that night, I felt like the Lord was telling me that this would be the year that He would fulfill some of His promises to me. I had no idea which promises they would be, (although I did have hopes), but I knew that He had spoken and I knew that I could trust Him. The journey that soon began after this sweet time with Jesus is one that I truly will never forget.

This year, God has blessed me with my dream job of being on staff at a crisis pregnancy center that enables me to actively fight for the lives of the unborn while caring for their mothers and lead women who have experienced the pain and trauma of abortion to the healing hands of Jesus.

He moved me back down to the Columbia area, which is where all of my family lives.

He reconciled, through the power of His Holy Spirit, several of my relationships with family members that I've been praying about for years. Praise Yahweh!

He lead me to Three Rivers Baptist Church, where I have already been able to grow in my love and knowledge of my precious Savior, as well as form several new friendships in the body of Christ.

He gifted me with a house to call my own, and I'm praying that He will be glorified in it!

He allowed me to be accepted at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a desire I've always had, and I will begin online courses in the spring to pursue my Masters in Theological Studies.

All of the joyous things that you just read about were coupled with some heavy heartaches along the way, but looking back I can see His hand in it all along. I found myself questioning God on several occasions because everything seemed to just be in chaos and confusion. I doubted my ability to actually hear my sweet Jesus.

I yelled, I begged, I wept.

But when I stilled myself before the Father, He assured me of His sovereignty and His grace.

He comforted, He directed, He fulfilled.

Friends, Abba gives good gifts. Even when they don't make sense or they don't seem like what you want. They're always good.

I am so thankful for a Savior who continues to pursue me, teach me, grow me, love me. All I'm praying for 2017 is that He does more of that--- and the beauty of it is that I can rest in the promise of Philippians 1:6, knowing that He has already answered my prayer!
"He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus."

And you know what? I'm praying the same for you! And for those of you whom He has not begun a work in, I'm praying for this to be the year of your salvation.

2017, let's see what you've got! Whatever it is, it'll all be worked out for God's glory and my good (Rom. 8:28).

Soli Deo gloria!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Shattered Time- 2014


Well, 2014 has been quite the journey for me. I took a break from blogging to focus on what all the Lord was teaching me, but now I am ready to share that with whoever wishes to read.

First and foremost, Abba wanted me to learn to love His heart. This is not something that He showed me how to do all at one time, nor is it something that I have "mastered." But over this past year, I believe that I have seen more of Jesus' heart than I have ever seen before, which was crucial for Him to teach me anything else this year because I needed to let go of the desire to be able to explain everything logically and grab hold of the comfort that I can't, nor should I desire to, lest I think myself like Eve with the desire to know all as God does.

I learned to ask Him the simplest of questions instead of reading a theological book to answer them for me. One way that the Lord taught me to do this was when I began nannying the most precious 1 year old little girl and 3 year old little boy. At the adventurous age of 3, you can imagine that this little boy has had LOTS of questions for me about all kinds of things, ranging from "why do I have to brush my teeth?" to "what happens when people die?" When he started asking me questions about Jesus, life, and heaven that I did not know how to answer without using big theological terminology, my heart was broken. I thought, "If I can't explain the Gospel to a 3 year old, then what good am I?!" I was forced back onto the lap of my Abba, asking Him the same questions that this little boy was asking me, to hear what HE had to say about them. Sitting in the arms of my Daddy, hearing Him declare over me the simplest yet most profound Truth that He loves me and truly wants what is best for me, so much so that He sent Jesus to die in my place so that He could have a relationship with me, humbled me in such a way that I have never experienced before.

The stained glass of proper doctrine was shattered as Jesus crashed through it with open arms... for ME! Me. How can that be true? How can it be that the perfect God-Man could even stand to be around me with all of my sin, because clearly I am not perfect! This concept was, and still is to some extent, so puzzling for me. It's actually quite funny how the Father used the movie Interstellar to make this Truth come alive in my heart (side note, if you haven't seen it, go see it right now! I promise I won't spoil it for you in what I am about to say). Time is a big theme in Interstellar, and after watching it I was so curious about the concept of time. We measure everything in some form of time, whether it is actual minutes, hours, and days, or how many times you have to fail at something before you succeed. Either way, the basic principle of measuring in time is that it is always moving forward; we can never go backward, never stand still, and never jump ahead.

So how did time start? Going back to the beginning, where Scripture tells us that I AM was before time even began (Ps. 90:2), God created the heavens and the earth and established time for us humans. He created the sun, moon, and stars, by which we measure our days. He created a space-time continuum that we can barely understand, which makes it an even greater mystery how God transcends that continuum (Ps. 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8)! But oh, am I glad that He does transcend time, for that very fact is what allows His patience with my sinful heart. Because Jesus is God, He is eternal. This eternal aspect of Christ is what made His sacrifice on the cross efficient for the atonement for the sins of His people, because His blood covered the past, present, and future sins! But not just that, when He rose from the dead and defeated darkness, reigning in righteousness, that same righteousness that has now been given to me also transcends time! So, outside of this world, where I measure everything in time, I am also eternally positionally righteous before the Father. WHAT in the world?! Even though now during my "time" I am sinning, outside of time that sin does not exist anymore because it's been paid for, so the God of all the universe who cannot be in the presence of sin and who transcends time, ENTERS IN to my time in life and is still walking with me, has still given me the Helper, that is His Spirit, who stays with me at all times. Why? Because He cares. It is as simple as that. 

The concept of time had to exist here on earth in order for God to transcend it so that He could still be present with us in our sin. 
If that doesn't blow your mind, then I don't know what will!

This very real Truth is not meant to be interpreted as an excuse for abusing grace. Jesus still calls us to strive for holiness and has even given us the Spirit so that we can do that, as He is transforming us to be more like Christ. Although time does not affect God, He has designed it to where time does affect us... that is why over time, wounds are healed; over time, we change; over time, we become more like Jesus. So with my time, I want to do more than just the normal day-to-day. The child inside of me has been awakened, and she wants to GO! Where? I have no idea. But I know that with the little time God has designed for me to be here on earth, I don't want to waste it, especially when there are people who have never had someone step into their time and love them in the name of Jesus.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." Ecclesiastes 3:11


Image credits belong to this site.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Birth control: an abortifacient

Let me begin by stating that I am well aware of the fact that this will not be a post that many will agree with. And let me follow that up with stating that I am in FULL agreement with everything that the below article, written by Randy Alcorn, states.

Many of my friends have gotten married over the past year, and I have several more who are preparing for their marriages now. Birth control became a hot topic among friends- "Which one is the most effective?", "How much does it cost?", and "When should I begin taking it?" were all popular questions. Because this is not something that I had ever needed to think about before, I decided to do some research. The below article is one that I feel adequately sums up all of my research and clearly states that birth control is an abortifacient.




Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?: A Short Condensation

Please note that this condensation is from an older version of Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?. Go to the book page to read the complete text of the updated 10th edition, published December 2011.

Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?
“The Pill” is the popular term for more than forty different commercially available oral contraceptives. In medicine, they are commonly referred to as BCPs (birth control pills) or OCs (oral contraceptives). They are also called “Combination Pills,” because they contain a combination of estrogen and progestin.
The Pill is used by about fourteen million American women each year. Across the globe it is used by about sixty million. The question of whether it causes abortions has direct bearing on untold millions of Christians, many of them prolife, who use and recommend it.
In 1991, while researching the original edition of my book, ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments, I heard someone suggest that birth control pills can cause abortions. This was brand new to me; in all my years as a pastor and a prolifer, I had never heard it before. I was immediately skeptical.
My vested interests were strong in that Nanci and I used the Pill in the early years of our marriage, as did many of our prolife friends. Why not? We believed it simply prevented conception. We never suspected it had any potential for abortion. No one told us this was even a possibility. I confess I never read the fine print of the Pill’s package insert, nor am I sure I would have understood it even if I had.
In fourteen years as a pastor I did considerable premarital counseling, I always warned couples against the IUD because I’d read it could cause early abortions. I typically recommended young couples use the Pill because of its relative ease and effectiveness.
At the time I was researching ProLife Answers, I found only one person who could point me toward any documentation that connected the Pill and abortion. She told me of just one primary source that supported this belief and I found only one other. Still, these two sources were sufficient to compel me to include this warning in the book:
Some forms of contraception, specifically the intrauterine device (IUD), Norplant, and certain low-dose oral contraceptives, often do not prevent conception but prevent implantation of an already fertilized ovum. The result is an early abortion, the killing of an already conceived individual. Tragically, many women are not told this by their physicians, and therefore do not make an informed choice about which contraceptive to use.”[1]
As it turns out, I made a critical error. At the time, I incorrectly believed that “low-dose” birth control pills were the exception, not the rule. I thought most people who took the Pill were in no danger of having abortions. What I’ve found in more recent research is that since 1988 virtually all oral contraceptives used in America are low-dose, that is, they contain much lower levels of estrogen than the earlier birth control pills.
The standard amount of estrogen in the birth control pills of the 1960s and early ‘70s was 150 micrograms.
After the Pill had been on the market fifteen years, many serious negative side effects of estrogen had been clearly proven. These included blurred vision, nausea, cramping, irregular menstrual bleeding, headaches, increased incidence of breast cancer, strokes, and heart attacks, some of which led to fatalities.[2]
In response to these concerns, beginning in the mid-seventies, manufacturers of the Pill steadily decreased the content of estrogen and progestin in their products. The average dosage of estrogen in the Pill declined from 150 micrograms in 1960 to 35 micrograms in 1988. These facts are directly stated in an advertisement by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals and Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation in Hippocrates magazine.[3]
babyPharmacists for Life confirms: “As of October 1988, the newer lower dosage birth control pills are the only type available in the U.S., by mutual agreement of the Food and Drug Administration and the three major Pill manufacturers.”[4]
What is now considered a “high dose” of estrogen is 50 micrograms, which is in fact a very low dose in comparison to the 150 micrograms once standard for the Pill. The “low-dose” pills of today are mostly 20-35 micrograms. As far as I can tell, there are no birth control pills available today that have more than 50 micrograms of estrogen. An M.D. wrote to inform me that she had researched many pills by name and could confirm my findings. If such pills exist at all, they are certainly rare.
Not only was I wrong in thinking low-dose contraceptives were the exception rather than the rule, I didn’t realize there was considerable documented medical information linking birth control pills and abortion. The evidence was there, I just didn’t probe deeply enough to find it. Still more evidence has surfaced in subsequent years. I have presented this evidence in detail in my 115-page bookDoes the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? I will now summarize that research.
The Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR)
The Physician’s Desk Reference is the most frequently used reference book by physicians in America. The PDR, as it’s often called, lists and explains the effects, benefits, and risks of every medical product that can be legally prescribed. The Food and Drug Administration requires that each manufacturer provide accurate information on its products, based on scientific research and laboratory tests.
As you read the following, keep in mind that the term “implantation,” by definition,always involves an already conceived human being. Therefore, any agent which serves to prevent implantation functions as an abortifacient.
This is the PDR’s product information for Ortho-Cept, as listed by Ortho, one of the largest manufacturers of the Pill:
Combination oral contraceptives act by suppression of gonadotropins. Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus, which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus, and changes in the endometrium which reduce the likelihood of implantation.[5]
The FDA-required research information on the birth control pills Ortho-Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen also state that they cause “changes in...the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation).”[6]
Notice that these changes in the endometrium, and their reduction in the likelihood of implantation, are not stated by the manufacturer as speculative or theoretical effects, but as actual ones. They consider this such a well-established fact that it requires no statement of qualification.
Similarly, as I document in my book, Syntex and Wyeth, the other two major pill-manufacturers, say essentially the same thing about their oral contraceptives.
The inserts packaged with birth control pills are condensed versions of longer research papers detailing the Pill’s effects, mechanisms, and risks. Near the end, the insert typically says something like the following, which is taken directly from the Desogen pill insert:
If you want more information about birth control pills, ask your doctor, clinic or pharmacist. They have a more technical leaflet called the Professional Labeling, which you may wish to read. The Professional Labeling is also published in a book entitled Physician’s Desk Reference, available in many bookstores and public libraries.
Of the half dozen birth control pill package inserts I’ve read, only one included the information about the Pill’s abortive mechanism. This was a package insert dated July 12, 1994, found in the oral contraceptive Demulen, manufactured by Searle. Yet this abortive mechanism was referred to in all cases in the FDA-required manufacturer’s Professional Labeling, as documented in The Physician’s Desk Reference.
In summary, according to multiple references throughout The Physician’s Desk Reference, which articulate the research findings of all the birth control pill manufacturers, there are not one but three mechanisms of birth control pills:
1.      inhibiting ovulation (the primary mechanism),
2.      thickening the cervical mucus, thereby making it more difficult for sperm to travel to the egg, and
3.      thinning and shriveling the lining of the uterus to the point that it is unable or less able to facilitate the implantation of the newly fertilized egg.
The first two mechanisms are contraceptive. The third is abortive.
When a woman taking the Pill discovers she is pregnant (according to The Physician’s Desk Reference’s efficacy rate tables, this is 3 percent of pill-takerseach year), it means that all three of these mechanisms have failed. The third mechanism sometimes fails in its role as backup, just as the first and second mechanisms sometimes fail. Each and every time the third mechanism succeeds, however, it causes an abortion.
Medical Journals and Textbooks
In an article in the research journal Contraception, Drs. Chowdhury, Joshi and associates state, “The data suggests that though missing of the low-dose combination pills may result in ‘escape’ ovulation in some women, however, the pharmacological effects of pills on the endometrium and cervical mucus may continue to provide them contraceptive protection.”[7]
Note in some citations “contraceptive” is used to refer to an agent which in fact prevents the implantation of an already conceived child. Those who believe each human life begins at conception would see this function not as a contraceptive, but an abortifacient.
Reproductive endocrinologists have demonstrated that Pill-induced changes cause the endometrium to appear “hostile” or “poorly receptive” to implantation.[8] Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) reveals that the endometrial lining of Pill users is consistently thinner than that of nonusers[9]—up to 58 percent thinner.[10] Recent and fairly sophisticated ultrasound studies[11] have all concluded that endometrial thickness is related to the “functional receptivity” of the endometrium. Others have shown that when the lining of the uterus becomes too thin, implantation of the pre-born child (called the blastocyst or pre-embryo at this stage) does not occur.[12]
The minimal endometrial thickness required to maintain a pregnancy ranges from 5 to 13mm,[13] whereas the average endometrial thickness in women on the Pill is only 1.1 mm.[14] These data lend credence to the FDA-approved statement that “changes in the endometrium reduce the likelihood of implantation.”[15]
Dr. Kristine Severyn says:
The third effect of combined oral contraceptives is to alter the endometrium in such a way that implantation of the fertilized egg (new life) is made more difficult, if not impossible. In effect, the endometrium becomes atrophic and unable to support implantation of the fertilized egg.... The alteration of the endometrium, making it hostile to implantation by the fertilized egg, provides a backup abortifacient method to prevent pregnancy.[16]
Researchers have repeatedly and consistently pointed out this abortifacient effect of the Pill. To date, no published studies have refuted these findings.
Dr. Walter Larimore is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine who has written over 150 medical articles in a wide variety of journals. In two major medical journal articles, he has addressed the issue of the Pill’s capacity to cause early abortions.[17] In 2000 Dr. Larimore and I coauthored a chapter on this subject in The Reproduction Revolution: A Christian Appraisal of Sexuality, Reproductive Technologies and the Family.[18] In the same chapter, four Christian physicians present their belief that the Pill does not result in early abortions. We respectfully suggest that their case is not based solidly on the medical evidence. (In February 2001 Dr. Larimore was brought on the staff of Focus on the Family, as a broadcaster and “an ambassador to the public on medical ethics, procedures and practices.”)
What Does This Mean?
As a woman’s menstrual cycle progresses, her endometrium gradually gets richer and thicker in preparation for the arrival and implantation of any newly conceived child. In a natural cycle, unimpeded by the Pill, the endometrium experiences an increase of blood vessels, which allow a greater blood supply to bring oxygen and nutrients to the child. There is also an increase in the endometrium’s stores of glycogen, a sugar that serves as a food source for the blastocyst (child) as soon as he or she implants.
The Pill keeps the woman’s body from creating the most hospitable environment for a child, resulting instead in an endometrium that is deficient in both food (glycogen) and oxygen. The child may die because he lacks this nutrition and oxygen.
Typically, the new person attempts to implant at six days after conception. If implantation is unsuccessful, the child is flushed out of the womb in a miscarriage. When the miscarriage is the result of an environment created by a foreign device or chemical, it is in fact an abortion. This is true even if the mother does not intend it, and is not aware of it happening.
Despite all the research, including much more presented in my full booklet, there are those who insist that these contentions are incorrect and should not be taken at face value by those concerned about early abortions. In the case of the Pill manufacturers, those who say their FDA-approved assertions are false should, in my opinion, prevail upon the FDA to change their statements, and not simply ask people to disregard them.
Confirming Evidence
When the Pill thins the endometrium, it seems self-evident a zygote attempting to implant has a smaller likelihood of survival. A woman taking the Pill puts any conceived child at greater risk of being aborted than if the Pill were not being taken.
Some argue that this evidence is indirect and theoretical. But we must ask, if this is a theory, how strong and credible is the theory? If the evidence is only indirect, how compelling is that indirect evidence? Once it was only a theory that plant life grows better in rich, fertile soil than in thin, eroded soil. But it was certainly a theory good farmers believed and acted on.
Some physicians have theorized that when ovulation occurs in Pill-takers, the subsequent hormone production “turns on” the endometrium, causing it to become receptive to implantation.[19] However, there is no direct evidence to support this theory, and there is at least some evidence against it. First, after a woman stops taking the Pill, it usually takes several cycles for her menstrual flow to increase to the volume of women who are not on the Pill. This suggests to most objective researchers that the endometrium is slow to recover from its Pill-induced thinning.[20] Second, the one study that has looked at women who have ovulated on the Pill showed that after ovulation the endometrium is not receptive to implantation.[21]
Arguments Against the Pill Causing Abortion
I have received a number of letters from readers, one of them a physician, who say something like this: “My sister got pregnant while taking the Pill. This is proof that you are wrong in saying that the Pill causes abortions—obviously it couldn’t have, since she had her baby!”
Without a doubt, the Pill’s effects on the endometrium do not always make implantation impossible. I have never heard anyone claim that they do. To be an abortifacient does not require that something always cause an abortion, only that it sometimes does.
Whether it’s RU-486, Norplant, Depo-Provera, the morning after pill, the Mini-pill, or the Pill, there is no chemical that always causes an abortion. There are only those that do so never, sometimes, often, and usually.
Children who play on the freeway, climb on the roof, or are left alone by swimming pools don’t always die, but this does not prove these practices are safe and never result in fatalities. We would immediately see this inconsistency of anyone who argued in favor of leaving children alone by swimming pools because they know of cases where this has been done without harm to the children. The point that the Pill doesn’t always prevent implantation is certainly true, but has no bearing on the question of whether it sometimes prevents implantation, which the data clearly suggests.
People also often argue, “The blastocyst is perfectly capable of implanting in various ‘hostile’ sites, e.g., the fallopian tube, the ovary, the peritoneum.”
Their point is that the child sometimes implants in the wrong place. This is undeniably true. But again, the only relevant question is whether the Pill sometimes hinders the child’s ability to implant in the right place.
Imagine a farmer who has two places where he might plant seed. One is rich, brown soil that has been tilled, fertilized, and watered. The other is on hard, thin, dry, and rocky soil. If the farmer wants as much seed as possible to take hold and grow, where will he plant the seed? The answer is obvious--on the fertile ground.
Now, you could say to the farmer that his preference for the rich, tilled, moist soil is based on theoretical assumptions because he has probably never seen a scientific study that proves this soil is more hospitable to seed than the thin, hard, dry soil. Likely, such a study has never been done. In other words, there is no absolute proof.
But the farmer would likely reply, based on years of observation, “I know good soil when I see it. Sure, I’ve seen some plants grow in the hard, thin soil too, but the chances of survival are much less there than in the good soil. Call it theoretical if you want to, but we all know it’s true!”
Some newly conceived children manage to survive temporarily in hostile places. But this in no way changes the obvious fact that many more children will survive in a richer, thicker, more hospitable endometrium than in a thinner, more inhospitable one.
(In other publications and in a much more detailed fashion, we have discussed these and other lines of evidence, with hundreds of citations of many scientific studies, as well as researchers and experts in numerous fields. We encourage interested readers to look more deeply into these studies and arguments. [22])
Despite this evidence, some prolife physicians state that the likelihood of the Pill having an abortifacient effect is “infinitesimally low, or nonexistent.”[23] Though I would very much like to believe this, the scientific evidence does not permit me to do so.
Dr. Walt Larimore has told me that whenever he has presented this evidence to audiences of secular physicians, there has been little or no resistance to it. But when he has presented it to Christian physicians there has been substantial resistance. Since secular physicians do not care whether the Pill prevents implantation, they tend to be objective in interpreting the evidence. After all, they have little or nothing at stake either way. Christian physicians, however, very much do not want to believe the Pill causes early abortions. Therefore, I believe, they tend to resist the evidence. This is certainly understandable. Nonetheless, we should not permit what we want to believe to distract us from what the evidence indicates we should believe.
I have mentioned my own vested interests in the Pill that at first made me resist the evidence suggesting it could cause abortions. Dr. Larimore came to this issue with even greater vested interests in believing the best about the birth control pill, having prescribed it for years. When he researched it intensively over an eighteen-month period, in what he described to me as a “gut wrenching” process that involved sleepless nights, he came to the conclusion that in good conscience he could no longer prescribe hormonal contraceptives, including the Pill, the Minipill, Depo-Provera, and Norplant.
ProLife Answers to ProChoice ArgumentsConclusion
The Pill is used by about fourteen million American women each year and sixty million women internationally. Thus, even an infinitesimally low portion (say one-hundredth of one percent) of 780 million Pill cycles per year globally could represent tens of thousands of unborn children lost to this form of chemical abortion annually. How many young lives have to be jeopardized for prolife believers to question the ethics of using the Pill? This is an issue with profound moral implications for those believing we are called to protect the lives of children.
This article is a very abridged version of one that appears in Appendix E of Randy Alcorn’s book, ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments and has been reprinted with permission. While the basic argument is stated here, much of the documented evidence has been left out due to space constrictions. An even more thorough treatment (with 139 footnotes) of this subject can be found in Randy Alcorn’s 197 page book, Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? For more information, see http://www.epm.org/ or contact EPM at info@epm.org or 503-668-5200
………………………………………………………………………………………….
This is the very reason that even when I am married, I will not use any form of chemical birth control. Some may call that extreme, but I am not willing to play "Russian roulette" with my baby, never knowing if I caused my body to abort my child or not. Life or death is not an issue to consider lightly. My goal with this post is simply to get the word out about what the birth control pill actually does, praying that as more women learn about this truth, they will choose to say "no" to the pill.

Image from: image

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why I deleted my Snapchat.



This whole Snapchat fad was a cute one for a while. It was fun for my friends and I to send stupid pictures to each other of ridiculous faces. The reason why it was so fun? Because the pictures weren’t permanent. I could send the most hideous pictures to my friends, eliciting a laugh on their end, but the rest of the world never have to know.

That is so dangerous.


OK, so maybe not for those funny face pictures that I was sending to my crazy friends, but how many others have enjoyed the accountability-free feature of Snapchat, allowing them to send whatever pictures they want with no one ever finding out? How many guys have been Snapchatting pretty girls with smiling or goofy faces, only for it to slowly turn into pictures of the rest of their bodies… maybe a little more inviting than before?


And why not? I mean, it’s not like anyone else will ever know… no one can pick up a man’s phone and see the saved photos of scantily clad women since the pictures weren’t sent via text, email, or Facebook… no, they were all on Snapchat, where they were viewed for 10 seconds (MORE than long enough for the image to be stored in the never-ending photo album of a man’s brain, filed away under “pleasure”).


Snapchat has easily become one of the easiest ways to view sexual images and never have anyone hold you accountable for what images you are actually viewing, and when you’re not accountable, your flesh can easily lead your heart down a path that the Spirit would never want you venturing on to begin with.


Maybe the pictures that those girls are sending aren’t naked pictures… maybe they’re pictures where you can see a little more of her chest than you need to, or the “I just worked out at the gym” pics where she’s wearing yoga pants and a sports bra and (maybe) a tank top, with no sweat and a face-full of makeup still because she actually snapped the pic in the mirror before she ever hopped on the treadmill or picked up weights, all to ensure that she looks good for her viewer.


So no, I am not claiming that everyone who has a Snapchat account has been essentially viewing porn… but I just realized that it is a very likely thing to be occurring, that no one would ever have to admit to it because they won’t be caught, and that I will never validly be able to say that Snapchat is a dangerous thing if I continued to have one myself. Maybe Snapchat isn’t doing any harm for you or for those whom you send images to… but is it actually doing any good? I am not at all claiming that it is wrong for you to send pictures to your friends, but if they are truly appropriate pictures then there should be no reason why they cannot be sent using another source that also enables you to have some sort of accountability because the images are permanent.


Scripture says that as believers, we are to live above reproach. You may think that I’m crazy and that I’m being too extreme, but I’ll tell you something, I’ll gladly be viewed as “weird” by the world if it means that I am pleasing my Father.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The [ugly] Truth turned beautiful

Let me begin with confession. Most people think that I am a very confident person. This is true, to a certain extent. You see, I am confident in who I am, but I have never been confident in what I look like.
I think the reason for this is that I know that if there is any fruit which I am lacking, the Spirit will continue to grow those buds, cultivating my heart to be more like Jesus. I know this because of the promise of Philippians 1:6- "He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion in the day of Christ Jesus." The Bible says that He has "appointed [me] that [I] should go and bear fruit and that [my] fruit should abide" (John 15:16), so I guess I have just never been worried about that part of me. Sure, there are things about my character that I wish were different, but they are things that I recognize as sin and I beg the Spirit to replace them with goodness, which He does.

But what I've been hung up on is that the Spirit doesn't change how I look, and that was just the ugly truth. No matter how many times I ask for a smaller waist, longer legs, or a nose that doesn't stick straight up in the air, the Spirit does not do plastic surgery.

Why?

Why will God change other parts of me but not this one? That was the question that I struggled with, because God always has a reason.

His reason for changing my behavior? For me to love like Jesus.
His reason for changing the way that I speak? For me to speak like Jesus.
His reason for changing the way that I think? For me to think like Jesus.

I could go on for days...

All of the things that He has changed about me have had a reason for the change, and all of those reasons come back to Jesus. So then I asked Him, "Why do I look this way? You must have a reason."

And God said:
Daughter, you are "fearfully and wonderfully made... all of [my] works are wonderful" (Psalm 139). I "desire your beauty" (Psalm 45:11).

But even after hearing those sweet, sweet Truths from my Father, I was still feeling a little twinge in my heart. What it comes down to is that I believe that my Father views me, His creation, as beautiful... but I don't believe that men do. THAT was a hard for me to admit. I didn't realize it, but I have actually been esteeming man's opinion of my appearance as having greater merit than my Creator's.

I had a hard time figuring out the root of this. I begged the Spirit to reveal it to me so that it could be dug up. I asked Him, "Why in the world do I care so much about what men think of me?! God Almighty has declared me beautiful!"

And then it occurred to me... I can't remember a time whenever my dad has ever told me that he thinks that I am beautiful.

My dad left my family when I was 14, which was right around the time whenever the guys at school were beginning to comment on how they thought the girls around me looked. I was never the girl that they called pretty. Sure, it bothered me then, but I didn't think it was anything more than what the typical teenage girl felt... like everyone else was prettier. This thought process carried on over into my college years and now into my adult life, as I am still not the woman that men call beautiful.

It wasn't until just a few days ago that I realized just how important the affirmation of a father is in a girl's life. I didn't know the impact that the lack of affirmation from my dad has had on my heart. I didn't know that because my dad never called me beautiful that my depraved mind translated that into believing that no man thinks that I am beautiful.

As you can imagine, this has been a painful process for me. And it still is. I am not angry with my dad and I do not feel any bitterness towards him; I do wish that things had been different, but I refuse to dwell in the past. I am thankful that the Spirit has shown me the root of my struggle so that I can actually fight against the lies that I did not even know that I was believing before. But it's hard, and I need help. That's why I am so thankful for the Spirit! And I am thankful that Jesus knows exactly how I feel and is interceding for me. And I am thankful that the Father has given me His Word.

If there are any fathers who are reading this, please, tell your daughters that they are beautiful. The absence of those words truly does have a life-long impact on a woman's heart.

I wish that I could say things are "all better" now, that I am fully confident and that this is no longer a struggle, but I can't. What I can say is that I am gazing on the face of my beloved Creator and praying for the Spirit to allow the beautiful Truth of the words of my Father to take precedence in my heart above the words of man.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cultivating Intimacy


I know that to some this post might sound like white noise... just the typical "it's a relationship, not a religion" thing that Christians always seem to preach but then later forget the truth of those words when their lives get busy.

I, myself, am so guilty of this way of living. The purpose of this blog isn't for me to tell you that you should have a deep relationship with Jesus because more than likely you've heard that a thousand times. But the problem is, no one ever talks about HOW to cultivate that intimacy with Jesus. Sure, you're told to read your Bible and to pray, but no one ever says where to start in Scripture. They may suggest a shorter book of the Bible, like James or Philippians, for you to get a jump-start on your reading... ya know, just a little push to get you to want more later. And for some, that may work very well because the Holy Spirit did inspire the Words in Scripture and will certainly make them living and active in your life!

But for me, I didn't even have a desire to want to read those Words. I had to just start with God.

What I mean by starting with God is that I needed to know His character... Who He is, what makes Him tick, what He loves, what He hates, how He communicates, what He likes to do. That may sound funny to you- that I would use the same questions to get to know Him that I would use to get to know a new acquaintance- but that's just it... I wanted to have a real relationship with Him and I could think of no better way to do that than by playing "20 questions," if you will haha.

God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14, "I AM WHO I AM."

What in the world does that mean?! I mean, if I asked someone who I had just met who they were and their reply to me was, "I am who I am," that would tell me nothing about who they are.

But when God said, "I AM WHO I AM," what He was saying is that He is the One by Whom all things are defined.

To say that someone is kind, compassionate, selfless, beautiful... all of those characteristics are reflections of God's image, not that person. He is the definition of kindness, compassion, selflessness, beauty... if He were not the standard, then those descriptions would hold no merit.

I wanted to know more of this great God, Who is the standard by which all is judged! I wanted to know everything that I could know about Him. Much like the feeling that you have when someone special has caught your eye- you just want to know all about him and you can't get enough! That's how I began to feel, only multiply that feeling by infinity.

I started with Genesis (seemed appropriate...) and read in chapter 1 verse 27 how God created man and woman in His image. Already, I needed explanation since God is referred to with the pronoun "He," denoting masculinity, I wanted to know how His image is to be seen in femininity. God is described all throughout Scripture as having both male and female characteristics:
"And in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place" (Deut. 1:31).
"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I (God) will not forget you" (Is. 49:15). 
"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him" (Matt. 7:11).
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I (God) have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing" (Lk. 13:34).
Jesus, as a man, did not allow His gender to define a hard set of rules for what His characteristics could be! Yes, He was a leader and he flipped tables and He is depicted in Revelation as a Warrior riding in for battle... but He also cared for children and He provided food for people and He cried. Beautiful!

I also looked at some of the different names of God to learn more about Who He is.
Jehovah-Jireh (God, My Provider)
Jehovah-Rapha (God, My Healer)
Jehovah-Tsidkenu (God, Our Righteousness)
El Roi (The God Who Sees)
Jehovah-Shammah (God, Who Is There)
Those names in and of themselves gave me a much clearer picture of Who God is! But there's more... SO much more!

God is all-powerful (Jeremiah 32:17), able to protect (Psalm 18), all-knowing (1 John 3:19-20), and never-changing (Hebrews 13:8).

And now here's the most exciting part... I have only just hit the tip of the iceberg of God's character. I could literally learn more about Him every second of every day and STILL be so far from knowing all of Him! THIS is what has made me want to read the Word... knowing that He is too vast to comprehend but yet He still wants to talk to me is surreal, so I'm soaking up every conversation with Him and feasting on the Bread of Life.

Knowing Jesus is an endless frontier of incredible possibilty and daring adventure.

May you never stop exploring.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Questioning God

Sometimes, I just have questions.

For so long, I thought that it was such a bad thing to question God... that if for one second I began to doubt Truth, that meant I was a "bad Christian" and that I didn't fully trust God. My solution to that problem was to study the heck out of whatever it was that I didn't understand. I would read books upon books, listen to sermons by various big name pastors (because it wasn't enough for me to listen to just anybody... it always had to be Piper, Chandler, Platt, Spurgeon, Sproul, Ferguson, etc.), and sure, I would read Scripture, but it would be out of my Reformation study Bible so that I could read the notes from other pastors.

Now, don't get me wrong, I do not mean to speak negatively of these men of God who are living out an incredibly high calling for the sake of Christ's name and His Good News being made famous. These men study the Word, preach it, counsel others, and even develop resources to help others study the Word (ie: study Bibles). However, my problem has been that they are the ones I go to with my questions, not God.

I somehow got the idea in my head that in order for me to "know God," I had to have Him all figured out. Actually, let me even correct that statement and say that it wasn't so much HIM that I wanted to know, but rather doctrine. Theology. Law. 
I wanted to know and understand these things and then apply them to my life and situations. In my mind, theology and Jesus were equated and so for me to study theological principles meant that I was actually growing closer to Christ.

Oh, how wrong I was!

Again, let me be careful to stress that I am not against theological studies at all... in fact, I encourage it! BUT when studying principles becomes more important than knowing the heart of God, there's a problem.

Currently, I have a lot of questions about God's character and His heart. There are things that are said in Scripture that I cannot seem to reconcile with the character of God that I know. What I am learning is to ask the Spirit to renew my mind in order that I might be prepared to actually hear from God what He says is True

You see, I am confident that all of my theological studies will be useful in ministry and I am grateful that the Father has created me with a mind that longs to know and understand things fully. However, I am asking Him to weed out what does not need to be there. Much of the knowledge that I possess is actually human opinion that I have stored away from books or sermons, so I want what I hold tight to to be rooted in Scripture alone. I want the Spirit to move me to take my questions to the throne of God and allow HIM to answer them if He so chooses.

What I am learning is that in order for this to happen, I should be spending time with Jesus and learning about His heart. So many of my theological questions can be answered simply by looking at God's character and answering from that! Because really, if we study things separated from God's character, strictly focusing on hard and fast rules, how can we expect our "results" to be anything more than man's logic? Is it not possible that God is too vast for us to comprehend on this side of Heaven?!

I have asked the Spirit to help me filter out all of my so-called "knowledge" and to leave only what is from His heart. 
"For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding" (Proverbs 2:6).
How clear is THAT?!

This is a hard thing for me to accept though. I like to be in control. I like to know everything. For me to relinquish control is giving way to so many insecurities... insecurities that I tried to cover with intelligence. But the thing is, it's OKAY if I don't know everything! HA! Amazing. To those of you who have tried to tell me that for the past few years, I sincerely apologize that my prideful flesh responded by saying, "No it's not! I NEED to know this stuff! I just need to study more..." and then looked down on you for not doing the same. 

I am actually quite comforted by knowing that I can't know everything. If I could, that would make me God, right? Isn't this very thought exactly how Satan tempted Eve in the garden when he said: 
"You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of [the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4).
I, like Eve, believed the serpent, only my fruit was theology. I bit off large chunks and became fat with false promises of the enemy that I could actually obtain answers to all of life's questions on my own. 

I still have questions. But the difference is that now I do not try to figure everything out and then go to God saying, "I get it... makes sense because I can explain it." Instead, I am learning to admit that I don't know it all and be okay with that, and then to trust that God is God and to just keep getting to know His beautiful heart.


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