Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Watch Your Thoughts!

Pay attention, Christians, to the "why." Why do you do things? I believe that question is more important, in many ways, than the "what." The reason is this: If the "why" is right (to honor and glorify God), then the "what" will fall into place. Having the "why" right also protects against pride, as we will not be doing things for OUR honor and glory, but only HIS.

Pride is our greatest enemy! Satan uses it time and again to bring godly Christians down and make a mockery of Christianity. When you start to think, "Oh, I seem to have found a nugget of wisdom," or, "Oh, I seem to be actively living my faith now," watch out! These truthful mental statements may lead subtly to other statements that are deceptive and untrue. The next thought may easily be, "It seems not many other Christians know this or do this" (more possible truth)...followed by, WHAM, "I guess I'm doing pretty good. I've achieved a new level of spirituality. I'm doing better than ___."

These thoughts may be mixed with more deception, causing us to feel self-righteous and as though we have not fallen into the sin of pride at all...thoughts like, "It's too bad ___ hasn't discovered this yet. I need to pray for her/him." Truth mixed with a little pride is a dangerous, dangerous thing. It will not only render your works as filthy rags (Is. 64:6), but also destroy your testimony and lead weaker brothers and sisters into an attitude of apathy in their walk. They will reject seeking after righteousness and sanctification because of their fear of becoming prideful like you!

Watch your thoughts, Christian friends. That is where it begins (Prov. 23:7)! When you hear the prideful statements creeping in, repent and recognize your own needy state (Is. 53:6)! Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:1-11)!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Expect It and Embrace It

"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" -2 Timothy 3:12

Don't overlook the word "ALL" here. Not "most"...but "all." Also notice that it is not "all Christians," but "all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus." If you are being persecuted, consider it a joy. Consider that you are probably doing the right thing and the persecution is affirmation of this.

Likewise, if you are NOT being persecuted, ask yourself why. It is likely one of three things: 1) Your persecution has not yet come, but will as you continue to pursue a godly life. 2) You are not desiring to truly live a godly life, but a comfortable life of conformity to the world or modern American "churchianity." 3) You are not truly a follower of Christ, but a false convert that Jesus refers to in his parable of the sower.

Read the entire chapter of 2 Timothy 3 if you want even more to ponder on. It will really cause you to think!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Healing...A Question of Who, not What

Modern medicine claims objectivity and non-religion. Alternative medicine often openly links itself with religion (usually New Age, etc). The difference is that one is pretending and the other isn't. Most modern medicine worships the "god" of science and humanism, but Christians are not leery of that because it seems "neutral" and "scientific." But we are warned to "beware of science falsely so-called" (Col. 2:8). We are not tricked by the long-haired hippie man with a giant crystal hanging around his neck, but we are tricked by the clean-shaven, white-jacket-wearing man with the stethoscope hanging around his.

My point here isn't necessarily to bash modern medicine, nor to cast alternative medicine in a bad light, but rather to say that we need to be aware that everything we do and participate in has spiritual implications. Healing is no different. We are spiritual creatures and healing is a spiritual experience (just do a quick look-up of the word "heal" in the Bible and you'll have more than enough to keep you busy). This is why, spiritually speaking, I am not as concerned about the method as I am about the spiritual condition of the person employing it on me. Why would I want humans with god-complexes who think everything about science has already been discovered to soak up all the glory that belongs to God? And whose to say that the alternative practice that gives glory to "Mother Earth" has not simply co-opted truth in the name of their evil religion? Wouldn't that be a rather effective method to spread the lies of New Age, after all? Take GOD'S truth...which works and is effective...and co-opt it for New Age so that evil gets to steal the glory? I certainly don't want to give glory to that, either, regardless of whether or not it "works." So what am I getting at?

The bottom line: ALL truth is GOD'S truth. So, if kinesiology, for example, works...then is that Satan doing the healing or GOD? If all truth is God's truth, then what do we make of this?

Satan can't heal. "Mother Earth" can't heal. The "life force" can't heal. Science can't heal. Only God can. No matter who or what anyone wants to tell us. No matter how they manipulate or co-opt truth. "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ministry at the Expense of Ministering

This morning God reiterated to me how important it is to never become so "ministry-minded" that I'm no good for truly ministering. As I made the long trek down to Wendover Road, I felt very unprepared. I normally like to spend a good portion of the evening the night before in prayer and Bible study, but I had been trying to refocus priorities yesterday. I had spent the day listening to praise and worship music while accomplishing many household things I knew would bless my husband and family. The list of tasks demanded my attention on into the evening, completely bullying out any extra time to spend with Jesus.

As I talked to the Lord on the way to ministry this morning, He gently encouraged me that I was doing my best. My family and husband need me and it is difficult to learn to balance all of life's demands, especially when dealing with the additional demands my husband's chronic illness puts on me. And I had felt pretty accomplished yesterday finishing with so many check-marks on my mental list! I had not lived the day perfectly, but I had lived it well and to the best of my ability.

And so I prayed for the Holy Spirit to empty me of myself and fill me with Himself. I prayed for protection and wisdom. I prayed, as always, for the mothers, some deceived and some simply full of hate, and for the tiny little ones who would feel every agonizing cut, pull, or burn as their final moments were stolen away. (Oh, Lord, let me never forget what abortion truly is!) And I marched into the battle, believing that it is better to march forward somewhat unprepared than to retreat altogether from the battle. David himself went to battle on a "whim" with no armor or sword, but only the strength of God behind a slingshot (1 Samuel 17).

"And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands" (1 Samuel 17:47).

As we stood there, holding the sign of precious baby Malachi, murdered at 21 weeks gestation, my co-laborer and I began to talk. Normally I stand next to the driveway entrance and stop cars coming into the parking lot to ask them if they realize that abortions are taking place just steps away. But today I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to stay put. She began asking me how I was doing, how Jon was feeling. And this led to a long conversation about some personal difficulties she and her husband are having, including unemployment and, basically, broken dreams. I listened, sensing that I was simply there to be "an ear" for her. It was an encouragement to both of us to just listen and share and contemplate why God allows these trials in our lives.

By the end of the time, I realized that my mission this morning was more than shining a light on abortion in our city or even saving babies. Ministry for me this morning was being flexible enough to listen and obey when God directed me against my routine. Did we still follow God and minister? Yes, absolutely. Just not in the way we normally would have. In fact, at the end of the morning, God sent one of his servants as a wonderful reassurance to us. Up walked a lady who introduced herself as "Phyllis." She is a Southern Baptist missionary who just wanted to come over to thank us. "I know you probably have many people honking and cursing you. But you may never know all the babies you have saved by holding that sign until you get to heaven and meet them!" She then told us of her own granddaughter who, after seeing a graphic sign like ours, fled an abortion mill and saved the life of her now four-year-old daughter, Phyllis' great-granddaughter! Before she walked off, she took a moment to put her arms around us and pray over us.

Isn't God good? What a tender and gentle shepherd, who knows we are just dust and uses each of us just where we are. Trust Him and listen in the quietness of your heart. Ministry should never take place at the expense of ministering. Regular ministry should never become routine ministry...something that requires us to follow a rigid method...or we may miss opportunities to truly minister to those God brings into our paths right now.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Most Significant Effort

I just read a well-articulated article written by a lady against Common Core Standards. At the end of the article, I read all of her organizer, helped form the Tea Party in her state, wrote a novel, and "one of her most significant efforts," founded a Christian school. Wow. Another supermom. And yet, I found myself wondering at that description...especially her "most significant effort" of founding a school. I found myself wondering about her children. Did she have any? What are their ages? And why, if her other "most significant effort" was mentioned, were they not mentioned? Why was her husband not mentioned, either?

Moms, we don't have to succumb to the idea that all the "extras" are what defines us. (Lord, help me in this!) Your most significant effort today is the discipleship of your children. And if any of the novel-writing, group-starting, others-discipleship is getting in the way of your God-given roles as wife and mother, then cut them out. Just cut them out. Don't believe the lie that you must be more, do more, have more. Be what God made you and be happy to wait for a later time to fulfil whatever other talents you've been gifted with. Love is patient. Let your love for God and for your family guide your decisions of where you invest your time. For "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Treasure your family, the only "treasure" you can take with you to eternity. And never, never feel your time investment in those treasures that sit across the school table or dinner table from you is in vain. Die to self and find a sweeter life!

Excuse Rather Than Accuse

"She 'unfriended' me because I offended her."
"She didn't respond to me because she's avoiding me."
"That car cut me off because he thinks I'm driving too slowly."
"He said that to make himself look good."

Do you see a theme here? Keep on reading.

I think one of the biggest problems among Christian brothers and sisters today is in the area of judgement. We judge where we shouldn't and don't judge where we should. There is very little spiritual accountability today, as feelings are paramount to spiritual exhortation. What a bunch of spiritual wusses we are! I could write an entire book on this whole topic and have probably done so many times in my head.

But what I want to address at the moment has to do with the basic problem in the above judgements...and that is our knee-jerk judgements of motives. We seem to have a keen ability to know exactly a person's circumstances, motives, and thoughts...or so we think. How quick we are to assume we know a person's heart! This is an area of my life I have worked very hard on and am still working on. I'm sure I will be working on it until I die! Particularly, I have a hard time when it relates to a person I know well. It is easier to give the benefit of the doubt when I have no history to refer to. But when it's my husband or my son or my daughter, I have many past experiences from which to draw. I know them well, and it is easy to assume I also know their heart intentions.

But how does one really become sanctified in this area of judging motives? How do you give the benefit of the doubt? This is one of those phrases that we hear, but don't really think about. We don't ask ourselves how we can actually put it into practice. Let's look at 1 Corinthians 13:7 for the answers: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

First, you must "bear all things." That is, you will put up with all kinds of insults and injury from others without letting it get to you. I struggle myself with oversensitivity. It is a gift to be sensitive, as we can sympathize with and encourage others more easily. But when we are so fragile with our own feelings that we are constantly expressing our hurt, then we are not showing love for others and the shortcomings that are natural to humanity. We are not giving grace. Feeling hurt is one thing, but wallowing in it and expressing it is another. At that point, we are being controlled not by the Holy Spirit, but by the actions of others and how they make us feel.

If someone "unfriends" you on Facebook, for example, and you feel the impulse to start accusing in your mind, "bear all things" by praying. Pray for that person, as we are told to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). It is much easier to put up with perceived slights when we pray for the person who acted against us. Pray for them to have a good day. Pray for them to grow in Christ, if they believers, or to find Jesus if they are not. Pray for them to have grace and to "cover" any sins you may have done against them (1 Peter 4:8), and likewise for yourself to be able to do the same for them. Pray that God will protect you from pride in your "spiritual response" to their actions. Pray for whatever God lays on your heart...just pray!

Secondly, you will "believe all things." You will take the reasons and seeming excuses at face value rather than judging the heart. When your friend says, "I was just too busy to call you back for the past month," you will believe her instead of accusing her, either mentally or verbally, of making excuses or trying to avoid you. You will not dream up some elaborate scenario in which you are the afflicted victim of her cruel and inconsiderate ways. You will simply accept her reasons as true rather than as excuses...and move on.

Third, love will compel you to "hope all things." When that car cuts you off, you probably won't experience the driver pulling up to you at the next stop light to explain his rude actions. But the Bible tells you to "hope all things." This is where we get the idea of "giving the benefit of the doubt." Literally, start making excuses for him in your own mind. Don't assume he was making some point and was out to "get" you. Hope that he simply didn't see you. Maybe he is late for a very important meeting or his wife is in labor? Maybe he is distracted by some horrible news he just received? Maybe he actually did do it intentionally, but is taking out his aggression on you because he is going through deep grief? Hoping all things involves faith to believe what we cannot see or what seems to contradict what we do see.

And last, but not at all least, if you have love you will "endure all things." You will put up with that guy at work who seems to be constantly saying things to make himself look better, while you end up looking worse. Love will endure it. Love will give the benefit of the doubt...over and over and over again. Endurance has the idea of a continued practice, and if you love you will continually practice praying, believing, and hoping for the one who repeatedly wrongs you. You will continually find legitimate reasons in your own mind for his seemingly wrong behavior. Perhaps he is going through a difficult time at home being seen as the leader of his family? Maybe he has desperate financial need to be promoted? Maybe he simply doesn't realize he has the habit of saying such things or that they come across in such a way? We can never fully understand a heart.

Finally, think about all these examples. What are they? Accusations. And who is the biggest accuser of all? Satan. He is referred to in Revelation 12:10 as the "accuser of our brethren" and his very name means "accuser." So, when we start to judge the motives and heart attitudes of others, we are actually following in the steps of Satan, hurling accusations at others. And we do so in such ignorance! Jesus, on the other hand, looked down from the cross and said, "Father, forgive them; For they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Jesus had the advantage of seeing the heart and he knew that, while those who crucified Him did know they were doing wrong by crucifying an innocent man, they also did not fully understand Who He was or the implications of their actions. They were so blinded by their pride and sin, and Jesus, despite being wronged in the worst extreme, took pity on them!

It all comes down to love. Do you have love for your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you have love for unbelievers? If you do, you must understand that you will demonstrate that love by your actions, regardless of your feelings (and don't even get me started on how we idolize our feelings in this culture). You will "bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things." You will not follow in the footsteps of Satan, the accuser, but rather in the footsteps of Jesus who forgave those who spit in His face, beat Him mercilessly, and nailed Him to a cross to die in excruciating pain. If you love as Christ, you will excuse rather than accuse!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Exposing the Darkness Once Again

Today was another pretty typical early morning at Wendover. We had the angry honks and the supportive horn taps; the hate-filled yelling and cursing and the grateful thanks for information; the irritation and the appreciation. That is one thing about this usually incites some type of reaction. And shouldn't it do just that? When we talk of innocent babies being murdered in such brutal ways, people should react as the darkness is exposed and their consciences are at work. In fact, I often say that the apathetic ones are the ones that concern me most...the ones who take a tract or Tiny Hands booklet with a dead look on their faces, as dead spiritually as their tiny baby will soon be physically. But God raised dead bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14)! Even the oldest and driest dead bones can live again when Jesus redeems a heart! And oh, how we need such a revival in this spiritually dead wasteland of a "Christian" nation. So we carry on and pray on for all who are given the opportunity to see and hear the message.
We spoke to several people who were saddened and disturbed to find out that their dentist, physical therapist, etc. were practicing in the same building as a baby murderer...that while their teeth are being cleaned, a baby is suffering through his or her final moments at the hands of a killer right next door. We urged these people to talk to the businesses they patron and ask if they would be willing to move to a different location. We told them to consider that they are helping an abortionist by patronizing these businesses, as the abortionist owns the building. I believe this could be a very effective means of working toward shutting the baby-killing practice down! Please pray for that.
The memorable moments today...A lady who, as I approached her vehicle with a smile, screamed through her window with a look of anger suppressing pain, "F*** you!!!" How many times we see this same expression. I am always sad to think that if they would simply humble themselves and admit their sin, confess it to God, and repent, they could experience true peace and forgiveness. Then there was the man who honked to get in the driveway as we talked to a vehicle in front of his, then said, "I agree with you, but this is very dangerous." He seemed like a nice man and genuinely concerned, but as I said to him, "We're trying to save the lives of babies!" We cannot let anything stop us from carrying out God's will. We simply need to find means of accomplishing it. Please pray for our safety and for us to be able to know how to balance the legitimate safety concerns on this busy highway with the safety concerns of the unborn. Lives are literally at stake here. Another memorable moment was when I handed a tract to a lady who rolled her window down only to realize it was my old neighbor coming to work at one of the other offices! It was a blessing to see her smiling face. Then there was the man who drove through once and got a tract, then came back through later asking for more to give to his friends. Amen! We handed him a stack.
I also talked to a man who claimed to (and appeared to by his countenance) be a Christian, but was genuinely concerned about the signs we hold. "I don't want my children to see that. Please don't hold that up." I told him I understood and used to feel the same way. But I told him how we are commanded in Proverbs ('s Ephesians, actually), to "expose the unfruitful works of darkness" (Ephesians 5:11). I told him that many people don't understand what abortion is and seeing the picture shows the reality and truth. I told him that many women change their minds because of the signs. I said that we don't force it in our children's faces, but that unfortunately we live in a culture where we have to use these signs to expose the darkness. I'm not sure if he was totally convinced, but he listened respectfully and I did see some softening by the end. He seemed thankful that we were at least out there. Pray that he and other Christians will come to understand why we believe it is biblical to use such a "shock and awe" form of confrontation of sin. I believe many Christians don't understand how this can be loving and many see it as "ineffective," which couldn't be further from the truth.
After this conversation, I spoke with another man who claimed to be a Christian, but seemed to be a false convert. He used the classic "judge not" approach to say that what we were doing was wrong. He also went straight to the rape and incest argument, which is not only a rare circumstance among abortion-determined women, but also still not an excuse to violate God's command, "Do not murder." I told him we are there to help these women to not make the biggest mistake of their lives. I said that just as I would run after my daughter if she was headed toward the busy highway, we were there to keep those women from danger. However, he was not interested in listening, but argued and talked over me as he tried to prove his points. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). The proud never listen to reason or biblical counsel (Proverbs 1:7) and as a natural result, they are left to their own foolishness and their evil hearts are darkened (Ephesians 4:18).
We left in good spirits for the work that God is doing! There were no babies rescued today that we know of, but God knows every detail of each situation and each heart. We pray that our presence alone was enough to point people away from the place of death and that they will find Jesus. On a positive note, I don't think many of the cars that came were coming for abortions. We can often tell just by the looks on the faces and, of course, the gender. ;) Please pray for each of these situations and that God would work on each and every heart to bring people to him!

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Do you want to go away as well?"

I was pondering the difficulty of losing or distancing friends when we stand so boldly for truth, and God brought this passage to mind: John 6:60-71. Go read it if you need some encouragement in this regard! What strikes me is that the disciples said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" But Jesus knew that the flesh wars against the spirit and that in our flesh, we have a hard time with the tough spiritual truths. Verses 66-67: "After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, 'Do you want to go away as well?'"

Isn't this exactly what we experience when we speak Jesus' words? When we follow in His footsteps? Many of our friends...the very ones who claim to know and love Jesus...turn away from us and leave us to our "zealous fanaticism." I wonder if Jesus, in His humanity, perhaps felt those same feelings of rejection and sadness that we experience? I believe so. The Bible tells us that "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses" (Heb. 4:15). Yet He did not give into the temptation to wallow or be self-focused.

But Jesus "gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." So, keep being zealous for good works! God sees it and He knows your heart and your fleshly struggles. And, "declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you" (Titus 2:14-15).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

First Day at Hebron

What an eventful and exciting first day I had at Hebron yesterday with Eliana Smith! God truly prepared the way before us.
I showed up and parked on a side street, but was unsure of where the building actually was. After a quick, "Lord, show me where this place is" prayer, I saw Eliana pull around the corner. It's always nice to see God in the details. She pointed out the building across the street and, materials and signage in hand, we walked over together. We were saddened to see a lot packed with cars and wondered if perhaps they had changed the time to keep us guessing, but within a few seconds, a car was already pulling out. We stopped it, and the lady told us she had decided not to go through with it! Praise the Lord! It was a wonderful reminder that He is the one who truly does the work and that prayer is far more effective than we sometimes even realize. We took a moment to give God glory and pray that she would remain firm in her decision.
Throughout the time, I got to get to know Eliana better and I feel like I truly found a new friend! What a blessing her tenacity and passion was to me! We shared many of the same joys and frustrations and it was such an encouragement to know that I am not alone in many of my feelings. We had a wonderful iron-sharpening-iron session right there in the midst of ministry. And as we talked, I found out that she also grew up in Greenville, SC! This was exciting to me because I have felt God impressing on me the need for people to go out to the abortion mill in Greenville. God seems to be bringing more and more Greenville connections my way! Maybe someday we will be able to start a team there, too.
It was exciting to see how God is using Eliana and her Spanish-speaking ability. I would say 90 percent of the people we talked to were counselled by Eliana in Spanish! As a "newbie," she was understandably not yet completely comfortable with counselling and I was tickled on several occasions when she would look at me and in an almost panicked way ask, "What do I say?!" I said, "I have no idea what you have said, so I don't know!" :) Plus, I am usually on the mic and counselling is pretty new to me, too. So I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill her and I know God used her words, as it was evident the instant connection she had with each person, simply because she spoke their native tongue. Clearly Spanish-speaking counsellors are a definite need and that made one particular encounter all the more exciting. A lady in a minivan pulled into the lot and Eliana called out to her in Spanish. Without hesitation, she walked over with a calm, peaceful look on her face (rare for anyone headed to abort their baby).
Eliana spoke with her at length and updated me halfway through: "This lady is not here for an abortion. She just wanted to know if they were still doing them here. She had two abortions here and suffered horrible depression. That is what led her ultimately to Christ and now she just really wants to help other women." Wow! What a divine appointment! Eliana told me that the lady was quoting Scripture left and right and just truly seemed to love the Lord! How exciting that we may have one more Spanish-speaking counsellor whom we met right out on the frontlines, already eager to fight in this spiritual battle! We gave her a Cities4Life brochure so she can know better about the ministry.
Later we saw a fancy new car start to pull in the lot and as we approached, we saw an older man driving. We assumed it must be the abortionist until he rolled his window down and said, "I just love seeing you girls out here holding that sign!" We thanked him and I said, "Let me get you a brochure so you know who we are with." He gladly took it and said, "Well, let me give you one of mine, too!" It turned out that he is with a home called Lois' Lodge for women with unplanned pregnancies. What an encouragement to meet another warrior who is working on a complimentary front of the battle!
Most of the women and men we (or rather Eliana!) talked to seemed open and receptive. One man went back in to try to get his wife out, but I don't think he succeeded. He used the excuse that they don't even know if it was his baby. Of course, every baby is a valuable human life, made in God's image! And the baby should never be murdered to cover the sins of the mother. We saw many women reclining in the passenger seat in obvious pain, physically and emotionally. I spoke to a woman who had already aborted and she seemed open to hear us and took a Tiny Hands booklet and tract, but how difficult it is to speak with someone who has already murdered! It is so hard to know what to say. I pray she repents and sees what she did as evil. Overall, I was surprised how many booklets we were able to hand out and how receptive people were. There were several who would not talk to us and seemed to be so troubled, but only one young couple stood out to me as truly cold, hard, and completely God-hating. We tried to talk to them as they waited to pull out, but they didn't even look at us and only scoffed and laughed with each other when I pleaded with them and told them how their baby had been dismembered. Only God knows if it was a cover for their guilty consciences or if it was true hatred for God and anything to do with righteousness. Only God knows if there is still hope for them, and we just have to pray!
Of course, we also had the usual angry honks and profanity. But it seemed to be less than at Wendover and we just were on such a "spiritual high" that it didn't phase us in the least. One man hung out the passenger window of his car and yelled at us "F*** you!" along with a string of demonically-angry insults which I couldn't hear, so I just prayed for him and thought what a small way to take part in Christ's suffering this was. Being yelled at is nothing compared to what Jesus endured! Another man yelled out his window at me to "get a life," which I found ironic. If only the babies being murdered steps away had that choice. A few people waved at us and a couple delivery guys made small talk and seemed supportive of our work.
More and more, I realize the importance of preparation in this battle. It is so crucial to put on the "spiritual armor," as Ephesians 6:10-18 instructs us. I spent an hour in prayer and Bible reading before I left and I believe it made a big difference. In addition, I prayed whenever I thought about it in the days before and also on the way to the mill. It is usually so hard for me to discipline myself to spend this kind of time preparing, but I am seeing that it is crucial!
Going through the passage in a practical way may be helpful here:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. A reminder that it is GOD'S power through us. We do not have to be strong in ourselves. In fact, His strength is made perfect in our weakness, as Paul tells us (2 Corinthians 12:9)! 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Don't forget any one piece. They are all crucial to the battle. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Those of us not raised in charismatic circles forget this truth too easily. There is a hierarchy in Satan's kingdom and he is active in this world. At the abortion mill, that becomes very evident. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Again, a reminder to completely prepare! 14 Stand firm then, The phrase "stand firm" jumps out at me. If we go by feelings, none of us would be back out there after the first one or two times. Those times seem to be most intense as we are spiritually attacked for taking a stand. Our commitment to "go" is challenged heavily. I never felt that more than at Wendover! But stand firm! That is a command. with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, You know the Truth of Scripture. Have it handy so you can "hold yourself together" with it. with the breastplate of righteousness in place, Confess your sins so that God can fully use you for His glory. 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Be ready to share your faith, "in season" and "out of season" (2 Timothy 4:3)! Those on their way toward murdering their children definitely need the gospel and what better time to share it! The conscience is in overdrive and they know they are sinners. But always "wear your shoes" and be ready to "give an answer for the hope that lies within you" (1 Peter 3:15), no matter where you are. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Faith! Oh how much we need it on the frontlines when we are mocked, yelled at, and threatened...where we sometimes see no visible results. But faith that God is always glorified when we obey Him and that we will someday in eternity see the fruit of our labor is the only thing that truly brings peace and comfort on the darkest days. It is ALL about Him! 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The helmet of salvation protects us from any mortal wounds, and the sword of the Spirit is our true weapon! We do not fight with our own words and reasoning, but with the words of the Holy Spirit Himself, speaking through us! I will always be amused and amazed by this. When I start to think, "What am I going to say next? Oh no! Am I going to fail?" I suddenly stumble over my words and say stupid things. But when I get out of the way, pray for God to empty me of myself and of my pride and fill me with His Spirit, the words flow from my mouth in an organized, eloquent way that is totally beyond my own ability! It is not false humility to say that it is truly not me speaking, but God through me! What a privilege. And that power is available to anyone who asks.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. When? All the time. What? Everything! Be in a spirit of prayer! He is with us always and we should be in an ongoing conversation with Him, praying on behalf of all God's people and all those who need Him.
So, it was a great day yesterday! One of the memorable ones. One save, two divine appointments, encouraging words, and uplifting conversations. God is good! Please continue to pray for us and if you haven't seen firsthand what you are praying for, consider coming out at least one time! This is the holocaust of our time and we all can and should be involved in some way to put a stop to it. Some day, when abortion is outlawed in our nation, what part will you, a Christian saved by God's grace and spared from abortion yourself, have played?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Having the "Mind of Christ"

Tonight I do not feel like going to the abortion mill. I must wake up early (as in 5:30 am) and drive 40 minutes down to a busy road where I will hold a sign of a brutally murdered pre-born baby ("exposing the darkness" as in Eph. 5:11). I have not been in the Word regularly this week and these feelings and apprehensions are my own fault. But God is so good, isn't He? I spent a few minutes reading some verses and came upon a passage I have heard before: 1 Corninthians 2:9-16. In fact, I have memorized verse 14 at some point in my life. And yet, suddenly God revealed this passage to me in such a fresh and overwhelming way! Let me share it with you...

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Now, read that passage again and think of all the implications of what Paul is saying to the Corinthians here. First of all, notice the big "S" in verse 10: "these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit." That is God. Living in US. Now Paul makes an interesting analogy to the Corinthians so that they will "get it." So they will truly understand how huge this thought is. He says, "For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?" Little "s" this time. Your thoughts, wishes, ponderings...they are all so personal. They are the essence of you. They are what really makes you, But do you see where Paul is going with this? "So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." Do you see it? It's the same thing! Your thoughts, wishes, ponderings are your spirit. But you also have the Spirit! You also have GOD'S thoughts, wishes, ponderings if you are truly His child! Now, go back to verse 10 where Paul says, "For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God." That is the same Spirit that resides in you! Do you want to know the heart of God? Do you want to know the very depths of God Himself? You can. He tells us so. "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God." Freely given! But do we desire them and seek them? And do we share, with our brothers and sisters in Christ, that wisdom that is taught by the Spirit? "And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual."

Or, do we remain like the natural man? "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." Few things sadden me more than when people claim to know my Jesus and yet live as though they have no understanding of what He told us to do. They do not help widows or orphans, as we are commanded (James 1:27). Or they criticize those who are, using human reasoning ("that's ineffective," "you are making Christians look foolish," etc.). I know many of those Christians are well-meaning. And certainly, our faith is not determined by our works. But faith without works is dead, as we are told in James 2:14-17! Personally, this puts a health fear of God in me! Are we living like we love Him or like we love the world? Are we Spiritual, discerning the Spirit, or "natural," perceiving the spiritual to be nothing more than "folly"?

Now for the really tricky part of the passage (at least to me). I sat and thought about this one for a while, but I want to chew on it even longer. "The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 'For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." As best I can understand, then, if (big if) we are truly sharing in the "mind of Christ" in our actions and attitudes, then there is no place for others to judge us. If a fellow believer is doing the things that God commands and we cannot point to a chapter and verse in the Bible that contradicts his or her actions, we need to be very, very careful of casting judgement, or we just might be judging the "mind of Christ!" This is another very heavy thought! In all our judging, God always gives warning to us. We must have humility and search our own hearts first. We must ask God for wisdom and proceed with much caution.

"But we have the mind of Christ." Isn't that an amazing thought? Go read that passage once more and let all the wonderful implications sink in!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Is This Not the Fast?

I had a wonderful encouragement tonight on Facebook when I received a message from a friend from college. It read, in part: "I have never done this before, but I feel like the Lord is leading me to fast for you the next time you go to the abortion mill to counsel women away from making a terrible decision for themselves and their baby." I see this as one more way that God is providing for our needs in this battle. We truly wrestle not against "flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12)," so having prayer warriors covering us in prayer as we go out is such an encouragement...and need. But what was even more amazing was her reply back after I responded in thanks. She quoted the exact passage that has become very special to me since we've been going out to the mill...Isaiah 58. And, what is even more interesting is that in our Bible study, we've been studying Isaiah this year (I had already "claimed" this passage for my life, so I was excited when I found out we would be studying Isaiah) and just today we studied this passage so close to my heart, Isaiah 58! Read these beautiful verses and ponder their meaning a moment. You may even want to read the entire chapter.

Isaiah 58:6-9
“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
7 “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 “Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

I have such a burden that most Christians in our comfortable American culture don't understand that the way to truly get to God's heart is to simply go out and actively live our faith by loving our neighbors as ourselves. In fact, fasting has become the newest "thing", it seems...the latest spiritual gimmick. Everyone wants to fast and pray. It seems we think that is the key to revival. But God says differently! He tells us here that we have it backwards! He shows us the hypocrisy of simply following a list of "dos and don'ts" while ignoring His commands to live out our faith (James 1:22; 2:17,24). In a culture that so despises religious hypocrites, it is amazing how those who hate them most are doing the very things they claim to hate! We truly need to start taking the logs out of our own eyes (Matt. 7:3)!

When we go out and love our neighbor in these kinds of tangible ways, like standing in front of the abortion mill and pleading on behalf of the babies, it lights our hearts on fire for Him. Our faith becomes real because we are living it and we suddenly see the genuine importance of putting on the armor of God because we suddenly realize we really are in a battle (Eph. 6:10-20)! I truly believe that if Christians across this country would start going out and living their faith in tangible ways (doing good works) and giving the Gospel while doing it, we would see a revival in this country! I know He has started a revival in my own heart. I pray that He spreads it to the hearts of everyone I come in contact with, and then to the hearts of everyone that they come in contact with, and on and on! If you love Jesus, you simply cannot share that love without it causing a fresh stir in your own heart that is infectious. His love is powerful and overwhelming!

What a blessing this friend's message was to me tonight. I don't think she thought much about it...there was such humility in her words. She was just following God in obedience and speaking in the Holy Spirit. But God is a God of detail and He weaves all of these experiences together to encourage and strengthen us when we need it most! He used her words tonight to stoke the fire of my passion for this ministry and to lift my dampened spirits! What a wonderful God we serve!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Mounting Spiritual Battle

Today was a heavy day. I feel beaten down in my spirit for no particular reason. It is not that today's spiritual battle was so highly unusual or uniquely intense. Intense, yes. Unique, yes in the sense that they all are. But today was nothing that should throw my spirit down in the "body slam" that it has. It was just another untypically typical day down at the abortion mill, standing on the sidewalk offering hope, love, and judgement (yes, God speaks of that, too) to the women, and fighting on behalf of those "being led away to slaughter". But I believe what made today different was the spiritual warfare that is happening on a broader scale now in our nation, due to the horrific case of Kermitt Gosnell. And Satan's attacks are ramping up. It is a sign that he is feeling the threat to his vile kingdom. I ask that all Christians keep the sidewalk counsellors/missionaries in their prayers! I have spoken to others who are feeling equally beaten down. And I have heard that the tactic that the mainstream news will take is to claim that pro-life missionaries ("protesters" as they like to call us) are what is driving these women into such "houses of horror". Can you imagine anything so absurd and illogical? But now that they feel the pressure to actually cover the story of this mass murderer, they must spin it in a way that does not disparage their sacred cow.
Sadly, we did not have any confirmed saves today at the mill, though some did witness a woman crying for over 30 minutes and then leaving with her assumed boyfriend, who waved as they left. Believing in faith that this was a save is a comfort to this worn-out heart of mine. And I was also thankful today for the lack of rain! It blew over and left us with a sunny, breezy morning. Perfect outdoor weather! I was also blessed to have a great team today, despite Lisa and her family being sick and unable to come. A sidewalk preacher, Jesse Boyd, and his daughter came, along with a Daniel and Courtney Parks (?) who are regulars on Saturdays. We also had a new face out, as well as several others I had not yet met. It was especially encouraging to have strong men there to speak truth boldly. Sometimes the boldness seemed to me to cross a line and there was a time of intense back and forth between one man on our team and Lazarus (the bouncer who desperately needs to "rise from the dead"), but I know we were all praying for God to work through even that situation and I truly believe He did. And I am learning that even when we judge actions, we still do not fully know a heart and we must always give the benefit of the doubt while seeking to learn from both the positive and the negative interactions. Love can be the motivation for the too-extreme actions of both mercy and justice. I later saw it in reverse as another sidewalk counsellor (a lady this time) was far too understanding with a man who was claiming not all murder by abortion is wrong. All of us should be working to find that balance between mercy and justice, as God is a God of both mercy and justice and we seek to emulate Him, as He commands us to. But in our culture we tend to excuse the love that leans too heavily on the side of mercy...perhaps because our love for God and hatred for sin is just not strong enough. We have a serious problem understanding...or even wanting to understand...the incomprehensible holiness and righteousness of God!
One way that God used those "moments of raw humanity" today was to pull a man named Shamari outside to discuss abortion with us, as he felt we were being too judgemental. Poor, deceived Shamari talked in circles, obviously struggling with the Truth and not wanting to allow his conscience (or us) to "win" the argument. He was polite and kind, but so, so blinded! Caryn and I talked with him and finally had to leave the Holy Spirit to deal with him. But when I asked him to read Matthew 25 about the final judgement, he actually agreed and it was the first time he allowed me to speak freely and didn't interrupt with "reasoning". I felt the Holy Spirit was dealing with him strongly in that moment, so pray that the work is completed in his heart and that he will not continue to harden himself to the plain, simple truth.
Caryn shared with me her own heartbreak of today...a couple there to abort their baby due to doctor's "orders". She prayed with them and pleaded on behalf of the baby, but the father was apathetic and they were already convinced of the decision. After counselling them fruitlessly, she had to turn away and weep. How much will God hold these doctors accountable who tell these trusting women that their lives are in danger if they do not kill their own child! I do not believe that the circumstances are even usually as dire as they claim. However, even in such a case, who are doctors to "play God" and decide that the mother's life is more important than her helpless child's? Do any of us have the knowledge of God to be able to see His plans (Jeremiah 29:11)? Is it up to us to take on His role and decide who lives and who dies?
Another atrocity was the car that pulled in with their "Jesus fish" and cross firmly affixed to their trunk. When their hypocrisy was pointed out, they responded with obscene gestures and cursing. Despicable! These are the religious hypocrites Jesus condemned (Matthew 23)! They go to church on Sunday and sing lies of false praise to the idol-god made in their own image and then pull in the parking lot the next week to murder their innocent child! Their prayers are an abomination (Proverbs 28:9)! But, sadly, they are the rotten fruit of pastors that preach an "easy" gospel...a false "pray this prayer and you've got your golden ticket to heaven" gospel, which is contrary to what Jesus taught (Matthew 16:24-25). Every time they speak the precious name of my Savior, Jesus, they use His name in vain and break the third commandment because of the wicked testimony of their lives. May they repent and accept God's radical grace before it is too late for them!
Sadder still was the lady who came into the mobile ultrasound RV and saw her tiny twins on the monitor, but was apparently unmoved. Her car was seen back in the parking lot a few minutes later and she proceeded with her scheduled murder. Seeing her own flesh and blood on that screen did nothing to change her heart. Or perhaps it was pressure from her grandmother, who was also present, as many young women are told they have no choice and are horribly pressured into this horrific decision. It is sometimes hard to know the whole story, but we see the choice of murder and we grieve for the baby who had no choice whatsoever in the matter!
We left with heavy hearts, heavier than what is normal for all of us. Even my children felt the extra weight of the battle today. Again, I ask that you keep all of the sidewalk missionaries in your prayers in a special way over the next few weeks. We are under spiritual attack, as I believe the Gosnell case is a powerful testimony against abortion and gives support to the work we are doing. I believe this case could be a major spark in lighting a fire in the hearts of Christians across the country to put an end to the atrocity of abortion! Pray for faith to believe this can happen and then follow God's command to "rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter" (Proverbs 24:11).

Friday, March 8, 2013

Crazy Day at Latrobe

Now, the promised status update from the mill:

This morning started off with a well-intentioned man getting on the mic who signed the statement of faith Lisa gave him, but who we do not believe truly agrees with the doctrines of Christianity, due to a number of reasons. It is always difficult when we work for the same cause, but our ultimate cause (the Gospel) is different! We were all very concerned with the situation, but praise the Lord he did not deviate from the facts of abortion into shaky theological territory or outright heresy. Pray that God would win these kind people from other religions into his "fold" and that we could all be completely of one mind and one spirit in Jesus Christ!

Next on the list of events was a car that Annalise was able to stop. She and a man named Dan were able to talk to the girls inside for a minute until Lazarus, the bouncer, came tearing out of the parking lot and pulled up beside them. He was yelling at them, then got out and shoved Dan a couple times and held a fist in his face. We called the police and filed papers for the assault, while Lazarus fled somewhere (likely in the building), leaving his SUV in the parking lot. On the positive side, we didn't have to deal with his loud music the rest of the morning! The police officer strongly hinted that Dan should press charges, so pray that this would be one more crack in the foundation of this evil place. God WILL bring it down in His time! Many of us who minister together feel this very strongly in our spirits and are praying for this.

I watched the car drive down the road, praying that it would just keep on going, but a minute or two later I saw it come back and pull over. I walked very quickly down the road to meet with the girl as she got out. I asked her if she was there for an abortion and she replied that she was. I asked, "Can I pray over you before you go in there?" I put my arm around her and prayed that she would not go through with the abortion and that she would realize it was murder. The Holy Spirit moved me to gentleness, so every truth spoken with love was in a gentle tone. She was appreciative, but set in what she was about to do. She told me she had a child and no money for another. I told her about all our resources, about adoption, etc., but that was not what she wanted to do.

As she determinedly walked down the sidewalk toward the slaughter house, I asked if she knew it was murder, to which she replied, "yes" in a tone that said she couldn't think about that ugly reality and then she asked me to just not show her any pictures because she "had a weak stomach". So, naturally, I showed her pictures! I showed her the reality of abortion by confronting her with the truth...the picture of a tiny baby not much bigger than a dime, cut into tiny pieces. She was disturbed, but would not be moved. Pray for that girl that the conviction she feels would not go away until she repents. (This was one of my first "real" counselling moments and I was nervous! I'm usually on the mic. How is it that a microphone doesn't intimidate me but talking to someone one-on-one does? God equips us each for different jobs, I guess! But he wants us available for whatever He needs us for at the moment.)

Another lady and her daughter took a booklet from Wendy and were receptive, but unsuccessful in getting the lady they brought to come out. As far as we know, she went through with the abortion. Pray for this lady.

Finally, we had a very interesting conversation with a psychology major who just wanted to talk to us because he "respected what we were doing" even though he least that is what he claimed. But his body language and his tone of voice betrayed his conscience and we could hear the cognitive dissonance (all the rest of us being former psych major or minors ourselves ;) ) spilling out of him! Even Konur (11) told me later that he didn't seem to believe his own words. Pray for him to stop ignoring his conscience and believing the lies he knows he is accepting! He had brought his girlfriend. We asked why she couldn't give the baby up for adoption and were told she wouldn't care for her baby while pregnant the baby would end up with fetal alcohol syndrome. He said a baby like that should not live, to which Lisa replied that her own daughter, Annalise, has FAS. She brought her over and introduced her, asking "Pete" if he believed she didn't deserve to live. It was an uncomfortable moment for Pete. ;) There were many other interesting moments in that conversation, including a brief deconstruction of relativism, as he claimed all our reasonings were just "your truth, but not mine", to which I replied that his green shirt was red because that was MY truth.

Well, one last "finally", actually. As we drove home and "debriefed", praying for all the varied situations we encountered today, we nearly got in another car accident in the SAME spot as last time! It's a very bad entry onto the highway that runs right into an exit ramp and another car couldn't decide what lane to be in and nearly caused an accident! I'm thankful I was alert enough to get out of the way and that God protected us.

Now this, my Christian friends, is what an exciting Friday looks like! Who wouldn't want to experience these stories? Are they tragic? Yes, many are. But the excitement of the one or two saves or hopeful cases outweighs it all! And even in the tragedies, when you know you are planting seeds and you truly have real hope in Jesus Christ, you know that you ARE making an eternal impact, whether you see it or not. If we focus on the death of babies, we are giving into Satan and allowing him to discourage us from this ministry. Our focus, even in the midst of so much death and tragedy, is the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15)! It is the hope that is offered for these young moms, regardless of whether or not they go through with murder, that we have to cling to. And even the one or two saves a day which seem so insignificant compared with the losses will multiply, as those babies will someday have babies of their own. Who will we meet in heaven someday who is there because we stood up for life today? Praise the Lord he uses weak ones like us to do abundantly more than we could ask or think!