Guest Posts

Guest Post: The Broken Definition of Brokenness

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

The Broken Definition of Brokenness
by Teresa Lawrence

Brokenness is a popular buzzword in the professing Christian world today. It’s a word that evokes emotion and sympathy; it seems to appropriately describe our perception of ourselves as sinful people in a cursed world. We feel broken. We feel the effects of sin in the world and know this isn’t how it is supposed to be. We know this not only through our experience, but even more clearly through the revelation of scripture.

In some cases, the term is appropriate. It is true that we hurt and suffer, and that life is hard. However, words matter. If we want to communicate carefully and biblically, caution is called for. Brokenness, as a term, is being increasingly used by fuzzy writers and soft-tongued teachers to describe the problems of our lives and world, without regard to defining the term according to Scripture. “We are broken people living in a broken world,” is a mantra echoed by many in one form or another. And we tend to be quick to agree. The description seems to fit.

So, what’s wrong with it? Isn’t it true, even scriptural? What about Psalm 51:17, which says “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”? What about Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11 and 21 where the Bible talks about “the brokenness of my people”?

It’s important when we are going to describe anything of a spiritual nature to study scriptural uses. The Bible uses this word in quite an interesting variety of ways. A search reveals 325 uses of variations of the word “broken” in the NASB, including 3 of “brokenness”. Here are some literal biblical ways it is used:

broken out, as in a disease on the skin

break forth, as in song

broken through, as in a wall or a barrier

broken down, as in old and worn out

literally broken, a thing that is no longer able to be functionally used, as in a pot or a ship or an arm

broken law or covenant

Then there are two other, metaphoric, uses. First, there is the broken heart (Ps. 69:20, Jer. 23:9), signifying great, uncomforted grief.  There are instances like Psalm 51 and Job 17:1 where a broken spirit is used to refer to a person at the end of his own resources, and in desperate need of God’s mercy and help. There are surprisingly few biblical references to this kind of brokenness (I found 12).

Secondly, and perhaps also surprisingly, a large percentage of the biblical uses of “broken” (I counted around 67) refer to a position to be feared rather than embraced. These refer to being under the judgment of God–the results of the justice of God against his enemies or the discipline of his own people. This is the “brokenness of my people” referred to in Jeremiah–the judgment of God on Israel because of their rebellion and hard hearts. It also refers to the act of God in regard to His enemies and the finality of their defeat, as in Proverbs 6:12,15:

“A worthless person, a wicked man,
his calamity will come suddenly;
Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.”

(See also Psalm 60:1; Proverbs 29:1; Isaiah 65:14; and Ezekiel 32:28, among many others.)

The problem with many modern uses of broken/brokenness” is that while the biblical word is used, it is defined generally as an accurate description of us and life in our fallen world—a definition the Bible never uses. This unbiblical usage serves to emphasize our own experiences and perspectives and soften some rather unattractive realities that need to be faced about ourselves rather than softened: Sin. Rebellion. Selfishness. Pride. Hatred toward God.

This cushioning of hard truths produces consequences in our thinking. Using “brokenness” to describe our cursed condition can be a subtle way of shifting responsibility from ourselves to some other, nebulous cause (Satan, maybe?) that got us into these troubles in which we find ourselves. It softens the responsibility we ourselves have for rebelling against God. We aren’t rebels, we’re broken. We aren’t sinners, we’re broken. We readily adopt a more forgiving opinion of our own hearts, and see ourselves as victims of circumstance. Even unbelievers are comfortable taking on the “broken” identity, a fact which ought to give thoughtful Christians pause.

The term “broken” is passive. It begs the question, “Who broke us?” It implies that the fact we are broken is someone else’s fault. Somehow, someone broke us and our world and we are living with and dealing with the consequences as best we can. We can tend to see ourselves as bravely facing our problems; responsible only for being as gentle with ourselves and others as possible, to prevent further breakage. We suspend all judgment, even biblical judgment, because who are we, who are just as broken as you are, to point fingers?

We do need to be gentle with the hurting around us. We ourselves do suffer. However, when these things dominate our thinking, and we begin to describe ourselves in these terms, we are in danger of minimizing or overlooking our own sin and responsibility altogether. The fact that other people sin against us, sometimes grossly, doesn’t negate the fact that we ourselves are guilty of hurting others, and more seriously, sinning against our holy and righteous Creator.

Dear Christian, this is the subtlety of the devil. If he can convince people that to be Christian means to admit that we are merely broken and need healing, we readily settle on a distorted picture of who we really are and what we truly need. That we are hurting is easy to see and admit. But a more serious diagnosis is necessary.

The Bible describes mankind in his natural, godless, sinful state in the most unsavory of terms. We are not only wicked, we are thoroughly wicked.

“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth,
and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Gen. 6:5

We are also called fools. And corrupt. 

“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;
There is no one who does good.
Psalm 14:1

How about deceitful? And desperately sick?

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

The brokenness of the Bible comes when we realize these things are true about ourselves. We have nothing good in us and are in serious trouble with God, however uncomfortable we are in admitting this is true. This is when we arrive at the point of spiritual bankruptcy, where we are brought to understand that we are “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). This is the brokenness David referred to in Psalm 51, to which he had come as a result of his own terrible sin. This brokenness can be defined as humility before God. David recognizes that his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah (adultery and murder), while heinous, are nothing compared to the weight of sin he has committed against God:

Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge. (v. 4)

The Bible never uses the word broken to describe the world or the state of all mankind. The brokenness the Bible describes is not our problem, it is what we need. To be broken is to come to God with nothing in our hands, knowing all we have to offer Him is our sin, and asking only for His mercy.

The brokenness the Bible describes is not our problem, it is what we need.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God,
You will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)

These are the brokenhearted that the Lord is near to and helps:

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

This isn’t just someone who is sad or grieving. This is someone sad and grieving over their sin. We aren’t just “broken people living in a broken world”. We are proud sinners living in a rebellious and cursed world–in need of being broken. We need to be humbled, and brought to where we see our desperate need. Those who do not will face serious and lasting consequences.

A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy. (Prov. 29:1)

Interestingly, both of these biblical uses of “broken” fit its passive voice. When God judges a person or a nation, they are broken by His decree and His might, and none can stop Him. Psalm 75:6-8 says,


But God is the Judge;
He puts down one and exalts another.
For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams;
It is well mixed, and He pours out of this;
Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.”

And, just as much as the other, when a person comes to the place of a broken spirit, realizing their sin and utter lack of any resource, and their great need for mercy, this also is a work of God’s sovereignty and grace.


I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD…”  Jeremiah 24:7a

“…God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13b

Describing ourselves unbiblically as “broken” shifts our perspective just enough to cause God’s judgment to seem cruel (what kind of God sends broken people to hell?) and His salvation to be something He ought to rightfully give us (it would be unkind to do anything but help and rescue a broken person). But until we are saved, we aren’t broken—yet. We’re proud sinners who would rather work our way into God’s good graces than accept that there’s nothing we can do for ourselves.

One of two paths is available to us: either we will be broken before the Lord, and saved by His mercy, or we will be broken by the Lord, justly judged, and condemned. And while it is true that we hurt and suffer, this doesn’t reduce our responsibility. If we want to be called broken, humility or condemnation are the biblical choices.

As believers, we ought to be aware of the gradual drift away from these biblical meanings, and how this drift affects our thinking. Increasingly, brokenness has become a useful word for sidestepping the culpability that sinful people are already trying to avoid facing. We need to speak compassionately, with kindness, but without softening the hard edges of the message. It is true that we suffer. But our suffering doesn’t negate our sinfulness. The Israelites were abused horribly by the Egyptians. God had compassion on them, and brought them out of slavery, but he also judged them for their rebellion in the desert. The suffering didn’t nullify the sin. We need to be careful not to obscure the real need for salvation from our own sin and its consequences.

This world isn’t just broken. It’s lost. It’s condemned. All its wickedness and rebellion will someday be permanently broken under the mighty sword of God’s righteous judgment. Let us be humble enough to see ourselves not only as hurting people, but as sinful people who offend our gracious Creator. Let us be loving enough to tell people of their dangerous position before God–not of their “brokenness”, but of their sinfulness. Then let us tell them also of a holy, yet merciful Savior who desires that they turn to Him and be saved. Let us boldly hold out God’s powerful gospel to His enemies, extending to them the good news of peace with Him before it is too late.


Teresa has been married to her husband Adam for 23 years, and they have 8 children, ranging from ages 5 to 22. She lives in the Dallas/Ft Worth area, serves as a musician in her church orchestra, and mentors in their one on one discipleship ministry. She is passionate about knowing God and understanding the truths in His word, and loves nothing better than teaching, encouraging, and being encouraged by like-minded women. She blogs very occasionally at Your Word Is Truth.

Guest Posts, Holidays (Other), Reformation Day

Guest Post: The Reformation – An Invitation to the Gospel

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

The Reformation: An Invitation to the Gospel
by Matt Shown

For most, October 31 is about costumes and candy. But something far more frightening and weighty is also celebrated on that day. October 31 is Reformation Day. On October 31, 1517, a hammer strike would echo through centuries – in fact, the echo is still reverberating today. In 1517, Martin Luther would nail his ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany sparking the Protestant Reformation that shaped Christian history.

The Reformers sought to bring the church back under the authority of God’s Word. This wasn’t to say tradition had no value, but rather that the sole “God-breathed” authority for any believer was not the word of Popes or councils, but the words of the Bible. The Reformers echoed the conviction of Jesus when He responded to the Sadducees in His day, “Have you not read what was said to you by God?” (Matthew 22:31). The words on the pages of Scriptures were God’s very Word- God breathed and sufficient to equip believers to do every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Sola Scriptura – that Scripture alone is the supreme authority for faith and practice was the formal, or foundational, principle that sparked the Reformation.

But there was a second principle – a material principle- that dealt with the content of the gospel. This material principle was called sola fide. Sola fide was the confession that faith alone was the way in which mankind can be in right relationship with God. By grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone mankind can be justified, which means to be set in a right relationship with God. Romans 4:5 tells us, “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” John 3:16, the most popular verse in the Bible, reminds us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Many misunderstand what sola fide means because we misunderstand what faith is. Faith is not a blind leap into the dark. Faith isn’t separate from repentance of sin (Mark 1:15). Faith isn’t simply beliefs in our head, but transformation of our head, heart, and will. Biblical faith is conviction rooted in assurance (Hebrews 11:1, Romans 4:21). It isn’t the empty profession that James 2 illustrates. Faith isn’t walking an aisle at church on Sunday and walking in darkness Monday through Saturday. Saving faith is conviction rooted in assurance that God’s Word is true. It is marked by a transformation of self (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Jesus illustrates saving faith in parable about a tax collector and the Pharisee. Luke tells us he told this parable to those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and we may be surprised what self-righteousness looks like. Both men entered the temple to pray, and the Pharisee gave lip service to God’s grace, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get” (Luke 18:11-12). He recognizes God’s grace, yet ultimately found hope in his own works. While the tax collector displays reverence toward God by bowing his head and praying a simple prayer, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” The Pharisee recognizes God’s grace, the tax collector relied on it. It was the one who relied on God’s grace, through faith, that went home justified, not the man who simply gave lip service to grace while trusting in himself.

This is an illustration of why the Reformation matters. The church was making men into Pharisees rather than into justified tax collectors. The message of the Reformation was to cease simply recognizing grace, and to instead rely on it. The message was a confession of mankind’s ungodliness, God’s incomprehensible holiness, and the sufficiency of Jesus’ cross and empty tomb to save!

The Reformation is an opportunity to, by faith alone, rely on God’s grace. It is an opportunity to trust the promises of God in His Word because the Bible is enough for us. It is an opportunity to let go of unbiblical traditions and to embrace the apostolic traditions found in the pages of God’s Word. The Reformation is an invitation to the reader who may not have assurance of their relationship with God. It is an invitation to assurance through faith in Jesus Christ.

“How can I be right with God?” There is no more important question. It is that question that ignited the Reformation and it is a question all of us must answer.


Matt Shown has served as a bi-vocational pastor and church revitalizer for the past 4 1/2 years. He loves God’s Word, good preaching, and Mac N Cheese. He is married to his incredible wife Dana. Matt received his Master of Divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He blogs at http://www.ShowntheWay.Wordpress.com.

Discernment, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Why I Left Elevation Church

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

Why I Left Elevation Church
by Name Withheld


Disclaimer:
The author’s statements about her tenure at Elevation and
what particular Elevation pastors or staff said and did should be
taken as her own personal experience and not as irrefutable fact.


As you pull up to the parking lot, you are first greeted by someone directing parking traffic decked out in all orange. In the parking lot, there is a sea of Elevation Church bumper stickers plastered on everyone’s cars. You walk up to church, and you’re then greeted by volunteer after volunteer persuading you to join their eGroup or to join a volunteer team. It almost feels like you’re walking in the shopping mall and on every side of you there are sales people bombarding you trying to get you to buy their perfumes and colognes. After you dodge them all, you’re then surrounded by all sorts of people — local people, people who traveled from a few hours away, or people who flew in from out of country to attend this particular church. As you wait in line, you see to your left a merchandise table

You finally enter the auditorium of the church, and you’re ushered into your seat, or to what it may feel like, forced into your seat. “All the way down! Move all the way down, do not leave any empty chairs!” the usher tells you, because there can’t be any gaps where you sit for camera purposes. Suddenly, the lights dim and there’s a countdown on a giant screen letting you know when church will start. If you were new to the church, it would feel like you’re at a New Years Eve party. People all around you are excited and they start to stand up and clap and dance before the countdown even finishes. The person to your right is inserting the ear plugs that the church offers as you walk into the auditorium to help with the unbearably loud noise during worship. The lights come back on and the worship team comes on stage; there’s laser lights and fog machines and for a second, you think you’re at a concert. 

After some sort of high-quality, overly produced videos, the pastor then comes on stage. He first takes about five to ten minutes trying to gauge the crowd and then work the crowd to get them pumped up for whatever he is about to butcher, oh sorry, I mean preach. He puts up 1-3 Bible verses on the screen for everyone to follow along and then amazingly enough, spends about an hour and a half convincing the crowd that his Bible twisting is true. “The reason why you’re not being blessed by God, is because you don’t have enough faith!” he tells the crowd, some of whom are wealthy, and some of whom are living paycheck to paycheck, while he is on the stage dressed from head to toe in all Gucci.

After church ends, it’s an unbelievable ordeal to exit. You’re pushed and shoved, and people are stepping on your feet as you try to find your way out of the auditorium. Oh, and you’ll most definitely spend about ten to fifteen minutes sitting in your car in the parking lot trying to leave. You pull out of the church parking lot, and congratulations, you survived a visit to Elevation.

^^^^^

I was part of Elevation Church for about six years. At the time, I thought it was the greatest church on Earth and if anyone spoke negative about it, I thought they were just bitter. It felt like I was in a relationship with Elevation Church. With any relationship, in the beginning, it was puppy love and you just always want to be around them 24/7 so you volunteer extra hours and join everything that they have and buy all of their t-shirts and CDs. Then the relationship slowly became the overly attached partner that you so desperately needed to break up with, but didn’t know how to.

I eventually became the lead photographer at one of Elevation’s campuses and even was on the photography team for their live album recording, Here As In Heaven, at the Spectrum Center Arena (formerly known as the Time Warner Cable Arena). I led a team of about forty people. The majority of them were older than me so it was challenging at times to be a leader figure when my team were twice my age. I pretty much lived at church, between meetings and special events they had going on, I was always working. And when you’re around a church for that long, you see and hear a lot of things. 

I overheard the campus pastor telling potential new staff that they had to take a bullet for the church if it ever came to that point. I heard some staff getting fired when they were asked if they were “team Elevation” to which the staff member said, “I’m team Jesus.” So they were fired for not “bleeding orange.” 

Before Steven Furtick gets on stage, the photography team at the campus that he is at immediately has to upload photos of what the crowd looks like that day so he can see how big or how small his crowd is.

Eventually, I decided to quit after what I was witnessing didn’t feel like a church to me. On top of that, I was absolutely exhausted every time I got home and was starting to lose passion for photography. 

And boy oh boy, the day I told my supervisor that I was quitting was not fun. I lost all of my friends. And I’m not being dramatic when I say that I lost all my friends. Everyone I worked with and thought were my friends shunned me and ignored all my text messages and blocked me on social media. I was a total outcast. It was a pretty lonely year. I’m not going to lie. It was rough. 

I kept praying to God to give me discernment and to open up my eyes if I’m doing something wrong, to bring clarity. And God sure did answer my prayer, in a major way. 

About four months ago, my mom came into my room to where I was and all excited she tells me, “Guess who I heard on the radio?!”. I shrug my shoulders and say, “Who?” She says, “Costi Hinn, Benny Hinn’s nephew! He was saying how everything that Benny Hinn says and does, as well as other false teachers is fake, he was essentially exposing him.” My mom and I were pretty big Benny Hinn fans. When I was younger and lived in Florida, we went to his crusade and we managed to get floor seats because we thought the closer we got to Benny Hinn, the closer we got to a healing or a miracle. I was absolutely shocked when she told me. So the millennial in me started to look him up on Twitter and I found a tweet he posted about Bethel Church in Redding, California. I was intrigued, because I was accepted to Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) but I ended up getting scammed seven thousand dollars that someone was supposed to give me and then I couldn’t go. Naturally, I was frustrated but I prayed to God to show me why I couldn’t go. This felt like an answered prayer. I replied to Costi’s tweet about Bethel and about two minutes later he replied to me, he gave me his email and out of the kindness of his heart, sent me his two books for free as well as an email full of information. I’m still trying to process all of it.

When I read Costi’s book, God, Greed, And The (Prosperity) Gospel, I read it so quick because I couldn’t put it down. It was three in the morning when I did finally finish it. I put the book down and just kept saying, “Wow.” I’ve been a Christian since I was three years old, and it felt like everything that I knew was one giant lie.

After that, I began to research more people and found so many good pastors and teachers that have shed a ton of light and information for me. Between what type of worship music you should and shouldn’t listen to, the type of church that you should attend, pastors you should stay away from, even down to the translation of the Bible that is good and which ones are bad. 

So what does my life look like now after I left Elevation? Well, I’m still in process mode. I keep doing my research and make sure that what I’m doing is biblically correct. I got rid of any books from false teachers that I had, got a different translation of the Bible, and deleted my old worship music playlist that was full of Elevation Worship, Hillsong Worship, and Bethel Music. I continue to pray for God to reveal to me what is the truth and little by little, I get new information.

This has most definitely been a journey of rediscovering Jesus, the true Jesus. It’s deconstructing everything that I was taught from false teachers and filling myself up with the true Gospel. And I am so grateful for God revealing to me the truth about Bethel Church before I got filled with even more deception by attending their school.

I share my story of leaving Elevation, because I want to help others who are being deceived by false teachers, like I once was, to be brought out so they can understand the true Gospel. I’ve seen – firsthand – false doctrine damage people so deep that they leave Christianity completely. When church becomes more about entertainment and theatrics, you have to ask yourself if it’s even a church. If you talk to anyone who goes to Elevation Church, you can tell that the focus is not centered on God, because the conversation always points to Steven Furtick and on his performance, not the actual word of God. 

I fully realize that not everyone is going to agree with me on this, especially those who I went with to Elevation Church. I love the people I worked with at Elevation Church, and it is because I love them that I am writing this because I want them to be brought out of deception. This has been no easy task, but it makes it all worth it to obey Christ.

Because good theology and sound doctrine matters.

Linked below¹ are resources that have helped me on this journey of finding the truth. I am forever grateful for their knowledge and for pouring into me and sharing with me the true Gospel.

An incredible documentary that shows how important it is to spread the true Gospel and how dangerous the word of faith movement is: American Gospel

Books by John MacArthur that have helped me: Strange Fire and Charismatic Chaos

Books by Costi Hinn that have helped me: God, Greed, And The (Prosperity) Gospel and Defining Deception

A Bible chart that breaks down different translations of the Bible.

How to find a good church near you: 9Marks

Video from Fighting For The Faith (Chris Rosebrough) on Steven Furtick from Elevation Church: Steven Furtick and The Danger of a Dream

Other helpful people to watch on YouTube:

Melissa Dougherty

Doreen Virtue

Mike Winger

Justin Peters and his Website.

Lindsay Davis who was an ex-Bethel student (BSSM) sharing her testimony: Ex Bethel Student Tells All: Lindsay Davis Testimony from Melissa Dougherty and Doreen Virtue

And Michelle Lesley who was kind enough to give me an opportunity to share my story.


The author of this guest post wished to remain anonymous. She is a resident of North Carolina and a former member of Elevation Church.


NOTEs FROM MICHELLE:
¹I AM NOT thoroughly FAMILIAR WITH All OF THESE RESOURCES AND DO NOT ENDORSE ANY OF THEM WHICH DEVIATE FROM SCRIPTURE OR MY THEOLOGY AS OUTLINED IN THE “WELCOME” AND “STATEMENT OF FAITH” TABS AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE. AS WITH ANY RESOURCE, PLEASE THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THESE BEFORE USING THEM.
²See also the Searching for a new church? tab at the top of this page, which includes not only the 9Marks church search engine but many others, and additional resources, as well.
Abortion, Guest Posts

Guest Post: On the Subject of Abortion

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

On the Subject of Abortion
by Lisa Matthews

A Brief Word from Michelle:

When Lisa first contacted me about writing a guest post on abortion, she sent me this video of a speech she made at a recent pro-life rally. I thought it was so powerful and inspiring that I wanted to include it with her article. Lisa’s speech starts around the 16 minute mark.

 

We are the only creation of God’s with “choice” or free will. Our animal friends have natural instincts and generally do not have the mental capacity to change their behavior. Human beings do. We make decisions and act based on those decisions. As believers, we understand that our behaviors should freely be submitted to the will of God. However, in our society today, we are led to believe that all choice is autonomous; in the world’s view we are under our own authority. This is one of Satan’s many lies.

Unbelievers have not placed themselves under the subjugation of the Lord. They are blinded and live as subordinates to the god of this world, that god being Satan. Dear brothers and sisters, we must not be blinded; we are children of the King and must live as such. Our birthright establishes freedom in Christ and freedom from the bondage of the lost. Therefore, you and I are required to manifest outwardly what we have inwardly become.

The church overwhelmingly assists the poor, hungry, widowed and homeless. We have school supply drives, Thanksgiving dinners and celebrate our Lord’s birth with gifts to the fatherless and single mothers. We exist, in part, to show the love of Christ to a dying world. However, on the subject of abortion, our silence is deafening. The third Sunday in January is “National Sanctity of Life Sunday”, but a drive around my large city sadly reveals a mere handful of the more than 1,500 churches participating in this solemn day. The scourge of abortion has ravaged our world and has silenced our church. Where are we? As a body, do we even know the “National Sanctity of Life Sunday” exists?

Abortion is unquestionably the murder of the unborn; it is the biblical equivalent to the children sacrificed to the pagan gods. It is a life created by God and taken unlawfully by man. The 6th Commandment states, “Thou Shall Not Murder” (Exodus 20:13). It seems straightforward as Christ followers to recognize the cruel and vicious act of abortion. Sadly, our inactivity is revealing; it’s revealing of our hearts and our relationship with Jesus. How can we justify what God condemns? How can we remain silent when the blood of innocents cries out?

I come from a place of experience and not of condemnation. I was a young woman afraid and ashamed. That shame silences many of us and the guilt keeps us in the shadows when we are given the opportunity to stand for life. False teachings and the church’s unresponsiveness to the harsh reality of abortion provide justification. Our guilt and shame stems from being complicit. We have family, friends and church members who have played a part in the death of an unborn child. We hide our faces in humiliation and remorse. We’ve also suffered trauma and consequences stemming from our actions. I admit and accept responsibility for the sin of abortion. Thank God for His grace, mercy, forgiveness and a post-abortive healing Bible study.

As a Christian and a Black American, it’s personal to me. In the United States of America 36% of abortions are performed on Black women while they make up less than 7% of the population (source, source). The act of abortion in our nation would be considered genocide in any other context. Our children are being murdered at an alarming rate; we can no longer remain silent or indifferent.

On June 4, 2019, the fourth abortion mill was opened in Charlotte, North Carolina. This Planned Parenthood is located squarely in a historically Black neighborhood. Today, Planned Parenthood is continuing the racist and eugenics policies of their founder Margaret Sanger. In New York City, more Black children are aborted than born.

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgives of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” There is hope! We can turn from our sin and stand in the gap for the unborn. We can reject the sin of indifference and join our hardest hit communities and protest. The body of believers does not have the option to be reticent. Titus 2:3-5 tells older women to teach to younger women. The truth about abortion is no exception. We are tasked to speak to our sisters and friends, our daughters and neighbors, our discipleship partners and mentees. The testimony of our lips should mirror the testimony of our lives.

With regard to abortion, society of today’s message is loud, forceful, unrelenting and false. Pray that our message continues to be hope and love solely based on the gospel. When our hearts and minds agree with God, He will equip us for every task He places before us. In Esther chapter 4, Mordecai warned Esther about being silent. We too, are in precarious times. As residents of the United States, we live in a constitutional republic. We are afforded rights and access to real participation in government. Use your voice to speak for the voiceless, comfort the broken-hearted and vote for protections for our unborn children.

If you have been through the trauma of abortion, thankfully, you are not alone. If you have an unexpected pregnancy, want to get involved in the pro-life movement or need healing for post-abortive trauma, there is help. There are many godly organizations and resources available to you.

Surrendering the Secret, founded by Pat Layton, directs those heart broken by a past abortion to Biblical healing. God’s Ballot provides a resource for Christians “to honor God with their votes during every election.” Love Life is committed to “creating a culture where families stop running to abortion centers and start running to the local church.” Lastly, Care Net provides a national directory of pregnancy resource centers. Local pregnancy resource centers provide real alternatives to abortion and connect expectant mothers with churches, individuals and other organizations to assist with any needs that may arise in their lives.¹

Jesus was clear in Luke 12:48, “Everyone to whom much is given, of him much will be required…”. Our salvation and adoption into the family of God is a tremendous gift. It’s more than we deserve and more than we can ever repay. Jesus has paid our debt; out of gratitude we live a life of service. Please join me in supporting the broken, protecting the unborn and appointing legislators who respect our God’s design.


¹Note from Michelle: I am not very familiar with any of these organizations/resources and do not endorse any of them which deviate from Scripture or my theology as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs at the top of this page. As with any organization/resource, please thoroughly vet the theology of these before joining or using them.

Lisa was a single mother for 15 years before meeting her husband of 7 years, David. They are parents to one adult daughter. A Volunteer Chaplain at the Mecklenburg County Jail, an Area Coordinator for the Search for Jesus Internet Evangelism ministry, President of the Mecklenburg Black Republican Club and a Voter Registration Chair for the Mecklenburg County Republican Party.

Guest Posts

Guest Post: 8 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor’s Wife

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

 

8 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor’s Wife
by Jennifer Buck

As a pastor’s wife, I have seen many lists of ways to “pray for your pastor.” I admit, I usually scroll through and delete them as I find most to be…well…generic.

Michelle, however, actually hit the pulse of what a pastor really needs in our prayers. I found myself reading and inwardly shouting, “YES! This is exactly what pastors need.”.

Then my mind began forming a list of what their wives need in our prayers—more than just physical strength and a good group of friends. Although those things are important, I believe these other areas, as they are cultivated in her life would result in physical endurance and draw women wanting friendships with her.

I don’t think a pastor’s wife should live or look differently than any other believer in Christ. However, I do think she’s in this sometimes awkward but wonderful position of having a pulse on the heart of the church her husband serves and is so heavily invested in.

She’s an insider, but not really; it’s complicated. She may know a lot of what’s happening, but may have no leadership position. Even if she does, she’s limited to the scope of the area of which she heads.

She is not a female version of her husband. She is usually looked to as an over all leader by the people, but has no authority to act independently as a decision maker. Therefore, it does take an extra measure of grace to be acutely aware of the inner workings of the church but often only able to watch, offer ideas or opinions when asked, or mostly, wait as the leaders/committees make the decisions that will shape the church.

With those things in mind, if I were asked what to pray for me or any pastor’s wife, this would be my list:

1

Pray she has a deep love for the people in her church. There is a special love that can be developed for the Lord’s church. She doesn’t have to intimately know each person to hold a deep and genuine concern for their well-being and spiritual development.

2

That she loves the Lord God with all her heart and soul and mind. Being in the ministry does not guarantee that a once teachable heart cannot grow cold. Her personal walk must not be neglected in the doing of ministry. She needs to operate with a steady and sound mind.

3

That she delights in caring for her family/home. Her husband’s role will by necessity make his presence in the home sometimes erratic as he cares for the church. She needs to be the steady presence in the home. Her attitude will help form the opinion of her children about the church and the demands on their father. She will also need to be able to alert her husband when the needs of the home are greater for a period of time. Sometimes in ministry, the church will need his attention more than home and at other times the family will need his attention more. A wise wife will help him see the greater needs and willingly allow him to be where he is needed the most.

4

Pray she is able to submit to the reality that her daily living will serve as a model for others. She will naturally be looked to as an example, and she needs to be willing to live a life that reflects well the work of Christ in her.

5

That she does not have a grudge-holding heart. Ministry can be hard. Sometimes hurtful things are said and done and a pastor’s wife will not endure well if she carries the offenses of her husband. She must be able to take her hurt to the Lord and be willing to remind her husband, when he forgets, to lay his grievances before the cross also.

6

She needs to be able to allow her husband time to grieve in situations she cannot help him through. Sometimes he carries a grief no one but the Lord can lighten. He must simply walk through it.

7

That she be less concerned about what others think of her and more concerned about pleasing the Lord. That will provide much protection for her heart.

8

That she learns contentment and finds comfort in the knowledge that her personal and family needs will be provided by the Lord – in his time. Pray she functions knowing, “When I need it, it will be provided, if I don’t have it, I don’t need it yet.”

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, these are just some of the things I have had to walk through and learned how to process in my years as a pastor’s wife. I’ve seen many other wives do these things well and watched them flourish in home and church. Others have not fared so well and I have watched with sadness as their marriage and ministry either crumbled or lost all effectiveness.

There is no doubt that ministry has its hard moments, however, it is also an amazing journey to be a part of laboring alongside your husband and witnessing the transforming work of the Gospel. Praying for your pastor and his wife can be a way for the church family to participate in the continuation and transforming work of the Gospel in the hearts of those who lead them.


Jennifer and her husband, Tom have been married for 32 years and have 3 children. For the last 13 years they have been serving in Lindale TX, where Tom is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church. Jennifer is one of the teachers in the church’s Women’s Bible Study Fellowship and leads a small group discipleship called Gracestoration. Jennifer loves to teach and encourage women in the truths of Scripture.