Holidays (Other)

The Blessing of Freedom

Originally published April 10, 2008

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be a Christian in other parts of the world?

Indonesia, Nigeria- Christians are slaughtered for not conforming to Islamic law. In Nigeria, since the year 2000, thousands have been put to death.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, North Africa, Mauritania, Iran, the Comorros Islands, Sudan- Direct persecution by the state is written into the legal code. Any non-Islamic or dissident Islamic religious expression is forbidden. Any Saudi who seeks to leave Islam faces the strong possibility of execution.

Egypt- The Coptic Church (which is somewhat similar to Catholicism in its roots and practices) has been the target of church burnings and local massacres.

Pakistan- In 1997, the Christian town of Shantinagar, was effectively leveled.

China, Vietnam, Laos, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan- Generally, there is freedom to worship in state-controlled religious bodies, but any religious expression outside of these bodies is strenuously controlled or suppressed.

The Roman Catholic Church is outlawed because it accepts the authority of the Pope, who is from outside the country. Priests and bishops have been imprisoned. Hundreds of Protestant leaders of the underground church have been arrested and sentenced to jail and labor camps.

North Korea- Nearly every free exercise of religion is viciously repressed, and thousands of people have been sent labor camps for practicing their faith.

Burma- An organization called the State Law and Order Restoration Council brutally oppresses tribal minorities, which, in large part, are comprised of Christians. Their tactics include: massacre, rape, forced labor, and the use of children to clear minefields.

(Information from: “Insights on Law and Society: A Magazine for Teachers of Civics, Government, History & Law”, Vol. 7.3 (Spring 2007); Published by the American Bar Association)

United States-
Christianity is protected under the Constitution and is the majority religion in this country. We even have the right to legal redress if our religious liberties are infringed upon.

We can worship publicly with no fear of government, military, or other attacks.

We do not have civil rights (such as the right to vote, work, or own property) taken away from us simply because we embrace Christianity.

We have the right to proselytize (as long as we’re not harassing anyone), advertise and spread our religion.

Persecution is usually limited to people hurting our feelings when we witness to them, and social issues that offend our sensibilities.

We have beautiful, comfortable churches (as well as Christian schools, organizations and stores), complete with heat and air conditioning; comfortable pews; nurseries; indoor plumbing; Bibles, music, and materials in our own language; musical instruments; technology; and paid, and frequently seminary-trained, pastors and staff.

So what are we doing with all these blessings? Have we gotten so used to freedom and opportunity that we consider them a birthright rather than a precious gift from God that He has the prerogative to revoke if He chooses? He did it with the Israelites time and time again in the Old Testament: They obeyed God. He blessed them. After a while, they got comfortable with all the blessings and became lazy. They strayed away from God. He gave them over to oppressive rulers. They cried out in repentance. He delivered them and blessed them, and the cycle started all over again.

What will it take to shake us out of our complacency, humble us in gratitude for the opportunities God has given us, and motivate us to use the freedom with which He has blessed us to build His kingdom?

From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

Luke 12:48b
Christian women

Throwback Thursday ~ It’s OK To Be Ordinary

Originally published: January 16, 2013

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5

Love our husbands and children.

Be self-controlled, pure, and kind.

Work at home.

Be submissive to our own husbands.

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In other words: ordinary. 

I didn’t see anything in there about changing the world or living out great big enormous dreams, did you? I think, often, as 21st century Christian women, the evangelical/church culture can make us feel like we are failures if we don’t have some sort of huge ministry or preach the gospel on the street corner every day. In Titus’ day that sort of thing would have been unbecoming for women. In our culture, women have more opportunities to be involved in various ministries than back then, but we have to remember that God calls us to faithfully serve Him in whatever life circumstances He has put us in. And He has not called the vast majority of us to be ministry superstars or Christian celebrities.

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He has called most of us to be ordinary.

Staying home and pouring the gospel into our families or being a gospel influence to others at work or teaching Sunday school or sharing the gospel through volunteer work, etc., though it may be on a small scale in the world’s eyes, is success and faithfulness in God’s eyes. And that’s all that matters.

You’re not failing God if you’re ordinary.

What are some “ordinary” ways you enjoy
serving God and your neighbor?

Christian women, Parenting

Throwback Tuesday ~ Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman

Originally published May 15, 2015

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 
2 Timothy 3:1-7

If someone were to ask you, “What kind of person do you want to raise your daughter to be?” how would you answer? Caring? Independent? Loyal? Kind?

I’m betting none of us would answer “weak,” “burdened with sins,” “easily led astray by her passions,” or “unable to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” Yet in these last days in which we find ourselves, that’s exactly what many good-hearted Christian mothers with nothing but the best of intentions are raising their daughters to be. It’s not that they want their daughters to grow up to be spiritually weak or led astray by sin or unbiblical teaching, it’s just that they lack the skills and tools necessary for properly training their daughters in the Scriptures and godliness.

Maybe you’re one of those moms. You want to train your daughter to be a wise, godly, discerning woman, but you’re not quite sure how. Hey, we all have those areas of our lives that we need a little help with. As an older mom myself, maybe I can lend a hand.

My daughter is almost twenty, and while she’s nowhere near perfect, by the grace of God, she is a godly young lady. Looking back, there are many things my husband and I did wrong as parents. But God, in His mercy, covered our failures and saw all of us through as He taught us through His word how to raise a biblically strong woman.

6 Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman

1. Set an example.

Our daughters learn by watching us. Faithfully study your Bible, pray, attend church, obey God’s word, submit to your husband, repent and ask forgiveness when you sin, and serve others and your church together.

2. Learn, and teach your daughter, good hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is just a fancy word for rightly handling God’s word. Use a reliable Bible translation. Understand Scripture in its immediate and overall context. What was the author’s intended meaning, his audience, genre, and culture? Point your daughter to Christ as you study God’s word together.

3. Find a doctrinally sound church, join it, and attend faithfully as a family.

Study God’s word and compare everything that’s preached and taught to Scripture (in context). Does your church’s teaching line up? Then be committed to attending every single week, not just when you feel like it or when there’s nothing better to do. Instill in your daughter a love for, and a commitment to, the church.

4. Fight the fluff.

Unfortunately, many of the most popular preachers, teachers, and Christian authors (including women’s Bible study authors) teach and write things that may sound good and make us feel good, but are in direct conflict with Scripture. These are the very people Paul was speaking of in 2 Timothy 3. Teach your daughter to follow only trustworthy teachers whose theology is in line with Scripture.

5. Bring prayer and Scripture into every situation.

She can’t find her favorite doll? Kids picking on her at school? She wants to wear clothes that barely cover her? Discuss what the Bible say about these things. Pray together about them. Lead your daughter into prayer and Scripture as part of daily life, and it will teach her that God is to have authority over every aspect of our lives and that we are to obey Him in all things.

6. Teach her how to share the gospel.

If you’re not sure how to properly present the gospel to someone, learn. You can’t lead your daughter to Christ if you can’t share the gospel with her. If your daughter is already saved, make sure she knows how to share the gospel correctly. The Great Commission was the last instruction Christ gave us before leaving earth, and we are all to be about the business of carrying it out until He returns.

The 2 Timothy passage at the beginning of this article is our commission to guard our households against ungodly ways and people – even those who may falsely call themselves Christians – who might creep in and steal our daughters’ hearts and minds away from Christ. He has charged us to train them in godliness, and we must faithfully answer His call to raise wise, discerning, and biblically strong women of God.

What advice would you offer moms who want to raise
biblically strong women?


This article was originally published at Kaylene Yoder’s Blog.

And for all you boy moms, be sure to check out…

Six Ways to Raise a Godly Man

Christian women, Heaven

Throwback Thursday ~ Weak Women and the Idolatry of Personal Experience

Originally published April 17, 2015

weak women

Well, here we go again. Another child claims to have taken another trip to Heaven complete with another face to face conversation with Jesus. Oh, and the child’s mother has written a book about it which prosperity pimp, T.D. Jakes, has optioned for his second unbiblical “I went to Heaven” movie. (Heaven is for Real was the first one.)

The gist of the story is that this sweet little girl, Annabel, was climbing a tree when a branch broke, causing her to fall head first, thirty feet into a hollow tree, where she was stuck for five hours. It’s unclear from the reports I’ve read whether this was actually a near death experience, the reports mentioning only that she was “unconscious” at some point (this is when she supposedly “went to Heaven”), and that she was rescued without injury. Additionally, Annabel had suffered for years with a very serious intenstinal disease, and after her accident, became asymptomatic.

These are nice people. Sincere people. The kind of people I’d probably be friends with if they went to my church.

And they have nicely, sincerely, and with the best of intentions fallen into what I think is the number one theological error facing Christian women today, namely, believing and trusting in human experience over God’s word.

Now, I don’t doubt the facts of this story: that Annabel had a dangerous and frightening accident, that she lost consciousness and had some sort of experience before awakening, that she had a serious intestinal disease, and that, in God’s perfect timing, He chose to heal Annabel shortly after this tree accident.

And the reason I don’t doubt any of that is that it is all based in verifiable fact (unless someone comes forward with documented evidence to the contrary) and none of it conflicts with God’s word.

But an actual “trip to Heaven”? That’s not based in verifiable fact and it does conflict with God’s word.

If you feel upset with me right now for saying that, I’d like to ask you to examine why that is. Why are you upset? On what do you base your belief that this child (or anyone else outside of documented cases in Scripture) has actually made a real trip to Heaven and come back to tell about it? Her say so? This child was nine years old when this happened. Nine. Colton Burpo (Heaven is for Real) was three. Alex Malarkey (The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven– which Alex has been recanting for years) was six.

Have you ever spent any time talking to a nine year old, a six year old, a three year old? A lot of them will tell you they believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, or that they have an imaginary friend, or that they’re a super hero. They’re very sincere and they aren’t lying, but they’re also very wrong because their beliefs are not based in fact and are strongly influenced by their immaturity. So why are we so quick to believe, based solely on their own say so, that the experiences these children had while unconscious were actual trips to Heaven?

For the same reason we love chick flicks and fairy tales and Hallmark movies, ladies. These stories appeal to our emotions. They make us feel good just like a rich piece of chocolate on a stressful day. And when you slap the “God” label on a story of childlike wonder coming out of a nice Christian family, our belief not only makes us feel good, we also feel justified in believing the story.

And God’s word says that kind of mindset is not for strong, discerning, godly women, it’s for weak women.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7

When we hold these “I went to Heaven” experiences (whether from children or adults) up to the light of Scripture, they crumble, from Hebrews 9:27, to the descriptions of God, Jesus, and Heaven that clearly contradict Scripture (and the descriptions from other people who supposedly went to Heaven and came back), to the sufficiency of Scripture, to the stark difference between Paul’s and John’s scripturally verified trips to Heaven and the trips being taken today (interestingly, Paul was stricken with a “thorn” after his trip to Heaven “to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations” while Annabel’s healing is being offered, in a whirlwind of publicity events, as proof that she went to Heaven), to the fact that the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that this kind of spiritual experience is valid or appropriate for Christians today.

The people who claim to have gone to Heaven had some sort of experience while unconscious, no doubt, but if they say that experience was an actual trip to Heaven, they are either mistaken or lying. It could have been a dream, a hallucination, an experience initiated by demons (let’s not forget that Satan was once an angel and continues to disguise himself as an angel of light), or a lie they’ve concocted, as was the case with Alex Malarkey. Yet, for some reason, Christian women, who, if asked point blank, would say that they believe the Bible is our ultimate authority for Christian belief, plunk down money for these books, movies, and other accessories, and eat these stories up with a spoon without ever engaging their brains and checking these supposed eyewitness accounts of Heaven against Scripture.

But “heavenly tourism” stories aren’t the only area in which we’re choosing to believe someone’s experience over Scripture.

Do you follow someone like Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, or Paula White? These women all say that God “called” them to do what they do, which includes preaching to and instructing men in the church setting. Do you believe them when they say God “called” them? If so, you’re believing their supposed experience over the crystal clear word of God in 1 Timothy 2:12-14 (and plenty of other passages) which expressly forbids women from instructing men in the Scriptures or holding authority over men in the church.

And even putting aside the false and unbiblical doctrine these women teach, how many times have you heard one of them begin a sermon or teaching – not by reading God’s word and accurately teaching what the Bible says- but by telling a story about how God ostensibly “spoke” to them, acted in their lives in some way, or sent them a dream or a sign, and then basing their teaching on that experience rather than on God’s word? If you heed that kind of teaching, you’re believing their experience, not God’s word.

What about when it hits a little closer to home? You know God’s word says that homosexuality is a sin, but your 20 year old comes home and announces he’s marrying his boyfriend. So you just throw out that part of God’s word in favor of a happy experience with your son. You defend your right to swear like a sailor despite what God’s word says to the contrary. You “feel” that it was just fine for you to divorce your husband because you fell out of love with him, even though that’s not a biblically acceptable reason for divorce.

Ladies, if God’s word says it ain’t so, it ain’t so, no matter what you or I or anyone else experiences to the contrary. And it doesn’t matter how real or vivid or intense that experience was or how right or godly it seemed– God’s word, and God’s word alone defines reality, truth, existence, right and wrong. And we’d better get with the program and submit to its authority. If not, well, I guess we’ll prove the truth of what Paul said by choosing to be those women he talked about: weak, burdened with sins, led astray by our emotions, and always learning yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

God doesn’t want you to be weak. He wants you to be a mighty woman of His word.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

Additional Resources:

90 Minutes in Heaven on the Big Screen?

The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine

Heaven Tourism

LifeWay Christian Stores Remove All ‘Heaven Tourism’ Books From Shelves After ‘Boy Who Came Back From Heaven’ Story Confirmed as a Lie

Christian women, Holidays (Other), Movies

Throwback Thursday ~ Fifty Shades of No Way José

Valentine’s weekend, 2015, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey was released. Two years later, the same weekend, the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker was released. As the world continues to try to convince us that pornography, degradation, abuse, and deviancy is “love,” I thought it might be beneficial to “throwback” this 2015 response article to remind us that:

God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:8b-11

In this is love. Are you using or viewing materials that are closer to the world’s definition of love, or God’s definition of love?

When I originally published this article, I also posted a companion piece,50 Alternatives to Fifty Shades, at another women’s blog I wrote for. Today, I’ve dusted that off, freshened it up, and present it to you as 50 Ways to Have a Happy (and Holy) Valentine’s Day.


Originally published February 6, 2015

As you’ve no doubt heard, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey is releasing next weekend. Valentine’s Day weekend. Isn’t that a little like picking Pearl Harbor Day as the release date for a movie celebrating kamikaze pilots, with veterans as the target audience?

But perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself. If you’re not familiar with the subject matter, Fifty Shades of Grey is a film adaptation of the novel by the same title written by British author E.L. James. The Girls Gone Wise1 blog posted an excellent report on the book here in 2012, and summarizes the storyline thusly:

“The books in question are erotica that explicitly describe sexual bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM). The story follows an unfolding affair between a recent college graduate, the virgin Anastasia Steele, and handsome young billionaire entrepreneur, Christian Grey, whose childhood abuse left him a deeply damaged individual, and who enlists her to share his secret sexual proclivities. Steele is required by Grey to sign a contract allowing him complete control over her. Because of her fascination and budding love for him, she consents to a kinky sexual relationship that includes being slapped, spanked, handcuffed, and whipped with a leather riding crop in his ‘Red Room of Pain’.”

Let’s set specifics, such as “How much nudity does the movie show?” aside and look at the bigger picture:

Is a movie (or book) that romanticizes and normalizes abuse-infused sexuality something that Christian women should be viewing and supporting financially?

Imagine this book and movie didn’t even exist and some man-on-the-street reporter walked up and asked you that question out of the blue. What would your answer be? Then imagine he turned to Jesus, who just happened to be standing right next to you, and asked Him the same question. What do you think His answer would be?

Well, you might not be sure about your answer, but we can find out Jesus’ answer by looking at His Word:

1. No, because it’s blasè about fornication.

Be honest- did the fact that the two lead characters aren’t married to each other even register a blip on your radar? No blip here, initially, I’m sorry to say. I know it’s just sooo yesterday to say that sex outside of wedlock is a sin, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever and HE says that’s what it is. It’s a sin He died to pay the penalty for just like murder or rape or stealing, and to treat fornication as not only normal, but a given (Think about it- how many copies of the book would have been sold if it featured a married couple?) is a slap in the bloodied face of our crucified Savior.

2. No, because it approves of perversion.

BDSM has been around for a long time, but in our culture, it has been relegated to the shadows, locked away out of sight, and not talked about by the vast majority of marginally moral society, because, with God’s law written on our hearts, we know it’s wrong. Grey takes BDSM out of the stock room, removes its plain brown wrapping, and attractively arranges it in the center showcase: “It’s fine! It’s a healthy expression of sexuality! It’ll spice up your love life– just look how playful and romantic it can be!” Romans 1:32 is not amused.

3. No, because it embraces violence and humiliation.

God is not a God who engages in violence and the humiliation of others to gratify Himself. That is cruelty. God is a God who loves us so much that He allowed His Son to be subjected to violence, humiliation, and cruelty in order to forgive those who commit the sins of violence, humiliation, and cruelty. God is good. God is kind. God is patient and loving. To embrace the antithesis of these characteristics is to embrace all that God stands against.

4. No, because it tells men a lie.

God tells men to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Christian Grey (can I just say, I hate that this guy’s name is Christian, since his actions are so un-Christian) loves himself and uses a woman to gratify his own selfish desires. God tells men that, in the same way that they do not abuse their own flesh, but nourish and cherish it, they are to nourish and cherish their wives. Christian Grey nourishes and cherishes his own flesh and abuses the flesh of his woman. God tells men to be understanding with their wives, to honor them, and to respect that they are physically more delicate than men. Christian Grey only understands himself, dishonors his woman, and disrespects her physicality in order to fulfill his own base proclivities.

When Christian women clamor for Grey matter and support it with their pocketbooks, it sends the message to men that Christian Grey’s lusts and behavior are not only acceptable, but what we want. It tells them Grey’s way is good, cool, and cutting edge, and God’s way is sissified, frumpy, and out of date. It sells men a lie.

5. No, because it dims your light.

You don’t hear it much any more, but when I was a teen in youth group, we were frequently asked, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It’s not that the things we do make us Christians or even prove that we’re Christians, but rather that, if we’re Christians, the things we do will necessarily differ from the things lost people do because the Holy Spirit lives within us, conforming us to Christ’s image.

Does your life look any different from an unsaved person’s life? Because of your love for Christ, it should. We are ambassadors for Christ to a lost and dying world. Our every move preaches a silent sermon to them, showing them what is right in God’s eyes and what is wrong, what is Christlike, and what is not. If you do something, it must be OK with God because you’re a Christian, right? How can we be an example to the world if we look just like them? Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Is your light shining brightly, or are you allowing it to fade into the darkness? How would going to see Fifty Shades of Grey make your light brighter?

6. No, because it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

You believe the Bible, right? Of course you do. You’re a Christian. Well there’s more to it than that. God doesn’t just call us to believe His word, He calls us to submit ourselves to it and obey it. That means there are going to be some things we want to do -that we feel like doing- that we’re simply going to have to deny ourselves out of a greater desire to obey Christ and to represent Him well. Can you go see Fifty Shades of Grey and obey these Scriptures?

Ephesians 5:5-12:

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

Philippians 4:8:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Colossians 3:2-3,5:

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God…Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

I’ll ask again: Is a movie (or book) that romanticizes and normalizes abuse-infused sexuality something that Christian women should be viewing and supporting financially?

Scripture seems pretty clear that Jesus’ answer would be no. What will your answer be?


1I’m not recommending this blog (which was more doctrinally sound when this article was originally written), just using their synopsis of the movie.