To a Thousand Generations

Before my children were born — or even a glimmer in my eye — I prayed they would come to know and love God at an early age. As they grew in my womb, I asked God to place his hand on them and lead them according to his plans. With each passing day, I pray they see me following Yeshua…and see his covering grace every time I fail.

Soon after Asher turned four years old, he began telling us he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. My husband and I would tell him what a wonderful idea it was, that it was such an important decision, and we would encourage him with prayer and scripture. But we didn’t sit him down and walk him through “the prayer” — we wanted him to have a full understanding and not ever look back and feel coerced. We wanted him to see it as a transformative life decision…not just a quaint, feel-good prayer.

Six months went by with him persistently asking about accepting Christ. I sought the wisdom of my father, who (coincidentally) dealt with a certain daughter asking those same questions at age four. We also asked our family pastor about his thoughts on Asher’s age and ardent interest in following Jesus. He provided us with a book that thoroughly explained the gospel in a way that children could understand…and Asher insisted we begin reading it.

In between chapters, I took to hiding the book under a stack of my books; I wanted him to have to hunt for it when he was in the mood to read and learn more. We took about nine weeks to slowly and methodically make our way through the four-chapter book, at his leading. One Friday evening after our family Shabbat dinner, he dug the book out from underneath my Bible. “Let’s read this, Mom.”

I told him that we were on the last chapter, and it was the chapter about choosing to follow Jesus. Without any hesitation, he told me that he wanted to finish the book and ask Jesus into his heart right then. No more waiting. He wasn’t going to let us put him off one more night. At three months shy of being five years old, my son knew what he wanted. Who was I to squelch the Spirit after almost nine months of prodding?

With Keane in my lap and Asher snuggled in Mark’s, we sat together as a family for this holy occasion. We spoke of belief, acceptance, repentance, and following Jesus. We prayed and hugged and called grandparents and celebrated with all of Heaven!

One week later, our family and friends gathered in our yard to celebrate Asher’s baptism. My father honored us by reading scripture, sharing wisdom, and praying. With the same hands that welcomed his little body into the world, my husband and I gently lowered him into the water, and raised him up to walk in the newness of life in Christ Jesus. His little buddies all had front row seats — everyone clapped and cheered as he emerged dripping wet and full of smiles! I pulled out my granny’s fine China and we shared a meal of fellowship.

Faith. Family. Friends. Food. It was reminiscent of the early church, meeting in homes and sharing the joys of life! It was a day I will forever cherish in my heart.

Radical Christianity: The Proper Response to ISIS

This is where many of you become offended, raise your eyebrows, scratch your heads, hit the back button, and truly believe I’ve gone off the deep end. And that’s ok. I began writing this in early September, but at the time I felt like I wasn’t supposed to finish it. Then today, God impressed upon my spirit to get it out there.

At this point, to remain silent is to be disobedient. Please know that each word I write is drenched with prayer and sincerity. May they fall on receptive ears, eyes, and hearts. And if they don’t, that’s ok. My job is only to write.  

There is a discernible difference between righteous indignation and hate-fueled anger for the atrocities, persecution, and unspeakable acts committed by ISIS. It is right and good to be angered by the murder of innocent people. Harness the holy anger, that righteous indignation, and focus it on a proper response to terrorism. As Christians, we are given clear scriptural directives about how to respond to our enemies: with prayer and love. Not by amassing a cache of weapons, not meeting hatred with hatred, not vowing to kill and destroy. For those of us who have forgotten how Christ commands us to respond to those who hate us — who would like to blow us to bits, who seek our annihilation — let yourselves become steeped in the Word, not the world.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:44

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

“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.” Ephesians 6:12

As Christians, we do not get to pick and choose who receives God’s grace. He freely extends it to all…even the people we may not like. Especially those we are inclined to hate. God longs for the hearts of those fighting for ISIS, believe it or not. They, too, are created in his image. They, too, have eternity written on their hearts. If you truly feel burdened to bring the fight to ISIS, then let me introduce you to a recruiter friend of mine. He will happily sign you up to be involved in the business of fighting on behalf of the United States military — a truly noble profession.

However, if this does not interest you, then your responsibility is simple. Pray. Pray hard prayers. Pray for the members of ISIS. Pray for God to intervene in their actions, in their lives, and in their leadership. Pray for their plans to be thwarted, of course, but also pray for them to have dreams and visions of Jesus. Pray that many of them would have the same dreams and visions on the same night…and be compelled to talk to one another about them.

These things are already happening. Pray that they keep occurring. There is a website dedicated to praying for Isis — they offer daily guided prayers for Christians. Get a group praying together. If you don’t truly believe that God is far more effective at “fighting” than man, it’s time to spend more time in the scriptures. It’s time to expand your horizons and deepen your faith. Praying these prayers will absolutely do that.

True radical Christianity looks nothing like a hate group. It is an absolute love fest. It is a broken-hearted people seeking the face of God. Radical Christianity looks like a people on its knees. If you want to defeat the enemy, stop fighting of your own accord. Let God bring the fight to their hearts by fundamentally changing your heart through prayer. It’s easy to sit and do nothing. It’s easy to spout hate and complain. It is a hard thing to beseech the throne and ask God to show them his face. Which response brings God glory and furthers his kingdom?

The Duggars, Molestation, and Christianity

This is a blog I did not want to write. Its topic kept me tossing and turning all night long. When both of my children afforded me the opportunity to take a nap, I couldn’t. My mind and heart were too busy swirling with indignation.

Let me begin by saying I do not watch reality TV, so I’ve never followed 19 Kids and Counting. I’m in-Duggar-different, if you will. But sexual abuse and molestation is something to which I am not indifferent. As a human. As a mother. As a Christian. It disgusts me on every level.

It is sin, but it is also a crime. Yes, sins are forgivable. Yes, grace abounds. Yet, I take great issue with how the Josh Duggar situation was handled, and how many Christians are unequivocally supporting the offender — no questions asked. Over the past twenty-four hours, my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with statements like: “I sure hope this isn’t true!” and “I support the Duggars!” and “Those poor parents!” I’ve even read the words, “Looking at his sisters now, I believe they have not been emotionally scarred. If they are, then they are hiding it super well.” That last statement still has me floored.

Let me break it down to the simplest of terms: A fourteen year old boy groped and fondled the breasts and vaginas of his younger sisters and a family friend. The sisters’ ages at the time of the molestations were twelve, ten, nine, eight, and four.

When the father learned of this inexcusable behavior, he chose not to properly report it. Josh was sent to a family friend’s house for a few months to help with construction projects, decidedly NOT a rehab program. The victims were most likely told how sorry Josh was, and how important it is to forgive him — so they could all heal and move on. Telling a family friend who is a cop (who did not file a report, and, believe it or not, is now serving prison time for child porn) and telling church elders are NOT proper and safe reporting procedures.

I am a Christian. I am also a victim of molestation. When I was twelve, a seventeen year old boy groped and fondled me. For anyone fortunate enough not to have endured that experience, it is paralyzing. It’s scary beyond what I can relate with words, and it leaves lasting unseen wounds on one’s soul. Do those wounds eventually heal? For me, they did. But do they for everyone? No. I never had to see my offender again. Never had to hear his voice, see his face, or sit around the dinner table with him.

It’s different with the Duggars. These girls saw their parents protect the person who hurt them. They saw their parents sweep their pain under a rug. These girls ate dinner with their molester. I imagine they exchanged birthday hugs, sang Christmas carols together, and had to hide their fear for the sake of the family.

Saying “I support the Duggars” in their mishandling of sexual abuse is similar to saying you agree with how the Catholic church handled molestation.

I’m not asking anyone to hate the Duggars. What I am asking is for Christians to stand up for victims. Stop saying, “He was only fourteen!” or “It happened a long time ago…everyone should stop judging.” For victims, the abuse doesn’t stay in the past. It affects every aspect of their lives — their trust for family, for authority, and for their future dating and marriage relationships.

I wonder, would those who so proudly support how the Duggars handled sex crimes against their daughters be just as supportive if they were in that situation? Would I see Facebook posts of, “I support my daughter’s sexual offender!” and “Who am I to judge my daughter’s abuser?!”