I ran across this article I wrote for my church newsletter way back in 1999. At that time, I worked with the youth and the column, Josiah Generation, was geared primarily for high school students. I’m studying the life of Jacob right now and was reminded of his interesting relationship with God and how it relates to Christians in modern times.
From Capitol Hill Baptist Church’s “The Messenger,” June 1999:
I was only three years old when I confessed my sins and professed Jesus to be Lord of my life. However, it was not until high school that I put my belief system under a microscope to determine if I actually embraced all that my parents and Sunday school teachers had taught me. As a result of this rigorous self-examination, I can boldly say that I know why I believe the way I do. I am no longer clinging to the faith of my parents; I am standing firm in my own convictions.
Are you able to say the same thing? For many of you, becoming a Christian was an easy choice to make. Your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are Christians. To have such a rich inheritance is a blessing from God, but it can also be a stumbling block–for, perhaps your decision to become a Christian was more like joining a club than submitting your life to Jesus Christ. God does not want monthly dues; He wants our hearts, our all.
From the moment Jacob entered the world, he was causing trouble. He exited the womb, grasping his twin brother Esau’s heel. And, that was just the first of many tricks Jacob would pull on his gullible brother and family. Jacob was constantly scheming to achieve his own ends. He considered himself to be the maker of his destiny.
Jacob was reared in a God-fearing home. No doubt his father, Isaac, told him about his grandfather Abraham’s faith–a faith that Isaac had to wrestle with while lying an an altar both he and his father had erected.
Jacob respected God, but acted as if he did not need God. God was the God of his father and grandfather. He recognized that God had worked within and around the lives of his ancestors, but he did not realize that God was relentlessly pursuing him as well.
It was not until Jacob spent a restless night wrestling with God (Gen. 32:22-32) that he proclaimed God as his God. Up until this point, Jacob assumed God was out there somewhere, but failed to realized the hold the Master of the Universe had on his life. After grappling with God–after confronting Truth–Jacob was forever changed. He bore the name Israel and walked around with a limp as reminder of the encounter he had with God.
It is not enough to know about God. You’ve got to know God to be called His child. Can you recognize His voice? Are you familiar with His words? Have you embraced Him so tightly that your clothes smell like Him? You cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven clinging to your parents’ coattails. Wrestle with God. Recognize Him as Lord of your life and be amazed by what He does in and through you.
A typical picture may be worth a thousand words, but the one to the right is worth 55 million. It represents the number of babies that have been lost to abortion. Before Roe v Wade, most of us didn’t know what an eight-week-old baby looks like. Now, we do. Most abortions occur at the 2-month. However, a woman may choose to terminate her pregnancy at any stage. Isn’t 41 years of this barbaric practice enough? We know what we’re doing now, America. It’s nothing short of killing innocent human life. We can no longer claim ignorance. There is blood on our hands. I have never known an America without legal abortion. I’m hopeful I’ll live to see the day when life, from conception to natural death, is protected and cherished. I’m keeping my words to a minimum today, friends. May the picture speak for the babies who can’t.
This post is a departure from my regular musings on culture, politics and religion. Today, I’m writing a few observations about my month-long experiment living the low-gluten lifestyle. Since my teens, I have been mindful of what I eat–so much so that my younger brother started calling me “Food Sheriff.” I started eating low-fat foods; forgoing desserts and sugary sodas; rarely eating red meat. I also began regular exercise–first with jogging (until my knees gave me grief), then with a stationary bike and ultimately with circuit training. If I overindulged for a period (say on a vacation), I would come back home, return to my regular restricted diet and workout routine and experience no long-term effects from the extra pieces of pizza I consumed. Then, 40 started creeping up on me. I went to the Bahamas with my family, moved and then splurged over the holidays. Five pounds found a comfortable place on my body and decided to stay there. I thought for certain that after a month, those annoying pounds would burn off. They just remained, haunting me…resulting in many a wardrobe crisis. So, finally, at the end of this summer, I decided to try something drastic. Many of my friends had boasted about the benefits of living a low-carb lifestyle. I resisted it, thinking that my bread-loving self couldn’t do it. Yet, nothing else I was doing was rendering the results I wanted. And it wasn’t just the five pounds that bothered me, but the prospect that I would continue to gain a few pounds here and there and not be able to get rid of them! After doing a lot of research, I decided to go low-gluten. I would somehow go without my Wheat Thins and homemade bread–for at least a month–and look for positive developments.
I’m happy to report that those annoying five pounds are gone; I have more energy; and my body is looking more toned! I’m experiencing less indigestion and don’t feel as fatigued during the day. I think the wheat was clouding up my mind, too. Since I’ve reduced my intake, the creative juices have started flowing more rapidly. That’s not to say that I’ll be the newest inductee into the Inventors’ Hall of Fame, but it’s personally significant for me. I’m also amazed to state that I don’t really miss gluten. I’m still able to eat potatoes, oats and rice. And I can still use my bread-making skills to produce gluten-free bread. It’s more cakey than regular bread, but if I really want a tuna melt, it’ll suffice! I’ve even been allowing myself a free meal once a week. As a result, any hankerings that I have for bread or pasta is satsified. Plus, I discover that I don’t feel so hot after eating wheat. It lessens my desire to eat it.
So far, I’m the only one in my family participating in this experiment, but at the bare minimum, my children and husband are getting an education on how the body responds to different foods.
I’ve only been living low wheat for a month, but I’m willing to go another. It may be more challenging with the winter months approaching (A hearty stew must be accompanied with crusty bread, right?), but I’m going to take it one day at a time. All I have is today anyway. They–who’s “they” again?–say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, perhaps this past month proves…I’m not a dog;)
Jillian Michaels. Ryan Seacrest. Cameron Diaz. Charlize Theron. They’re all still cool, right? I admit it. I have episodes of vanity where I gauge my “hipness” by star-gazing. If famous people my age still have “it,” then I’m alright. Childish, I know, but it does lift my spirits from time to time…temporarily. The reality is, though, that in spite of all my best efforts (and many of you know how hard I try!), my body is falling apart. You may think this is a depressing thought on my 39th birthday. And it would be if this were the only reality for me. The wonderful truth, though, is that though I may be outwardly wasting away, my inner man is being renewed day after day (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Don’t misunderstand me: this is not some birthday wish I hope comes true if I blow out all 39 of the candles on my cake. This is a promise for me and for any Christ-follower. The same Spirt that raised Christ from the dead dwells in me (Romans 8:11), serves as a deposit guaranteeing that Jesus will come back for me (2 Corinthians 1:22), makes me holy, provides me inexplicable and immeasurable peace and joy, and opens my eyes to what really matters: the eternal. The Holy Spirit of God within me is, indeed, restoring my soul. For this I am most grateful.
My heartfelt cry for this year of my life is taken from Hillsong United’s “Hosanna”:
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
Late last night, the Obama Administration–which, according to Press Secretary Jay Carney has “a record on transparency that outdoes any previous administration’s” (he just forgot to add “in North Korea”) decided to allow for the sale of the so-called morning-after pill over-the-counter to girls of any age. Earlier this year–to the pleasant surprise of moderates and conservatives– the Administration filed an appeal that would have placed age restrictions on the hormone-packed pill called Plan B. Cowering to pressure from the likes of the divinely-blessed Planned Parenthood, the White House did an about-face in the dark of night while the media are focused on leaks and conspiracies. Obama may not know what the IRS is doing, but he’s very much aware of the needs of 12-year-old girls to have emergency contraception alongside their favorite flavor of bubble gum.
These same girls can’t get their ears pierced without parental consent, but they can have sex and abortions behind their parents’ backs. The medical community believes that birth control pills are not safe enough to offer over-the-counter, but the morning-after pill–which is nothing more than a high-dosage birth control pill–should be widely available to all without restrictions. Current federal legislation is pending that would preclude the sale of OTC cough medicines to minors but hormone-packed pills can be fully entrusted to this same group. Not to mention the fact that most children engaging in sexual activity don’t have a “Plan A,” much less a Plan B. Do we really think that minors will take the morning-after pill in the recommended 24 hours after “unprotected sex or birth control failure?” Additionally, is there a pill or a shot that will protect these girls from destructive STDs? How about one that will keep them from experiencing a broken heart? And as far as I can tell, there’s nothing stopping my 11-year-old son from going into our neighborhood CVS to purchase a pack of Plan Bs. Maybe that will help his cough?
The logical fallacies of this decision are almost innumerable. Yet, Planned Parenthood hailed the move as “a huge breakthrough for access to birth control and a historic moment for women’s health and equity.” Wait a minute…are women girls? Treating minors as adults may be history-making but not for its wisdom. A society that does not protect its children will soon witness its extinction. It baffles me that we understand this when it comes to ear piercings, coughs and tattoos, but not with sexuality.
Though I cannot recall the specific program my family of four was watching, I know it was most likely on the Food or Travel channel during the 7 o’clock hour. We enjoy “Chopped,” “Man vs. Food,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Yes, we’re a family of foodies. It should have been a safe time for the whole family to enjoy television. Shame on me for assuming anyone has my family’s best interests in mind in this dark day and age. And shame on me for not watching a recorded program on my DVR. Then, we could have fast-forwarded through the commercials, as usual. Perhaps, then, I wouldn’t be tempted to throw my Kindle out the window.
Amazon, the makers of the popular e-Reader, has this new commercial out that does more to promote same-sex marriage than the Kindle:
My husband and I were unprepared for the surprise ending of this ad, and I’m pretty sure all of us gasped in unison. We hit the mute button and just took some time to process what we just saw and to deflect a lengthy discussion about gay marriage with our elementary-aged kids. I think my husband said something like, “Whoa, that was inappropriate!” I probably asked the boys if they wanted dessert, attempting to put into practice Philippians 4:8. We know that our boys are growing up in a different age from us. It’s going to be challenging for them to hold to the Biblical view of sexuality amidst a corrupt culture, but why are businesses like Amazon and Starbucks choosing to alienate current loyal customers with their propaganda? How is this good business? Do they really believe that promoting same-sex marriage is worth losing money? Aren’t there worthier causes out there–like, for example, human trafficking? Something that the public desperately needs to know about. And if they did, they would be repulsed and goaded into action. And if we all rallied behind the effort to stop modern-day slavery, we could actually end it! I challenge a company to produce such a commercial. You’d make a beneficial contribution to society and boost sales! My whole family double-dog dares you, Amazon!
In just one week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in cases challenging marriage as the union of one man and one woman. When I first moved to D.C. 17 years ago, the issue of whether to redefine marriage was not on the table. In fact, it wasn’t even in the room! Now, just as our nation begins to debate this important issue, the Supreme Court will determine whether states shall continue to have the right to define marriage. In what will most likely be a 5-4 decision with Justice Kennedy being the swing justice, same-sex marriage may be forced upon Americans.
This would be a terrible mistake, for our nation has not had sufficient time to weigh thoughtfully the implications of fundamentally altering marriage policy. Studies regarding children raised in same-sex households are still very much in their infancy and can therefore not refute the decades of research clearly showing that children fare best when being raised by their biological mother and father within the context of marriage. As Austin Nimocks of the Alliance for Defending Freedom wisely stated, the Supreme Court should not force another Roe v. Wade moment in which the Court imposes itself in an issue that is far from decided.
In recent days, high profile figures have publicly embraced same-sex marriage. Senator Rob Portman became the first Republican Senator to show his support, stating in a Columbus Dispatch commentary that his support for traditional marriage–rooted in his Christian faith–changed based upon his son’s coming out. “Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love,” wrote Portman.
Just yesterday, Hillary Clinton, who is thought to be the leading Democratic presidential nominee for 2016, also endorsed same-sex marriage, stating in a Human Rights Campaign YouTube video that gays are “full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage…I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law.”
Over the weekend, Rob Bell, a pastor who made headlines recently by denying the existence of hell, told a San Francisco congregation, “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”
As President Obama has said, “People of good will and good faith” view this issue differently. We must keep this in mind when considering the implications of redefining marriage without bearing any malice toward the other side. What these public figures’ comments lead one to believe, however, is that if one doesn’t embrace same-sex marriage as a matter of public policy, one is unaccepting of gay men and women. That is far from the truth! While respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing. Promoting marriage does not ban any type of relationship: Adults are free to make choices about their relationships, and they do not need government sanction or license to do so. All Americans have the right to live as they choose, but no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.
This is also not about civil rights, as Clinton makes it out to be. Marriage should be color-blind, but it cannot be gender-blind. Men and women–regardless of their race–can unite in marriage; and children need moms and dads–regardless of their race.
This is also not just a religious matter, as Senator Portman’s op-ed suggests. Though all major faiths respect marriage as the union of one man and one woman, social science strongly supports traditional marriage. Government has also recognized that marriage benefits society in a way that no other relationship does. It is society’s least restrictive means to ensure the well-being of children while respecting everyone’s liberty to form their own relationships.
Washington Post columnist George Will stated over the weekend that “opposition to gay marriage is literally dying.” If that’s the case–and I’m hopeful it’s not–then the people should be able to express that through the legislative process. So far, though, only nine states have moved to redefine marriage. Polls change as often as the weather. The only poll worth noting is the one that happens on election day.
Ironically, the Supreme Court will render its decision on marriage at the height of wedding season. May each justice allow for the crucial marriage debate to continue with no needless judicial interference.