Thoughts on Psalm 94 in light of ISIS and Abortion

Psalm 94 was written during a time not unlike today: The wicked continue in rampant wickedness, especially towards widows and orphans – be it through ISIS or planned parenthood.
Many things are clear to me from this Psalm:
– the success of the plans of the wicked is nothing new. 3-7.
– just because God does not act as we want Him to (end abortion, obliterate ISIS) does not mean He does not care or He will not judge. 8-11.
– even in the midst of rampant wickedness, the Lord does not abandon His people, and one day justice will be served. 11-15.
– He Is our relief from adversity until the wicked meet their end. 13.
– The job of the righteous in the midst of this is to be a voice. Not to dwell in silence, but to take a stand against evil. 16-17.
– our anxiety should be taken to Him, delighting our souls with His consolations – consolations that are based not in what we feel He is doing at the time when it seems He is idol as the wicked increase, but based in His character and promises and past faithfulness to keep those. 19-23.

I know that but for Christ I am the wicked deserving of judgement. I know that my country is wicked (20) and deserving of judgement. My heart breaks because of ISIS and abortion, and I want justice for those who continue this evil… But even more I pray for them to come and bow before God in repentance and worship Him.
I feel that not far down the road He’s going to reveal Himself mightily, even as He already is as the church steps forward to be a voice about these things.

Further reading on trouble in the Middle East and Abortion:
An Honest Conversation About Abortion
6 Things Post-Abortive Women Should Know Following the Viral Planned Parenthood videos
5 Reasons Why Christians Should Stay in the Middle East
ISIS and the Lonely Young American
ISIS Enshrines a theology of rape (This one an the next are incredibly hard to read. Part of me feels like I shouldn’t read things like this as the mother of a blonde, blue-eyed baby girl. Or as a mother, period. But I can’t not share it, despite the tears that have filled the last half hour. Like the Planned Parenthood videos, it’s something that has to be said, shared, cried about, prayed over a million times. This link specifically answered a lot of questions I had about how ISIS could ever justify their actions, and the previous article answered questions of how any woman could ever be drawn in)
The Islamic State’s Christian and Yizidi Sex Slaves
The Unthinkable (about Yemen)
And let’s not forget Boko Haram and other such rampant evil and persecution of His people, either.

Three places you can give to fight ISIS:
Barnabas fund: Operation Safe Havens
Preemptive Love Coalition (the website makes it seem like “just” heart surgery – but they do a lot more than that, evidenced by their Facebook and Instagram!)
Hope Builders International

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Of Recent Events

One of the biggest things I was thinking about in May was the current situation with the Duggars. There was a lot going on in my mind, most of which it really isn’t my place to say and most of which has already been said. I hesitate to say anything about the Duggars, because the blog world and media are swarming with opinions about them already. This in contrast to ISIS – one man sins against five girls fourteen years ago, and the Internet is plastered with it, while meanwhile thousands are doing much worse to many more women, and the media is silent, also ignoring that pop culture embraces celebrities who have done much worse than Josh. Meanwhile, I write notes for this post on a shopping list for copy-cat s’mores frappuchinos. The levity of life here and our obsession with a “done” sin while the unspeakable is happening every minute across the water is something I cannot understand and yet struggle with myself.
It’s in the past, and it seems change and repentance are real, which is why I think it’s mostly irrelevant now (and the world without Christ has no categories for that kind of change). Yes, the Duggars chose to make their lives public, but it’s become just gossip, and people are saying either “don’t judge” or reveling in the scandal and calling the Duggars hypocrites. We shouldn’t judge, not because we’re not supposed to, but because we don’t have the information needed to form opinions on exactly who Josh is now or exactly what was done then. They’re not hypocrites because Josh is not continuing in this sin while speaking against gay marriage (though I do think the church shouldn’t zero in on gay marriage, but treat it the same as other sexual sin). I think the Duggars are handling it well now (especially after watching these interviews), and it’s the only time I’ve ever heard anything gospel from them, but whether that’s their issue or TLC’s I don’t know. It does bring up issues with Gothard and ATI, but I think the biggest – and perhaps only – thing that should be discussed publicly at this point is the proper handling of such a situation. I found this article helpful in that regard.

But I don’t want to say any more. Enough words have been said, while much worse happens while we are silent. Read this if you dare, but be warned (like I wasn’t) that it’s graphic and painful, especially as the mother of a little girl. I suppose I was naive, but I had thought death was the worst they were doing, and martyrdom was what filled my thoughts. But this is oh so much worse, and I pray daily for the women over there, especially the mothers and the young girls, and I hold my girl so much closer. After reading that, I really struggled for the rest of the week with being angry at God. Angry that anyone would do things like that to anyone, but especially to “my” Arabs, the warm, friendly people I grew up around, the relatives of the people whose living room floors I played on every week. And angry that a God who demands holiness could allow such behavior. I don’t understand it, but after a few days of reminders of His sovereignty, goodness, and omniscience being scattered in everything I was reading (particularly the Psalms, especially 60-65), and listening to (yes, even the book on investing!), the anger is much more subdued. Questions, sorrow, petitions for justice and salvation, yes. But He is lifting the anger.

I did just spill words about the Duggars, yes, but this is what really needs to be said and what really needs to be in the news, and what something really needs to be done about. We feel like we can talk all we want about the Duggars because it feels like we can actually have an opinion, might make a difference about it, and that most of us can talk about without having an emotional breakdown.
But something needs to be done, and there is not much we can do except give a little money, spread the word, and praypraypray. But maybe those little ways of faithfulness in caring for the widow, the orphan, the sojourner, and the oppressed will bear much fruit. No matter what, He hears us, and is doing something, though we may not see what just yet.

It’s a frightening world, both here and there. I was reading to the Munchkin out of the Jesus Storybook Bible the other day and read the part about Jesus calming the storm. It ended like this:
“Jesus’ friends had been so afraid, they had only seen the big waves. They had forgotten that, if Jesus was with them, they had nothing to be afraid of.
“No matter how small their boat – or how big the storm.”

P.S. Praise Jesus! And when I read this, the anger was fully lifted.  It is such a clear example of God answering prayer, because that’s one of the things I have been praying for so much. He’s not ignoring the evil there and letting it run rampant or turning a deaf ear to our petitions.

P.P.S. The other “big” news lately is Jenner. I’ve seen Christians take two stands on this: the one group saying that while we may disagree with what Jenner did and think it wrong, we should call him her/Caitlyn. The other implies that to do so is to condone the transgender mindset. I agree with both stands, depending on the situation. For a public figure like Jenner, I think referring to him by the gender God created him with is the right thing to do. However, I think the situation changes when you’re dealing with someone you know personally, especially if you met them as “Sophie.” In either case, we should strive for the “stone of stumbling and rock of offense” to be not our disagreement with their lifestyle, but the cross – and at some point that will include compassionately confronting their sin, just as it would any other friend living in any other blatant sin. Desiring God has good thoughts (and this article is why I take major issue with the tone of Matt Walsh’s), as does this writer.

Seeking Quiet

For as long as I knew what introverts and extroverts were, I knew I was an introvert. For a long time, I thought that could be an excuse to not talk to people. Sometimes it’s not an excuse, just the thought doesn’t cross my mind because I’m content to be quiet if other people are talking or even if they aren’t. The more I read about introverts, the more I make sense of myself. Why church is so tiring and small talk drives me crazy. Why I love it when people ask if I just want to be alone, or get frustrated if they start talking to me when I’m wanting to be alone. Why I lose track of time when working by myself. Why deep conversations mean so much. Why I can be in a crowded room and be lonely, but also why I can be in a crowded room, be talking to no one, and be perfectly happy.

I love people, but hate crowds. And sometimes when I love you I may stand by you or follow you around but not say a word.(I apologize if I’ve made you feel awkward doing this. Sometimes I want to spend time with people but don’t know what to say, so I just stand there). I may take a long time to let you in, but when I do it will be for a long time.

I want to have things figured out before I tell anyone. So I may not be saying anything yet, but I may be thinking of how to say it, or if I should say it now, or if I shouldn’t say it at all. This is especially true with sharing something personal. And why if people ask for my opinion and then ignore it it makes me upset – because that opinion was probably well thought-out.

(Someone somewhere said if you’re an introvert you’re probably in a relationship with an extrovert. I don’t understand that one. Being around extroverts all the time drives me crazy because they don’t usually know how to be quiet, especially not quiet with you).

But this summer I realized how much and how deeply I love the people I’ve gotten close to, and how when there’s not that depth and closeness with other people that are around, I get lonely. Introverts do need people. We love people. And this may not be “true introvert” but there is some small amount of recharging that happens with deep conversations or a day with the people I’m closest to – hence my days off at Csehy didn’t end up with me being a hermit like I thought they might.

Something else I realized, though, is the danger for us to find our recharging just in being alone. It’s not always possible to find that alone time. But even more, when I’m worn out from a day with people and just go and sit at my computer or play the piano – often it turns into a kind of melancholy moping.
When I had little alone time at Csehy, I spent most of it with God. I realized the “I need to be alone” feeling is really an “I need time with God” feeling, because with God is true quiet, being still and listening, in the middle of, before, or after prayer and reading, or just throughout the day. And there were wonderful times to be with others yet still somehow being alone with and very close to God, especially in the times we spent at the Field of Dreams and Moss Lake. Those are beautiful places, but it’s because their beauty reminds me of God and draws me closer to Him that they’re such powerful places.
And those times of quiet and being near to Him were drawing me close to Him so I was ready to leave Csehy. My good friend Sarah posted this quote on Facebook the other day, “The blessedness of true separation is nothing less than the glorious companionship of the great God Himself.” The worship at Csehy, whether cloud-chasing or star-gazing or singing hymns or prayer alone or prayer with others – the being burdened for others in a way that drove me to my knees, and feeling so helpless myself – that was all preparing me for the post-Csehy loneliness… because I had Him.

I’ve been reading A.W. Tozer’s book “Who Put Jesus on the Cross?” and there’s a chapter called “What is the Supreme Sin of a Profane Society?” He talks about how humanity is so absorbed in our own godless worlds that we don’t see Him, even though He holds everything together. We hear nothing of Him because our lives are too loud.
Taking time out to be quiet is easy for me when there’s stars and clouds and lakes – but it’s a lot harder when it’s 105 degrees outside and the sky is a blanket of smog and city lights hide the stars. But He’s still there; He’s still the same.
This post is a challenge to myself as much as it is to anyone else. Introvert or extrovert – find Him and be with Him. It looks different for everyone, but we were made to worship Him and we let life crowd that out. We want to be with the ones we love – and He is our Bridegroom, so we should love Him most, long for Him most, and know His voice when He is calling.

Gosnell

It only takes 20 minutes of your time to watch this video. Please watch it and spread the word. I hope this becomes about more than Gosnell and after birth abortions. People are repulsed by this kind of thing, and yet some of those same people advocate other forms of abortion. I hope this opens a door to show that the fetus is just as much a baby at 12 weeks as it is at 24. In reality, Mr. Gosnell is guilty of not three, but thousands of murders.
May it cause many to think more deeply about what abortion actually is. I do desire that Mr. Gosnell receive true justice. But I won’t be rejoicing if he does, not while thousands of lives are snuffed out every day.
As of May 13, Mr. Gosnell has been found guilty of three counts of murder. While his sentence is life in prison, it could have been death. And even though that’s what he technically deserves, I can’t bring myself to want it for him, even after all he’s done. Every life is in the image of God, even if it has been incredibly tarnished by sin. While we need justice, even more, we need repentance and mercy.

The video is somewhat graphic, and it’s full of things that are hard to watch and hear. And I wept. For the racism that continues in it. For the life that was stolen from the babies. For the women who were lied to and emotionally and physically devastated. For the affront it is on the One who created them all, and to who Mr. Gosnell and us all will one day answer to.
May He have mercy on us all.

www.3801lancaster.com

A Quick Note

I found this blog a few years ago, right around when Gwenyth was born, and read it regularly, then when everything was going well I stopped. Then I blog-hopped to it the other day from a prayer request, and wanted to pass it on.
Their story is incredible – I encourage you to read the archives and see what all God has done, and their faith and courage.
And pray for them.

Yea, Whate’er We Here Must Bear

There were moments on my flight back from the states in April that I was very scared.
It didn’t help that already I wasn’t so keen on flying again.
And that the turbulence were the worst I’d ever been in.
And that it was the day after Boston.

The turbulence made me feel like we were falling out of the sky. Then in the boredom of trying to fall asleep, my overactive imagination came up with all sorts of scenarios of trouble, whether terrorism or weather or health.
Add to that North Korea and earthquakes and Iran and Waco, and the world sometimes seems to be falling apart.
I miss being a child, when everything felt safe. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become increasingly aware of the evil and dangers in the world, and I’ve realized that if we let it happen, there are things to fear at every turn. I’m not sure where fear starts – inside us or from events around us. Maybe it’s how we handle the outside events inside of us.

Terrorists want us to fear. If we are afraid, we’ve let them win. I think flying by myself or flying in general has been more frightening lately because life has been so rich and full that I hate to think of leaving it, and even more, of losing or being lost to the people I love, whether by terrorism, cancer, accidents, war, or old age.
But we can’t live in fear. I have to return to having a right perspective, that puts God at the center. A perspective that remembers that God upholds the earth when it totters (Psalm 75), that God is the one who channels the heart of the king (North Korea, Iran, USA), that when this life is so good – heaven will be infinitely better, that God is the one who has numbered our days. I’ve found courage in the story of Stonewall Jackson, who stood fast in the face of war because he knew that nothing would kill him or even harm him unless it was what God had ordained – and then nothing would be able to stop it.

That doesn’t mean that we look for death at every corner, like I started doing. It doesn’t mean that when we feel our faith is great it means something terrible is about to happen. Knowing His sovereignty, while also knowing His love, allows us to live life more fully, knowing that death will come only when it’s time, that when we die there was nothing left for us to do on earth and that we are going away to something greater. He will help us through it when it comes – but not before. I find myself worrying that since I can’t bear to think of it now, I won’t be able to make it through pain or terrorism. But He gives grace when we need it, so the fact that I don’t “feel it” now doesn’t discredit that grace being mine in the future.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t prepare ourselves for those times. There’s a wealth of scripture and history to help us there. If our God is for us, who can stand against us? Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us, and He is the “one thing” the Psalmist asks for in Psalm 27 when he says he won’t fear even though war arises against him. If all we want is the One Thing, nothing will make us fear.

Ecclesiastes 3 talks about seasons. We don’t know the whens of those seasons, just that they come and go. Right now, we’re in seasons of mourning, and it feels we are on the brink of a season of war. But war doesn’t mean its the end – war is a season, just like peace. Nations rise and fall all the time in history – but it’s so different to be on the falling side.
Seasons also say that life is fleeting. Earth’s trouble has end – the longest, hardest day will pass and one day, our troubles will be no more. And to be honest, the more I think about it, the more I realize I’m glad this world is not my home. It’s such a frightening place, whether Dubai with its false security and safety or America where danger seems to be at every bend.

So what of Boston?
I have been amazed by the people who have not allowed the bombings to terrorize them but instead to bring America together. Many people have commented that Boston shows the worst of men and the best of men, with so many people helping in the trauma.
And the message it sends to terrorists is clear: we won’t let it make us afraid. That was a challenge to me – if unbelievers can be so bold, why was I so terrified in turbulence? Had I so little trust in God?

I’ve realized that a lack of fearful situations doesn’t grow our courage – knowing God remains faithful in those situations is what makes us stronger. To read of Paul’s sufferings in Corinthians and then to read him write in Romans that nothing can separate us from the love of God shows that Paul knows what he’s talking about. He’s been through a lot of suffering, but he knows from experience that even the worst of those cannot separate us from God. Heroes of the faith, the Judsons, Sarah Edwards, Jackson, and countless others, also prove this. It’s not just a random statement or hyperbole. Nothing in life, nothing in death can separate us from the love of God. Real, tangible stories of people living through fearful situations and overcoming them by His help grow my faith. This is one such story.

Some people think terrorism can be stopped with outward restrictions. I disagree. And in the process of allowing the government more control, we lose our freedom. We become like those subjected to Hitler and Mussolini, who gave up rights in order to be “safe.” Hitler used the “communist threat” to take away free speech.
But we do need to find balance and be wise, and I think some restrictions are good (like a certain level of airport security!), but others are over the top.

The only way to stop terrorism is for people’s hearts to change. Pray for their salvation and God’s mercy on them, as well as God’s mercy on America and the world. America has done many things that deserve judgment, so at times I wonder how we can even pray for His help. I think of Abraham pleading on behalf of the few righteous men, and do the same. But I know that even trauma and terrorism can be used for good and for His glory, as this writer points out. And so I trust Him, whether mercy or judgment (or proddings to repentance) is in store for us.

Be thankful for life. Every day is a gift, and eternal life is even more of one – but we must know whether or not we have it. He knows the day of our death; we don’t. Be ready to die.

Boston and a frightening flight were wake-up calls I needed. God was showing me my priorities were in the wrong place, that I forgot His “steadfast love is better than life.” The police officer who died in the manhunt was only two years older than Ezra. People who died and were injured in the race were of all ages. Death could come at any time.
And whenever it comes, I can’t have a hesitation to die.
It’s become the biggest test of idolatry for me. If I am asking God to hold off on my death or His return so I can marry Ezra, or get a book published, or counsel at Csehy, then my priorities are wrong.
For those who are in Christ, death just gives way to greater life. And so I don’t have to hesitate to die. I know if I die, those I love and who love me will mourn, but I also know they will be well in Christ.
The answer to tragedy and fear isn’t calm and peaceful pictures, relaxing music, or greater restrictions.

The only thing that can cure our fear is hope in God and relinquishing all earthly good for something we know is far far greater. When we hope in God, we don’t have to fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:6). So take captive every thought and behold your God – see His power and His sovereignty, His love and mercy, and His greatness that makes what is to come far better than even the best in this life.
Yea, whate’er we here must bear, still in Thee lies purest pleasure!
Where, o death, is thy sting?


In Thine arms I rest me;

Foes who would molest me
Cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
Every heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear.
Lightnings flash and thunders crash;
Yet, though sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me.

Satan, I defy thee;
Death, I now decry thee;
Fear, I bid thee cease.
World, thou shalt not harm me
Nor thy threats alarm me
While I sing of peace.
God’s great power guards every hour;
Earth and all its depths adore Him,
Silent bow before Him.

Hence, all thought of sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father,
Though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within;
Yea, whatever we here must bear,
Still in Thee lies purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless Treasure!

A Word to America

Dear America,

I feel very far-away from what happened yesterday. That’s not to say I didn’t have a part; I prayed, thought, discussed, and voted. But in my next words, I want to say something to you that I feel like I can say only because I have an outsider’s view. I know the affects of the Obama administration over the past four years have been devastating. I know the next four years will be difficult. But to be honest, I think we need it. I’m not saying we should choose this or even rejoice in it. But America, if we use our time well, there will be good that will come out of this.

 
America, you are being broken. In many ways, this is judgment for killing babies, exporting immorality all over the world via television, and messing with the picture of Christ and the church that a godly marriage paints, in the name of choice and freedom. There are many who are crying out for the mercy of God. I pray He will give it – but it may not be in the way we think. It may not be relief, but  an increased burden, that brings us to God.

It’s frightening to think of what may happen in the next four years. But there will be good that comes from it. Already I can see need for change in individuals and in the church, change that President Obama may facilitate in a way that a “better” President could not.

1. So much of American Christianity is weak easy-believism and prosperity theology, caught up in the American dream. Hardship, trial, and even persecution may be what we need. I’ve been reading a book called “A Sacred Sorrow” by Michael Card, and have  been studying Job. Mr. Card asks if we go to God for His gifts or for who He is. Do we love and cling to God even when we don’t understand and everything is going wrong? The American church needs to realize that GOD, not the American dream, is what we need. It may be that in the next four years, as our comforts and freedoms are taken away, America may realize this and glorify God in the wilderness.

2. Along similar lines, so much of what I have seen before and after the election (note that my “seen” means friends on Facebook), is fear. We have put too much hope in politics and have been fearing men more than God. If the church cowers in fear of the president and his administration, the next four years will be a disaster. But if instead of fearing men, we fear God, and instead of bemoaning our losses we demonstrate for the world that CHRIST is our King and He is our ultimate and unfailing hope, and come out of our comfort zone to change America not just by our votes but by our lives and investing in souls rather than campaigns (though there is a time to do so),  then we may find beauty even in these tears. The times that are the most deep and beautiful in history, the eras that brought the most to us, were the ones that would have been the hardest to live through. Corrie ten Boom, Stonewall Jackson, Adoniram Judson – came to light not because of easy times but because of difficulty – and not just difficulty, but turning to and clinging to God in difficulty.

I believe that the next four years will be a time for this to happen in America. I believe –  no, I KNOW – that this hardship will be used for the glory of God, in a way that is much more stunning and glorious than if we did not suffer. When the church comes out of its prosperity gospel and into a gospel that is rich with suffering and pain, and comes to understand its worth, beauty, and purpose – then I think we may be able to say that hard though those years were, we would not trade them because we learned that what God offers is not cars and houses but Himself, which is far greater.

Pray for our President. The heart of the king is a stream of water in the hand of God; He turns it where He wills. May God be gracious to us, whether changing our president’s heart or changing our own to show His worth and glory in difficult times in a way that cannot be made known in times of ease. It is from God, and our God is good, and this is from His hand – even the hard things from His hand become good and beautiful in time, as we begin to understand. He is Lord!

Pro Christo,
Kyleigh

“Do not fear anything that is frightening.” – 1 Peter 3:6

“This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.”