Friday, March 30, 2012


Better not to tell...?

Book Review of Half the Sky: Chapter Four, "Rule by Rape"

Brutal, intimidating, shaming, and, often, damning its victims to a life with the perpetrator, the epidemic of rape in South Africa wields a terrifying control over the women who are forced to bow under its weight. Destroying their lives, often before they have even begun, rape is a common weapon used to keep women “in their place” in a culture that is twisted into deformity by the “traditions” of the past that greatly favor males while choosing to relegate females to second class citizen status, if even that.

Once again, I found it hard to imagine that the victims of this cruelty would be forced to marry the very perpetrator of the abuse, but that is the “tradition” of the culture these young women (often only girls of thirteen, sometimes younger) are living in. The authors take us through an introduction to the “rules” (unspoken tradition) of the culture that allows a man who cannot afford the dowry of a girl he wants to marry, to kidnap and brutally violate her, leaving her with the strange alternative to then marry the rapist, since she is too ashamed to admit that she has been violated and is now considered “damaged goods” whom no other man would ever marry. The authors make the case that, although, technically, the laws are against rape, the traditions of the culture far outweigh the laws in reality. Few girls trust the legal system and opt for the only choice they think they have – to marry the abuser, which is truly no free choice at all.  In this bizarre twisting of justice, the victim becomes the guilty party, and the abuser, the victor, who wins the prize of a bride he has brutalized.  Hard to fathom the reasoning behind this cultural tradition that enshrines the perpetrator and punishes the victim.

Turning the reader's attention, once again, to focus on how these women can be helped, the authors lean heavily in the direction of empowerment through education. In this chapter, I felt the authors began not only to prescribe possible interventions, but to reveal a liberal political bias in favor of the leaders of the Women's Movement here in America. They mention such leaders as Gloria Steinem, from ERA fame, Joe Biden and Richard Lugar, advocates of the International Violence Against Women Act, which on the surface appears to be worth supporting, but is hotly disputed by many in the Christian community as to the real political motives of the people behind this law. While I strongly advocate for the protection of women from the kind of abuses that are described in this book, I believe we have to bring a God informed wisdom to the discussion of solutions, remembering that men can be victims in a counter charge that treats them equally disrespectfully. This is where I believe the need for a biblical world view and deeply ingrained love and respect for all human beings, male and female, must be brought to bear. The absence of that perspective in the authors' writing and advocacy of “female rights” political movements, leaves me uncomfortable with some of their philosophy. How about you? What do you think? Love to hear your feedback on anything we have covered on this very revealing, and sometimes, controversial book.

I have reluctantly decided to make this the final chapter to be reviewed because of a lack of interest in the material on the part of most of my readers, who have dropped off noticeably with each passing week since beginning these reviews. I do not believe it is worthwhile to pursue reviews of a book for which there is no appetite among my readers. For any of you who are interested in this material, I believe we (Shannon Walls and I) have given you a strong introduction to the material, should you want to read on.

I have also decided, again, somewhat reluctantly, to step back from blogging for a time to evaluate some areas of my life that are in need of a closer look to determine their value in the overall scheme of things. There are some areas that I am interested in pursuing that will put a serious demand on my time and force me to better prioritize how I do things. I have completely enjoyed writing this blog and sharing with all of you who have done me the honor of reading what I wrote. Until we meet again, either in person, or over the world of the blogosphere, may God go with you and bless you in all you do.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fear and Trembling...

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear!"
Isaiah 35:4

Review of Half the Sky, Chapter 3: Learning to Speak Up

By: Shannon Walls

Fear. It is a powerful enemy to our souls that can cause paralysis, loss of hope, and capitulation. Victims of sex slavery are well acquainted with the tactic of fear used by their perpetrators. In the scope of this chapter, the concept of empowerment offers a possible solution to minimize victimization.  A delicate line separates the reality of two opposing harmful practices young girls/women are subjected to in this business. In one sense, complete surrender to the brothel manager’s instructions reaps repeated involuntary sexual acts with paying customers and the physical/emotional/mental damage that accompanies such acts. On the other hand, continual defiance leads to brutal repercussions in the form of beatings, mutilation, and other physical torture. What, if anything, can these victims do to break the chains of bondage?

Usha, a resident of one of India’s slum areas, offers one such solution: standing up to the bully. Instead of cowering, she reacts to the terrorists in such a radical way, which results in a small victory over victimization. The beautiful thing produced by this act of courage comes in the form of hope. Her bravery stirs something in the fearful hearts of her neighbors which leads to unity. They began to come out from the woodwork, so to speak, in order to rally behind Usha. I wonder if their thinking went something like this, “If Usha can stand up to the bully and make a difference, then I will stand with her. After all, there is safety in numbers.”

I am hard-pressed to think of many things that trump unity, especially if forged on the “rock of God.” Just like fear, it possesses much power. However, instead of negative impacts, it can release hope, courage, strength, and change. And, it begins with one. One person courageous enough to believe in the possibility of victory over the darkness. One person brave enough to take that first step of faith towards liberation for those enslaved and pray others follow.  One person like Zach Hunter, Sunitha, or the late Martin Luther King Jr. Sunitha, a petite woman in India, attacks sex trafficking fearlessly. And, because she has, others have joined her. By providing rehabilitation to rescued and former slaves, women are able to learn new skills that will empower and enable them to earn a living with dignity and freedom. So far, “85% of the women have been able to stay out of prostitution, while 15% have returned” (pg. 59). What an amazing number representing women’s lives changed. And, it began with one.

Questions to ponder:

1. In light of Akku Yadav’s repeat offenses towards those living in Usha’s district, do you believe it was justifiable for the women to attack and murder him in the courtroom? (detailed account found on pgs 51-52)
2. Imagine yourself in Usha’s shoes? What might you have done if Akku Yadav and his cohorts threatened you from the other side of your front door? (pgs 50-51)
3. Since this can be considered a war of sorts, do you feel that the casualties of war eliminate the necessity to engage in battle?

Note to My Readers:  It tickles me considerably to be able to introduce to all of you, the author of today's review, my friend, Shannon Walls.  Shannon is a gifted writer who hopes to write professionally someday after she completes her studies for her Bachelor's Degree in English.  Shannon and I met while we were attending church together in the Chicago area, some years ago.  But it was only recently that I discovered what a gifted writer she is.  I decided to invite her to "guest blog" for me and she so generously agreed!  Shannon will be reviewing every third chapter of the book, Half the Sky, so you will get a good introduction to this aspiring author.  Remember her name.  You just might see her on the New York Times Best Seller list sometime in the future! You can follow Shannon on her blog "The Main Thing" at

"Strengthen the weak hands,
And make firm the feeble knees.
Say to; those who are fearful-hearted,
"Be strong, do not fear!"
Behold, your God will come with vengeance,
With the recompense of God;
He will come and save you."  Isaiah 35: 3.4

Saturday, March 17, 2012

No Easy Answers...

"What is relevant is that children are being enslaved..."

Book Club Review: "Half the Sky" - Chapter Two - Prohibition and Prostitution

The authors use Chapter 2 to discuss some of the problems that are inherent in trying to rescue women and children from the sexual trafficking nightmare that is deeply entrenched around the world. It is important for us not to oversimplify the issue and rush to judgment about how to solve the problem.

Chapter Two begins with an analysis of the conflicting approaches to solving the problem, essentially broken down into two divergent points of view. The more liberal establishment prefers to view prostitution as a necessary evil that will always be with us, and, as such, should simply be legalized and regulated. The more conservative side of the argument leans toward the “big stick” approach, that is, no legalization, but stricter laws and enforcement to protect women, especially minors from trafficking. The authors started out on the side of legalization and then moved to the big stick approach when they saw the considerable pitfalls and failures of the legalization model.

There is so much contained in this discussion of possible solutions, it would take much more time and space to detail them then I have space for in this post! Hopefully, we will get into some of the specifics in the discussion part of this post.

The authors close Chapter Two with a section they entitle “Rescuing Girls is the Easy Part”. In this section, the authors follow the stories of two teenage victims of trafficking, whom they successfully rescue by buying them out of slavery. The tragic truth that is revealed in the case of “Momm” is that many of these young girls become so addicted to the drugs that were used to enslave them, that they return to the brothels voluntarily, simply to get their fix. Further, her story reveals that many of these young girls become even more devalued as they mature physically and can no longer command the high price they did as young girls. At that point, many of them begin to train as “managers” of other young victims, and become the “perpetrator of the abuse” to other young girls who are caught in the net of sexual exploitation just as they were originally. Although tempting to judge and condemn the girls who adopt this behavior, we have never known the hell they have lived through that would lead them to such desperate acts.

As Christians, we are called to pray for those that are trapped inside the darkness of the world of sexual trafficking and prostitution. I hear the voice of Jesus reminding us that: “I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me...” Matthew 25:38  God's compassion for these young victims is the most compelling reason for us to become aware and seek His vision. This is not, I believe, a problem that should be labeled either liberal or conservative, Christian or non-christian, but rather a human tragedy that affects us all.

Questions for Discussion:

What do you think of the “Big Stick: vs. the “Legalize and Regulate” approaches to this issue?

Do you agree with the author's premise that the division between liberals and conservatives benefits the slave trade industry? How would you resolve this issue?

On Page 28, Nick is criticized by a native Indian for “interfering” in Indian affairs. Among other things, he accuses Nick of “Your stance...smacks of the Western missionary position of rescuing brown savages from their fate.” What's your opinion of that accusation? Is it valid/invalid? Why?

On Page 26, a rescue worker on the ground, Ruchira Gupta, spurns the whole debate that the left and the right are engaged in on this issue, dismissing it as a “theoretical framework at universities.” She states: “Very few of those theorists come to the grassroots and see what is going on. The whole debate about what we should call the problem is irrelevant. What is relevant is that children are being enslaved.” Your thoughts on her comments?

The opening story about the border guard who laughs and dismisses the problem of sexual trafficking, reveals a core premise to the growth of this industry: Some human beings are less valuable than others and can be exploited. Nick states his view of the problem on p. 24: “People get away with enslaving village girls for the same reason that people got away with enslaving blacks 200 years ago: The victims are perceived as discounted humans...When India feels that the West cares as much about slavery as it does about pirated DVDs, it will dispatch people to the borders to stop traffickers.” Is this a legitimate criticism of our part in the problem?

Note: Please feel free to comment on any or all of the questions, as well as any other area you would like to discuss. I found this chapter to be very enlightening on this subject. Still find myself wanting to turn off and look the other way. This is tough material to digest. But, we are not called to sit on the sidelines and cover our eyes with blindfolds so as not to see a painful problem. I have found the need though, to prepare for the reading with prayer and to sometimes stop reading and pray in the middle of it. This book is an expose of evil and we should not go blithely into this reading without appropriate preparation. I strongly encourage you to use “the weapons of our warfare” and put on the “full armor of God” before engaging in this battle.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  Ephesians 6:10-13 

Next Friday: Chapter 3

Friday, March 16, 2012

I Love to See You Dancing!

Wheeling toward me in that chair,
You're twisted up in knots,
Painted on your tattered face,
Pain has written its hard tale,
And brags that it has ownership of who you are today.

Your hair and skin are white as snow
Your eyes can't see, your ears don't hear
Your voice is thin and wispy.
Like a tiny snow flake,
You're dying in the sun.

I wonder as I look your way
What would you tell me,
If you could have your say?

Would you tell me of your childhood,
Of slumber parties and girlfriend's giggles
and dreams you dreamed back then?

Were you beautiful?
Did you fall in love one day?
Did you sing and dance 'til the moon came out?
Did you give your heart away?

Did you birth a baby?
Did you watch him grow?
Did you relish every moment
'Til you had to let him go?

Did you give your heart to Jesus
When you were just a girl?
I wonder as I look at you,
Where are you now? 
Where have you been?

Are you hiding in the mystery 
Of suffering and pain?
Are you holding on to Jesus?
Are you looking hard for Him?

Do you hear the love song 
He's singing over you?
Do you want to fly to Jesus?
Do you want to go to Him?

I see the beauty in your face,
Behind the mask of pain.
I know the One Who loves you most
Is whispering your name.

He saw you as a baby,
He was with you as a bride.
He has never, ever left you.
Even now, He's at your side.

He loves you and He's holding you.
He will never let you go.
For you He's made a place.
He's covered you from head to toe
With His transforming grace.

He says He hears you singing
He's dried up all your tears.
He says He sees you dancing
He's washed away your fears.

He says He sees you dancing
Your body is brand new!
He will touch you, and restore you.
He will give you back to you.

He loves to see you dancing!
He loves to hear you sing!

He's laughing and smiling
His smile lights the sky.
He winks at me
and brags on you
He has a Father's pride!

"Do you see that silver-haired lady,
All wrinkled, and shriveled inside?
She belongs to Me!
She's mine!

Long ago, when she was young,
She fell in love with Me.
Oh, how beautiful she has become!
She wears the clothes of suffering
I asked her to put on.

She's been abandoned,
Forgotten, ridiculed and scorned.
She can't remember who she was
Or who she hoped to be.

But I have not forgotten
She still belongs to Me.
She's mine. 
 Make no mistake.
She joined Me in My suffering,
She suffered for My sake.

I will wipe away every tear
Every ounce of pain, I will erase.
She never turned away from Me.
For Me, she ran the race.

I will welcome her to heaven
For her, I'll have the angels sing.
She'll wear a wedding garment
At the table of the King.

I see her at the wedding feast
as My invited guest.
She'll sing praises to my Name.
She'll dance all over heaven
For all eternity.

I love to see her dancing!
I love to hear her sing!"

"And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes..."
                                                                                              Rev. 21:4

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You Have Forgotten...

Your First Love...
Time for a name change! The thought occurred to me recently that some of my readers might wonder, “Who does she think she is? She's always giving us her opinion on the Church, especially, the Church in America. She's not even a pastor!” Fair enough!  Here's a brief explanation of where I'm coming from that will explain my reason for changing the name of my blog from “A View from the Front Porch” to “A Voice from the Pew”.

Since starting this blog about six months ago, I have discovered that it has practically taken on a life of its own! A blog is, quite frankly, a lot more work than I anticipated when I wrote my first post. I just thought it would be “fun” to write a blog! There are many blogs that are about crafts, household decorating, raising kids, etc. All worth-while pursuits for the bloggers that value them. I enjoy some of these blogs myself, but it is not what I want to devote my time to.

Having discovered that it is a rather demanding past-time, I have concluded, it is not worth doing unless there is a good reason for me to spend the time that is required to produce weekly posts. I have to be motivated!! My blog is a reflection of what matters the most to me in my life and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the depth of my heart, I believe there is nothing that captivates me more than the love of Jesus Christ and how I live that out day to day. Sprouting out from that love of Christ is a deep concern for the Persecuted Church around the world and the Church in America.

I love America. But, I am convinced she is in deep trouble and heading into very difficult times. I believe it is the Church that has been asleep in calling her people to be on fire for Christ. Yes, I believe we, the Church of Jesus Christ, are called to be on fire for Christ, not just a little, now and then, here and there. But, absolutely sold out, no holds barred, passionately on fire for Jesus Christ. I believe anything less is a travesty when we consider what Christ has done for us. I am convinced there is a need for a stirring up of the church to “remember our first love” - Jesus Christ.

My blog is absolutely an outgrowth of this desire in my heart to “stir up the waters” - shake up the house and consider the demands of the Gospel on all of us who call ourselves “Christians”. That's all of us – not just pastors. Too often, I think we are leaving the work of the Gospel to the “educated” and ordained leadership of the Church. But, I believe God calls us – those who are sitting in the pews, Sunday after Sunday, to awaken and respond to the stirring of the Holy Spirit to come alive – catch the fire of the Gospel and run the race until He calls us home.

I don't want to be luke-warm in my response to Christ. I don't want to be on again, off again. I want to be “all in”, sold out, totally in love with Jesus. He deserves nothing less. We should use every voice we have in the church to proclaim the love of Christ and all that He has done for us. I'm adding my little voice through this blog. My voice comes “from the pew”. It's the only voice I have. And, like the miracle of the loaves and fishes, I trust He will take my little and change it into His much.

I hope you will join me on this journey. Add your voice whenever the Lord leads you. We need each other – to encourage, to comfort, to admonish, to witness to the truth of what we believe. I believe it is a great privilege to serve Him “in the pew”. May God, Himself, be your All in All, worthy of whatever it takes to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth...

“Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love...” Revelation 2:4 NKJV

Monday, March 12, 2012

Entrusted to You...

I found some notes on prayer the other day, from one of my favorite bible study teachers, Henry Blackaby.  In the notes, I was struck with Henry's emphasis on a couple of things - we are summoned to prayer by God; He entrusts people to us for prayer.  I find that to be an amazing privilege and sacred trust regarding prayer, which is treated with such a yawning attitude on the part of the Church in America today.  

I used to lead a prayer group and was always amazed at how difficult it was to get people to come out for prayer.  We were often lucky if we had two or three people show up.  An invitation to a pot-luck dinner would bring out the whole church, but a call for people to come and pray - not so much!

Yesterday, I was visiting a church in the area that boasts an attendance of over 4,000 people every Sunday.  The pastor who was giving the day's sermon invited people to come out for some of the prayer meetings that are held weekly (three).  She then added that they are happy if they see ten people show up for these meetings.  TEN people out of over 4,000!  Let that sink in a bit!  As far as I can see, this is where one of the most fundamental indicators of a dead church shines like a blinking red light telling us there's something wrong - seriously wrong.  What's wrong in the church that God's people do not respond to a call to come out and pray with the Body of Christ?  Would Jesus say that we are "lukewarm" about the things of God or, possibly, worse than that, we are dead?

I looked around this rich looking church, with plush cushioned seats and beautiful ceiling lights all over that provided a cozy, modern atmosphere, (in which to take a nap?)!  The church was packed with people, yawning and checking their watches to see when it would be over.  Once over, people flocked to enjoy lunch and linger with friends in the modern cafe that was located right outside the auditorium where the service was held.  No one seemed to want to leave...

I could not help but wonder if the church in America is missing Jesus and settling for poor substitutes.  Coffee at the cafe, soft cushioned seats, pretty lights, do not a church make.  In fact they may be the very things that will distract us and lull us into a stupor that is hard to awaken from.  

Today, I watched a video about the persecuted church, which I have attached for you to check out.  The question I have is this.  How does the Persecuted Church handle the intense brutality of persecution and remain true to Christ?  I wonder, what if that persecution comes to America's churches?  Has all of the pampering of the church in America set us up for failure, should we be asked to stand for Christ in the face of this kind of persecution?  One of the young men in the video was jailed in Saudi Arabia and persecuted for his faith in Christ.  He claims that persecution only strengthens them as believers.  I wonder if that would happen here?  Do they have the real riches and we are really poverty stricken in our "wealth"?

Maybe.  Do you remember, immediately following the attack on America on 9/11, how crowded the churches were?  People were so stunned and hurting - they ran to God in prayer.  Some people don't think that was real.  But, I do.  I believe people will turn to God when all of the lessor comforts are stripped away.  That's when we realize how much we need the real thing.  Nothing else even comes close...  

I hope you will consider who it is that God has entrusted to you for prayer - a sacred trust, indeed.  It could be that, because you prayed, you will see that one in heaven some day and he/she will thank you for an eternity that you answered that call from God and partnered with God for them - you prayed. 

Please add the Persecuted Church to your list of those He has entrusted to you for prayer.  The day may come when America will be on that list and crying out for - not soft, plush cushions or fancy lights, but for someone to PRAY...


Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Review: Half the Sky - Intro and Chapter One

"You may choose to look the other way
but you can never say again that you did not know."
                                                       William Wilberforce

The authors don't waste any time attempting to soft-peddle the subject of their book: the brutalization of women around the globe. They take the reader immediately to the story of a young Cambodian teenager, tricked into sexual slavery with the promise of a good job to help her family who were struggling to survive. They present her story in gruesome detail as an example of what is happening to young girls and women who are sold into sexual slavery. The horrors faced by this segment of the population, simply because of their gender, are outlined briefly as a springboard for understanding the reason this book was so important to the authors to write and so important for us to read.

From the first page on, the reader is introduced to the harsh realities of life, and, all too often, the premature death, of these women and girls. I definitely found myself hesitating to want to go past the first page. One example that I found stunning, and that I had never heard before, was that “five thousand women and girls have been doused in kerosene and set alight by family members...for perceived disobedience, just in the past nine years.” p. xiv The authors maintain that there would be an enormous protest if the governments were involved in this type of crimes against women. But, since they are not “directly involved, people shrug.” p. xiv

The authors describe this book as their own awakening to the issues of oppression of women. They didn't start out there, but, once confronted with the evidence before their own eyes, they found they could not turn away. Their book details the harrowing and life threatening conditions of women and girls trapped in a culture that takes away their dignity and reduces them to chattel to be used and abused at the whim of their captors. The positive part of the book is the dawning awareness, in the global community, of the epidemic proportions of the problem and, with that awareness, the development of opportunities to help rescue these women and restore them to dignity and a future. The book is a call to arms for the rest of the world to wake up and care enough to do something about the problem, instead of choosing to pretend it doesn't exist.

Some Questions for Discussion:

What surprised you the most about the stories in the Intro and Chapter One?

What was the most positive thing you took away from reading through Chapter One?

Do you find the material so disturbing that you would prefer not to read it? Did you have an emotional response to what the authors describe?

The authors mention the fight to free African slaves, led by William Wilberforce. What do you think of this comparison – is it valid? Should the Church become more actively involved in this battle, just as Wilberforce did in the eighteenth century? Or is this a “political hot potato” that the Church should stay out of?

The authors state that: “ any one time there are over 12.3 million people engaged in forced labor of all kinds, not just sexual servitude... And, The Lancet, a prominent medical journal in Britain, calculated that 'one million children are forced into prostitution every year and the total number of prostituted children could be as high as 10 million.” Do you wonder why, as I do, if the problem has reached these proportions, we hear so little about it from the press? I can't remember the last time I heard a news story about this issue...

Note to the Reader: Please feel free to comment on any of the questions above, or, offer your own question or comment on this material.

We will cover Chapter Two next Friday. Hope you can join us.

A Bruised Reed...

"...He does not break." Isaiah 42:3
As I was talking with a couple of ladies in my new apartment complex, the picture of Jesus bending low to touch the bruised reed and restore it to its slender, delicate beauty, came to mind.

Here we were, three ladies, “mature” by anyone's estimate, well advanced on life's journey. I was sharing with them an area of growth for me that requires me to be much more sensitive to the those around me, when I would be inclined to “pop off” with my own opinion or comment, which the Lord is showing me is sometimes hurtful.

I shared with them, since we are just getting to know each other, that I grew up in a household with a very hurting mother who, because of the deep wounds in her own life, often used her tongue to shred people into little pieces. I always promised myself I would never treat anyone that way myself. The only problem is, we learn the behavior we grow up in without even trying. Have you ever repeated a behavior that you swore you never would when you were growing up?! Of late, I find the Lord shining His light on this little corner of my life, showing me, that, in spite of my best intentions, I move into my mother's voice when I am frustrated or angry, or just impatient with whatever is happening around me. This is a new awareness for me and one that I am very grateful to begin to see and understand so that I, with the Lord's help, can choose differently. He is inviting me to be healed in this area and choose the voice of love and kindness that is His gift to me.

As I shared this with my new friends, I was amazed to see tears rise up in their eyes as each of them told me of the abusive treatment, particularly verbal, that each of them had endured as children. Both of these dear ladies broke down in tears, as they told me their stories, remembering the pain of the abuse as if it had happened yesterday instead of 50 years ago or more. The book that I read last month on the power of words to destroy and wound came back to me full force as I saw the evidence of that truth right before my eyes.

We had gathered together for prayer and, as I sat watching and listening to these wounded ladies tell me of their pain, I realized the Lord was sitting at the table with us and this was a moment of healing for all of us. Here He was, ministering to the pain of these women, carried in their hearts for a lifetime, wanting to set them free. I am amazed and humbled by the power and gentleness of Our God to see us in our brokenness and reach down to touch the wound and heal us, no matter how long it takes. He hasn't forgotten the wounding, even though it happened fifty, sixty, seventy... years ago. His heart is always to bring us into healing...

The beautiful scripture in Isaiah, where God describes Himself as One who “will not break a bruised reed, nor quench a smoldering candle” came to my mind immediately. As we sat together, sharing the wounds of childhood, laying them before each other and before the Lord, I realized, we are all “bruised reeds”. We bear the bruises of a lifetime in our frail and broken spirit. But God is watching. He sees the wound. He hears the cry. He collects our tears in a bottle. He hasn't forgotten us. He asks us to trust Him to touch the bruises we have covered over and hidden and let Him heal us into wholeness. These are the wounds that we don't really want anyone to see. We are afraid they have been there so long, nobody could heal them. We often don't even want to admit they are there...

But we do not serve a God who forgets who we are or where we need His healing touch. He will pursue us relentlessly to bring our wounds into healing. How amazing. The same God that will not break a bruised reed, speaks to the storm and it obeys; frees a lunatic in the wilderness from a multitude of demons and sends them rushing into the sea. He has a power that we cannot fathom. He is the One who loves us enough to touch us in the deepest of our wounds, to bring us to the healing we so desperately need. May God, the Gentle Healer, touch you today, wherever you are wounded, and set you free...

Prayer -

Lord, God, we lay our wounds before You today. We so much need Your healing touch. Please come into the wounds we have hidden away from fear that no one knows and no one cares. Thank You, Father, that You know us in the depth of our need. Thank You that You do not look away or forget where we are wounded. Thank You that You will never give up pursuing us to set us free. Thank You for your gentleness. Redeem our wounds today, Lord Jesus. Thank You, Lord, God, that You love us more than we love ourselves...

For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, Amen

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Club Read: Half the Sky

Half the Sky
"Women Hold Up Half the Sky" Chinese Proverb

We will delve into this highly acclaimed, New York Times Bestseller, authored by Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl Wudunn, beginning on Friday, 3/9/12.  This is not an easy read, by any means.  It is challenging, shocking and heartbreaking at the same time.  The authors give us an unblinking and deeply compassionate look at the subject of the brutalization and oppression of women throughout the world and the international community's disinterest in doing anything about it, for the most part.  

I believe this is an important topic for all of us to become informed about, particularly as Christians. 

As difficult as it is to face the nightmare that so many women today are living through, we, as mothers, daughters, sisters, and grandmothers, as well as the men who love them, have a responsibility to look into the faces of the women who are being neglected, abused, forgotten and left to die and ask ourselves what can we do about it?  It could be our daughter, our sister, our granddaughter, who becomes the next victim.  We might like to live under the illusion that this is not a problem that is happening in America, but that would be a mistake. The sexual exploitation of women and young girls in America is growing...

We will cover the Introduction and Chapter One next Friday.  I don't want anyone to feel too overwhelmed either with the subject matter or the amount of reading to do in a week!    

I will do a short review and then invite reader's comments from all who want to participate.  All comments are welcome, with the caveat that, of course, we will treat each other with respect, even if and when we may strongly disagree with another's point of view.  Insults or slurs, so common on the Internet today, will not be allowed and will be deleted promptly, should they occur.  This is a blog that is dedicated to the Lord, and as such, please remember to "speak the truth, in LOVE"!

The plan is to cover a new chapter or two each week, on Fridays, unless something comes up that interferes.  Your input, comments, suggestions, ideas are all welcome.  Hope you can join us!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Road in the Wilderness...

Now, it shall spring forth...

I am in awe of the move of God in my life today, to wash me all over with the living waters of His Holy Spirit. To bring me out of a spirit of fear and into a Spirit of Strength and Joy in the Presence of the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. He reminded me so gently today Who it is I serve. If He calls me to a work here, in this place, He will accomplish it, not I! All I have to do is stand and bear witness to the love and the power of our God. I thank Him so deeply today for His care for me in my own weakness and struggle to follow where I believe He is leading me.

Here is just a small part of the beautiful Word of God from the incredibly powerful Book of the Prophet Isaiah. The Lord used His Word, spoken centuries ago to the nation of Israel, to speak His loving correction and encouragement to me today. Over and over again, He reminded me Who He is. It is He that redeems, He that calls, He that empowers us as witnesses to His redeeming grace.

I thank Him so much today for refreshing my spirit with that amazing truth. I hope these words encourage and refresh you as they have me today. May you and I, called to bear witness to the amazing power of God, always remember Who it is that saves, transforms and loves beyond any measure of our own strength. He is the Potter. We are but the clay...

Isaiah, Chapter 43

“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And who formed you, O Israel:
'Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name;
You are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior... vs. 1-3

Bring out the blind people who have eyes,
And the deaf who have ears.
Let all the nations be gathered together
And let the people be assembled... vs. 8-9

You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
And My servant whom I have chosen,
That you may know and believe Me,
And understand that I am He.
Before Me, there was no God formed,
Nor shall there be after Me.
I, even I, am the Lord,
And besides Me there is no savior... vs. 10-11

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel...
I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King.
Thus says the Lord, Who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters... vs. 14-16

Do not remember the former things
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing.
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert...” vs 18, 19

Because I give waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
To give drink to My people, My chosen.
This people I have formed for Myself;
They shall declare My praise.” vs. 20-21

Friday, March 2, 2012

White Unto Harvest...

Lift up your eyes and look at the fields...

My heart is breaking for the people I see all around me that are lost – so lost – so hurting – so abandoned – so lonely – so shut down and despairing – so unloved.

I recently moved into Senior Housing, which meets my financial need for affordability while I am recuperating from a problem with my leg which rendered me unemployed. Until now, I have always worked at least one full-time job, sometimes a part-time one also. I have been so busy, rushing from one thing to another, I hardly had the time to hear what the Lord might want to say to me, although I always sought out different forms of ministry that I felt drawn to. I imagined myself ministering to beautiful little children, much in need of mothering – something I know from experience I can do. Or ministering to their moms – also beautiful and delightful to spend time with. Never, never, never, did I imagine myself ministering to the elderly and dying, abandoned all too often by their loved ones, and left alone to mark time until they die. Why would anyone want to go there?

This group makes me uncomfortable. I hear myself saying with Moses or Jonah – send someone else Lord – I can't do this. I am not proud of myself for feeling this way. I'm just being honest about the journey I find the Lord has taken me on. I would rather not go, thank you very much. I feel completely overwhelmed with the glaring needs of this population. I do not like what I see. It hurts so much to see the pain in their broken bodies and, even more, the emptiness in their eyes. They have been forgotten. Sometimes, knowingly, thrown away. “Placed” in a senior housing facility with others of their kind – these are the leper colonies of our day.

Seldom does anyone visit. Family members are busy with their lives, after all... And it's hard to find the time with everyone's busy schedules... And it's so hard to visit them. They are all bent over. They are crippled, struggling to put one foot in front of the other as they shuffle down the halls. They are blind, they are deaf, they are senile, they are in wheel chairs. Many of them never leave the safety of this little world to venture out where they might be seen by the rest of the world. Hidden away is probably a more accurate way to put it. Society doesn't want to see them. They are such painful reminders to the young and the able that life changes us. We get old, we get feeble, we are fragile human beings housed in broken and dying vessels. Life is unpredictable. What we see in these disabled and needy bodies could happen to any of us... Better hide them away. That's too frightening of a thought for most of us to bear for very long.

Since I came here, exactly one month ago, I have had the strong emerging conviction that this is where the Lord has planted me for ministry. I am recovering from an injury and will be up and about shortly, God willing. I could move on from here and I have thought, the sooner the better. But I cannot escape the ache in my heart for the people who are living here. Where did that come from? I don't even know these people – I literally just met them one month ago.

Today, I went down to the lobby to work on a puzzle - a good excuse to sit at a table and just meet some of the people who live here and pass through the lobby on their way to this or that. In less than an hour, I had three people come over to my table to tell me their story. They will talk to anyone, they are so desperately lonely. One lady told me her son had moved her here from New York, convincing her to pack up and move to be closer to him and his family. Since he moved her in two years ago, he has never visited again. Although she doesn't know this, I know this man. He is a very wealthy and well respected leader in the community. I was amazed at the sadness and heartbreak in her eyes. She is wounded and bleeding from the heart...

Joining her at my table was a little woman, wheelchair bound, afflicted from birth with cerebral palsy. She is only forty-eight years old, living in a world of people most of whom are twenty years older than she is or more.

When these two ladies left, I sat at the table, again pretending to be working on a puzzle, struggling to come to terms with what I had just encountered. Desperate loneliness. Heartbreaking abandonment by family that could do more to ease the burden of these people.

As I was lost in thought, a little woman, bent over and white haired, in her sixties, joined me at the table. She has some kind of a disability, I'm not sure what. But it has left her mentally impaired to be developmentally about the age of twelve or thirteen. As she sat down, she began to tell me her story of a recent “engagement” to a man in the building, equally mentally impaired, who had broken their engagement and turned on her in a way that she could not possibly understand. As she told me her story, she began to weep uncontrollably. I would like to say that I knew just what to say to her, to comfort her, to cheer her up. I did not. I felt completely lost. I listened to her. I let her cry. I told her the Lord had protected her. Then I went back to my apartment and cried for her. And for all the others I have already met here that are so very lost and wounded.

I bowed my head tonight before the Lord in prayer and asked Him what He wants of me. I already knew the answer. He is asking me to minister His love for these that are abandoned and dying without Him. I already knew. I so much need His power to obey Him in this call. I have been running from His voice for awhile now. He has placed the disabled bodies of His children in front of my face for some time now. I am aware tonight that I do not like this call. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like running. I can deeply relate to Jonah trying to flee from the call to go to Nineveh. It doesn't work. I know.

I am much in need of prayer for obedience tonight. That I will obey when I want to run. To love where I want to shut down. To see when I want to turn away. This is the difference between me and God. He sees the ugliness and doesn't turn away, He loves the unlovable, He embraces the abandoned, He never, ever gives up on us. That's no little difference. It is an unfathomable distance from where I am to where He is – without His grace...

“Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” John 4:34,35

Thursday, March 1, 2012


High and Lifted Up...
Who is this God?

Is God nice?
Is God comfortable?
Does He follow my rules?
Does He do what needs to be done to keep me happy?
Does He fit into the pretty box I made for Him to live in?
Does He answer my every prayer, aka, grant my every wish?
Does He do what I want, when I want it done?
Does He keep within the boundaries I set for Him, i.e., 
“don't mess with my health, my children, my favorite things?”
Does He care how He looks to me sometimes?
Does He look like me, talk like me, love like me?
Does He understand that, 
nice as the concept of forgiveness is, 
some things are just unforgivable?


Does He rock my boat?
Challenge me to grow beyond where I want to go?
Break all the rules I made for Him?
Bust into my life when I was trying to avoid dealing with Him?
Expect me to forgive the “unforgivable”?
Insist that He is in charge of me?
Refuse to be defined by me or contained in any way?
Insist that everything I have belongs to Him?
Own the very hairs of my head and the children around my table?
Call me to love beyond anything I feel capable of?
Deny me the very thing I prize the most?
Ask me to deny MYSELF?! Say, what?!
Ask me to suffer, as He has suffered?
Bow before Him and acknowledge He is Lord?

My God is an impossible God.

He cannot be contained, defined, limited, 
regulated, put in a box, controlled, ignored, 
over-ruled, bypassed, ridiculed, mocked, 
dishonored, forgotten, told to “back off”, 
given a list of “hands off” items I don't want Him to touch...

And yet He, 
this awesome and uncontrollable Being, 
Who is so far beyond my imagination, 
says He loves me. 
He says He died for me. 
 He says He has forgiven me. 
 He says He will never leave me. 
 He says He is preparing a place for me. 
 He says He wants me to come to Him. 
 He says He stands at the door and knocks, 
waiting for me to invite Him in. 
 He says He knows me. 
 And He loves me anyway.
He says He will never leave me or forsake me. 
 He says He understands my weakness. 
 He says He 's making me over into something new. 
 He calls me His Beloved. 
He breaks my cold, hard heart wide open 
and takes complete ownership of me...

I have never known a love like this.
Mystery beyond mystery. 
 This undefinable and magnificent God above all gods, loves me. 
Me. A sinner among sinners. 
 He is gloriously different from me. 
 How can I do anything but bow before this Glorious God and cry Holy, Holy, Holy?  
Thy Name is Holy...

“In the year that King Uzziah died, 
I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, 
high and lifted up, 
and the train of His robe filled the temple. 
 Above it stood Seraphim; each one had six wings;
 with two he covered his face, 
with two he covered his feet and with two he flew. 
 And one cried to another and said:

“Holy, Holy, Holy is the the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory.”

And the posts of the door were shaken 
by the voice of him who cried out, 
and the house was filled with smoke. 

 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6: 1-5