I don’t normally do this, but a sweet friend and sister in Christ was moved by my last post to share a testimony of God at work in her life. I found her story deeply moving and was humbled by her transparency.

I especially wanted to share it now as we can clearly see our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, waiting for someone to devour as 1 Peter 5:8 tells us. With her permission, I am sharing it here with you, edited slightly to protect her privacy:

“Scripture says, ‘Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins’ (James 5:20).

In the spirit of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, I wanted to share a piece of my story with you to give you some hope that Jesus can and will transform the hearts and minds of those you see behaving inappropriately—if they let him do so.

In the summer of 2018, my family and I left Station Hill (and church altogether) for about a year.  I was still deeply wounded from a Life Group experience gone wrong several months prior.  I’d struggled with them since the beginning, a chunk of which was my own fault.  I’d gotten into a couple of disagreements on social media about politics with a group member.  My natural political inclinations are center-left; the other’s are solidly right.  (Looking back, soooo embarrassing and immature.  I was willing to sacrifice the unity of the church and my and their Christian witness for my rights and rightness.)

The final straw came, though, when the pastor referenced the Supreme Court and abortion amidst the nasty Kavanaugh confirmation saga.  I’d had it.  I walked out of that church, didn’t talk to the pastor or anyone else, and was determined never to return.

To my dismay, however, God wouldn’t leave me alone about Station Hill or break my emotional ties entirely with the people of the church.  (They’d already walked with my husband and me through an intense season of infertility, but that’s another long story.  In addition, there’s gonna be using a lot of “I” pronouns since this is my story; my husband has his own perspective.)

I eventually returned once the church scheduled a meeting about how to support families at the border, a pro-life cause that I felt was being ignored by both the local church and the global white American evangelical one.  I kept coming periodically.  The pastor didn’t throw stones at me from the pulpit, and the two close friends there I had remaining generously welcomed me back.

The political sermon in the “True North” series was particularly healing for me.  I finally let the Spirit convict me enough to email the pastor to repent of treating the church like a country club instead of a family and for any hurt I’d caused by leaving the way I did.  He was gracious, extended the forgiveness to me I didn’t deserve, and invited me to ask any questions I had remaining.  Of course, those questions involved politics and revealed my heart of idolatry–which the pastor could see but I couldn’t at that point.

In a sermon a couple of weeks later, the pastor used a quote from Hudson Taylor that I hope I never forget–‘Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all.’  

You know how sometimes it seems that the pastor is looking straight at you?  That was one of those times for me.  I felt like I’d been stabbed in the heart; I very nearly burst into tears.  Jesus is my Savior, and I’d really thought He was my Lord.  It hurt me that the pastor didn’t think that Jesus was my Lord–‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend’ (Proverbs 27:6), though, because I obviously hadn’t surrendered to His Lordship when it came to politics. 

That statement, combined with a Coffee House Theology podcast on Galatians 4 that I just “happened” to tune into–about not letting the Judaizers (or their modern equivalent) lure you back into bondage—sparked some immense spiritual growth and love and healing.  I feel like I was “born again” again.   

While I haven’t been politically perfect since that time, God has been so gracious and patient and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love to keep forgiving, teaching, and redirecting me.

I was obedient to let God remove me from a state government job that at that point was reinforcing my ungodly tendencies.  With the pastor’s sermons, I was able to finally see that I was trying to uphold government as the instrument of redemption, trying fruitlessly to force society to skip from brokenness to restoration without going through Jesus.

I surprised myself that when President Trump got Covid, my genuine desire was to pray for him instead of to gloat.  I opted to attend the Women’s Night at church rather than to watch another fruitless, divisive presidential debate.

Other followers of Jesus, not some political party that will rise and fall, are my true tribe now and forever will be.   💗 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rDeiy9-t2GE ” – L. P.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 27

Proverbs 27

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Proverbs 27:6

There’s quite a bit of wisdom in the reading today, as usual, but verse 6 is the one that stood out to me. Why? Well, I guess because I have been blessed with true friends – friends who are more concerned with my eternal good than my present comfort. Friends who will not hesitate to speak difficult truths if I need to hear them.

They are not harsh or hateful -far from it! But I greatly appreciate people who are unafraid to tell me I have broccoli in my teeth. How much more, then, when they are unafraid to point out where my feet have strayed from the Way?

Thank You, Lord, for friends who love You enough and love me enough to keep me accountable to You on this journey! They are a gift I am definitely grateful for.

How about you? Do you have friends who will say the hard things? And are you humble enough to receive it when they do?

I know that part is hard – I struggle with it myself. But I’ve asked the Lord to keep me humble and teachable, and He is always faithful to answer. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel the sting of a well-placed bit of conviction. It simply means I can see the need for it, repent, and move into that sweet spot of joy and gratitude.

He will do the same for you. All you have to do is ask … and cooperate. It’s worth it.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 7

Proverbs 7

She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.

Proverbs 7:11-12

Once again, we’ve come to a father-to-son warning against falling for an adulterous woman. It paints a picture of a seductive woman who presses on her target and gives him little space to think of anything but the temptation she offers.

Of course, there’s a plain meaning to this text – a warning to sons not to even stray close to this sticky spider’s web. Could be, there’s an implied warning to us ladies not to put up some false religious pretense (v 14) while allowing our thoughts to stray from devotion to our husbands lest our actions soon follow.

But I also see a third thing here: an indictment against adultery with the world.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James 4:4

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Still, I can see in this wayward woman who is now in the market, now on the streets; who presses herself on this unfortunate young man, who fills his ears with chatter so that he cannot think clearly – in this picture, I can see the busy-ness, the cares and worries and pleasures of our world.

They, too, stalk the marketplaces and streets. So many pleasures are arrayed for our purchase, tempting us to live beyond our means. They are on every screen and on billboards all around us. They tempt us with discontent – with bigger, better, and more stuff. With grander vacations.

The worries plague us, too, from the debt we’ve buried ourselves in to the fears and diseases and constant evil reported in nonchalant terms in the news. The social media frenzy of reactionary fury and the babble of a million voices all distracting from the problem and never addressing it at its root.

All the while, we imagine our God is on some trip far away and not noticing our little infidelities. We offer him some pittance of agreement at church on Sunday and fail to honor Him in our secret thoughts, as we choose our entertainment, or as we speak (or type) to others throughout our days.

In short, we wrap our arms around the world and laugh it up, and we turn our backs on the Source of eternal peace. We trade in deep and abiding joy for mere momentary happiness. We commit spiritual adultery.

Let’s not anymore. Let’s keep as far away as we need to so the world cannot seduce us any further. Then, let’s dive deep into the Fount of Living Water, and taste and see that He really is good!

Father God, forgive our spiritual adultery. Whatever boundaries we need to build between ourselves and the part of the world that tempts us most, we ask You to show us and help us to build it. Keep us close by Your side and prick our hearts when we stray, for we confess we are a people prone to wander. But oh, how we need You, Lord; never so much as now! Teach our hearts to long for You more and more, amen.

Wisdom Seeker: Day 5

Proverbs 5

For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.

Proverbs 5:21-23

At a glance, it may seem this chapter has little for the ladies. After all, it’s a chapter primarily warning men to steer clear of loose women, right?

Well, yes. But in a sense, it could apply as a double warning to us ladies. Not only are women just as prone to daydreaming about greener pastures, we could also heed the warning not to be the little floozy the chapter warns against.

Ultimately, however, for both men and women, the root of the matter is in faithfulness and contentment. The question isn’t so much, “Is my husband or wife enough for me?” as it is, “Is God Himself enough for me no matter how I may feel about my husband/wife (or lack thereof)?”

In the end, marriage is really a sort of concrete, physical allegory for remaining faithful to God. Keeping our eyes within the pasture of His will and not looking at the artificial turf the enemy has spread out to make us think that what the world has to offer is sweeter and more fulfilling than the eternal riches of Christ.

But beneath that lush fake grass is a whole lot of rocky reality and plain old mud.

Don’t be led astray, friends. Not by a gorgeous and flirtatious co-worker, not by a smooth-talking hunk, and certainly not by the lie that Eternity is a foolish focus when there’s so much pleasure right at our fingertips for the taking.

Eternal joy is a far better prize than a quick fix. And oddly enough, learning to be content with the husband or wife you have – or with your singleness if you don’t; well, believe it or not, that contentment is a far more lasting pleasure than the temporary release of caving to temptation.

Infidelity eventually wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved, and even innocents are caught in the crossfire. But faithfulness and contentment? Turns out they are better for your mental health in the long run.

And no one gets hurt. Huh. I guess the Creator knows what’s best for His creatures when He commands it. Go figure.

Lord, please forgive our wandering eyes and thoughts, whether we allow ourselves to daydream about “what ifs” in our human relationships or whether we commit adultery against You with the world. Forgive us, and help us to repent, embracing the faithfulness to You that brings true and lasting joy, amen.

Reflections on the Heart of God

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
(3 John 1:4)

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some of my heartache as I cope with a child who appears to be walking away from the Lord. But the story doesn’t end there. With the Lord, it never will which is just one of the many perks associated with belonging to an infinite yet personal God.

There is a strange and wonderful beauty associated with being a parent. I am convinced few other experiences rival it in bringing a peculiar depth and breadth of understanding and insight into my Father’s breathtaking love.

For you see, I do not only have a single child. I have three – or rather, I have at least three if you count several non-biological but equally beloved children I treasure and adore.  But for today, I will stick with the three I birthed and raised as a full-time mom until a year ago.

Lest you think my brain is only occupied with gloomy “what-ifs,” I thought it prudent to share some of the more exciting goings-on at this season of my life. My son may concern me by seeming apathetic to God, but my girls are really just starting to bloom in their faith.

It is astonishing, really. The older of the sisters just got back from a month of volunteer work, home only for part of each weekend. She served kids in the kitchen and cleaned up after them for two of those weeks, and for the other two she was a day camp counselor and helped in kitchen during her time off.  What’s more, she LOVED the whole experience and thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the Word and prayer with other young ladies.

The youngest has also been growing in Truth.  She, too, has been enjoying her time in the Word. During the spring, she saw a notification in a church newsletter about a summer mission trip to New Orleans. Turning to me with eyes shining with a delight every parent loves to see, she said in an awed tone that she could afford to pay for it and had been praying for just such a chance.

And there you have it. Between the somewhat melancholy musings of one morning and the singular satisfaction behind today’s meditations lies the whole spectrum of parental sentiment.

As my emotions run from a knife-edge of longing through to a joy so keen the tears well up as if the two were one emotion, I begin to see my God with a whole new level of wonder. He, too, pines for the one errant sheep even as He rejoices over the 99 who have never been lost or have strayed from safety and returned.

And if my emotional spectrum is broad, His is infinitely wider and deeper.

There must be no end to His grief for those who reject Him, for then He must watch in agony as they march jauntily to eternal destruction. Indeed, He alone understands the totality of their doom and thus understands the deepest reaches of grief.

But His joy and rejoicing are endless for those who choose to trust Him; whose trust and worship are not diminished by persecution or hardship. For these will come through difficult seasons victorious, still proclaiming the good news of the Son of God who conquered death to set us free from captivity so sin.

These are the ones who are more than conquerors through Christ – conquering not armies but the seething evil of our own depravity. These are not left to walk the dark valley alone but have the Lord of Hosts to walk with them and so can find joy in the midst of suffering.

And these – like me – can find a shared grief for a straggling sheep and yet have peace that the Most High will bring His plans to success in the end.

…For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

(2 Thessalonians 3:2b-5)

Oh what a wonder! Oh what a God we serve! I thank You, my King, that You have lit the fire of Your Spirit in the hearts of my girls and I pray my son, too, will be caught up in You until we are all consumed by zeal for Your Kingdom. Make my heart and the hearts of my family faithful to You, amen.