Speaking Out for the Voiceless

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When professing Christians apply law to victims and grace to perpetrators, victims suffer while perpetrators celebrate -Boz Tchividjian

Unless you have been living in a cave, you have probably noticed a common trend in the news lately. Abusers are being caught. 

There are two ways to look at these headlines. One is despair. Wondering if anyone seeks truth, beauty, and goodness anymore or is everyone a liar? This is a normal reaction and one that my husband and I have fought desperately against the last four years. When you have been lied to by someone you know and respect whether personally or from afar, it leaves a mark on your soul that is hard to ignore. Every observation I make seems to need a caveat. 

 “He is such I nice guy….from what I know.” 

“They have such a great family.. from what I can see.” 

Trust is a foreign word now. Each time you move past the latest revelation there is another headline or phone call confirming the darkness in another human soul. 

However there is a second, less obvious way to look at the number of abusers being caught, and that is with great hope. Four years ago I began praying a specific prayer almost daily. Lord, please continue to expose the unfruitful works of darkness. And boy has He ever. The Ashley Madison hacking, Josh Duggar, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Andy Savage, Bill Hybels, Matt Lauer, Paige Patterson, and on and on. 

I know what some of my Christian brothers and sisters are thinking.

“Why would you mention the names of Christians?”

 “Isn’t this going to hurt the church?”

“Love covers a multitude of sins!”

“Who are you to throw stones? We all sin!”

That last one is possibly the most egregious misuse of scripture when it comes to abuse. To use a verse that describes how Jesus defended a vulnerable woman from corrupt religious leaders and twist it to defend corrupt religious leaders so they can prey on vulnerable women is the most despicable scripture manipulation one could attempt.  We have lived under this  unBiblical mandate for far too long, and the church has suffered because of it. The Bible teaches that we are to be the voice for the oppressed. However, we have been told and believed that keeping sins quiet is in the best interest of the church, but this is just not what the Bible teaches.  Rachael Denhollander said it best in a recent interview with Christianity Today. 

“First, the gospel of Jesus Christ does not need your protection. It defies the gospel of Christ when we do not call out abuse and enable abuse in our own church. Jesus Christ does not need your protection; he needs your obedience. Obedience means that you pursue justice and you stand up for the oppressed and you stand up for the victimized, and you tell the truth about the evil of sexual assault and the evil of covering it up.

Second, that obedience costs. It means that you will have to speak out against your own community. It will cost to stand up for the oppressed, and it should. If we’re not speaking out when it costs, then it doesn’t matter to us enough.”

Rod Dreher also gives advice to the Southern Baptist Convention leaders here:

“Your inability to deal with these things straightforwardly got you into this mess. You will only prolong the agony if you don’t face the truth now, and accept just consequences, no matter who loses power and status.”

When a pastor has sex with a member of the congregation, it is a crime, not an affair. And that man is no longer “above reproach.”

The end. 

The notion that forgiveness means silence not only goes against scripture but also the law. The consequences of ignoring reality to promote fake grace are unspeakable. For example, a well known pastor named Doug Wilson lived out this philosophy in the most unthinkable way. He condoned and officiated the wedding of a convicted pedophile and a naive woman claiming the man was repentant. Predictably, however, after having children, the pedophile confessed to having sexual thoughts about his own child. What a nightmare. We are not called to check our brain at the door.That poor woman and innocent child. All in the name of “forgiveness.” Lord have mercy.

If you have suspicions of abuse, and you do not report it, it is a felony in many states. Sit on that for a minute. Yet I have heard faithful church goers with legitimate suspicions say things like:

 “The Lord will take care of it.” 

“ I am praying about it”

“ It’s not my business.”

“ We have to forgive”

“ We must show grace.”

Jimmy Hinton expresses the danger we risk when we use scripture to protect the predator: 

“Many leaders “forgive” (protect, embrace, assimilate, etc.) alleged abusers because they don’t want to be viewed as someone not exercising grace. 

Make no mistake, there is no grace when this is done at the expense of the victims-whether past, present, or future.”

 

Our previous pastor was caught in horrific sins of abuse. Women’s lives were destroyed, even to the point of suicide. And while this happened four years ago, there is one question everyone is still asking….

Who knew?

Jerry Sandusky was convicted of being a serial child rapist. His case is over, and he is behind bars, but there is one question everyone is still asking…

Who knew?

Larry Nassar was convicted of molesting hundreds of gymnasts. His trial is over. He will die in prison. But there is one question everyone is still asking…

Who knew?

Thirty minutes away from me seventeen precious teenagers were murdered in cold blood. The murderer was caught and will be convicted, but there is one question that everyone is still asking….

Who knew?

We are the hands and feet of God. Doing nothing is not an option. Once you know of inappropriate behavior, you do not have a choice to stay silent. Morally or Legally.

Author Alice Hoffman succinctly concludes:

“Once you know some things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can never be given away.”

 

When sin is exposed it is not an attack from Satan, rather it is the grace of God calling His people to repentance. Exposing sin is never easy, in fact it is the most difficult thing you may ever do. Jimmy Hinton talks about the excuses we tell ourselves when we really should report abuse. It is a must listen. 

Literally no Christian is saying that someone is beyond the grace of God. Let me make this abundantly clear.  All that repent are forgiven. However, offenders need to live out their forgiveness away from the pulpit they have misused, without the title they have disgraced, and in some cases, behind bars. 

Natural and logical consequences do not negate the authenticity of the forgiveness.

Today I am choosing to hope for great change. I see every exposure as a step closer to healing. The ball is in our court, Church. How will we respond? If you know, and have spoken, and been ignored, don’t give up! There are many fighting this good fight. Pray for strength for the victims and repentance for the abusers. Pray for opportunities to be a part of the grand awakening. And don’t just pray….ACT!

“Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.” Proverbs 31:8

Resources for education and action: (Please add more in the comments!)

http://www.netgrace.org

http://jimmyhinton.org

http://www.dianelangberg.com

https://spiritualsoundingboard.com

 

 

When it doesn’t feel like Christmas.

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It just didn’t feel like Christmas this year, one of my children shared with me on the Eve of Christmas Eve. I went through the checklist in my head. Despite my disorganized state of mind, somehow we managed to pull off much of our Christmas to do list: cookies, cards, caroling, shopping, decorating, lights and more. Even though I didn’t have the energy and I struggled to find motivation, somehow we did much of what one considers Christmassy. The stockings are even hung by the TV with care. What was she talking about?

But as I lay in my bed this morning, I felt it too. It doesn’t feel like Christmas Eve.

Maybe it’s the grief.

Before 2014, I looked around the table at holidays and wondered how I got so #blessed. I knew I didn’t deserve such a Norman Rockwell picture. Sure we were human and flawed, and there were fights and drama, but at the end of the day, or year, there we all were. Together.

But the last few years, holidays have been different. Empty places at the table, broken hearts and disappointments have deflated those dream-like pictures. My husband and I named that year, “You think you know someone.” It seemed like we received crushing news so constantly that I began to cringe when the phone buzzed. And seeing the words “Call me,” on my phone felt like an omen.

After my daughter completed a job interview last week, I asked her if there were any questions she found difficult to answer, and there was. The manager asked her who she looked up to. After some thought, she responded, “I guess I look up to my parents. But more than anything, I have learned that the people you look up to will probably let you down.”

Not sure the fresh faced fast food manager knew what to do with that answer. And while it’s probably not on the Dale Carnegie list of, “How to nail that job interview,” I knew her answer showed a depth of awareness that most adults do not possess. I was as proud of her for her wisdom, as I was sad for the pain underlying the lesson.

My heart was so heavy a few nights ago. So much loss. So many friends grieving and trying to figure out how to celebrate when their hearts are torn in two.

But perhaps there is no more appropriate season to wrestle with the reality of suffering then Christmas. The world waited in agony for that one Person who would never let us down. Yet even as He came, wrapped in swaddling clothes, as the pains of childbirth subsided to bring Hope into our dark world, there was still more pain ahead.

Christmas is not about everything being perfect. It is about the complete imperfection of it all. The constant failure and disappointment of this fallen world and depraved people in it, perfectly confirms the need for a Savior. Christmas is about God the Father, breaking through time and space to offer salvation and hope through suffering and death. There is suffering, but through suffering there is hope.
If heartache is keeping you from “feeling” like Christmas this year, please know that in your pain, you have the opportunity to experience the true meaning of Christmas at a greater depth than most. Celebrating Christmas does not mean that you don’t grieve, but serving Christ truly brings hope in the sadness, peace in the turmoil, and light in the darkness.

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

 

 

 

 

Building on our Foundation with a New Challenge!

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Oh how I love learning, let me count the ways! But if you must know the truth, I didn’t always love learning. I used to think of learning as a means to an end, something you did to get a grade, a job, a future.  If you were to ask me how long I have loved learning, I would have to answer like the great Elizabeth Bennett when asked to name the moment her love for Mr. Darcy began.

`It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began….’ but I believe I must date it from my first year as a foundations tutor for Classical Conversations when I began to memorize copious amounts of facts with my children growing ever more as I moved on to tutoring Essentials, Challenge A and now Challenge B.

The motto of Classical Conversations is “To know God and to make Him known.”  And the manner in which we know Him is not only through His Word but also through His world. Therefore, Classical Conversations places a high value on studying the arts and sciences. Instead of studying to pass a test or attain a degree, we are studying to know the very Creator of the universe.  We are studying so that we will have an answer for the hope that lies within us. We are studying because great are the works of the Lord. And they are studied by all who delight in Him. Yes, that includes math and Latin! Sadly, however, it is more common than not that those in the church look at “School Studies” as less than theological studies, when they really should be one in the same.

I used to consider myself a “Math” person, definitely not a history person. And God help me if my high school history teacher asked us to remember dates for a test. Remembering dates was so hard. And what was the point? However, after studying the history, geography, and timeline facts in CC over the last 8 years, learning dates has become a breeze. In addition, I discovered that knowing the details began to bring the whole story into focus. History. His-story. The same can also be said of English and Latin. Learning these simple facts made the entire world come alive for me. God’s world. And now I consider myself a learning person rather than a math person! However, it wasn’t until I tutored these classes for CC, that I really began to get excited about learning. If tutoring foundations and essentials increased my love for academics, directing the Challenge levels (7-12 grade) completely blew it out of the water! I watched one of my daughters, with a small amount of confidence, produce large results as she worked diligently, although hesitantly, through her Challenge A year. She never imagined she was capable of drawing the world with all of its countries and capitals and features. Yet she did, and did it beautifully. Furthermore, we began to dig into the art of rhetoric through studying apologetics, and learning how to persuade through essays in our writing program, all of which only served to strengthen our love and knowledge for the One who created it all.

It was for these reasons and more, that when a position opened in our community to direct Challenge III, which is mostly comprised of 11th graders, I suggested to my husband Paul  that he should think and pray about doing it! You see for the last 7 years, I have watched our family grow together in a pursuit for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to a degree I have never witnessed with other programs and knew what a tremendous blessing this would be. But how could he, a full time pastor, add more to his schedule?

Ultimately, we thought it would be a phenomenal fit for our family for several reasons. First of all, pastors regularly to go back to school for additional theological training to enhance their teaching and ability to counsel effectively. But if Paul were to go back to school, he would be attending a class as a passive learner. As a Challenge director, on the other hand, he would be the lead learner, directing and facilitating conversations about American history, philosophy, and logic, and Shakespeare all through a Biblical lens, while becoming a mentor to a small group of world changers.

Secondly, my husband has been studying scripture for decades, but now, by focusing on God’s world in addition to His Word,  his knowledge of God would take on immeasurable depth and dimension. For instance, we have recently been studying Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” in which we saw a tremendous correlation between what is real, and what is never to be. People tend to let ideas, or the “what ifs” affect their reality.  We discussed relationships and compared personality types deciding that I was probably Shakespeare’s type of girl (read complicated)! That night while hashing out the plight of Horatio and Hero, we had a deeper and richer discussion about marriage than we had ever experienced studying the typical relationship book. Studying Shakespeare brought the principles of God’s Word to life!

Finally, by diving headfirst into our homeschool curriculum, my husband would be able to be a deeper part of the conversations in our family. You see, studying God’s world, the art of persuasion, the essentials of the English language, the Lost Tools of Writing and more, is teaching us how to communicate and write while strengthening the way we listen and truly hear others. Never was a program more aptly named, for the conversations in our house have grown each year in ways I could never have imagined.  This alone is reason enough to praise the Lord! Our two oldest are just at the beginning of their teen years, and I am so thankful for the tools we are all learning through this program. We are logically discussing ideas with kindness, listening and defining our terms, comparing history with the present, and researching evidence.

However, despite all of our rationale and excitement, I did have some anxiety as the summer came to an end and the school year loomed in front of us. How would we pull this off? What would it look like? Did we bite off more than we could chew? Yet through every step I have seen God’s sovereignty in the details. A new focus strengthened in our family with a common desire to learn about God’s world with purpose and intention. And here’s why. We have a whole generation of people who have ignored logic, forgotten history, and belittled the importance of studying language, science, and math. And we are reaping the consequences. But we, in the church, should be different. The next time your student asks why they need to study history, math, or fill in the blank, remind them that by knowing God’s world, we get to know God and each other more, enhancing our love for Him, while growing our ability to know and love others with a strong bond of community. That is the true value. Remember those two great commandments, Love the Lord your God with all your soul, heart, MIND, and strength. And love your neighbor as your self.

We know this will be a hard, but worthy task. Instead of “Netflix and Chill” for us, it is “Shakespeare and Talk,” and frankly, as much as we are LOVING our studies, sometimes chilling seems more appealing. Yet the blessings we have seen, the harvest already apparent, have confirmed this choice over and over again.

Lastly, we happily committed to this challenge because of the true strength of Classical Conversations. The community. Serving our community has knit our hearts together as we watch our savior weave a tapestry of Grace right before our eyes.

This picture here was our first year. We had NO idea what we were doing.  The baby was born two weeks later, and the year was a total blur. Honestly, the next few years were a blur. But we took baby steps to get to this place, and let me tell you the view is Divine. The Lord has stretched us in the most beautiful ways, and we are grateful for this opportunity to know Him and make Him known!

 

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Every Now and Then I Fall Apart

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They told me not to look. Experts. Friends. Everyone literally agreed. Looking would only bring pain. The image would be there forever, burned indelibly on my mind . There would be regret. Massive regret. And what was there to gain? Did I really want permanent damage in an attempt to satisfy a curiosity that is sure to be insatiable? I knew what I would see, didn’t I? I have seen the pictures. It was sure to be the same. Those same images with that same hashtag. But hope is so hard to kill. It won’t die no matter how often it is plunged through the heart with reality. So I looked. I couldn’t not. And oh my Lord how it hurt. It hurt worse than I expected, for I am familiar with the pain. I have looked before. Many times. Daily, if I am honest. Always looking at his instagram account in this stupid, desperate attempt to find the person I thought we knew. But he’s not there. He’s never there. In his place is this person who is living a dream, a dream that has become our nightmare. A dream filled with sunrises and ocean waves but none of us. We aren’t there. And he calls it good.  Anger is so much easier. Anger doesn’t allow for hope. Harsh words protect, providing a perverted comfort. Oh God, why did I hope? The obvious protection is to look away. Don’t think about it. Don’t hope. But I did, and it’s too late. The damage is done and  the daily roll call of questions begin to file through my mind. How could he? Why won’t he? What was ever real? Then as sudden as it came, the darkness passes and the light returns. The light of my Savior, my family, my friends.  I know tomorrow there will be another opportunity to look, to hope, to burn. But I won’t. Not this time. I will not let one solitary image take precedence over the world of wonder around me. Not again.

Conversations about Racial Unity in the Church.

Racial-Justice-2.jpgJust as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them- Bonhoeffer

Last summer I started learning about racism from my friend Dimitri who is brave enough to have these tough conversations. I say brave, because he will likely lose friends, offend others, and be misunderstood. But he keeps taking these chances.

It is a conversation worth having because the consequences are grave if we try to go on with business as usual.
I have noticed an attitude that is prevalent in many circles today. Maybe you felt it. A blatant dismissal of other people’s pain.

It can sound like this:

“That was then, this is now.”

“Black people are cursed because they came from the line of a man that was cursed in the Bible.”

“The Chinese, Jews, and Irish were all enslaved, but they are successful today.”

“I know successful black people. Look at Ben Carson! Everyone has the same chance in America. The others are just lazy.”

I know that people say those things because not only have I heard them, but embarrassingly, I have said them myself. I remember thinking as a child that black and white people shouldn’t be married because they would be “Unequally yoked.” I remember hearing jokes about someone not being allowed in a nice neighborhood because they had gotten too much sun that summer…. and laughing. I remember seeing rich black people and wondering if they were rap stars or basketball players.

Does that mean I was a racist? Not consciously. If you would have ever asked me if I thought I was better than someone because of my skin color I would say, absolutely not! But truthfully, if you take the above statements out to their logical conclusion, superiority is exactly what is being implied. Please know that I am not sharing these thoughts flippantly. I am deeply grieved and embarrassed by them. But my hope is that through my vulnerability, someone will be challenged to think deeply about their own preconceived ideas or thoughts.

After having these race related conversations with Dimitri, I came across a podcast on Twitter with Brant Hansen and Sherry Lynn on this very topic. Brant confessed to wrong thinking in regard to race. He expressed the need for us to have conversations with friends and people that aren’t exactly like us to learn about the experiences of different races.

I did a lot of that last summer,  almost as a research project. I wanted to write about the need for racial unity in the church, but I had no idea where to begin. Since this is such a sensitive issue, I thought it would be wise to first have as many conversations as possible and learn as much as I could about people’s feelings on the matter. As you could imagine this was quite awkward. There’s no easy way to lead into this.  Going to my African-American friends, I risked offending them with an ignorant comment or misplaced word. We are in a very tense climate, and if you use the wrong word people are offended.  If I use the word “black” someone is offended, but if I use the word “African-American” someone else is offended.  Going to my white friends I risked angering them also. Some people see any empathy to one side as an affront to the other. Like if I am sad that a black man was shot to death by a police officer, I must not care about cops, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Needless to say, I was very nervous to start these conversations. But I did it anyway, as much as possible.

I was unnerved to learn several friends had been thrown to the ground outside of their car by law enforcement for literally doing nothing….more than once.

I was shocked to learn one of my friends had racial slurs hurled at him for holding his white girlfriend’s hand.

I was devastated to hear that my dear friend…. my age… played softball while people in the crowd yelled “Hey N*****, N******, N*****”

This is not THEN this is NOW.

One particular afternoon I was with a bunch of my homeschool mom friends and decided to try to bring it up. It went something like this:

“So how’s your summer…good, good…… Anyone want to talk about the church’s responsibility to promote racial unity?”

Talk about an awkward lead in. The conversation was…… ok. I felt heard by some, and not at all by others. At the end of the discussion, one of my friends sought answers I didn’t have.

“Ok,” she began, “I hear what you are saying. I’ve never thought of some of those issues either. But what do I do about it? What can I do?” So I thought about it for a minute and came up with this brilliant answer.

I don’t know.

I don’t know what you personally need to do. I like to write. So at the very least, I plan to write about it, even though at first thought, it felt like a cop out. What can writing do? But days after having that thought, providentially, I came across a blurb about Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a mom with six kids that was burdened by slavery. One day as she spoke with her sister about feeling powerless to affect change, and her sister gave her some simple advice.

“You are a brilliant writer. Why don’t you write about it?”

And she did.

You see, we all have different gifts. We all have different passions. Maybe you’re a swim teacher, and when you hear that just under 70% of African-American children surveyed can’t swim, it breaks your heart.  Maybe you realize it’s literally insane to think they can’t swim because they are “less buoyant” than white people. Maybe you google it and find out that it’s hard to learn to swim when one isn’t allowed in the community pool and several generations are consequently affected. So you donate your time to lower income families who never learned to swim.

Only you can know how you can help.

What I do know is that nothing is going to change unless we start talking to someone on the other side of this issue rather than people that simply echo your same beliefs and experiences.

Empathy is at the core of racial unity in the church. 

I believe we need to start acknowledging other people’s experiences and pain and stop dismissing them.  Stop saying, “That was then… this is now” which is essentially,  “Get over it.” But instead, really engage in conversations with people and be willing to learn.

As I continued to listen to the podcast with Brant, he asked Sherri Lynn if she had anything to add. She agreed that he had covered the topic thoroughly, but wanted to address one thing.

“It is incredibly painful to be dismissed by someone that you love,”  she explained.

And my heart broke, because I know that feeling.

She explained that in some instances when she had expressed her experiences to friends, she was completely brushed aside, and that cut deep.

Here’s the bottom line.

You don’t have to agree with somebody to have empathy for them. Stop talking about them, and start talking to them.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we, as the body of Christ, could come together and show the world what true racial unity looks like. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

What if we started doing that? What if we confessed some prejudicial thinking we didn’t realize we had? What if those that have experienced humiliation, rejection, and injustices due to their skin color were able to confess the bitterness that had grown as a result. The Bible tells us exactly what will happen. We will be healed.

We need healing.

Some would say racial tensions are worse then they have ever been. But others would argue that they aren’t worse. Rather, they have simply been uncovered. Maybe we had to get to this point to deal with some deep pain and complicated issues. We have all been part of situations where pain and anger got swept under the rug destroying families, destroying relationships, and destroying marriages. I would like to suggest that many problems have been swept under the rug, many problems have been dismissed and ignored, but they never went away.

This is our opportunity for true healing through confession and thoughtful, honest conversations with listening. So much listening.

We are in a definitively tumultuous time in our country right now. But I believe that God is getting the church ready for something big. I have written about some tough issues here. And yet I admit I am not an expert on any of them. I pray that you would have Grace with me if I’ve said something that offended you. Because my goal was simply to start a conversation so that we can grow together in unity as we answer the prayer of our Savior in John 17:20-21

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

Our unity proclaims His Deity. It’s really that important.

So let us walk forward with grace as we confess our sins one to another, beginning to listen excessively with love and empathy.

Using the Trivium to Learn about Racial Unity

The Dance Recital I Can’t Forget

 

This year I was so nervous about the girls dance recital. Not for them. But for the audience. I kept hearing all these rumblings about the show. It’s too intense. Some even removed their daughters from certain dances. Why? I kept wondering. Why be so risky? But this is nothing new. The owner of the studio, Treasha Detweiler, always pushes the envelope. A few years ago it was “The Offering,” a dramatic telling of the holocaust. The story went something like this. There was a family hiding Jews. And one day the non-jewish fiance picked up the wrong coat on his way out the door, it was the one with the gold star on it wrongfully identifying him as a jew. When the guards saw that Jewish star, they put him behind bars. Eventually they lined him up with the other prisoners and prepared to execute him. Arms extended, he never said a word. He gave his life willingly so his friend could live. Then the spotlight went to another scene, as a woman tells the story of another Man, who with arms extended, willfully gave His life on a cross, so that we might live.

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I will never forget that show. The picture of love and sacrifice mixed with flawless technique and breathtaking choreography. Treasha invited an honored guest. A holocaust survivor. He wept and proclaimed that this was the best holocaust dramatization he had ever seen. Then there was the show titled “The Undivided Heart.” A community divided by racism. One child killed in a car accident. His heart was then donated, unknowingly, across racial boundaries to another family. Joined now by blood. That last scene, a mother listening to her sons heart beat in another’s chest. I can’t even type this without crying. After the recital, a local mom shared the story of her own son, his life too short, but extended by a heart transplant himself. Then there was the ballet show about abuse and abortion. Who does these topics? What ever happened to the Nutcracker?

That brings us to this year. The topic was end time prophecy as told from the book of Revelations written by one of the dance teachers, Jennifer Dolan. A nice, light, topic… free from controversy….Or maybe not.
But Treasha knew something that not all Christians know. In the Bible it says this:

Revelations 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

And let me tell you after seeing this production I know without a doubt that not only did the audience take the words of Revelations to heart, but those dancers did too!

Before I saw the production, I wondered if the “Antichrist” dance was really necessary since there was so much talk of how “intense” it was. 
But after seeing it, I understood the need for it to be in there. It was my favorite one. Intense? Yes. Chilling. But necessary. It is a dance that I have watched over and over. I need to understand the truth portrayed in that scene. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities. And I knew that their teachers were covering them in prayer daily. These same teachers had also prayed over each dance before one move was made.

My girls have been dancing with Many but one for about 7 years. We have sacrificed time and money. And for what? Is this a good use of our time and resources? There are many ways to instill values and beliefs in our children. Was this the right way? Those are weighty questions that we as parents will always wrestle with, often without definite answers. But this I know for sure. At this studio my girls have flourished and bloomed. They have also struggled and cried. They have continued to learn and grow in their knowledge of dance, life, and most importantly God. And our family has too. When we go to the productions, seeing our girls dance is a bonus. The stories are the main event. They stay with you. They pierce your heart. They leave a mark on your soul. And my girls have been able to be dance those stories. Yes, it can be difficult when they are young and have one small roll. And it can be frustrating when they are older and might still have a small roll. But the effect of being a part of the Many But One dance studio has been profound and eternal.

I am forever thankful for the risks they have taken, the stories they have told, and the lessons they have taught. Every member of my family has been blessed and challenged by the investments made at this little Christian performing arts studio. Is it perfect? No. Because there are humans there. But there is so much love, grace, and purpose that I feel incredibly grateful to have been a small part all these years.

I would encourage you to click on this link,(Anti-Christ dance  )and take a look at this dance. Whatever you believe about Revelations, you can’t argue with the truth expressed here. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, and rulers of this darkness. Let me know what you think in the comments. All crude and rude comments will be deleted. Keep it civil. 🙂

 

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How to Honor Fallen Soldiers All Year Long.

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As of late, there has been much confusion between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and I think I know why. We understand how to honor living Veterans. We can celebrate them, thank them, fight for their healthcare, and tangibly affect them. But how, exactly, do we honor the deceased? Attending a Memorial Day celebration and decorating a grave stone are important options, however, I would like to suggest a few other ways we can honor our fallen heroes all year round.

The first way we can honor fallen soldiers is to study their history. There seems to be a concerted effort to delete history in general. Whether it is by diluting the faith of the founding fathers, distorting the intent of the constitution, or denying the real reasons wars are waged, truth is being removed from the public square. Our utilitarian society has destroyed the beauty and the importance of studying history. Whenever a college student decides to major in history, they are asked, “What are you going to do with that? Become a history teacher?” However, from now on, students majoring in history should answer, “I am going to use my knowledge to honor fallen soldiers.” We must never stop studying history. Let us be known for our knowledge of our fallen heroes, not our obsession with the latest reality star. Some believe studying history is boring, but take heart! It doesn’t have to be that way! Start by reading “If you can keep it,”  written by the always entertaining Eric Metaxas, and go from there.

Secondly, if we want to honor fallen soldiers we must engage in the political process. Understanding our nation’s history naturally propels us to be more active about the present. We can esteem fallen soldiers by working to protect the freedoms for which they gave their lives. This is done by voting at the local and federal levels, supporting important legislation, and working to get the right leaders in place. Too many citizens vote for funding instead of freedom which ironically puts both freedom and funding in jeopardy.

Lastly, to honor the fallen soldier, we must fight for the right to life. When we vote to protect freedom, we have to remember that our freedoms end where the God given rights of others begin. There is no right more foundational to our country than the right to life. Everything, quite literally, begins there. Before we can debate any other right of man, we first must allow the unborn the right to live. The brave heroes of our nation fought on the front lines, left their homes and families, and gave their lives to preserve the lives of others. The least we can do is to follow in their footsteps by fighting for the lives of the innocent, defenseless, unborn babies that desperately need our protection.

Today is an important day to take some time to truly remember the sacrifice of the brave soldiers that fought for the freedoms we tend to take for granted. Let us pray for and support any families we know that have been tragically changed by the loss of a dear loved one. And let us honor them year round by studying the truth of their history, engaging in the political process for freedom, and fighting for the right to life.