Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Story of Forgiveness

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  ~Ephesians 4:32

Before communion this morning, our pastor preached on this verse & asked us to examine ourselves to make certain that we would not "eat of the bread or drink of the cup in a manner unworthy" & thus "be guilty concerning the body & blood of the Lord."  (1 Cor. 11:20-34)  As I sit here, I can honestly say that at the moment there is no one with whom I am at odds & in need of extending forgiveness toward.  However, that's not always the case & certainly has not been so in the past.  Forgiving others can sometimes be one of the hardest of God's commands to follow.  Today, I'd like to share with you a personal story of forgiveness, highlighting God's grace in bringing me to it.

As you may or may not know, I was molested as a child; however, that's not what I want to focus on here.  What I want to focus on is how God brought me through the anger & hatred that I felt for the family who blamed me to the place of healing & forgiveness.  When I discovered that not only had it happened again, but that my family's reaction toward this victim was the same as it had been toward me, concentrated anger flooded over me.  Anger that hardened into full-blown hate.

As a Christian, I knew it was wrong to hate, knew that:

If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  ~1 John 4:20

Yet, I foolishly thought this did not apply to me because of the heinous nature of what was done to me (& her), both by the molester & by my family.  I had a right to be angry - my anger was righteous - & I had a right to hate.  The result of this was that I cut off all ties with my family for several years as the anger ate me alive from the inside out.

Anger - & its by-product hate - is a funny animal.  As it took hold in my heart, I nursed it.  As I nursed it, it's tentacles entagled themselves ever deeper until it colored every part of my life & held me captive.  I was in constant turmoil, wanting to be reconciled with those I'd once cherished, but clutching tightly to my anger in the face of their refusal to acknowledge & atone for their wrongs.  The only way, to my mind, for the relationships to be redeemed was for the guilty to pay for their sins.  It got to the point where I carried around a constant burning in the pit of my stomach, a knot that never loosened.  I went so far as to try to escape it all by moving 650 miles away.  I thought distance would heal me.  It did lessen the pressure because I no longer faced the situation daily, but I was by no means healed.

During the course of my struggles, I sought the help of 2 pastors & 2 counselors.  Even so, my anger & anguish were not alleviated.  One evening, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my anger & unforgiving attitude.  I don't remember what the sermon I was listening to was on, but I remember this overwhelming certainty that I needed to forgive.  When the Holy Spirit prods, it's foolish to ignore Him, so I reached out & reconciled with my family.  And I thought I had forgiven them.  The only thing was that when I thought about everything that had happened - the molestation, their betrayal, their refusal to admit wrong & apologize - I was still filled with anger.  And while I was on speaking terms with them, I was really just going through the motions.  I told myself that my cold heart towards them was natural because they had done nothing to earn back my trust.  I was just being cautious with my heart so that they couldn't hurt me again.  And while it is true that you can forgive someone without placing trust in them, looking back I can say that this simply was not what was going on here.  I was cold of heart because I had not fully forgiven them.  I still expected payment.

Fast-forward again.  When Michael & I met, I nervously shared with him the story of my molestation.  Nervously, because I saw myself as dirty, damaged goods.  I figured he needed to know sooner rather than later so he could bail if he wanted to.  He didn't.  Instead, he sent me a box of books & sermons.  Contained in that box was Mark Driscoll's sermon on expiation & C.J. Mahaney's book Living the Cross-Centered Life.  I cried as Mark explained from the Scriptures that Christ's death on the cross cleansed me not only of the sins I commit, but also of the sins committed against me.  This laid the foundation for C.J.'s book, through which, by the grace of God, I was finally freed.  And through which I was finally able to free my prisoners.  It was amazingly simple!  What finally freed me was the Gospel.

Christ, one with God the Father from eternity past, became incarnate & dwelt among us.  Fully God & fully man, He lived a perfectly sinless life, always in the will of the Father, living in complete communion with & submission to the Father in our place.  When it pleased the Father, Christ was punished for our sin in His death on the cross.  Bearing our shame, bearing God's wrath, He died the death we deserve.  Through His mercy & grace, we are given His righteousness when we repent of our sin & believe in Him.  He was condemned so we could be justified.

As I read Living the Cross-Centered Life, the truth of the Gospel hit me between the eyes full force.  I realized for the first time the heinous nature of my own sin.  Because God is perfectly holy, in order for me to enter His presence, I must be perfectly holy.  And I'm not.  Because I'm not, to show His great mercy & to bring glory to His name, He paid for my sin so I could come to Him.  The offended paid the penalty for the offender.  Incredible!  In seeing this truth, I also realized that the sins committed against me, no matter how horrible, pale in comparison to my sin against God.  Because, the true measure of sin is not the sin itself, but who is sinned against.  And since God is infinitely holy, all sin committed against Him - no matter how "small" in our eyes - is infinitely wicked & infinitely worthy of damnation.  That's simply not the case when someone sins against me.

So, the conclusion that I arrived at was this:  If God has forgiven me, who am I to withhold forgiveness from others?  In that instant, I was finally freed!  Totally, completely, wholly freed!  What happened to me was wrong, but I no longer feel anger over it.  I no longer hold my family hostage.  I never got an acknowledgement or an apology from them, & I find I no longer need it.  The truth of the matter is, if they're saved - & I believe they are - then Christ has already paid for their sins, & they are no more.

So, let me encourage you.  If you're facing a situation & are finding it difficult to forgive, you can just let it go.  You can meditate on & rejoice in the Gospel & forgive.  And you'll discover, as I did, that you'll finally find freedom.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Courageous Movie

We've enjoyed Sherwood Pictures' other films & are really looking forward to this one, too!

Glory To ~ Sovereign Grace Music

Alright, people!  Put your dancing shoes on!  This song will start your morning off right!  I tried in vain to find a video for it - somebody be a dear & make one for me, because I myself don't have a clue how to - but this link is the next best thing.  Turn it up LOUD & dance around!  Enjoy & give "Glory To" the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Laughable Mayhem

These Allstate Mayhem videos are proof that I have a twisted sense of humor.  'Cause they seriously crack me up!

Did you catch that wicked little laugh at the end?  Hilarious!

Creepy, but SO funny!  Come on, you know you laughed, too.  ;-)

Catching Up

I spent yesterday & part of today getting reacquainted with an old friend.  We met when I was in college, & I was immediately enthralled.  He was funny, exciting, & could tug at my heart-strings.  I haven't seen or heard from him in 4 years, though, & have really missed him.  But, yesterday, while Michael was otherwise engaged, we were able to do some much needed catching up.  And, just like old times, he made me laugh, he made me cry (just a little, in a sweet way), & he made my heart race with anticipation.  Great times!  And I'm really looking forward to being able to spend a lot of time with him over the next 2-3 weeks!

I had you going there for a second, didn't I?  ;-)  Now on to book 2!  Yea!

Friday, July 22, 2011

On Family-Integrated Churches: Wisdom from Sproul, Jr.

Earlier, I posted a link to the film "Divided" that's recently come out.  The purpose of the film is to explore youth groups in churches, specifically whether they are biblical & helpful.  As a result of this movie, people are coming out in droves debating "Family-Integrated Churches".  I received a new "Ask R.C." in my email this morning that is quite pertinent to this discussion.  R.C. Sproul, Jr. receives questions from people on a whole host of biblical topics, & he posts the answers for the benefit of all.  I found his following words to be overflowing with timely wisdom.  I hope you enjoy them as well!

"Q:  Help! We can’t find a family integrated church in our area. What should we do?

A:  First, whenever the question is, “What should we do?” the best first answer is “Repent and believe the gospel.” God does not welcome into His kingdom only those who both trust in the finished work of Christ alone and don’t allow their children into youth group. Some, sad to say, get so excited about discovering that the notion that our children must attend youth group or Sunday School is nothing more than tradition with no biblical warrant, end up with a rather distorted sense of priorities. Some forget the vital distinction between primary and secondary issues. Some, I’m afraid, would rather be in a family-integrated Mormon “church” than a divided evangelical church. Even more, almost as bad, would rather not be in a church than be in a divided church. In order not to divide up their family, the whole family is divided from the church, as these families set up their own “churches” in their own homes. These are in turn cut off from the blessings of elders, pastors, the communion of the saints and the grace of discipline. They are divided from the church. It is madness.

Second, one can always be a family integrated family, even without a family integrated church. I know of no church that requires its members to send their children to youth group, or to Sunday School. You can keep your family together even when others don’t see the wisdom of doing so. You may have to miss Sunday School, or you could, graciously and kindly ask if your child or children might sit in on the adult Sunday School, or if you might sit in in theirs. You can always teach your family together at home before you go to join the saints in corporate worship on the Lord’s Day morning.

Third, you can relax. Though I am confident that a family-integrated church is the best way to go, though I would love to see many churches go back to how the church operated over the centuries, I know in turn that there are plenty of family integrated churches that have far deeper problems than some non family integrated churches. I know that most non family integrated churches have far deeper problems than not being family integrated. We are bodies made up of sinners, and so we ought not be surprised when sin shows its ugly head in our corporate life. When it does, our first instinct ought to be to look for the log in our own eyes. The youth leader is likely not secretly seeking to seduce your children to the dark side. He wants to help. The octogenarian Sunday School teacher isn’t the devil’s handmaiden. She wants to help. The elders who created these programs, even if those programs have some overlap with a Darwinian understanding of education, are not a cabal of Darwinians. They want to help.

With all the cancer my family has been through I have had countless deeply caring people suggest countless alternative therapies. Though they might be right, my response is a sincere, “No thank you.” I don’t need to make them agree with me. I don’t need to defeat their arguments or evidence. I don’t need to have internet wars over their theories. I just pass on what they offer. Sometimes I read their information. Sometimes I don’t. You certainly can feel free to talk to others about your commitment to keeping your family together. You can talk to your pastor and your elders about the issue. But if they don’t hear you as loving, gracious, relaxed, and committed to the well being of the congregation, then you have a bigger problem than age segregation. You have a Hebrews 13:17 problem.:

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief for that is unprofitable for you.

So back to step one. Repent, and believe the gospel."

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Little Political Debunking

I've seen some weird statements that Herman Cain or Michele Bauchmann are "Tea Party darlings".  See, I have a hard time processing how that can be because the whole Tea Party movement began with a money bomb for Ron Paul on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party during the 2008 election.  If you're a "Tea Partier" with a choice between Ron Paul & someone else, you choose Ron Paul.  Period.  But, because these two are getting some press, I'm going to take a little time & debunk them for you.  'Cause let me tell you, they can talk a good game, but their record shows that they are not what they pretend!  Thomas E. Woods is a great historian, so this is an excellent place to begin your education.  Don't take his word as Gospel, but use this as a jumping-off place.  And, by all means, do not just rely on the media for your information . . . including "fair & unbiased" Fox News!

First up, learn about the trouble with Herman Cain:

As for Michele, you can read about her voting record here, which may be quite illuminating for those who believe her to be a "Constitutional Conservative".

And finally, watch below for a quick synopsis - meant for the Iowa voters heading to the straw poll, but more than applicable to the entire American constituency - of why Ron Paul is the most qualified man for the presidency:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fireworks Fail

I wanted to take really beautiful pictures of the 4th of July fireworks.  Really, I did!  Michael & I missed out on the last 2 celebrations because he was working.  So, I was really looking forward to heading down to the riverfront to enjoy the fireworks this year.  And take pictures, of course!  I LOVE taking pictures, & have fancied myself to be somewhat good at it, particularly because of my Smoky Mountains & Spring pictures.  Well!  Turns out, taking pictures of fireworks is quite different!  I put the camera on the night-vision setting & fired away.  I expected beautiful pictures at which we could "oooh!" & "aaah!".  Here's what I actually got.  Make sure you're sitting down so you don't hurt yourself laughing at me.  Seriously.  Sit.

Like, seriously?!  What in the world happened?!  I haven't a clue.  It could have to do with that delay-shutter thing that kept happening.  Not being able to take rapid pictures didn't help, either, & made me miss quite a few pictures.  Although, judging by the products, perhaps that's not such a bad thing!  ;-)  Yep.  Fireworks.  I think I might skip next year's "photo adventure".  Then again . . . maybe the world could use some "artsy" fireworks pictures!  (Artsy's what I'm gonna go with here to soothe my wounded ego!)  ;-)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Quotable Christians

I'd like to share some quotes with you that have been meaningful statements in my life over the last couple of weeks.  These are by no means the only meaningful statements that have impacted me, but I don't think anybody has time enough for me to list them all!  ;-)  So, for the sake of brevity, I'm choosing 3 (my favorite number - yes, I'm dorky enough to have such a thing) to share.  First up:  John Piper (admit it, you knew he'd be in here!) . . .

     *"When you are united to Christ, by one thing – faith – you are disunited from His competitors – sin.  If you are at home with Jesus, you are at odds with sin.  Not because being at odds with sin makes you at home with Jesus, but because being at home with Jesus makes you at odds with sin!"

Can you guess who said this next one when speaking of the formulation of his doctrine?

     *"I should have much to answer for had I invented it myself, or taken it upon trust from Calvin, but as I find it in the Scripture I cheerfully embrace it."  Time's up!  If you guessed John Newton, go buy yourself some ice cream (the best reward for a job well done that I can conceive)!

And last, but certainly not least, a quote from a man that I admire, respect, & love personally - my own pastor:

     *"Everything about our faith is personal, but none of it is private."

So!  There you have it.  Be at home with Jesus - through faith - & at odds with your sin, form your beliefs on God's Word alone, & share your faith with others both in word & deed.  Words of wisdom to live by.  Go in peace; serve the Lord!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Edelweiss ~ The Honey Trees

This song is filled with such longing.  Ever since falling in love with it through "The Sound of Music", aching as Captain von Trapp struggles through it on stage, knowing that the Austria he loves will never be the same, I have felt that longing.  In my estimation, this version definitely does the original justice.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Grammar Lesson

I love grammar & spelling.  I've been blessed that both have always come naturally to me.  And, perhaps because I was a teacher for 6 years, I feel the urge to teach a little lesson today.  Now, don't drop off to sleep here; I promise this will be quick & painless!  And if I sound like I'm talking to 2nd graders, please forgive me; that was my average audience once upon a time.

"What has brought this up now?", you may ask.  Well, Michael & I have passed a billboard several times that is driving me crazy!  Seriously.  I'm actually considering emailing the people who put it up.  It's a very large billboard - as most of them are - right out on the interstate, for all passersby to behold.  This particular billboard's offense (oooh!  dramatic, huh?) is to spell the contraction for "you all" incorrectly.  Yep, this really does bother me.  The first time I saw it, I started screaming & throwing things around the cab of the truck, & we got pulled over by the police & . . . okay, not really.  (You didn't really fall for that, did you?)  But it does get on my nerves to the point where I wonder how Southerners could mess up this quintessential Southern saying.  I've heard tell that some people, upon hearing a Southern accent, automatically assume that person's intelligence to be inferior.  To my mind, there's no sense in perpetuating that misconception by lauding poor grammar for all travelers foreign & domestic (to the South, that is) to see.  It's obviously a small matter & certainly not urgent, but man, it grates on my nerves!  I'm weird that way.  ;-)

So, today's lesson will be on contractions, specifically how to properly write them.  A contraction is one word made by smashing two separate words together.  I used to tell my kids that it was like two word-trains on the same track that came together so forcefully that some of the letters just popped right out.  Then, we put an apostrophe in the place of the missing letters.  For example:

     *Look at "they will" & "they'll".  The two letters that have popped out are 'w' & 'i', so that's where we put the apostrophe.  The same thing happens for "she will" (she'll), "we will" (we'll), & "you will" (you'll).

I actually understand why people spell the contraction for "you all" the same way; they assume it's just like the examples above.  But look:

     * When "you all" smashes together, the 'o' & 'u' are the letters that pop out, & when you put an apostrophe in the place of these missing letters, it goes right behind the 'y'.  So, instead of ya'll (splitting up the complete word 'all', as in the offending billboard message), the correct spelling is y'all.

Okay!  I'm down off of my soapbox.  See?  Quick & painless!  Loads more introduction than instruction.  That's how I roll!  (I just wanted to try that, but it really sounds odd coming out of my "mouth", doesn't it?)  Anyways, thank y'all for staying with me & putting up with my idiosyncrasies.  Y'all have been great!  I hope y'all have a wonderful rest of the day!  (Just practicing!)  ;-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Moon River ~ The Honey Trees

I love sweet, simple, low-key songs like this version of the classic.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Official Divided the Movie (HD Version) from NCFIC on Vimeo.

Michael & I watched this movie last evening & were quite intrigued.  We found the arguments for father-to-child discipleship & against age segregation in the church to be quite compelling.  We would like to hear from y'all.  After watching the movie (which isn't all that long) & dealing with the texts discussed therein, please let us know your thoughts.  We hope y'all enjoy the film as much as we did!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Joy Made Complete

What a heart-stirring, poignant video!  Visit Katie once again to see the rest of the story.  God is truly amazing!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

True North

Photo courtesy of

True North.  Sailors on the high seas or backpackers struggling through the wilderness navigate by it.  It's different from the magnetic North found on a compass in that it never deviates.  True North never moves from its place.  It's stable.  Constant.  Unwavering.  And therefore trustworthy.

Like those travelers, we are all trying to navigate through this life.  The number of stars that beckon to us, that threaten to throw us off course, that try to distract us, are innumerable.  And if we're not careful, following their siren's song can dash us against the rocks in the end.  So, we need a True North.  We need a stable, constant, unwavering, & altogether trustworthy Authority to guide us through both tempestuous & calm seas.

Each day we are inundated with situations that demand our opinions & actions:
     ~A mother choosing between life or aborting her child;
     ~A husband choosing between honoring his vows or abandoning his marriage;
     ~A son choosing between honoring his parents or rebelling against their God-given authority;
     ~A daughter choosing between modest or provocative dress;
     ~An uncle choosing between giving into or fighting his sinful same-sex attractions;
     ~A wife choosing between an angry response or a soft answer that turns away wrath;
     ~A brother choosing between laziness or industry;
     ~A grandmother choosing between gluttony or finding satisfaction in Christ . . .

How do we decide what the correct course is? Sadly, all too often, we rely on our own opinions. None of us form our opinions in a vacuum; all of us are influenced in some way, for good or evil. The idea of "original thought" is a fallacy; for that to be possible, we would have to think something that no one in the history of mankind has thought. So, the foundation of our opinions matters a great deal. So far as I see it, there are two possible foundations:

     *Ourselves - We form our own opinions, determining what is right & wrong for ourselves. There's just one problem here: our opinions are influenced by our emotions & our culture. Are either of those stable? Constant? Unwavering? Goodness, are either of those perfectly sinless? Incablable of error? Then why in the world would we consider them trustworthy?

     *The Word of God - We form our opinions - & thus our actions - on Scripture alone, looking to God to determine what is right & wrong. We recognize that - unlike God & His Word - we are not infallible, nor inerrant, nor omniscient. We have not perfect knowledge, so we cannot come to perfect understanding that is required to form perfect thoughts & opinions. We recognize that because our every thought, word, & deed is tainted by sin, we cannot rely on ourselves to make perfect judgments or decisions.

Here's an example to illustrate my point: I became embroiled a couple of weeks ago in a debate regarding homosexuality, specifically the nature of it.  What was most surprising about this debate was that it was begun by a woman who grew up in the church & claims Christ as her Savior.  And yet, in the course of our dialogue, she made it clear that she considers homosexuality to be perfectly normal & sinless.  Now, where would she have gotten this notion?  Certainly not from Scripture, for - as I pointed out - God's Word is replete with condemnation for this "dishonorable" (Rom. 1:26-27) & "unnatural" (Jude 1:7) "abomination" (Lev. 18:22 & 20:13).  She paid no heed.  So, if Scripture isn't her final authority, what is?  It turns out she is her own authority, & that is a most precarious position in which to be.

In our Sunday school lesson today, we discussed how we don't want to be servants of the King, but our own mini-kings.  Our fondest desire is to see our own desires fulfilled.  So, we set ourselves up on the thrones of our hearts, determining that whatever we deem to be good & right is reality.  We put ourselves in the center, in the place of authority . . . & thus lead ourselves & those who follow our example to wreck & ruin.

We all need to steer by True North - a stable, constant, unwavering, & trustworthy Authority.  Such is the Word of God, & such should be the foundation of all of our lives.  It's the only guide that won't lead us off course.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Reading God's Word Aloud - A Shared Article

Have you been to A Glimpse of Our Vapor yet?  It's a precious blog filled with personal stories of the Kizziah's lives as well as testimonies to God's grace.  If you haven't read it, you should.  Allow me to encourage you to let today be that day, for Katie has shared an article that her brother Kameron wrote regarding the reading of Scripture aloud.  It's humble, sprinkled with Scripture all throughout (my favorite kind of post), & simply wonderful.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  God's blessings!