Archive | May, 2015

Living in a Beautiful World with Splashes of Wickedness Everywhere . . .

25 May

I love this present world. So much so that I know I will fight to stay in it when it comes time for me to go to the next one. Even though I am totally sure that my Saviour has made the next world stunningly, amazingly beautiful, beyond anything one could even comprehend while here . . . (I also believe that eternity will occur on a remade earth, but that is the subject for another post . . .).

Nonetheless, one cannot be here long without realizing there is some very real evil in this world. To be succinct, all stories about sexual exploitation have several things in common (and let’s be honest about them from the beginning):

1. They are *always based on an imbalance of power, with one person treating another person as an object just because they can . . . Part of the humiliation of sexual abuse is the opportunism of it. No one likes to realize that another person has so stripped their humanity from them that they perceive them on the same level as a table or chair in the room.

2. They are *never about sex, but about a power play. Sexual predators get sexually excited at the idea of being able to have sex *without the other person’s consent.

3. They occur in *every strata of society.

Think of this last point. Josh Duggar’s current situation shows us that the fundamentalist “quiverful” movement has as much perversion as the other parts of society it tries to avoid. I, for one, would have much more respect for the Duggars had they incorporated the story of Josh and his sisters into their television narrative from the beginning (since it happened before the show began), revealing to an American public that mostly doesn’t understand sin and redemption how a family can legally and purposefully deal with the sins and infractions of fallen people in a fallen world. *That would have been a good (and honest) story of God’s grace. Not the way they handled it, covering it up while they criticized the fallen sexuality of other people. (And, no, I don’t regard it as “their family’s business” because once they crossed the line into a reality television show, their family’s business became America’s business, ya see!).

Even while we contemplate the story arc of the Duggars, we are still hearing from other parts of our sexually fallen world.

There are still accusations surfacing in the Catholic church about priests abusing children of both genders. And why would that not be so? Priests are revered and trusted. They are allowed to be alone with people, at confession and otherwise. Predators know that!

There is still the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. He started a foundation for disadvantaged boys that allowed the boys to think they could have a future in college football, as long as they didn’t mind being sodomized in a shower . . . (I am being purposely shocking here because we need to be shocked by the idea that some people start foundations to reach out to disadvantaged kids because they *know they will have an inherent imbalance of power with these kids!).

There is a breaking story in England about high powered entertainers, politicians, sports figures, etc. who, for decades, had a pedophile ring in London using . . . disadvantaged kids they brought in from London’s East End (the poorer area of town). Jimmy Savile is only the tip of the iceberg in this sordid story. Apparently there were luxury apartment complexes and hotels that were regularly used to wine and dine these kids into thinking it was okay for an adult to penetrate them. So utterly sick! God help us.

When NPR was talking about the above story last week, they mentioned that it seemed to originate in the boarding school culture of England–kids would be separated from their families and would be hungry to fit in. The teachers and staff at the schools often exploited an imbalance of power to draw these children into their webs.

I found myself glad that my husband was solidly middle class in England and never went to boarding school!

I also found myself glad, earlier this year, when reading about the specific situation with priests in Ireland in the early 20th century (lots of exploitation of kids in orphanages), that my inlaws (who grew up in Ireland) remained in intact families, even while not always having much money.

Such sickness, with imbalance of power leading to exploitation, time after time after time.

Yes, there are pockets of this beautiful world that are real cesspools, largely due to the fallen human race and the depravity our hearts can imagine when we are not fixed on Christ.

Some practical tips that parents and other people who influence children can take from all of this sordidness:

1) Don’t let your children be alone with adults. Never, ever, ever. It doesn’t matter that 99% of clergy are probably trustworthy. You don’t want to encounter that 1%. And since they are predators, they will be experts at hiding, blending in, and talking the religious talk so that you will think they are truly holy people . . . until you find out what they are doing to your child.

2) Be aware that evil can lurk *anywhere. Don’t put your trust in man. We are *all totally depraved. Our only hope is in Christ. Don’t trust a foundation for disadvantaged youth, don’t trust a college, don’t trust even your church unilaterally. If you are a Christian, trust Christ and Christ alone.

I call this the 95% confidence factor. I trust other people who seem trustworthy 95% but I will never trust them blindly. I don’t even trust my husband blindly after 26 years (he is at a 99% confidence factor). This seems to be the best we can do in a fallen world, guys.

3) Check your pride at the door. If you need to groom your image more than you need to protect your children, you may encounter issues at some point. God help you if you decide incorrectly when you do. A specific example would be if an adult is making an argument for being alone with your child and . . . it is important to you to remain in that adult’s good graces. Think how easy it would be to give in, just this once, and let the adult spend time alone with your child. But what if you have miscalculated and have sent your child away with a predator???

4) Hiring babysitters is going to be a problematic situation no matter what you do, especially if you have an only child (there can be strength in numbers). It is probably best to *avoid those who keep asking *you to let them babysit. Choose someone who seems responsible and approach that person. Get references, check what goes on in your home when you are gone and . . . pray a lot. As the Josh Duggar story has shown us, even young teens can be guilty of unspeakable evil.

I pray this post has added some light to a rather heated situation. Wisdom comes only from God, but these observations are what I have learned over a lifetime so far!

When we struggle to love . . .

17 May

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/rayortlund/2015/05/12/i-went-all-the-way-back/

One of the most balanced pieces I have ever read. God has made it so that we *can’t be properly related to Him on the vertical without being properly related to His children on the horizontal. Natural law.

Meanwhile, aside from the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we *can’t properly love God’s other children. They just annoy us, that is all . . .

It is why we need to stay on our knees, entreating His Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth (and love).

The Twilight Bark

12 May

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About three weeks ago, some friends who have become very precious to me these past two years engaged in the Twilight Bark with me and with each other.

Do you know the Twilight Bark? It comes from the book and movie “101 Dalmatians.” It happens after Cruella DeVil kidnaps Pungo and Perdita’s puppies and takes them out to the countryside. Hearing of the missing puppies, the dogs closest in to Pungo and Perdita start barking at twilight as a signal to the dogs that can hear them that Pungo and Perdita are in trouble. Each dog that hears passes the message onward to all the dogs that can hear him until . . . the message travels to the countryside, where someone has seen the puppies and reports their location back along the chain.

So it happened that three weeks ago, the chain of love in a special needs college in Wisconsin started the Twilight Bark to alert us that a family among us was in trouble. A 21-year-old former student of the college who had left to battle cancer was losing his battle. His family needed our prayers. Our students who had known Justin needed our prayers. The school staff needed our prayers. We needed our prayers!

And pray we did. Intimately and openly, with tears running down our faces. Justin lost his battle several days later but we continued to pray, for the family and friends left behind. We still continue to pray. He has left a hole in our hearts that will not be filled again until we see him in heaven someday. And it is right that we miss him, especially that my son and his fellow classmates miss him.

The precious part of all this to me was how readily we reached out to wrap each other up in compassion. These people whom I met for the first time as we dropped our children off at the college in August of 2013, and whom I have seen twice since then, have become a cherished community of brothers and sisters in Christ to me. I love their children and I love them. And I know they love me.

At one point I was toggling back and forth between four parents on Facebook Messenger, all of us numb with grief that one of our children had died. Yet all of us reassuring each other of the hope that he will live again, and so will we.

Sometimes life can be hard, but our special needs children at their special needs college are a miracle in progress. And our community of support, and of Twilight Barks when needed, is another life-sustaining miracle.

Considering Baltimore (not being a know-it-all white person!)

12 May

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/05/baltimore-and-the-credibility.php

Very compassionately written and good!

The Best Blog Post on Assurance of Salvation I Have Seen!

12 May

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/05/12/how-do-i-know-im-a-christian/

And it’s all from I John!!!

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