As pro-life Americans rally together to try to defund Planned Parenthood, part of me is really happy because I hate much of the work that Planned Parenthood does. I’ve been on their website and the language they use to speak of abortion is very masquerading, and it works; they are misleading countless women every year and effectively carrying out genocide on infants while hailing themselves as heroes. I am all for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
But part of me is also troubled at all the lawmaking excitement and PP-bashing because, if abortions become harder to get, where does that leave women who really feel like they need one? No amount of litigation can remove the reality of unwanted pregnancies.
I think a lot of pregnancies are terminated just for lack of information. Popular lies have sunk so deep that the mother genuinely doesn’t think the fetus is a baby, so she truly doesn’t believe an abortion is killing anyone.
Some women, on the other hand, such as the poet who called her aborted daughter’s death a sacrifice for her mother’s right to choose, know abortion really is the murder of a human being but deem the act worth it anyway.
But many women find themselves considering abortion because they truly don’t know what else to do.
She will get kicked out by her family or abandoned by her boyfriend.
She literally has no money and she can’t imagine watching her child starve.
She’s 50 years old and already has her plate full with her other kids. She was even on the pill!
She was raped by her boss.
The father is not her husband---it was just once!---but once the baby is born, his skin color will serve as a constant reminder of his mother's unfaithfulness.
She and her boyfriend are respected in their church and if anyone found out, he would never be able to be a pastor.
Her family is abusive and might hurt the baby.
I can think of a ton of other situations that all make me want to weep for the mother because it’s all so hard and wrought with suffering. So what are people in the pro-life movement going to do for the women?
I have learned---even from my own experience as a 19-year-old expectant mother---that just because someone is "pro-life" on the ballot doesn't mean they actually have a healthy view of babies or their moms. Yes, even pro-lifers can make you feel like pregnancy is the worst news ever. (I was even married but received lots of hurtful negative pushback for my "irresponsibility.") Here are some ideas that get much more personal than writing a letter to your congressman (which is a great thing to do!)
Make it known that you would gladly adopt an unwanted baby.
I think that if only there was a stronger culture of joyful adoption “because I want to!” instead of “because I had to”, many more troubled moms would be willing to continue their pregnancies.
You never know, maybe a Facebook friend from middle school has found herself pregnant and she feels like she has no options. But if she knows that you will gladly take that baby and welcome him or her into your family as one of your own, she might be willing to stick it through the nine months and have that baby. Nobody wants their kid to go to foster care (and rightly so; the system is very broken) but if they know that a good family will gladly take their child regardless of appearance or disabilities, they might truly reconsider.
Personally, I’m still growing up and I’m not totally on top of things with the kids I already have, so I don’t know if anyone would want me to adopt their baby at this point, but if given the opportunity I would gladly do it. We’d make it work. A situation has happened before where a friend’s sister was considering abortion, and Peter and I immediately agreed that we would welcome that baby into our family if that meant it would save his/her life. (The mom decided to keep the baby and as far as I know they’re doing great!)
I’m almost certain anyone in my church would do the same. If a mom in a hard place came to me needing a good family for her child, I would be able to find one for her in a heartbeat just by asking my church family. That’s what churches are supposed to do. Caring for orphans isn’t just for special adoption-minded people; every Christian’s heart should beat for adoption because God’s heart beats for adoption. (He’s adopted us, hello.) Let’s make it known to women that we will find a good home for their child.
Let your loved ones know that children are gifts from God 100% of the time.
Stop warning your children or friends to “be responsible!” (implying “don’t get pregnant!”) If your child/friend forgets to use protection or gets raped or did everything she was supposed to but the birth control still didn’t work---or, gasp, maybe in the moment she even wanted a baby---when she gets that positive pregnancy test she will remember your words and think the “responsible” thing to do is end the pregnancy.
Tell your daughters and friends you will love and support them if they get pregnant. Tell your sons and friends you will love and support them if they father a child. Encourage purity, certainly, but remember that though premarital/extramarital sex is sinful, conceiving a child is not a sin.
God is the creator of life 100% of the time, whether the lovers had wedding rings on or not.
Psalm 139:13-14 (“You have knitted me in my mother’s womb” and “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”) doesn’t only apply to wanted babies in stable families. Let your loved ones know that you would consider their child a tremendous gift no matter what.
Quit badmouthing unmarried mothers! Moms who keep their babies alive are heroes.
You never know what the person you’re talking to is going through. She might gossip with you about that girl fresh out of high school who “got herself pregnant” but she might very well find herself in a situation...maybe from deliberate promiscuity or maybe not; either way, she is worthy of compassion, but from prior conversations she will only expect condemnation from you.
Speak highly of women who have wept over the positive pregnancy test and have no idea how it’s going to work but who have resolved to make it work. These women are courageous and deserving of praise. Talk to someone whose mother was considering abortion but chose to keep the baby or give him/her to a family instead. That mother made the hard choice to keep someone alive even though that decision surely came at great cost to her. You never know who in your life is struggling with this decision, so we all need to be careful about how we think and talk about others.
So yes, let’s do everything we can to stop Planned Parenthood. But let’s also do everything we can to care for moms in personal ways. Throw a baby shower for someone who isn’t finding much support otherwise. Reach out to an expecting mother when you see pregnancy news on Facebook. I know women who have found hope in Jesus through their unwanted pregnancies and they were never the same. Let our love for women be even louder than our hatred for Planned Parenthood.
Dear friend who desperately wants to see the world,
Me too, for one thing.
Secondly, I have better news for both of us than “You won a free trip to Europe!” (And that would be some awesome news.)
But before I tell you that, you must hear me out on something that will probably seem totally irrelevant to you. Just wait. I can almost guarantee that you’re not dreaming big enough about all the sights and experiences that you desire.
Try to track with me here, even if you've already rolled your eyes out of their sockets because you’re certain you know what I’m going to say. It really does get juicy at point four.
1) Your desire to see the world is God-given.
He has created incredible beauty—the mountains, Aurora Borealis, the people who make art and food and culture; He gets credit for every good thing—and He delights in what He has created. When He made creation, He said it was “very good.” He welcomes you to taste and see His goodness, and His goodness can quite tangibly be tasted and seen.
First of all, He never needed to create anything at all, but secondly, He by no means had to make the universe beautiful and expansive like He has. You were made to recognize and appreciate His greatness. I'm certainly not suggesting we silence our desires to see the world.
2) The world we all want---that deep-seated desire we all have for peace and joy---is actually going to happen someday, and God is happy to usher it in, but it’s not right now. And it’s not apart from Jesus.
Deep down everyone wants a world of peace and love and truth and justice, free of pain and suffering and death. Scientists, innovators, and politicians are desperately trying to do the best they can to make this world happen. Most people hope that someday in their lifetime “world peace” will be attained, whatever that looks like.
But it’s just not going to happen apart from Jesus.
Our “faith in humanity” can’t ever be restored because humanity consistently fails. Most of the time we all work for what we want, and that disunity causes problems, and those problems tend to escalate. Human history is full of beauty but it’s also full of brokenness and evil and pain.
The only hope---the perfect hope---is that one time the creator God took on human flesh, gave His life for humanity, proved victorious over death, and promised to return to make a New Heavens and New Earth, where death will be no more, and mourning, crying, and pain will be no more, and the former things will pass away. The world we all want is coming and on its way.
It’s called “The New Earth” for a reason. It’s not just going to be a bright and shiny auditorium where souls float around and sing. We’ve let comic-strip portrayals of Heaven shape our thinking of what eternity is actually going to look like for those who belong to God, but the Bible paints a much more exciting, much more physical picture. Heaven is going to be fun. I’ll get back to that in point four.
3) The local church is designed to be a glimpse of heavenly culture, and everyone’s invited.
Chances are hefty that you’re scoffing at this because all you’ve experienced from the church is hurt and hypocrisy. That’s fair; I’ve probably been to your church or a church like it and I don’t want to spend eternity in a culture like that either.
But maybe you’ve just never been part of a church that truly loves Jesus. For a gamut of reasons (many monetary, sadly) lots of American pastors have made church membership such an easy or nonexistent process that a church is comprised largely of people who don’t really love or know Jesus at all. You look around and you see people who want a little bit of religion but don’t walk humbly with God, love mercy, or do justice.
However, Christ loves His people and is establishing heavenly culture all over the world. In my local church, for example, I really do see a glimpse of the culture of heaven. By God's grace and my pastors' biblical ministry philosophy, pretty much everybody at Covenant Life gives, serves, and loves, because we want to and we're overflowing with joy. Our church really is doing good for the city and for our neighbors. Christians have been doing that individually and, optimally, in a healthy local church, all over the world since Christ began His church. This kind of tangible peace and love and joy prepares us for eternity.
4) Think about the implications of a real, physical place where “death shall be no more, and neither will there be mourning, or crying, or pain anymore.”
As proof of God’s creative power, consider the Olympus Mons, a volcano on Mars, that is almost three times as tall as Mount Everest (as Randy Alcorn points out in his massively helpful---and massive---book Heaven, which has been instrumental in my thinking.) The natural wonders on the New Earth will likely overshadow the natural wonders I so desperately want to see today, except my visits to the New Everest (or whatever natural wonders will be on this restored earth) will not be marred by sadness or fear or shame or the possibility of death. My expeditions will be full of worshipful enjoyment of the One who made them.
When I go to Busch Gardens and I get to see cheetahs up close, all I can think is “Why can’t I ride you!?” I’d at least love to cuddle. But alas, at this point the cheetah would eat me. So I can hope in the day when there will be peace among animals and with me. I mean, it's not like the Bible tells me I can ride a cheetah someday, but can you even imagine a world where “death is no more” as it relates to creatures?
Or, consider this. I’ve never been to Tampa’s famous Bern’s Steakhouse. And, trust me, I am a steak person. But I don’t think I’ll ever go to Bern’s. Our eating-out budget does not allow for going to restaurants that cost more than twelve bucks an entree. I’m not mad about that, because I can wait; my new, resurrected tastebuds are going to be way better than they are now; I will have a capacity for enjoying food more than I possibly can now. And the food is going to be far more amazing than it possibly could be now. And it won’t be polluted with pesticides! Can you even imagine eating food that is pure?!
And technology? Can you imagine the kind of technology that can be contrived on the New Earth with redeemed resources, no language barrier, and, oh yeah, free access to the infinitely wise and creative One who made and sustains all things!? I totally think space travel will be possible on the New Earth in far more impressive ways than the world’s most strained and expensive efforts can muster for millennia.
One last point: people. Perhaps some of the most brilliant minds in the history of the world were not only uncelebrated but illiterate. One day, women who were blind will be making the most incredible art, and men who were confined to a wheelchair all their lives will be running with joy. It will be possible for me to have a conversation or go on an adventure with Vivaldi and Ruth and John Newton and Gladys Aylward and John Piper, not to mention all the Christians I know now or I've never heard of and non-English-speaking believers from of old that I am too ignorant to even know about!
Like I said, I almost guarantee that you haven’t been dreaming big enough about what is literally possible to be experienced someday.
But the most important part of all this is that God is at the center of it all. The only reason these things can be good is because they are from God and through God and with God and for God. A Heaven without God is no Heaven at all. The only reason we can even want a perfect world is because He has written eternity on our hearts. We know what good is because we have been made in a good God’s image, and there is no goodness apart from Him. All that we do on the New Earth will be worship of Him---and if you truly know Him, you know that there is no comparable delight. We were created with a capacity for joy that can only be met in Him, and our new bodies will have an even greater capacity for joy. In fact, God will need to give us new bodies in order for us to even be able to behold Him in His glory.
This frees me up to be faithful with what I've been given. I don't have to loathe my kids for keeping me from 14-day Mediterranean cruises. I am not consumed by a countdown until my next trip. I'm truly content and free, not because living in a humid and mosquito-ridden state and changing a hundred diapers a day is really fun, but because I don't feel like I need to indulge my every immediate desire right now. I can give myself for others, and I can enjoy doing so. If I get the opportunity to travel, I'd be grateful, and I'm excited for my friends who do get to experience the world. But I can wait just a little while until everything is restored to better than before and I'll have all eternity to explore the world (nay, the universe!), with a greater joy than I ever knew was possible.
I really believe all this. I have pondered quite seriously whether there is a God and concluded there is. I have deeply considered whether an absolute truth exists and found the validity of the Bible to be overwhelming. I study the Bible hard and continue to find that it can stand up to every bit of my skepticism. And I love Jesus, I really, really love Jesus, with my heart, my soul, and, yes, even my mind!
And I really believe that an eternal hell exists for those who do not belong to Christ. All the sadness and darkness and death that occurs in this world isn’t just from natural occurrences. This world is so broken because of sin, and sinners like me, and a God who doesn’t punish injustice is not a good God at all. The fact that He has chosen to put sin on Christ and even spare anyone shows us that He is shockingly, scandalously merciful. He invites you to come to Him. Find the treasure that lasts!
My kids are 3, 1, and 23-weeks-in-utero. This will mean I had a newborn in 2012, 2013, and 2015. That's 27 months of pregnancy. I'm not a baby person and I don't have oodles of pleasant things to say about being "with child", but I mean it when I say I delight in my children. I have big dreams for my future, but I do not doubt that what I'm doing right now as a mom is the epitome of whatever career or ministry I may have someday. I definitely haven't always felt this way, but some wise counsel from experienced mothers as well as some growing up on my own part has helped me see just how beautiful this season of life is. Hopefully this serves as an encouragement to other moms (and dads!) of little ones! (And please know I write this on a particularly rough day when I definitely wouldn't win any Mommy Awards today, and I'm not exactly cheerful about my mundane right now.)
1) Stop pining for when things "get back to normal."
I remember asking a mom of 6 when she started being able to sleep through the night, and she said "I haven't! But that's okay!" and I really believed her. I realized that I need to have better dreams for my life than the day when I can feel relieved from the burdens of children.
When onlookers see me fruitlessly trying to comfort a baby in the grocery store, they often try to comfort me with "You'll miss these days when she's a teenager!" or "You'll blink and he'll be off to college." That's not really helpful to me because a) It really doesn't feel like time is going quickly at all, especially since I keep having more kids, and b) Parenting gets harder than this? Sometimes I just feel like I would be the happiest person in the world if I could get my old life back!
But who says "my old life" was a better life? This is my new normal and it's not the worst thing in the world to be stripped of my selfishness. Being less selfish actually makes me more of a happy person, so if a baby is forcing me out of reliance on sleep and binge-watching freedoms, that's not necessarily a bad thing at all.
2) Find parenting to be exponentially meaningful.
Oftentimes we don't ask ourselves "What is the point of parenting?" or "Why even have kids?" How we answer that question will definitely shape how we parent our children, and a lot of times our reasons for wanting kids are self-serving and superficial, so no wonder our parenting---especially on the difficult days!---can feel pointless!
Look beyond the two little faces staring at you, asking for juice. Think about how they're going to grow up and probably have kids of their own someday. Though we shouldn't expect our children to turn out a certain way or believe what we believe, we can trust that our efforts at shaping our children will have a real impact, not just on them but on the generations to come. Cultural decline happens in large part---and I'd say primarily---by haphazard parenting. What I'm doing as a mom is huge. I need to see past all the education/career/travel opportunities I might be missing and realize how important my job is. Especially as a Christian with the reality of eternity in mind, I consider my ministry as a mom enormous since I'm literally making disciples all day long for 18+ years. (I expounded on this here!)
3) ...But don't look to your kids for your joy and meaning.
When I hear moms say "My kids are my whole world!", it warms my heart, but I also wonder, "What about on the days when they are really difficult?" Then your whole world comes crashing down and it's their fault. That's not fair to you or to them. (Really, it's idolatry. And I struggle with this big-time when it comes to my husband.)
God made us not because He was lonely but because He was overflowing with joy in Himself and wanted to welcome us into it. I desire to be so overflowing with joy in God that having kids is all about welcoming them into my joy. If I rely on my kids to find my meaning and purpose in life, they'll only let me down...and my response will probably be ugly. (Read more about this in my recent post!)
4) Strive for the "large family dynamic" of selflessness even if you don't have or want a large family.
I love spending time with big families. Sure, just because a family is large doesn't mean it's a good family, and I'm aware of the huge flaws in some of the primary big-family "movements", but the large families I've had the privilege of knowing are amazing, and no matter how many kids I end up raising, I want the kind of dynamic they have. When I would visit my former neighbors, the Reysens, all the kids would come sit around the table to talk with me---six of them, ages 5 through 18---and their love for each other, for their parents, for me, and for all the neighbors just blew me away. And I would look at their mom and she would just glow. They were all used to being selfless in their day-to-day, and, again, selflessness tends to make people happier.
It's good for kids to know that the world doesn't revolve around them. (It's good for us grown-ups to know that too!) When I'm trying to figure out what to buy my kid or what expectations of me that I'll let my kids develop, I try to ask myself, "Would this be sustainable if our family was larger?" and that's helped me make a lot of wiser decisions.
5) Remember that parenting isn't supposed to be impossible (or expensive.)
Many times I've had the thought, "How have so many people had kids when they're so stinking hard to deal with!?" But then I would remember that people have been having kids for a really long time, and other than recently in America, nobody had food pouches or fancy strollers or noise machines. Now that I have an idea of what parenting is actually like, I love going to Buy Buy Baby and laughing to myself about how parents don't actually need 98% of the "must-have" gear. Of course carseats are imperative and some little gadgets can be really helpful, but it's helpful to remember that parents have been making it work with far fewer resources and conveniences. I could get into a bit of a crunchy-mama/trust-your-body/baby-wearing/breastfeeding rant here, but suffice to say that God equips us for parenting.
I think another forgotten God-given gift for parenting is the glory of discipline. I used to get so frustrated that baby Stephen kept throwing food from his high chair. One day Peter reminded me that I don't have to let him do that; we let Stephen know our expectations, we disciplined him when he disobeyed, and eventually Stephen not only stopped throwing food from the high chair but he learned a little bit more that the world doesn't revolve around him. There have been dozens or hundreds of other situations like that with both kids when I realized I could either let them rule the world and drive me crazy, or I could remind them that they are not in charge and everybody will be way happier. "Good parents" who never discipline their kids also tend to be the parents who find themselves screaming at their kids or quietly feeling embittered towards their children because they can't handle the pressure.
We can stop believing the lie that parenting either has to be miserable or fluffy-lovey-dovey. Parenting can be real, but really good. And a lot of it has to do with us and what we're expecting to get out of our kids.
Now go kiss your babies! :)
I’ve seen some terrible maternity shirts, but in my opinion the worst—yes, even more terrible than the sonogram picture with the baby making an obscene gesture—would be the shirt that has “All I wanted was a backrub!” in bold letters across the front. This mom is making plain to the world that the baby she’s carrying was an accident and she’s trying to make the most of it. Possibly even more infuriating is when I hear adoptive parents say, “Yeah, we wanted kids of our own, but that didn’t work out, so we went the adoption route.” They view their children as a clearly inferior plan B.
Even if we wouldn’t flaunt our feelings to the world like that, many (or most) of us might somewhat feel the same way about our own kids. By harboring those feelings, we are at risk of---on some level---emotionally orphaning our kids…and, if we’re Christians, we might be showing them a really terrible picture of the gospel.
James 1:18 says “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures” (emphasis mine.) I often think that God is dragging His heels to respond to me. When I mess up, I sometimes feel like it was a mistake, some kind of divine oversight, that I’m one of His children at all. Our spiritual conception as children of God was no accident or Plan B to Him; He actually initiated our salvation “of His own will.”
How is God able to do this? Have you ever thought about the fact that He has been faithful to consistently rebellious and straying people for thousands of years? It’s no small feat that “His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5), especially when we consider our own frail love and how even just a couple years of keeping the marriage commitment feels like an enormous accomplishment.
Maybe one of the reasons we get so upset with our kids is because they’re not giving us what we want. Our souls might be vehemently craving well-behaved kids, or smarter/more talented kids, or kids that look and act like everybody else,…or we might continually be finding ourselves in fond remembrance of days without kids altogether, longing for when they’ll be out of the house and we can have our old lives back. All we can think about is what we deserve that our kids are preventing.
Though it’s good to face our feelings, and totally normal to cry sad tears when you find out your life isn't going to turn out how you always dreamed, we must make an effort to truly want our children for who they are. By doing this we can not only communicate to them the tremendous love of the Father, but experience His love on a deeper level ourselves. Psalm 103:13-14 says, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” He is even more aware of our weakness than we are, but His mercy is enough.
God is able to love us freely because He is self-sufficient. I’ve read and been confused by all kinds of heady theological speculations about “intertrinitarian love”, but the Bible gives enough insight into the perfect union of the Trinity that all believers can be encouraged. Jesus gives us a glimpse in John 17:24: “You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” In Isaiah 42:1, God says of Jesus, “Behold My servant, whom I uphold, my Chosen, in whom My soul delights.” Psalm 16:11 says “in Your presence is fullness of joy.” In John 17:5 Jesus prays, “And now, Father, glorify me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
So Jesus, being eternally in the presence of the Father and the Spirit, truly knows “the fullness of joy.” God was completely joyful in Himself before He even made anything; this dispels the origins-of-the-universe reasoning that “God was lonely, so He made people.” So calling a people to be His own, putting Jesus on the cross and bringing Him back to life, giving us the Holy Spirit and welcoming us into His glorious plan for the universe---it’s all just grace and He can give freely because He isn’t bound by anything.
It's changed my life to realize that this self-sufficiency of God frees Him up to love me whether I’ve been good or not. And I, by finding all my sufficiency in God, am freed up to love others. This can change every aspect of my life, and I've seen it change how I feel about my kids. Indeed, two out of three of my pregnancies have been “surprises”, and I’d be lying if I said I never cried sad tears about what my 20’s could’ve been like if I wasn’t a mom. However, the reason my husband and I have been open to children in the first place is because our lives are overflowing with so much love for Jesus that we want to welcome others into it. When I view parenting in that way, I find my children as a delight more than a disappointment.
If we don’t expect our kids to be filling any gaps in our lives, we truly don’t love them less when they’re not what we dreamed they’d be. Elevating something above its proper place will lead to disappointment, every time, and—if gone unchecked—it destroys us, every time. Idolatry 101, and it can lead to child abuse. So we must be careful when we find our minds wandering to baby-free dreams or if-my-child-was-different fantasies. If we find our satisfaction in Jesus, we are liberated to make our children feel truly wanted because we love them, not because we need anything from them. Welcome your children into your joy!
Photo by Kim S on Flickr
For the past couple months I've been developing a curriculum to teach my 3-year-old, Stephen, about topics more interesting and meaningful than typical preschool stuff, and it's been going REALLY well.
We've learned about pioneers, the Kosovo War, lion pride dynamics, the President's roles, how to read a weather radar, gender inequality, and tons more. Most importantly, we've learned how all these things relate to us, and usually we can find ways that our new knowledge can propel us to action.
My husband thought it could be a helpful resource to other parents and caregivers, so I'm gradually putting the PDF's and supplemental activity ideas here on my website (for free of course!)
They're really simple to execute, and though I had preschool-age in mind, I think all children would benefit from learning about history, science, mechanics, anthropology, etc. on their own level. It's been a rich time of growth for everybody and this curriculum is one of my main tools for showing my kids how to live and think rightly (if you think that's brainwashing, remember that ALL parents use their own worldviews to teach their children.)
You can see instructions and check out the curricula here!
I hope to add 10 new lessons each month. I went to great lengths to make sure all the images I used were legal either under Creative Commons licensing or original sketches by my friend Renee.
I hope you enjoy and it's meaningful for you and your family!
Last night I finished reading Dispatches from the Front by Tim Keesee, and it was incredible.
On the Lifeway blog, writer Gloria Furman recommends Dispatches from the Front as one of the top 5 books moms should read. When I saw that, it struck me that, of all the books out there, she suggests that mothers make it a priority to read a travelogue, so---especially since I so enjoy the DVD series---I put this book on the top of my reading list and had no problem blazing through it. Tim Keesee writes poetically, accessibly, and most importantly worshipfully, so every page was a joy.
Dispatches from the Front follows Tim Keesee’s journeys over what I’m assuming is a span of several years as he checks in with various Christians around the globe. I have heard about and totally idealized believers and workers in far-off lands, but this book really helped me see what things are actually like over there. He gives insightful glimpses into cultures and histories about which I previously had no clue. It was incredible to read about what Christians are like in Russia, India, China, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan. The Church is so different in all those places, but in the most important ways the Church is also the same and shepherded by the same glorious Jesus who shepherds us here. Believers in almost every chapter are being persecuted on some level and all have endured much hardship, but through reading these stories I learned that that’s just the Christian life! Jesus told us that in this world we will have troubles, but we can take heart because He has overcome the world.
I saw Christ’s overcoming of the world in this book. I saw powerful men working tremendous evil, but story after story it became so plain that Christ and His church are more powerful. I was reminded often of John 18:36, when Jesus answered to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Church buildings are being destroyed, lives are being ruthlessly taken, but the Christians are doing something far more revolutionary than fighting back: they are trusting their sovereign Lord and bringing the gospel to their oppressors…and the Holy Spirit’s power is prevailing against the strongest guns and most brutal threats.
As I say all this I realize that I tend to romanticize God’s work overseas, and I’m certain my husband has been thinking “Oh great, this book is the last thing Hope needs to read,” since he has to listen to my whining about living in rotten ol’ America when we could surely have a more fulfilling life serving God elsewhere. But actually, reading about God’s grace and power in hard places all over the world has given me contentment and mobilized me for where I am. For one thing, I saw that many Christians overseas are seeing the Lord’s mighty power to save, but most of their lives are even more mundane than mine, and they’re just doing hard work, being faithful, and loving Jesus. Secondly, I noticed over and over again that these Christians pray a lot. Maybe I’m not seeing God radically save my friends and family because I’m not really asking Him.
My favorite DVD in the series and possibly my favorite chapter in this book is the one that follows the life and daily work of David Hosaflook, who has been faithfully serving in Albania for many years. He has made disciples who have made disciples who are making disciples, which is extremely awe-inducing to see, but his formula for planting churches is totally simple: pray, meet people, tell them about Jesus. And on the DVD and in the book you see prayer happening all the time. God loves to answer prayer and show His might through our dependency on Him. I am blown away by His power, greatness, and love, and I am stirred more than ever to pray, meet people, tell them about Jesus, and see the Holy Spirit do works that no human striving could ever accomplish!
I can't recommend this book (or the DVD series) enough! I definitely plan on reading it again next year and there's a hefty chance I'll make it an annual priority.
God is mighty to save!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today