Tuesday, August 15, 2017

More on Fitz. At First Baptist.

I recently wrote a blog post about something that happened to me at First Baptist Church in Laurel, MD. If interested, you can read that post here.

I want to follow up and say this:

Please, for the safety of your children and even your own privacy, be aware that no one there seems to think it's bad that Fitz is not uncomfortable being alone in a ladies room with a woman he does not know.

I was called out over this. I was told I "treated him like trash" and am "hurting the church" by speaking out about this.

Every single decent man in my life has said they would be embarrassed to find they had walked in on a woman in a ladies room. Every single decent man in my life has said they would very quickly leave the room if they walked in on a woman....that it would make them uncomfortable and they would feel terrible.

Did you catch that?

They would leave.....very quickly.....
They would be uncomfortable....
They would feel terrible.....

Not Fitz. He was not a bit uncomfortable.
He didn't feel terrible.
He felt victimized, telling others I "treated him like trash."

He stayed.

I left.

I left while a man stayed in the ladies room.
Doesn't that seem odd and not quite right to you?

He expressed ZERO embarrassment.
He had ZERO discomfort.

He literally stood there, smirking at me.
I had to walk within six inches of him in order to get out....he was blocking the door....he would not move....he stood there smirking.
And, apparently, "I'm hurting the church" to speak up about this.
Nah, the church doesn't need my help; they are hurting themselves just fine.
A "church" that further victimizes a victim while touting the Gospel has missed the Gospel message altogether.

Is he going to walk in on you .......or your daughter...... next?


Thursday, July 13, 2017

It was Fitz. At First Baptist.

It was February, 2014, and I was in the ladies room at First Baptist Church of Laurel, MD. My sons were taking karate classes at the church and, as I often did, I drove them to class and took a scrapbooking project to work on while they had class for two hours.

I was having a great time and I was also drinking ice water. After a while, the ladies room beckoned and I went around the corner and entered the ladies room. While I was in the stall.....you know.....I heard the main door to the ladies room open and close. I thought, of course, that another lady had come in to use the facilities.

Imagine my complete shock to open the partially-private stall door to find a man standing there looking at me with a smirk on his face! Immediately, I said, "Get out of here! This is a ladies room! Why didn't you knock to see if it was occupied?"

He said, "I don't knock. I ain't gonna knock. I got work to do."

I said, "Get out of here!"

He would not move. He was blocking the door; I could not get out. He stood his ground.

I said, "You can't just come in here at will and clean unless you know the room is empty!"

He said, "I do what I want. I got work to do. I ain't got time to do no knocking."

And he stood there, looking at me with a smirk on his face. I got bold. I walked over to him, passed within six inches of him in order to leave and did not take my eyes off him the entire time. He continued to smirk.

I was shaken. I was embarrassed. I was upset. I went to the security person on duty and told them what happened. That person didn't know what to do, so they called the building supervisor. I could hear her on his phone. When he told her what I had told him, she said, "Oh, that doesn't sound like Fitz."

So, Fitz was his name. I had not known that.

The security guard was flustered and didn't know what to do and I heard him tell the building supervisor, "She's right here...." as if to tell her I could hear their exchange. He hung up and shrugged at me. I told him I was going to call the senior pastor. He said the senior pastor was on the premises, in a deacon's meeting.

"Perfect," I said. His eyes widened in response. "Yes, please let him know I need to talk to him after his meeting."

Then I called my husband and told him what was going on. He was livid and was glad I was going to talk to the senior pastor.

When I told the senior pastor what happened, he was at first shocked and compassionate. Then, after assuring me their system of checking to make sure no one was in the ladies room would be revisited and they would stop this from happening again, he shook his head and said, "This just does not sound like Fitz!"

I was shocked he would say that to me. I looked at him and said, "But it was Fitz. He did this."

He replied, "I hear what you're saying, but it just does not sound like him."

And that's where he left it.

The church trustees met and put a protective practice in place. From now on, I was told, Fitz would have to have the security person with him, knock on the ladies room door, wait for an answer, slightly open the door, yell to see if anyone was in there.....and only if they were sure no one was inside they could proceed to enter and clean.

I observed this - they did it a total of one time.

After the one time they did it, I returned the next week to observe Fitz enter the ladies room with a small knock as he entered. He was back at it. I informed the security person and they said the trustees were handling the issue.

I did talk to a trustee. I was told, "Well, we discussed it and determined that it all happened so fast that no one really knows what happened."

I said, "I know what happened! I was there! No trustee discussed this with me so how was this determined without talking to the people involved?"

"Listen, we have all known Fitz a very long time and he's worked at the church for a long time."

And that was that. I stopped using the ladies room at First Baptist and we removed our membership. I still go to First Baptist's building from time to time as my sons still take karate there.....they are adults now and take themselves to and from.

I see Fitz from time to time when I'm there for tournaments or occasionally to meet a friend.....
and he smirks at me every time he sees me.

I fell into the trap.....I didn't voice this incident until now. I didn't voice it when church leadership minimized things and did not treat Fitz as the threat he is. Life got difficult....my husband got cancer....we had to move several times....I dealt with it by leaving the church and warning a few other moms whose kids go to karate. But, I should have done this a lot sooner. Now that my husband no longer has cancer and we are settled into a home we bought, I've finally found the where-with-all in myself to tell this story and name names.

Beware of Fitz at First Baptist in Laurel. He is not a member. He is hired help who is working unsupervised many evenings throughout the week. I have never seen anyone supervise him. He saunters through the building, entering the various ladies rooms at will with no knocking, no warning and no apology when he happens upon someone using the facilities.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Lie Your Church is Telling You

Some men are finally waking up to the fact that women have more to offer than coffee and casseroles and they are beginning to advocate for women in the church. It's about time. Don't get me wrong, I think men who advocate for women are great and I would never try to discourage such action.

But I recently realized King Lemuel's mother - of Proverbs 31 - needed no advocate.

King Lemuel's identity is debated in theological circles. Some believe Lemuel is another name Solomon was known by. Others believe he was King of Massa and still others believe he was not a real person at all. While the debate over who he was goes on, I want to focus on his mother.

Proverbs 31 starts out with "The sayings of King Lemuel.....an oracle his mother taught him..."

Some versions say "a prophecy his mother taught him..."
Some versions say, "an inspired utterance his mother taught him...."

Oh, my. A woman, inspired? Oh, God, what were you thinking?

I digress.

King Lemuel's mother taught him. This is huge. These are not the oracles of his father. This is not a father/son bonding moment which all fathers need so they can teach their sons the things of God. This is not a time when a father "stepped up" and took the reigns and taught his son because only fathers can teach sons properly and men need their father to teach them.


His mother taught him.

And it was powerful.

And it was enough.

And King Lemuel was not the only one whose mother was their main influence/instructor. Paul praised Timothy's mother and grandmother - by name - in 2 Timothy 1:5...."I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well."

The lie in the church is that fathers and sons have to have a deeper, better relationship than fathers and daughters. This is a lie. Sons are not more important than daughters. Fathers are not more important than mothers. Ideally, a family has both a mom and a dad, but that is not always the case, nor is it always possible.

Don't be fooled by the lies that your family will be less than what God wants it to be unless the father steps up in the way dictated by those who promote patriarchy. If you're a single mom, don't think for a minute that you aren't enough. Don't think for a minute that your son or daughter won't "turn out as good" without a father. It is God who works in them.

I recently read a blog post from the "Desiring God" (as if anyone does) blog of John Piper's group and I was shocked that the blog post actually said that women whose fathers don't step up and get involved in even "dating" their daughter's boyfriend, are leaving their daughter "emotionally and spiritually uncovered."

Huh? What is that? What does that even mean? Is not Christ enough, even for a daughter? Surely if a woman is going to be enough, by God's design, to teach a son like King Lemuel, she is enough. God is enough for a young girl even if she has a desire to get married. And He's enough if she decides not to ever marry....and it's no tragedy for her to make that decision. This article hinted at being single as a tragedy. Their teachings that women need a "spiritual and emotional covering" is akin to Sharia Law and has no business in Christian circles. God says there is no distinction between male and female in Galatians 3:28. We are all one in Christ.

I recently heard a preacher exalt the relationship between fathers and sons while minimizing the father/daughter relationship. He said dads are the ones who teach sons to be good dads, so a dad's relationship with a son is more important, more vital. That preacher needs to put his opinion back in the opinion box because that is simply not true.

To put it another way, that teaching is false. Just look at King Lemuel. Look at Timothy.

God is not limited by man's ideas of what is good and what people think things, even families, should look like. God will raise up who He wants to raise up, with or without a father.

Do not underestimate the influence of a mother in her son's life. King Lemuel was not afraid, ashamed or embarrassed to give his mother the credit for all she taught him. He did not mention his father even once.

And get this....listen carefully....not one verse in Scripture talks about a father exclusively teaching a son. Not one. Many verses talk about mothers teaching sons, but not one talks about how a father, exclusively should - or even did - teach a son.

Deuteronomy 6:7 talks about teaching God's statutes diligently to our children, but does not single out fathers and sons.

Deuteronomy 11:19 also talks about teaching our children, but, again, does not single out fathers and sons.

Proverbs 1:8 says, "My son, hear the instruction of your father and do not forsake your mother's teaching," putting the teachings of mothers and fathers on an equal plane.

Proverbs 6:20 says, "Son, keep your father's commands and forsake not the law of your mother," putting the teachings of fathers and mothers on an equal plane.

Proverbs 31:1 says, "The words of King Lemuel, the inspired words of his mother..." exalting the teachings of his mother above all else.

My husband and I reared our eight children together. He did not treat our sons any differently than he treated our daughters....and neither did I. We taught them all that they are not entitled....that no one owes them anything....that they have to earn their way....that their love for God and relationship with Him is the most important thing in their life....the list could go on. But, we taught them together. My word as their mom was (and is) still as much "law" in their lives as their dad's word. We are fortunate to have lived long enough to raise all our kids, but, had one of us died young, the other would have continued teaching the kids the things of God without missing a beat.

That is what is important......teaching the things of God.....not the things people think of God, but what the Bible actually says, without speculation and without adding to it.

Do not fall for the lie that tells you sons are more important than daughters. This lie will destroy your family and you won't see it coming.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Why ABWE Needs to Shut Down

My husband and I have been silenced about abuse. When we lived in MN and my husband tried to get the state Baptist Fellowship to even be aware of Gordon Larson's inappropriate relationships with other women, he was ridiculed, silenced and shamed. No one would listen. Now, Gordon Larson, a former pastor of a GARBC church, is now serving a life sentence in the WI State Prison for sexually abusing his own daughter.

And we tried to warn them.

And they would not listen.

And many are not listening when it comes to ABWE. Many of us have tried and tried to ask some important questions of ABWE and its missionaries, to no avail. They simply won't answer us.

Two days ago, Kathryn Joyce published an article in the New Republic Magazine that blew ABWE's continued wrong attitude wide open again. Yet, I doubt anyone who works with ABWE will care. In this article, there are so many good quotes, but the one standing out in my mind is:

The group’s current president, Al Cockrell, responded to questions by issuing a statement. He suggested that PII’s report may include unspecified “misinterpretations or errors,” 

It did go on to say, 

but acknowledged that it contains “absolute facts” showing that “past ABWE leadership failed to act with integrity and accountability in our handling of abuse perpetrated by Don Ketcham,” and “utterly failed in our response to his victims.”

Let me tell you what's wrong with this statement. First of all, Al Cockrell makes sure to cast doubt on the victims by saying that the Pii Report "may include unspecified 'misinterpretations or errors,'" but he does not clarify what those "misinterpretations or errors" are or even could be. This leaves the reader to reach their own conclusion...this opens the door to doubt about the victims' accounts of what happened. To make an open-ended statement that in any way casts doubt on the victims, or even leaves room for doubt, is irresponsible "leadership." 

The article also states that Al Cockrell acknowledged that the report contains "absolute facts" but he does not specify what facts are absolute! Again, this leaves room for doubt.

How can ABWE think that someone who would be so careless be considered a viable leader of an organization supposedly representing the Living God? 

The fact that Al Cockrell said "past ABWE leadership failed to act with integrity and accountability in our handling of abuse perpetrated by Donn Ketcham" is easy to say because he's flinging blame behind himself to the past, not onto himself and what he has done/said and is doing now., which is casting doubt. What he's doing now is irresponsible, not showing accountability and not giving these victims their due respect. 

Casting doubt on them in any way, shape or form undoes what ABWE thinks they accomplished in their faux apologies and efforts to "make things right."

I am sickened by this latest display of dishonor by ABWE.

There is so much more I want to address from this article.


Friday, June 16, 2017

The Best Marriage Advice You'll Never Get

Lysa Terkeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries, announced this week that due to her husband's repeated unfaithfulness, substance abuse and refusal to turn from his sinful lifestyle, she's divorcing him. One blogger commented that Satan is out to destroy Christian marriages. I have news for that blogger: Satan didn't take Lysa's marriage down, this is a misconception. 

Man sins when he is lured by his own lust and enticed, according to James 1:14. Satan had nothing to do with this and has nothing to do with your marriage or anyone else's, either. It's easy to blame Satan for our own sin. Her husband's unfaithfulness and substance abuse brought her marriage down - pure and simple - not Satan. Don't be fooled by this humanistic reasoning or your marriage will be more vulnerable than you think. The only marriage advice you will ever, ever need is summed up in 2 commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself." That's it. That's all. Nothing more. No "love language," no romantic getaways, no couple's retreats.....just those 2 commandments and nothing more. Think of the impact. 

My qualifications to say this: Married 38 years this August and we raised 8 kids together. We didn't go to one married couple's retreat or any other so-called marriage-enhancing endeavor. We could not afford to because it's crazy expensive to raise 8 kids. For 31 of our 38 years we were in full-time Christian ministry as he pastored three different churches and planted three others. We've seen it all. 

But, no, this was not Satan. What I say to anyone who is afraid for their marriage after reading this about Lysa is, there is no Biblical formula for a successful marriage. All the books are wrong; learn that now. Save your money. There is God. He, alone, is the only One Who offers any hope at all in today's world of sin and despair. Leave your husband alone and cling to the Savior. I repeat: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Only then will your marriage have a shot.

This sure-fire marriage advice is rarely put out there as marriage advice, but it's the best. It's absolutely all you need. It's not popular because the Book for it has already been written and no one is going to make money from this advice. 

Stop fearing for your marriage and love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Stop reading books on marriage and love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Stop being petty with your spouse and love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Stop stressing over your marriage and love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Stop taking everything your husband says personally and love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.

If your husband is cheating on you and/or abusing you or using drugs and alcohol, love the Lord your God enough to dump the jerk and treat yourself like a true Daughter of Abraham who does not have to tolerate abuse or unfaithfulness in any way, shape or form, and keep loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Patriarchy Promotes Idol Worship

This blog's title is a bold statement. I've thought this for a very long time but didn't have the courage to write it down, let alone publish the idea in a blog post.

But, I realized I have to. I am overwhelmed by the number of marriages in trouble because of patriarchy. It simply doesn't work. It doesn't work because it is man's design, not God's. It doesn't work because it puts men before God. This is idol worship. Anything that comes between you and your Savior is an idol, even if it's your husband. If a wife stops or even pauses or slows her pursuit of Jesus because she's looking for her husband's input or waiting for his "approval" of her pursuit, she's making her husband an idol.

Patriarchy promotes idol worship by believing and teaching that a married woman must filter her Christian walk, experience and relationship with God through her husband. This is not a good practice. God is a personal Savior. He is an individual Savior. This goes contrary to the teachings of patriarchy. Who God is goes contrary to what patriarchy teaches. Here are a few specifics:

Teachings of patriarchy support a "priesthood" of fathers, putting a wife under an earthly priest. This is widely supported by many "fundamental" churches, but it is wrong because:

The Bible teaches the priesthood of all believers. 1 Peter 2:5 says, "You also, as living stones, are built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

This verse is not written to men only. Women are also built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood. Let no one take this away from you. You are a priest who has direct access to the Most High God. Supporters of patriarchy will tell you otherwise. They will openly teach that your husband has actual responsibility for your spiritual walk. This contradicts Scripture.

The Bible teaches that we are each individually responsible for the "working out of our own salvation." Philippians 2:12 proclaims, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Again, God did not write a separate command for women; He's talking to us all, female and male, young and old, rich and poor.....everyone is to work out their own salvation. "Working out our own salvation" does not mean we work for our salvation, it means we work out what it looks like in our individual lives. Again, there is not a separate entry for women; we are all one in Christ.

The Bible teaches that there is one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. I Timothy 2:5 states, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus;"

The Bible is so clear on these points and their contexts bear it out. However, those who believe in and teach patriarchy have to compromise these verses to fit their narrative. Any time we compromise God's Word to fit our own narrative, we are rewriting God's Word to suit ourselves. If we rewrite God's Word to suit ourselves, we are creating a man-made version of the Word, and this is bad.

Know that God's Word will never contradict Itself. 

If one passage of Scripture seems to contradict another, one of them is being misinterpreted.

Finally, Galatians 3:28 sums it all up with, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  

Don't let your husband become an idol. Pursue Jesus, with or without Him. If he does not pursue Jesus as strongly as you, leave him in the dust and pursue Jesus alone. Ideally, couples will pursue Him together, but each of us still has a personal responsibility to pursue Him ourselves, waiting on no one.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hey, Church Ladies....You've been Duped!

For the entirety of my Christian walk, from the very start when I was 18 years old and first heard the Gospel of Christ, I was taught that my "role" as a woman was to be a wife and mother, to be submissive, quiet, humble and never be argumentative.

But, that was never "me" as a personality. I was always bold, extroverted, anything but quiet and would argue my point with anyone who would listen. I would listen to people teach about the supposed quiet, godly woman and I would literally think I would never be anything close to godly because I saw no hope of being quiet, submissive and humble.

Being quiet and submissive had only led to trouble in my life. Being bold and speaking out - loudly - was survival for me as a kid. I had to have a voice and it had to be loud at times and it served me well against my violent, alcoholic father who seemed bent on destruction at every turn. It also served me well when interacting with my 7 siblings because I learned early on that if I didn't speak up, and loudly, I might just go hungry. If I wasn't bold and unafraid to step up, I could be left out in the cold, literally sometimes. So, imagine my distress when I found out, through different Christian people, that my very personality was an affront to God, Himself. My first question was, "Why did He make me this way if it's the wrong way to be?"

I had some learning to do, so I began to read God's Word and observe Christian women who held themselves up as "godly." A problem quickly arose. The women I observed were contradicting certain parts of the Bible, sinning in many ways, yet still calling themselves godly. And they weren't submissive at all. They talked the submissive talk, but they did not practice what they preached. While they taught submission, they berated their husbands, belittled them and rolled their eyes, publicly, at things their husbands said and did. This was very confusing to me. I had to find out what God really wanted me to be.

First, I stopped listening to those women, then I began to look to God, alone, through His Word.

Enter Proverbs 31. There are no commands in Proverbs 31. There are no formulas, schedules or how-to instructions. What we have is a beautiful description of a virtuous woman. The words of King Lemuel's mother; her description of a virtuous woman.

Apparently, King Lemuel's mother was very influential in his life. He not only repeated her words, he gave her the credit.I know modern men who don't give their mothers or wives credit for anything, but they take the credit, then minimize it if the one who deserves the credit speaks up about it. King Lemuel was humble, among his other positive traits.

Back to Proverbs 31. For the first 9 verses, she gives him very sound advice, with reasoning thrown in. She encourages him to avoid alcohol so that his judgment will not be clouded and he will not lose sight of the people under oppression. She encourages him to be their voice, to "plead the cause of the poor and needy." Clearly, she was compassionate. She goes into a lengthy description of a woman admired, trusted and virtuous.

Even if you break this down into a simple list, you can clearly see that the virtuous woman was anything but quiet and submissive. She is described as strong and honorable. She is not described as quiet and submissive. It seems that everything all those Christian women told me in the past was wrong. The virtuous woman is the very opposite of what they told me. I was duped! You were duped!

I was told the husband was to be the provider, but verse 15 tells me she provides food for her household. It doesn't say "prepares," it says "provides."

I was told the husband was to make the main decisions in a family (although we never practiced this). Verse 16 tells me she buys real estate based on her own judgment, then after making a profit, she uses that profit to plant a vineyard. Her husband is not mentioned at all...she's making all these decisions herself, without even consulting him, apparently. The Bible says "she," not "they." So much for the husband having the "final say." Also, verse 24 tells me she makes linen garments and sells them and provides sashes for the merchants. Again, this decision is hers, alone. This action is hers, alone.

I was told that wives should stay home and only manage the household, but in verse 14, I see the virtuous woman traveling the world to bring home the best she can find for her family. This is another huge contradiction.

In summary, I don't see a quiet, submissive woman living in the shadow of a husband, waiting on him to make decisions for her or her family. I see a strong, determined, intelligent, hard-working woman living her life and doing what she wants to do with love, compassion and confidence. She made the deals with the merchants. She bought the real estate. She planted the vineyard. She ran the household and her international businesses at the same time. She used her own discernment to decide if a piece of real estate or some merchandise was good. She depended on no one else.

Why, then, do churches teach young women to be quiet and submissive? Shouldn't we be teaching them to be strong, decisive, determined and smart? Shouldn't we be teaching them to get out there and do what they want/can to provide for and enrich their families? The Proverbs 31 woman was not afraid of winter because she took care of her family and servants and knew they would be fine. She saw to this herself, she waited for no one.

Her husband did not supervise her life, did not provide approval or guidance or leadership in any way. He was busy with other businessmen as they all did their own business.

She is described as strong, or having strength at least 3 times in 21 verses. We need to stop telling young wives to be quiet and submissive and start telling them to be strong and decisive.....if we want to teach them to be virtuous women. We need to stop telling young men that they are the "leaders" and, therefore, their wives have to submit to them in ways that the Bible never teaches and never intended. The way it's taught in most churches now is wrong.....it's twisted and has been twisted for decades.

Verse 26 tells me she opens her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness. "She opens her mouth....." She's not afraid to speak up to teach with wisdom and she does it with kindness....but she opens her mouth.

Another interesting thing about the virtuous woman is that her husband is never described as "needy." I see women teaching other women that their husband has "needs" (usually a focus on sexual) and she's to meet those "needs" no matter how she feels about it in any given moment.  The virtuous woman's husband is focused on his work and what he needs to do; he's not focused on sex or on making sure his wife is submissive. These two each live their lives with a focus on others, on doing their jobs, taking care of family and business with complete confidence in each other to make their own decisions and do their own business.

Oh, could that be it? Could that be what marriage should look like? Instead of a husband focusing on sex and submission and a wife focusing on making sure she's quiet and submissive, maybe married couples should focus on God, who He made them to be, opportunities He gave them and the best way to use their gifts without holding back. Maybe, just maybe, this is what we need to teach young people and young couples. Strength, not submission, should be a godly wife's story. Surely compassion is up there with strength. Look and see for yourself.

Maybe if those self-proclaimed "godly" women in my life who were gossiping about their husbands and sneering behind their backs could have done better if they were honest with themselves and stopped trying to be "quiet and submissive" and were bold and strong instead. Maybe there would have been no need for the ever-evident resentment their actions so loudly displayed.