Monday, December 19, 2016

HOPE for Michelle Obama (And you, too!)

If you listen to any news reports at all, you've no doubt heard that last week, Michelle Obama said, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, "We are feeling what not having hope feels like."

I thought that was a very sad comment from someone who has just had the rare privilege of living in The White House for the past eight years. How can she be without hope? How can she think there is no hope? Why is her hope gone? Because her preferred candidate didn't win The White House?

If that is what we base our hope on, we are all without hope. We do not, however, place our hope in any man or woman who occupies The White House.

Last night, my fabulous hubby took us to a concert in downtown Baltimore. Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Jordan Smith all sang and entertained us royally and it was wonderful. Jordan Smith sang, "All is Well," and received a standing ovation. I leaned over to my husband and said, "Take that, Michelle Obama!" I didn't mean it in a mean way.....

The lyrics to the chorus say it all.

All is well all is well
Lift up your voice and sing
Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior
Sing Alleluia
Sing Alleluia
All is well

There is hope for everyone on this planet. There is hope.
Emmanuel has come.
This is the only reason anyone can ever have hope.
No matter who sits in The White House, Emmanuel has come and there is hope.
I'm sad for Michelle Obama. She needs to know Emmanuel so she can have hope.
She needs the hope that doesn't make anyone ashamed.

All is well.
Emmanuel has come.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Is Your Church a Cult? (Or do You Just Act Like One?)

I just finished reading Beyond Belief: My Secret Life inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige and Lisa Pulitzer. I have to say, this one kept me awake for a while after I finished it the other night. What an amazing story! Certain things struck me about this story in surprising ways.

I don't know any Scientologists personally, but I am aware of some of the teachings of Scientology. In that way, much of what the book's authors wrote about did not surprise me. What surprised me was my realization that some practices within Scientology are very similar to what I see in other churches...... not just churches that are considered cults. I'm talking about mainstream evangelical churches. The teachings of the Church of Scientology are indisputably false, wracked with bizarre doctrines which can only be maintained through brainwashing. The teachings are not the main issue in my opinion; I think most Bible-teaching churches would not consider them a threat to true doctrine.. Their methods, however, are startlingly familiar.

Their methods are eerily similar to what I see in the vast majority of evangelical churches. Some methods used to keep Scientologists in line are guilt, forced confessions, manipulation, suppression, oppression, peer pressure, peer watching (people telling on each other), submission, rank, shame, control, misuse of perceived authority, uneven balance of power within genders, etc. There are more.

I find these methods frighteningly similar to practices I see in fundamental, evangelical churches. I see pastors trying to motivate the people through guilt. I see people being suppressed in the name of God. I see a clone-like attitude permeating the church, disallowing for individuality. This is highly evident in larger groups like the Quiverful movement where the girls all have the same hair (long and wavy) and wear dresses or skirts no matter what activity they're doing, etc. They all look and act the same. This is not producing disciples, this is producing clones.

I've seen deacons act as though they have authority over people's lives and pull rank. I've heard church ladies try to put people to shame, as though being motivated by shame would be a good thing.
I've seen, and experienced, oppression within the church repeatedly. People stalked our lives when we lived in a parsonage in Minnesota. We had very little privacy. I caught people going through our mail more than once. One man went through garbage I had tossed out and gave things from it to other people.

So, when I read similar things in this book, I had to come face to face with the abuse we suffered all over again. I have not healed but am on the road to healing. And who would have thought that some of my healing would come through the exposure of abuse in a cult I am not associated with?

In addition to reading this book, I've been watching Leah Remini's documentary series on Scientology, learning why she and others left. This week's episode featured one of the highest ranking members, Mike Rinder, who left after 46 years with the Church of Scientology. His story is remarkable. He's regularly stalked, even now. Church members placed cameras near his home, one hidden in a bird house in his neighborhood, to monitor his activity. They stole his garbage, paying a garbage man to do so. They followed him to the doctor when he took his wife and disrupted her appointment.

It all sounded so familiar to me - because we lived it - in a Baptist church! They stalked us, several openly admitting it right to our faces, but not as a confession, oh, no. They admitted it because they were proud of it and they continued doing it even after admitting to it. A man took some garbage I had thrown away and gave it to another man in the church. No one apologized for this; they acted as though they were justified to go through my garbage. Who does that?

We began to talk to previous pastors of the church. (We had tried to talk to the most recent, but he would not tell us anything.) One had died, but we talked to his wife. She told us how they were stalked. Before the parsonage was built, they were followed home by several church members on a regular basis. They were later told they were followed because people wanted to make sure they went home and not to visit other members, which they thought would mean they were showing them favor.

This same previous pastor's wife told me, "They are watching. They are always watching. Hang out your undies to give them something to talk about!" I was stunned, even though we both laughed. My laugh was uneasy, nervous. Apparently, according to these previous pastors and their wives, this stalking had been going on for decades.

Just as it is with the leadership of Scientology, it wasn't enough for us to leave; they followed us to the east coast when we moved on. They used family members to find out where we were, which church we had moved east to help and where we lived. They involved other family members, people who had never even one time been involved in any of our ministries, to call church leadership in our new state and slander my husband with unfounded accusations he was not guilty of. But, they were guilty of them all! This action could have left us homeless, but, even though we parted ways with the pastor of that church over doctrine, he did not believe the slander, to his credit, and showed us all their communication. It was unsettling.

And they wondered why we blocked them all on social media. One said, "Me? They blocked me? Me, of all people?" Yes. You.

While we still keep these members and their associates blocked on social media, they have, fortunately done themselves in. Their church imploded, leaving them with less than 30 people and they were subsequently absorbed (not merged) with another church in town....a church they detested....a church whose members they freely gossiped about for the seven years we were there. Suddenly, they were best friends. This is what defines caustic relationships. They mutually use one another for gain and approval, then discard one another when they are finished. Then, a few years later, they use them again, feigning friendship. This is a destructive cycle. They should know this now since it destroyed their church, but they do not. They continue feigning friendship with people they told us they "couldn't stand," "don't trust," "would never work with," "think are horrible," and who they "detest."

But, wait, there's more. While all this was going on, just a few short months before we packed up and moved east, God did a most wonderful thing. While these members and their leaders were passing around the caustic poison, fueling each other with gossip and pretenses of godliness and talking out of both sides of their mouths, God planted three real churches.....real, as in the people in these churches really love Jesus, really minister to their community, really preach the full counsel of God. Three new churches. The one in that same town is now an independent, thriving work, no longer a mission work. My husband was honored to preach there at their first service four years ago. God turned the curse into blessing. This is the God we serve.

The leaders of Scientology have no Redeemer to save them from themselves. They have no whispering Holy Spirit telling them they are wrong, to make things right, to look to the Savior. This explains why they have to resort to manipulation, abuse and guilt to accomplish their plan. But, what about so-called evangelical churches? Most of them would say they are Bible-preaching, yet they use guilt, abuse and manipulation to try to control people, much like Scientology does. How can it be that the same tactics used by a totally ungodly organization can be the same ones used by a church filled with people professing Christ?

Could it be that their profession of Christ is their real problem?
Could it be that they don't know the Savior at all, so they have to resort to abuse, guilt, manipulation and other sorts of control tactics?
Could it be that they're only giving lip service to the One, True God?

If your church uses guilt, manipulation and other control tactics, look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith and have nothing to do with such a church. I would go so far as to say if your church leadership resorts to any "tactic" whatsoever, they are leading the congregation in the wrong direction. Do not follow such leadership. Do not stay in or support such a church. The Holy Spirit needs no tactics to accomplish His will within His church. Resist tactics.

If your church resembles a cult, you need a new church.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Story of Freedom Hill

We have named our new house Freedom Hill. Our home is located at the top of one of the biggest hills in our town, the views are fabulous, so I knew the name should contain Hill in some form or another. I didn't want to call it Johnson Hill because it didn't seem unique enough.

My youngest son suggested Freedom Hill and gave his reasons. Our house represents freedom to us in many ways. We voted on the name last night at dinner and it was unanimous.

The first reason we love the name Freedom Hill is, we live in the greatest country with the world's greatest freedoms.

Second, it's not a parsonage. We lived in a parsonage for 8 years before buying a house in NY. Fortunately for us, our family outgrew the 4-bedroom parsonage the church in NY had provided, so we were able to buy a gorgeous 6-bedroom house there. We lived in that house for 10 years, but moved to MN where we were, once again, required to live in a parsonage. It was not our choice; we were not given a choice. That proved to be the most difficult of all our parsonage experiences (we'd lived in one for 3 years in PA). Turns out many of the church members stalked the parsonage there and while the house was situated in a quiet neighborhood, we had very little privacy.

Being stalked is difficult, invasive and oppressive. There were times we would return from a vacation and within 5 minutes, people from the church would be on our doorstep, wanting to talk or visit. It felt weird, did they know we were home? One man told us that he drives by the parsonage every day to check and see what was going on. Um....our lives were going on....

In our NY parsonage, people did sometimes walk into the parsonage without knocking, which I found completely unacceptable. That stopped when we bought our house. But, when it also happened in MN, I was nearly undone. I walked into my kitchen one day to find a man from the church standing over our counter, looking through some papers we'd left there! Imagine! He was going through our mail. I very quickly took care of whatever business he had with us and ushered him out the door.

When our ministry at the MN church ended due to severe persecution, we found ourselves homeless. After all, we lived in a parsonage.....leave the church, leave your home. Looking to move back to the east to be near more of our older kids, we finally found temporary housing in MD in the form of a parsonage. We agreed to help the church there in exchange for using the house on a temporary basis, but soon found that we were incompatible with the senior pastor. We are deeply committed to expository preaching, but his preaching (and life practices) were far from proper or acceptable.

We soon found a gorgeous house in the woods and felt a real sense of relief. The house was not a parsonage, but a rental. The owner lived 200 yards away, but trees blocked their house. The owner's husband did like to stalk the house some, but we were overall happy there and settled in. My husband had found a job within 3 days of arriving in MD and we were now searching for a church home.

We lived in that house in the woods for 18 months and had no intention of leaving until we were ready to buy. God does not promise us an easy ride through this life, however, and while we were feeling more and more settled, we got bad news upon bad news. My husband was suddenly hospitalized with severe back pain and subsequently diagnosed with cancer. The day after he got out of the hospital, the landlords called and said they were selling the house and gave us 30 days to move. Shocked, we asked for 60 days and told them about his cancer. They said ok to 60, but sent a letter which said to be out in 30 days.

David was having chemo and all its glorious side effects, so I was basically on my own to find a house. We were able to find another rental that was suitable, but we wanted to buy. There wasn't time; we had just 30 days to move.

After being in the 2nd rental for 9 months, we had 2 electrical fires. Because the electrician was not going to fix the problem (only patch), we didn't feel safe and started an aggressive house hunt to find a house we could buy.

Just as all this was happening, my hubby got a call out of the blue from a recruiter telling him he'd be perfect for a job he was recruiting for. David had not circulated his pastoral resume and had no intention of doing so. (That's another story entirely.) The recruiter had done his homework on David well (through LinkedIn) and he was perfectly suited to the job; he was hired. It's an executive position and provides well, which put us in a position to buy a house. You can read about our harrowing house hunt here.

God is good. We bought this gorgeous 7-bedroom, 3200 square foot house on a hill and have now named it Freedom Hill. It has a few quirks (we have to remodel the kitchen, it needs a new laundry room and the a/c is insufficient since they built an addition so a couple bedrooms have window units for now), but we love it and it's OURS!

No one is stalking us.
No one can call us up and tell us we have to move in 30 days.
We will not be having any electrical fires since #1, the house is properly wired and #2, my hubby knows how to fix all that and would do it right if it needed it.
Biggest perk of all, it's OURS, not a parsonage.

So, maybe, if you read to the end of this, you can understand why the name Freedom Hill is so special and important to us.

I am happy that I will never have to live in a parsonage again. If your pastor lives in a parsonage, encourage them to buy their own home and put that parsonage up for sale.
Churches need to get out of the parsonage business.

From Freedom Hill,

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Book Review (Gotta Be a Boy!)

I just finished reading Jenny Nordburg's The Underground Girls of Kabul: In search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan. I found this book to be riveting, educational and astounding.

To think that many Afghan families, the father included, encourage and even insist on bacha posh for some of their daughters is to rethink everything I've ever heard about Afghanistan. Bacha posh is the practice of girls in a family being raised as boys, right down to how they dress and cut their hair. Most who practice bacha posh "turn back into a girl" at puberty......but, curiously, not all do.

In their culture, it's an absolute tragedy for an Afghan family to be made up only of girls. When there are only girls, one of those girls has to become a boy. So, the family either raises her as a boy right at birth, or turns her into a boy at some point in her childhood. One girl went to school her first 2 years as a girl, then returned her 3rd year as boy. One parent explained, "We have no sons," and that was all the explanation the teacher needed. If you have no sons, make your daughter into a son. This is an acceptable solution. Since daughters are so dreaded and every family has to have a son, turning a daughter into a son is a reasonable solution and very widely accepted throughout Afghanistan.

Girls in Afghanistan can't go outside without a male escort, even as children. If a young girl is playing outside with a brother close by, though, it's ok. If she has to walk to school (if she gets to go to school), she can do so with a brother. She cannot walk alone and it's not enough to walk with a sister. For a family of girls to have any chance of a future at all, at least one of those girls has to pass herself off as a boy.

There are many rules for girls and women in Afghanistan. All these rules are made and reinforced by men. However, some women also uphold and enforce the rules. The author points out that a society is not truly oppressed until they oppress one another. Women who have capitulated to the rules, for any reason (even forced), oppress other women in an effort to force them to also capitulate to the rules. There are very few rules for boys and men in Afghanistan. Those who make the rules are rarely held to the rules.

Interestingly, some fathers want their daughters to get an education, have a career and even serve in government offices. These fathers are also beaten down by the culture and, to a large extent, not able to help their daughters accomplish these goals.

This seems like patriarchy in the extreme. This seems like behavior we would never see in the west or in western culture. But, sadly, we do see similar behaviors in the west, of all places, in the church.

I'm not talking about some segments of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practice polygamy and oppression of women more openly. I'm talking about the average fundamental, evangelical church in America and the places these American churches have sent missionaries. The vast majority of these churches teach and practice oppression of women.

This oppressive culture, mentioned in the Pii Report done on ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism) after Donn Ketcham's pedophile acts, and subsequent cover ups, were revealed, and continues to be present in churches and evangelical organizations. Women continue to be sidelined. False interpretations of Scripture continue to be prominent and misused in an attempt to intimidate women, often causing them to doubt their own relationship with God.

Do you have any idea how far this oppression goes? Look around you. It's highly likely a woman or girl was assaulted or abused in your church - recently. Those of us who work with these women are aware of how frequent this is. Their pastors generally live in a state of ignorance or denial, thinking it can't happen in his church.

It's happening.
Patriarchy is the crux of the problem.
Rid your church of patriarchy and you will rid yourself of much of the abuse.

What's happening in Afghanistan with bacha posh is not as far-fetched as you might think. Did you know that J.K.Rowling used her initials for her name because she's a woman and her publisher didn't think people would buy such a book from a woman? Yes, look it up; it's true. So, here we have a modern, European woman pretending to be a man, or at least veiling the fact that she's a woman, in order to accomplish something women are not "permitted" to accomplish by cultural standards.

And some people, evangelical pastors especially, think there's no problem at all.
Their ignorance is blinding to me.

Photo courtesy of Imagebase.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Hats Off to These Millennials!

My son goes to the local community college near our town. During the election, he got into a couple discussions with his fellow students. My son is the only one who defended Donald Trump in their discussions.

I was a little nervous for him to go back to class on Wednesday morning this week because, seeing so much hate on the news and internet, I wondered to myself if he would face harsh language or treatment for his defense of President-Elect Trump.

When he got to class, his fellow students, instead of showing hatred and intolerance for him, congratulated him on "his" candidate winning. He, in turn, told them Hillary Clinton had put up a good fight.

They were decent to each other, listened to each other with intent to understand and continue to study together, helping each other further their educations.

Not all millennials are rioting. Not all millennials are whining. Not all millennials are intolerant.

What we see in the news are some spoiled millennials, but they do not represent the millennials I know. They don't represent my kids.....all 8 of whom are tolerant, kind and non-destructive in the face of disappointment. Not all 8 of my kids agree with my political positions, either, nor do they all vote the way I vote.

So, take heart! Hats off to these millennials in my son's class who are mature and have shown respect.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Polls, The Truth and the Shock

I sat in amazement as the media grew more and more shocked at the election last night. The journalists and advisers, the pollsters and commentators were nearly all shocked at the direction the election went last night.

I was not.

My husband and I have had an ongoing discussion about the election. He would cite the polls and tell me how they favored Hillary Clinton; I would cite Facebook live results, which differed greatly from the polls.

He would say that the polls were usually right, were scientifically conducted and had proven themselves over time. I would respond with how Facebook live was made up of real people in real time and they were leaning heavily toward Trump.

My Facebook "polling" was unscientific, but I think the pollsters should take a look at this. Whenever Donald Trump was on Facebook live, there were literally tens of thousands likes and hearts displayed and very few angry faces.

But, when Hillary was live on Facebook, I saw tens of thousands of angry faces and very few likes or hearts.

Facebook represents real people in real time, expressing their feelings on the spot. Seeing Facebook results showed that Donald Trump was going to win.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Big Decision

I'm waiting for the "big decision" that my husband has to make in which he has to override everyone else in the family and have the final say.

I frequently get warned about the "big decision" that some people believe is inevitable. When talking with Christian people about marriage, some people believe the husband, as "leader" of the family, will ultimately have to make some big decision that the wife will have to submit to and this will fulfill their "God-given roles" in marriage.

In 37 years of marriage while raising 8 kids, we have never, ever come across the scenario of the "big decision." 

Oh, we've made plenty of big decisions over the years, but we've made them together. If we disagreed over the decision, it was tabled until we could agree. Not once did my husband bring down the hammer and decide we are going to do something I was against.

Because I waited for the big decision and it never came, I have a few thoughts on the subject. Our marriage is one of teamwork and we are co-leaders within our family. Co-leadership is how we formed our family and how we raised 8 kids. I never used the "wait till your father gets home" mentality on my kids because they knew I have as much authority as their dad.

When we were first married, I didn't know I was a full partner in the relationship, so I would sometimes wait to talk to him before I made even small decisions for myself. I was very insecure and the teachings of our church at the time reinforced that. My husband would have none of it, however. He would respond with, "Why are you asking me?" I had no reply for that. I had no idea why I was asking him. I quickly realized that I did not have to give up personal decision making when I got married. I learned what submission is not.

Most people who argue for the big decision do so because they view it as an act of leadership. Even if the husband was the sole leader of the family, what kind of leadership would it be if he could (and did) trump every decision for the entire family for all time? That would not be leadership, that would be dictatorship and dictatorship is not what God has called husbands to. Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. How did Christ love the church? By sacrificing everything. Everything. He sacrificed everything and set her free.

Many teach that the male leadership in a family is introduced and confirmed in Genesis 3:16, which reads, "Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."  They teach this as God's ideal....that Genesis 3:16 is God's ideal. Is it? How could it be? God created an ideal world - the Garden of Eden - then humans brought sin into it and God punished all involved, the serpent, the woman and the man, He cursed the ground and kicked them out of the Garden of Eden.

This is not ideal. When God told Eve that her husband would rule over her, it was not a command to Adam. It was a prediction, a result of sin. A husband ruling over a wife is a result of sin, not a standard God set up to meet. It is not a goal. God was speaking directly to Eve. At no time did He tell Adam to rule over her; He warned her that he would rule over her; that is not a command for her to submit to any type of rule. Some men even take this so far as to think all men are to rule over all women. This quickly became a cultural norm across the planet and women have had to fight for even basic rights even in developed countries. In the USA, women had to fight to vote less than 100 years ago. Many of the women who fought for the right to vote were arrested, punished and some even killed.

However, how far did Christ's work on the cross go? Did he eradicate the curse? Certainly there are still thorns in the ground, yet we have highly effective ways to get rid of them. Certainly many people still till the ground to grow food, but farmers in developing countries have air conditioned tractors, so are not working by the sweat of their brow as much. And farmers are few and far between in developed countries; most people work in climate controlled buildings. Even childbirth is far less painful than it used to be; drugs are a wonder. (This one I know from experience...I've given birth to 8 people, some of them completely pain-free.)

While there is no command for husbands to rule over wives, there is a command for husbands to love their wives as sacrificially as Christ loves the church. This is the goal; this is the command. Those who tout "ruling over" as the goal via Genesis 3:16 are wrong. They are not teaching what the Bible teaches; they are teaching the traditions of men. Do not listen to them. The Garden of Eden was God's ideal. Mankind ruined it by bringing sin into it. God gave us a way to escape, however, and this should be our focus. Men who are focused on the Savior are not preoccupied with submission, rulership and other things that distract from the gospel.

Wives, there is no "big decision" where your husband has to trump everyone else in the family, including you, to show his manliness or perceived headship. Jesus was the ultimate example of submission. He submitted Himself to death....even the death of the cross.....for us. He did not hesitate to listen to, appoint and call women to do His work when He walked this earth. When you find a man who is willing to submit to sacrificing all for you, you have found a real man.

Real men don't tout "headship" or "leadership" in their marriage relationship. Real men sacrifice every single thing for their wives. Everything.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bad Girls, Bad Boys. Wait...What?

I recently read this article, Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys, and I have to say, I totally disagree with this author....and from a Christian standpoint.

Here are some specifics:

1. The parents claim to have raised their son "in a good home." What does that mean? It doesn't mean a home without sin because all people are sinners. It might mean a home that does not participate in worldly activities, but who defines a worldly activity? When it comes to our homes, we have to remember that all our righteousness is as filthy rags, so a "good home" is not enough. A gospel-centered home is enough, however, because when we remember our daily need for the gospel of Christ and live as though it's relevant, we will be humbled enough to realize that it's the gospel that saves our kids, not a "good home." There is no such thing as a good home. There is none good, no not one.

2. The parents gave a 13-year-old boy - boy - a cell phone and only monitored it occasionally. I don't care how mature you think your 13-year-old is, they are not mature enough to have a cell phone without strict, very strict, limits. It's troubling to me to think a kid needs a phone at all.

3. There has been no shift in our culture. Teen girls have pursued teen boys for centuries, they simply hid it better. It was easier for parents to bury their heads in the sand about it because it wasn't on display on social media until more recent years. Now, parents can't hide from it and tell themselves only "bad" girls are so bold, so they decide there had to be shift in culture.

4. There is no "bad girl problem" because all girls are bad girls and all boys are bad boys because all people are sinners. A girl who gossips but keeps her purity is not better than a girl who is promiscuous. A boy who shoplifts but keeps his purity is not better than a boy who loses his virginity at 13. A girl who cheats on her homework but is a virgin is not better than a girl who is endlessly flirtatious. All girls are sinners in need of the Savior. All boys are sinners in need of the Savior. Your "good home" can't save them, and won't save them. Jesus Christ is the only One Who can transform their lives. It's not about being "good."

5. There is no more time. The parents in the article "thought they had more time." Time for what? This one baffles me the most. After their son fell into sexual sin, they put limits and restrictions on him. What did they do before? He was 13, yet he had a private room, downstairs, away from the rest of the family. He had a rarely-monitored cell phone. He had a Facebook page. He was set up for failure. Of course, he lost all that, and is being kept busy with sports and school so he has no "idle" time. Don't kid yourself, he does not need "idle" time in order to sin. (Neither do you; neither do I.) He's got this; he can sin while doing sports or homework or any other thing we think will distract him. Distractions won't work. He needs Jesus. Only Jesus can save him from his sin. What did the parents do about his lying? The article doesn't mention any consequences of lying, only consequences of his sexual sin.

6. These parents would be wise to not treat this particular sin in such a special way. We cannot emphasize sexual sin as worse than other sins. All sin is bad. All sin affects us for the rest of our lives. Sexual sins can have lasting consequences such as pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, so that should be taught, but we can't lift sexual sin above other sins and treat it as though it's the ultimate sin.

7. God will certainly use this for good in that young man's life. He has promised, so He will. That young man has an uphill battle going on, though, and his parents would be wise to fall on Jesus about it, not on some Biblical principle their church or a counselor gave them. This article is a near-perfect example of Secular Humanism and how and why it does not work to save our kids.

8. Why did their son's sin take them by surprise? They said they were "dropped in the middle of a mine field" when their son's sin came to light. As parents, we have to remember that our kids are sinners and that means they are going to sin. Sexual sins. Lying. Cheating. Gossiping, Manipulating. Showing disrespect. Mouthing off. Violent outbursts. You name it; they are going to do it, or at least try to. Do we put our heads in the sand, thinking it's inevitable? No, of course not, but we need to treat all sin as sin. It all sent Jesus to the cross, not just sexual sin. When we emphasize sexual sin as worse than other sins, we're drawing undue attention to that sin, singling it out, making it special, creating more curiosity about it than about other sins. Even the fact that this kid initially lied about his sin when it came to light, continuing to try to cover it up, shows where his heart is. A confession made after being caught does not make for a contrite heart. This kid needs Jesus.

9. Remember the they "raised Josh in a good home," and taught him "Biblical principles" to live by. How has that turned out? Biblical principles couldn't save him, either.

Throw away your "Biblical principles" and throw yourself, and your family, on the mercy of an Almighty God Who has already overcome the world. Think of it! He has already overcome the world and its pits of sin. God is not surprised by our sin. He knew we could not "be good."  He knew we were doomed if we had to depend on ourselves. So, He sent Jesus, conquered sin once and for all and gave us the opportunity to live forever.

"Look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith." Hebrews 12;2. There is no hope in any other place. There is no hope in any other person. Stop treating some sins as good sins and others as bad sins and realize they are all covered by Amazing Grace.

This can save even you.

Monday, September 26, 2016

8 Ways Church Leaders Can Learn to Take No for an Answer

Julia* was overwhelmed at home. She works a full-time job, then cares for her ailing father once home. She also has a husband, kids and grandkids. Julia loves the Lord Jesus Christ and has served in her church in different capacities for decades. But, right now, she's just too overwhelmed to do many of the things she has done in the past.

It was with great sorrow that Julia declined an invitation from the Children's Ministry Pastor to help with the children's ministry for the upcoming year. She just knew she couldn't do it. Her father was getting worse and was nearly to the point where he couldn't be left alone. She didn't give the pastor all her reasons; he was new and she didn't know him well. She simply said, "I'm sorry, but I really can't right now."

She thought that was enough, but the pastor was not satisfied. He went on to tell her how important the children's ministry was, how she was losing an opportunity to make a difference in their lives, how she was making it more difficult to fill teaching roles, etc. He had a whole list of reasons why her decision to sit out this session was wrong. He attempted to make her feel guilty, which he hoped would make her change her mind.

Julia was not untouched by his reasons and he ended up pleading, but she knew her situation and stuck to her decision, much to his dismay.

The Pastor of Children's Ministry needs to learn to take "No" for an answer.
Here are 8 things that might help him or her in this situation:

1. "No." is a complete sentence. 

2. A person saying "No" does not have to give an explanation. They might give one, but he or she cannot demand or require one. An explanation is a courtesy, not a requirement. It might be hard for someone to give an explanation. When we approach people for ministry opportunities, we need to respect their situation and realize we don't know everything about them.

3. Guilt should not be a reason for someone to work in any ministry. Do we really want teachers who are only there because they feel guilty? I don't.

4. Realize that people know their lives and limitations better than you. Julia knew every aspect of her life and what prevented her from being able to commit to a teaching role at the time. Since he was new, the pastor did not know her at all. He had no idea what she was facing and taking care of. He needed a teacher and since she had taught in the past, he thought she should be teaching again. He made no attempt to get to know her, either. He needed a teacher; that's all that mattered to him.

5. Arguing with someone who has already said, "No" is spiritual abuse. No need to really elaborate on this one. No means no.

6. Use prayer, not tactics. Instead of using guilt-inducing tactics, use prayer to guide you to people you should recruit for ministry. Early in our ministry, Christy*, a grandmother who had raised several children, came to me and said, "Do not ever put me in the nursery. I am not interested in serving in there at all." So, we didn't put her in the nursery. Many of us moms took turns and, as the church grew, we did ask several others to help out, but we did not ask Christy. My husband and I prayed for her. One day, out of the blue, she came to me and said, "You might as well put me on the nursery schedule." The church had grown, the nursery was bursting at its seams and she saw the need. Christy ended up being in the nursery for the next 12 years, every Sunday during the Sunday School hour. She read to the kids and they all loved her and looked forward to their time with her. Her ministry was Christ-born, not guilt-born, and it was a powerful, long-lasting ministry of which she did not grow weary. Even when some of us tried to give her a break, she would have none of it.

7. Accept "No" as if from God, not from the person saying "No." We tend to think we can convince people to do what we think we need them to do because we've seen a need and think they can fulfill that need. Perhaps their "No" is given as from the Lord. Perhaps the Lord is keeping a ministry open for just the right person to step into. When one person has to say, "No," it paves the way for another person to step up. You, as a leader, don't get to decide who that person is.

8. "No" does not have to be repeated. Once a person says, "No" we are free to move on. They do not have to repeat themselves. A teen was asked to perform a piano solo in a Christmas program, but she felt shy and intimidated and was not really ready to perform in public. The program chairwoman would not take "No" for an answer and kept hounding the teen. After five different conversations, the teen went to her mother in tears, causing the mother to have to confront the situation and stand up for the daughter. The program chairwoman was irate when the mother reminded her that her daughter had already said "No" five times. The chairwoman said, "I needed her to say 'No' one more time!"  then hang up on the mother. Um, no. No one, especially in Christian ministry, should have to say "No" more than once. This woman was requiring this teen to say "No" six times!

Imagine the abuse that could be stopped if leaders learned to take "No" for an answer.

I'm sure you can think of more things that will help leaders learn to take "No" for an answer. If you're a leader in your local church, learn to take "No" for an answer.

Your ministry will be better for it.Your ministry might thrive.

*Real people, not their real names.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

How to Make Me Stop Blogging about ABWE

Abuse is never isolated. If someone abuses one person, they will likely abuse another. No pedophile has been found to have only one victim. There are always multiple victims. Some of those victims are too hurt to tell anyone about the abuse. Other victims wait until a good number of other victims have spoken out, then they find strength to do the same. Others are first to speak out and pave the way for more.

Because victimization is so personal, each victim has to find their own way and work in whatever time frame they can in their process of healing.

Because many of us know this, either through surviving victimization ourselves or by working with those who are healing, we know that each victim takes their own, very private, very personalized path to healing. But, we also know that many need a boost. They need an outlet for their voice. They need a safe place to voice their experience.

That's why my blogging about ABWE continues, and will continue. We, my husband and I, have received many messages from people who want to tell their stories but are still too afraid to be known by name.

Victimization can take different formats. While the direct victims of Donn Ketcham's pedophilia are dealing with healing from sexual abuse, there are other victims, too.

There's the ABWE missionary on another field who saw the way ABWE handled Donn Ketcham's abuse in 1989 and realized they were handling "problems" and "potential problems" on other fields in the same, wrong way and he spoke up. And ABWE administration told him to "Shut up" about these problems.....and he did.....and he carried the weight of this alone....and he had a heart attack.

Another hard-working missionary realized he could not stay with ABWE in good conscience not only because it was his friend and co-laborer who was hushed, but he also saw how wrong they were, so he actually left ABWE. His conscience could not allow him to continue. He could not work with a mission board that was covering up sin on "various mission fields." The problems were not isolated to Bangladesh. They were/are widespread. They continue. I wonder how long before victims from other mission fields will come forward.

The culture of abuse within ABWE has to be recognized before any real changes are going to take place. Some current ABWE missionaries are treating this like it needs to go away now. They are weary of the continuation of blogs like this one and comments on Facebook groups and other social media sites.

I'll tell you what. Just as soon as we stop getting private messages from various victims and just as soon as those victims are properly vindicated and just as soon as ABWE recognizes the culture of abuse they continue to operate in and fix it to our satisfaction, we will stop. Until then, I will blog in hopes of giving more and more victims the courage to come forward and break out of their silence.

To the victims: You are not alone. We are praying for you. We are here for you. We are aware of your pain. You are the reason I'm blogging and continuing to speak out against abuse. Your private messages are empowering.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Oops! They Did it Again! (Not ABWE......But...)

Again, just like ABWE (The Association of Baptist for World Evangelism, the abuse report found here), a Baptist organization,  this time a church, has violated a young girl and tried to make her apologize to the youth pastor's wife for what they call "her part" in the act of her youth pastor raping her.

Read the article here.

Sound familiar? Following the same path as ABWE, decades later, Columbia Road Baptist Church in North Olmsted, Ohio, not only turned a blind eye to a youth pastor who was exhibiting pedophile-consistent behavior, but they enabled him to do more and more. This horrific rape of this young girl could have been prevented. According to the article, the youth pastor, Brian Mitchell, started out by "constantly texting" this young girl and "complaining about his wife." When church officials found out about the texts, they "temporarily stopped," but picked up again and Mitchell's behavior escalated into full-blown rape.

I wonder if any of those "church officials" are women.

And now, church officials want that abused young girl to apologize to Mitchell's wife.

She could say, "I'm sorry your husband is a rapist."
She could say, "I'm sorry you go to a church that not only enabled a pedophile to serve as a pastor, but tries to take his victim down with him."

I have one word for Columbia Road Baptist Church in North Olmsted, Ohio: ICHABOD

Surely the glory of the Lord has departed.

The writer of the article I linked above, Stephen D. Foster, Jr., said, "Quite frankly, I think the church should be slapped with a lawsuit for not reporting Mitchell's harassment of the teen in the first place." I totally agree.

What does this have to do with ABWE? A lot. ABWE followed that same pattern and are following it to a degree even now. Yes, even now. I know people who are trying to get answers from ABWE and they have been ignored again and again. Some of us who want answers to some valid, hard questions, were told to "go to the town hall meetings in MI." Trouble is, not everyone with questions can travel. Why can't they just answer our questions? Why can they only answer questions in Michigan?

They are done. ABWE and its currently serving missionaries seem to think it's a done deal and that we should move on and support them as we always have. Huh? Uh, no. I, personally, will no longer support any missionary who serves with ABWE. They not only circled their wagons, they've shut out anyone who does not serve their purpose, and their purpose is not the gospel of Christ. Their purpose is to look out for the organization.

As for Brian Mitchell, I'm so, so glad he's in prison now, sentenced to 10 years. I will be praying for his victim(s) and her family.

It's not too late for Donn Ketcham to go to prison.

Shame on ABWE for not answering questions.

Look around your church. How many young girls are being harassed? How many have been raped by church leadership? It's more than you think.

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT the Brian Mitchell, a BBC grad who is programming pastor at Spring Creek Church near Milwaukee, WI. Please do not confuse the two.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review - black and white bible, black and blue wife by Ruth Tucker

I recently bought and read Ruth Tucker's book, black and white bible, black and blue wife. This book is a valuable tool in the fight against domestic violence and abuse in marriages, especially within the church. This candid account of a pastor's wife who was beaten and abused by her pastor-husband gives vivid insight into the trap of domestic violence and the role ministry can play.

One thing that resonated with me was that Ruth found her hope through her own, personal study of the Scriptures. I personally think this is the one key to all Christian growth, but I meet Christian wives who actually stunt their own spiritual growth, or allow it to be stunted by their husbands. This has to stop. We women need to pursue Jesus as individuals, not as a wives, not through our husbands and not allow our personal, spiritual growth to be slowed or stunted by anyone.

I highly recommend this book. I think pastors need to read it so they will know what not to do when they find out about abuse in their church. If a pastor thinks this does not happen among his members, he is sorely mistaken. It's more common than most people realize.

We can stop the cycle of abuse. This book can help by opening our eyes to the abuse often going on all around us. I admire Ruth's courage in writing this and am aware of the pain it must have caused to "relive" these events through writing.

This epidemic of abuse has to matter to all Christians. In light of the abuse recently revealed about Donn Ketcham and ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism), we can't keep our heads in the ground like ostriches and insulate ourselves from the effects of abuse. We can't declare that "it doesn't edify me" and ignore what our fellow Christians are enduring. Abuse edifies no one, but if Christian leaders dismiss it because they, personally, aren't "edified," they really don't belong in Christian leadership. Compassion hurts; it made Jesus weep. Where is it these days? 

Click here to buy Ruth's book and prepare to have your mind and your heart opened.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

By Request: More on the Culture of Abuse within ABWE

I have been asked to comment on the steps ABWE has taken since the Pii Report came out.

I was told they have made changes.....specifically, 1) they have put a child safety officer in the home office, 2) they now offer training both in the home office and on the field for child abuse recognition and reporting, 3) both missionaries and churches are being invited to "town hall" meetings in MI to answer questions about the Pii Report and 4) survivors of Donn Ketcham's and ABWE's abuse are receiving counseling at the expense of ABWE.

These 4 things might appear to be a good start, but they are certainly not enough. At least one victim has said they are glad to see ABWE "moving in the right direction." However, understand that even if they are moving in the right direction, they are far from being completely changed as an organization.

1. They need to recognize that they are operating within a culture of abuse, not just dealing with one sinful man and a host of enablers. Donn Ketcham is an evil man, no doubt, but he relished in the glory poured out on him by ABWE. Throughout the Pii Report, notes of concern and abuse acknowledgements were often followed by awards and gratitude doled out by ABWE onto Donn Ketcham. So, even though there were reports of abuse back to the 1960's and others on the field knew about these reports, Donn Ketcham continued to receive praise and accolades while his victims cowered in fear and disgust.

This present and ongoing culture evidences itself within the language used by those associated with ABWE. They frequently call each other and their leadership "godly" people. I have seen this phrase used as a way to attempt to silence many who have tried to speak out against ABWE. The label silences by making people feel that, since they are "godly," it's wrong to question them or anything they do or say. It's as though they are the "appointed godly ones" so they get to determine who is godly and who is not and they always choose themselves. This is humanism through and through. And it's not godly. Godly does not announce itself.

This practice is very common within cults and other organizations which are known for controlling their members. ABWE needs to stop this type of dialog, realize that any and all of them, at any time, could fall into sin at the drop of a hat and disqualify themselves in an instant.

Right now, communication with some within ABWE indicates they do not recognize their own culture of abuse, thus denying its existence. They don't believe a culture of abuse exists and some don't believe a culture of abuse ever existed. They are not recognizing the culture that allowed Donn Ketcham to practice pedophelia for decades. This means abuse will likely take place again.

2. They need to address all questions, not just ones at town hall meetings where participants are invited. I know several people who have tried to contact ABWE with questions about the Pii Report and those people have been ignored. Not everyone is able to travel to MI to be part of a town hall meeting. Not everyone is invited, yet we might sit in a church pew and listen to an ABWE missionary ask for our money. How can we give our money when you won't give us time of day? For people's attempts to contact ABWE to go unanswered is disturbing. I, personally, have been ignored by "leaders" within Baptist organizations and it's a terrible feeling. It's downright abusive; it feels like the "silent" treatment. This has no place in the Christian world.

3. Male dominance has to go. The Pii Report says the following:

How is ABWE working to correct this? Their board has 16 men and only 3 women. This has to change. What about having 10 women, 9 men and a female president? What about an all-female board and a female president? Are they willing to "go that far?" It would certainly show the victims that real change is possible and they are willing to make those changes. There is no shortage of qualified women and there never has been. 

There is no Christ-centered practice in the Bible wherein women are so minimized as they are in Baptist organizations. There is no biblical foundation for its practice in a Christian organization. Male dominance was not something Jesus practiced, condoned or promoted. In fact, He practiced the very opposite, appointing a woman as the first evangelist after appearing to Mary Magdalene following His resurrection, assigning a woman to tell of His coming in revealing Himself to the woman at the well and using Priscilla to teach Apollos. The list goes on and on. Our mission boards, churches and other organizations need to look less like Fundamentalist cults and more like Christ. (At least Warren Jeffs went to prison for his pedophelia....)

4. Transparency has to be evidenced. When people are ignored or referred elsewhere for answers by ABWE officials, that shows a lack of transparency. A lack of transparency shows fear. A showing of fear makes one wonder what they are afraid of. Hence, a lack of transparency fuels a lack of trust.

5. Defensiveness within ABWE has to go. In talking to a few ABWE missionaries and one ABWE missionary appointee, I sensed a defensiveness with some which I found disturbing. In a sense of repentance, there is no room for defensiveness. Defensiveness indicates an unwillingness to hear more and an unwillingness to answer further. Every person who has ever given even a dime to help support  any missionary who serves with ABWE deserves answers, not defensiveness. 

6. ABWE missionaries, leaders and even office workers need to realize that trust has to be earned. After all that has happened, people are not going to just trust them again because they claim to now be humble. Abuse survivors recognize humility and don't need to be told who is humble and who is not. ABWE needs to realize that earning trust takes time and during that time, if they are defensive, trust will take even longer to earn. If someone tells you they are humble, you know they are not. 

I have indicated to those within ABWE who I have talked to that I have read the Pii Report (twice and some parts of it three times), yet they nearly always invite me to read it as though they assume I have not. Each time I review a portion, frustration and anger are rekindled. ABWE needs to realize that the report is relatively new, this information is new to most who are reading it and those with a conscience who are reading it need time to process its contents. This process takes time. It will take a good amount of anger and frustration to work through it and these are proper responses. ABWE has to show humility by being transparent, fixing the imbalance of power as a male-dominant organization and, if they financially survive the massive lawsuit brewing in MI, to proceed with obvious humility that is shown and not announced. 

They also need to show patience for those who are processing the contents of the report. Many of these people gave a whole lot of money, thinking they were giving to further the gospel. They had no idea that some of their money would actually be used as "hush money" to quiet people who might talk about Donn Ketcham's horrible crimes, then later to pay counselors to help victims. (Donn Ketcham and his many enablers should be paying that bill.) Many people spent hours in prayer, trusting ABWE to hold the Word out to a lost world. All Donn Ketcham did was take their money and hold himself up as a "demi-god" to young, vulnerable children, then ABWE spit on the prayers by covering it up. 

Processing this takes time. 
This is the tip of the iceberg.
More to come,

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hush! Keep Quiet about ABWE!

In their book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen said,

"The difference between an abusive and non-abusive system is that while hurtful behaviors might happen in both, it is not permissible to talk about problems, hurts and abuses in the abusive system. Hence, there is no healing and restoration after the wound has occurred, and the victim is made to feel at fault for questioning or pointing out the problem." 

This statement is true and is showing itself within the Christian community concerning Donn Ketcham and ABWE. This speaks to the silencing of the victims right up to now with the attempted silencing of those of us who want ABWE to truly come clean and do the right thing.

It seems that some ABWE missionaries are towing a line of silence and attempting to hush those who would speak out - even now. They are accusing those who are speaking up of "caustic" speech and literally telling them to stop talking about ABWE. At least one of these missionaries has falsely represented the Pii Report and information contained within that report, claiming that nothing took place before the 1980s. Information from the Pii Report says differently:

A code of silence is part of the problem. WoodTV8 in Grand Rapids, MI, has helped some of Ketcham's and ABWE's victims have a voice and given them courage to speak up when previously they could not. They were silenced. They were ignored. They were hushed.

Unlike what some current ABWE missionaries are claiming, ABWE has not done everything they can do to help the victims. According to the Pii Report, they were withholding information and being non-cooperative even as close as one year ago. Where were they in the years the victims were silenced, at least one even with "hush money" and ignored? They only came clean when forced to and even then unwillingly. The victims, silenced for too long, finally found a voice through blogging, then ABWE could not ignore the blog.

ABWE and its sitting missionaries need to step up and invite people to talk about this, whether in chat groups online or blog posts. Instead, they are fighting the ones speaking up, then accusing them of causing division. They might tell you they invite people to talk to them - only them - about it, but people I know who tried to contact them received no response.

As for the accusation of "causing division," Donn Ketcham caused the first division by sexually abusing young girls. ABWE officials continued the division by kidnapping a young girl and carting her half-way around the world while coercing a forced "confession" out of her. They continued their drive of division by covering up their abuse and Ketcham's abuse and fighting the victims when they tried to have their voice.

If you are trying to hush those who are talking about this, you are part of the problem. Those of us who care about these victims will not hush and will continue to speak truth for their sakes.

Beware, you who try to silence the truth-tellers. You are revealing yourself to be on the abusive side. Take a step back and think again about trying silence anyone. This is America; we get to speak. We will speak. We will not be hushed.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

I Hope They Walk Away from "the Faith"

There has been much comment and even debate about the victims of Donn Ketcham, detailed somewhat here in an article and news piece by WoodTV8 in Grand Rapids, MI.

Debate? Why would there be debate? In several online discussions, the debate has been about Donn Ketcham's victims and how many turned away from God and "the faith" because of his abuse and ABWE's cover-up.

I would argue that their turning away from God and "the faith" is perfectly justified, if not desired. What they are turning away from is not the one true God or "the faith" at all. They are turning away from ABWE's god and Ketcham's god and "the faith" they portrayed, which is nothing more than faith in sinful man. They are turning away from a false representation of our real and loving God to a true understanding of what the God of the Bible is really about. And He is about justice and that is no small thing. He gave His only begotten Son to fulfill His mighty justice and Christians need to realize the sacrifice that involved and quit striving for easy forgiveness instead of justice.

They are turning away from "the faith" that demands they forgive before their souls can heal.
They are turning away from the false Bible teachings that ABWE practiced and followed which led them right to Ketcham's traps.
They are turning away from the lies that ABWE perpetuated for so many years.
They are turning away from the "hush money" that was given in exchange for a hope of silence.
They are turning away from "the faith" that ABWE used to justify their continued abuse of these girls and the unthinkable "confession" they forced from a young girl while kidnapping her half way around the world.

I hope they all give up all "the faith" that has led to this. The abusers - Ketcham and every single person involved with ABWE at the time - sat in their "holy" offices and medical facilities and not only took the innocence of these victims, but did it in the name of "the faith" and "god."

I don't see these people falling prostrate, willing to give it all up in order to help these victims. But, what did they do? They issued a carefully worded statement then shut the doors of communication. They have said nothing of this news report and Ketcham rudely shut his door in the reporter's face.

If I was a missionary with ABWE right in presently (note: I never would have been because they never would have had me because I question everything all the time and that is not tolerated), I would be frantically looking for a new mission board. I would refuse to be part of this shallow, inadequate response and distance myself as fast and as far as possible. I would be working to secure a retirement plan outside of ABWE, independently. If the law gets involved, as is likely in MI, ABWE won't stand a chance anyway. How many people are going to give their hard-earned money to pay legal fees instead of spread the gospel? People have already given money that was used as hush money. How many of God's real people are going to keep doing that?

No, ABWE, it's over. Pack it in; there is no return. You could have saved this, but it's too late now. The price is too high. You put a pedophile in the midst of a whole new set of victims when you refused to do the right thing in 1989 and now it's too late. As Ketcham showed in Bangladesh, pedophiles are never limited to one victim. There are more in MI, just as so many of us suspected when we heard this awful news in the first place several years ago. You, ABWE, are as guilty as Ketcham.

As for the victims, I hope they all abandon "the faith" and find the one true living God.  He is compassionate and full of grace for their hearts in an all-sufficient way that can heal. I hope they all walk away from Ketcham's and ABWE's "god" and see the true God of the Bible and His restful spirit waiting for them. He was never, ever part of any of their so-called "mission work" overseas. God was not there. It was all orchestrated by a sinful man, operating under a sinful board for sinful purposes.

People cite the "good" they say Ketcham did and the "good" ABWE has supposedly done over the years. But, they did no good. None. All their righteousness is as filthy rags. They did no good and they are not good.

Walk away, wounded ones, from this false teaching and "the faith" they scorn and find hope in our living, gracious God. And, for future reference, question everything. Out loud. Repeatedly. Always question everything. And know that when someone tells you they are godly, they have proven that they are not.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bad Boy, Bad Boy, Whatcha Gonna Do?

A Grand Rapids, Michigan news outlet is tightening the screws on both Donn Ketcham and ABWE, and I am oh, so glad about this.

News Channel 8, did a full, investigative story and you can read it and see the video here.

What a great piece of investigative journaling! They literally went all over the country to gather facts, to let the victims speak for themselves and uncover the truth. I love it that they went to Donn Ketcham's house and made him face the cameras. Even though he rudely shut the door in their faces, they had the courage to go. They had the courage to expose him to the world. They had the compassion to listen to these victims and didn't make them beg to be heard.

Donn Ketcham's victims had to beg to be heard in the Christian community. They had to beg to be heard by ABWE. An independent investigation was only hired by ABWE in response to the pressure from these victims. The world is showing more compassion to these victims than any Christian organization that is even remotely involved. How pathetic is this?

What is wrong with Christians that they can't - or won't - face these things head on and do the right thing? I was banned from a Facebook college group for talking about Ketcham's crimes. The leadership of the group did not talk to me ahead of time; they just removed me from the group and said nothing...because they wanted to keep the conversation limited to the group leaders' interests. One of the group leaders said, not to me, but in a general statement, "I would like our BBC in the 70's group to talk about BBC, about our own ministries (good and bad), good memories of our time together, future Summit (BBC) events etc... Can we do that?" While feigning humility, he said he wanted us to share about "our own ministries (good and bad)" but that apparently did not include my ministry to the abused. (Later, I realized this man uses abusive language, so I was glad to be distanced from him. Clearly, there's something going on with him. Most abusers work to sideline people who might be able to expose them.)

When an abused person has to beg a Christian community to be heard, there is a deep-rooted problem that will not solve itself, no matter how much time goes by. When the world does a better job of showing compassion to a Christian, clearly the church, the para-church organizations and all their so-called leaders have failed.

More to come.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Which Jesus Do YOU Want?

I've seen a good number of Facebook posts by Christians lately that talk about a Jesus I don't recognize. These posts include wording like:

God can't use you until He hurts you.
God can't change your life until you cooperate.
God can't use your life or heal your grief until you get an attitude adjustment.

This is spiritual abuse. If someone is teaching this to you, they are spiritually abusing you and their theology is messed up. They are practicing Secular Humanism and have allowed this to replace their perception of Who God is.

News flash: Jesus is not keeping a score card of our wrongs and 
withholding His grace in light of them. 

There are a few scenes in Scripture that fly in the very face of those who say, "God can't," because they show that God did. He did exactly what those people say He "cannot" do. Today, I want to walk you through one of these scenes.

In John 4:46-54, the Bible tells us how Jesus went back to Cana of Galilee and there met a nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. He heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, so he went to him and begged him to "come down and heal" his son because his son was at the point of death.

Jesus responded, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe."

Then the nobleman did something completely unexpected and something that surely the ones who give us the above "warnings" about what God "cannot" do would take issue with. He ordered Jesus to "come down before my son dies!"

Did you get that? He ordered Jesus. The words he uses, "come down" are used as an imperative; they are not a request, they are an order.

Well, clearly this man needs an attitude adjustment. Clearly, God can't do one thing for him with that bossy attitude. The nerve of this guy!

But, wait, what happened? Jesus said, "Go your way, your son lives."

Then, that nobleman did two of the most amazing things. This bossy dude with an attitude of authority, #1 believed what Jesus said and #2 did what Jesus said to do and went his way. One of his servants met him on the way and told him his son lives. And he verified the time in which his son got better and found it to be when Jesus spoke to him. Scripture tells us, "He, himself believed and his whole household."

Now, which Jesus do you want? Do you want the "one" who is taught to have limitations put on him by humans and their attitudes? Or, do you want the ONE Who is the GREAT I AM and can do anything with anyone at any time?

You do not have to put up with spiritual abuse. 
You do not have to listen to people who promote this nonsense. 
Stop listening to them. 
Stop buying their books. 
Stop going to their speaking engagements. 
Cling to Jesus, the very Author and Finisher of your faith. 
Listen to no one who slanders His character.

When we get over ourselves and realize we have nothing to praise ourselves for, we will not be falsely representing ourselves when we sing our hymns of praise. If we have to adjust our attitude before our God can act in our lives, we are doomed because as soon as we "adjust" our attitude, we are lifted up with pride in the accomplishment. Don't you know it's His work in our lives that adjusts our attitude anyway? Don't you know that without Him you cannot so much as breathe, let alone adjust your attitude? 

When people tell you "God can't," realize God already did.


Friday, June 24, 2016

This Man Keeps a List

Today, I read this blog by Jeff Straub and I have to take issue with a few things he said. (Click here to read the blog for yourself.)

I have never met Jeff Straub and don't know who he is other than what he has revealed about himself in this blog post - and he has revealed that he is a pharisee.

This man took an unproven and unqualified "statistic" and used it to brandish every single pastor whom God redirected as unfaithful. He summarized his condemnation of these men with four words: "I keep a list." Of this list, he said he periodically looks at it and "sadly sometimes" adds another name.

What? He keeps a list?

1 Corinthians 13:5 says of love, "does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil..."

"Thinks no evil," in the Greek, literally means "does not keep a mental record of" and "to keep a mental record of events for the sake of some future action." Clearly, Jeff Straub is not practicing love toward these men he refers to as "such men" because he's keeping a written record, not even just a mental one.  He has dumped every single person who has left full-time ministry into a dumpster of "disqualified from ministry," while exalting himself and other men he worships as "godly" and living holy lives.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  I know men and women who have been forcefully removed from full-time ministry for the exact same reason the Apostle Paul was thrown into prison....for faithfully preaching the gospel. If Jeff Straub considered this at all, he should have qualified his statement more carefully. What "man of God" does not fully qualify their statements when talking about brothers or sisters in Christ?

We have to give Jeff Straub a little credit for not being a hypocrite. He did not attempt to hide his pharisee-like teaching at all, but, instead, praised himself as on the road to "finishing well."

Being in and remaining in what some people consider "ministry" is not a Biblical measuring stick for success. Jeff Straub is wrong to judge these men, wrong to exalt himself, wrong to keep a list.

What God-seeking person keeps such a list?
He said he periodically looks at his list "often just to remind" himself "of the cost of unholy living." Just like the pharisee in Luke 18:11 who thanked God that he was "not like other people." Oh, my, This modern-day pharisee even used the exact same language.

Where are the servants who, like Isaiah, say, "Woe is me! I am undone!"?
Where are the servants who lift up our Holy God instead of themselves?
Where are the servants who, instead of keeping track of what they consider the failure of others, (or keep track of others on any level) throw themselves on the mercy of Christ and beg Him to take down their prideful hearts?

Along with being on the pharisee level of spirituality, this is also spiritual abuse. Anyone who calls himself or herself holy or godly is simply not holy or godly and is abusing their position in the lives of others. Instead of living in humility, Jeff Straub is self-promoting, lifting himself above those he keeps on his "list" and judging others by an unholy, ungodly standard.

Of all the godly men and women I know, not one of them.....not one of them....has said this of themselves. Not one of them has called themselves godly, holy or even insinuated that they think they are. Godly people don't announce that they are godly people. Godly people don't want to announce that they are godly people.

Godly people don't think they are godly! They think they are sinners who have miraculously been saved from their sin and live to tell others because they can't keep it to themselves. They don't keep lists because they know they would be at the top of that list.

Is he telling his students how holy he is instead of pointing them to the God of Salvation? Is he holding himself up in the classroom as the ultimate holy example instead of falling on the Gospel of God to which he owes his very life? He has certainly made himself judge and prosecutor in this blog post. After all, he keeps a list.

If he acts in the classroom as he acted in this blog post, he is practicing spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse is rarely practiced alone; other abuses generally follow and quickly. What abuses is he practicing on his students? On his family? Is he angered and defensive at the idea or quick to pull back and make sure his actions and teachings are not abusive?

Be warned.
Be aware.
Abusers are everywhere, even in a seminary classroom.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Our Home School is Closing after 29 Years

Well, I did it. We did it. By the generous grace of God, alone, we did it. Just this week, my youngest child finished high school here at home.  Home schooling wasn't always easy, but when I look back on it, I have to search my memory for the rough times. The good times, the joy, the fun and the excitement of learning are what I remember the most.

I love being with my kids. Even when they were little and making messes and screaming and crying, I didn't want to send them off to spend all their days with someone else. I wanted to see them learn. I wanted to be the one to see that
"light bulb moment" in their lives when they "got it" as we learned together. That was my #1 reason for home schooling.

When I started home schooling back in 1987, it was not a very popular thing to do. We only had 4 kids at the time, but were already receiving criticism from Christians for having "so many" kids. Clearly they had no effect on us since we went on to have 4 more. Some said I had "real nerve" home schooling "all those kids." Their arguments against home schooling ranged from me never getting a break to fearing my kids were going to be isolated.

Isolation was the furthest thing from my mind. I could not wrap my mind around why they would think that. My kids were out in the neighborhood playing with other kids, riding their bikes all over, involved at church, involved at an assisted living home and involved in an active home school support group that I started. They played sports, performed in plays, participated in science fairs, sang in concerts and spent time together.

They learned to bake from scratch, cook dinner for 10, set a table right, freeze vegetables, plant and keep a garden and a host of other life skills that serve them well today.

My #2 reason for home schooling might be summed up in one word: laziness. I saw friends whose kids were in school and they were frazzled by getting up early, getting things together to make it on time, signing this paper or that paper and writing check after check for constant things that came up. I didn't want that chaos in our home. I didn't want the rush to make the bus or hop into the car on time to be somewhere early in the morning every single day. That's not to say our lives were never chaotic. One summer, we had 3 different kids on 3 different sports teams, so our evenings were made up of packing sandwiches and the potty chair (for the little ones) and being in different places to see our kids play and practice. Other summers were similar.  I could go on....with 8 kids, you can just imagine.

Part of our parenting style was minimizing chaos so that our kids didn't have to feel constant pressure. We spent most evenings at home where the kids would perform dance or gymnastic routines, magic trick shows and piano concerts for us. Some evenings were spent viewing everything they could find under the microscope and the time flew. Some evenings were spent outside looking through the telescope to see Jupiter's moons or a lunar eclipse up close. We wanted our kids to have time to build big Lego bridges and villages, to throw a Frisbee in the back yard till the lightening bugs came out and lie on the grass watching the clouds. Home schooling allowed us to keep chaos at a minimum even with a family our size.

One of my goals from the start of our home school was to make sure learning wasn't in a school box, but was, instead, part of life all year long. This goal was accomplished.

And now these kids....oh, my word, these kids. They have gone to college. They are starting businesses. One is home schooling. Another reached a career milestone much younger than most could. Two of them served in the USMC and another is thinking about it. But, mostly, these kids are kind. They are generous. They are sensitive. They are polite. They are mine. I am blessed beyond comprehension.

Home schooling was one of the best decisions I ever made.
If you're a young mom or dad and on the fence about home schooling, I say go for it.
You will not regret home schooling.

Now, I have to go find something else to do.
I have a few ideas!