Using Books to Cultivate a Heart for Orphans and Adoption

My passion for adoption started growing long before my adult years. It came as a result of the planting of the Holy Spirit, and it also came in the form of story. Books cultivate life experiences in a safe environment and develop compassion and sympathy, passion and purpose, in children prior to their ability to act on those feelings.

As we enter into the cooler, cozier days of November, it is a perfect time to introduce, or perhaps continue the narration of, stories to our children which cultivate a heart for orphans and adoption. There is a lengthy list at Good Reads and here are a few of my favorites to get you started. I tend to recommend these as read aloud books to be shared with the whole family in order to encourage dialogue. Not all of these books are serious, but they all prompt us to think about orphans and begin cultivating a heart for orphan care and adoption in our homes. As with all books we share with our children, please be sure and preview the content to make sure it is age appropriate and sensitive to the specific environment of your child’s history and emotional maturity.

Don’t have children of your own? That’s okay too! As C.S. Lewis stated, A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.

Read Alouds for K4-3rd grade or older:


Read Aloud Books for 3rd and Up:

 

 

Older students (young adult):

 

One more that is on my to-be-read pile and was recently highlighted in this week’s episode of the Read Aloud Revival Podcast is:

Which books have you used to bring awareness of orphan care and adoption into your life and home? What books would you add to this list? I have always gravitated to books about orphans and in the coming weeks will unfold as much as I am presently allowed about our current adoption journey. Stay tuned!

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If I Could Give You One Gift It Would Be a Library Card

One of the great things about being a parent is that you get to catch up on all the books you missed in your own childhood!

~Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child’s Heart.

library fun

Next month I am throwing a favorite things party for our homeschool community. At this party, each woman is to bring one of her favorite things to share with five other women. My husband wittingly quipped, Are you giving five library cards? What a fabulous idea! If I could give each person a library card I would–but, alas, an address and phone number is necessary for each account!

This summer we have participated in the Give Your Child the World Reading Challenge with Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival Podcast. In the challenge, we read wonderful literature based on different countries and regions around the world every week for eight weeks. Each book we selected came from Jamie’s beautiful new book baby, Give Your Child the World. A thorough list of books for students of all ages broken down by world-region.

My favorite time of day with each of our three children, and as a family, is the multiple times we sit and read aloud together. There is something about the shared story, vocabulary, and experiences that the pages of good books provide.

It is not necessary to have monetary means to travel the globe or walk in another man’s shoes. All we really need is a library card and a good list to guide us. This summer I spent my many hours reading several books about books. It may be a bit of an overkill that I take four books to my local library each week, several times a week, to guide my family’s reading selection. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I want to share a list of books to help guide your family’s reading choices and direct your heart and mind to ponder the importance of reading together as a family to shape the character of your children and generations to come.  These books are rich and make wonderful additions to any home library.


Based on my review of each of the book lists, I would suggest starting with Honey for a Child’s Heart and Give Your Child the World. They help shape our parent hearts and present the information in an easy-to-read format. Utilizing these booklist books, we have chosen several new family favorites this summer; including these three:

What are your favorite books that you have read together as a family this summer? Where do you turn to help make your book selections? I would love to hear your ideas!

May the books be plenty and the hours spent together engrossed in a wonderful story be multiplied,

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A Brief Note to Parents on the State of Humanity

A Somber 4th of July

Today we deeply mourn the loss of life and the latest evidences to the degradation of humanity within our culture. These days we can wear our grief like a cloak never fully making it to the wardrobe.

We have turned on one another; which frankly isn’t new in human history. However, this turning against our brother at this scale and with this fervency is new in the course of recent history within our own particular sphere of the globe.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that little black boys and little black girls would hold the hands of little white boys and little white girls as brothers and sisters. I would argue that his dream has been realized. I am sure of it. I witnessed this dream in action only this morning.

Loading up the kids, we headed to the local zoo. Inside the zoo were a slew of children at the splash park area. Brown, white, yellow, and black children all splashing together in the same water. Oblivious to the hateful murders of the night, they played together in one accord. The children were busy laughing in the warm Florida sun, sharing space and time in the chlorinated waters of the zoo playground where a mere 60 years ago this would have been unlawful for those not white skinned.

The color of a man’s skin need not have been an issue in our past, and it most certainly should not be one any more. Yet, we can’t get away from it all together in the grown-up world. Lord Jesus save us from ourselves.

I do not briefly address the audience on this blog today with any semblance of answers that are easy, quick, or flippant. Nor do so with any intent to sweep away the violence and loss of life occurring as recently as last night. But I come to you today offering hope and a few words of encouragement as we pause and grieve, weep, repent, pray, and express thanks to those who serve and protect.

There is much beauty and goodness in this world if we will take the time to witness it, and to create it. Today, I witnessed it in the laughter and play of children all shades of btown and tan on a splash pad.

Deeply saddened for the loss of life and the loss of humanity we see in our country, we need to remember this: Change starts inside our homes and reverberates throughout our culture and world. Press on dear friends as we grieve with those who grieve and mourn deeply the current situation. Change is possible by the grace of Jesus and our homes are perhaps our greatest, though indeed not our only, conduit for revival. Our job as parents is not easy…it never has been. Our task is significant…it has always been. Our time is now.

Even so come Lord Jesus,

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Children and Spiritual Warfare

Children and Spiritual Warfare 

When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” ~Mark 10:14, HCSB

Why is it so hard to adopt mama? This is a question that one or both of our children have posed over the past eight months in which we have actively sought to adopt. The adoption process started almost five years ago for our family, but we ventured the path of foster care initially.

Why is it so hard to adopt? Why indeed?

I believe the answer which Russell Moore gives in the simple, short, and pertinent read, Adoption What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us About This Countercultural Choice,  is true, the protection of children isn’t charity…it’s spiritual warfare. Satan hates children. Jesus loves children. In fact, He came the first time in the form of a newborn babe. Protecting children, be it through foster care, adoption, or advocating and working to end sex trafficking or abortion is recognizing the Imago Dei in every life.

The demonic powers hate babies because they hate Jesus. When they destroy “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40, 45), the most vulnerable among us, they’re destroying a picture of Jesus himself, of the child delivered by the woman who crushes their head (Genesis 3:1;5).

Children also mean blessing–a perfect target for those who seek only to kill and destroy (John 10:10).

When we adopt–and when we encourage a culture of adoption in our churches and communities–we’re pictureing something that’s true about our God. We, like Jesus, see what our Father is doing and do likewise (John 5:19). And what our Father is doing, it turns out, is fighting for orphans, making them sons and daughters.

~ Russell Moore, Adoption What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us About This Countercultural Choice

It only takes a glance at some of the day’s headlines to realize there is a war on children. Planned Parenthood advocating not only abortion, but involved in the selling of aborted babies body parts. The molestation of young boys in Afghanistan which our military has been ordered to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to (see here). The gunning down of a 10 year old boy –who had left fighting in Afghanistan to return to school–by the Taliban. The reported 10,000 missing migrant children who may have been trafficked and lost in a world of abuse. The headlines ream on.

The devil has it out for children (listen to the fourth section of Albert Mohler’s Daily Briefing for more on this topic); the church must stand ready to fight the good fight of faith on their behalf. How are we as the church and as individuals promoting a culture of life? What are some ways in which we can take up our shield of faith, sword of the Spirit, and go with our feet shod with the Gospel message? Let’s stand guard and defend the children of our day.

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The Top Eight Books I Read in 2015

With the availability of daily blog posts and twenty four hour news coverage, it takes a more disciplined effort to put the electronics away and curl up with a real book–even for avid readers like myself. However, reading seems to increase my focus and attentiveness and the retention of the information read. That being said, here are the top eight books that I read in 2015. They are listed in no particular order. Perhaps you will add them to your to be read pile for the new year?

As a side note, this would be a post about the top 7 or the top 10 books I read in 2015. However, I didn’t want to skip any of these below, and I didn’t want to add two more for the sake of conventionality. Alas, you will have to be comfortable with the little used number 8!

I have affectionately coined the late Chuck Colson as my Grandfather of Apologetics so it should come as no surprise that he would have two books listed in the top 8 of 2015. The Sky is Not Falling, was published in 2011 and I almost consider it prophetic as it is chock full of Colson’s predictions for the direction of our country if we do not change course. Reading this book four years after its publication date, many of his warnings have come to pass or are unfolding before our eyes. However, in classic Chuck Colson style, he doesn’t merely present the woes of the age, but also lists specific ways that we can and must turn the hearts of men toward Jesus Christ.

 

Chuck Colson entered into his eternal life in 2012. However, his long time associate, Anne Morse, consolidated his previously unpublished material written during the final years of his life in My Final Word. This is most likely in the top three of best books I read in 2015. You will gain wisdom and insight into a Christian worldview concerning topics such as: crime and punishment, natural law, Islam, same-sex marriage, the persecution of Christians, and life issues among others. I cannot recommend this book enough.

 

Russell Moore is the president of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Council (ERLC). His wit and wisdom are among the best and his passionate voice for life and religious liberty rings loudly across our nation. This book is a call to set our minds and eyes on the Kingdom even as we live in and help to flourish the  world. It covers hot topics such as gun control, religious liberty, right to life, sex trafficking, and the list goes on. A must read concerning pertinent cultural topics of our day.

Openness Unhindered, is the second of Rosaria Butterfield’s books published since turning from her homosexual lifestyle to the Lord Jesus. This is a wonderful book addressing the topic of homosexuality and the church. Within its pages is one of the best chapters on sin I have ever read. A fantastic read that will better equip you concerning the topic of homosexuality, what the Bible has to say regarding all sexual sin, and how the church should address this topic.

Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness, is the first book I have read by the talented author, Eric Metaxas. This wonderful book filled with a short biography of seven men throughout history, is one that will leave you with a desire to know more about the men within its pages. A few of my favorite chapters were on Jackie Robinson, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. You will not be able to put this book down. He has written 7 Women and the Story of Their Greatness which I am almost done reading now. However, I will save that recommendation for the greatest reads of 2016!

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace, by Sarah Mackenzie is likened unto a glass of sweet tea on the front porch during a hot afternoon in the south. The sweet aroma and taste of what homeschooling can and perhaps should be is a delightful offering to overloaded homeshooling moms everywhere. In truth, I am already rereading this book! Sarah points us to truth, beauty, and goodness and beckons us to do the same with our children in our homes. If you are seeking peace in the full world of homeschooling, this is a must read for you.

 

Gift from the Sea was originally published in 1955. It is a beautiful poetic book about time, focus, and the ebb and flow of life. A beautiful, simple, refreshing read that will reorient you to some of the simple and important pieces of life. While I am not sure that I agree with all of the theological tones within this book, it provides a refocusing and graceful look at the fleetingness of time and the importance of relationships and work.

Fierce Convictions is a charmingly written biography on the poet, author, social reformer, and abolitionist Hannah More. More is a little known, yet grand and integral person in abolishing the slave trade in England. She is the counter part and best friend of William Wilberforce and is a wonderful role model for women of today. This book will challenge you and inspire you to utilize your talents and God-given abilities to influence culture and change the course of history within your own day and realm of influence.

 

And…..I am adding a bonus recommendation. A Match Made in Heaven, written in 2015 by my husband, Ron Cooney, is a marriage must read for couples at any stage. I can wholeheartedly recommend Ron’s book because I know that he practices what he preaches. Ron lives a life of authentic humility and faithfulness to God. His background in mental health counseling, experience as a pastor, and time spent counseling couples and families have prepared him to walk in obedience to writing this book.  I hope that you will purchase a copy of Ron’s book for yourself, a friend, an engaged or newly married couple, or a couple that you know needs godly direction in their marriage.

You can watch Ron teach from a few excerpts of his book, alongside our pastor, Willy Rice, here. This message is on your S.E.A.T. and how that affects your marriage.

What were some of your favorite books in 2015? I would love to hear them and add them to my list. Happy Reading!

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15 Action Steps to Take to Promote A Culture of Life After You Have Prayed


 

15 Action Steps To Take To Promote Life After You Have Prayed

Many of us are dumbfounded, to say the least, after viewing any or all of the 10 videos put out by the Center for Medical Progress which exposes the money making arm of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood and Stem Express are making money off the sale of aborted baby body parts. This news leaves many of us asking, what can we do to put an end to this barbarity? Here are 15 action steps for you to consider and take after you pray for an end to abortion, a defunding of Planned Parenthood, and a respect for life from conception to grave.

1. Give to and/ or volunteer at your local pregnancy center.

2. Call your congressman and senator to petition them to vote to defund Planned Parenthood and legislate an end to abortion.

3.”Adopt” a single mom and her kids.

4. Foster a child. The difference a Christian family can make in pointing children in need to Jesus cannot be measured in this lifetime.

5. Adopt. It is a slow and painful process and you are not guaranteed your child will walk with Jesus. However, you are committed to making a disciple and ending a family cycle of drug abuse, domestic violence, and a host of other problems that plague our society.

6. Vote your moral convictions and not your pocketbook.

7. Spread the gospel and let the seeds bear the fruit that they will. We will not reap what we have not sewn.

8.Make disciples within your church who make disciples. Moms and dads change the cultural fabric of our world one child at a time. For good or for evil.

9. Volunteer with children in the foster care system, a local school, or an orphanage. Mentors change lives by the power of Jesus.

10. Give to organizations like the Center for Medical Progress who expose the truth of abortion and the sale of baby body parts for “medical research.” Or, help fund a friend’s adoption. Many times families who want to adopt don’t because of the money.

11. Educate yourself with the facts. Read and research for the truth. You will likely not hear the facts nor the truth on the evening news or in the New York Times.

12. Do for one mom, teen, child, or orphan what you would do for all.

13. Get creative! Use your artistic abilities of paint, pen, or graphic design to get people’s attention and point them towards life.

14. Include your kids in ministering to the poor, elderly, and the orphan. Developing compassionate Christ-centered lives starts early.

15. Run for office and be involved in politics. We need godly leaders in every area of local, state, and federal government.

What would you add to this list? I welcome your thoughts.

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Preaching the Gospel Through Biblical Marriage

Today we await the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on the issue of the legalization of gay marriage. Will the Justices rule this is a state by state decision to uphold traditional marriage or will they decide to make gay marriage legal across the nation?  You can read more from both sides here.

For most of you reading this particular blog, you understand that the institution of marriage was initiated by God at the first marriage in history between Adam and Eve. Further, you have been taught in church, and  most likely from someone at home, that acting out homosexual desires is sinful by God’s standards. Unfortunately, the narrative towards people practicing a homosexual lifestyle has not always been one of love, nor driven by a desire to share the gospel. However, I believe that narrative has changed in the last year to be more in line with God’s views of people and their sins–at least within the teachings of the Southern Baptist Convention. You can view the recent Southern Baptist Pastors Conference Speakers, particularly Russell Moore’s message on Sunday evening dealing with sexual sin in general and homosexual sin in particular. (click here)

The SCOTUS decision and its political and religious implications aside, Christian, biblical marriages should preach the gospel like never before as they stand in such contrast to the cultural shift of marriages in our day. However, our own marriages need much work to paint the picture of Christ loving the Church and giving Himself up for her. How do we preach the gospel with our marriage? How do we build solid, sanctified marriages amidst our culture?

My husband has a new book filled with practical, biblical advice that I believe will point Christian marriages toward Christ and help them build loving and respectful relationships. It is available on Amazon and soon to be available on your Kindle as well.

I can wholeheartedly recommend Ron’s book because I know that he practices what he preaches. Ron lives a life of authentic humility and faithfulness to God. His background in mental health counseling, experience as a pastor, and time spent counseling couples and families have prepared him to walk in obedience to writing this book.  I hope that you will purchase a copy of Ron’s book for yourself, a friend, an engaged or newly married couple, or a couple that you know needs godly direction in their marriage.

You can watch Ron teach from a few excerpts of his book, alongside our pastor, Willy Rice, here. This message is on your S.E.A.T. and how that affects your marriage.

SEAT- Ron Cooney

Christians must preach the gospel with our words and our actions. Biblical, loving and respectful marriages will stand out in a world of broken vows and empty promises by pointing to the grace and mercy found in Christ Jesus.

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Today, in light of the news I will…

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The news has never been a place to run to for uplifting information. Sure, you might catch a Friday concert series or a fashion show on some of the morning news programs, but no real sustaining hope.

As I age and pay more and more attention to the current events in our country and around the world, it seems the news only gets bleaker and more troubling. It is clear our country is divided on so many levels, none the least of which are moral issues and religious professions.

The most recent news facing moral, legal, and red/blue dividing lines are the Baltimore rioting, the Duggar’s past family sins and crisis, and Bruce turned Caitlyn Jenner’s transgender transformation. Each of these issues divide our country’s people, seemingly down party lines. We live in a day of seemingly fluid measures of morality.

Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner was applauded and even alleged to be awarded the Aurther Ash Courage Award at the ESPYS because of his act of “courage” to undergo sexual reassignment surgery. Compare this to  the latest news on the Duggar’s past family crisis (molestation within their family 12 years ago) and the lines are drawn and the hate speech is flying.

In regards to the Duggar’s, no doubt this was shocking information for all. Does it seem plank/speck? Maybe. However, did this family address the situation the best they knew how? Should the whole family’s voice in society be squelched because one of their family members acted in an immoral and illegal way? Did the offender seek forgiveness and rehabilitation/counseling?

We all have sexual sin in our pasts. That does not disqualify those who have sought forgiveness and turned from sin, the freedom of speech against proposed laws which goes against their moral and religious consciences. The LGBT community and its supporters are absolutely outraged that a family who has spoken on behalf of the evangelical community against legalization of gay marriage and against the allowance of transgender citizens the right to use the public restroom to the gender with which they identify and not to which they were assigned at birth. Some pundits have gone so far as to condemn the Duggar’s all to hell! Hate is rampant there is no question of that. Pundits are even condemning people to a place it is questionable they believe in!

I am not defending Joshua Duggar’s actions, and quite frankly, neither are he nor his family. I am simply lamenting the fact that the secular and progressive community is using this news as a war cry against evangelicals and Christians in general. It seems only those with no past sins can speak out about their religious and political beliefs. If that is the case, then the conversation has surely ended for both sides. 

We as Christians need to be careful to address the moral issues of our day with love and respect even as we speak out in favor of laws upholding the Biblical definition of marriage. Our rhetoric must not be hate-filled and neither should that of the people who stand in opposition to the teachings of the Bible. In America, we must uphold and adhere to freedom of speech even as the true Enemy seeks to shut down the message of the Gospel and the liberating mandates of God.

As we continue to respond to this culture war by the spreading of the Gospel, may we not forget that the real enemy is not someone whose political and personal practices differ from our own, but rather Satan himself. The church must speak against all sexual sin. My sexual sin may seem a backpack’s load compared to someone else’s U Haul truck, but the loads were the same weight when Christ carried our sin to the cross.

The backlash on the Duggar family and their handling of molestation within their family, compared to the awards given to Jenner for his  transgender identity is simply astonishing.  There is no war on women in America, rather, there is a war on God’s design and the celebration of God-given life in the form of male and female. 

It is clear that the further we have walked away from the Bible and the message of Jesus Christ as a nation, the worse things have gotten for our country. We are tearing ourselves and our country apart. We are a house divided on every issue by liberal versus conservative beliefs. Now more than ever we hear it is us against them.

May it not be so within our churches, nor the Body of Christ. We are not to be fooled that this is about flesh and blood, it is about evil and principalities in the unseen realms. (See Ephesians 6:12 here.) We must not throw our hands up in despair and forgo this battle.

If we are on God’s side we will come out victorious in the end. The battle of good verses evil has already been called. That statement isn’t a cliche to excuse the church to sit on its laurels and watch as the parade goes by, rather it is a rally cry to remember what is to come.

These troubles and issues do not come as a surprise for those who read God’s Word. Paul reminds Timothy that we must endure suffering and expect a battle, and then, he offers three ways to respond.

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things. (2 Timothy 2:3-7)

Today, in light of all the news headlines, I must remember and abide by these three truths:

  • Know your Boss. The ultimate Boss whom I must work to please and follow His command is God and Christ Jesus. He will be the One that I ultimately answer to for my behaviors.
  • Follow the laws. We must first abide by God’s laws and then the laws of our country.
  • Work to the finish. There is no crop for the farmer to reap if he quits working. Press on!

We must keep our head up, bend the knee, and work to the finish. Everyday faithfulness to our God and our family will make a difference. Don’t give up.

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Parting Words: The Crucifixion

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 

~Luke 23:33

Imagine the scene unfolding, the Pharisees had seized the opportunity they sought. Jesus was finally receiving the repercussions for his blasphemous statements– at least that is how they viewed it. His disciples initially scattered both scared and confused. Of those within his intimate sphere we find recorded in the gospel at the foot of the cross, only his mother, John, and the women that had followed him left to observe the murder of their Lord. Considering that there are four gospel recordings of the events at the crucifixion, I believe it is likely that there were other disciples who were eye witnesses of the events of that day, although those disciples are not named specifically within the gospel accounts.

The people that had listened to his teachings and followed the murmuring in the streets and temple most likely watched the events unfold, but center stage were the Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, and the religious rulers mocking, “if you are the Son of God, then save yourself!” Were these crowds of onlookers the same Jews who had feasted at the feeding of the five thousand?Or the miraculously healed?  If so, it would seem they had forgotten the Lord’s words and works as quickly as their stomachs had digested the fish and bread. Or, perhaps they stood as followers of Christ, helpless to save their Savior, and broken over the plight of their beloved teacher.

Parting Words: Jesus at the Crucifixion

Finally, envision the criminals on his right and his left. These men had the birds-eye-view of all that unfolded from the time the nails bore into Jesus’ flesh and the spear pierced His side. As Jesus stretched out His arms for the nails to be driven into his wrists, He could not escape the reality, nor can we, that He was dying for the sins of wretched, but dearly beloved people, separated from God by rebellious hearts.

As the Roman soldiers nailed him to the cross, Jesus said,

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

Then the soldiers cast lots for his garments and proceeded, business as usual, unknowingly slaughtering the Son of God.

The minutes and hours tick by and Jesus next takes care of His mother leaving her in the care of John. Quintessentially posturing Mary at the foot of the cross for the rest of history (See hereJesus says to Mary:

“Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

Next we see the dichotomy of man’s response to Jesus for the rest of temporal time. A mocking rejection of the Lord, and a proclamation of  Jesus as the sinless Son, Savior, and LORD:

“Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Following, we see a return to the ever present reality that Jesus was fully human and had physical needs even as He was divine. Additionally, we see the fulfilling of scripture as prophesied in Psalm 69:21,

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” (John 19:28-30)

The hyssop branch is perhaps reminiscent of the blood dipped on hyssop to frame the door posts of the Israelites (Exodus 12:21-27) to preserve them from the wrath of God–from the destroyer that would kill those not covered by the blood of the sacrificial lambs. The final sacrifice for all who believe had been made, the final blood needed for the forgiveness of sins had been spilled and therefore, as recorded in three of the gospels, Jesus cried out with a loud voice:

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” Which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)

This final act commenced an eternal reaction and a physical response from the earth and observers,

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:38-39)

The parting words of Jesus finalize the sacrifice needed for the forgiveness of our sins and remind us that it is through Christ alone that we find salvation. It is not fellow followers of Christ, his mother, nor any works that save us. His parting words remind us that it is in Christ alone we are forgiven. Amen and amen!

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Shades of Regret

Shades of Regret

When you are a mother of two small children, you spend a lot of time in public restrooms. It was my fourth trip to a public restroom in the last two hours, and I didn’t want to make another trip once our movie started.While waiting on my daughter to come out of the stall, an older woman was washing her hands and offered,

I just watched 50 Shades of Grey. I didn’t’ need that. My curiosity got the better of me.

She shakes her head and wrings her hands with soap. I nod and wonder what on earth I can tell this woman. What hope should I offer in a few seconds in the bathroom? It seemed she simply wanted to confess to me. She continued as I listened and nodded,

You know the man is just messed up.  Save your eight dollars and go get Chinese instead.

She shook her head, flung up her hand, and walked out the door while I meagerly offered a few remarks. This woman was clearly disturbed by the sadomasochistic movie that is sweeping the nation and was first within the grasp of teens, moms, and people of all ages at major chains such as Walmart, Target, and all bookstores and e-readers since 2011. It is reported to have sold 100 million copies in 52 languages worldwide.

An estimated 900 teens in Orlando (see here) stormed a movie theater in attempts to watch the rated R movie earlier this week.

The Christian community has not remained silent on this topic. Consider Dannah Gresh’s book, Pulling Back the Shades. (Read about it here.) Or, this thought provoking article by Dr. Russell Moore, Women Stop Submitting to Men? (click here). However, in the case that you have missed these, I want to warn you: flee the temptation to see what all the hype is about!

Men and women of the Church, do not use this as an opportunity to research pop culture. Consider this a call to be in the world and not of it. Protect your minds and relationships from this obvious working of evil. Many times we can fall into a spiritual pit of despair and sin we were not seeking, but consider this your warning that the pit is within your vision and the choice to descend is up to you.

Sex is so perverted in our fallen state post garden– post forbidden fruit. The good gift that God created from the time He introduced Adam and Eve has been polluted by the sins of this world. We worship the created act of sex above the Creator and pervert the original gift of sex within marriage. 50 Shades of Grey is another proof of this fact.

Don’t let curiosity rob you of your peace of mind and spirit. Heed the lesson from the woman I met, and warn your friends likewise.

Fight the good fight of faith and finish the race having won the battle over curiosities that God’s Word blatantly speaks over as evil and destructive.

Did I miss an opportunity to share Christ with this woman? Perhaps. I pray that she will seek out, or already knows the truth for herself. However, I didn’t miss an opportunity to pray for her. Further, I don’t think that it was any accident that I was in the right place at the right time to hear her confession and tell her story to you.  I can see her distraught look even now. I pray that the shades of regret will not be mirrored on your face.

Choose life.

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