Sister to Sister: She Suffered the Little Ones to Come

Roberta-EdwardsFor years I’ve heard about the selfless actions of Roberta Edwards in behalf of souls in Haiti. I’ve always wanted to meet and know her. I guess now I will have to wait till I get to know her in heaven…a short wait, when viewed through the eyes of the great Father we share as sisters. She inspired and encouraged me, especially as I followed the story of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and her response to those for whom she had sacrificed so very much. For those who are studying persecution in our Digging Deep 2015-2016 study, she stands as a modern-day example of one who constantly rejoiced through trials and even through persecution. Her death was due to an act of violence and we may well find, upon hearing results of investigations, that it was indeed “persecution for righteousness’ sake.” Will you join me in prayer for the children she left behind, for her family members who are grieving in indescribable ways and for the work for which she paid the ultimate price? Many have clamored for various women in the Catholic church to be canonized as “saints”. My sister, Roberta IS a saint (as are you if the blood price has been applied to your soul). She is a saint who is rejoicing in glory on this autumn night. But children in Haiti are weeping. I am praying that their joy, too, will come in the morning (Psalm 30:5). If it does, it will be largely because of the work of Roberta Edwards.

Here is the report about the shooting from the good church at Estes in Henderson, TN, one of her chief supporting congregations:

Our hearts are saddened to report the death of our missionary Roberta Edwards. On Saturday evening of Oct. 10, witnesses report that Roberta’s car was stopped by another vehicle which intentionally blocked her path. Armed gunmen emerged from the vehicle and fired into Roberta’s car, causing her death. Haitian authorities are investigating, and the identity of the perpetrators and the motive are not known at this time. She is survived by her parents, Robert and Laura Edwards.

Roberta was the administrator and “Mom” at SonLight Children’s Home in Port au Prince, Haiti, where dozens of children have received foster care over the years. Roberta also directed a nutrition center that feeds 160 children two meals a day, five days a week, in addition to providing funds for these children to attend school. At the time of her death, she was providing care for 20 children at her home. Her work has been overseen by the Estes Church of Christ since 2002. The facility where the children’s home operates is provided by Manna Global Ministries, and supporters of Roberta’s work in Haiti include individuals and congregations across the U.S. and beyond.

Roberta was a light to those in the community and dedicated to bringing hope to the hopeless. She knew that she worked in a dangerous setting, but had committed herself to care for children in Haiti despite these risks. Roberta has received her reward for her dedication to serving the Lord in Haiti. She will be missed in Haiti by her children, the community and friends. She will be missed here in the States as an encouragement and inspiration to us all. It is our intention to honor her memory by continuing the battle against Satan in Haiti and pressing on in the work of God’s kingdom.

Memorial services and funeral arrangements are pending, and we will provide updates as those become available. If you would like to honor Roberta with a memorial gift for the work in Haiti, those may be sent to the Estes Church of Christ, P.O. Box 191, Henderson, TN, 38340, and her family will be notified of your tribute. Please be praying for her parents, her children at SonLight Children’s home and the many Haitian brothers and sisters who are deeply grieved by this loss.

The War on Women

TV_Kelly_Trump-03b68-1973Yes. There’s a cultural war on women occurring in the United States today. Maybe even around the world. But it’s not perpetuated by the political right. It’s ideological in nature and it’s successfully stripping women of respect, purpose and integrity. In fact if I wanted to make sure that women were being sabotaged in this, the richest society in the world, here’s what I would do:

  1. First, I’d make her understand that she, along with her male counterparts, is just another rung on the evolutionary ladder; just another link in the Darwinian chain. No soul. No higher purpose. Just another animal. But the kicker for women, in this Darwinian scenario is that there is no explanation for her existence. No way to explain that she even is. Unlike the account she’s believed for millenniums about the fact that she completed and crowned God’s creation, I’d make her believe she was just a fluke somewhere in the billions of years of coincidences mixed with mistakes that made the universe and life what it is today. I’d do that first. Right off the bat I’d rip away that notion that she has spiritual or eternal significance.
  2. Next I think I would be sure I started young to make her “look” cheap. I think I’d put little outfits in all the stores that were composed of mini-skirts and halter tops and I’d start in size 2T. I’d make it difficult and expensive to dress a little girl like a little girl. I’d make the transition, in apparel, from little girl to worldly woman a very short leap.
  3. And I’d get her used to hearing demeaning terms for women and all kinds of sexual innuendos very early on. I would get her in front of the television as often as possible. I’d make her think that drinking and partying were the real “stuff” of happiness. I’d want her to play video games where the cartoon women are always scantily clad, provocative, tattoed, busty and brash. And then I’d play all this up in her real world the first chance I got. I’d want her to think wearing a tiny cheer uniform and moving her body provocatively was cool and, somehow (it’s beyond me) even respectable. I’d want her to have dance lessons, play volleyball in her panties or be on a running team or a swim team where the expected dress was almost nothing. I’d want her to start being comfortable letting people see her in a sports bra and I’d want her to have holes in her jeans in the places where cheap attention could be drawn to her body. This is an important part of what I’d do to make her forget the intrinsic value of her soul.
  4. Next, I’d target her heroines. I’d make the most important women in the country the rudest and the most immoral. I’d make the politically powerful women loud, dishonest and vulgar. I’d make the heroines of the entertainment world trashy. I’d make the top songs that women hear on the radio tout fornication, homosexual relationships and masturbation. I’d make women who are empty and unhappy be the role models. This would help me drain the very souls of  younger women of purpose and positive influence.
  5. Then, I’d make her believe she’s very dispensable by telling her that you don’t even need a woman anymore to have a marriage and a family. I’d do my best to get her to buy that lie.
  6. And based on that lie, I’d tell her that, in fact, womanhood is not even reserved for those who are born as girls. The female identity is easily taken by anyone who wants it.…It’s easy for Bruce to be Katelyn. All it takes is a change of wardrobe and a few hormones. Gender is not really a sacred assignment at all.  So quit spouting off about the virtues of womanhood, already.
  7. Next, I think I’d try to make her believe that a woman’s integrity is not all that important in a court of law. I’d tell her she’s too fragile to be able to withstand the pursuit of evidence. “If you cry ‘date rape,’ well they’ll just have to believe you, because your traumatized state is too weak and fragile to risk re-traumatization.  Your psyche might not be able to handle presentation of evidence, interrogation or cross-examination. You’re not strong enough to prove your own integrity.” (One story is here, but, be warned the triumphant victor in this courtroom is not discreet in her text messages. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/08/11/yes-means-yes-policy-coming-under-fire-from-judges/)
  8. But I wouldn’t stop there. I’d make her unashamed of the objectification of womanhood that happens to be the largest entertainment venue in America, today. In fact, I’d want her to go on and join the ranks of those who objectify people. I’d want her to watch “Fifty Shades of Gray.” Further, I’d want her to extol the literary virtues of the book, too. What better way to take away the dignity of women in our culture than to have them clamoring by the millions to the vile and cheap?
  9. Then I’d try to legalize the killing of life within her womb. I’d so mix up her sense of logic that I’d make her believe it is emancipating to let doctors come inside her womb and suction out the life that is dependent on her for survival. I’d take her sense of values to the very lowest possible point and convince her to be okay with selling the life that has her chromosomes, her hair color, her skin pigmentation and, yes, his or her own beating heart. I’d get her to have no conscience at all about the person who is being ripped apart and becoming merchandise. I’d somehow make her think she’s becoming more of a woman when she allows a violation of that magnitude to occur in her own womb.
  10. I’d make her believe her value lies in some numerical figure on a pay stub. I’d make her believe that true success can be counted in dollars and cents and that her intrinsic value is dependent on her ability to bring home the bacon (or wield power at the office or control accounts or successfully patronize important clients.) I’d do this in lots of ways, but I would not forget to build short maternity leave into job benefits and to build lots of day cares near, or in, her work sites. I’d try to make career pursuit in all situations seem normal and expected, and certainly guilt-free.  In fact, I might try and make women who were not career-minded seem lazy and worthless by comparison.
  11. Next, I’d try to downplay…no…remove from her psyche any maternal tugs. If she ever starts to cry when she has to leave that little six-week-old baby for the first day back at work, I’d make her think “Ah, this is just normal. All moms go through this healthy week of detaching from children. I need to get past this post-birth weepiness and be productive.” If her kids are getting sick a lot at daycare, I’d want her to, once again, justify her choices by thinking “Oh…this’ll be good for them in the long run…you know…build up their immunities.” In this step-by-step, day by day rationalization of dissonance in the plan, I’d slowly get her to stop feeling the tugs. I’d get her to incrementally forget that there is a reason for maternal pulls in her heart. Further, I’d get her to make investments and mortgages—I’d get her to buy things…lots of things.I’d get her in debt to the plan that’s silencing the maternal nature within. I’d do this until she couldn’t answer the cries even were she hearing them. I’d make those who are choosing riches for their kids over the raising of their kids defend this pursuit by always pointing out that “there are lots of women who have to work to put food on the table and we should not make those women feel guilty.”   I’d be happy about that argument if I were out to denigrate women, because, although that argument is irrelevant when the subject is choosing, it (the argument about needy women) would rally the troops who have already, to a large extent, driven our economy  and moral conscience to a place where, in some communities, virtually all women work full-time outside the home as their children are coming up.
  12. And finally, I’d give her applause. I’d give her lots of this and for all the superficial things.  I’d give her pats on the back and I’d make good, but deceived, women go, with a vengeance, after those who would call women back to the heart of womanhood. I’d make the cheapening, the immodesty, the brashness, the override of the maternal impulses—I’d make all that VERY politically correct. I’d make any reference to scriptures about submission or keeping the home seem terribly antiquated and out of place in any real discussion of the role of women. In fact, I’d make the phrase, “role of women” sound very oppressive and shockingly  outdated.

Oh…and after I’d managed to maneuver in all the above ways, I’d be sure to keep a close eye on the veritable army of faithful twenty-something and thirty-something moms within the Lord’s church who are in the Word and in prayer and determined that the devil is not having their kids. These are the ones, after all, who are raising up the fighters of the next generation. It’s not the millennials who are primarily about saving the trees, the right to “choose”, the rainforests or the human habitats that are protective of women in our society. It’s those millennials who are, first, about saving souls, respecting the Father, protecting life, itself, and aspiring to everlasting habitations that just may be able to raise up a generation that can secure all that has traditionally been good and right and holy about womanhood. And they are using the tools, too. They are networking globally, attending spiritual conventions and workshops, producing books, seeking mentors and studying THE manual for human elevation.  They are the ones I’d target if I were waging a war on women; and they’d be ruthless in their defense of traditional marriage, distinctive genders, disciplined children, ordered homes and moms who are, first of all, keepers of those homes.

So this is how I’d wage a real war on women. I mean if I really wanted to strip women in our culture of  power, I’d take away the legacy that is the inheritance of faith. If I wanted to rob women of dignity, I’d make them set, as their standards, the cheap, the undressed, the immoral. If I wanted to debase them, I’d dirty their minds with pornography and their hands with deceit. I’d make them say “abortion” when they mean “murder”.  I’d make them say “tolerance” when they mean “approval.”  I’d make them say “love” when they mean “lust.” I’d mix them up with terminology and I’d tempt them into thinking that the primary purpose of life is self-fulfillment. I’d make them think that truth for their lives and homes is not objective but “lies within themselves”.   All in all, I’d go for their hearts. That’s just what the devil has done.

The current war on women is not from the political right or from the oppressive religions of the Middle East. The war on women today is from hell, itself, and the devil is gaining ground. He is taking the spoils—the real commodities of value—from women. He is giving us a mess of pottage that is temporarily filling in exchange for the faith and goodness that has characterized great women from the dawn of time. And so it will not be in some presidential debate or even in Congress or the Supreme Court chambers that the war is won or lost. It will be in the hearts of women and in the families of America. It will all depend on whether women are smart enough and strong enough to recognize and resist the cultural attack on the real power of women.

Sister to Sister: Peace and Silence… NOT the Same Thing

brigitteIf you haven’t seen the following video, you should watch. Brigitte Gabriel’s  point is well articulated and her logic is irrefutable. Radicals are the movers in society. The peaceful majority within any movement which contains a violent element quickly becomes very irrelevant.

As I think about her statements about Russia, Nazi Germany, Japan and China, I strongly agree with her logic  If the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and opposed to terrorism, why are they (the peaceful majority) not rising up against their own people, in the name of peace, to save innocent lives?  At the very least, they should be publicly descrying the frequent ongoing attacks by Muslim terrorists around the world. But such a public outcry by peaceful Muslims is rarely occurring. In its silence, the majority has become irrelevant. The radicals…the killers…are the ones who are making a tragic difference in the world today.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the “peaceful majority” of God’s people can, with its silence, become irrelevant? I am not suggesting that we should be a violent people as we oppose sin in the world around us. I am suggesting that we must be doing spiritual battle all the time. Paul said as much in Ephesians 6:10-12.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

We must never be satisfied to be silent as the devil seeks to destroy our families and congregations. We become irrelevant to the lost people around us if we fail to stand up and be counted for truth and righteousness. It is not enough to just “think” that the world around us is becoming more vile; to be sad in our hearts that our culture is given over to immorality. We must continue to speak the world-changing message of the gospel even when it is vehemently opposed by a segment of our society. We have to continue to say that homosexuality is vile affection (Romans 1), that those who are have left their spouses for reasons other than fornication and have remarried are living in adultery (Matthew 19), that abortion is murder, that Jesus Christ is the exclusive way to the Father (John 14), that faithfulness to God involves faithfulness to His church, and that there are indeed New Testament laws (absolute requirements) regulating worship and daily living for those in that church.

Bottom line: Being peaceful and being silent are two very different things. I can believe all the right things, but become irrelevant in the battle for holiness in my community and in my congregation if I am not willing to speak truth at every opportunity to my sisters and friends. If I know truth, but I am afraid to post, speak, write, tweet, and/or text truth, then I, by default, contribute to the victories of evil. Granted, there are varying degrees of opportunity for God’s women. But all of us have some venues in which we can and should be, peacefully but vocally, standing for truth, whether in a blog or simply in a conversation with a friend who is straddling a politically correct fence.

The relative silence of 2.3 million Muslim people living in the United States when 19 radical Muslim hijackers destroyed the World Trade Center, attacked the Pentagon and took the lives of 2,996 people is still deafening.

Let us be peaceful, but let us NOT be silent.

Sister to Sister: It Doesn’t Really Matter What I Think about Fourth Avenue

In light of a widely read and watched article and video from Franklin, TN in the past few days about a young woman taking a position as a preaching intern, I just want to make a few concise statements this morning… Not that it matters what I say… at all. I guess that’s the point.

1. Having a talent doesn’t give me license to do whatever I feel will glorify God in worship or service with with that talent. Korah, Dathan and Abiram obviously had leadership skills and talents. They rallied Israel behind them. But God was sorely displeased with their attempts at challenging his system. In fact his earth opened up and swallowed them (Numbers 16).
2. It doesn’t matter how many people are accepting of a proposition or position or how revered those people are. Widespread acceptance doesn’t make something pleasing to God. In our present culture, I should not even have to cite an example for this premise, but the book of Malachi as well as numerous others should suffice.
3. We do not “interpret Christ through Paul” or visa versa. Every word in the text is from the same author, The Holy Spirit of God. Jesus, himself, was insistent on that truth (Matthew 4:4). To disparage ANY of His words, whether written through Paul or Christ is to blaspheme Him.
4. Jesus never taught anything that conflicts with any teaching of Paul. There is no need to interpret either through the other to determine the role of women in the church. Their teachings are not contradictory.
5. The teaching of the Holy Spirit through Paul In I Timothy 2 is tied, in the text, to creation (verse 12-14); not to any particular culture.
6. Having a feeling of “peace” is not the way we figure out whether what we are doing is pleasing to God. Saul was very much “at peace” with holding the coats of those who were stoning Stephen and imprisoning Christians in the name of God (Acts 23:1).
7. Sometimes wolves look gentle and docile…like sheep (Matthew 7:15).
8. Just because there is a movement in a body does not mean the Hand of God is orchestrating that movement. It is possible that movement is “REmoval (emphasis mine, CC) to another gospel” (Galatians 1:6,7). Movement can be perversion.
9. Just because this young woman has made this public step does not mean that her heart is vile, hardened, or impure. Perhaps she can reason through this using Scripture and begin again. She has much influence to offer. Imagine what she can do in divinely ordered channels! I am going to try to contact her and make a prayerful attempt.
10. Perhaps the most comforting thing about this whole scenario is the wisdom of the God we serve in making the congregations of the body autonomous. Just because unscriptural decisions and practices are affecting the body in a nearby community does not mean they must affect the congregation in which I worship Him. I praise Him for that divine insulation.
11. Just because a sign in front of the building may say “Church of Christ” does not necessarily mean that the body of people who meet inside really are part of the body for which He died. At some point, when people digress in faithfulness, the “candlestick” is divinely removed. We know this from Revelation 2. Though we know that for many years the denominational world at large has scorned the teaching of I Timothy 2 as it relates to the role of women in worship, our consternation in the past few days has been because this is a congregation called the church of Christ. God knows whether the candlestick is in place. He always gets that right. A sign, a place in a directory, a nomenclature on a website or Facebook page, or a link to a Christian university or publication does not, of course, determine true identity.
12. Respecting diverse choices about worship is not a Biblical concept. In fact, respecting each other is not what worship is about. Worship has never been about what I. or others, might choose. If I may use Lauren’s illustration, Abraham would never have chosen to worship in the way God prescribed in Genesis 22. The worship he offered was a total rejection of what he would have preferred and of the “talents” he would have seen as valuable or instrumental to God’s purposes. It was the WORD of God that directed his offering; not his own talents or abilities. It is the WORD that should direct us to selflessly submit, respecting HIM.

Sister to Sister: I Don’t Have to Be a Racist to Say This…

Unknown-5So much has been said. Buildings are now burning and lives are at risk. Many times when I contemplate complex and newsworthy situations in our country, I do oversimplify… because I am simple-minded. I know.

But in my oversimplification, may I just say that Ferguson, Missouri is a tragic example of the destination of untethered people. When there is no recognition of the order of law and the standard of justice, chaos and destruction ensue (Romans 1). What is darker than a people untethered by spiritual and moral moorings (thus void of recognition of and adherence to standards of behavior)? 1) An untethered people quickly multiplying and raising their children with no regard for law, and 2) The people around them, who do respect the law and standards of justice, raising their children with a “tolerance of all lifestyles and viewpoints” mentality. That recipe in any country is a quick route to a fallen society. May I say that we are running—literally—running, to that end.

When the leadership in our communities and nation feels the need to pacify, in terminology and in directives to forces of law and order ( i.e. when the proverbial hat is tipped to criminals, the very people who are destroying property and threatening lives), the rush to a self-imploded society exacerbates. Perhaps the fires will die and the businesses will re-open for a time. But, let’s not be lulled into thinking this problem has gone away. When people, any people of any color,  are allowed to burn buildings and police cars without apparent repercussions, there is a problem that doesn’t go away with smoldering fires.

And then there’s the elephant in the room…this question. What exactly do the looters and burners want? Do they want the absence of the police force in their communities? Do they really want the Michael Browns of the community to be in charge? Do they really want “survival of the fittest” to be the law? What is it that they want?

Sister to Sister: Willie Robertson and Left Behind

10679070_700530216680305_700528176680509_35246_2632_tI suppose it’s time for members of the body to once again run the old and false doctrine of premillennialism up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes. I am saddened by and afraid of the influence of  Willie Robertson, producer of the new Left Behind movie that premieres October 3rd. Here he is:

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Perhaps the reason that believers have shared the accounts of Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark and Jonah and the Whale with their children without talking about the rapture is because the Bible does not speak of “the rapture”. It certainly does not speak of anyone “vanishing into thin air” on the last day and it does not speak of anyone being “left behind” on this earth. The factual prophecy of the last day includes the faithful meeting the Lord in the air (I Thess. 4:16-18) and the earth and all of its elements melting with fervent heat (II Peter 3:10-12). It speaks of those who have rejected the Savior being divided from those who have obeyed and all of both groups being judged simultaneously and, thus, entering into their eternal places of torment or bliss (hell or heaven) directly following that great judgment (Matthew 25:32-33).The “Left Behind” fantasy is just that.

I have hated, for the past couple of years, to see our brethren clamor after the Robertsons because I kept seeing evidences that they were compromising the moral and spiritual truths in the Word (thecolleyhouse.org/duck-dynasty-a-clear-call). I do not believe they have represented New Testament Christianity, the church of Christ, in a good way. God has called us to be holy and the promotion of drinking and selling alcohol, the opening of casinos, the acceptance of dancing and immodesty, the use of euphemisms, and the full cooperation with denominations is not a picture of sanctification.

But this new and blatant promotion of premillennialism surely will cause members of the body to take pause. Surely we will stop inviting Willie Robertson to our congregations to speak on spiritual topics. Surely we will stop encouraging our teens to put him on the pedestals of their impressionable minds. Surely we will concede that, while there may be some entertainment value in the Dynasty, the danger of selling premillennialism in wholesale and Hollywood fashion, outruns any positive effect that Willie might be wielding. This very bold and public denial of Biblical truth puts Willie in the category of false teachers of whom we must beware (II Peter 2:1).

Christians should study up on what the New Testament plainly teaches about the judgement day. Opportunities will be presented among our friends who go see the movie. We should be ready to teach the truth about the judgement of God in love. We must be sad when our brethren leave faithfulness and buy into false doctrines that will cause their souls to be lost. But we should look for the opportunities that may spring forth even from the apostasy of those who turn away. There will be many souls influenced negatively by this production. May we be on the lookout for the chance that could come from this huge undertaking of the devil to teach someone the soul-saving  truth about the last great day.