“I Want To Know What It Would Have Felt Like”

The following letter that I received a few days ago speaks for itself. It really needs no commentary except to tell you that I publish it with permission from its author. It will remain anonymous, but please know it’s from a real woman, who even after the years have passed, the forgiveness has occurred and the Lord has continued to bless, has moments of pain and regret because of sin so long ago forgiven. Sometimes we simply get finished with sin before it is finished with us. I pray that this helps a young heart somewhere deepen its resolve for purity. And thanks to the sweet woman who has the heart to help those who still have the choice to make.

I am just overcome with joy on Hannah’s engagement! I know you are just overly excited as well. However, I have some sadness within me. As silly (and maybe inappropriate) as it sounds, please indulge me. I know that she has stayed pure and will remain so until her wedding day. That is so amazing! Yet it’s this very thing that saddens me. I was not pure by any stretch of the imagination. On our wedding night after we had sex, I just lay there and bawled. He asked me what was wrong but I just couldn’t let it all out. Not on our wedding night. He knew that I had slept with many guys prior to us dating. He had slept with many girls prior. We had laid everything out on the table way before the wedding day so everything was known. But I didn’t know how to tell him how much I hated myself for not waiting until that moment to give myself to the one true person that I loved. This was supposed to be a happy time, and here I was so upset with myself for messing things up. If I had just done the right thing, this night could have been so much more meaningful! I know that God has forgiven me. And I thought I had forgiven myself. Until now. So many emotions just flooded my soul. Many people get engaged. And it never hits me. But because I KNOW that Hannah has done what is right in the sight of God I can only imagine how amazing her wedding night is going to be. Literally only imagine. And that hurts. I want to know what it would have felt like. (Please don’t think I’m being inappropriate. I’m sorry if I am.). I can’t change the past. All I can do is prepare for the future. I pray that I plant the Word of God in my sweet girls’ hearts. I pray that I demonstrate the love that I have for Him and His word in every action of my day. I pray that they, like Hannah, can experience what I never got to experience. And I pray that even after 8 years I can get over the feelings I have about myself. Thank you for listening. And again, congratulations! I really am excited for you!! She will make an amazing wife, and eventually an amazing mother!

The Appropriate Dress – REALLY?!

I was speaking recently at a seminar in another state, when a mom came up to me and began a conversation. In the middle of our talk, she mentioned that she had attended a purity seminar at a church with her teenage daughter in which a part of the program was about  “choosing appropriate dresses to wear to the dances.”

Well, now I’ve heard it all. I have spoken in many places about the absurdity of parents promoting the dimming of the lights in a gymnasium and the playing of seductive music while encouraging 15-year-olds (whose hormones are running their lives) to move their bodies to said music while touching those of the opposite sex. Many times during my forthright discussion of this modern-day phenomenon in most public high schools, I have seen looks of surprise—even disgust– in the rolling eyes of some young girls. But this was a first. I have never heard of adults planning a purity day in which we help girls decide what’s appropriate to wear to such a worldly event. Really??

Help me with this if you can. Help me to understand the reasoning behind accepting the sin and then helping them plan how to dress as they participate in it. I know I’m old-fashioned, but it is not the Bible that has changed in the past fifty years, since that time when Christians took it for granted that dancing promotes lust. It’s the culture.

Again: Here is a portion of Thayer’s definition of  “lasciviousness.” Remember as per Galatians 5:19-21, it is a work of the flesh. It is one of the items in a list of things we cannot do if we want to inherit the kingdom of heaven. So read Thayer and weep for the state of many women who are going to reap grave consequences for the encouragement of this sin:

“indecent bodily movements; unchaste handling between males and females”

Let’s not pick the right outfit to travel the path of temptation. That’s kind of like when your grandmother wanted you to wear nice underwear in case you were in a wreck! (Only, in this scenario, the spiritual wreck is much more likely.) Let’s eliminate the spiritually damaging activity and then we won’t have to worry about what to wear.  Let’s flee fornication (I Cor. 6:18). Let’s determine to abstain from the appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:22).

Potential Christian Spouse: It Takes One to Know One

As my daughter, Hannah, and I were driving home one day from a youth rally, we naturally began to talk about the lessons we had heard that day.  In the middle of that conversation came the comment from Hannah that is every mother’s nightmare: “Mom,” she said, “I am just really sick of hearing teachers and preachers say ‘Just say no to premarital sex’”.
I’m sure I almost had a wreck. I could not imagine such a statement coming out of her mouth! I had always heard that moms of teens should be on the look-out for the morphing;  you know the time when the compliance is replaced by complaining, the respect gives way to rebellion, and the silliness turns to sulking.  Other moms had told me to prepare myself for a time when she would become a “real” teenager and just go to her room and talk on the phone or listen to music or whatever it is that teenage girls do for a few years. But Hannah and I had a sweet and open relationship.  I was taken aback that the transformation could be so sudden and marked by such a blatant “out of the blue” remark.
“I beg your pardon, Hannah, but what on earth do you mean?” I stammered.
“Oh, mom, you know. I just don’t think sexual promiscuity happens like that. I mean I really can’t imagine myself ever having to seriously say “no” to a guy who is pressuring me to go all the way.”
“I’m still a little fuzzy…”
“Well, Mom, you see it’s like this. In my circle of friends it’s most often me who suggests that we change the channel because the show gets raunchy or the commercial is obscene. I am the one who won’t go to the pool party because I’m not going to wear a swimsuit in front of a guy. Remember, it’s me again who’s home on Friday night because the movie they’re seeing is not clean. And I am the one who won’t even sit at the same table in the restaurant where someone is drinking. C’mon now Mom….Do you really think that there is a guy out there who would ask me out with the faintest notion in his little brain that dating me would include sex?!”
She had a valid point. As she went on to explain, the guys who really are interested in sexual relationships are generally smart enough to “take the cues”. They are more likely to look for girls who aren’t displaying obvious defense mechanisms against sexual impurity.  While perhaps failing to understand that the devil can also “wear down” well meaning couples, she used good logic. It is true that a young girl’s chances are far better to stay away from fornication when she is making a good attempt to flee (I Cor. 6:18). Perhaps she didn’t see though, at that moment, the most profound inference she was making about her future. She was actually saying that a girl can, by her demeanor and all the little day to day decisions of sanctification, “weed out” many unsavory potential boyfriends.
Our son has verified on several occasions that the same shoe fits the male foot, as well. Our conversations go something like this: I say…
“Caleb, what about Susan So-and -So?  She’s really cute. Have you thought of asking her out?” (I always try to be helpful like that.)
“Yeah, Mom. I thought she was cute, too….And she’s pretty smart.  She’s in my club and I thought about asking her out, but then one day I passed her in the student center and she used this vulgar word that just totally made me NOT want to date her.”…OR
“Yeah, Mom.  She’s nice, but she wears things sometimes that just really aren’t very modest. I don’t think so.”…OR
“Well, I did think about her, but she was in that group that invited me to go see that movie that no Christian should really see.”
I’m their mom. I understand that finding the right mate involves more than the process of elimination. I certainly am not under the delusion that we did everything right as we tried to develop moral courage in our kids. I hope they will forgive us for all the times we failed to take advantage of opportunities to strengthen the muscles of conviction. At the same time, though, I hope our kids remember all those hundreds of prayers in which we said their names, imploring the Father to help them find faithful Christian mates; mates who would help them get to heaven. I hope our nightly family Bible times had a powerful and cumulative effect of showing them the importance of a marriage united in God’s Truth.  I think they will remember times when we desperately tried to help other couples who had made poor choices in selecting mates. When they were old enough to start dating we gave them little dating “check cards” they could carry in their wallets with important characteristics for which they should be watching; things like “Can she be happy when she is not the center of attention?” or “Does he speak respectfully to and about his parents?”  We encouraged them to attend a faithful Christian university where young adults from similar homes would likely attend. Their dates are always welcome at our house and are included in our family Bible times. You and your son can observe a lot about a girl’s spiritual moorings in the atmosphere of a family devotional. You and your daughter can learn a lot about that guy when your family engages in a deep spiritual conversation. There is truly a plethora of everyday activities, conversations, and nuances in the Christian family that make it only natural that the children look for someone with whom they can share the passion that dwarfs all other interests.
We are counting on our theory that the job of getting faithful sons-in-law and godly daughters-in- law is 95% complete when we successfully place real conviction in the hearts of our sons and daughters. The devil is very assertive in America in 2010.. If our children grow up with their affections on heaven (Col.3:2),  it will not be an accident.  Furthermore, if they grow up to be morally pure adults, they will be very dissimilar to the average person of the world (I Pet. 2:9).  For distinctive young Christian adults, moral and spiritual priorities will serve as fences, seriously narrowing the field of potential mates.  While this thinning of prospective candidates for marriage is a good thing, it may make the process of finding him be arduous, perhaps even daunting. It may mean going out of your way, flexing your schedule, or even traveling to places where faithful people come together: Christian colleges, lectureships, seminars, and fellowship activities. The decision of whom to marry is larger than life. Its ramifications affect destinies of generations and reach to eternity.  While the stakes are very high, we, as parents must remember that, while we may give advice, we are not in charge of the final decision. But we have a very powerful ally in our corner.  God, who pities us like a father pities his children (Psa.103:13), has promised that when we ask according to His will, he hears and answers(I John 5:14). I believe it is His will that my children marry people who will help them go to heaven. So I will keep on asking daily. I really want God to help choose the two people who will be helping to raise my smart and beautiful grandchildren.  He has never failed to give me the spiritual desires of my heart as I delight in Him (Psa. 37:4).
As my husband and I wait on the Lord with eager hearts of hope, we are overcome with a sense of wonder at His amazing care. We know that He is preparing another stage of our lives in which He has potential blessings the richness of which we don’t yet have the capacity to fully anticipate. We believe there are two things that, by the grace of God, parents can do to help insure the marital security of their children. The first is to daily teach, by your words, your priorities, your own marriage relationships, and your cumulative reactions to the immorality of the world around you.  The second is to fervently pray for your children: that their major choices in life will always be those which will ultimately lead the future generations of your family to heaven.  The first one is the hardest.  It is also urgent because it is a fleeting responsibility. Parents have one span of about eighteen short years (the shortest span of your lifetime!) to fulfill this huge and sacred responsibility.  The second is the one we never stop doing.

*Article first appeared in THINK magazine, Focus Press, Brentwood, TN

Tired of “Think Pink:The Pony” ?

Those billboards about sex used to be taboo; at least in my Alabama town.  But lately the ads for sex toy stores and so-called gentlemen’s clubs have been popping up all over town littering the sides of our interstates and even well traveled country highways. I’m sad that such businesses exist in my hometown, but it takes lots of “cooperation” for the public advertising of the devil’s enterprises. One recent compromiser is the Lamar Outdoor Advertising Company.  

Founded in 1902, Lamar Advertising operates over 150 outdoor advertising companies and 63 transit companies. They reach driving audiences across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico through billboards, digital billboards, bus shelters, benches and buses. Lamar is also the nation’s leader in the highway logo sign business, with operations in 19 states and the Province of Ontario, Canada. 

Lamar once catered to families, but in recent months has contracted with businesses that encourage infidelity and the exploitation of women.  The American Family Association has an opportunity to get a clear pro-family, pro-morality message to Lamar in the next few days. Find out below how you can help.

Encourage Lamar to stop taking ‘adult’ billboard ads
If you drive on some of America’s highways, you most likely have been visually assaulted by billboards advertising adult businesses, or “gentlemen’s clubs” as their owners prefer to refer to them. You may have had a curious child ask what they are. No parent should have to talk about these places to their innocent child. Billboard advertising giant, Lamar Outdoor Advertising,  is one of the companies providing ads for these “adult” businesses. Lamar once had a family-friendly policy that prohibited sexually suggestive graphics and language — but not now. Sign the petition to encourage Lamar to again adopt its family-friendly policy that protects communities and highways from billboards that advertise for businesses that have the potential to increase crime rates, reduce property values, encourage infidelity and break up marriages and families. AFA believes that when outdoor advertising is used to exploit women as sex objects, concerned Christians should take a stand to protect women, men and children against indecent and irresponsible attacks on our families and community standards through advertising. Please take a minute to sign the petition. Your petition will be hand-delivered to the president of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), who has promised to bring up this issue at the association’s fall board meeting. OAAA has agreed to present the petitions to Lamar President and CEO Kevin Reilly, Jr. We understand that the OAAA has no authority to force one of its members to stop accepting business of this nature, but pressure from the public will have a great impact.

Woman with an Audience, Part 2

Enter Cozbi

Families were weeping as they witnessed the hanging deaths of loved ones. The method of execution was not left to human discretion. There were no appellate courts to prolong life for the guilty. God was prosecutor, judge and jury. Twenty-four thousand were already dead. Millions were in mourning.

In this setting Cozbi enters the camp. Her appearance was a blatant and blasphemous slap in the face of God. While weeping multitudes were being humbled by the death plague, Zimri, an influential Simeonite, brought his adulteress publicly and pridefully before his brethren. In the somber setting of God’s wrath being dispensed, he displayed this whoredom before the assembly that now wept as a result of the consequences of such whoredom. Furthermore, Cozbi wasn’t just any old Midianite maiden. She was a princess of Midian. Zimri’s alliance was not only with an immoral woman of Midian. His alliance was with the influential and important idolaters (vs.15).

The Final Act

Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron was incensed by the utter defiance of Zimri. He followed Zimri to the pavilion and graphically illustrated for all of Israel, God’s disdain for his arrogance.

And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel (Numbers 25:8).

God was pleased with the zeal of Phinehas. He established with Phinehas his covenant of peace. When blatant sin is in the camp today, God expects his people to address it and purify his congregation (I Cor.5). The plague was stayed and the healing process was begun. God re-ordered the smiting of the Midianites and re-issued his warnings about the beguiling nature of the idolatrous peoples of Canaan. He was preparing their hearts for the challenges that lay ahead for they were about to enter Canaan, a land they were to rid of idolatrous multitudes. How could Israel fail to recognize at this point the oneness of Jehovah and His wrath on those who would divide their allegiance?

When the Curtain Closed….
(Lessons Learned)

Joining the devils forces is a progressive decline rather than a sudden fall.

Sexual sin binds with strong cords.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).

Blatant and intentional sin must be Biblically confronted by people of God.

*This post and the previous one taken from Women of Deliverance, by Cindy Colley; Publishing Designs, Huntsville, AL

Woman with an Audience, Part 1

Cozbi’s name means deceitful. Her story is one of sexual shame and idolatry. More importantly her story graphically illustrates the disdain of God toward blatant sin in His camp. Ironically, God used the shameless Cozbi to establish His covenant of peace with one who was unashamed to stand for right. She reminds God’s people today to be serious about the sanctification to which God calls us. We are to come …out from among them and be separate (II Cor. 6:17).

Setting the stage for Cozbi

The saga of Cozbi occurs during the last year of Israel’s wilderness wanderings. The magnificent promises of the land of corn and wine are on their immediate horizon. The generation that trembled in fear at the inhabitants of Canaan (Numbers 13, 14), has now been replaced by a generation that seems, not only fearless, but fraternizing with the riotous people of Canaan. Balaam, a Midianite seer, but one through whom Jehovah spoke to the Midianites, has desired and pleaded with God for permission to prophesy against Israel and favorably toward his sister nation Moab. God’s anger had been kindled against Baalam (Numbers 22:22) because he went with the princes of Moab to meet with their king who had courted his favor by promising him great honor if he would only curse Israel. God had powerfully shown through a talking donkey (Numbers 22:22-35) that his proposed alliance with Moab against Israel was potentially destructive for him and the lands of Moab and Midian.

But Israel should have heard the donkey’s message, too. In Numbers 25:1-3, we see that while God was blessing Israel and cursing her enemies, Israel herself was busy making sinful alliances with the very nations God was cursing.

And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
And Israel joined himself unto Baal–peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

Notice the three progressive steps Israel took to wholesale idolatry.

First, the men of Israel began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. Even casual observation by anyone who does counseling shows that sexual sin binds with cords stronger than any other sin (Read Proverbs 5 and note particularly vs. 22). Men are often willing to forfeit their homes, children, relationships with parents, fellowship with godly people, and jobs in order to continue an illicit sexual relationship. Fornication and adultery have even caused men to verbally admit that they are willing to be lost in hell eternally in order to continue in this sin. As one man I know put it, “If my relationship with her is going to keep me out of heaven, I’d rather have my heaven now.” I wonder if this person also believes he will schedule his own personal itinerary for hell, as well.

Secondly, the people became involved in the idolatry of Moab.

And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods (Numbers 25:2).

Sexual involvement with ungodly partners is sinful and shameful within itself. But the spiritual ruin that it leaves in its wake for entire families is devastating. Young people in our congregations need to hear strong teaching from early ages about sexual purity before marriage. Older women need to be in classrooms teaching young girls specifics about purity of heart , discretion in dating behavior, and the choosing of godly companions. Most importantly, mothers need to accept the burden of responsibility in molding the young hearts within their care to reject Satan’s mentality of sexual freedom. This mentality has so weakened America’s moral climate, her political strength, and her health (notice these three weaknesses were obvious in Israel in Numbers 25) that her very foundation is shaken. Raising children who will not be pulled away from God via sexual sin in such a society is indeed a formidable challenge. It will take more than general cautionary statements about purity when our children become teens. We must, from very young ages, instruct and require compliance regarding modesty in dress and separation from the world in entertainment choices. We must give them specific guidelines about touching, kissing, hugging, and general propriety in relationships with members of the opposite sex. This takes a great deal of fortitude and large quantities of time spent with our children. I heard about a mom in my neighborhood who, upon hearing that her young daughter had a boyfriend in the house each afternoon for a couple of hours, responded by saying, “Okay, that does it! She goes on birth control tomorrow! How I would love to come home right now and catch her with him, but I have a hair appointment.” No wonder her daughter had no sense of moral values! The best form of birth control is parent control and it is dispensed far in advance of the teen years.

The devil is very busy getting his propaganda about safe sex to your children. He uses school courses, organizations like Planned Parenthood and centers for disease control. He leans heavily on mass media: television, movies, CDs , and the internet. He does it most powerfully through peers. It will not be an accident if my children remain pure until entering God-approved marriages. It will be a product of several factors including prayer, instruction, time, discipline and Bible study.

Once sexually involved with Moab, the Israelites were only a short step away from idolatry. Though 21st century idols in America are not statues of stone or carvings of wood, they nonetheless pull allegiance from Jehovah, giving it to whatever the godless society worships. Most often today the gods are materialism (Col. 3:5), sexual pleasure (Rom. 1:23,24), and entertainment (II Tim. 3:4).

It is interesting to note that it was contextually the MEN in verse one who were committing whoredom. But it was the PEOPLE in verse two who were bowing to the gods of the Moabites. Sin grows proportionally in severity and scope. When fathers fall to Satan, their families are often close behind them.

Third, Israel was JOINED to Baal-Peor.

And Israel joined himself unto Baal–peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel (vs.3).

Satan seeks solidarity among his allies. Becoming friendly with his forces puts me in the danger zone that borders the full scale Baal alliance.

God’s response to this joining was extreme anger.

…and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal–peor (vs.3b-5).

Let no one doubt that God is a jealous God (Deut. 5:9). Let no one doubt His wrath (Rom. 1:18).
Let all know that He is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29). 24,000 lives were required before Cozbi came on the scene and through a series of events, the plague was stayed.