Elizabeth’s Barrenness—Her Perspective vs God’s Perspective (#BraveLikeMary Series)

Dear Christian Sisters,

The story of Jesus’ birth actually begins with the story of John the Baptist’s birth.

John’s mother, Elizabeth, was a relative of Mary’s, so John and Jesus were cousins—not first cousins because Elizabeth and Mary were not sisters, but cousins in their larger, extended family.

Elizabeth plays an important role in Mary’s life. She was Mary’s mentor.

But before we talk about Elizabeth mentoring Mary, let’s try to see the story from Elizabeth’s perspective.

Introducing Zacharias and Elizabeth

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Luke 1:5

So what Luke is telling us is that both Zacharias and Elizabeth were of the tribe of Levi. The Levites were the Jewish priests.

Elizabeth is Both Righteous and Barren

They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
Luke 1:6-7

So, Elizabeth’s clock had been ticking for some time. She wasn’t beyond childbearing years, that is, she had not yet entered menopause, but she was getting close.

Yet, she had no children.

In the Jewish culture of the time, big families were the norm. To not have children was rare. And as you may recall from my blog post titled, “Abortion & the Bible,” Old Testament Jews valued children.

It could have been that others shamed Elizabeth for not having children, yet she walked blamelessly.

Barrenness

Let me ask you this: Is an inability to have children a curse from God?

I hope you said no!

The answer is in Luke 1:6-7 (quoted above). Both Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous in the Lord, yet they did not have children.

God is love (1 John 4:8). A curse cannot come from love.

If Elizabeth’s story is like your story, know that your challenge to conceive or to carry a child to term is not about how good you are.

It’s about furthering God’s kingdom.

God’s Perspective

We all have our stories. We tell our stories from our own perspectives.

“We can’t have kids” is Zacharias and Elizabeth’s story.

“When I will receive greater glory, Zacharias and Elizabeth will have a child” is God’s story.

We can look at every story in the Bible from the perspective of those who were there and from the perspective of God.

Now, our insights won’t be perfect because the culture of the time isn’t like ours today (especially that of the United States) and because it’s challenging to imagine God’s thoughts since He is so much greater than we are; however, taking time to consider other perspectives will help us to understand God.

We can also look at our own stories from our own perspective, from the perspective of others, and from the perspective of God.

It’s a whole new twist on He said/she said.

He Said / She Said

Have you ever told a story from childhood only to hear your parents or your siblings tell the story in a completely different way?

To encourage my older boy to write, we teamed up to write some he said/she said stories. We took the same event and each told the story. It was a great way for him to learn perspective!

Our favorite he said/she said story was about a trip from Minneapolis to Atlanta through Detroit, where we had a 5-hour delay. He absolutely loved that trip because he got to watch videos, explore the airport, ride the tram and the moving sidewalk, and go on a big airplane (777).

He was 7 at the time of this story. My other boy was a potty training toddler. The 7 pm flight ended up being a 12 midnight flight. Can you guess what the trip was like for me?

I carried my bag, my purse, a diaper bag, and a toddler.

I took all of us to the bathroom for diaper changes.

I walked boys in the moving sidewalk and took them on the tram over and over again.

When we finally got on the airplane, the boys wouldn’t go to sleep because they were so excited that they had their very own TV.

When we got to the Atlanta airport, the 2-story escalator going down to the tram was out-of-order. Thankfully it was going down, not up, but it was 3 am, and I was carrying several bags and a toddler!

What my son thought was fun, I thought was exhausting!

My Abortion Story from My Perspective or God’s Perspective

When I think of my own abortion story, I can think about it from my perspective (read “Faces of Abortions“)
OR
from my boyfriend’s perspective
OR
from my parents’ perspective
OR
from God’s perspective.

How does the story change?

She Said

When I had the abortion, I was relieved because I thought the crisis was over.

How else did I feel? Good question. I think that mostly I was angry that I got pregnant. It didn’t seem fair to me that men could have sex without consequences, but women were shamed for being pregnant out of wedlock.

I’m not saying that I was right. Feelings are not right or wrong. They just are.

He Said

I’m sure God cried when I aborted my baby. I’m also sure that God welcomed my baby girl into heaven that day.

I am also convinced that God decided to use my story to stop future abortions, to stop other women from hurting themselves through abortion.

And here I am today, redeemed by His love (read “Forgiveness“), compelled by the Lord to write this blog, and speaking in Uganda and in the U.S.

I traded my story for His story.

[Will you sponsor my next mission trip to Uganda? (Dec 26, 2017-Jan 6, 2018) Your tax-deductible donation can be made online.]

The United States’ Abortion History from Women’s Rights Perspective or God’s Perspective

When I think of crisis pregnancies and abortion throughout the history of the United States and the world, I can look at it from from the perspectives of women who are worried about bringing a child into this world
OR
from a women’s rights perspective
OR
from God’s perspective.

How does the story change?

She Said

Women’s reasons for aborting are varied. Here are just a few:

I can’t afford to raise a child. My parents will be so disappointed with me. The baby daddy will be so mad. Children put up for adoption feel abandoned and might be abused by their adoptive parents. I have the right to choose.

Again, I am not saying that these are right. They are feelings, mostly feelings of fear.

He Said

God cries for every woman who aborts. God welcomes every aborted baby into heaven.

I am also convinced that God is saddened by women not feeling valued by men even though we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

As for our nation—as for all the nations that have legalized abortion—I’m sure God is angry. He founded the United States based on His commandments, yet as a nation we have decided that murder is okay in some cases and not others.

How is this different than King Ahaz burning his sons in fire as sacrifices to a foreign god (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chron 28:3, 2 Kings 16:2; 2 Chron 28:1)?

(For more on King Ahaz, read the “What God Said About the Jew Who Did Not Value Children” section of my blog post “Abortion & the Bible.”)

A good friend of mine has a lot to say about this. I’ve asked her to be my guest blogger in January, which is Sanctity of Human Life month, so stay tuned!

I look forward to reading more of Zacharias and Elizabeth’s story with you tomorrow.

In Christ,

Cheryl

PS: Here is the link to my son’s He Said/She Said blog post titled, “My First Flight on a 777.”

Lies about Sex vs the Bible: #2—Jesus Didn’t Say Anything about Premarital Sex

Dear Christian Sisters,

If you read through all of my last post, then you learned that the Greek word porneia is translated to

  • fornication,
  • immorality,
  • sexual immorality, and
  • unchastity

in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) [see the Blue Letter Bible].

We get our English word pornography from the Greek porneia [see dictionary.com].

You also know from my last post that the sexual acts that are included in porneia are the forbidden sexual acts listed in Jewish Law, mostly Leviticus (Jewish Law refers to the first 5 books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy):

  • adultery
  • homosexuality
  • lesbianism
  • intercourse with animals
  • sex with close relatives
  • sex with a divorced man or woman
  • premarital sex

Hypocrisy within the Church

As Christian Sisters, we know that historically the Church has looked down on women who have premarital sex. We know that even today women with crisis pregnancies are judged within the church and in society.

As women living in a feminist society, we feel the hypocrisy—men are hallowed for their sexual conquests while women are quietly (or not-so-quietly) called whores.

Jesus’ Kindness

But have you ever noticed that when Jesus talked to women about their unchastity, He was kind?

In contrast, whenever He talked to crowds of men and women, He was direct.

Sometimes Jesus was angry, but I only see His anger when He’s addressing men—and He called them hypocrites.

Jesus Talks Kindly to Women about Unchastity

For example, when Jesus talked to the woman at the well about her unchastity, He did not condemn her. He did clearly reveal Himself as the Christ to her, a woman. That was a big deal. At that point in His ministry, He was not even that direct to the 12 disciples about His divinity.

For more on the woman at the well, read my blog post titled “Abortion & the Church.”

When the Pharisees brought a naked woman caught in the very act of adultery to Jesus, He redirected their eyes away from her and down to the sand. Once all the accusatory men left, Jesus did not condemn the woman but simply told her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

For more on the woman caught in adultery, read my blog post “Abortion & the Church.”

Jesus did not condemn either woman, but He was clear about their sin.

Jesus is Direct about Unchastity

Jesus was also clear about porneia (unchastity) to all of His disciples (not just the 12 but the crowds).

There are no parables about sex. Jesus outright says not to have sex outside of marriage.

In three stories, Jesus uses the word porneia.

Jesus Talks about Unchastity in the Sermon on the Mount

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is direct about unchastity but because He does it in the context of divorce, we often miss what He’s saying about premarital sex.

but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity [porneia], makes her commit adultery [moicheuō]; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery [moicheuō].
Matthew 5:32 NASB

Notice that unchastity is the Greek porneia and that adultery is the Greek moicheuō. It wasn’t until I studied this verse to understand what Jesus was saying about sex rather than what He was saying about divorce that I noticed the difference between unchastity and adultery.

Unchastity includes adultery. Adultery is a subset of unchastity. So, unchastity is the larger term and includes any type of sex other than heterosexual, consensual sex between one man and one woman who are married to each other.

That tells me that if your husband thinks that you’re a virgin when he marries you and then finds out that you were not, he can divorce you. And, yes, of course, the same in reverse—if you think that your husband is a virgin when you marry and you later find out that he wasn’t, then you can divorce him.

I hear you laughing under your breath! I know. I know—it would be unusual to find a couple in the United States today who has not had premarital sex. But doesn’t that tell you something about the context of Jesus’ teaching? In Jewish society, it was typical to be chaste until marriage, not unchaste like today.

Now, I’m not saying that you should divorce him! Assuming both of you know the other’s sexual history, The Church expects you to remain married, and God does, too (Malachi 2:16).

There are many couples who stay together through adultery. Certainly if a couple can stay together through adultery, then you can stay together even if one of you lied about his/her virginity.

The fact that Jesus said that couples could divorce because one of them had premarital sex (whether heterosexual or homosexual) tells us that He takes sex very seriously. Why do I say that? Because God hates divorce (see Malachi 2:16).

Jesus is Direct about Divorce and Unchastity

On His way to Jerusalem for the final week of His life (we call that Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Day or Easter), Jesus was followed by large crowds (Matthew 19:2) and some Pharisees came to test Him about divorce (Matthew 19:3).

Now, these Pharisees were trying to find fault in Jesus’ teaching (“testing Him” in Matthew 19:3). They already knew what He said about divorce in the Sermon on the Mount or other places, since certainly He taught His commands wherever He went (if all that Jesus did was written, the world could not contain all the resulting books—John 21:25).

These Pharisees wanted to discredit Jesus since He was preaching against what Moses allowed. Here, read the story for yourself. Note that anything in all caps is a quote from the Old Testament:

and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?”

And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE (Genesis 1:27, 5:2), and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? (Genesis 2:24) So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality [porneia/unchastity], and marries another woman commits adultery [moicheuō].”
Matthew 19:2-9 NASB

As you can read, Jesus is direct while repeating and reinforcing what he preached in the Sermon on the Mount. Not only is divorce not in God’s will, but unchastity is not, either.

Jesus Gets Frustrated or Even Angry with the Disciples

In another passage, Jesus gets frustrated, maybe even angry, with his disciples for their lack of understanding.

In Mark chapter 7, we read that the Pharisees and Scribes watched Jesus’ disciples closely, found fault in them about the tradition of ritual hand washing, and challenged Jesus about it (Mark 7:1-5). Jesus calls them hypocrites (Mark 7:6), quotes the Old Testament prophesy about them (Mark 7:6-7), and goes on pointing out their hypocrisy (Mark 7:8-13).

Then Jesus turns to the crowd to declare all foods clean (Mark 7:14-16). Frustrated with the Jewish leaders, Jesus goes into Peter’s house to calm Himself down only to find that the disciples didn’t understand either (Mark 7:17-19).

Jesus then makes it clear that there’s a difference between food laws and moral laws:

And He said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)

And He said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality [porneia], theft, murder, adultery [moicheuō], coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark‬ ‭7:18-23‬ ‭ESV

Have We Kept His Commandments?

So, yes, Jesus did talk about unchastity. Are we keeping His commandments on unchastity and adultery?

Jesus said:

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
John 14:15 NASB

Have we always kept God’s commandments on unchastity and adultery?

Paul said:

The body is not for immorality [porneia], but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:13b‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I am keeping God’s commandments now, but I have not always done so.

But remember that when Jesus points out a woman’s sin, He’s gentle. He also says, “sin no more” (John 8:11).

Have We Confessed Our Sexual Sins?

John said,

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I have confessed my sexual sins. Have you?

When I confessed my sexual sins, I named them. God does not want to hear the general request: “forgive me of my sins.” He wants you to name them. He wants you to own what you did—and then sin no more. Because when you own your own sins, you acknowledge how perfect God is and how much you need Him for your eternal salvation.

(S)He who conceals (her)his transgressions will not prosper, but (s)he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
Proverbs‬ ‭28:13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭32:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Romans‬ ‭6:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Here is a sample prayer. There is nothing magic about it. I provide it simply to help you if you feel lost for words:

Dear Lord Father,

Your name is above all names. You are holy. You are mighty. You are perfect in all Your ways. You love me even though I sin.

You created the moral laws for my good. I trust You, Lord, that Your laws are for my good.

I have not followed Your laws about sex. I have been unchaste. I have fornicated. Please forgive me for _________________ (having sex before I married [heterosexual or homosexual–both are wrong], looking at porn, looking at soft porn on the TV and in movies, fantasizing about someone other than my husband, saying crude words that demean the beautiful sex that You created for one man and one woman to have in covenant marriage, what other sexual sin does God want you to confess?).

I acknowledge my sexual sins to You, and my iniquity I will not hide from You. I confess my transgressions to You. Please forgive me the guilt of my sin in the name of Jesus, my Savior.

I have died to sin. May I forever feel uncomfortable with sexual sins. May I forever live as a citizen of heaven, a foreigner living on earth until You take me home.

Thank You for Your lovingkindness, Abba Father.

Send me out today as a new woman, in the name of Jesus, that others would recognize the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Galatians 5:22-23]) within me.

Amen

Are We Teaching Others What Jesus Said about Unchastity?

Not only did Jesus have something to say about unchastity, but He tell us to teach all He commanded. Here it is in the Great Commission:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew‬ ‭28:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬ [emphasis added]

If you are a mother, then you are a teacher to your children (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).

If you are not a mother, then you can have more children than the rest of us (see Isaiah 54:1-3). You are a teacher. You are an influencer to your nieces and nephews, to your coworkers, to children in your church.

Do you want God to reverse Roe v. Wade and greatly reduce abortions?

Then

  1. confess your sexual sins
  2. sin no more
  3. teach other disciples that unchastity is a sin—because it is. Jesus said so.

In Christ,

Cheryl

Lies about Sex vs the Bible: #1—Everyone Else Does It!

Dear Christian Sisters,

We cannot talk about abortion without talking about sex–the very thing that results in crisis pregnancies.

If we were to follow what the Bible says about sex, we would have far fewer women and men considering abortion because we would have far fewer crisis pregnancies.

NOTE: Please remember that I am not writing from my pedestal. I, too, have had premarital sex, which you already know if you’ve read my story (see Faces of Abortion and Forgiveness & Peace that Passes All Understanding).

Keep reading this series to find out how I dealt with my sin and why it’s important for you to deal with yours, too, even if you never got pregnant or never had an abortion.

What the Bible Says about Sex

Do we know what the Bible says about sex? Do we know what the New Testament says?

Most of us had sex before we got married. It’s what we do here in the United States whether we’re Christian or not. It’s the culture. We live in a sex culture.

New Christians under the rule of Rome also lived in a sex culture. Sex was often part of the Gentiles’ worship of gods.

They didn’t slither into a brothel like people do today (of course, it’s unlawful here). They openly went to the temple to worship their gods by having sex with temple prostitutes.

When Gentiles began believing that Jesus was their Savior, some Jewish Christians said that the Gentile Christians had to be circumcised and follow all the Jewish laws.

This was a big debate! Paul and Barnabas brought this debate to the Apostles, including Peter, and the elders. You can read the drama in Acts 15.

James, the half brother of Jesus, gave a speech that convinced those who had gathered for the debate that Gentile believers should not feel burdened (Acts 15:13-20).

They then sent a letter to the Gentile believers letting them know that they did not need to follow Jewish Law–except to:

“abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication” (Acts 15:29).

Fornication? What is Fornication?

The sexual acts that are included in fornication are the forbidden sexual acts listed in Jewish Law (mostly Leviticus):

  • adultery
  • homosexuality
  • lesbianism
  • intercourse with animals
  • sexual intercourse with close relatives
  • sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman

For a complete list of Old Testament laws about sex, go to the Gospel Outreach page and scroll down to #330.

In the list of Old Testament Laws about sex, did you notice that God didn’t just say, “Men, only have sex with your one wife” and “Women, only have sex with your one husband”?

We people are so hard-headed that He had to give specifics, like “don’t have sex with your sister or half-sister.”

This is a good reminder of our sinful nature. It’s also a reminder that we need to teach each other the specifics of what fornication includes.

In the World, Not of the World

We may live in the world that embraces the sex culture, but we are called by God to not live like the world. (Ephesians 4:22-24; John 15:19, 17:14-16; Romans 12:2)

Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality*; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-5

[*Sexual immorality in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 is translated from the Greek porneia. Porneia is translated to immorality, sexual immorality, unchastity, and fornication in the New American Standard Bible (NASB).]

Teach Them the Way They Should Go

Let us also remember as mothers, aunts, and leaders that we are called to teach our children.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:7

Let us consider how to inspire one another to love and good deeds, encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).

In Christ,

Cheryl

Forgiveness & Peace that Passes All Understanding

Dear Christian Sisters,

In my previous blog post, I told you my story—what led up to my abortion and how it resulted in more bad choices.

In retrospect, I can tell you that my abortion brought darkness over my life. I turned my back on God, I murdered my baby, and I continued to make bad decisions of staying with the baby daddy—living with him, buying a house with him, and then marrying him (the wrong order!).

It wasn’t until after the baby daddy divorced me that I found the love of Christ shown practically by Russ. I had great joy!

But I also felt convicted that having an abortion is wrong.

Thankfully, the forgiveness that comes from Christ is freeing. We should never put the heaviness of guilt back onto a woman.

As sinners, we can have the peace of Christ in all circumstances, but we have to seek the Holy Spirit to get it.

When I first told my story in front of a large group, which was at my adult baptism, I quoted a bible verse. The Lord gave it to me right as I was speaking. I didn’t know where it was in the Bible at that time, but today, I can tell you that it’s in the Bible in two places:

  • in Psalm 51, which is THE BEST chapter on confessing our sins and feeling the love of God’s forgiveness, and
  • in Isaiah 1.

In Psalm 51, King David is confessing his sin of murder to the Lord. In verses 2 and 3, he says:

“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin for I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.”

In verse 7 is the freeing verse. The verse that is echoed in Isaiah 1:18.

“Purify me and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

If you, too, are post-abortive, read Psalm 51 as if you wrote it yourself. Mean it. Then you, too, will feel the love of God’s forgiveness. Once you feel whiter than snow, you will feel light!

I exchanged my story for His story. You can, too.

Even if you have not had an abortion, you probably have life challenges We ALL have things going on behind these faces—things that are difficult.

  • Some of us have difficult marriages.
  • Some of us have significant illnesses.
  • Some of us have difficult relationships with
    • adult children,
    • extended family or
    • coworkers.

We all have stress.

But we can all have the peace of Christ, peace that passes all understanding.

How do I know?

Because I have two siblings. Both of them have schizophrenia.

Shortly after I accepted Christ, we figured out that my brother also has schizophrenia. I remembered how I left the church when things got hard with my sister 15 years earlier.

I remember all too well how darkness fell over my life because I made really bad decisions, like:

  • premarital sex and
  • abortion and
  • living with my boyfriend and
  • marrying the wrong guy,

because I was angry at God—So I made a conscious decision to press into the church when my brother got sick and then became homeless.

Not that the church knew what to do with schizophrenia, but:

  • They knew how to pray.
  • They knew how to have healthy relationships within the family.
  • They had referral lists for Christian counseling—and I needed counseling!

My brother was homeless for 2 years. How he was admitted into the hospital, I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to know. But he did get diagnosed with schizophrenia, and then through social workers, got an apartment.

The medicine never fully worked, but at least he had a roof over his head.

Until a year ago.

Now if you’ve ever seen the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” then you have an inkling of what my brother is like. He’s a genius. The schizophrenia medication dulls his genius.

He went from spending all his time in the library reading books on computational linguistics and grading papers for a professor who taught Mandarin to someone who sits around all day doing nothing.

Not only does he know Mandarin, but Hebrew and Aramaic. He could have a PhD in linguistics, but he’s too smart and too bored to finish his freshman humanities paper to even get his bachelor’s degree.

And a year ago, he left his apartment back in Minnesota and traveled to Boston. He didn’t tell anyone.

It took a month for my dad to figure out that my brother had left and where he had gone. It took 3 more months to get confirmation from the police that he was really in Boston.

When my dad reached out to him, my brother left Boston. We think he went to Washington, DC. My mom lives with me, and she and I talk about this all he time. My brother must not realize how close we live to DC, but he would never seek us out. He literally closed the door on my face a couple years ago. He doesn’t want to see me.

And now we have no idea whether he is in DC or went back to Boston or has moved on to someplace else.

And even though I am very sad that my brother is off of his medication, that he is homeless again, and that he doesn’t want to see me, I still have hope, and I still have peace.

How?

Last year when I found out that my brother was missing, I started praising God while I was crying. In my homeschool group, we sing the Doxology, which has been a comforting return to my church upbringing.

So I’ve been singing “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow”—and as a result, I have grown closer and closer to the Lord. I feel peace even though I’m sad.

I felt peace as I worked alongside my dad and my nephew as we cleaned out my brother’s apartment (a day that felt like a funeral).

  • Peace has returned to my marriage and my home.
  • I had absolute peace about quitting my job last spring.
  • I had peace about homeschooling my teenager this year.
  • I have peace about not having a second income even though our expenses went up this year.
  • I had peace about my husband having hip surgery this summer, and I have peace about his upcoming knee surgery.

In my previous life, all these life circumstances would’ve stressed me out. But now, every day, I seek more of the Holy Spirit.

In Luke 11 after Jesus’s says “knock and it will be opened to you” (verses 9-10), he says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (verse 13).

And I’ve been asking.

You know what we get when we have more of the Holy Spirit? We get the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

So, I say to you today,

  • confess your sins—big and small—so that you can be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7),
  • ask for more of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13) so that you can have peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7), and
  • go make Christ appealing to every Gentile and every Jew you meet so that they want to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior (Matthew 28:19-20).

In Christ,

Cheryl

Faces of Abortions OR Call Me a Missionary to McDonald’s

Dear Christian Sisters,

People’s lives are messy.

The circumstances surrounding a woman’s decision to abort are messy.

We need to be the love of Christ to women in their messiness. We are responsible for the Great Commission, and we should think of these women as potential disciples.

Who I am Today

Because most of you don’t know me, let me paint a picture of who I am today. I am married to an evangelical Christian man, Russ, who helps support the airlines so their planes stay in the air and not on the ground—which I know you all appreciate.

I have 2 boys school-age boys—one with Aspergers and one with ADHD. They were in public school until recently, and now I homeschool them both.

I have a bachelors degree in technical communication, and I nearly finished my master’s degree in instructional technology. Before I decided to stay home to raise boys, I was a project manager leading teams to create web-based training for big corporations like Target, Northwest Airlines, and 3M.

A couple years ago, I went back into the workforce at our church until this year when I chose to stay home to homeschool my high schooler.

I am on the prayer team, I am in bible study class Sunday mornings, and I am in a special needs moms’ small group—although I have to admit that my kids’ special needs are so much easier than all my girlfriends’ kids.

But what I love about that group is that they understand that life is hard.

Because, you see, my home while in high school was not easy.

Well, it started easy. I am the spoiled youngest of three. My sister and brother are a bit older than me, so when I was done with 5th grade, they were both off at college, and I was the spoiled only child.

Living in a Home Tormented with Schizophrenia

But in the middle of 10th grade, my sister and her 6-month-old baby boy came home for Christmas and never left. Her husband had left her because she had a mental illness that he couldn’t handle.

Suddenly, I was the neglected middle child.

This situation led to a lot of arguing in my house. As some of you know, having three generations living in the same house is challenging because parents and grandparents don’t always agree on how to raise the child, so you have that natural tension.

Now add a mother who is not doing basic things for her child because she can’t think straight, because she is hearing voices that aren’t there.

It took two years for the doctors to diagnose my sister. She has paranoid schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is different than multiple personalities disorder. With schizophrenia, you hear voices and have hallucinations. For my sister, she had a “friend” that she talked to in gibberish while pacing. Evidently her “friend” was funny because she would talk and talk and talk, listen, and then laugh.

The priority in my parents’ house was my nephew. And rightly so.

But I didn’t get the attention that I needed as a teenage girl.

My parents missed a musical that I was in because of my sister. They made the best out of a difficult situation, but I was hurt, and my defenses went up.

My parents didn’t ask me about my day or what I was doing at school, so I stopped telling them.

My parents didn’t ask me why I was upset about friendships, so I didn’t share anything with them.

And then I met a guy.

Spending time with him was so much more peaceful than listening to my toddler nephew whine at the dinner table, my mom correct him, and my sister get upset about my mom “interfering” with her parenting—you know, the parenting that she wasn’t doing.

I was home for dinner, but only because my parents required it. I hated being at the dinner table.

But as soon as dinner was over, I took my homework to my boyfriend’s place.

Now, are any of you surprised that I got pregnant?

It was the end of my junior year in high school. Having lived with my nephew for a couple years and all the fighting that happened around parenting him, I had NO interest in raising a child.

I was busy with extracurriculars at school:

  • I was first chair alto saxophone player in the band.
  • I was editor of the high school newspaper.
  • I was a straight-A student.

I did not want the burden of a pregnancy and most especially did not want to see the disapproving looks or hear the disapproving comments of my classmates or my teachers. So I decided to have an abortion.

My mom was so stressed out about my sister and my nephew that my decision to have an abortion seemed like a relief to her.

My dad was distraught, but he never said anything to me until after the abortion. Then he realized that he needed counseling more than I did. I was fine.

My dad was the church choir director. He still is today. He just turned 80, and I’m certain that he will be the choir director until the day he dies.

My mom was a former church organist. She’s a preacher’s kid. She volunteered for everything at church, including leading the children’s choir and teaching Sunday school. Today, she plays handbells at her church.

I had been a leader in the church youth group. I could’ve been the president of the youth group the following year, but Mom and I convinced Dad to leave the church.

This was shortly before I got pregnant. We were so stressed out at home, and our pastor made our church work even more stressful. No one was helping us deal with my sister’s schizophrenia—or at least I didn’t think they were.

Church was a burden. So we left.

In the dozen years that followed, I—

  • lived with my boyfriend,
  • bought a house with him, and
  • married him–in that order. The wrong order.

It was a one-sided marriage in that I loved him, but he didn’t love me—but I didn’t believe in divorce.

I didn’t think that he believed in divorce, either, but after 13 years together, 9 of which we were married, he decided he wanted a divorce.

About a year and a half later, I found the love of Christ. My husband, Russ, is the hero in my salvation story.

We don’t have enough time for me to tell you all those details, but in short, when we met—

  • I was politically liberal,
  • pro-choice,
  • very skeptical of evangelicals, and
  • I was sure that my politically conservative, evangelical boyfriend would be scared away by my abortion.

He wasn’t. He loved me anyway. He showed me the love of Christ.

And it was because Russ showed me the love of Christ through his acceptance and love of me that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Faces of Abortion

Now, I want you to stop and think about how you picture the faces of women who have had abortions. Did you picture me?

The angry women that you see in the pro-choice movement are probably faces of abortion. They are faces of pain. They are faces of messy lives.

This last winter, I went on a mission trip through church to Uganda where I had a life-changing conversation with one of the pastors about abortion in Africa and in the United States.

Since returning, the Lord has made it clear that I am to change the conversation about abortion.

Knowing that I was going to go public with my abortion online, I began telling my family and friends so that they would hear about my abortion from me and not by reading it online.

In the process, I have found out that some of my friends have had abortions, too. Turns out that their lives have not been so perfect, either.

You don’t know how many of the faces you see every day belong to women who have had abortions. Have they experienced the love of Christ through you?

Or have they heard judgment as you comment on all the pro-choice mantra that comes from “liberal media” or the Women’s March?

What the Great Commission Means

We seem to forget that the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) was told to us disciples, that we are responsible for the Great Commission. When we hear the Great Commission, we hear “go to all nations”…

…but we forget that “nations” means ethnic groups. We forget that Jesus, a Jew Himself, made the Great Commission while in Israel, talking to Jews. He was telling them to make disciples of all the Gentiles—us.

The U.S. is the melting pot of nations, of ethnic groups. The Great Commission is meant for us—as well as all other nations.

Yes, some people are called to go on mission trips. I am. You might not be. But all of us are called to think of every trip

  • to work,
  • to the grocery store,
  • to the drive thru

as a mission trip.

[For more on the Great Commission, read my blog post, “Abortion & the Great Commission.”]

Missionary to McDonald’s

For example, my Sunday morning routine includes going through the McDonald’s drive thru. Now, before you judge our eating habits, know that this quick breakfast allows me to do my prayer walk, take the dog for a run, and get everyone out the door for church without fighting.

There are two women who are usually working in the drive thru–Susan and Gloria. Susan is from India. Gloria is Hispanic. My goal every Sunday morning is to make them smile because I’m sure that they get many grumpy customers. Besides, they got up at 5 am to make breakfast so that I don’t have to.

One day, I hope to have a relationship that allows me to share the gospel. That’s my prayer.

Call me a missionary to McDonald’s!

Share the Love of Christ

So I urge you to share the love of Christ wherever you go. You have no idea what is going on behind those faces.

Your job is to make Christ appealing to them so that others want to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior—even if those others are pro-choice.

With the love of Christ,

Cheryl

Part 6: Abortion & Revival

Dear Christian Sisters,

When pastors and prayer leaders talk about revival, they usually quote 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

Have you ever noticed that this verse is an if/then statement?

If God’s people:

  • humble themselves
  • seek His face (not just His hand)
  • turn from their wicked ways

Then God will:

  • hear from heaven
  • forgive their sin
  • heal their land

If we want revival, then we need to pray about abortion in humbleness while seeking His face and turning from our wicked ways.

You may be saying, “Turning from our wicked ways? But I haven’t had an abortion!”

Perhaps not. But I ask you this: Have you done the very thing that causes most of the unwanted pregnancies?

That is, have you had premarital sex?

Premarital Sex & the Church

I do not know what the statistics are, but given how pervasive premarital sex is in our culture, I would guess that the number is large. How is it that we cast judgment on women for being pregnant out of wedlock when we ourselves have had premarital sex?

We cannot go before the throne of God and plead with Him to save unwanted babies if we have not repented for our premarital or extramarital sex ourselves.

Some of you may wonder if it was okay to have sex with a man and then marry him. No! It was not okay for me to have premarital sex with either of my husbands. Hebrews 13:4 says:

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

“Fornicators” is translated from “pornos,” the root of our word “pornography.” “Pornos” includes male/gay prostitution and sex between two people not married to each other.

“Adulterers” is translated from “moichos” and means exactly what you think it means: unfaithfulness to your spouse.

If you are one of the few who have not had premarital or extramarital sex, then pray in mourning for our country and the world anyway because we have a culture of sex. Most of us are complicit in the culture of sex by watching movies and TV shows, buying magazines, and looking at things on the Internet/social media.

Safe Sex

If you think it was okay for you to have premarital sex because you had safe sex, that is, because you used birth control, let me tell you: I used to say that. The truth is, women get pregnant on birth control.

Do you know who Abby Johnson is of the ministry called And Then There Were None? She is a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic who turned pro-life. She says that most of the women who came into her clinic got pregnant on birth control.

Some people think that if you take the pill 100% correctly, then you won’t get pregnant. Others say that you can still pregnant.

The issue is not whether you had “safe sex.”
The issue is whether we were obedient to Christ.

The Bible does not say, “It’s okay to have sex out of wedlock if you use birth control.”

The Bible does say “the two shall become one” and “the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her” (go read it at 1 Corinthians 6:16).

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

The point is not whether we should use birth control. The point is that God calls us to purity.

There is nothing in the New Testament that releases you from the Old Testament laws about sex.

Pray As If We’re All in This Together

Nehemiah and Daniel both prayed in confession of the people’s sin—not in self-righteousness but in an attitude of “we’re all in this together.”

Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned.
Nehemiah 1:6 NASB

Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to… those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You.
Daniel 9:7 NASB

Daniel 9:(3)4-19 makes a great prayer for our nation! Consider praying this as if you wrote it:

Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.

Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame… Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets.

Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem.

As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.

And now, O Lord our God, who… have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day-we have sinned, we have been wicked.

O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from (our land). So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations…

For we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because… Your people are called by Your name.

In Christ,

Cheryl

Abortion & _______ Series:

Abortion & the Great Commission | Abortion & the Church | Abortion & Our Words | Abortion & Politics | Abortion & the BibleAbortion & Revival

 

Facebook Live Sept 30, 2017

I was on Facebook Live today with an ASL interpreter telling my story.

  1. Our lives are messy. The circumstances surrounding a woman’s decision to abort are messy.
  2. The forgiveness that comes from Christ is freeing. We should never put the heaviness of guilt back onto a woman.

Thank you, Pam, for interpreting!