Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What if He doesn't shut the lion's mouth?



It was time.

Looking back, I can see how God, as only He can, had prepared me. He had taught me lessons, allowed me to practice, and then built on the foundation, all the while keeping me blissfully unaware of what was coming. But now, it was time for a cumulative test.  

The morning of, I woke sick with dread, knowing what was in store. I wanted to ball up in a fetal position and bury under the weight and safety of my comforter. Instead, God prompted me with a simple verse: “This is the day I have made. Rejoice and be glad.” (Psalm 118:24) Rejoice? On this day? Yes--with Him as my Comforter. 

That afternoon, I poured myself out in tears and anguish. The weight of what was to come was heavy. Words from Queen Esther, “If I die, I die,” hit me square in the heart. (Esther 4:16) “Help me do what you require. Help me obey. Help me stand firm in Truth,” I prayed.

That evening, I remembered the familiar story of Daniel and the lion’s den. “That’s where I am headed,” I thought as I left the safety of my home. There was no denial. I desperately pleaded with God to close the lions’ mouths, to preserve the work I knew He had started. But then, these words tumbled from my lips: “Even if you don’t close their mouths, I will still believe you are good. I will still believe you are faithful. I will still believe you are sovereign.”

That night, the lions roared.

The aftermath of the lions’ den was messy and complex. My body was intact, but my heart was shredded. In a way, I was in shock. I didn’t understand the plan. I was confused. But I knew what I needed to do. In grief, I got down on my knees, tears streaming, and proclaimed that God was still good, still faithful and still sovereign. 

Still Good

No matter if the circumstance is mine or yours, God is always the final standard of good no matter our human expectations. It is written, “You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” (Psalm 119:68) Perhaps it is easy, natural even, to proclaim those words when life feels smooth. But that’s not the context of this verse. Prior to the proclamation that God is good, the psalmist explains that before being afflicted, he was bent on straying. After affliction, he was committed to the authority of God’s word. 

Lions’ den moments have a way of teaching and shaping that ease and comfort do not. Affliction can leave us bitter and resentful or humble and teachable. The psalmist displays the latter. The psalmist’s obedience increased, and he praised the Lord in all his goodness.

Still Faithful

No matter the circumstance, God will always do what he says. His promises cannot fail. He will always act in accordance with His nature--and His nature is to be faithful to his promises. Moses writes this of God, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19) 

Lions’ den moments test our loyalties. Will we return to fear and flesh, or submit to God and His plan? Will we believe that as heirs in Christ, we must suffer with him? (Romans 8:17) God has no wayward deeds. He does no wrong. He is absolutely just and completely faithful.

Still Sovereign

No matter the circumstance, God remains in control. Think of Job. He was in the middle of a battle, and the lions’ mouths were open wide. The enemy was allowed to draw his weapon, aim and fire. Job’s response? He arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshipped, saying, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20-21) 

Lions’ den moments come with a choice--worship God or curse him. In the testing of Job, Satan’s goal was to get Job to curse his creator. In our own lions’ den moments, Satan’s goal is the same. Let us not be the type of believer Charles Spurgeon so aptly describes: “Surely it has not come to this among God’s people, that He must do as we like, or else we will not praise Him. If He does not please us every day, and give way to our whims, and gratify our tastes, then we will not praise Him.”

Rather, let us “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

Let us believe God is good, God is faithful and God is sovereign even when He doesn’t shut the lions’ mouths.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Finishing Touches

On this day, April 10, one year ago, we closed on our Birch Street house. Pretty sure we've been wielding hammers, paint brushes and nail guns non-stop. (I realize I'm exaggerating, but whew, what a ride!)

In honor of the anniversary of the purchase, I wanted to share some before/after photos with you...just for fun! I think there is something extremely satisfying about transformation...be it home renos or spiritual. Restoration is a beautiful and worthwhile process!

I have shared a few photos here and there on Facebook, but haven't done a post for a long time...mostly because the end products aren't really "finished." But when our to-do list is a million lines long, we tend to bounce around...getting the main parts of the room finished. Seriously...we have lots of floor to replace, and to me, that's more important than the details (for now!).

The last room I opened up for you here was the shark room. (You can see the post HERE.) We have since doubled the curtains and added back in the closet doors.

Today I want to show you one of the basement bedrooms. 

To be upfront, we still need to build/paint closet doors. We intend to put in egress windows on the west wall. We need to purchase and hang wall lamps. The bed needs a bedskirt. The whole basement--this room definitely included--needs new carpet. The floorboards are still missing.

BUT. It's come a LONG way!

Proof. These were taken on our final walk-through before transferring the title.


The bedroom had a garage light, not even centered. Turns out, this room was an afterthought, and the wall was built at some point after the home was. When we started ripping stuff out, we realized the wall wasn't built all the way to the ceiling, hence the random trim pieces. We mudded and taped around the room to close the gaps. The whole basement has needed/still needs this treatment. 



There weren't any closets, so technically it wasn't really considered a bedroom. Our house actually has two exits from the basement, so we like that feature. 



The sweet occupant lived in this room for about 6 months while we tackled a couple rooms upstairs. We started demo in this room in October. With all the hidden problems, this room was out of commission for a couple months. I guess that's what happens when you DIY everything, and can really only work on Saturdays!

Here are plans + progress:



Talk about brain power! Anyway, we tried beadboard ceiling for the first time. We like how it turned out, but plan to use it only in the two basement bedrooms (the other has office space drop ceiling). The rest of the ceilings in the house look good just by scraping popcorn, repairing and painting.



Finally, (nearly) finished bedroom:




New light fixture (centered. phew.) and the finished beadboard ceiling! Brad built the closets and also rebuilt all the window trim and crown molding. He's a talented man.



This was the wallpapered wall before!


Pretty exciting, what a little sweat-equity can do! 


Happy renovating! ❤


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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

My Happiest Day

CK Photo Website

I wrote this essay for a writing contest with the prompt: "Describe your happiest day." I wanted to share it here, with all of you. My God has been so good to me...breaking down walls, pruning me back, cutting off dead, fruitless branches. He has been so good to me...drawing me to Himself, increasing my affections for Him, empowering and transforming me with His mighty Word. My journey has been hard, peppered with trial and adversity. But God knew what needed to be done to soften my heart, grow my faith and repair my trust in Him. He demo'd me and continues to restore me. My God has been so very good to me!

My Happiest Day

By closing my eyes, I have always been able to see her.

She is wearing a dress with a skirt made for twirling, and that's exactly what she's doing. She has her face lifted to the heavens, eyes closed, with the perfect amount of sunbathed warmth on her cheeks. Her arms are loosely raised, palms up, on either side of her frame. Her soul is light and free. And she twirls with perfect abandon.

I've always been able to see her, but I haven't always been able to BE her. In the heaviness of my childhood--me, forever the "old soul"--probably made her up as some sort of prophetic coping mechanism. She has my physical characteristics, but also the carefree exuberance for life that always eluded me.

Until the happiest day of my life.

On that day, my life as I knew it started unraveling. I was sobbing in the middle of a large women's event. This group of 100+ women had heard the same teachings and testimonies, ate the same meals, shared the same cabins, and yet, in that moment, most other faces were dry, void of the deluge currently on mine.

Had I not been in such a public place, I probably would have crumpled to the floor, further releasing my body of the normal--albeit heavy--weight I had always carried. Instead I stood. Head bowed. Shoulders shaking as the torrents continued to loosen and unleash. Eventually uncontrollable chills overtook me as every ounce of emotion poured from my spirit.

Looking back, that day was one of the first I can remember when I FELT. For a long time, I prided myself in not crying. In being tough. In being known as "the strong one." I spent a lot of time numbed out, depressed, but unable to really feel.

You see, I was a trauma kid.

And to protect my heart from further injury, I had built up walls as thick as they were high. I had trouble trusting people. I was filled with unprocessed resentment and bitterness that I masked with a smile.

My eyes, however, always gave me away. They were dull, empty of sparkle. Instead of joy, they spoke of the anguish buried deep in my spirit.

On that happiest day, I didn't even know that childhood trauma existed. That day, all I knew was I hated my story. My biological father had abandoned my mom and me when I was a year old, even signing papers to sever his parental rights to me. My 10-year-old brother had drowned when I was 15. I had been bullied and sexually harassed as a high schooler.

That day, I knew that as an adult I had watched my oldest child suffer through countless medical tests, blood draws, transfusions and examinations. I knew I had stressed through my fear of losing that same child on the operating table as doctors worked to relieve the symptoms of her blood disease. I knew I had grieved through both an ectopic preganancy loss and a miscarriage.

That day, I knew all those events were hard, but I never had a name for them. I never had eyes to see how one trauma built on the next, leaving a wall bent on the destruction of my heart, mind and body.

Until that happiest day, I never knew a healthy way to overcome the trials. Instead, I stuffed. I pretended. I gritted my teeth and marched. I imagined myself an unwanted, unloved girl, grown into an unwanted, unloved woman. As a child, I rountinely cried by myself. As a child, I raged and slammed doors. As an adult, I resented the hand I felt I had been unfairly dealt. I was angry at the Sovereign for giving me the story He did.

When I thought about my childhood, I only remembered the weight of the world on my shoulders. Never a soul that danced and twirled. But on that happiest day, as the tears fell, something else fell, too. My walls. Those walls were built in an effort to protect myself from the world around me. In keeping with Chip Gaines' Fixer-Upper mentality, my happiest day was demo day--and the streaming tears made way for the exposure of the faulty foundation set underneath walls threatening to crumble.

That day, the God I outwardly proclaimed to serve, but inwardly resented, showed me that the walls I had built--walls that I thought were protecting me from getting hurt again, and making me strong--were really interfering with the work He wanted to do in my life. That day, God let me have a glimpse of the freedom He offers to anyone who belongs to Him in Christ. He showed me that promise is for me--unwanted and abandoned me--and I willingly asked Him to destroy my walls.

That happiest day was a catalyst to something much bigger than myself. That day served to soften my heart and open my eyes to the scope of repairs needed in my mind, heart and soul.

Several months later, I walked into a therapist's office for the first time. It would take 18 months of frequent appointments to excavated all the deep, dark places. Those months challenged me and exhausted me as I put in the hard work needed to get better. The time I spent in therapy confronted my depression. Paired with the Word, it provided the kind of ripping apart, digging, pulling sort of deconstruction I needed.

And finally, good pieces, built with solid materials, started falling into purposeful place on top of an ever-strengthening foundation--my dependence on Christ.

It was one thing to use the past as a crutch. To look back and see a poor-poor-pitiful-me and shivel up and die inside. It was another to face the past and whatever pain it had to offer and address the foundational problems I had. 

For me, there was much fear to own. Fear of rejection, of being wrong, of waiting for the other shoe to drop. But then, in the aftermath of my happiest day, I started to be equipped with power that comes from knowledge. Power that comes from a transformational life built on the Word. My eyes also opened to the impact unaddressed childhood trauma has on lives, worldview and faith.

And as understanding started to connect, I started to thrive. I started to heal. A boldness started surfacing in me that I never recognized before.

The weight that held me captive for so long, fled.

My happiest day left me unfettered and twirling.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Shock of the Cross

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:3-6)



I sat in the theater with tears threatening to spill. At the time, me crying over a movie was unheard of. I was still in my "strong one" mindset (read more of my testimony HERE), and I just didn't cry over shows. Period. 

Except as I sat watching Mel Gibson's "The Passion," I was moved to tears. The portrayal of Christ's death was brutal and beyond what I could physically tolerate. As the credits rolled, my mind circled in on one key thought..."I did that." 

In hashing through that thought with another person, I was challenged with: "How? You weren't there!" I shrugged that off as naive. The more I've grown however, the more I realized neither of us were entirely right or entirely wrong.

On the one hand, my sin...OUR sin...was the reason behind the cross (1 John 2:2). In that way--the "all have sinned and fall short of God's glory" way--I played a part in the crucifixion of Christ. We all did. But sin didn't kill my savior. The Father did. And the Son was willing! 

I know that's shocking! It has to be! It ought to be! In that way, Jesus' death was a willing substitution. I didn't choose it. He did. Praise God!

I've been thinking on this: As the Church, we just celebrated Palm Sunday...Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. And then, just five days, FIVE DAYS, later, the crowd called for Jesus' blood. Oh, not everyone screamed "crucify him," but Christ died very much alone. And this Plan...the fickleness of those five days...wasn't an accident. The Plan of Christ's terrible, brutal death was a Plan of ages past. It wasn't a surprise to God the Father, God the Son, or God the Spirit. So while humanity wrestled through misguided expectations of Jesus, the Plan of eternity did not surprise the sovereign. 

Writer Tim Challies, in his article called "Sin didn't kill Jesus--God did", an adaptation of John MacArthur's book "The Gospel according to God," says this: 

"The reality of Christ’s vicarious, substitutionary death on our behalf is the heart of the gospel according to God—the central theme of Isaiah 53.
"We must remember, however, that sin did not kill Jesus; God did. The suffering servant’s death was nothing less than a punishment administered by God for sins others had committed. That is what we mean when we speak of penal substitutionary atonement. Again, if the idea seems shocking and disturbing, it is meant to be. Unless you recoil from the thought, you probably haven’t grasped it yet."
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and SOMEONE had to pay the price. God cannot forgo justice and sweep the unrighteous, unholy acts of humanity under the rug. That's not how it works. Sin will be paid for, either by Christ and the cross or by the human perpetrator.

But here lies the good news! Right smack dab in the shocking substitution of the cross lies grace. In Romans, Paul emphasizes that grace is not based on our works (ie Romans 3:20-31; 9:16; 11:6). Grace is based on Christ's completion of His Father's will! 

Challies writes: 
"Despite the unsettling overtones in that message, it is good news. In fact, there is no more glorious good news. It explains why God 'does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities' (Ps. 103:10). He has not compromised his own righteousness. He does not merely overlook our transgressions. Rather, he fully satisfied justice and put away our sin forever through the death of his Son. 'As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us' (Ps. 103:12). Now, grace can truly reign through righteousness (Rom. 5:21). And God can be both 'just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus' (Rom. 3:26)."

This whole beautiful, shocking Plan of redemption...a Plan that came about "while we were still weak...while we were still sinners"(Romans 5:6-8)...a Plan that unfolded "at the right time"(Romans 5:6)...a Plan of God to sacrifice His Son (Romans 5:8)...is fully, completely, mercifully grace-filled. 

This Easter, I want to remember the tension between my sin, the cross and my God. I want to remember that God gives love to the undeserving...to those without strength, to the ungodly, to the sinners (Romans 5:6-8). 

I want to remember that the reasons for God's love are found IN HIM, not in me. (David Guzik, Blue Letter Bible)

Christ died instead of the ungodly. Christ died instead of me! "There is no greater proof of God's love than the work of Jesus on the cross!" (Guzik, BLB)  

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:9-11)

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!
🕇

For more Easter reading, consider:
Smell Standards

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Telling myself the truth



My smile hasn't connected with my eyes lately.

I've watched in the mirror as the dullness etched away the spark--the fight--in my eyes over the last weeks. And then it started singing its melancholy lullaby, draping itself over my shoulders and whispering darkness to my heart.

{depression.}

No. I hate that word. I'm scared of that word. I avoided that word.

So the blanket kept encircling. Something was familiar. But what? 

{depression.}

It will pass. Just hormones. Just tired. I'm OK.

Tighter. I've felt this before. I don't like it. Why?

{depression.}

"Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul." (Psalm 142:4) 

Something is wrong.

{DEPRESSION.}

Yes. Depression. That's it. That's the weight. That's the dull. That's the disconnected smile. I've fought this before. I don't want to fight it again. But it's either let it wrap and smother, or face it. So I'll look. I'll face it. I'll fight. 

It is written that the Lord is near the brokenhearted and binds up wounds (Psalm 147:3). It is written that the Lord is close to the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). It is written that when my spirit faints, the Lord knows my way (Psalm 142). I know from my past battles with depression that He is trustworthy with my feelings...with me. That even in the depths, He is good. He is sovereign.  

I also know that naming the problem is the first step to facing it. 
Isaiah 50:8 says this:
"He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me? 
Let us stand up together.
Who is my adversary?
Let him come near to me."

I'm ready to take it on. Face to face. Replace darkness with truth. 

So here I am. And the truth is, I feel depressed. 

Looking at my recent past--the grief and transitions faced--I find the root. And with it, shame and blame. 

Listening Sunday to a powerful sermon by Jack Napier, based on Genesis 3:7-24, was a necessary catalyst toward telling myself the truth, as I jotted down these questions in my sermon notes: "Is shame why I am shutting down? Is shame why I am hiding from people?"

I'm telling myself the truth now. So yes. I've blamed myself for things I can't change. I've felt ashamed to be associated with things I can't change. I've blamed myself for not doing more. I've felt ashamed of various outcomes. And I've tried to hide from those lows.

Just as Adam and Eve tried to piece together clothes to hide their naked shame, depression weaved itself around mine. But as God called out in the garden, "Where are you?", so He sought me.

"Where are you, Malinda?"

And I'm telling the truth now. "I'm here in the pit, Lord! I didn't want to admit it before, but yes, here I am in the deep, dark pit. My spirit faints within me! Depression is wrapped around me!"

The Seeker knows my way.

"I cry to you, O LORD;
I say, 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.'
Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!
BRING ME OUT OF PRISON, that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.
(Psalm 142:5-7)

Yes, Lord. Please Lord.

"Answer me quickly, O LORD!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." (Psalm 143:7-8)

I feel depressed. 
But it's a feeling, not a definition. 
Depression doesn't define me. 
Christ does.
And I'm telling myself the truth. 

I'm ready for battle.

"Blessed be the LORD, my rock, 
who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me." (Psalm 144:1-2)

Are you in the clutches of depression right now, or suspect you are? Don't give up. Let's face the truth together. Jesus paid the price to clothe us. He is a perfect Savior. He justifies us. Without Jesus, we live and die in shame. With Jesus, we are covered in righteousness. To Him be honor and glory forever, Amen. 



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Monday, February 5, 2018

My View

Hey.

After my recent #MeToo post, I've been feeling emotionally drained. That one was hard to publish, and I don't think my hands warmed back up for days! I just want to thank all of you who reached out to me in some fashion. It was good to hear from you, and really helped bolster my courage! 

But seriously, I am fried. So I'm going to keep this one short and sweet...

I want to bounce an idea around. 
If you follow my Facebook posts or Instagram feed, you probably have noticed something I've dubbed "My View." Every morning, I try to post a real-life (and mostly real-time) photo with an explanation. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes serious, sometimes sappy, sometimes embarrassing. And then at the end, I ask questions and invite people to share their own view.

Example: 

Monday view. In honesty, I took this photo last night, but I'm still laughing...this is a direct quote from the artist: "Mom, this is you in the morning" (giggles). Accurate. Sometimes mornings are hard. But a fuzzy pink robe helps. And coffee. Aside from the elephant part, can anyone else relate to this page? Anyone else wear a big fuzzy robe? What color?

This has been fun (for me at least! hopefully for you, too), and I'd like to expand the concept a bit and occasionally bring "My View" to my blog. What I have in mind is to develop one "My View" from the month into a longer blog post at the start of the new month. Here's where you come in. Sometimes I will use a poll to see what post you want me to expand on. Sometimes I will use the post with the highest interaction. Sometimes I will use a great conversation thread as a catalyst. Sometimes I could see doing a Q&A. The sky is the limit, seemingly, as long as there is interest!

Does something like that sound appealing? I really want to create a little community of sorts on my social media pages, and I love good conversation. I'm hoping this will be a great way to get to know people, have some conversation, and maybe laugh a little while we're at it!

To join the "My View" convo, follow me on Social Media:


Monday, January 29, 2018

the Church and #metoo

There’s a song by Sovereign Grace Music* called “All I Have Is Christ.” It is beautiful. It presents the Gospel. And in all timeliness, (praise to the Lord!), we sang it at church yesterday. This is the verse that caught my heart, as this post weighed heavily:

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way you choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

That's my prayer as I share this post. “Oh Father, use my ransomed life in any way You choose….” because this thing...these words...are hard. And as I share them, I don’t want people to get the idea that I’m somehow an innocent victim. I’m not. Just as the book of Romans details over and over, humanity is on a level playing field: Without Christ we are ALL condemned. Without the covering of Christ, I am not an exception. My only way is Christ.

I have been bought. I have been redeemed. I have been restored. And yet, this post makes me scared. I know it won’t be popular. I know I won’t be popular. And I’m fighting fear and pride. I pray you have grace for me as I try my best to be faithful to my call, to the One Who Calls (Romans 9:11), and to my testimony.



When the #metoo movement started, I felt a stirring. But I got nervous thinking about it. Even now, my stomach is in knots as I work on this...as I wonder how this will come together...how this will be received. But in the wake of 150+ women/girls from USA Gymnastics coming forward recently with testimony after testimony of sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted doctor within the organization, I just can't keep silent.

I am a #metoo. But I don't want this to be about the details, because I know too many other women who are also a #metoo. I know girls--children--who are a #metoo. People who are dear to me are #metoos. I know the long-term ramifications of being a #metoo. So I don't want this to be just about me.

But I DO want to talk about it. Not loosely, but specifically...in the context of the Church. Like former gymnast Rachael Denhollander's testimony, I want to talk about #metoo in light of the Gospel. (If you haven't read Rachael's testimony, I encourage you to read at least this short excerpt!)

Here are two paragraphs of Rachael's powerful words: "The Bible you speak [of] carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

"I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well."

Wow. I can’t bring myself to read any of the stomach churning details of the crimes. It is too horrific. The triggers are maddening. But I could read those words over and over. Because the Gospel is where freedom lies.

In my experience, any sort of revealing of #metoo abuse--sexual harassment, sexual abuse, physical violation--has been largely met with resistance. With heads in the sand. With excuses. My most recent experience with this sort of violation was within a church body...where the act was largely met with avoidance. And as a #metoo, the revealing and then disbelief made me hurt all over again. When a #metoo comes forward, there is really nothing to gain. Chances are, a #metoo won’t be believed, and then will face the shame again as people judge them and their story.

Coming forward is counter to all instinct of self-preservation. I believe the high risk of sharing is why so many remain silent for years or even lifetimes. I desperately want that to change. I want the Church to be a safe place...not only physically, but also emotionally.

So here are some thoughts on how to get there: As the Church, we should be the first to understand humanity’s sinful nature. The destruction of sin fills the pages of our Bibles. It shouldn’t surprise us when we have to deal with sin. And yet, it does.

In a way, I feel like we have lost the reality of what sin can do. How damaging it is. How far-reaching it is. And most importantly, how sin completely separates us all from a Holy, Righteous God. It’s the precious blood of Jesus spilled out that covers us from that “final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out” on those without the Way, Truth, Life! The Gospel is beautiful and completely undeserved. And yet, Jesus willingly went to the cross for us! The Church has those things written in black and white.

Because of the inspired word of God, believers know when something is crooked because we have something straight to compare to! Rachael states: "Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is…"

Because of Biblical standards, believers can (and should!) call evil what it is. We should call sin what it is. We should not make excuses for abuse. Ever.

Survivors of a #metoo incident have a lifetime of recovery. To excuse perpetrators or to look the other way, denies victims basic dignity, but also encourages the perpetrator to tighten the millstone around his/her neck. (Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2)

Rachael is right. The crushing weight of guilt is the only way. The Gospel is the only way for any of us! And as the Church, we know that! In the case of #metoo, I would love to see the Church willingly provide dignity and support to victims, preventative care for the future... and the opportunity for repentance to perpetrators.

And that comes by calling sin, sin. By calling evil, evil. By taking a stand against abuse in our local Church bodies. To me, these stats are nauseating: By 18, 1 in 4 women will have been sexually assaulted/abused; and by 18, 1 in 6 boys will have been sexually assaulted/abused. These are our family, friends, neighbors. These are the dear ones who share a pew with us on Sunday mornings.

It's not a matter of IF sexual abuse is part of our church bodies. It IS. It’s HERE. And I think it would be life-changing and powerful if the Church took the intentional lead in the #metoo movement--steered by the Gospel.

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* In no way am I affiliated with Sovereign Grace Music, nor that band to my blog, but I believe this song has a place here...so I want to share the lyrics in their entirety:
All I Have is Christ - Sovereign Grace Music
VERSE 1
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that you would own
A rebel to your will
And if you had not loved me first
I would refuse you still

VERSE 2
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath deserved for me
Now all I know is grace.

CHORUS
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

VERSE 3
Now, Lord, I would be yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way you choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is you.