Posted tagged ‘Gospel Coalition’

Halloween’s Darkness Can Be Scary, But…

November 20, 2013
Butler Halloween Outreach

Jesus is the Light of the World!

Those who walk with Jesus shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life! Yes, sometimes we can forget, in the immortal words of Larry the Cucumber,  that “God is bigger than the bogeyman.” Halloween is sometimes a Christian bogeyman. Once it used to be mine. We hid our kids inside our churchy Harvest Celebrations, and once we joined some friends who were tiptoeing through Calvin’s Tulips, in  “Reformation Day” festivities.  Then as I grew in faith, I began to agree with this writer at the Gospel Coalition who suggests that, “instead of fleeing the darkness in fear, we should view Halloween as an opportunity to mock the enemy whose power over us has been broken.”

Sharing the Gospel in a winsome way is a wonderful opportunity to mock the enemy on Halloween. As these photos illustrate, I do a variation of “Trunk or Treat”, decorating my car’s outside with all manner of ghastly things — spiders, snakes, dragons,skeletons, witches, ghosts — with a glow-in-the-dark sign saying “The darkness can be scary, but…”

Butler Trunk or Treat Halloween Outreach

I had to coax some kids to open the trunk!

The kids have to navigate past all kinds of warning signs, some have to be cajoled to pop the trunk open, but in a classic bait and switch, they are surprised to see a beautiful glowing, smiling sun shining radiant sunbeams in a rainbow of colors, (Eric Carle style, of layered tissue paper on mylar, so I can backlight it)
And another sign painted in rainbow colors says:

“But Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World!”

Those brave children who have navigated past the terrors on the outside can reach into the trunk to get yummy candy. I try to share my joy, and tell them as much as I can of the good news of Jesus’ power over death in his resurrection. One Halloween, the children and I made an art project of this, creating pop-up cards, with gorgeous blazing suns inside, and the full text of John 8:12 emblazoned all around it in the best italic they could manage. It was very fun to pass those out to trick or treaters.

I would like to get this tract done professionally,with a full Gospel message included on the back, to pass out in bulk. Any graphic artists are welcome to steal this idea — and I would love to see your productions. Post a link below!

Moving the Ancient Boundary Stones Whilst Burying Some Talents

August 14, 2013

There is a cost to holding inside yourself a good thing the Lord has given you to share with others.  What was meant to foster flourishing life and prosperity to the world and even nourish your own soul  brings inward putrification instead. It also makes  a flickering flame of your Spirit. You were meant to fan some flames, and instead you become yourself that smoking flax, that growing darkness. This irony is great.

English: Cover of Birth Control Review magazine

We must beware of refusing the Lord. Like the ‘child-free’ Christians who have buried in their consciences the Creation Mandate of Genesis 3,  who are alluded to in Kathleen Nielson’s essay at the Gospel Coalition.  Who have buried in their consciences a clear word of the Lord, as Paul writes in Romans 12:1-2 , urging us to “offer up our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord” — and I don’t think Paul made an emendation anywhere excising the reproductive organs from this appeal –and  we refuse this spiritual service to the one who paid the ultimate price for our souls at great cost to ourselves, and risk a growing darkness  in our lives.  We  also conform ourselves to the pattern of this world.  Child-frees say it is a hard God  who demands them to bear children when circumstances are so limited — and such a hard master is not the kind of God they serve! They picture childbearing the way Margaret Atwood does, in “The Handmid’s Tale.”

But the God I serve does not rule such a dystopian kingdom. Yes, the Lord gives to each of his servants a different measure of talents and gifts –and in a corresponding way, a differing number of children — and  some of his servants who grieve that they are unable to bear children, he sometimes grows their their families by adoption, and to these I am not speaking  at all — if you decide not to adopt, Romans 14 certainly applies to you. If God gives you liberty then in your childless state to devote yourselves completely to missions or even serving children in the worst of circumstances, be free! Matthew Henry says of these kinds of servants’ and thir freedom,”Hast thou faith? It is meant of knowledge and clearness as to our Christian liberty. Enjoy the comfort of it, but do not trouble others by a wrong use of it.” Those servants  so disappointed by their childless state should not morph themselves into the unbiblical category of ‘Childfree’ — there would be less confusion and consternation when that connubial state is rightly condemned as unscriptural.

These newly branded ‘Childfree’s’ face the prospect of bearing children in difficult circumstances —  a world that is in turmoil,  a bad economy, their own history of mental illness … so they dispense with the whole business  out of fear, and they put an end to their fertility. But fear is not faith, and whatever is not of faith is sin. (Again, if you have faith that your circumstances are excusing you from this kind of investment in childrearing, such as the risk of death to a mother, Romans 14:23 certainly applies to you! And we are not  to judge another’s servant.)  Even in the most difficult cases of childbearing, it is best to believe this business is the Lord’s prerogative, it is the Master who gives, or takes away or closes the womb — we must not constrain it ourselves.  It is not our place to decide where we invest,  and the manner of  business we do for Him. He says “go” and we go.

But increasingly, Christian couples are simply selfishly refusing to invest at all in the messy business of  childbearing. They are burying their talents with a clean conscience. They call themselves “child-free Christians.” And since  Jesus himself was child-free, so they too are freeing themselves from any encumbrance to full ‘missional’ living. They reason that they are just following in the footsteps of the Master! Another way they  rationalize their disobedience is by twisting the plain meaning of Malachi 2:15,

“Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?
And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves
in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your
youth.

Childfree’s quite novel interpretation of this verse is that this Scripture speaks to the division of Israel, not to divorce, and has nothing to do with marriage at all, this clear desire of God for a couple to produce fruit from their coming together as husband and wife. What a danger, to read the word with such darkness of eye! Childfree’s will also argue their point of view using the sovereignty of God, saying the Lord will work out his plan regardless of our choices, and I agree.  He can use another means. But  when you think the Lord demands a hard thing of you, and you refuse his will,  and go and bury your talent, this disobedience comes at a great cost to your soul.  For there is an unalterable principle in the Christian life: When you sow to your flesh, you reap corruption.  When you bury your talent, it is indeed given to another. But you are risking outer darkness.

I felt called to speak against this growing darkness. I said at the TGC website  that the use of birth control in the church seems to have an ‘Overton window of acceptability’ going on a trajectory, moving in an inexorable direction — and it speaks clearly to me that the wrath of God abides on it. Because we have Christianized the ‘a child is a choice’ thinking. Look at the comment thread– this is  baldly stated there. I respond to it, here:

Proposing the use of artificial means of birth control was unthinkable in the Church a century ago and now it is unthinkable not to make use of it! And we see in this thread the normalization of ‘Child-free’ — because Jesus was ‘Child-free’ too, you know! Must be acceptable! What is next for the quote unquote evangelical church is unthinkable. But what is unthinkable is now an outlier in the evangelical church — the window of “children are a choice” is indeed moving like a juggernaut.  Observe a pastor like Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, who believes Jesus will look the other way, citing the case of the woman caught in adultery, in giving counsel to a woman tempted to abort co-joined twins.  Chuck Smith, counseled a distraught woman in a difficult pregnancy that, “in a case like this where the life expectancy is just, you know, is so bleak, and all, that I’m sure that the Lord would not condemn her if she went ahead and had an abortion at this early stage of the development of the fetus.”  This same kind of pragmatic  thinking that Smith later defended as “reasonable” is at the heart of the Christian use of birth control. It accuses the Master who brings or seeks to bring forth life in difficult circumstances of being hard, and unreasonable.

But God has done a work of grace in my life that has perfectly answered nearly every objection to childbearing some made — and believe me, it is all of him, and none of me! I said in a comment about “counting the cost of having children..and what it takes to raise a child “properly”:

I am one with a history of PTSD — because of mental illness in my family of origin, and a medical history of pre-eclampsia and bedrest in pregnancies. And we all live pretty near the poverty line in a tiny house with one bathroom in a city notorious for evil, that has more dogs in it than little children…And then there is this huge thing: https://thenface2face.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/out-of-darkness-light/
Yes, how could I have neglected to mention that postpartum psychotic break of fifteen years ago — from which I am fully recovered? That is a huge blot on the good-parenting record. But to list all the reasons why I am completely incapable of raising children *properly* well, “if every one of them were written down…

And I think the church where we attend agrees with me, that my eight children are amazing to have survived the trauma of having me for a parent! And that they are continuing to follow Jesus and love to serve the church we attend has nothing at all to do with me, or my shoddy parenting skills, it has everything to do with the grace and mercy of my faithful God.

But I am being misunderstood and mis-characterized–and yes, part of that is my own fault. Sadly,  I made a mess of it, and got in the way of the message.   “Pharisee” …Fertility Cult”…oh dear! What a terrible chastisement from the Lord, for my untamed tongue.

I did want to run away and hide my talent. I had some sleepless nights, I had to seek forgiveness and  fall at the foot of the Cross. But once that temptation towards either passivity or self-vindication was done away with, I could be more effective — and soon I was full of joy at obeying the Lord. I did not bury my talent. I spoke what I sensed the Lord wanted me to speak to the people at the Gospel Coalition — that the Lord detests those differing weights the church uses to measure out its use of birth control. The women of TGC are getting together soon to study the book of Nehemiah — will they honestly survey this particular gate, which plainly has broken down and  has been set afire?

It is hard to be an ineffective instrument, and then be spoken ill of. But this morning I had great comfort in the word of God. My heart exults in God my Savior! God is my judge. I could not bury that testimony, that talent the Lord had given me to invest in Kingdom work for the prosperity of another’s soul. He has been so good to me, how could I say that what He was asking me to do was too hard a thing to do?

“But  my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38)

This One Escaped Limbo

April 16, 2013
DSM Logo

DSM Logo (Photo credit: – jre -)

I have had an interesting series of comments posted at the Gospel Coalition blog article ” Suicide, Mental Illness, Depression, and the Church”,  but most of them  were left hanging in moderation limbo.  Just as the DSM performs as a gatekeeper of information and money for Mental Health Professionals, so the TGC weblog has been a narrow funnel for information to Christians of articles critical of Psychiatry —  which was largely the substance of my censored comments.  I know the moderators’ motives were protective of sensitivities raised by the suicide of Rick Warren’s son, and they were being careful of laying blame. I get it.  I am so sorry about the death of Rick Warren’s son!  I continue to pray for that family. Every parent of a child at risk knows the dread sometimes of opening the door with breath held, terrified of what they will find in their kid’s room. I have known that fear.  But the condescending attitude of some Mental Health Professionals on that site  was also inappropriate . Today’s attempt to respond  to one especially patronizing comment was finally approved. I think I would have had a real tantrum at them if they did not, so I am glad for my children’s sake they finally printed my rant,  again at this site here.

I would like to add that I have no problem with neurogenesis, except if this new paradigm for research prompted even more drug treatments that would prove as useless and harmful as their SSRI’s and atypical antipsychotics. Especially if they make children their guinea pigs, the way the explosion of diagnoses for bi-polar disorder and ADHD,  and off-label prescription writing has done.

I think I am reasonably informed and educated. I learned all about tardive dyskinesia and akathesia watching the side effects of these meds in my own children. They educated me about the incestuous relationship between Big Pharma and Psychiatry. My biggest regret is the emergency holds I placed on my children that forced them on drugs that gave them these crippling grimaces and unbearable restlessness. All the adverse effects that place them at higher risk for suicide. That is why I am so afraid to open doors sometimes, for what horrors I might find inside.

So spare me your patronizing attitude, Mr. Mental Health Professional! I would rather you penned a letter like this one by Dr. Mickey Nardo, who regrets not speaking out more forcefully against Big Pharma’s pernicious influence on his field, and spends his days since his resignation in protest from the APA combing the medical literature for faulty studies, like this gem he discovered about Dr. Robert Gibbons, who in his zeal  to reverse the black box warnings for increased suicidality from SSRI’s  especially among youth who consume them, he redacted data.  Google “Anatomy of a Deciet” at 1 Boring Old Man, … A must read for anyone giving their kid Prozac still. Or Respiridol. Or Zoloft. But especially Paxil, given the NAACP’s refusal to print a retraction concerning the ghostwrtitten- -by-GlaxoSmithKline  Study 329, that falsely claimed Paxil performed better than placebo and hid its adverse effects. Maybe it’s not too late to join one of these class action lawsuits.

Here’s Dr. Nardo’s eloquent letter:

“I think it’s time for the body of Psychiatry to look back on the last thirty years, particularly the last twenty, and acknowledge that there has been a lot of just outright wrong: producing and accepting lousy science; signing on to lousy science produced by others; colluding with the Pharmaceutical Industry in recommendations and prescriptions; corruption involving ghost-writing, guest authoring, conflicts of interest, direct drug promotion, downplaying or ignoring adverse effects. And then there were some really big sins – TMAP comes to mind. It’s a great big collective blemish, maybe more like an open festering wound. And yet I can’t really seem to talk about it without laying the blame elsewhere – PHARMA, Managed Care, KOLs, Neuroscientists, Psychopharmacologists, the Analysts [before I became one], the DSM committees, the APA. And it’s hard to say I’m sorry to patients harmed, without quickly adding, “but I didn’t do that with my patients.”

Even though that last comment is true in so far as I know it, it still doesn’t help with a background discomfort that lingers, transcending any disavowals that pass through my mind.” More here: http://1boringoldman.com/index.php/2012/02/20/no-further-comment/

How I wish we had Dr. Nardo’s compassionate care for our daughters when they were spinning out of control, instead of the greedy quacks we had, like the one who charged our family that is living on the edge of bankruptcy– because of their failed therapies — $100 for a missed appointment, because of a bus mis-schedule. The last appointment we made with him! We wasted so much on Psychiatry’s mess of potage, all of it was wasted, all  of our meager time and treasure that was invested in it is less than worthless now. And sadly,  we wasted much of our children’s great talents.