Last week, after my son couldn’t find his iPod for several days, the whole family embarked on a deep-cleaning, every-corner-of-the-house search and rescue mission to locate his beloved device (which turned out to be in my purse the whole time). But something pretty great turned up in the process.
In the back of a cupboard in the basement laundry room, I found the journal I had started for my firstborn, Samuel, when I was pregnant with him. The first 12 pages had been filled, before it was lost, with prayers, hopes, and dreams for him. Even though it’s not full and is missing several years, I can’t wait to be able to give this to him someday. It got me thinking about what message I want to pass along to all of my children today. As a mother, there’s so much I want them to know, and so much I want for their lives, but when it comes right down to it, there’s really only one thing that matters.
Dear Samuel, Silas, and Adalie,
My prayer for your life is that you would follow Jesus.
At night, I come into your rooms while you’re sleeping pray for protection over you. I pray for your health, I pray for wisdom and guidance as your mother, but above all, I pray that you would love and follow Jesus.
As a parent, there’s so much that I wish for your life. I want you to experience incredible love, great adventure, hope, wholeness, family, stability, fulfillment, and providence. But the best and greatest of all those things is found in following Christ.
Yes, there will be pain. There will be trials, and there will be hardships. Your faith will be stretched and tested and the refiner’s fire will burn and sting. But keep following Jesus, because the product at the end can never compare to anything this world can offer.
I pray that you will see the Lord the way Isaiah did, and that the awe of Him would be all consuming, so that when those difficult seasons come, you would keep your eyes on and Jesus, knowing that your life is not your own.
I pray that all your successes and achievements would be done for the glory of the Lord, and in the midst of the accolades and praises your prayer would be John 3:30 “He must become greater, I must become less”.
The solution to everything I could ever worry about as your mother can be found in following Jesus.
I could worry about what career path you will choose, but if you’re following Jesus, I can rest knowing you’ll seek His will for your life.
I could worry about your finances, but if you’re following Jesus, I can rest knowing that you’ll want to make biblical decisions with your money and strive to be good stewards of what God gives you.
I could worry about who you will choose to marry, but if you’re following Jesus, I can rest knowing that whomever they are, they will be following Jesus, too.
I could worry about your marriage, but if you’re truly following Jesus, I can rest knowing that you will always fight for your wives and husband and never stop working toward becoming the spouse the Bible calls you to be to them, even in the tough times.
I could worry about your safety, but if you’re following Jesus, I can rest knowing that whatever happens, you are right in the center of His good and sovereign will.
I could worry about your character and your heart, whether or not you will love others, show kindness, and uphold justice, but if you’re following Jesus, I can rest knowing that the more time you spend with Him and read His word, the more He will cause you to see others with the same love and compassion that He does.
I could worry about whether or not your children will know the Lord, but if you’re following Jesus, then I can rest knowing that you will be purposeful in showing them how to walk with Him, contending for their hearts and minds. And know that I will be contending along with you.
Many people love Jesus, but not many people follow Him.
I pray that you would follow Him. Jesus first called out to His disciples saying, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. (Matthew 4:19) My prayer for you is that you would follow Jesus and allow Him to make you. Place your whole life on the Potter’s wheel and let Him make you as you follow Him.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you”. – Matthew 6:33
That is my prayer for you.
A short time ago, this video of Victoria Osteen went viral on Social Media, with most sharers expressing their disapproval of the famous couple’s “Health, Wealth, and Happiness” doctrine. In the weeks following this, I noticed an online resurgence of the age-old women-in-ministry debate that was sparked by this video for one peculiar reason: She. Blogs bounced all over the internet from many of our country’s most renowned Pastors that the heretical comments were allowed to happen because a woman was allowed to teach on stage in the first place.
I thought that implication was grossly unfair considering all of the bad theology you can get from countless male preachers just about anywhere.
Full-Bible believing theologians have been arguing about a whole array of things since the early church, including this. If you’re curious as to where I stand: I am a tongue speaking, medium-rare Calvinist, who is egalitarian in my view of men and women (Women can preach and teach). My husband and I feel we have been called to Pastor someday and are firm believers in the “ministry team” approach.
But if you passionately disagree with that, don’t worry. This isn’t a blog to try to get you to join our side. In fact, if anyone is going to get offended here today, it’s going to be the women who militantly fight for time in the pulpit and female leadership in the church.
This issue has long been mislabeled the “women in ministry” debate, when the specific acts of service in question are preaching to, teaching, and holding leadership positions over men. But real ministry, the kind that transforms lives and helps people to grow in Christ, doesn’t happen in the pulpit.
I have been a believer for 16 years. Between Sunday service, youth group, camps, conferences, and Podcasts, I have heard well over 2,000 sermons. In all honesty, I can’t point back to one specific one and say, “This changed me”, or, “This speaker made me who I am”. Instead, it was the intentional discipleship that my Church family offered me: The late night talks with my friend’s parents who made me a part of their family, the time my Youth Pastor’s wife picked me up and took me shopping with her for their baby furniture and would ask me how my Bible reading was going and what God was teaching me, and all the countless coffee dates with my mentors. People showed me Jesus and were there when I needed them. My leaders loved me when I was unlovable and walked with me through failures and victories.
I am all for women speaking and teaching, but let’s be very careful that our fight is for the cross and not the crown. All of the ministries that count, that make the greatest impact on individual lives are already available to women. No one is going to tell you not to have that new family over for dinner. No one is stopping you from taking a youth out to coffee. No one is telling you you can’t give someone a ride, groceries, or go pray with someone who is hurting.
But there’s no glamor in that. No crown. No one to tweet your catchy phrase. There’s no credit, and often no thanks.
I’m not saying that everyone who teaches and leads in church does so because they’re seeking praise and fame. almost all of the Pastors I know are humble shepherds who love Jesus and just want to serve their sheep. But there’s no denying that there’s a temptation to desire positions that come with authority and accolades at the expense of looking past the people God has put right in front of you to serve.
And what if? What if the traditionalists are right, and God speaks from Heaven in a loud voice for all to hear, “Just to clarify things, I don’t want women preaching”! Do you stop serving Him? I hope not. We have to ask ourselves, honestly, if we’re looking for promotion or just taking joy in serving the Lord because our lives are not our own, but His.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. – Matthew 16:24
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace – 1 Peter 4:10
And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:44-45
Read C.C.’s story
“My abortion was 30 years ago and still impacts my life today.
At the age of 21, I entered into a relationship with a man that I felt was great marriage material. He had a good job and owned a house. I felt secure with him. We occasionally attended church and I liked his family. I hoped our relationship would restore the years of dysfunction, abuse and divorce I had experienced as a child. I now realize that was a lot to ask of one person.
Several months into our relationship, I found out I was pregnant. I thought that this would be an exciting new adventure and challenge for us. I remember waiting until just the right time to share, with excitement, the news of my positive pregnancy test. As I told him about the results, I could see his countenance change. He shifted in his seat and squarely told me that he did not want to be a father and he would pay for an abortion. I was reeling inside trying to process what he was saying. I loved this man and wanted to marry him. How could I reconcile that I was going to have to choose my boyfriend or my child?
I’ll never forget the day of the “procedure”. It was rainy and I remember entering the doctor’s office to see several women in the waiting room. These were not women, myself included, that were empowered by the choice to have an abortion. It was clear to see we were all uncertain about what was about to happen to us. Some were staring at the floor, others cried quietly. I remember signing in, thinking, “What am I doing here?” “How can I get away?” I don’t remember my boyfriend being there, although he must have been because he drove me and paid for the abortion. I felt entirely alone; a member of some club I had no desire to be apart of. Who was this person that signed in, numbly took the Valium, and silently waited for my name to be called? Where was my voice?
To this day, I can’t remember how far along I was but I know I delayed as long as I could in hopes that my boyfriend would change his mind about the pregnancy. I now know that it must have been an early second trimester abortion, because the prep started a couple of days before the procedure. When my turn came, I clearly remember shutting down emotionally, trying to ignore the sound of suctioning and coldness of the doctor and nurse. I asked the nurse if she could tell if it was a boy or a girl. She said she thought it was a boy but it was too early to tell for sure. I remember returning to a room afterward where other girls were laying on beds that lined the wall. I remember vomiting and wanting to die as I listened to others weeping, obviously feeling the same way I did.
As I walked out of that clinic I remember feeling the finality of the decision I had just made. I could never undo what had been done. I felt like my very soul had been removed from me. I was especially aware of how ashamed I felt because I knew my choice was wrong and that, even though I had recently become a Christian, I made a decision motivated by fear and a desire to please another person. I felt a separation in my relationship with God that I had never felt before. I had not trusted Him. I just wanted to hide.
Along with feelings of despair, I was confused because initially I made the decision to abort in order to maintain my relationship with my boyfriend. I hoped that I could remain in the security it afforded me, but the second the procedure was over; I wanted nothing to do with him. I had lost all respect for him and wondered how I could have made such a sacrifice for someone I no longer wanted. He had not stepped up and reassured me that we could make it through this challenge. He had not rescued me at the clinic but instead delivered me to the door and let me pay the price.
The days, weeks and months after the abortion were the darkest of my life. I had in the past turned to God for comfort when I was hurting but I found it difficult to cry out to Him because of the choice I had made. How do you approach a Holy God after taking a life? I tried many different things to try to fill the void in my life but nothing satisfied me. In those dark days, God heard the cry of my heart because slowly He began restoring my life and surrounding me with authentic Christian people. However, it would be years before I felt safe enough to share my “secret” with them. I faithfully served at church but had conveniently tucked my abortion into a locked safe and pretended it never happened. I returned to work and school and I later met my husband, who I’ve been married to for 27 years. I studied and became a nurse and went on to have 2 children.
Only 5 years ago, God began to reveal that only healed people can help others to heal and hidden things are not necessarily healed. In order to work with an organization that helps men and women facing an unplanned pregnancy, I had to attend a post-abortive recovery class. I am so thankful I did! This is when the real healing began. I was able to really look at why I had made the choice I did and how this impacted the choices I made after the abortion. The class also allowed time to grieve the loss of my child. And most importantly, I was able to “come clean” with God by discovering that Jesus sacrifice even covers the sin of abortion. There is nothing more freeing than having the weight of such an offense lifted. God revealed His incredible mercy, grace and restorative power, not only for me, but anyone who is crushed in spirit and asks in repentance for His forgiveness. Psalm 51 and 1 John 1:9 remain as some of my favorite reminders of these truths.
I now meet with men and women facing the challenge of an unplanned pregnancy, hear their stories and provide support and resources that might make it possible for them to choose options other than abortion. I also facilitate post-abortive classes for those who have chosen abortion in the past and are seeking hope and healing.
In retrospect, I can see how God has used my “mess” from so many years ago to become my message to this generation. Namely, that abortion is not empowering for women. It is not the magic eraser that so many believe it is. It is a big deal! It takes a life and can destroy or at least alter the lives of those involved for many years.
If you are post-abortive, I encourage you to find a safe place to tell your story and so begin the process of healing. You won’t regret it!” – C.C.