What I Really Want

What I Really Want

It’s RARE I have a morning alone.  But today is one of those blessed days.   I mean, I love my kiddos and my man — don’t get me wrong — but the kids spent the night at Aunt Jessica’s (after a day of negotiating and some serious 10-year old manipulation.  That kid should be a lawyer!), and the husband had an early morning appointment with a pool.

So, I’ve had some time to study and plan and reflect (and clean) and the Lord has softly spoken to my heart and asked me to share.  I’ll make this quick because the troops will march back home any minute.

Jesus is my first love.  I don’t understand exactly how He has won me over, but He has.  By His grace.  Because heaven knows I’m self-centered and arrogant and without the grace of God I’d be a hot mess.  But His pursuit is real and the more I surrender, the more I change.  And this morning I can honestly say that more than anything in life I desperately WANT EVERYTHING God has for me.  I want to know Him.  I want to be used by Him.  I want to make a difference in the lives of people around me for His glory.  I really do.  My heart aches toward that goal everyday.  And I’m asking Him for it.  Finally.

Everyday.

I don’t always obey.  I don’t always get it.  I fail more than I even want to think about.  I’m so far from perfect and so far from being like Jesus I don’t even know how any of it is possible, but it IS what I want.

Here’s what hit me as I was watering some plants on my balcony: MOST people don’t.  My heart physically hurts this morning, burdened by the reality that most people I interact with on  a daily and weekly basis, at their core do not care about what God wants for them.  At least not enough for it to matter.

Many of them are Christians.  At least they say or think they are one.

It makes me so sad.  Sad is the best word to describe it.  Not like a “You’re so sad you make me sick” attitude.  No.  A genuine sadness born out of God’s love for others.  He so beautifully and willingly wants people’s hearts, wants to bless, wants to give, wants to have a relationship with them, wants to change them, wants to heal them, wants to give them a life of purpose and abundance, wants to LOVE them — but no.

People don’t want what God wants.  People don’t really want God.  They may want the blessings of God, but they don’t really want Him and they don’t want more than anything else the things He wants.

And I’m guilty too.

Which also makes me sad.

There are days that I MORE want success in business, affirmation from people and security in life.  Safety.  Comfort . The American Dream.  I want those things sometimes.  But, once God gets a true hold on your heart and His truth has penetrated your mind, you can’t really stay there.  You go back to Him and slowly but surely your desires change and you just want Him.

I don’t know how it all looks.  I don’t know how it all will work itself out. I just know that with every fiber of my being I want all God has for me and I want it for you too.

What do you really want?


Soak up the SON

I feel like I’ve been in recovery for the last nine days.  March 10th came and went like a SHINEtastic whirlwind of emotion, exhilaration and exhaustion.  Ministering to over 500 teen girls and their mamas is no easy task, but so very worth it.

Every time I invest myself in planning and executing an event, really of any scale, I always learn more than I’m privileged to teach.  This time was no exception.  While I could carry on for hours about all God taught me through the process, I just want to focus on one really important, foundational thing.  It was point number one in my second session, SERVE, and the one point I’ve been stuck on and stuck to ever since.

Soak up the SON. 

My goal was to challenge the girls to get serious about learning about Jesus and being willing to do whatever that takes.  Go to church.  Get in a Bible study.  Download resources.  Use those resources.  Find a mentor.  Whatever it takes, just soak up more of the Son of God.  Why?

Jesus is simply the one and only.  There are SO MANY topics, issues, struggles, choices, and voices our children face.  Our culture is dark in many ways, but truly Jesus is the answer.  Sounds so —cheesy—churchy, cliché, underwhelming, understated, underestimated, too simple; but nothing could be more profound and more true.   You may be asking, “the answer to what exactly?”  That’s just it.  That’s the crazy thing.  Jesus is the answer to whatever it is you need.  Fill in the blank.  Whatever “it” is, if you get Jesus involved you’ll figure it out.  What we need most, what our children need most, what I NEED MOST is to soak up some more Jesus.  I need His truth equally in my heart and mind.  I need to know better who He was, what He did, what He said, how He lived and what it all means.

Then, BAM!,  suddenly He becomes THE answer.  He just is.

I just need Him.  More of Him.

So do you.

Jesus being the answer is easy to claim, but hard to learn.  Hard to teach and often even harder to convince others of.  So, how do we begin?  Or if you are like me, begin AGAIN.

Well, why not start here.  Answer these questions:

1) Do I think I need Jesus?  Like, really need Jesus.  Or do I pretty much have things/life figured out on my own?

2) How desperate are you?  So long as life is easy, smooth, COMFORTABLE, you won’t really seek Him and therefore, you won’t really know Him and therefore, the answer to whatever it is you’re missing will always allude you.

3) Do your actions match your claims?  This one gets me.  If I say I really need Him, what do I actually do to back that up.  Do I study His word, His life, His story?  Do I surround myself with the influence of other Jesus followers or am I too busy “following” everyone else and seeking to be “followed” myself?  I mean, all those LIKES and SHARES matter.  Right?

4) When I do learn about Jesus, does it matter to me?  Do I change?  Anything?

I hope you’ll take some time just to ponder these questions.  Take a deep look inside.  How is your heart?  Who sits on the throne?   The answers will come.

Perhaps it is time to consider something new.  Make room and then there will be room for THE answer to come.

Soak Him up.

Shine On.


While the Cookies Cool

Our sugar cookies are cooling.  It’s super fun to make cut out sugar cookies with two children and a toddler.  And by fun, I mean, possibly never again.  Flour and dough literally flying.  I’m not sure they understand correctly the concept of making the dough “go as far as possible!” I had to chase my nine year old son through the house and drag him onto the balcony for a cool down before the cool down, giggles all the way.  Don’t mess with mama.

Anyway, while I am waiting with great joy and anticipation for shenanigans surrounding the decorating part, I wanted to write a quick note of encouragement and share quickly what is on my heart this morning.  Simply this:

We have such a worthy Savior.

A couple of nights ago, I rediscovered an old journal I started writing in back in 2004.  As I reminisced page after page, I was blown away by the goodness and faithfulness of God.  Nathan and I were newlyweds and the entries took me through the ups and downs of our life together.  Crucial life decisions, financial stress, pregnancy scares, prayers for people God had placed in our lives for various reasons and time after time answered prayers.  I cannot believe how far God has brought us and how much He has changed me.  If you had asked me then, I would have thought I pretty much had my “Christianity” all figured out.  How wrong I was!  The truth is God, through His word, has worked miracles and moved mountains in my heart, broken me down and transformed my mind over these last twelve years, and even longer.  It almost frightens me sometimes to think of how much more work He has to do to make me like His son, but I want Him to keep working on me.  I grow more desperate for Him year after year.  Truly, life in progress is my anthem.

But, I’ll tell you, what He has done in me and for me is NOT why He is a worthy Savior.  He is a worthy Savior because of who He is.  That GOD HIMSELF would choose to come to this broken world, broken because of the sin of mankind, and suffer and die for us is completely unfathomable when you pause for five minutes and let it soak.

Let.it.soak.

He did not have to come.  He did not even need us.  God is God.  He is completely HOLY, separate from all that is mortal and flawed.  He needs no man.  He needs no Jaclyn Rowe.  The most amazing truth and why my heart so celebrates and worships Him — especially at Christmas — is that while He did not and does not need us, He chooses to WANT us.  He chose to want me.

Mind.blown.

AND HE WANTS YOU.

That’s what Christmas and the Bible is about.  God wants a family and He wants a relationship with YOU.  Not a relationship with you through someone else — like a pastor, priest, speaker, teacher, friend or family member.  He wants YOU.  All of you.  This year.  For Christmas.

And He is worthy of all that you are.  He has done EVERYTHING necessary to make that relationship and everything that comes with it; forgiveness, love, joy, peace, hope (blessing upon  blessing and grace upon grace) possible for you here and now.  The only thing between you and Him is a choice.  Leave your sin and turn to Jesus.  That’s it.  Receive His gift of salvation.  His death paid for your sin, but YOU must choose to believe and put your faith in Jesus alone, giving Him yourself.

From personal experience, I can tell you, there is nothing like doing life with Him because there is no one like Jesus.  No one.

Have such a beautiful Christmas my friends.  I pray your 2017 is like no other!

Now, pray for me as I go collect two children, a toddler, cookies, icing and sprinkles.  Lord, be near me now…

 


He is a Lying Pervert; Why America May Never Be Great Again

It’s a big day. We, the people, are obsessed with figuring out what to do, who to blame and how we will move forward together when this day ends. Our anger has been fierce, obvious and aimed in so many directions it has made my head spin. The amount of confusing information we have had coming our way — meant to clarify — has been overwhelming. Nonetheless, we have a choice to make today.

Like everyone else, I have an opinion and I have cast my vote; but today, my heart is surprisingly not consumed with election results (although I’m sure about 9:00 tonight, that will change).

Maybe traveling to the Middle East changed me more than I realize, because leading up to this historic election I cannot focus on politics. This is new for me. When I participated in mock elections as a kid, I used to try to figure out my own path to the White House. Seriously. In my early twenties, I was debating myself in the shower and determining the likelihood I could speak my way to a win in the Missouri House, then Senate seat, then Governor, then, yep! I should be on my way to Washington by now.

Ironically, by God’s grace, the current state of my mind and heart are driven by a need to fix my own house not the White House.

I, like most of you, am worried about my kids and their future. But, my obsession has become how to communicate to them that presidents are important, but they don’t dictate how we actually live.  We make those choices everyday regardless of who occupies capital hill.  How do I help people in my sphere gain a perspective that will change the way they view the political climate and ultimately impact their life on a real and personal level? I don’t have a perfect answer, but nonetheless, here are some things to ponder today. Maybe this will help entertain your mind between now and final results.

My choice today is to clarify whom the real corrupt, lying, pervert enemy actually is. He is a liar no doubt and has likely deceived you. And me. In fact, he is the chief of all liars. He is a pervert in the worst of all ways and his corruption runs so deep we cannot fathom its depth.

He takes things that were and are meant for our good, things that should be meaningful, beautiful and sacred and twists them into the very things that destroy your life, mine and threaten our children’s future.

For example:

The emotion of fear, a positive inner force meant to protect you from walking over a cliff, becomes a crippling emotion for which you now have to find a means to cope.

Medicine, meant to serve as an instrument of healing, becomes an addiction to cope with your…oh, I don’t know…fear?

Relationships, meant to give you support, accountability and earthly companionship, become a source of aggravation and stress.

Marriage, meant to be a picture of the redemptive love of Jesus, becomes a scene of jaded love and a “trap.”

Sex, meant to be the seal of a covenant and a commitment to another person of the opposite sex becomes a self-centered pleasure that knows no satisfaction.

Children, meant to be a blessing, become a burden.

Work, meant to be a task of fulfillment and purpose, becomes a curse.

Food, meant to nourish the body, becomes an obsession and a thorn in our side.

The body, meant to be a temple becomes a house of defilement, disease and distress.

A baby becomes a choice.

Freedom becomes bondage.

Shall I continue? Everything originally designed by our Creator in perfection and beauty is broken because of this enemy. What might happen if we, the people, identified him, exposed him — I mean I wish wikileaks would release some scripture about this or something — and united our efforts against HIM?

He can be identified.

He is Satan. Known as Lucifer or “shining one.” The devil. He is the known enemy of God. And he is real. Don’t think so? Look around for a few minutes. Consider it. It is pretty easy to see that there is good and there is evil. How do you explain that? If you think all people are good, look again. If you believe all things are bad, look again. How do you define good and evil? How do you know what is OK and what is not? These are big, important questions. You know it and I know it. The struggle is real.The war is raging. If you want to be angry, be angry with Satan. His desire is to find you, steal from you, lie to you and destroy you. He will stop at nothing. He will use every tool at his disposal to poison your mind and heart and to lock you into defeat. He will and has lied to you. You have been deceived. If you can’t admit your deceit reading this, then you can know it is true. He will do everything in his power to keep you from the only one who has defeated him.

Jesus.

Want to know why America may never be great? America doesn’t want to acknowledge the evil that exists in us and among us. America does not want to talk about sin or evil. (Unless of course it is the sin of someone we don’t like or don’t want to like, then we just can’t believe how awful he or she is.) Perhaps YOU do not want to talk about sin. I don’t need to explain to you what sin is. If you speak English well enough to have read this far, you know. Deep down, you know. You have experienced the struggle, the guilt, the pain and the effects for years, as have I.

We will never be “great” until we are willing to agree with God about what sin is and who is guilty. God does not ever wink at sin. Not yours and certainly not mine. He doesn’t brush it under the rug. He doesn’t accept it under some circumstances and He doesn’t ever agree to it. Rather, He exposes it. He brings it to light and He deals with it justly. In fact, He dealt with it fully.

I sincerely pray you know of the cross of Jesus Christ for it stands alone in history as the event that changes EVERYTHING.   The cross holds the key to our real victory. Jesus, God in the flesh, chose to die for us to satisfy the Father when we could not and to defeat the enemy and his power over us.   It is what Jesus did then and continues to do now that reverses the curse and the perversion. He redeems everything and brings real change in the lives of all people who have faith in Him.  Our government is meant to restrain evil, but only God Himself can defeat it.

Greatness comes through righteousness and righteousness comes only through Christ. Jesus alone takes what is broken by sin and sets it right. He makes it great again!

It’s a miracle and a mystery, but if you observe, you can see Jesus as clearly as you can see the enemy. Consider lives transformed by the power of Jesus. I know it is true, because He has changed me.

So, what do you want? What do you believe? Who do you follow? Who is your choice?

I’m choosing to focus on who the real enemy is. No, scratch that. I’ll not focus on him. I merely choose to identify him. I will fix my eyes, mind and heart on Jesus, for He is the only one and the only way in which America will ever stand a chance at greatness.


The Reality of Grammy Idols

I was so utterly discouraged Wednesday after my talk to nearly 150 teen girls, I couldn’t even write this article.  I couldn’t look at their evaluations of my program and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t overcome my despair.  I was spent.

See, mid-day on Monday I began preparing for my speech to this group.   Since I am now in my thirties — can’t believe I’m saying that —I thought it might be a good idea to do a little research and figure out what’s hot and trending in pop culture to get a better grip on where most teenage minds reside.  So, I checked my DVR for the Grammy’s.  Now before you stop reading because you are thinking, “here we go, again” I hope you’ll hear me out.

I’ll admit, I primarily began watching because I really do need to understand teen culture and music is a good indicator, but if I’m honest, I also wanted to see Taylor Swift perform.  I don’t know why.  So, after a quick view of what I’m guessing was one-third of Beyonce’ and JayZ’s earth-shattering performance, I skimmed through in search of Taylor.  On my fast-forward journey I grew more and more irritated with the outfits, or lack-there-of, the extremely sexual choreography and the very dark and down right weird stuff.  I watched all of Taylor.  Her dress was gorgeous.  Her performance was what I expected and I truly wanted to jump through the TV and give her a hug when she was done.  She looked so hurt by that guy.  Seriously.  After that, I skimmed through a couple more morally disgusting jokes and performances and called it a day.  I didn’t watch most of it.

I had seen enough.

As I thought about the “show” I started to feel my reaction coming on strong.  This is MESSED UP.  I was mad.  Why are we so eager to support, applaud and give credit to these people?  Because they are famous, talented, beautiful and rich?  I guess so.  Are people really this enthralled by raunchy sex appeal?  Do we not see vulgarity as wrong anymore?  As quickly as I’m asking the questions, the answer came — yes.  Morality has no place in our culture.  Right is relative.  Tolerance and acceptance are our only beliefs and Yonce’ (as the girls I spoke to lovingly call her), JayZ, Katy Perry and the like are our nation’s most popular preachers.  Hollywood elite craft and deliver the message.  We accept. They set the standard.  We give them a golden statue and keep the cash flow goin’ so they can build their empires.  It’s crazy.  Ironically, many of their own children probably aren’t allowed to watch!

I thought about it all day Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday as I was driving to St. Louis.  I prayed and prayed, “Lord, what would you have me do?”  As I arrived at the school, I felt compelled to share with the girls how Christian Grammy nominee, Natalie Grant, left the Grammys early because it was so ridiculous.  After all, my presentation was on personal branding, image and character.  I thought the story would be a great way to conclude.

Here’s the thing; the girls totally did not get it.  It may because I didn’t communicate it well.  But, I have nine years of experience speaking to crowds just like this one.  I don’t think, in this case, I was the issue.  They cheered at my first mention of the Grammys.  Clearly, they LOVE Beyoncé.  They’ve never heard of Natalie Grant, not surprising, but you should know this was a private, Christian school.  I have spoken to over 80,000 teenagers and I’m telling you, these girls turned on me when I merely alluded to the idea that Yonce’ had been inappropriate.  They were absolutely dumbfounded at the thought of a Grammy nominee walking out.  Why?  They could not, in any way, wrap their minds around the notion that ANYTHING had been wrong at, with, or surrounding the Grammys.  They thought it was awesome.  I kept looking for faces that might show a glimpse of agreement with me.  None.

The bell rang, they handed in their evaluations and they were gone.  I was devastated.

Listen Christians; we have got to stop being gray.  We have got to stop being lukewarm.  We have got to stop allowing our children and the teens in our lives to go day-to-day thinking it is perfectly acceptable to act like a sex object, witch or whatever.  It is NOT okay.  You can call it art, you can call it performance, you can call it creativity, you can call it entertainment, you can even call it freedom of expression.  But, you, Christian, cannot call it right and you cannot act like it is no big deal.  It is profane.  It is a slap in the face of your creator.  It is WRONG.  WRONG.  Say the word.  Things that are profane are not beautiful.  Profanity is not to be celebrated, but exposed.  The church has been quiet or found ignorant while our culture has adopted, promoted and established profane idols of worship.  We’ve allowed our enemy to silence us and now I feel like an ancient prophet screaming,  “Stop the madness!  Turn back.  Destroy these idols or they will destroy us.”

This is nothing new.  This is what the enemy does.  He takes things, people, that were designed to be beautiful, created for eternal purpose and he destroys them.  The enemy perverts them.  What you saw — or hopefully didn’t see — was perversion.  Is Beyoncé talented and beautiful?  Of course!  But what God designed for His glory has been debauched.  The same formula could be said for nearly every artist that took the stage.  How does it happen?  Simple.  They — we — are born absolutely depraved.

The same formula would be said of me if Satan had his way.

God is love AND God is holy.  Everyone wants to talk about His love, but scarcely — especially in our pop culture and mainstream media — can you find anyone who wants to discuss His holiness.  The media push young people to believe that God loves everyone and therefore accepts everyone no matter what they do.  They push that since God made our emotions; whatever we feel must be okay.  OR, since there is no God, we can decide what’s good, bad, right and wrong.  Either way, we are in control.  They insist when you try to debate, discuss, reason or disagree with them, you’re an idiotic fool.  Get this: their god is not the God of the Bible.  Their god is one they have fabricated for their own comfort, ultimately resulting in the god of self.  They live to build their own kingdoms and to glorify themselves.  They DO NOT care about, nor do they know the God Christianity proclaims.

The God of the Bible, the only One who has revealed and proven Himself for thousands of years has not and will not tolerate sin. Nor does He casually overlook sin.  He never will.  God does not accept people the way they are!  Hello!?  There would have been NO REASON for Christ and the cross if that statement were true.  All people are not acceptable in the eyes of God.  Think about it.  We are only acceptable in the eyes of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  That’s it.  Unless we have been “born again” by faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, we are not acceptable.  He takes what is corrupt, does away with it and replaces it with something better, His righteousness.  He redeems.  We praise Him for His grace because we have done NOTHING to deserve that chance.  That was ALL Him.  He chose us.  While we were still sinners, messed up, Christ died for us — all of us.

Jesus came to free us from sin and the death trap that it is.  He came to give us life.  He did that.  We did nothing.  Some choose to reject Him.  They don’t want what He offers.  They prefer their sin to His righteousness.  They don’t want to surrender their life to a God they can’t see.  They don’t want to be told what is right and what is wrong by a divine creator.  It is their right to make that choice (only because God created us with a free will to do so, ironically) but the REALITY is every knee is going to bow.  Every tongue that is making money mocking the holy God of the Bible now will someday confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Mark His words, it will happen.

But in the meantime, I don’t want a whole generation of people to be deceived by the enemy because I’m too afraid to speak out and proclaim the truth.

It is time we stand together and stand up for truth.  The human body is not a sex object and sexuality is sacred.  There is right and wrong.  Our Creator defines it.  We can prove morality.  If you claim Christianity, you must stop supporting and watching things that are profane in the eyes of your maker.  STOP.  Christ lives in you and is with you.  You must grasp what it means that your body is a temple of the living God.  You must stop putting trash in your mind.  You must believe God when he says those who sow to the flesh will reap corruption.  And stop justifying it.  Stop allowing your kids to bathe in this trash.  If you think your daughter is fine, I dare you to look at her iTunes account.  Check her list of artists and songs.  Google some lyrics.   This is what she’s listening to when you’re trying to get her attention. Parents, stand in the gap for your kids!  Get your own mind right.  Teach that there is in fact a line.  It is well past crossed and we cannot sit back and act like all is well.  All is not well.  I know because I saw it on the faces of 150 girls who have no idea why they matter or if their life has value.  They have no idea who they are or who they are supposed to be.  They have no idea that their body is a precious gift.  They have no clue despair and destruction wait for them at the hand of their enemy.  He is deceiving a generation and we are letting him.

There’s hope.  Christ asks us to be that hope.  He asks us to be salt and to be light, to push back the darkness and to share the TRUTH.   Smash the idols.  I believe if we are faithful to do our part, to be obedient to His commands, He will be faithful to do His.

I’m in.  Are you?


The Curse of a “Good” Life

I’m sure your life is good.  Normal.  Your life is a perfect picture of someone living out the American dream.  Life is not perfect.  You have your ups and downs.  But, you have a family and have landed a decent job.  Fun, social events and day trips fill your calendar.  Maybe you even attend church sometimes.  Anyone observing your day-to-day activities would conclude that things are, well, good.

Tonight as I sat in my living room floor, Bible open, King Hezekiah study on my lap and listening to a young woman who attends our weekly gathering talk, I realized something.   She was right.  While I don’t think she’d mind, I’ll keep her name to myself, but she said, “I don’t think most people realize how miserable they are.  They have nothing else to compare their life to.”  She went on to explain that before she started following Christ, she thought she had a great life.  She wasn’t unhappy.  She wasn’t depressed.  She wasn’t even looking for something different.  She was normal.

I pray someone reading this right now feels that same way — good and normal.  You are whom I’m talking to today.  Have you ever considered that there is more?  Have you ever wondered why “radical Christians” act the way they do?  They commit their lives to serving a God they can’t see, are passionate about church activities and Bible study and they do some weird things.  Perhaps they go out of their way, unnecessarily in your opinion, to take strong stands on issues and you feel sorry for them when they get slammed with the “don’t judge me” card.  Why do they care so much?  You don’t get it.  You respect it, but you don’t get it.

May I challenge you with something?  What if for one year, 2014, you determined to explore what they seem to have found?   What if you joined a Bible study and went to church regularly?   Not a church where tradition reigns.  Go to one where Christ is King and everyone knows it.  Go to one where the Bible is read and taught and God is praised.  Go to one where people are focused on sharing the good news of salvation around the world.  Participate in the classes and learn the teachings.  Ask hard questions and as you grow in knowledge continue to consider  “is there more?”

What might your life be like in a year if you did that?  Is that too weird to even ask?

When my friend started paying attention to God and began to understand what it meant to be a Christian, her life didn’t really change.  Same family.  Same job.  Same social events.  But she changed.  Her heart changed.  Her mind changed and eventually most everything else did to.  She found truth, joy, peace and purposes she’d never known existed.  She learned of God’s love and began to desire His best.  Soon, the old life…you know, the normal, good one…was no longer appealing and it certainly was no longer enough.  She tried to go back, but she couldn’t.  She was miserable in the life that used to seem so good.  She had to move on with Christ.

Over and over again I’ve heard stories so similar to this one.  I call it the Jesus effect.  Having a relationship with Him changes people…. as it should.  HE CHANGES PEOPLE. The beautiful thing is that it is always for the better.

Could it be that you presume your life is good because you’ve never experienced God’s best?  Once you taste His goodness, nothing else satisfies. Every time I’ve been tempted — and I have — to abandon my faith and walk away from my beliefs, I’m left with nowhere to go.  Who can compare to my God?  What other truth can I stand on?  What else can I build my life on?  To whom shall I go?  Better is one day in the courts of my God than a thousand elsewhere.

If I sound crazy, you’ve been cursed with a good life.

I dare you to come and see.


Bathsheba, a Mother of Jesus

If you haven’t taken a close look at the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew, my headline might seem shocking, maybe even blasphemous. However, she is listed, not by name, but simply as Solomon’s mother, “…the wife of Uriah.” And, at least to me, Bathsheba’s story is one of the greatest accounts of God’s grace and redemption in the entire Bible.

Bathsheba came to my attention as I was trying to come up with a subject for this week’s column. My sister mentioned that my home church’s (First of Potosi, Mo) pastor and his wife had written a Christmas program that features the stories of the five women listed in the Matthew genealogy. She suggested that I might find some inspiration by revisiting the stories of these women.

I got more than I bargained for. The stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary are, without exaggeration, amazing ― especially because they each played a role in the eventual coming of the Messiah.
But for some reason ― perhaps because somebody out there needs to read this ― I felt drawn to write specifically about Bathsheba.

I know there are many opinions on Bathsheba, but I am convinced that she was a true victim, not a manipulative woman of the night.

The text in II Samuel 11 implies that the bathing Bathsheba was doing at the time she was seen by David was the mikveh, the ritual washing required after a woman’s menstrual cycle. This bath couldn’t have been performed just anywhere as the pool required had to be of at least a certain size and contain a certain amount  of water from a purely natural source.

David was supposed to be away at battle, but he wasn’t where he should have been. As a matter of common courtesy, David knew that this time of day was when the ritual was performed, and he should have not been strolling about his rooftop, looking down into the private courtyards of his subjects. (We know that David was on his roof. Given the requirements of the mikveh, Bathsheba was likely not on hers.) Given that the king was probably presumed to be at battle by the people, there was probably no reason for Bathsheba to think she would be spied upon from the royal palace.

We also find no condemnation of Bathsheba in the text. The prophet Nathan’s metaphoric commentary of the situation compares what David did to stealing a precious lamb from a man.  We also know that Bathsheba mourns over her husband’s death. For those who think she could have said, “no,” to David; she couldn’t. He was king. She was summoned. I believe the text shows that Bathsheba was raped. You probably know what happened shortly after.

Rape. Murder. The death of a child. This is basically as bad as it gets. Why would I write about these things so near to Christmas?

Redemption. Forgiveness. The birth of another child. Those things eventually came from the marriage (what other choice would Bathsheba and David have?) of the adulterous king and his object of lust. David had several wives. God could have continued the Messianic line through any of them. Why did God choose to use Bathsheba to bring about Solomon and eventually Jesus?

You see, God is in the redeeming business; meaning, He doesn’t do His work in spite of evil, He does His work through evil. God did not desire that David take the wife of Uriah, but God was able to work through that evil action by renewing David’s heart, doing an amazing work of forgiveness in Bathsheba’s. What began as an unholy union became intwined with the story of our salvation. In fact, the relationship between David and Bathsheba must have been amazingly repaired. Solomon was not the oldest son, but David promised Bathsheba he would be king. Bathsheba trusted David’s promise enough to take action and ask David to appoint Solomon king before Adonijah, another son of David, could take the throne behind David’s back. Had she failed, she would have been killed by Adonijah for treason.

When tragedy strikes, we often say, with a complete lack of conviction, that God “is working all things for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” But some things are so bad, we really don’t expect anything big.  Maybe the family will “come together” and get along at the death of a loved one, but sometimes I wonder at just how huge God’s plans really are even if we can’t see them. After all, Jesus didn’t come until about 1,000 years after David. While nothing can match the coming of the Savior, and we might not find comfort in thinking that perhaps our tragedies might bring something good 1,000 years from now; we can still look at Bathsheba’s life with hope for our own.

This woman was as wronged as any could be.  Yet God worked miraculously through her.

Have you been wronged? Are you hurting in a way that you don’t see any possible redemption? You might be right, and in no way would I ever trivialize the suffering that goes on in this world. But don’t lose hope, because God isn’t interested in what seems possible, He is very happy to do what is impossible.


Progressive

Why Christians Should Be Progressive

­­This site is titled “Life in Progress,” which sounds more like your average self-help book than a Christian ministry. But there is a good reason why my sister, Jaclyn Rowe, gave that name to our speaking/writing ministry. It can be summed up in one word: Sanctification.

What we mean when we say “sanctification” is the process by which God is conforming us to the likeness of His son after we accept Christ and are born again. While some teach that sanctification can happen here, on this earth, in an instant; I am convinced that the New Testament clearly shows that this is an on-going process of growth. Even the apostle Paul longed to be free from “this body of death.”

So what does this have to do with being progressive?

Sanctification is a growing process, and things that are growing do not continue to look the same. This might sound like utter heresy on the surface, but Christians should be more open to change than just about anybody else. The Christian should always be making progress, and that requires change.

However, progress implies that there is a specific goal toward which you are moving. Unfortunately, the word “progress” has been hijacked and given a political connotation that is ultimately meaningless because it is almost never stated with a particular goal in mind. Change for the sake of change itself is not progress, it’s just change. But for the Christian, Christ is the goal, and constant change is always required – unless you’ve reached a state of sinless perfection and complete knowledge.

I don’t have complete knowledge, but what knowledge I do have and my love for the Lord is continually growing and it is exciting. Sadly, for many the Christian life is stale and becomes more about church business, tradition and routine rather than being conformed to the image of Christ – especially for those who grew up in the church and accepted Christ at a young age. If you went to church, you probably had a preacher who was never in doubt about anything and were probably never encouraged to question any doctrine or wrestle with big theological concepts. So, your life after salvation is very much the same as your life before salvation because we know that everything you could possibly need to know has been taught completely and perfectly in church, right? Why would you ever need to ask questions or study the Bible for yourself? But things that grow do not look the same.

I am convinced that God supernaturally adds verses to the Bible because when reading a “familiar” passage, I constantly find verses that “weren’t there before.” Truths that I never realized before seem to pop out of nowhere. I fully expect this phenomenon to continue for the rest of my life because there is always room to learn more of the mystery of God’s glory.

I want to be clear that this is not a hit against any specific church or denomination. I am trying to hit against complacency and/or the arrogance of thinking we “know it all.” At the risk of sounding like a rebel, I would encourage you to start examining every aspect of your faith if you never have. This is not license to simply believe whatever you like, but all things must stand the test of truth. If you are truly, honestly seeking the truth and asking God to reveal more of himself to you, then you will find it. And when your beliefs are affirmed or (gasp) changed by the truth given to you by the Holy Spirit and not just because the preacher said it, then your passion for the Lord will soar and you will truly begin to grow.

Sanctification can be a painful process. It might mean admitting you were wrong about a doctrine or belief that was handed down to you by elders. Such a break in tradition is a thing that should never be taken lightly. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Don’t ever take down a fence until you know the reason why it was put up.” But the Christian’s first loyalty must be to the truth and not to tradition or dogma, nor to the pressures of “relevance” or acceptance. To never question why you believe a doctrine or to go through life and never wrestle with a teaching from your elders is not a badge of honor. That kind of attitude implies that your teachers were perfect people with perfect interpretations, not people in the process of sanctification. There is a big difference between questioning the authority of the Bible and questioning your understanding of it.

And so, if your motives are true, ask your questions. Seek God and you will find that the more you learn, the more you realize just how much you don’t know.

 


Shutdown Your Faith In Government

When we see moral and cultural decay occur in our country, sometimes our response is to put a lot of effort into getting the “right” candidates elected to office. If we could just gain a majority of people who think like we do, they could outlaw everything bad and sinful and America would be great again, right? But I want to make a statement that, when I realized it, hit me like the proverbial “Mack Truck” Baptist evangelists were always threatening my life with at revivals:

Israel had perfect laws given to them straight from the hand of God. How’d they do with that?

 We have an entire Bible that emphasizes and reemphasizes the fact that the law cannot make a person/people/nation righteous. Righteousness is a matter of the heart, and the law does nothing to change that. In fact, sometimes it makes us worse. For example, if you’ve ever seen a sign that says, “Do Not Step On The Grass,” I would bet you have felt the desire to step on said grass.

I want to be clear that I am not about to say that Christians should completely abandon politics altogether. We should vote, and we should pray that God sends believers into the political arena as there are positive and negative effects to certain policy implementation.

But we should never put our hope for the redemption of people and their lives in politics. Our efforts to win elections should pale in comparison to our efforts to love, serve and evangelize the lost. We cannot legislate the gospel into the hearts of people, and when we try, it usually backfires.

This summer, I asked Stuart McAllister, an apologist for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries about how we as Christians should balance our respect for the right of others to disbelieve with our desire to make “good” laws.  I’ll never forget his answer:

“I don’t know exactly what the answer is,” said McAllister, “but I know this: people tend to get pretty angry when we come at them from a position of power, but they usually respond much better when we approach them from a position of service.”

When Jesus came, the Jewish people, including His disciples, wanted Him to take power and become a king. But His kingdom was not of this world. Yet, with no army, what started with one man and His 12 disciples and a handful of women changed the world. In fact, it seems through the New Testament, and history as well, that the less power the church has the more its influence grows.

If you’re concerned for America, that’s good. But what are you doing about it? If your answer revolves around trying to convince people on how they should vote or listening to talk radio or bemoaning the state of affairs at the water cooler or picketing – I challenge you to take all that energy spent on politics and compare it to your energy and zeal for the Lord.  How does it stack up?

Once again, I am preaching to myself. I had to force myself to stop listening to talk radio because it poisoned me against people for whom Jesus died and made me focus on the symptoms of an illness, rather than the illness itself. We cannot forget that our battle is not with political parties or even other countries, it is with the devil. And there is a Satan-crushing atom bomb that needs to be dropped on the hearts of every person possible called the gospel because only the gospel changes hearts. If you change hearts, politics will take care of itself. So, before we take others to task about how they vote, let’s try to take them to Jesus first.


Let’s Stop Trying to Clean People Up

Is it possible that you are “saved” and in the family of God, but you are sinning and you don’t even know it? If this paper is going to Baptists, I’m assuming your answer is yes. Even if your answer is “no,” I’d bet you still would admit to sinning sometimes when you do know it. And yet, here you are, still secure in the grace of God. So I have one more question for all of us:

Why do we often try to convert the lost out of their sin before we bring them to Jesus?

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I recently read an article by Andrew Alleyne, a minister from Canada, called “I hate Church.” (Alleyne didn’t really hate church, he just wanted to grab attention.) Alleyne had found that, when talking to people on the street about Christ, many people said they didn’t want to go to church because of the way they had been treated by Christians. So Alleyne and his wife decided to see for themselves if these were legitimate complaints or convenient excuses.

The Alleynes started visiting prominent churches around Toronto. Andrew would wear baggy jeans, put in earrings and wear a hat, backwards, and his wife would wear a short skirt. They would basically come under the guise that they were new and didn’t know how church “worked.” What they found was that in almost every church, no one even said hello to them, but the people were happy to stare.  Well, I take that back — sometimes Andrew would get a tap on his shoulder and be asked to remove his hat.  The Alleynes found that they, like so many others, had no desire whatsoever to go back.

At this point you might be tempted to get defensive.  Please, don’t. Just hear me out and understand that I, myself have a 6”X6” self-righteous beam sticking out of my face. If my tone seems aggressive, please understand that I’m angry at myself.

Some of you might be thinking, “Well, the church is a house of worship and people should be more respectful.” I’m going to challenge that.

The church is not a building. The church is the body of Christ. Too often, we think that being a church member means going to a place where we talk about Christ, we worship Christ, but are we concerned enough with being Christ?  Sometimes, I think it might be better that, when we are “in church,” we think of ourselves sitting on the ground in a Middle-Eastern desert somewhere instead of a multi-million dollar facility. Buildings are great, don’t get me wrong, but Jesus did not come to establish more physical temples, he came to build his church out of people who would represent him.

So what do you think Jesus would do if he was out in the desert and met a woman who had had five husbands? What about a prostitute? What about a traitor to the nation?

Church, to do what Jesus would do is our job. Our job is not to try to impress God with a spit-and-polished congregation and worship service. Yes, corporate worship is important, but over and over in the Gospels we see Jesus greatly concerned with meeting the needs of individuals and bringing them in. Remember, Jesus said that serving others, even prisoners, equated to serving him.

The next time you see a person with lots of tattoos or a miniskirt or a hat on in church or someone you know to be a practicing homosexual or a Democrat (some of you need to hear that one) or a drug addict walk into your sanctuary, what are you going to do? Because, if you answered yes to any of my questions in my first paragraph, then you would be a complete hypocrite to judge them as someone less-than-worthy of being introduced to Christ – and you and your church are the body of Christ.

“But Klint, sin is sin and we have to be repentant of it, we can’t just let it go.” You’re right, so how about dealing with our own sin, first. So often, when we meet people who don’t know Christ, we are tempted to try to get them to stop sinning. We tell them those things are wrong and try to convince them to stop because, how can they be saved if they aren’t repentant? Well, you’ve already admitted it’s possible to sin and not know it. So you’re not repenting of all your sins, either.

We can lead people to Christ without convincing them of every sin in their lives because conviction is the job of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 16:8-9 that “when (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”

Even though it is easy for us to fathom someone being saved, who is prideful/ greedy/ lustful (heterosexuals only) and then sanctified over time, meaning that they don’t act perfect right away; for some reason we don’t grant the same possibility to homosexuals/ bartenders/ people who vote the “wrong” way/ people with lots of piercings and tattoos. No, for them, we want immediate, obvious, dramatic change, and usually we try to make that change happen before they accept Christ.

I think it’s time that we trust the Holy Spirit to do the convicting. If someone wants to come to Christ because they know they are lost — even if they don’t acknowledge every individual thing we think they are doing wrong — I believe Jesus’s work on the cross is big enough to save them and begin the process of sanctification.

Mark Lowry said it best: “I never figured out how do you ‘love the sinner but hate the sin? There’s too many of you…’ Hating my own sin is a full-time job! How about you love the sinner and hate your own sin.”

The sin certainly exists, but lets invite dirty people into our dirty congregations and let the Holy Spirit give us all a bath.