Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sabbath Bread {When the Trumpet Sounds in the Sky}

"Let us rejoice and be happy
    and give God glory,

because the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and the Lamb’s bride has made herself ready.

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given to her to wear.”
(The fine linen means the good things done by God’s holy people.)

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been invited to the wedding meal of the Lamb!” And the angel said, “These are the true words of God.”

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride dressed for her husband.

-Revelation 19:7-9, 21:2 (NCV)

"His righteousness, His blood, and everything He inherited from the Father He gives as the dowry to us who are known as His bride. So rejoice, dear believer, in your union with Him who 'was numbered with the transgressors,' and prove you are truly saved by living a life that makes it abundantly clear that you are 'numbered with' those who are a 'new creation' (2 Cor. 5:17) in Him." - Charles Spurgeon (Morning by Morning)

Lord, this is our Glorious Hope. Help us live our lives worthy of having been saved. You are worthy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Follow {with excellence)

Leadership, leadership, leadership. It's all we hear sometimes, and all we talk about. 

Excellence in leadership is crucial to an organization, a government, a family, a church ... any institution, really. And I get it - leaders are important, and excellent leadership can carry us to success just as fast as poor leadership can destroy us. The Bible says a lot about leadership. We have so much to learn from the Leader of leaders, the King of kings. Yes. I get it.

But what about followers? What is to be said about excellent follower-ship? As much as God teaches us about leadership, I'll argue that He has far more to say about following well. 

Because only a few of us are called to lead, but we are all called to follow. With excellence - we're to learn how to follow well, honor our leaders, walk in humility and support and help. Everyone wants to be a great leader but who ever would think of aspiring to be a fantastic follower? 

I, for one, would like to start a movement of excellent followership. Someone once said, "Lord bring revival and start with me." If you know who said it first, let me know - I can't remember or find the person to credit. But I often think it a pray it. I do know it was Ghandi who said, "Be the change you want to see." Regardless of who the leaders were or are - I want to follow in those steps. The steps that walk in humble submission to Jesus and those He has appointed to lead me. My husband. My pastors. My mentors. My parents. My boss. 

Something has been lost in our culture of rugged individualism and we the people. I think that loss saddens the heart of God. Submission has become a dirty word among us and we're in trouble because of it. I'm convinced that God has more instructions in His Word about following well than about leadership.

And I do get it. This doesn't come easy for me. I like power and control just as much as you do. Of all of the control freaks I'd be first in line. Submission and surrender seem like passive things, so why do they require me to work so hard to get them? I just think God has something to say to us about walking behind someone. Behind Someone. 

So how, about it? You there, Reader. The wife who knows it's her role to honor her husband but can't quite figure out how. The employee who desires to submit to his boss but can't stop cutting him down behind his back. The church member who wants to respect his pastor but just keeps trying to get closer to him so he can get a hold of the power and make the decisions. The teenager who knows it's right to honor her mother and father but can't stop the back-talk. The Christ-follower in name but not in deed, who talks the talk in the day but can't seem to walk the walk in the darkness. 

What if we could deny our flesh and become the followers God has promised He'd make us if we'd just cooperate and surrender?

I've got a stack of verses beside me right now about following, and I'm deciding how many I can fit into this post. I'm half-way tempted to squeeze them all in, but I've been in your seat: ready for the punch line, the bottom line ... the point. So I'll get to it. 

“If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me." - John 12:26 (Msg)

akoloutheó is the Greek work that means accompany, attend, follow

I can either busy myself trying to make God follow my bidding, or I can follow Jesus, ready to serve Him. I may be a leader, but my first job, my first joy, is to follow. To switch the two is to falter and then fall. I don't want to be a fall-er, I want to be a follower. It's there I'll find the Father's reward. Which is all that's really worth reaching for, anyway.

One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself you go on to something better, which is following Jesus. - Eugene H. Peterson

What about you? What has God taught you recently about following? 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review {Paid For: My Journey ...}

A few housekeeping issues:
1. Please forgive the sporadic posts and long intervals between - a season of transition for my family makes for inconsistent writing opportunities. Thank you for grace, Dear Reader.

2. This post and others about human trafficking/ sexual exploitation and abuse are not necessarily appropriate for children or youth. Though I believe in teaching the next generation about modern slavery issues, I don't particularly use that filter on all of my posts. I'll be writing more young-audience friendly posts in the near future. If you're under 18, please let a parent read this and give you the age-appropriate cliffnotes version. Thank you for understanding, Young Readers and Parents.

3. My heart is filled with hope as of late - Hope for eternity and good things to come here on earth, too. I pray that your heart will be filled with the same. In His presence is fullness of joy (see Ps. 16:11) May this be said of you, me, and everyone who claims Christ as Lord: 

"And they have defeated him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die." -Revelation 12:11 (NLT) [emphasis mine]

So without further ado, 

Today I'm reviewing the book Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution by Rachel Moran, an Irish woman who tells her story in a candid yet gripping memoir that will make a generation question the way we interpret femininity, sex, prostitution, and human trafficking. 

Originally I heard about the book via an audio interview with the author, and knew it was a must-read for me because of my heart for the trafficked. You can catch that interview here. In addition, you can view an interview with the author regarding her views, the book, and her goals here. Perhaps you'd like to come back to these links after you've read my brief (as possible) review below. In any case, I'm hoping that one of these three prompts will cause you to get and read this book because it is absolutely necessary knowledge for anyone who cares about fighting human trafficking, or anyone who cares about humanity for that matter. Okay, yes - that did sound melodramatic (I realize), but I honestly believe the knowledge offered here to the world is simply crucial.

That being said, I'll start with a couple of disclaimers. 1. This book includes a plethora of expletives, all of which will offend my normal readership. I was offended by what I read. But I'll admit, it adds to the truth of the work. Sometimes offense is necessary for those who desire change. Moran is nothing if not honest, and her verbiage must include the vulgar - for she takes us into the darkest of holes in order to shine the light on evil. 2. All of the pages in Paid For may not be helpful in the long-run if you are sensitive and want to keep your thoughts sexually pure. In essence, I would recommend this for women to read and subsequently explain the premise to your guy so you can leave the details out of his mind. Men need to get this, don't get me wrong, and nothing will change until they do. But we can help them to know it without having to know it, and I think you know what I mean. 

Moran begins with her personal and tragic story of how she ended up becoming a prostitute, which was not, as it never is, a matter of choice. The element of choosing to sell oneself or allow another person to sell oneself is one of many myths of prostitution she dispels in the exploration of her own experience and that of others she knew. She writes in detail of brutality, fear, hopelessness, drug abuse, suicide attempts, family dysfunction, and self-identity in a way I found compelling and painful. I was astonished at her mastery over clear and profound exposition - this hero of survival who spent her years being exploited while others were learning. She put herself through college for journalism after she exited prostitution, a feat few have been able to do. Her forceful truth may leave you reeling, and it may anger some who rely on lies to keep doing what they do. 

In addition to the honest memoir, this book is critical for its exegesis of current and proposed legislation on the matter of "sex for sale." A clear proponent of the Nordic Model, Moran explains in depth the Why's and How's of criminalizing the purchase of sex around the world. Her unique perspective from the prostituted is painfully precious to all of us who look for answers to eradicate this ugly smudge on the face of every human alive today. 

"Until the world wakes up to the simple wrongfulness of what prostitution truly is, we're not going to get social change." - Rachel Moran (in the video interview cited above)

And a few quotes from the book that shook me:

"The summation of my experience of prostitution was simply this: I lost myself." 

"If it were not entirely held buoyant by the sexual demands of men, brothels would have no viability and no purpose and no reason to open their doors - or to have any doors to begin with." 

"As a species, the urge to violate is strong within us. It is up to us to be stronger than it is."

"Sexual self-governance is only possible for anyone where they are not influenced to make decisions regarding their sexuality based on circumstances beyond their control."

Happy reading, Dear One! Next time I'll be reviewing something a little lighter, I promise!