We know that the law is spiritual; but I am nonspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Many times I come close to giving up hope for humanity but I just can't. I can't because the Lord resides in me and God just won't let me give up hope. But oh as I get older the harder it becomes. When adults hurt or exploit children or when adults become uncivil with one another I get just a little more bitter and a little more pessimistic. That's when I pray. I am afraid that if I give up hope I will become one of those uncivil adults or worse and my desire to love people who desperately need it comes back full force. As much as society angers me I remember the phrase:
"HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE"
Hurt people are the ones that need the most love and I chose to love rather than hurt.
If you find yourself in this place of hopelessness listen to the song below. May it give you renewed hope as it has for me lately.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Do you love me? - Honduran immigrant child
Leviticus 19: 34
The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.
If you love, feed and house the immigrant child in the US then you are loving Jesus.
If you refuse to love, feed and house the immigrant child in the US then don't claim to love Jesus.
One month ago this was the opening for my daily devotional for one week.
Life’s pathways are not always clearly marked. Trails wind into the wilderness and disappear, leaving no end in sight. And often you may wonder which way to go.
As you journey through life, there is One you can trust to be your guide—the One who has already walked the path for you and who walks beside you even now.
In these quiet moments, be still and listen for the One who is calling you home.
and this was the song I listened to everyday of that week as well:
This week was also the beginning of my first counseling class. Since August of 2013 I have questioned God repeatedly on why he was sending me to Liberty University. See I and the University have differing opinions when it comes to scripture and women in ministry and I could not for the life of me understand why God would send me to a school that believes women cannot be ordained. I went through my normal routine when I can't figure out God's plan by repeatedly asking, "God, have you lost your mind?" yes I do this often and it may be heretical or blasphemous but I still trust and believe in God even when I question. (Side note: I don't see questioning as a bad thing or as a sign of doubt. The psalms are full of questions to God and doubt, it is a human thing and God still loves us through it all.) That 2nd week in May, the first week of my counseling course was rough. I found myself yelling at the computer when I read students introductions. (There is a lot I disagree with in this world and at times I can lose my cool, but mostly in the privacy of my home) I also learned that I was placed in the wrong major and had to correct that and my thought they had accepted some of my previous grad work was dismantle. By Thursday of that week I was ready to quit. What most people do not know about me is that I am a quitter. Now I can commit myself to things and have done so but only to things I like and enjoy. When anything gets tough and difficult I have bailed in the past. I have been a quitter. Not a very good attribute. But if we are all to admit it none of us like difficulty. We can commit to the things we love but committing to struggle is what I imagine most of us don't want to do. I decided on that Thursday to talk with a fellow co-worker so I could give voice to someone what was going on inside of me. She asked me how confident I was that God was leading me on this path of a new degree and without hesitation I said, "I have no doubts." I still don't. She suggested that maybe God wanted to teach me something and part of that was trusting him. That is when the devotion came to mind. When I got home that evening I needed to relax and filled my tub with water. While relaxing the tears started to flow. They flowed because God was revealing the less and desirable qualities I posses even as a minister. Being humbled by God is not a pleasant experience but for God to make us into who we need to be can be difficult at times. What God revealed to me was: My narrowed mindedness (When I disagree with others) My predisposition to judging others (Who believe differently than me) My habit of withholding grace (Again from those with differing beliefs) And my inner feelings of hate (Towards those who hate others) See the pattern: I am no different than those who I disagree with and dislike. I am those that I hate. THAT IS THE BURN, THAT IS THE BURN. God is sending me to Liberty to chisel all those characteristics that separate me from him. What will happen in the next three years will be one of two things: The quitter will emerge when things get difficult (which they undoubtedly will) or the faith of a six year old will emerge. I accepted Christ at the age of six and I remember being fully affirmed by my pastor and church when I made my profession of faith. I committed my life to Christ without reservation. My prayer and hope is that 6 year old girl will emerge and I will be closer to the person God wants me to be in three years. I covet your prayers as I walk this unknown path.
Dedicated to Joel Rhodes, Ellyn Marie Woodburn and Jenny Delorenzo
and to anyone who has lost a fury family member
On January 1, 1997 I woke up to sirens at my grandmothers house. What we were to find out later was she was and had suffered a massive stroke. This stroke left her with the inability to speak but not without life. For three months she lingered, unable to talk to us, at times tears streaming down her face, reaching for something at other times. To what she was reaching for, we did not know. Those three months were hell for me. My parents and I had moved in with grandma in 1992 and she was no longer a distant relative. We had a very special relationship I knew would not have existed had I not shared a home with her. That is what made the three months hell. I hated seeing her suffer, to not be able to communicate with her was torture and I imagine it was for her too. I think that is where the occasional tear came from. A slow death is painful when it is someone you love.
Why do I share this after almost two decades?
Last week at my conference, Faith Forward, in Nashville, TN the Wednesday morning speaker wanted to teach us how to create sacred space with children and youth. He did this by asking us to recall a sacred moment. My sacred moment was with my grandmother. As I stated above, she lost her ability to speak after her stroke. But the last Sunday in March was different. I was sitting by her bed visiting before I would head back to Greensboro, it was my final semester at UNCG. I started singing hymns I knew that she would know. The last song I sang was "Amazing Grace". When I got to the third verse.......
Through many dangers toils and snares, I have already come.
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home"
SHE SPOKE THEM!
There was no denying that God was there in that moment. That God had been there through every speechless conversation, for every fallen tear. My God was greater than any illness that could rob my grandmother of the ability to speak. It WAS a holy moment and one that I will never forget. I am so thankful for that brief 5 minutes last week when I recalled this sacred moment. GOD IS GOOD!
Sophie is the 2nd reason I share this memory. My baby girl is dying. She has a nasal tumor that hemorrhaged on May 17. I actually thought she had died on the way to the animal hospital in Raleigh, NC. The goal is to keep her comfortable and pain free until either she dies peacefully or the pain is to much to bear. Since picking her up on Friday, May 23 we have done some extra outings and they have been fun. Sophie is my traveling buddy so I plan to make the most of what time I have left, which is unknown, with her. I know it won't be easy and there have been plenty of shed tears. But maybe there will be sacred moments during this time with her.
Genesis 1:26 - 31 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day. Here are 11 facts about Human Trafficking
1. Globally, the average cost of a slave is $90.
2. Trafficking primarily involves exploitation which comes in many forms, including: forcing victims into prostitution, subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude and compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography.
3. According to some estimates, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.
4. There are approximately 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.
5. According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70% are female and half are children.
6. The average age a teen enters the sex trade in the U.S. is 12 to 14-year-old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
7. California harbors 3 of the FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas on the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
8. The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state in the US. 15% of those calls are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
9. Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year.
10. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.
11. The International Labour Organization estimates that women and girls represent the largest share of forced labor victims with 11.4 million trafficked victims (55%) compared to 9.5 million (45%) men.
This is part 1 in a 2 part series on the value of life. (Human Life) Today's post is about Human trafficking and more specifically about the 270+ girls who have been kidnapped from their school in Nigeria and are about to be sold if they have not already been sold. Is the life of a woman and girls anywhere in the world worth $90? Is that all we are worth? That is the average cost to buy a slave today, either for labor or sex. Let that sink in. The going rate for a woman or a young girl is $90. That there still is this ideology that women are less than, are subservient, are property and are in need of a man's guidance is why this value exists. It may be 2014 but there still is the patriarchal system that is in every country. Though it may not be as extreme as the Middle East this Patriarchal system is here in the US. Young girls, American girls are denied an education because a man sees her as a revenue source and sells her daily to men who only see her as a source for getting his needs met. Girls and women are forced to work within home, in salons and spas without pay, again because a man sees them only as a source of revenue. It is reprehensible that what has happened in Nigeria is allowed to continue. Humanity allows it to continue when inequality between men and women is allowed to continued. I pray that this atrocity that has occurred in Nigeria will wake us up and we will begin to see ALL young girls and women as equals. That the female race will be seen as an image of God just as the male race is. In Genesis 1 we read that God created man (humankind in the Hebrew) in his image. That in God's image he created both male and female. This denotes a state of equality. Both male and female display, exude the image of God. Then towards the end of Genesis 1 we read that God saw all he had created and said that it was good. All of creation is good. That includes females here. If all of creation is good then why do we allow the good that God has created to be demeaned, abused, belittled, ostracized and seen simply as property. To be seen as a means to an end. I cannot, based on Genesis 1, believe that God intended for the world to be this way. Was in not in the gospels that Jesus first appeared to the women. He entrusted them to proclaim the good news. He entrusted both his male and female disciples to proclaim his resurrection and to go into all the world. When God sees us women as good and Jesus has entrusted us with the good news I will not allow anyone to deny my humanity or that of any woman. As long as Human trafficking exits and the beatings of women occur in the name of God I will not be silent. Please do not be silent. We must work to end the atrocities that befall women all around the world by demanding justice and equality for all. I believe it is possible. Philippians 4:13 “I believe in the death of injustice, in the life of hope, grace, mercy, and love. I believe in the impossible. I believe there can be healing where there is violence. I believe reconciliation is possible- hearts can be moved, minds can be changed, politics broken. I believe that justice can roll down like a river and we can all taste its sweetness. I believe in the impossible. I believe we can treat people- all people- with dignity; we can recognize their humanity; recognize the divine within. I believe we can do more. Create more jobs. Build more homes. Turn food deserts into promise land harvests. Subvert racial and gender hierarchies. Consider others more important than ourselves. Slay preferences that lead to exclusion. Set captives free. Welcome the stranger. I believe in impossible things. I believe in death because I believe in life. I believe in the death of -isms. I believe in the life of love. I believe humanity can change because I believe in the impossible.” - Austin Channing Brown with The Impossible