Not An Easy Week for Christians (Duggars, Culture, Child Protection)
I've never watched a reality show, partially because we haven't had cable in over six years. The whole concept of a reality show seems strange; no one is entirely themselves when on camera, so why the word reality?
I don't know much about the Duggars, but I've noticed that headlines regarding them are usually snarky, not respectful. Their show may have its fans or lurkers, but mostly they're hated, much like the overly-covered Kardashians, but for different reasons.
The large family, the patriarchy, the culture of purity and the worship of it, are all big drawbacks for Americans, regarding the Duggars and their Quiver-full movement. Not to mention, the name of Jesus is sure to bring out the haters.
While I want my children to remain pure, I do agree that the worship of purity is dangerous, and while I'd love for my children to enjoy large families, I don't think God is less pleased with smaller families--he's pleased with our heartfelt, sincere worship, period.
Parenting is so very hard; adhering to the best standards while not exasperating our children is a delicate balance. Few things fill our hearts more, nor break them, like parenting.
We may never know if Josh Duggar has a normal sexuality or not; in fact, we rarely know this about anyone unless they're caught doing something deviant. Human sexuality is both a blessing and curse--something which all of history reflects. Not everyone is born with an inherently normal bent, which is a reflection of the sin curse as much as cancer is, unfortunately. I don't know why God allows this, but I know he wouldn't want us to hate, but just to uphold his standards in all things.
Because the world is this way, I don't trust anyone with my children's innocence--not at church, in my own home, or anywhere. As soon as I heard the shocking statistic years ago regarding the percentage of people who've been molested, I took very seriously my responsibility to protect.
What if you are certain there has never been a child molester or a molested child in your family? You are probably wrong.
Unfortunately, most of today's children will never tell. They feel ashamed that this has happened to them. They are protecting their abuser because he or she is part of their family. They are protecting other members of their family - saving them from the pain of knowing.
In spite of the millions of victims in our families, many people stick to their mistaken belief that child molestation has nothing to do with them.
An estimated one in 20 teenage boys and adult men sexually abuse children, and an estimated one teenage girl or adult woman in every 3,300 females molests children. Although that's well over five million people, most families mistakenly believe that as far as molesters go, there has never been one in their family, and what's more, there never will be. Add together the child victims, the adult survivors, and the abusers, and that's 15 out of every 100 Americans who have been either a molested child or a molester. Children seldom tell. Those millions of children are a secret. They are the secret in family after family after family. Even adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse seldom tell....We do know that if we use the conservative estimate that two in every ten little girls and one in every ten little boys are victims (based on the population reported in the 1999 U.S. Census statistical abstract) well over three million children are victims. Table below and statistics from Child Molestation Prevention.org
The table below shows that child molesters look and seem like the average American man. They are the average American man, so don't hold preconceived notions about who may or may not be capable of this. Read this story on child molestation prevention.org about a wife who thought her husband would be the last one to do such a thing.
Contrasts: Admitted Molesters vs. All American Men
Admitted Child Molesters
Married or formerly married
High School only
Ethnic Groups: Admitted Molesters vs. All American Men
Admitted Child Molesters
Which Children Do Child Molesters Target?
CHILDREN IN THE FAMILY
Stepchild, Adopted or Foster Child
Brothers & Sisters
Nieces & Nephews
CHILDREN IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Child Left in My Care
Child of Friend or Neighbor
CHILDREN WHO ARE STRANGERS
As much as I love my own sons...as much as I respect them and think they're normal, they won't ever be alone with my girls longer than it takes me to go to, and return from, the dollar store (15 minutes). This hasn't happened yet because my oldest son is still only 13--too young for holding down the fort.
In protecting, we need to be just as vigilant about Internet access--also a potential corrupter, as we all know. When neighbor kids bring their smart phones here, I tell them they're welcome to play and exercise here, but they need to leave their smart phones in their pockets or at home, as we don't believe in unsupervised Internet access.
It's just prudent to never assume it won't happen to our family, and to always be vigilant. No girl or boy should have to carry memories of abuse, and no parent should have to regret not doing more to ensure protection.
The police report being published and indicating sisters as victims devastated those Duggar girls all over again. It was a horrible, inexcusable decision on the part of the magazine or outlet that released it. My heart aches for these women and for the stained Christian witness--for which the Church collectively takes the punch.
If you caught any stories about the Duggars this week, you saw comments like the following, which I'm sure made your Christian spirit groan:
Colossians 3:15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
~ We serve a glorious God
~ Our glorious God groans with us over sin and sickness
~ We have love, abundant; mercy, abundant; grace, abundant
~ Filled to overflowing, we can love with his power and mercy
~ He knows our heart and we know His; Oh, to be loved in spite of ourselves!
~ He trains us up in the way we should go
~ He gives us power, wisdom, and grace as we parent
~ He is our strength and our song
~ He is mighty to save
Activities This Week
Mary worked on y as the long e sound. (Those are syllable tags)
She read her beginner's reader Bible everyday and enjoyed it.
The boys are really enjoying Stowaway, featured last week. Peter, especially, enjoys all the naturalist content (a naturalist and his team are busy on this voyage). We began using The Young Naturalist--part of Core G Sonlight Science, and Peter began a science journal.
All About Reading Level 3 story
Some of Beth's "sculptures" using recycling materials.
More of Beth's creations
She prayed and prayed and this week, finally...a toad!
She looked at him through the magnifying glass.
And generally thought of him as a best friend.
Some summer fun (though winter kind of returned again)--sidewalk chalk, two hoolahoops, bubbles. Beth and Paul enjoyed several games of hopscotch.
I'm still in whole wheat/flax bread mode 5 to 6 days a week.
Dancing to the beat of our Christian station.
A great library book find from Paul. Kept him busy this week.
Ah, fractions. Least common denominator, greatest common factor..just yuck. Math now takes two hours for Peter, what with ADHD, OCD, and fractions all coming together to derail him. He doesn't focus, doesn't sit still long enough. At least for this unit, which includes long, drawn-out problems, I decided to have him do half a lesson a day (13 problems plus the lecture).
Psalms 47:1 Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
Life is breathtakingly beautiful.
One minute my spirit aches profoundly, thinking OCD belongs in the pit of hell and when is God going to send my son's in that direction already?
Ten minutes later? A wild giggle rumpus ensues as I tickle my six-year-old silly during her reading lesson and she grabs my neck crazy and tells me she can't believe how much she loves me. And such gratitude fills my heart over mothering these magnificent children--reflections of His majesty, every one of them.
An hour later the filth on the floor--the floor I just swept not 30 hours ago--brings my spirit down, because for the love of Pete the days are too short and the work too plentiful.
While I sweep sorry my son brings me two Compassion letters--one from Nelson pictured with his mother.
His artistry amazes us!
They bought 4 pairs of shoes, some sandals and 3 suits and he writes "I feel so happy to be writing you. I feel so thankful that you are my sponsor. Do you like animals that live in the water? I want to tell you about my favorite hobbies. I like to play soccer a lot. I like to listen to music. I have a pet; it is a dog called Lokio. I have a lot of fun playing with the puppy, and I feed him, too. I ask for your prayers that God will continue blessing us."
"That God will continue blessing us." An unspoiled child's gracious heart. Beautiful.
Nothing soars my spirit like a Compassion child's letter and suddenly I sweep with joy and dance with the broom to amuse my math-calculating girls seated at the table.
Followed by more wretched OCD and I wonder if my son will end up in a residential facility, for his school now takes double the time it ever did because of lengthy, consuming rituals while he reads, calculates, writes. Life passes him by--the minutes, hours, days stolen from him by a brain glitch he can't tame...yet.
I read, counsel, pray, trusting in God to redeem it all in a miracle of grace.
Later Mary reads her new beginning-reader Bible and the Spirit makes it all flow beautiful and you'd never know dyslexia existed and my heart and head jump for joy and her cheeks get showered with kisses and praise and my Rosie Posey glows.
Thirty minutes later she doesn't like the dark sky and plummets into depression and sorrow and fear and my own heart is cast down, only to soar when her brother brings in a toad to knock her happiness quotient into the clouds and my son has never looked more beautiful to me.
I praise God for devotions that cement us together in Him and my gratitude magnifies with each heart-felt prayer offered.
And He speaks to me, telling me that even if it never gets any better, it's still beautiful and he's still our King, our Redeemer, our Maker of all things wise and wonderful.
Life wouldn't be nearly so beautiful if it weren't so messy. The Spirit invites us to fight back with joy and open our hearts to Grace. Joy, invincible, squeezes Hope out of a vulnerable, aching humanity dearly loved by the Maker.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. How did joy catch you today, friends?
Join me for another session of our Romans 12 Bible study? Get your Bible, get comfy, and let's pray:
Dear Heavenly Father,
We love you. We thank you for your Word, for your Son and Holy Spirit. Thank you for your presence and for the hope of heaven. Thank you for the heart lessons, for the gentle nudges in Romans 12; we dedicate this time to you as we study and learn how to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Help us resist the world. Give us discernment in all things so we can please you and know what is "good and perfect". Forgive us our sins, cleanse us of pride, arrogance, stubbornness. We thank you for what you're going to do through us, as you renew our minds.
In Jesus' name we pray, Amen
Our text: Romans 12:1,2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Here, Paul appeals to us "by the mercies of God", to be non-conformists. The term “conformed” (suschematizo) means to be molded or stamped according to a pattern. It's a passive verb, so it happens to us, unless we actively stop it. We will be molded by the world, unless we do something to stop it.
Make a decision, we must. On what will we build our lives? What pattern will stamp us?
We have to choose our foundation. Christ reveals himself to us, awakening us spiritually, allowing us to understand the things of God. We can see Truth, but we don't have to choose it. Like the unbeliever, we can have as our foundation the exaltation of self.
Basically, we have two choices: Self, or Christ.
Be transformed--by mind renewal, because of the mercies of God. Be transformed from one who exalts self, to one who exalts God--because of the mercies of God. Don't do it because you owe God something, but because you love God's mercies and you feel compelled to run to the rooftops and proclaim his mercy in your life. Be transformed for the pure joy of it. Wow! I get to be transformed. I get to.
I asked that we read Romans 12 everyday for one week, and I also asked us to consider where we're at in our worship of God. How are we spending our time and our money and what are we saying and listening to and feeling, and what are our motivations? What do they indicate about our foundation? Is it Self, or Christ?
It isn't wholly about the movies we view, or the length of our skirts, or the amount of time and money we waste on entertainment, though these things are all telling. We miss the point if we tell a new Christian that to be unconformed means to wear your skirts below the knee, view only G movies, listen to only Christian music.
What do these things focus on? A line in the sand--and that's not what Romans 12 is about. Rather, it's about the mercies of God and how we can and should exalt them.
Eventually, skirt length will lengthen as we no longer have a reason to show significant skin, but the Spirit draws the line, not the nosy Christian. The line just might change over time, as the renewal of the mind proceeds. Sanctification is a process, not a destination.
So look at your life not so much to see where your line in the sand is, but what foundation you're building upon. Self, or Christ?
The renewal of the mind is a regular phenomena. If you read Scripture and have a prayer session on Sunday...will your mind be renewed? Maybe, but very, very slowly, and probably not enough to reverse the influence of the world. You'd likely have one foot in the world all the time, unable to discern good and pleasing--unable to see, for example, that your nice legs are making the man in the next pew not concentrate on the sermon, but on his visual images--namely, the one you gave him, to start. His mind doesn't need much to go on, and he doesn't need a spiritual battle to stress him out and make him feel bad about the way God created him, which is visual.
Believe me, now that I have a 13-year-old son who tells me everything, I get this in ways I never did before. Lots of skin, displayed, is stressful to a Christian man--or any man who wants to honor his wife in thought and deed. Prior to my son's adolescence, I felt it best to speak little of modesty, because it's a relative thing and changes over time and maturity, but now that I see my son suffering over immodest dress, I feel more bold in mentioning this phenomena. Our bodies don't pleasure a stranger, friend or acquaintance, as much as they stress him. That's a new way of looking at it, isn't it?
Women, for their part, want to feel and look attractive, and if a man stumbles, they say it's the man's fault for looking and thinking inappropriately. Really, this is an example of a woman intent on exalting herself--maybe for insecure rather than manipulative reasons, but it's still exaltation of self, over God.
We will find that as we seek to exalt Christ, our purpose and identity are more rooted in Him, allowing us to let go of self. Before the renewing of our mind, we needed it to be about us. After the renewal, we ached with the desire to proclaim Christ.
In joy and worship, proclaim the mercies of God. And do so in ways that won't confuse your message. Your message is Christ, not self.
How can we carry ourselves, spend our time and money, and use our eyes, ears, hands, and hearts--for the glory of God? How can we shout it, not whisper it? The more self that's in it, the more it comes out as a whisper, lost in the wind.
How do we go about renewing our minds? Meditating on Christ--through His Word, through our prayers, through worship music, through our acts of mercy, through our journaling, through fellowship with the faithful.
Actively seek the things of Christ, or you will be conformed.
1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.
Homework: Concentrate this week on renewing your mind. Set aside time to pray, to read, to contemplate, to listen to your favorite worship music or your favorite preacher, spend time with other Christians and take the opportunity to pray with them, extend mercy to those around you, and those in need. Give thanks every day, especially for God's mercy in your life. Ask for boldness in proclaiming Christ.
Thank you for being here with me, and I'd love to have you next time, as we continue studying Romans 12.
Feedback: What have you learned from Romans 12 that's new--or newly influential in your life?
As my son Peter matures, God's plan for his life becomes clearer to all of us. The unfolding of this purpose is beautiful to behold. As mothers, it should be our goal to stand back, listen and watch, and wait for God to reveal his purpose. If we are expectant, not trying to live through our children, but merely enjoying them as gifts from God, we'll be working with the Lord, not against Him.
It became clear over the last year that Peter is both an evangelist and a discipler. Today, God added another dimension to our consciousness--preaching.
Asked to respond to literature, the question was posed to Peter: Is it better to have a dream that might not come true, than to have no dream at all?
His answer? It became a sermon and he spoke in verses. My son Paul and I were pleasantly surprised at the authority inherent in Peter's musings, as he discussed his ideas beforehand. He proclaimed Christ, boldly.
His short essay needs work: more clarity and fleshing out of ideas, which is true of almost all student writers. Early in their writing "careers", students focus too much on impressive-sounding language, and not enough on clarity and flow of thought. That said, this piece surprised and delighted me for other reasons.
Persuasive Writing Sample:
I think it's better to have a dream which might not come true, than to have no dream at all. Here I'll provide two reasons for my opinion.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God gives us our life--our future and our hope and with that, our dreams. Our dreams are dependent on God's help, so when we have a dream, we are reminded that God is in control; we need to trust in him to provide for our dream.
There is not much to life except trusting in God. We need God; in fact, all life is based on God and his Son. 1 John 5:12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Furthermore, we should have a dream because it gives us something to work toward early in life. We do not want to waste our life. We want to live for Him, doing the work he has for us, for his glory.