Blessed In Spite Of Sin

Jan 27, 2017

 

Vs 2-3 – “And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.  But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she isa man’s wife.”

Vs 14-15 – “And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.  And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.”

What a wonderful display of God’s grace and mercy shown to us… To be blessed IN SPITE OF our sins. (Please notice I did not say blessed BECAUSE we have sinned)

Folks, in this account of Abraham, Sarah and Abimelech, we read of Abraham’s clear, obvious deception of Abimelech.  And, yet, we then read of God’s wondrous blessings to Abraham at the end of our chapter.  How can this be?

It is important for us all to understand that God never blesses us because we have sinned in His sight.  Sin is hated by God. Period.  Sin is always an act of rebellious, faithlessness towards our Lord for which there is never an excuse or justification.

In Abraham’s case, he should have trusted the Lord with Sarah and his future safety.  He should have told the truth to Abimelech about his relationship with her.  Instead he chose to lie and in doing so, displayed a lack of faith in his Lord and sinned against Him.  (By the way, although they were half brother and sister – Gen 20:12, the words Abraham spoke was still a lie because they were spoken with an intent to deceive Abimelech.)   However, at the end of our account, we find Abraham and Sarah blessed by God though Abimelech’s gifts.

So how do we explain this?  How can a God who hates sin, use the entire situation to bring physical blessings upon those who have sinned?  Before we begin to examine this, let me ask each one of us a few simple questions to drive home a very important point…

Have we turned from our sins to Christ as our Savior and Lord?  If so, have we ever sinned following our salvation experience?   Did He then leave us to never bless us again?  Or, do we see His gracious, loving hand continuing to be in our life IN SPITE OF our sin?

When the Lord blesses us in spite of our sin, He is giving us one of the greatest possible displays of His love, patience, mercy, and grace.

Folks, this is both the answer to our question and the lesson we should take away from this chapter… Just as the Lord was merciful, patient, kind, and loving to Abraham and Sarah, so too, He is with us on a daily basis.  In spite of our daily sins and failures, He remains with us.  In spite of our times of rebellion and lack of faith, He quietly, patiently waits as He intervenes and continues to bless us in the midst of it all.

This is the wondrous God that we serve.  May we take time to praise Him for His patient mercies towards us and remember throughout our day all the many graces He shows us in spite of our many daily sins.

Psa 103:8-13

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.   For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”

https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/a-walk-through-the-bible-genesis-20-blessed-in-spite-of-sin/

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Is there a future for ‘the hopeless generation’?

Greg Laurie on how his boogie board illustrates power of God’s Word

August 23, 2019

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 34. And since 2000, the suicide rate has nearly tripled for young teen girls.

America’s youth are dealing with depression. They’re dealing with anxiety. And one thing that seems to permeate their lives is a sense of hopelessness.

With this explosion of cutting-edge tech and a relatively good economy, it seems as though we’d be happy, hopeful people. But instead we have a lot of unhappy, hopeless people. As writer Sheryl Nance-Nash pointed out, “Decades ago, young people had few real worries. The biggest issues were getting a driver’s license, passing the next exam, going to a party on the weekend, or finding someone to take them to the mall. The age of innocence is long gone.”

Experts have actually described this young generation of today as the hopeless generation. We have gone from what is known as the greatest generation, which is the World War II generation, to the hopeless generation.

Someone has said that man can live 40 days without food, three days without water, but not even minutes without hope. We all need hope in our lives.

On July 24, 2008, Cathe and I heard the news that no parents want to hear. Our son Christopher had left this world and had gone on to the next one in heaven. He was killed in an automobile accident. To say an event like that is devastating is an understatement. It was life altering.

The hope that has sustained me all these years, and continues to sustain me as other hardships come my way, is the hope that I found from my relationship with God.

Grieving and living in grief is a little bit like being out in the surf and wiping out on a wave. I can think of times when I’ve been out there and a big set was coming in. Each wave got bigger than the one before it.

My inclination was to turn around and paddle toward shore as fast as possible. But that’s a bad decision, because then I would get hit in the impact zone. What I needed to do was paddle out toward the waves and try to go under them before they broke.

But I can think of times when I’ve gone over the falls, as they say. It’s like being in a washing machine of white water. You can actually lose direction, and more than one person has gone down when they should have gone up.

In this situation, if you have a boogie board or some kind of a flotation device with you, it’s probably attached to your leg. So here’s what you do: Grab your leash and pull on it. Go in the direction of the leash. It will always take you to the surface.

When we’re dealing with grief and don’t know which way is up, when we’re losing perspective, the Bible is the leash we need. We grab the Word of God and pull on it, and it takes us to Jesus. We get our heads above water and take a big gulp of air before the next set comes in. The Word of God is what helps us in those times of need.

Life is filled with pain and sorrow, which includes the death of loved ones. You don’t realize this so much when you’re young. But as you get older, you start seeing loved ones pass. It usually starts with your grandparents and then your parents. Then it might be a loved one unexpectedly dying, such as a spouse or a child, which affects you in a dramatic way.

Despite the hardships of life, we must remember that God loves us. Shortly after our son went to be with the Lord, Pastor Chuck Smith came to visit me. We sat on the front steps of my home, and Chuck looked at me and said, “Greg, never trade what you know for what you don’t know.”

Never trade what you know for what you don’t know, because when crisis hits, your mind is filled with whys: “Why is this happening to me? Why? Why? Why? It’s not fair. Other people don’t suffer like this. Why?”

That is what I don’t know. But what do I know? I know that God loves me. I know that God is in control of my life. I know that when believers die, they go to heaven. Therefore, I know that the moment my son left this world, he entered the next one, and he’s there in the presence of God. I know that I will see him again.

You can spend all of your time asking the why questions, the what-you-don’t-know stuff. But go to what you do know. Replace what you don’t know with thoughts about what you do know: God loves you.

I have hope for the hopeless generation. I have hope for the millennials. I have hope for the baby boomers. I have hope for the greatest generation. It’s the hope of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ

Maybe you’ve been so despondent in life that you have contemplated suicide. I can tell you that hope has a name, and it’s Jesus. He standing at the door of your life right now, and he is knocking. He is saying that if you’ll hear his voice and open the door, he will come in.

Do you need Jesus today? He has everything you’re looking for. This culture doesn’t have it. This world doesn’t have it. But Jesus has it. He has it for you. And what you need to do is call out to him.

You do not have to be hopeless, no matter what you’re facing at this particular moment. When the worst-case scenario takes place, when you hear the worst news imaginable and wonder if you can survive it, the answer is yes. Yes, you can.

Read about Greg Laurie’s 30th Harvest Crusade event, this weekend in Anaheim, California.

Original here

AUDIO Millennials and the Bible

“Not What You Think”

by: John Stonestreet & David Carlson

There’s so much talk these days about so-called “Millennials.” Millennials are the generation born between 1980 and 2000. They are “digital natives,” and the defining events of their lives include the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, the War on Terror, Harry Potter, the Great Recession, and the birth of social media. Oh, and by the way, they love avocado toast.

They are also the “biggest” generation: Some 78 million strong. In the next five or six years, they will comprise 75 percent of the American workforce.

On the whole, Millennials tend to be skeptical of absolutes, and anyone or anything claiming to be the authority on life and the world. Thus, they tend to be skeptical about the Bible. Only 9 percent of Millennials claim to read the Bible on a daily basis, and only 30 percent believe that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God.

All of this leads to an acute challenge for many in older generations: How to pass on the faith to their children and grandchildren. I’m happy to tell you there’s a new book that can really help.

Two Millennial Christian thought leaders, Michael and Lauren Green McAfee, seeking to overcome the skepticism of their peers about the Bible, have written a new and engaging book, “Not What You Think: Why the Bible Might Be Nothing We Expected but Everything We Need.”

Michael is director of community initiatives at the Museum of the Bible. His wife Lauren, who now works at the Hobby Lobby corporate offices, helped get the museum up and running. So they both have a deep, sincere passion to share their love for the Bible.

The first part of “Not What You Think” is devoted to explaining exactly who Millennials are: their demographics, aspirations, preferences, etc. One of the key characteristics we must understand is that Millennials came of age at a time when the very notion of truth was, well, fuzzy at best.

“Our era is one in which truth has moved from objective reality to personal response,” they write. “Our generation generally hesitates to accept truth outside of personal experience and opinion.”

This is the first huge obstacle for approaching Millennials with traditional Christian apologetics, which depends on the absolute and objective Truth claims revealed in the Bible.  And yet, this is where these millennial authors succeed as they invite their fellow Millennials to engage Scripture. While being upfront and honest about the truth claims of the Bible, they make the case that the Old and New Testaments, unlike other religious holy books and texts, are not primarily a set of rules. Instead, they present a grand Story woven together by God through various authors over a millennium and a half. It’s a story that God invites us all to join.

Throughout their book, the McAfees argue convincingly—and in detail—that both Testaments, from Genesis through Revelation, point to the God-Man, Jesus. Thus, the Bible not only invites us into God’s cosmic drama, it invites us into a relationship with the Creator of the universe.

“What if,” they write, “truth is not just a point of view . . . not just a list of rules—yours, ours, or anyone else’s? What if truth is not the ever-changing consensus of the crowd but instead is a person whom you get to know and who knows you. This person’s story is told in the Bible. His name is Jesus.”

This is exactly the kind of book that will not only help you communicate the importance of Scripture to younger generations, it’s a book you can actually give to younger generations. And, it’s a great resource for Sunday School classes and small groups to learn more about the “biggest” generation, while also learning about how to better reach them.

Listen here

http://www.breakpoint.org/2019/08/breakpoint-millennials-and-the-bible/

Arkansas Town Passes Measure Calling Itself a Pro-Life City, Tells Planned Parenthood Take a Hike

MICAIAH BILGER AUG 6, 2019

An Arkansas town council recently joined a growing list of U.S. cities that are taking a stand against abortion.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports the Springdale City Council Committee of the Whole voted unanimously Monday to adopt the pro-life statement. The full city council plans to vote on the measure Aug. 13.

The statement declares Springdale to be a pro-life city. It also tells the abortion chain Planned Parenthood that it is not welcome there, according to the report.

Though the statement does not have any legal weight, it sends a message that Springdale supports life, said council member Colby Fulfer, who proposed the measure.

“There’s no way we’re going to ban abortion,” because Roe v. Wade is still in place, he said. “We want to say the government of Springdale supports life from creation to conception to the end stages of life.”

Fulfer said he is concerned about Planned Parenthood opening a new location in their city after it closed its Fayetteville branch in July. The abortion chain said it had trouble with its landlord, and it is looking for a new location.

The city’s pro-life statement is “respectfully asking the abortion provider to find another city,” he added.

According to the local news, Fulfer also brought up programs that the city supports to help families in need.

Springfield is not alone. A growing number of towns and cities have passed resolutions this year in response to the radical pro-abortion agenda that is being pushed on Americans. The Democratic presidential candidates all support forcing taxpayers to fund abortionsand oppose minor, common sense restrictions on abortions after viability.

Several states, including New York, Illinois and Rhode Island, also passed pro-abortion laws this year to allow viable, late-term unborn babies to be aborted for basically any reason.

In response, Roswell, New Mexico city leaders passed a pro-life resolution in March after state lawmakers considered a radical pro-abortion bill to expand late-term abortions. The bill narrowly failed to pass.

In New York state, Batavia city leaders and Putnam County legislators also passed measures condemning a radical new pro-abortion law in their state and supporting protections for the unborn.

Then, in June, the eastern Texas city of Waskom adopted a pro-life ordinance declaring their home a “sanctuary city for the unborn.” In July, another Texas city considered a similar pro-life measure, but the council voted against it after the ACLU threatened a costly lawsuit.

In May, the Riverton City Council in Utah passed a similar resolution, declaring the city a “sanctuary for the unborn.” In June, the Utah County Commission unanimously passed a resolution supporting protections for unborn babies. Then in July, the council in Highland, Utah passed a similar pro-life resolution.

 

Original here


Saving the Innocent

July 28, 2019 By Caralyn

 

Innocent.

It’s a word that drums up a lot of emotion for many.

Some jump to Adnan Syed, of the Serial Podcast, or even OJ Simpson.

Others will recall the innocence of their youth, long before the harsh realities of this world became all too familiar.

While some will remember holding their son or daughter for the first time, and looking into their shining, pure eyes.

But it was the main theme of our first reading at Mass, from Genesis 18.

Then Abraham drew nearer and said:

“Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? 

Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city;

would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it

for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it? 

Far be it from you to do such a thing,

to make the innocent die with the guilty

so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike! 

Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?” 

The Lord replied,”If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom,

I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

[And Abraham persisted to question further and further until…]

What if there are at least ten there?” 

He replied, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”

Innocent.

I’m going to be honest…when I think of that word, my mind goes to one place, and one place only: the womb.

The unborn child: the most innocent, most blameless among us.

It’s no secret that the headlines have been bombarded with outrage over the various pro-life legislation passed here recently. In the wake of the phenomenal movie, Unplanned, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia and others have passed truly encouraging pro-life bills to protect those most innocent.

And frankly, much of the country is up in arms, calling America the real life “Handmaid’s Tale” and calling for boycotts of goods and services in these states.

Being a defender of life is met with disdain, judgement, scoffs, and eye rolls, as anyone who opposes “My Body, My Choice” is seen as an anti-woman bully, brainwashed by the “patriarchy.”

But we can take heart at this reading. Because God is literally spelling out the truth for us.

Why is it, that Abraham keeps pestering God with question after question — will you destroy 50 innocent people? Forty-five? Thirty? Twenty? Ten?

As a reader, — and impatient millennial New Yorker — I always read this particular passage with a bit of annoyance — just get to the point already. 

But Abraham is grappling with exactly what our legislators are wrestling with: where is the line? 

Where is the line where innocent life becomes disposable?

God has a definitive answer.

Every. Single. Innocent. Life. Is. Worth. Protecting. 

Bam. There it is. 

One innocent life is all it takes.

God has made His position clear. There is value, there is purpose, there is importance in every innocent life.

How easily we have forgotten that as a society.

I’ve personally come a long way in my pro-life beliefs. Had you asked me during my anorexia, I would have shouted from the rooftops, “My body, my choice.”

Why? Because I wanted to destroy and abuse my body however I wanted, and absolutely no one could tell me otherwise.

And as an 18-year old high school senior — a legal adult — technically, no one could.

And though I would never had said “I’m trying to die,” my actions — my choices —communicated otherwise: all you needed to do was look at my 78 pound frame to see the evidence.

It was my body, and I was choosing to destroy it.

And the only way I recovered from such a severe case of anorexia, and left those destructive choices behind, was by realizing that my body was not *mine* to destroy.

My body was purchased at a price – the highest price possible. And therefore, my body is my responsibility. And the choice I must make, in response to that incredible gift — is to use my body to glorify and honor He who saved it.

It is my act of worship. An instrument though which I am to be used by God. It is my privilege, not mine to destroy.

And I finally realized the value that Abraham is so desperately searching for in today’s reading: every single innocent life is worth saving. Protecting. Defending. Respecting. 

That is a hard position to take in today’s societal climate. But we are children of the Great Commission, and speaking the truth in love is what we’re called to do on this earth, in the bodies that have been so generously given, created, and purchased for us, as children of God.

Innocent.

May the world realize the value and sanctity of each innocent unborn life, and make the choice to protect each and every one.

 

About the author:

Caralyn is the writer and speaker behind the blog, BeautyBeyondBones. It has recently been named one of the Top Three Eating Disorder Recovery Sites on the WorldwideWeb. She’s a twenty-something actress and writer in New York City. Having battled a severe case of anorexia and Ulcerative Colitis, she now uses her story of total restoration to positively impact others, and offer Christ’s hope and encouragement for those with eating disorders, and other forms of adversity. Her book, Bloom is now available!

Original here


Narrow Path Ministries is in the process of opening an orphanage. An Endowment fund has been established  to fund the orphanage.


 

Powerful New Photos Show Women Who Desperately Regret Their Abortions But Found Christ’s Forgiveness

MICAIAH BILGER AUG 6, 2019

Angela Forker is giving a voice to women in a society that increasingly is trying to silence their stories.

Her new photography project, After The Abortion, uses powerful images and quotes to share post-abortive women’s testimonies. Through the photos, Forker shows the women’s struggles, their pain and grief, and their journey to healing.

“Something is happening in America, and those who are in the middle, they need to make a choice,” Forker told LifeNews.com.

At a time when women are encouraged to brag about how good their abortions were and silenced if they regret them, Forker said she hopes the After The Abortion project will “touch hearts and show them the truth behind abortion. Who can argue with their experience?”

Forker said her background is in baby photography and missions. She and her husband used to serve as missionaries in Germany and Italy before they returned to the United States a number of years ago.

Earlier this year, she said she felt God calling her to begin the After The Abortion project.

But she hesitated.

Forker said she had been praying that God would use her photography to help people come to Him. But the answer was not what she had expected.

“He stretched me in a way I never thought possible,” she said. “He told me to photograph post-abortive women and tell their stories, I basically said no to God. I argued with Him because I was doing baby photography.”

Between her photography business, ministry work and her Precious Baby project (another one of her pro-life ministries), Forker felt too busy to start something new. She also confessed that she was worried that people would think that she had had an abortion.

“In an instant, God showed me His great heart of love and compassion for these women, and I just started crying,” she remembered. “I asked Him to forgive me, and promised to do it for Him.”

Since February, Forker has completed about a dozen photography sessions with women who have had abortions. In each case, the women contact her about participating.

To begin, she asks the women to share their stories with her, and then she creates unique photo sessions around their experiences. Some women tell her of struggles with depression or denial, others with substance abuse, broken relationships or suicidal thoughts. Some of her sessions involve the fathers of the unborn babies, too – because abortions affect every member of the family.

Their stories tell of bitterness and grief and the realization that they aborted their own children. But Forker believes they also are a testament to the healing power of Jesus.

My  abortion almost killed me,” one woman, Meg, told Forker. “I had an acute awareness of my daughter’s soul leaving the room. And, as if in a cartoon, a black cloud moved over me. Guilt. Shame.”

Another woman, Jenna, told Forker that she carries a walnut with her to remind her of her unborn baby. When she had the abortion, Jenna said she felt her baby, about the size of a walnut, pass out of her body.

“Something in my head said, ‘Don’t forget about me,’” Jenna remembered. “I won’t ever forget. There was nothing worse than killing your own child.”

During each session, Forker also prays with the women. She said she asks that their stories will help other mothers choose life and other post-abortive mothers and fathers find healing and forgiveness.

After she is finished, she posts them on her public Facebook page, After The Abortion. Each is a unique piece of art, a series of photos and quotes that poignantly capture each woman’s experience.

In just a few months, their stories have reached thousands of people across the world. Forker said she has received many messages from women asking how they also can find forgiveness and healing after their abortions. She directs them to post-abortion healing ministries like Rachel’s Vineyard and Surrendering the Secret.

Her project speaks to a time where women are encouraged to “shout” their abortions, where the abortion industry tells women that aborting an unborn baby is “normal.” Post-abortive women who experience profound grief and regret often feel silenced and alone — as if they are the only ones who feel that way. But they are not.

The stories told through Forker’s project remind our culture that abortions are not normal or brag-worthy. They are damaging, destructive. They kill unborn babies and leave countless mothers and fathers struggling with an immense weight of grief and pain.

But there is hope.

Women facing unplanned pregnancies can find help and support. Women and men who have lost their unborn babies to abortion can find healing in Christ. These are the messages that Forker hopes to reach the world with.

“It’s just been incredible,” Forker told LifeNews. “It has touched so many lives around the world. And I’m just blown away.”

To be considered for the project, email Angela Forker at preciousbabyphotography@outlook.com.

 

Original here


Narrow Path Ministries is in the process of opening an orphanage. An Endowment fund has been established  to fund the orphanage.


Epstein, Abuse, & the Log in Our Own Eye: It’s Not Just Out There

Jeffrey Epstein’s case is disturbing—and in some ways it mirrors the abuse crisis in the church.
July 15, 2019 by ED STETZER

Epstein, Abuse, & the Log in Our Own Eye: It's Not Just Out There

ust last week, news surfaced of the arrest of financier Jeffrey Epstein for running a child trafficking enterprise that allowed him to sexually abuse girls as young as 14. When federal agents searched his New York City mansion, they confiscated a “vast trove” of pictures of young girls­­.

After seeing some media reports, I tweeted this:

So, “underaged women” is not a thing. They are called children. And anyone who had sex with “underaged women” as an adult is a criminal. And, anyone who covered it up, regardless of their influence then and now, is a criminal.

As the weekend began, Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta announced his resignationamid continuing questions as to how he handled the sex crimes case against Epstein when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida.

Every day we learn more.

The writer of Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun. For millennia, children have been victims of horrific crime. Today, children continue to be treated as objects of desire and power rather than what they are—invaluable creations of the Lord God. “What you did to the least of these, you did to me…”

It’s an admonition spoken to God’s people, but it is true for all.

When one is harmed, all suffer.

A Reminder, Again and Again

In 2012, I wrote about child abuse in a church context. In 2014 I wrote again. And in 2015 I wrote again. And we published many articles since then, many around our GC2 Summit on Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Violence at the Billy Graham Center last November.

But, we could write on this every single day. (I sometimes get complaints that I write too much on the subject, but I think that abuse in the church is one of the defining issues of our day— and, even if it were not, every child matters.)

This systemic problem of men (and sometimes women) viewing our children as objects seems to be no nearer to an end. Perhaps this is true, but the latest indictment of Epstein reminds us that there are people fighting tirelessly on behalf of the most vulnerable and voiceless among us. They are reminding us that criminals won’t go free forever and that justice will be enacted at some point.

According to The United States Department of Justice, “Child sex trafficking refers to the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a minor for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” For reminder: a minor is anyone younger than 18 years old.

A minor is a child.

It’s easy to look at someone like Epstein, identify that he used power and influence to hide the abuse of dozens of girls, and then look for the enabler—especially when it might be someone you already have disdain for. If you hate the Clintons, you might be sure they were in on this. If you hate the Trumps, you might be sure they were in on this. All of these ideas are out there.

And, this approach makes abusers into “others out there,” when they are really in here.

First of all, if either the Clintons or the Trumps participated in or enabled Epstein’s crimes, they should face the full consequences of the law.

But, it is worth noting that the church’s impulse is to shout outrage at the American systems of wealth, politics, and justice without looking at our own issues. The sad reality is that church, too, can be a place where predators work and where the system covers up for them.

Yes, it is good to post our horror on social media. But is better to be sure our churches know how to prepare for the inevitable predator who seeks access.

It is better to be sure our churches know how to respond when accusations come forward.

It is better to know that churches stand with the victims.

After (and in addition to) this, we must fight for the justice and healing of so many who have been sexually exploited among us. We must fight against the powers and systems that have created spaces for our children to become objects for the use of others rather than persons of honor and dignity.

What More?

It is interesting that even the Confessing Church, which arose in opposition to government-sponsored efforts to unify Protestant churches into a single pro-Nazi church, later admitted their complicity in the Nazi regime:

We did fight for long years in the name of Jesus Christ against the mentality that found its awful expression in the National Sociality regime of violence; but we accuse ourselves for not standing for our beliefs more courageously, for not praying more faithfully, for not believing more joyously, and for not loving more ardently.

They did this only after a fierce admonition from Deaconness Marga Meusel and pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer condemned the failure of the Confessing Church to care for the suffering Jews. Meusel’s words to the Confessing Church ring in our ears even today:

Why does the church do nothing? Why does it allow unspeakable injustice to occur? … What shall we one day answer to the question, where is thy brother Abel? The only answer that will be left to us, as well as to the Confessing Church, is the answer of Cain.

Lessons can be learned from this as well as from the Book of Esther, where we are confronted with the challenging and tireless question:

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

What more can we do, church, when it comes to fighting for the vulnerable among us?

Four things come to mind:

First, pray without ceasing.

We must follow our King, who “always lives to make intercession for us.” Pray for those who have been victimized at the hands of others. Pray for those whose view of themselves and the world has been forever changed by the horrific acts of those they trusted. Pray for justice to be made evident, redemption to come, and for healing to overwhelm like a river of gladness.

Second, fight fearlessly.

We are called to speak on behalf of those with no voice (Prov. 31:8). Imagine a world where no wrongs are ever sought to be righted; now imagine a world where every wrong is fought to be righted. This is our purpose in life—to love God and others to the extent that we step into suffering sacrificially for the sake of another. Use your voice and your life to fight for those who have been abused.

How many of Epstein’s targets went home to tell a parent or authority figure, only to not be believed. Or, even the reporter who first wrote the story, but was not heard.

Fight for those who have been abused so they know the church is the safe place when, as in Epstein’s case, the legal system is not.

Third, prepare wisely.

Epstein targeted vulnerable children. That’s what predators do.

They target children in vulnerability. Given that churches are places of vulnerability, it is common sense that predators are targeting your church. Prepare yourself by training your church. Yes, background checks help and are a start, but we need much more. We need to educate ourselves on how to spot grooming patterns, how to set up systems where children are safe at all times, and much more.

Prepare your church as if Epstein was targeting your church’s kids—because predators are.

Fourth, love endlessly.

The great abolitionist William Wilberforce once said, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” Friends, it’s too late to turn the other way if we are to truly follow Christ into the hard places.

My own denomination faced some of these realities this summer, though there is more to do.

We are the hands and feet he uses to love and care for the marginalized, the bruised, the beaten. We are the ears he uses to listen to the stories and lament for the wrongs. We are the voices he uses to speak words of hope and expectation where little dwells.

Child abuse has, once again, made the news. In a sense, it has been placed at our feet. The natural inclination is to shout our anger at Epstein and to be sure to name the people we don’t like who we hope are complicit.

Yet, it is more than Epstein and his enablers. It is also about abuse in the church and its enablers as well.

The enormity of this problem, which continues to confront us, calls for a better response—one that begins on the knees in prayer and continues until justice streams down like a river and all our girls (and boys) are safe, and those who have been hurt see justice and experience healing.

Ed Stetzerholds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/july/epstein-and-log-in-our-own-eye.html