Wednesday, May 1, 2019

How to Have "The Talk" With Your Kids

Moment of truth: I asked my teenage son to help me write this. He’s an almost-sixteen-year-old, who is willing to give me input about initiating the "sex talk." I kind-of-most-definitely want to hear what he has to say. I wanted to know what he feels we've succeeded in and inevitably, what he feels we've failed at over the years. I asked him because, truth be told, it's hard for me to pinpoint exactly how to initiate this conversation with kids.
My entire parenting life has always been about bearing through things together, as a unit. And thus, that has created this ebb and flow of good, healthy conversations about sex and relationships over the years. (Admittedly, there has definitely been a fair amount of backpedaling upon the realization that we may have needed to use more discretion as well, so don't go thinking we accomplished this amazing feat without a hitch!)
The entire context of Sexuality Mentality is that Biblical sexual integrity be integrated into a person's frame of mind. . . . into a family's frame of mind. . . .that it becomes part of a Christian person's mentality and mindset. If there's one thing I know, it's this: the sex talk isn't one conversation. It's a lifetime of dialogue that rinses and repeats, ebbs and flows, throughout every experience our children face in this world. It continues to come up and remains a constant companion, no matter the age. Why? Because we have a relational God who has created us to be relational people. We are required, above all else, to be in relationship with the people around us. More than anything else, we need to nurture this in our children's lives because this is the foundation on which every. single human interaction will be based. Most especially, our intimate relationships.

Key Points to Help you Initiate Conversations with Your Kids

So, instead of giving a step-by-step about having the sex talk, I wanted to share with you these key points that will help you initiate the many conversations with your kids throughout all the years of their lives.
  • Teach them God's value of all human life from conception to natural death. Let them see you living that respect and loving others unconditionally. “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:19–21)
  • Start at the beginning and build upon it. If there's one thing I’ve learned serving in pregnancy center ministries, it's that we should never, ever assume that our kids know basic anatomy. Even if they have been taught it once in health class, they need constant reminders about how it all works. From there, it's natural to talk about how our bodies relate to one another: not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. The natural progression after that point is to get your kids asking the question, “Where does God fit into my relationships? Into my life?” It is mind-blowing when they realize that it all comes full circle as God, through His Son, Jesus, is the very center of it all; every interaction.
  • Be straight with them. It's not the conversations they're dreading! It’s the (very well-intended) "moments" that make us all cringe. We have to move past the stereotype that this has to be a special conversation and acknowledge it for what it is: a part of everyday life. If they don't hear from you, who will they hear it from? What version will they get? Which leads me to my very last point. . . .
  • Be the standard. Be the ones to show the kids in your life who God created them to be and how He created them to live in relationship with others. "What does it look like to care for something of value?" Think about this! This phrase alone will set you on a solid course toward God's truth about sex, dating, marriage, and relationships; a Biblical sexuality mentality.
  • Buckle up! There is no one talk. The world is not going to give our kids one talk. The world is constantly talking, non-stop. Therefore, we need to as well. It's not like the world is coming out and saying, "You should have sex before you’re married," or "Casual sex is the way to your best life now," etc. . . . the message is incorporated in the culture that's being created around us. Christian families need to create a counter-culture that stands parallel and superior. A culture that speaks and manifests the value of each human life, the value of marriage, the value of faith, and one that values God as the Creator of it all, and the Savior of it all, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Never doubt the incredible value that God has placed on every one of our lives, yours included! You are loved. Hear of this love and the value God has placed on us, HIS children, and then take it, and teach it to your children. He says this about you: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:15–16)

Learn more about fostering a healthy sexuality mentality in your kids with Heather's book

Monday, April 8, 2019

Unplanned: A Reflection From The Other Side

“Abortion is not normal.”
—Abby Johnson, Former Planned Parenthood Director
Before she became an ally of the pro-life movement, Abby Johnson was the embodiment of my opposition. Abby was the director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, and I was the director of Christian crisis pregnancy centers. I had seen this rhetoric unfold from the other side of the fence, as my staff and I came alongside the women who left abortion clinics like Abby’s and ended up at our beautiful red door broken, hurting, and confused after being sold a deception that was supposed to give them freedom, command, and control over their lives. You could say that Abby and I were two sides of the very same coin.

Learning about the Abortion Industry

I first heard about Abby Johnson when her story began buzzing through the pro-life communitythe story of an abortion worker gone rogue. I wanted to know more. I wanted to be a fly on whatever wall was going to give me the real scoop on the abortion industry and this woman’s life from the other side. The entire narrative was awe-inspiring and yet so unbelievable at the same time. God certainly does work in mysterious and miraculous ways.
Part of me couldn’t fathom what a day in her life must have actually been like—working as a dedicated abortion center director, truly convinced that she was making a difference for the advancement of women’s reproductive rights. The other part of me wanted to get inside her head—see the things she’d seen, know the people she’s known—so I could calculate this movement in its entirety. I’ve always been someone who has to rewind a situation—go back to the beginning and piece a problem back together before I could move forward with any kind of solution.
How did we get to the place where one in four American women felt that an abortion was their only option?
And how in the world did abortion and hormonal birth control become accepted as “routine women’s reproductive health” in the first place?
Was it me? Were there aspects to this whole movement that I was refusing to see? Had I been so sheltered in my Christian upbringing that ignorance and naivety had warped my perception on the science behind and the value of every human life? You can understand why I wanted to know more about Abby’s experiences. I needed the full scope in order to resolve some inner conflicts that still lingered within the convictions of my mind. And I wondered if it wasn’t similar convictions that had kept Abby up at night as well.

Understanding the Reality of Abortion

In 2012, within a year of Abby’s story and book coming out, we held a fundraiser event benefitting the work being done at our pregnancy center. It was a preview for our community of the original 60-minute Unplanned documentary that we showed in a high school auditorium. We were thrilled that around thirty people attended. Thirty people heard the truth about abortion and thirty people were now empowered to go out and share that truth and the love of Christ with a hurting world!
Fast forward to present day, April 2, 2019. Although many of my questions have been answered and much of my ignorance about the abortion industry has fallen away, leaving instead a graduated insight and understanding, I have to say that this tremendous burden for those who haven’t seen the destruction of this sin like I have weighs heavily on me.
The stories highlighted in Unplanned are the stories of our fellow community members, church members, family members, and friends who have suffered (often silently) with the aftermath of abortion. Real girl, boys, women, and men that we know and are in relationship with. Abortion is hurting us, right now. In real time.
A casual sex culture has distracted us from the intrinsic respect for the whole person, body and soul, and instead has fixed our eyes on the lust of the body alone. When we do not comprehend the value that every human life has, first and foremost, we literally, unarguably, cannot value anything else in this world or beyond.
That reality is what has brought us to the place where we feel hopeless in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy, worthless and willing to exploit ourselves sexually, weakened and often defeated by sexual abuse, and able to compromise the emotional, mental, social, and spiritual health of women and men in order to explain away that which the physical body wants. We are willing to follow the progression of the abortion timeline that has justified that end by means of catering to women’s “reproductive rights” in order to control sex and make it our god. Serving It, all the while never realizing that it will absolutely never serve you back.
Abortion is not normal. The one true God and Creator of all things, including sex, never intended this for us.

Teaching My Daughters

It is for these reasons that I felt it was incredibly important, crucial actually, that as a mother, I come alongside my daughters as we watched the lies of an evil world unfold before our eyes through Abby’s testimony in Unplanned. I wanted my girls, from the safety of my own arms, to see the lies of a casual sex culture directly held up against the truth of God’s Word and HIS true intentions for sex, marriage, and the value of absolutely every human life.
Were there parts of the movie that were hard to watch? Yes. It’s an incredibly accurate portrayal of many painful experiences that have been entrusted to me by the women I’ve served in post-abortive ministry over the years. Does that diminish the urgency to teach our children well? No way. The culture is constantly bombarding us with beautiful and glamorous images of casual sex propaganda. The consequences of that are not pretty, however. Almost never are the public and particularly our youth privy to the real-life stories that Abby Johnson and I are all too familiar with.
While I chose to take my daughters with me to watch the movie, that may not be for everyone. I get that and respect it. Know your kids and their maturity level before you purchase them a seat beside you. Whatever you decide personally, we can all take the opportunity to open up conversations with our children and the youth in our lives to share Abby’s story with them in age-appropriate and consistently ongoing ways.

Knowing the Value of a Human Life

Generations of people are just now finding out, for the first time ever, what Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry has been up to for all these years: casual sex propaganda and abortions on demand. It has, for the better part of fifty years, led us to the place where we as a culture view abortion as part of everyday normal life.
There is nothing normal about taking the life of a unique and living human being.
There is nothing normal about telling young women that it’s no big deal. There is nothing normal about our young women being indoctrinated that their lives and the lives of their children are no more valuable than a rubber ball in the grocery store line: fun to play with . . . until they’re not anymore.
To the awe of many, Unplanned smashed through the glass ceiling of expectation in its first week. It opened in only 1,060 theaters but took number four at the box office, generating $6.4 million dollars! Unplanned received an A+ rating from CinemaScore, a prized achievement in terms of audience reception, and another six hundred screens have been added for the second week of the movie’s showing.
I think it’s safe to say that many, many more than thirty people will now have the opportunity to be a fly on that wall. To see what Abby saw and know what Abby knows. Thousands of us will now finally understand why women have bought into the lies of abortion and sought refuge within the walls of Planned Parenthood. These things did not happen of their own doing. Young people and minorities have been the target of this industry for decades to the point where we often cannot discern the truth from the lies anymore.
That is why Unplanned is irreplaceable and highly recommendable. It exposes the lies and points us right back to the great gifts of God given freely through the blood of HIS SON, a baby born to us: Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life.

Check out my book, Sexuality Mentality, for more writing on culture, youth, and sex.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Ten Reasons You Need To Talk To Your Kids About Sex, Now.

Relationships are the heart of God, Himself. Picture for a moment that your child is engaged in the battle of his life. He stands on the open field with arrows and swords seeking to take from him all that he has, even his very life. What has he to defend himself with? God gave you, the parents, the tools he needs to get out of this surge, successfully and in tact. God has given you His Word, the Master Instruction Manual, the Play-by-Play to maneuver Satan’s attempts on our earthly lives. Are we simply holding it in our hands on Sunday mornings or have we read it through and inwardly digested it all in order to set our frame of mind on God’s intentions for defeat? Everywhere we go and everything we do requires us to be in relationship with other people around us. When we understand the mentality of God as He has created us to relate with one another, our lives will be changed.  And as we take that mentality and teach it to our children, so it will be done in their lives as well. Sex is a powerful thing whether used for good or for evil-we can’t afford to not give it the respect it deserves and here are the top ten reasons why: 

Top Ten Reasons You Need To Talk to Your Kids About Sex, Now. 

#10. You’re the only one NOT talking to them. 
Even if we keep our kids close, we are ALL still being bombarded by a casual sex culture. In the same way that Hitler and the Nazi regime convinced an entire country that Jews were a threat to humanity through biased propaganda during WWII, sexual propaganda has been brainwashing families of the 20th and 21st centuries as well. There are agencies that have been targeting specific demographics, focusing on race, age, gender, religion, salary, and more, for the better part of ninety years. For nearly a century, there have been people whose only job, forty-plus hours a week, has been to study the public and feed us what their clients want us to know in the way we are most likely to receive it. And what sells their products? Sex. But as is true of all negative propaganda, what began as the desire to sell a product, has become a frame of mind that has infiltrated the public’s ability to make sound decisions and think clearly about the things that matter most.  

#9. Your voice will always be the loudest one they hear. 
…especially when we say nothing at all, unfortunately. I can tell my daughter all day long not to smoke cigarettes. But if she sees me smoking cigarettes, I have now, albeit unintentionally, instructed her in this area of her life as she’s growing up and trying to figure out what kind of adult she will be. Your children have been looking up to you and trying to be like you since the first moment they laid eyes on you. It wasn’t by coincidence that God gave you the amazing kids you have in your care and vice versa! You are equipped, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to connect and communicate with your kids better than anyone else in this world. And what’s even better yet? They will listen to you. Never cease seeking out the knowledge you need in order to instruct your children well. 

#8. They don’t know. (God’s thoughts on sex.) 
Heck, how many of us adults really know God’s thoughts on sex? Do we ever just stop to be mindful of what His intentions were in creating it? I know I certainly didn’t for a solid majority of my life. That doesn’t mean it was too late for me to learn, and, thus, it is definitely not too late for them or for you! God gives us a crystal clear picture of his intentions for sexual relationships all throughout scripture. Instead of standing back and watching each other suffer as we “wing it” in the dating/relationship department, let us sit before the One who created love and sexuality in the first place and hear what He has to say about it!

#7. As the culture continues to de-value human life, our youth need to know from where true value comes. 
When our kids understand the incredible worth they have, individually, to their Creator, it is only then that they can look at another human being and acknowledge that same value. This mentality flows, then, into all of the relationships around them. It builds the foundation for healthy dating which leads to healthy marriages and then healthy parenting, etc… Psalm 139 tells us exactly how treasured we are in God’s sight and John 3:16 shows us the lengths He was willing to go to keep us close in relationship with him. 

#6. Casual sex requires more life or death diligence than ever before.  
Although it’s not often spoken of, the negative effects of a casual sex culture are overwhelming. There is no such thing as “safe sex” outside of the confines of marriage. To believe there is, is a direct result of sexual propaganda that has successfully hindered a more in-depth and cognizant thought process on the subject. Sexually transmitted infections ring in at over 20 million new cases a year (U.S), with half of those occurring in youth between the ages of 15 and 24. The CDC estimates that undiagnosed sexually transmitted infections cause 24,000 women to become infertile each year. (
I also contend that there is a grave oversight in the area of the wholistic person when we ignore the effects of casual sex on the person’s psyche and focus solely on the consequences to the physical body. Depression, anxiety, anorexia/eating disorders, homosexuality, gender confusion, self-harm and suicidal thoughts/acts are all increasing struggles that our kids are facing. Something that God has created to be the single most intimate bond between a man and a woman, sex, Satan has twisted and distorted into a dangerous and destructive act of the flesh… and we all feel it somewhere deep down inside as the manifestations of a casual sex lifestyle rear their ugly heads in every manner of speaking. Our kids are searching for the truth. 

#5. Marriage is under attack. 
God knew Satan would twist and pervert sexual intimacy into a powerful tool to be used against us. To isolate us, to separate us from true relationship with God and with others. In defense, God gave us marriage, an invaluable gift that protects not only our bodies but also our hearts, minds, and spirits from Satan’s ill intentions on our lives. Although it’s much easier to justify bad behavior by picturing Him this way, God is definitely not an old man in the sky oppressing us with His traditions from ancient days and forcing us to hold out for sex. Marriage is the shield God has given us to defend ourselves completely from the attacks of Satan on our everyday lives and bodies. God intended marriage to be a mirror of the church’s relationship with Him. Of course Satan will seek to destroy this profound enigma in order to steal, kill, and destroy the beloved children of God. 

#4. They think this is love. 
Our kids think this is it! This superficial, physically-focused lust. Most of us know the love verse from the Bible. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” THIS is real love. God’s idea of love. The kind of love that gives us constant hope in the midst of pain and rejection; endurance when life seems to be overwhelming us. I always offer the following analogy to teens as a comparison to measure their relationships against. The Holy Spirit can only produce good things: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. If your relationships are producing such things, that’s a good indicator it’s a God-pleasing one. On the other hand, if your relationships are producing the opposite of those things, it’s more likely time to bring it to your Heavenly Father for some reevaluation.   

#3. Homosexuality is the hottest trend for teens today. 
Yes, I said it. And I will say it as often as is needed to help clear the air on this epidemic. The trend towards teens identifying as homosexual or bi-sexual is no secret to any of us. This is occurring at elevated rates and parents don’t know why it’s happening or how to handle it. We’re just worried about our kids. In my experience working with youth, I offer that this trend is much less about sexuality and much more about a lack of relationship, a coping mechanism of sorts. A child seeking to identify as a member of the LGBTQ orientation, in this day and age, is more likely struggling to fit into a group where they feel accepted and uniquely their own, valuable person. The human desire to be loved and accepted, is a powerful thing. It’s the driving force behind every single one of us. Today’s youth are relationship starved and tenacious about seeking after deep connections, whatever the cost. We do a great disservice to our kids when we pat them on the back and tell them we’re proud of their courage (in coming out of the closet), instead of acknowledging the fact that they’re hurting like heck and there’s a cancer gnawing away at them in the deepest parts of their soul. They need a life line, not a ribbon.  Teens struggling with homosexual orientations have to be reminded, continuously, of who they are in Christ and of God’s specific plan and purpose for their lives. Every gift and ability they have, every one, was given to them with great care and intention for the purpose of serving the kingdom of God here on earth. 

*There are many reasons your teen may be struggling with homosexuality. This comment addresses the most common reason I’ve experienced. A history of abuse, mental/emotional or physiological trauma can also be areas of investigation if your child is struggling in this area. 

#2. Their futures depend on it.   
From the time our children were small, we have been conditioning them to someday care for themselves and become contributing members of society. We have taught them positive self-hygiene habits, we have educated them, disciplined them, and taught them to drive cars, feed them themselves, and so much more. Now is the time to teach them how to have a healthy marriage and family someday. Now. It is never too early or too late to come alongside your children as they roll the cornerstones into place for their future. So many parents have told me that they want to but they don’t know how. My answer to that is, let’s find out together. Your child’s entire life depends on it. Reach out, get focused, and let’s equip one another, through the wisdom of Holy Scriptures and the camaraderie of friends and mentors, to change the culture surrounding our kids. 

#1. What do you have that’s priceless and what are you doing to protect it? 

Where are we in this battle for our kid’s lives? Are we standing on the sidelines, holding the manual, or are we fighting right alongside them on the battle-field? Are they looking around with fear in their eyes or is their gaze set with confidence and assurance that they are equipped with all they need to face their aggressors? We are a team and together, with God as our Coach, we are undeterred. A casual sex mentality is THE topic. It is the common denominator that connects every aspect of our children’s ability to relate well with others in this world. Stewarded well, sex is an amazing and profound gift from God. Abused, Satan uses sex to degrade, separate, isolate, and destroy the intrinsic value of human life. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Breaking Bad Habits

This morning something funny happened. I asked something of someone via a social media site. It was a simple something; respectfully and cheerfully put out there, but the response I was given was rather snarky. It made me wonder whether if I had been standing beside this person on the street and asked the question, if they would have answered me in the same way. I kind of think not. I kind of think that a lot of things we post on social media or via texting would not be said face to face. 

In a culture that seems eager to jump down people’s throats at the slightest opportunity, I can’t help but feel that we’ve fallen into a societal bad habit of sorts. The habit of seeing life as insignificant. Living, breathing human beings as worthless. We often treat ourselves and others as those that lack value. And nothing could be further from the truth. 

As with most bad habits, we don’t realize we’re caught up in it until the symptoms arise and we are forced to step back and re-evaluate our actions. Bloody fingers after biting the nail too short, cavities in our teeth from drinking soda all day. Rising animosity towards others because we’ve lost sight of our value. We’ve lost sight of the significance that every human life carries from conception to natural death. 

That significance is sometimes hard to see with our earthly eyes. Not every person will feel significant to us all the time. Thank God for His word that shows us the value we have in our redeemer, Jesus Christ, who sees our value when others cannot.  Our lives and our very existence are so valuable that God sent his Son to die in order that we might have life and have it abundantly. That word “abundantly” doesn’t refer to wealth, power, or position but abundantly full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the gifts of the Spirit that are ours in Christ. We are capable of such things. How many of us would trade our animosity and indignation for these things instead? We love others because He first loved us. He gives us the love, the joy, the peace, the patience, the kindness, the goodness, the faithfulness, the gentleness, and the self-control to serve our neighbor with full respect for the tremendous significance they have in this world. 

Restoration is not a one man job.  (Unless that man is Jesus.) The ability to share our lives with another, or many others, is a gift from God. The people we meet in the grocery store, drive alongside on  our way to work, share our dinner with, and even share snarky moments with on social media. In a world that seeks to highlight the individual, I am reminded of the power of community. I am reminded that we have a relational God who has created us to be relational people, therefore, Satan will do everything in his power to separate us. Alone we are weak but together we are strong. Is it any wonder we’re pinned against one another? When our attention is diverted from the relationship among us, in other words, when we’re sitting behind our computer or telephone screens, it is so much harder to see the heart of others and so much easier to slander one another.

Whether we’re going through hard times or starting a new chapter in our lives, isolation is a real threat. The more isolated we are, the less value we will have for ourselves and others; our perspective is changed, the less compassion and concern we feel for those struggling right along with us. Our instincts will lead us inward, to focus on ourselves, rather than outward into communion with the world around us, where we can be lifted and also lift others up. 

So. Let's set out, together, to begin breaking the bad habit of seeing others as worthless or insignificant. Every human life has value and you. are. loved.  

“We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 
 - 1 John 4:19-21

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Teen Vogue Isn't Trying To Save Your Child

Okay, the whole Teen Vogue/Anal Sex article. Good lord. Do we really need to explain why this is inappropriate for our youth? Every time I hear someone say that this is “happening anyway” and youth should “know more about it” so they can “learn the right way,” I want to vomit. 
I’m sorry if this comes across a bit too straight-forward but, really, it’s about time we stop dancing around these distortions and twisted views of sex. So, it’s uncomfortable to talk about. We all agree. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let's stop demeaning our own intelligence and that of our younger generations by pretending that we don't all know a better way. 

They say people will believe whatever makes sense to them at the time. A common example is the phrase, “Follow your heart.” That sounds good, right? That sounds honest and raw and authentic. We all want to be those things. Except here’s the truth: Absolutely, under NO circumstances should we follow our hearts! We are sinful human beings with rotten, sinful hearts! On the contrary, we need to, “Follow Christ and seek His will for our lives.” See what I did there? The majority of things that sound good in the world today are just that. Good-sounding. They are superficial and catchy and trendy and- completely misguided. Teen Vogue doesn’t want your children to learn the proper way to have anal sex in order to better equip them to be well-rounded adults. They want to sell magazines. They want to be on top, numero uno, the premier magazine for teens everywhere. 
Listen,  we should ABSOLUTELY be teaching our teenagers about sex. Anal, oral, vaginal, all of it. Yes, you can blush. Indeed, I said that… But now get over that and focus again on what’s at stake. Either we teach them God’s value of sex or the world teaches them to de-value sex.  We should be teaching our youth about the incredible value each one of us has to our Creator. We should be teaching them to love and regard one another with that value as the foundation, which brings forth a common regard and respect of the body. We should be teaching them about the whole human body, in it's entirety and how intricately it’s been designed and that each specific part has a specific and awesome purpose, ordained and crafted by God, Himself. 

It is NOT NORMAL for adults to advocate for behaviors that cause the more innocent among them to hurt themselves. We are not just physical bodies guys. We are spiritual, emotional, mental, and social beings as well. When sex is treated as something that is casual, we are lying to ourselves and to our children. Sex is not casual. The giving of your body to another’s body is the most intimate and personal thing you could ever possibly do. It affects the way we think, the way we feel, the ways we interact with others around us, and the way we relate to our God. Stop and think about this for a minute and then wait. Wait. You don’t have to take my word for it. You know that what I’m saying is right. You feel it in your conscience. Whether or not you decide to act on that conviction or not is up to you. It’s hard to stop believing what you’ve always believed. But you know what they say, “The truth will set you free” and you’ve just been given the truth. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Dangling Carrot 

What if I told you that you might be following the dangling carrot? You know, the distraction instead of the main show. What if I said that God’s intentions for sex are comparable to a vast orchard full of ripe, luscious fruits and you might be sauntering along behind the limp carrot on a string. I’m familiar with that carrot. Maybe you are as well.

My daughter loves animals. She actually spends a lot of time working with and riding horses. Every day she collects food scraps from around the house to bring them as treats. 
Now, I am not an overly enthusiastic animal lover but I do know that if you want a stubborn horse to do something, a carrot or an apple will almost always help them forget their original intentions and willingly give in to your wishes instead. 

Satan is playing this game with us every day of our lives. I heard it said once that Satan awaits the opening of our front door each morning and beckons us into his arms. He is incredibly intentional about the way he distracts us and—unfortunately—he’s had a lot more time to practice just how and when he dangles that carrot before our eyes.

I often see young people caught up in the lust of sex rather than valuing the life of another person. Here’s what I mean by that: when we treat sex as something casual, we also inevitably treat our lives and the lives of those we’re sleeping with as something casual. Through casual sex and this disregard for the value of human life, Satan is intentionally creating loneliness and separation. He swiftly delivers healthy doses of shame and we begin to doubt our own self-worth. Created to bond deeply with our future husband or wife, we have now become desensitized, abused, and unable to bond deeply with anyone. Alone with people all around us. The dangling carrot that you thought would bring nourishment and help you to thrive is actually leading you into a spiritual, emotional, mental, and social starvation.

John 10:10  “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life - life in all its fullness.”

It’s never too late to come back to the orchard. Full of God’s gifts. Full of His forgiveness and restoration where the roots of real, unconditional love grow deep and produce beautiful fruit. 

*Something to think about/discuss: What are your thoughts on sex outside of marriage? Feel free to comment here or private message me to unpack that box together!  


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Meet Me at the Sycamore Tree

Meet me at the sycamore tree! What. The. Heck????? 

I know, it's a little strange because A) I live in Puerto Rico and I'm sitting at a computer. I can't LITERALLY meet you under any tree...unless you live on my island. B) Why not a pine tree or a birch tree or a nice bush or something? By a lake? C) Most obviously, WHY are we meeting at the tree in the first place? We've got things to do...places to go...probably cooler people to meet at WAY cooler places.

Well, you do. 

Not me. There's pretty much no where else I'd rather be than hanging with all of you. And you pretty much ARE the coolest people I know, sooooo...

Here's why I like the sycamore tree: Maybe you remember the story of Zacchaeus (za-KEE-us) climbing a tree to see Jesus. That was my favorite bible story as a kid...maybe because my brother was short for his age and picked on me. When you hear the Bible describe him, he sounds like a greedy, disfigured hobbit who was selfish and small-minded...a traitorous, conniving, cheating man who worked as a tax-collector for the city. 

But here's the first thing about Zacchaeus that I can relate to: he was curious about Jesus. I'm curious about Jesus too. He was so curious that he ran ahead of all the people when he heard that Jesus was coming to his town. I picture this tiny man sitting all alone in the leaves and branches of the sycamore tree, probably trying to get away from everyone else. After all, the tax collectors were hated in Zacchaeus' day.

I hate feeling alone. 

That brings me to the next thing about Zacchaeus that I can relate to: he was an outsider. He had cut himself off from his own people. Being the odd one out never feels good. Sometimes we might do hurtful things just to make sure everyone else stays away and we won't get hurt again. 

We find out later in the Gospel of Luke (where the story is found) that even a broken person like Zacchaeus was worth something. Through Jesus, he found that his life had value that he NEVER thought possible! Despite what all the others thought about him, God knew he was important. Jesus knew he was worth something. 

So...the joke was on Zacchaeus. He thought he needed to try to find Jesus...but Jesus knew RIGHT WHERE TO FIND him. He reached out, took his hand, and said, "I'm coming to your house, Zacchaeus. Quit hanging out in trees. I'm going to show you a better way...because I love you." (I might have paraphrased that. *winkie-face*)

The sycamore tree is a place where people look for Jesus...but Jesus actually finds them. For me, it's a place for those of us who have been looking for Jesus...but really just want to be found.