What We Do as American Christians in the Face of Ebola

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If Ebola hadn’t singed the edge of my own world, I doubt it would have dramatically altered my prayer life.

Sure, there have been global crises, that for a window of time, like a blip on a radar, interrupted the usual, “Father, please take care of my family. You’re so good and loving and gracious. Thank you for Jesus, Amen.” I don’t mean to intimate that my prayer life has been inconsequential or entirely trivial, but I do write this article from a humbled heart.

Late September, I got a call from my husband while I was visiting my sisters several states away. Out of the wild blue, he told me that his unit, the 101st Airborne, had received orders to deploy to Liberia, Africa, with very short notice. For the first time, my interest (read: fear) was piqued enough to read past the blaring, redundant headlines and ask, with empathy, “What is going on?”

The Ebola virus is named for a river in the region of Central Africa where it was first discovered. It is classified as a hemorrhagic fever, meaning that victims exhibit flu like symptoms along with bleeding and bruising from places like the eyes and the gastrointestinal tract. Approximately half of those who contract Ebola die. Due to the gory symptoms and the startling fatality rate, Ebola has sparked pandemic fear. Or has it? What is your response? How do your neighbors and your church congregation feel?

Reactions run the gamut. In August, Ann Coulter called a courageous, Christian doctor living out his faith through mercy and caring for the poor in Africa, “idiotic”. Others clamor for a travel ban on people wishing to enter the U.S. from infected countries. Casual conversations now veer from the economy to ISIS and on to Ebola. We’re concerned most definitely. But is the collective body of Christ alert, compassionate and Christ-like enough to really do something?

To be honest, I’ve lost some sleep over the idea that my own husband will be breathing African air. And yet, at the same time, I haven’t changed my habits. Yes, my prayers now include a new variable when petitioning God for my husband’s safety and wellbeing. Most often, I tack on a few lines asking for God’s mercy on the ailing continent and protection for North America.

“All we can do now is pray.” We’ve all said that with the best intentions, but what do we mean? Do we mean that prayer is our final resort, as if God is the last ditch, cross our fingers, cosmic good-luck charm?

In this situation, quite literally for most of us, prayer is our only option. In truth, it is always our only real hope, but it should also be our first resort. And while we’re always praying and not losing heart (Luke 18:1), we should employ our compassion, our abilities as the hands and feet of Jesus in the ripe fields of wounded souls and broken bodies all around us.

Recently, Dr. Hinthorn, Professor of Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, wrote an article for the Focus on the Family blog, called “How Should We Respond to the Ebola Outbreak?”. He offered an interesting and relevant perspective:

“There are currently fewer than 8,000 cases of Ebola, with just over 3,400 deaths worldwide. Those numbers are tragic, but it might be instructive to compare them to the effects of influenza in the U.S. The CDC estimates that between 5 percent and 20 percent of the population gets the seasonal flu each year, resulting in well over a hundred thousand hospitalizations. Thousands of flu-related deaths occur annually, with more than 48,000 in the 2006-2007 flu season alone.” (October 8, 2014 Focus on the Family blog)

2 Timothy 1:7 gives specific instructions to Christians as to how we personally should respond to Ebola, “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

The Greek word for strength is dynamis, meaning: “inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth”. The only one with such inherent power is the God who has placed His Spirit in those who believe in Jesus Christ. We are uniquely equipped to respond to Ebola effectively.

James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

So, whether we are physically equipped, as my husband, to offer hope in Africa through healing hands, or whether we have the distinct honor and responsibility to pray like never before, or whether we have family and friends, neighbors and colleagues to whom we can simply bring a cup of soup, let us not be afraid or discouraged (Joshua 10:25), grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9) or lose heart in our prayers.

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Book Tour: Trying to Outrun the Love of God

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Trying to Outrun the Love of God
 Book Tour October-November 2014

Publisher: CSN Books
Author: Karen Adams

Screenshot 2014-10-20 14.06.23About The Author:

Karen Adams survived childhood molestation, 7 years of crack addiction, 4 nervous breakdown, two admissions to mental wards of hospitals against her will. She is now an Evangelist who teaches and preaches on the transforming love of God. She has a burden for emotional wounded and hurting people. She attended college at all of the Alameda County Jr. Colleges. In her free time she enjoys, traveling, movies, reading and spending time with her cat Noches and her Cockatiel birdy.

About the Book:

How can God reach someone who appears unreachable? Will the love of God be enough to break every chain and loose the trap of the enemy? In her debut book, Author Karen Adams struggles to understand how a loving God would allow life to be so unbearable. Facing childhood molestation, years of crack addiction, nervous breakdowns, and admissions to mental wards, she learned that no matter how difficult life was, God continued to extend His love. Trying to Outrun the Love of God, is a deeply moving story of one woman’s journey filled with suffering and pain, but one that ultimately finds wholeness and deliverance in the arms of a loving Savior. A must read for all those who think they are alone.

Buy Link
Publisher: http://csnbooks.net/

Social Link
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1mrfIm8

Tour hosted by WNL Book Tours

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https://www.dropbox.com/s/v7ts6bz6ipasarb/Screenshot%202014-10-20%2014.14.50.png?dl=0

LASTing Peace, “How Does God Want Me to Workout?”

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Does God want you to exercise? Is all exercise a vain and idolatrous pursuit? Let’s talk about that today.
Here’s the link to Desiring God that I mentioned in the video:

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/exercising-the-body-for-the-sake-of-the-soul?utm_source=Desiring+God&utm_campaign=f157fa03e9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6da5f8315b-f157fa03e9-99428477

Because He Lives!

Book Review, “The Preacher’s Bride”

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7685228Are you tired of Cinderella stories? You know, the ones with their saintly fair maidens and angelic buxom brunettes. The characters are flawless from the start in every way, from their moral fortitude to their physical attributes. The Preacher’s Bride, by Judy Hedlund, is a refreshing exception. Perhaps that is what makes the book so cogent—the invitation to identify with the heroine, finding grace in her imperfections and confidence in her strengths. Surely this comes from the fact that the story is only partly fiction.

From the first pages of The Preacher’s Bride, the protagonist, Elizabeth Whitbread, treads common ground with us lowly, average, homely, self-conscious, dutiful women. Through the course of the book, Hedlund expertly uses Elizabeth to empathize with each varied and mystifying roll a woman may play in her life: from a young, single woman to a new bride, an unloved wife to an independent woman, and finally to a wise, seasoned, valued and respected mother and wife.

Hedlund is skilled at sharing the perspectives of each the primary characters, but Elizabeth drives the story. This is particularly fascinating, as The Preacher’s Bride is ultimately based on the story of John Bunyan, the tinker turned preacher in England during the 1600’s.

The book is well-researched, and accurately portrays the cultural and political climate of the times; the tension between the Puritans and the Royalists. Then, adding a good dose of creative license, Hedlund explores the emotions, trials and victories of Bunyan’s second wife, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s defining characteristic is her strength. In spite of persecution, poverty, overwhelming responsibility, loneliness and pain, she emerges victorious. I liken Elizabeth’s story to a item submitted to a tinker such as John Bunyan.

Tinkering, according to Wikipedia, is essentially “the process of adapting, meddling or adjusting something in the course of making repairs or improvements,”. It must be painful. There is twisting and bending, heating and filing. But the end result is always finer than at the start.

The Preacher’s Bride shows how God uses many challenges to “tinker” with each of us. But like Elizabeth, there is a reward when we remain faithful. I found myself with Elizabeth, experiencing each of her trials, and somehow, I believe, emerging with her refined, purified and improved.

All Things New, Life After Death

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I’d given up on that phone call years ago. Subconsciously, I just knew it wasn’t a good idea. I’d ruined my body for having my own babies, why would anyone else trust me with theirs?

But last week, a sister called me. My second sister isn’t much of a talker, so I knew something must have prompted the call. “What’s up?”

“Well, nothing is wrong, don’t worry. In fact, it’s not that big of a deal. Well, it’s a big deal, but…”.

“Now I’m really curious,” I urged her on with a laugh. What on earth could tie her tongue and yet still be so important as to warrant a phone call in the middle of her daughters’ bath time?

“My husband and I have been talking and praying about it. We would like you and Patrick to consider being the ones to take the girls if something were to ever happen to both of us.”

She paused. My heart hit the floor and took wings all at the same time. Giddiness washed over me. Me? They chose me—my husband and me?

Not so many years ago, I would have been a terrible choice to take care of my nieces if something happened to their parents. In the throes of a longterm battle with anorexia, it wasn’t a stretch to wonder if I might not live to see them reach high school. I let my mind follow that line of thinking.

Not so many years ago, my sister and her husband might have feared that living with me would warp their girls’ body image. They might wonder if I’d feed them well, tend to their precious bodies or teach them how to fully embrace all of life outside the numbers by which society measures happiness. Or they might have been concerned that I wasn’t mentally present enough to assume responsibility for their little girls. What if I fell asleep at the wheel driving to gymnastics? What if I was re-admitted to a treatment center—what would happen to the girls then?

My sister still waited on the phone; slowly my mind resurfaced and collected itself. I tried to control the waver in my voice and suggest following the proper protocol. “Of course, I’ll talk to Patrick and we’ll pray about it. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. But I have to ask one question—why did you pick us?

My sister and her husband have done a remarkable job instilling the love of Jesus in the hearts of their little girls. A passion for Christ at the center of all things is the desire of their hearts, the defining trait they want for the home where their children mature.

“We think that you guys embody the way that we want the girls to grow up. We want them to know Jesus as a Person, not simply grow up in a religious home. We want them to feel His presence and learn to walk with Him.” (Not a precise quote, I wasn’t recording my sister.)

Not so many years ago, the mention of my name conjured worries, memories of treatment centers, confusion, deception and fear. I identified myself as anorexic. The dominant thoughts of my wakeful hours, and often even my dreams, were calories, food and exercise. But now…

Oh the joy, the sheer magnificence of a healing God! He healed me and allows me to experience abundant life, unhindered joy, Christ-filling. He redeemed the years, redeemed my reputation, redeemed my identity.

To be known as one whose mind, heart and home is consumed with Christ, is a greater honor than I can explain. To know that the old is so far gone, so far has He removed my sin from me, and the new has come—there are no sufficient words.

Of course, you’re likely wondering if I ever consulted my husband, who would share the responsibility of raising our nieces and what he said. He said, “Yes!”

Please don’t be put off or allow this to be seen as a morbid story, considering the loss of my sister and her husband. Rather, I believe her call, their question was meant first and foremost as God’s testimony to me, of me, that He makes all things new.

 

Wisdom Borrowed From John Piper

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This (lengthy) nugget by John Piper seems to address the tremor of our hearts here on Predatory Lies. The culture’s prevalent lies about our physical beauty and maturity have led many to seek cosmetic surgery. The study that Piper sites is rattling.

No matter your age, what do you feel about your body?

What have you done–if anything–to alter it?

Do you regret your decision?

 

Boomer’s Bodies — And Yours

All of the 10,000 people in America who turn 65 each day have wrinkles. Our skin is more flaccid. Our complexion is more mottled. Our equilibrium is more tenuous. And our hair is more scarce. The effect of aging on our appearance and our bearing is universal. No one escapes. Except by death.
The reason for this is that God has subjected the creation to futility (Romans 8:20). It is in bondage to corruption (Romans 8:21). Even new creatures in Christ groan, waiting for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).
In other words, when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, God established a connection between moral depravity and physical deterioration. He intended to make clear that, even if we ignore the dreadfulness of a sinful heart, we will not be able to ignore its witness in the debility of the body.
This is a hard pill for beautiful and robust Boomers to swallow. We have been strong. We have been pretty. Even sexy. And now we realize: We will never have it back. It is over. For good. Until death stops the process we will only get weaker, more wrinkled, more mottled.
Some of us cannot let it go. We resort to plastic surgery in the hopeless attempt to make the looks of youth last a little longer. An article in Psychology Today observes,
Cosmetic surgery is still on the increase throughout developed countries. . . The “looks industry” is alive and well.
But the fix might be more in the head than on the face. Joshua Zimm, from the University of Toronto and his colleagues published a study in 2013 showing that facial cosmetic surgery does not significantly enhance attractiveness and only reduces perceived age by 3.1 years.
The growth of cosmetic surgery is not a reflection of the increasing ugliness of people but a reflection of our increasing negative self-perception. The fact that cosmetic surgery is still increasing in popularity despite showing little positive outcome — objective measure of attractiveness or youth — points again to our desire to become perfect.
Adolescent in Our Thinking
In other words, Boomers don’t look older than previous generations. But we are less content with looking older. We crave the power and the beauty our bodies once had. We are, to a large extent, still adolescent in our thinking about our looks.
Let the Christian Boomers turn this around.
We have found the fountain of youth. His name is Jesus Christ. “He will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:21). Our dying body is like a seed planted in the ground. “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:43).
Aging in Holiness and Grace
Aging Christians don’t stay beautiful and strong in this life. But they do become beautiful and strong in the resurrection. The implication is: Don’t pour your time and energy and resources into artificial aging inhibitors. Pour them into aging with holiness and grace.
“Older men, be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” (Titus 2:2).
“Older women, be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. Teach what is good, and train the young women” (Titus 2:3–4).
Don’t be part of the tragic millions who desperately try to look and act younger than they are. It is usually pathetic to watch. A deep Arizona leathery tan does not make wrinkled skin look young.
Because of God’s grace, aging is not only a witness to the fall. It is also now a witness to the power of God’s grace. For those who trust him, God has turned deterioration into dignity.
Let these markers of aging be your goal.
1. Realism
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). The real beauty — the real praiseworthiness in life — is not our outward appearance. It is our reverence for God. This is the real beauty of life.
2. Humility
“Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17). Physical beauty is not a bad thing. But it is a dangerous thing — like wealth (Matthew 19:24). Let the loss of it make us humble. For humility is a beautiful thing.
3. Legacy
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31). “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29). The point is not that only righteous people get old. The point is that when a righteous life is crowned with age, it is a beautiful thing. A thing of honor, not shame.
4. Honorable weakness
“You have been borne by me [the Lord] from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:3–4). God has carried us from the womb. We have never been self-sufficient. Now in old age we have the honor of making that crystal clear. The glory of a human is to be carried by God.
Consumed with Ministry, Not Mirrors
Evelyn Harris Brand grew up in a well-to-do English family. She had studied at the London Conservatory of Art and dressed in the finest silks. But she went with her husband to minister as missionaries in the Kolli Malai mountain range of India.
After about ten years her husband died at age 44. After a year’s recuperation in England, she returned and poured her life into the hill people until she was 95. She lived in a portable hut, eight feet square, that could be taken down and moved.
Her son, Paul, commented that “with wrinkles as deep and extensive as any I have ever seen on a human face . . . she was a beautiful woman.” But it was not the beauty of the silk and heirlooms of London high society. For the last twenty years of her life she refused to have a mirror in her house! She was consumed with ministry, not mirrors (see Future Grace, 288-289).
This is what God, by grace, does with our aging. He takes the deep creases of our bondage to corruption and turns them into the dignity of spiritual beauty.
May millions of Christian baby Boomers show the world how the gift of aging is received.