Single and Fostering

Today’s post was written by Amy Hacker. Amy is 34, single, and a 6th grade teacher in the Birmingham area. She loves to travel across the world, watch movies, hang out with friends, and spend time with her family and sweet dog, Ellie. A few months ago, she became a mom for the first time to a 2 ½ year old little girl.

*For security purposes, Amy’s foster daughter is named “Z” in this article.

Amy (left) and Heather (right) are two small group leaders from Brook Hills who are fostering as single parents.

Amy (left) and Heather (right) are two small group leaders from Brook Hills who are fostering as single parents.

So it’s Saturday morning and the alarm…Z…wakes up at 6:30am. It’s a sweet time because she always smiles when I come in to say “Good Morning!” Now for breakfast, diapers, clothes, and juice! I love to see her playing with Ellie and just laughing in general. She hasn’t done much of this her life. Z requires a lot of attention, but she is learning so much each day and is becoming a happy 2 year old.

Over the past couple of years, God has been doing a LOT in my small group. It seems He is asking several of us to look outside ourselves and see where we can make an impact for His kingdom. Two of us are now foster moms.

When I first considered His idea of me becoming a foster mom, I had a lot of concerns that all centered around myself: How could I ever handle giving them back? What if they go right back to the awful situation they came from? What if they are hurt/neglected once again? What’s the point?

After lots of prayer and getting past “myself,” I realized it’s not about me; it’s about Him. If this is the path He is sending me on, He will have it all worked out. The children of this world are not our; they are His. I have the opportunity to share His love with the ones who are abused, neglected, and basically pushed aside because of the sinful world we live in!

So will all the work that Christ-followers do really impact His kingdom? Will the love of Christ that flows through believers be evident to these kids? I am sure of that and know that His love will make an everlasting impact on their lives. What proof do I have?

Heather, who is another foster mom in my small group, has an 8 year old boy that she has been pouring her life into for about a year. We will call him, “B.” Recently, one of B’s teachers, who used to work with me at the middle school, came for a visit. She stopped me in the hallway and started to tell me this story.

You know B right? He is so sweet and works so hard. We just love him. And do you know that one day he came to see me and started telling me about Jesus and how he didn’t know Him before he came to stay with his mom? But he says he knows Him now. I am not a religious person but this just touched my heart.”

Through Heather’s obedience to the call of foster care, prayer, and support from our small group, Brook Hills, and the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home, B’s life is different. His life will never be the same because he knows Jesus. The Jesus that will walk with him wherever he goes. The Jesus that will use him in ways that I can’t wait to see.

So in truth, foster care is hard and messy. It reveals selfishness and requires relying totally on the Lord. But it does impact His kingdom. Everyone should consider how they can be a part of the lives of these kids who are neglected and forgotten.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.“ James 1:27

God Is Greater Than Iron Chariots

Today’s post was written by BH member, Beth Middleton.

“Iron Chariots.” We all have them in our life, and most of us are afraid of them. We become afraid of iron chariots before we even see them in our future. What are our iron chariots? Do we not realize that God is greater than anything we may fear? Only the enemy brings iron chariots to deceive us.

While reading through Deuteronomy, I meditated upon the first verse of Deuteronomy 20. Moses gave direction to the Israelites about going into the Promise Land: “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Deut. 20:1, NIV).

This verse is very profound to me for two reasons. One, the verse quotes “God is with you.” I have been highlighting and journaling all of the verses in the Bible which relate to this promise. The second reason this verse is so profound, is the word “chariot” which metaphorically relates to “iron chariots” in our Christian life.

I recently studied the book of Judges which is about the Israelites after entering the Promise Land. Judges 1:19 mentions the word “iron chariots” as a fearful object to the Israelites. “They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots.”

Stop! What happened to these people, God’s chosen nation? Look at the first sentence of Judges 1:19, “The LORD was with the men of Judah.” There is this special promise again of “God was with them.” How did these people quickly forget the miracles God had already performed, yet they were afraid? They were unable to drive the enemy out because the enemy had iron chariots?

Isn’t God more powerful than iron chariots? This same God destroyed the “iron chariots” in the Red Sea by his outstretched hand in Exodus 14:28. The same God said to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 20:1 that He would be with them. He told them to not be “fainthearted or afraid” and to “not be terrified or give way to panic” because He would be the one to go with them, fight for them and give their enemies to them as victory (Deut. 20:3-4).

How sad to see how God’s chosen people didn’t trust Him. They didn’t believe that He would be victorious for them, nor did they believe that He was with them. They didn’t even believe that He would fight for them. My goodness, no wonder God called them “stiff necked people” (Ex. 33:3)! He even told them that He would “send an angel before” them to “drive out the Cananites, Amorites, Hitites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites” (Ex. 33:2). He was so frustrated with the disobedience of the Israelites that He said He might destroy them if He went with them (Ex. 33:3).

Look beyond Judges 1:19 to all of the verses of failed attempts to conquering the enemy.

  • Judges 1:21 says “the Benjamites failed to dislodge” the Jebusites who were living in Jerusalem. Were not the Jebusites, the enemy that God said that He would drive out in His promise?
  • Judges 1:27-28 says, “But Manesseh did not drive out the people of…..for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor, but never drove them out completely.” The Canaanites were another enemy that God said He would drive out in Exodus 33:2. Verse after verse repeats “ nor did” or “neither did” a tribe “drive out.” The failure of disobedience, distrust and disbelief were the consequences of misery for the Israelites.
  • Judges 2:2-3 is a frightening realization of their sinful choices when the angel of the Lord tells them that He will not drive the enemy out because of their disobedience. “Now therefore, I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides.” Ouch! Oh, the thorn of the enemy. How the enemy can be a snare to bring us down. He is determined to live in our land, to be the “Iron Chariot.”

Do you ever feel like that the Israelites were the most rebellious people ever to have walked the face of the earth? They had a victorious God who freed them from Egypt, who satisfied their every need, who gave them a land to take freely, and who fought their every battle. What was their problem? Why were they afraid, overcome with fear, terrified, faint-hearted, and panic stricken over iron chariots?

For the same reason we are. We FORGET. Somehow we forget that the same God who is Sovereign over the universe cares about us and the iron chariots that we face. We forget that our God has been victorious over iron chariots in our past. He destroyed the iron chariot” at the Red Sea by His outstretched arm. Exodus 13:14 says “the LORD will fight for you, you only need to be still.” WOW!

We can lay every frightening iron chariot in our life down before our LORD because He is still with us, His covenant still remains. His words are ever true. He gave us a gift more powerful that any frightening iron chariot. He gave us Jesus Christ. Jesus promised to be with us to the end of the age. Jesus Christ fights our battles. Jesus Christ is more powerful than anything we have to be frightened of, stressed about, panicked about, or terrified of. He has already won the battle. He is victorious over our enemy. Oh how the enemy can put a thorn in us and make us afraid to face some iron chariots. We must trust God’s promise that He is with us. Victory comes from God and no iron chariot is greater than He. Do not be afraid! “Stand firm and you WILL SEE the deliverance the LORD will bring you today” (Ex. 13:13).

“Oh, Sovereign LORD, I praise you Almighty Powerful God that you have overcome every ‘iron chariot’ already in my life. Help me stand firm, be still, and wait for Your great works today and forever more. Amen.”

Summer Reads 2015

For the past two summers, we have shared some recommended reads with you. In case you want to check out the posts from previous summers and add even more books to your Amazon wish list, click here for 2014 and here for 2013.

tablet-690032_1280Each year, I create a to-do list for the summer (I’m not Type A at all). It’s good to have goals, right? And who wants to waste the summer break?

Included in my to-do list are the books that I want to read for the summer. Some I start and never finish because, if it’s a dud, it’s a waste of time. Some have been on the list a couple of summers now… Some I actually read, and I always end up reading other books that weren’t on my list to begin with (As Captain Jack Sparrow would say, my lists are more like “guidelines” anyway.). Now, I’m not going to subject you to my current to-read list, but included below are some books that I think are worth the time and effort. Enjoy!

Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable than Ever Before by Jean M. Generation MeTwenge presents data regarding the generation born in the ’80s and ’90s (a.k.a. Generation Y or GenMe). Before you yawn and skip down to the next recommendation, this is not a book consisting of boring stats that make no sense with regards to everyday life. If you interact with GenMe in your family, workplace, church, etc., then this is a must-read (just be sure to get the revised and updated version). Being a part of this generation myself, this book magnified sin in my own life (even though this is a secular book) and has helped me to see tendencies in my own life and ministry that I need to address. Coming of age in a recession, being digital natives, and fueled by the self-esteem movement, this book highlights the worldview of this generation, how they’re affecting culture and the workplace, and why they are so stressed and depressed.

Pulling Back the ShadesWhile we wrote a book review of Pulling Back the Shades by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery back in February, this book serves as more than an expose on erotica. It addresses sensitive topics regarding sexuality that you’re not likely to hear from the pulpit such as the ethics of masturbation, sex toys, and BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism). These two ladies recognize that women are both spiritual and sexual beings, so they look at why women are attracted to “mommy porn” such as 50 Shades or other erotica books. Essentially, this is a “little black book” that all women should read.

Counter Culture by David Platt – yes, I’m plugging a book for our Counter-Cultureformer senior pastor. :) If you’ve listened to the Secret Church on Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action, then you’ve got a good handle on what Platt discusses in this book, which is how the gospel speaks into a variety of topics including poverty, abortion, human trafficking, ethnicity, and sexuality. Because of the gravity of each of these subjects, I appreciated how each chapter concludes with ways to pray, participate, and proclaim. You read the chapter, but Platt provides action steps you can take regarding what you read.

Eight Twenty EightA couple of years ago, I watched a short documentary about a Christ-following young couple whose world was rocked when the man was in a terrible car accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury. In Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up, Ian and Larissa Murphy share their story of God’s grace in the midst of suffering and how He has enabled them to respond with faith.

The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler provides a biblical perspective on dating, the mingling of soulsmarriage, and sex by looking at Song of Solomon. One thing I appreciate is the variety of resources that accompany this book. There’s a twelve week DVD study and study guide if it’s something you wanted to walk through in a small group setting (this study is also available on RightNow Media for free!), and Matt & Lauren Chandler also have short video snippets on their website that address relevant questions such as “If I struggle with lust, what should I share with my spouse?” and “What should single Christian women do if no men in the church are pursuing them?”

Let us know what you’re reading this summer. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Moms of Preschoolers – Popsicles on the Playground

Popsicles on the
Moms, if you have little ones at home with you this summer and are looking for ways to connect with other moms, then join us for Popsicles on the Playground!

Tuesday, June 16
Monday, June 29
Tuesday, July 21

We’ll meet from 10am-11am on the Preschool Playground at the church, and the Preschool Worship Room (on the South Annex hallway) will also be open as an indoor play area. We’ll provide the popsicles, and because of our indoor option, we’ll meet rain or shine!

If you have any questions, contact Dawn Stephens at dstephens@brookhills.org or Amy Throckmorton at athrockmorton@brookhills.org

The Perch Blog

The-Perch-Insta-Ad-2Hi, everyone! This is Becca Benson, Student Ministry Associate, coming at you today with some really exciting news that I am thrilled to pass along to you.

For the last few months, I have spent countless hours of prayer and preparation along with Amy Pierson and JJ Campbell that have lead to The Perch Blog, which launched last month!

This is a blog about girls’ ministry. If you are a mom of a teen girl, leader of middle or high school girls, a teen girl yourself, or maybe you just know a girl between the ages of 12-18, this blog is for you!

We will be talking about discipleship in the home, in the church, and in the world. God uses teen girls in huge ways across the planet for the spread of His gospel. Our goal is to equip, encourage, train, and support girls and those who have the privilege of leading them to know Christ and walk in His ways.

I would love to invite you to come by our site for a little visit to see what the Lord has worked together through us!

http://www.theperchblog.com/

How I Want My Parents to Pray for Me when I am Overseas

Today’s post was written by Bekah Mooney, a BH college student who is serving mid-term this summer in Southeast Asia.

Bekah Mooney and her Mom

Bekah Mooney and her Mom

When I was first asked to write this article, I naturally went to my mom and asked her how she prayed for my siblings and I when we are away, especially how she prayed for us while we are overseas.

Her answer was excellently simply and extremely obvious. She told me, “I pray Scripture. In praying the Word of God, you pray the will of God, and there is no better prayer than a prayer within the will of God.” So, I write to not only mothers and fathers out there, but for all who desire to know prayers that will always be glorifying to the Lord and gratifying to us as we go.

Here are three examples:

Ephesians 1:15-21

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

  • Be thankful. Praise the Lord that He has so graciously given a burden to GO to your child.
  • Pray for wisdom.
    1. That your children would not seek wisdom in themselves but, instead, that they would ask the Lord for wisdom.
    2. That the Lord would give wisdom.
  • Pray for enlightenment and remembrance of the hope to which He has called us.
  • Pray that we would remember the riches of the glorious inheritance we receive as saints.
  • Pray that we would remember the greatness of His power towards us who believe.

Colossians 1:9-12

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

  • Pray for knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
  • Pray that we will “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”
  • Pray that we will bear fruit.
  • Pray that we will increase in the knowledge of God.
  • Pray that we will look to the Lord and His power for strength.
  • Pray that we will be thankful that He has qualified us to share in His inheritance.

Philemon 1:6

“I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”

  • Pray for effectiveness in the sharing of our faith.
  • Pray that we understand that every good thing that is in us is for the sake of Christ.

Where Are You, God?

Today’s post was written by BH member, Ruth Wise.

designIt was a beautiful Sunday morning. My husband had already gone to work. Our 4 children were 5, 9, 11, and 13. Time to go to church. So we all jump into the car and off we went.

Don’t remember what caused the problem, but I ended up yelling and frustrated by the time we got there. Put on a “smiley” face and set down to worship. Same scenario on the way home.

This had become a typical Sunday morning. We had recently moved and were going to a new church. No friends. A husband who was never around to help. I felt so alone. I got by myself that afternoon and asked myself, “Is this how I want my children to remember going to church? No!”

So I told God, “You know how my life is. I am dying inside. I’m not sure if You are there. I have no one to talk to about my problems. Our Bible study group from our old church is meeting here Friday night for the last time. I am quitting. I’m through with church. The only reason I will continue talking with You is because I don’t have anyone else to talk to.” A hopeless, dismal future seemed to be facing me.

Friday night came. Our Bible study group met. And we had a visitor, who just happened to be a youth evangelist. Our study was on Revelation. By the middle of the meeting, our study leader gave the floor over to the evangelist who made the Word come alive, and my soul soaked it up just like a sponge. By the end of the meeting I knew God is ALIVE. I did not quit church. I had hope and a future because I knew God cared for me!

“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” -Deut. 4:29

If you feel far from God because you doubt your salvation or because of sin in your life, these are helpful sermons by Ben Stuart on 1 John. 

How Do You Know If You Are Saved?

Yesterday at Brook Hills, Pastor John Piper preached a powerful message on Romans 8:12-18 and “How You Can Know You Are A Child of God,” and a couple of hours later, I get a text from a college student (who hadn’t heard the sermon) asking if God’s grace and mercy ever run out. Essentially, she wanted to know if there’s ever a point when God gets fed up with us continually sinning and decides to end the relationship.

There are whole books written on this subject, but included below are a few thoughts and resources if this is a topic you’re facing or a question you are asking about the state of your own soul.

What is involved in actually becoming a Christ-follower?

According to the New Testament, it’s belief and repentance.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” -John 3:36

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” -Mark 1:14-15

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9

Either you believe that Jesus is the risen Son of God, or you don’t. Either you have confessed your sin to God and turned from it, or you haven’t.

But the demons believe – and shudder – yet they are obviously not Christians (see James 2:19). True. They have a knowledge of God and believe that He exists and is Who He says He is. The difference is that they do not yield to Him and trust Him as their Lord and Savior.

And what if I confess and repent of my sin yet continue to give into it? As long as you are on this earth, you will continue to sin. It’s called being human and having a sin nature. Now, eternal security does not give us license to sin. The attitude of “I’ve got my fire insurance, so I’m going to live how I want” makes a mockery of God’s grace. But salvation does not mean that you no longer sin. Paul’s struggle with sin in his own life highlights this truth (see Rom. 7:15-20).

Is there secret, unconfessed sin in your life? Are you habitually giving into temptation in a particular area? Do you even feel conviction regarding your sin? Are you taking steps to address sin in your life and to resist temptation?

Repentance flows from our belief in Jesus. We cannot truly believe that He is God’s Son and the Resurrected Lord without it affecting how we live. Repentance is more than saying a prayer, doing good deeds, feeling guilty, or even feeling convicted of sin. Instead, repentance involves submitting yourself to Jesus as your Lord and by turning back to Him when you do engage in sin. You will continue to struggle with sin for the rest of your life. But when you sin, do you turn back to Jesus? As J.D. Greear states in Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, “…salvation is a posture of repentance and faith that you begin in a moment and maintain for the rest of your life.”

How Can I Know that I am Saved and Have Eternal Life?

If you have trusted in Christ and turned from your sin (belief and repentance), then you are saved. Here’s the thing, our salvation is not based on our innocence or guilt, what we have done or are doing. Our salvation is based on Christ’s righteousness.

We are unworthy, sinful rebels, but Christ took our sin on Himself and paid the sin debt that we owe (Rom. 6:23; 1 Jn. 2:1-2). So are we worthy of salvation? Not at all! But praise be to God, He has chosen to extend forgiveness to us.

When we believe and repent, God places our sin on Christ, and God credits Christ’s righteousness to us. Jesus has paid our sin debt, and for God to be just (see 1 Jn. 1:9) means that He has accepted Jesus’ payment in full. It would not be just for God to require you to do more or to add to what Jesus has already paid (just as it would be an injustice if a clothing store made you pay for the same shirt twice). Because God accepts Jesus’ death as a payment for our sin, He can accept us into His family.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…For as by the one man’s [Adam] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Jesus] obedience the many will be made righteous.” -Romans 5:6, 19

God Wants You to Have Assurance of Your Salvation

God is not some masochist who delights in your turmoil regarding the state of your soul. Neither does He utilize fear to manipulate you or to motivate obedience. Rather, He wants you to operate from the security of His love for you.

We cannot fight sin, face trials, or truly love if we are stunted by fear, for our motivation for doing such things will be wrong. We won’t seek God for His own sake if we are constantly trying to earn His approval. If you lack assurance of your salvation, you will question His care of you.

In my phone conversation with the college student last night, I directed her to turn her eyes to Christ. Instead of focusing on her sin and how she doesn’t feel saved, I encouraged her to look at the Word and what it says regarding God’s character, God’s love, and Christ’s death. Our feelings can mislead us, and they’re not always based on truth.

If you’re wrestling with doubt, spend time studying the Bible, praising God, and filling your mind with Scripture, for how can you have hope when you neglect spending time with God and meditating on the truth that He has provided? Does doing this make you saved? No, because these are works (Eph. 2:8-9). But doubt can also creep in because we forget the gospel. We need to be reminded of Who God is and what He has done – and that we are saved by grace and not by works.

And you might not be saved. I don’t want to assume you are. So if you have not turned from your sin and trusted in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you can do that right here, right now. But if you have believed in Christ and repented of your sin, then remind yourself of the gospel. Rest in what Jesus has done, not what you have done.

Recommended Resources

If you would like additional resources on this topic, I recommend the following:

Sing, O Barren Woman

Today’s post was written by Ally Castaldo. Ally has been married to Joe for four months, has two dogs, and co-leads a Small Group of people from their apartment complex with her husband.

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are from the times my family sat around my grandparent’s living room exchanging stories. Some were old stories from when my parents were little, such as the time my dad was lassoed off his bike as a kid by his big brother; some were stories of something that happened “just the other day,” like the time my granddad ripped his khaki pants riding my Elmo bike down the hill of his driveway. I think the reason I savor these memories is because stories are powerful; our stories are part of us, telling who we are, where we have been, and who we are becoming.

I work at Sav-A-Life Shelby as the Development Coordinator. There, I listen to others’ stories. Either in the counseling room with a client or on the phone with a ministry partner, these stories tell me a great deal about who they are. It tells me why a client is experiencing crisis with this pregnancy. It tells me why a person wants to partner with our pro-life ministry. And often while listening to these stories, I get asked about my story: why do I work at a pregnancy resource center?

It started in the Summer of 2013 as our church family was reading through 1 Corinthians; one of the passages from the Bible reading plan was Isaiah 54. It starts like this:

design

I remember sitting in my room on my bed, just staring at the first verse, trying to imagine a barren woman, a woman who was not able to have children, a woman who yearned for children, who is now singing praise. Why was she singing (and how did a verse about a woman unable to have children lead me into a ministry that works with women who are already pregnant)?

Let me skip ahead, back to August 2014. When our Executive Director called to offer this position to me, I excitedly accepted (I believe my official words of acceptance were a squealed, “Hurray!”). I also naively believed that with accepting a position in a ministry, an automatic supernatural power would swoop down and overtake any doubts or times that I would stumble over how to uphold the sanctity of life in every situation. Not even ten months into the job, I can say that working in a ministry does not give you supernatural power. Let me say right now that this is hard for me to admit. I fancy myself Wonder Woman, but I fall short of that self-proclaimed title. It’s because I rely on myself to have the answers on too many occasions, and in our culture, upholding the sanctity of life of the unborn is not always easy.

We live in a culture that radically has changed the rhetoric of anything remotely pro-life to equate it to being intolerant and simplistic, where women are told that they are empowered to do what they want with their bodies, where men are told to back down if they want a say, and where we change the words to describe the life in the womb into words that describe inanimate and soulless objects.

It reminds me of the story of Harry Potter. In the fifth book of the Harry Potter series, Harry has seen in person the evil Voldemort return. Having lost his own parents to Voldemort and having already faced him on several occasions, Harry knows the threat of having Voldemort return. He warns those around him to be wary of Voldemort. However, most ignore Harry. They call him a liar; they say to him that he is just being dramatic and even blame him for the murder of Cedric, a boy that Harry witnessed Voldemort kill.

In a way, I feel like those in the pro-life ministry are like Harry. We see both the terrible effects that abortion brings, but we also see a world around us that chooses to ignore the threat. This world can point to politics of reproductive rights or say that it’s empowering to women to be able to choose, a right that should not be swayed by another’s religion. Recently, actress Jemima Kirke from the HBO series Girls opened up about her story of abortion in an interview with the Center for Reproductive Rights. She starts by saying that her life in 2007, when she found herself in an unexpected pregnancy, was “not conductive to raising a healthy, happy child. I just didn’t feel it was fair.” Jemima continues to say that she remains open about her story because there is still shame and embarrassment around getting pregnant and terminating pregnancies. These are real stories, and having worked as both a volunteer peer counselor and now as a staff member, I have witnessed women who are embarrassed and feel shame. But the answer is not aiming for abortion to thrive. The answer, the only answer, is the gospel.

Going back to Isaiah, as I sat on my bed puzzled about a singing barren woman, I read the verses that following that instructed this same woman to “enlarge the place of your tent” and “let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out.” I imagined a young couple desiring a child building onto their house, preparing for future babies. In the fourth verse, she is told that she will not be disgraced or shamed, and the “reproach of your widowhood” would no longer be remembered. And why?

“For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer” (Isa. 54:5).

This culture is a fallen culture because we put certain things in front of us and tell ourselves, “Our worth depends on (fill in the blank with what you value).” It is hard and almost impossible to ignore. For the woman in Isaiah, her valued was in her ability to have children. In our society, it many times is our public reputation. But value, beauty, worth, and honor are awarded to the Isaiah woman, not because of herself, but because her Maker, the Lord, is her husband. Her issue of barrenness is not physical here; it illustrates the barrenness of our soul.

The women that come into our center may be physically pregnant, and we want to address that and help her physical needs. However, ultimately, we know that only the gospel will fulfill them. It is the only thing that fulfills any of us. The ultimate reason for the woman to rejoice is because of our Redeemer, because now she has honor, and now we have honor, because Jesus is our value.

The gospel is the power to save and to fulfill; it is also the power to propel the Church forward in the ministry of pro-life, recognizing what the world says and throwing it aside. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” So sing, for the Lord has redefined you with His value, and He sings over you and rejoices over you with gladness. As we know this love more, the more we will want our culture to also know this love.

For more on pro-life ministry or abortion recovery, visit the following sites: 

Jesus Is Better

Today’s post was written by BH member, Leandrea Stouffer, and it is being reposted with permission from her blog.

I was at a conference a few weeks ago when I felt like the speaker was speaking directly to me when he said, “In all your pleasures Jesus is better; in all your suffering Christ is enough.” I sat there for a second dumbfounded. I thought, “How could I have been so blinded by my circumstances that I had forgotten this simple truth?”

There are times in my life that light bulbs go off, and this was one of those moments. Over the past few months, I have let my joy be driven by what I was going through. I had let my job warp my attitude. I had let my relationship status drive me crazy. I had let silliness of drama between friends overpower me, and I had let school discourage me. When I looked at the temporary circumstances of my life, I had no joy.

This in itself brought me to this light bulb moment, while I was sitting in the cold auditorium hanging on every word the speaker was saying. I was chasing contentment through my circumstances and not Jesus. The truth of the matter is that our circumstances are attached to the fallen world. Therefore, we should not base our joy and contentment in life on the things going on in our life. Our joy needs to be based on Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins, rose again, and gives us eternal hope and life. Because of the power of Christ, we can face anything that comes our way. My problem had become that I had been trying to find contentment by looking for contentment. In reality, you find contentment when you seek the Lord.

We as Christ-followers have to learn to lean upon the Lord for our contentment during the good, bad, and in between. It’s amazing that I forget so easily, that not only in our sufferings Christ is enough, but also in my pleasures, Jesus is better. If all of my circumstances resolved, I would still need to base my joy not on the temporary, but the eternal. Paul tells us in Philippians to “Rejoice always.” Always means always, no matter the circumstances.

I have so many reasons to be content in Christ, so the real question is why am I not content? Or the question you might be asking yourself is why do I strive to be content, but continuously falter? The answer to is sin. Sin blinds us from the truth. It is what separates us from God. Therefore, we need to take the time to search our hearts, seek the Lord, and trust that we can be content no matter what comes our way.

So I leave you with these wise words that bore into my heart: “In all your pleasures Jesus in better; in all your sufferings, Christ is enough.” -Tony Merida