Bitter Women Make Bitter Enemies

By Lori Beard

I have seen bitterness run rampant and destroy marriages and relationships with children in horrible ways.  I have sat with women who are harboring bitterness like a treasure.  They have stored it away in their hearts in a safe place.  They say things like, “It does not affect my life.  I am just not ready to lay it down.  I control my emotions well enough that it does not affect me.”

And these same women admit that they are angry.  But they somehow think it’s not affecting them.

I also sit with women who are there because of countless broken relationships.  Issues in marriage.  Issues with children.  Issues with other women.  These women have not been able to maintain a female friendship ever in their lives.  And when I suggest anger or bitterness as the reason, they deny it.  They are not angry.  They have forgiven and let it go.

I have sometimes responded: “Friend your life does not bear fruit of forgiveness and letting it go.  Bitterness is a seed.  It grows and grows.  It consumes everything in its path.  Often I can see it in a face.  Tight lips.  Furrowed brows.  I can hear it in a voice.  Sharp commanding edges.  Short clipped tones.  I can see it in an attitude.  Short, unhappy, impatient responses.  Attitudes that are ‘superior’ or ‘know it all.’  These repeated behaviors are telling signs of what is happening in a calloused, angry heart.  Bitterness is wicked.  It leaves a mess in its wake.”

I have had occasion to discuss bitterness and anger often over the last few months with my sweet daughter, Becca. She has suffered some tragic hurt in her life and it has left her confused and searching for justice.  The answers she has found, while biblical, have not always been easy to swallow.  She found out that even when treated unjustly, she is not to revile.  Even when insulted she is not to threaten.  Even when cast aside and abandoned she is not to hate.

Oh my word!  How hard the biblical truth of the love of God has been for her to read this last year.  I have watcher her lay down her anger over and over again.  And then find out something new and pick it up again.  Heartbreaking.

The words of God through the Apostle Peter have done her much good.  They have been her anchor in a world gone crazy.

When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.  1 Peter 2:23

If the Bible is true, and I know it is, and Becca knows it is, then we are able by sanctifying grace to lay down every hurt or wrong done against us and entrust ourselves to the One who judges justly.  God is just.  He is right.  He makes only right decisions.  He never goes against His nature.  He never does anything unjust.

What truth!  What a beautiful, life-changing truth!  I can trust Him.  Becca can trust Him.  When she is reviled against she can not only not revile back, but also not be angry back.  She can simply say to her just God, “I leave that in Your capable, just hands.”

When she is abandoned and forsaken and left alone, she can recall the precious words of Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  She can count on her capable, just God.

When we live like this, there is no room for anger or bitterness.  There is no place for offense to take foothold because God is in charge and He is just.  He is working every single wound to our good to make us like Christ (Rom 8:28-29). Peace that surpasses understanding is the result of trusting Him more than we trust our own “rights” and above our felt need for vengeance.  God never gets anything wrong.  He is at work on behalf of believers all the time.  Christ and the Holy Spirit are justly interceding on our behalf to make all things right.

This is our anchor and hope.  Praise God for never failing at anything!  He is perfectly right and just.  He is trustworthy!

Lay down your bitterness.  Lay down your anger.  Pray and ask for help.  God is able to bear it for you.  Bitter women make bitter enemies because bitterness is enmity with God.  It has no place in the kingdom of God.  Praise the Lord for real freedom from anger through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Back to School, Parents Beware!

Most students start the new school year within the next week or so.  Even we home-schoolers are gearing up and warning our kids they are going to have to start getting up a bit earlier!  A few private schools around here are already cranking.  Boy, summers seem to get shorter each year.

Anyone who knows me knows I have not been a fan of the public school system for a long, long time.  It gets me in some hot water as a Pastor when I address the obvious flaws in the state run system, but I care about children and families too much not to at least issue a caution.  It appears painfully obvious to me that parenting God’s way is made more difficult when children are not even with parents for most of the day, five days a week.  I am not saying it’s impossible to be a godly parent if your children are in private or public schools.  I am merely saying you are making it more challenging on yourself.  And yes, I also know home-schooling families who do not seem to be taking their task nearly as seriously as they should and they should repent and get help from others who can equip them for the high-calling of gospel-centered home life and a thorough educational curriculum.  So, nobody perfect here except Jesus! But it seems that given the bent of the state run schools, those parents in particular are taking quite a parenting risk.

Paul told the Church at Ephesus, “Fathers [parents] do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  Nearly every Christian parent I know has found this task far more time-consuming and energy-demanding than we anticipated at our very first “gender reveal” parties.  As the Lord made plain to His Old Covenant people, parenting is an all-consuming, non-stop calling (Deuteronomy 6).  So, it does pain me a bit to see Christian parents send off their children to be taught, trained, dare I say raised, by others each day.  Their hearts, which are “deceitful above all else” (Jer 17:9) are being entrusted to others and to a system of education that would not remotely recognize “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” as the goal. While public teachers are often amazing at their craft, they are not even allowed to do any public gospel heart work on students.  Our Christian teachers’ hands are tied!  It pains me.  I cannot help it and I make no apologies for it.

That said, I realize many Christians really need the public education system.  I hope and expect these parents also find their church families coming alongside them to bolster them in their parental calling.  I thank God for every parent in the church I pastor.  We have public school families, private school families, a throng of home-schooling families, and many teachers of all stripes!  I love pastoring them all and am proud of the efforts I see all our families making to raise children who hate sin and adore Jesus Christ.  And I love when I see our families helping one another to be the best they can be, by the gracious power of God.  Our church family is precious!  The love of Christ in us unifies us regardless of educational choices.  And I pray each of us buckles down this year to seek to be even more gospel-driven and Bible-saturated in our public and private lives.

I dream of our public school teachers starting Bible studies at their schools in “off hours.”  I dream of our parents of private Christian school students finding ways to invest in those students’ hearts.  I dream of our home-school parents getting a heart for public school students and families and finding creative ways to serve them, such as after hours tutoring or donating school supplies to less privileged families.  The gospel trumps all our preferences!  May the Name of Jesus Christ go forth from us, Corydon Baptist Church.  In all our schools.  In all our communities.  In all our workplaces.  In all our recreational spots.  May God push back darkness through us!

Every school is a mission field.  May God give us His eyes to see and His heart to love.

For those interested in hearing a solid challenge from Focus on the Family, here are two radio broadcasts worth your time:  http://www.drjamesdobson.org/popupplayer?broadcastId=d990a98f-39d1-4848-b678-6f5b1f838251

 

 

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Remembering a Good Man

Thurman Mitchell Lucas.

He was a Deacon who served in the church my Dad pastored.  He was my high school Sunday School Teacher.  And he was my wife’s Dad.

Thurman was called to his eternal home to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ more years ago than I can remember.  The exact year escapes me, but I think it was my junior year of college (’94).  And if memory serves me, I think he passed from death unto life on July 2oth.  He was preceded in death by a decade or more by his wife, Linda, my wife’s Mom.  Michele, my wife, has lived most of her life now without her Mom or Dad.

I loved Thurman.  He was the best Bible teacher I had growing up (with the exception of my Dad’s weekly sermons).  He used a curriculum that had us in the Bible passage, studying before we came to class and answering questions directly from the text.  What a concept!  He loved his students.  He invested in us.  Planned fun hang out times for us and grilled us steaks.  He was the first teacher to urge and encourage me to seriously memorize Scripture.  I remember memorizing about ten verses during VBS one summer and Thurman gave me $25.  Now I realize knowing God through His Word is its own reward.  Thurman knew it too.  But it was just his way to encourage me and care for me.  I appreciated it.

I was devastated when he got cancer.  I hurt for my future wife (we married perhaps a little over a year after his death).  I hurt for my Dad, who considered Thurman a friend and key leader for gospel truth in the church.  But honestly, I hurt mostly for me.

Yeah, I know.  Selfish.  But true.  I still miss him so much.  He was truly a joy to be around.  I remember the first time he had me over for a cookout after I started dating his daughter.  His baby girl he raised from the age of ten all on his own!  He really put me to the test.  He asked if I liked rare steaks.  Well, what was I to say?  My manhood was clearly on the line.  “Yes sir,” I barked.  So he proceeded to put my steak to at most 1 minute of flame per side, and then serve it to me.  Now I might be exaggerating a bit, but that steak was definitely still mooing!  And I ate it all.  With a smile.  And I’m still smiling with Thurman’s daughter by my side some 25 years later.

From time to time my wife and I have visited his grave.  He literally was laid to rest “high on that mountain” in Pike County, KY.  I have stood on that steep slope and wept more than once.  I have often marveled at the strength of my wife who gave up both of her parents before the age of 25.  Her perspective has always inspired me.  She grieves.  Sure.  But she looks ahead.  She rejoices that her Mom and Dad gained the victory in Jesus that she longs for herself.  Her faith shines in the way she has lived after Thurman’s death.  I am so proud to be her husband.  And so proud to be Thurman’s son (technically in-law but somehow I don’t think he would have viewed me that way).

He was a good man.  Not because he thought he was good.  And not even because he did good things.  But because he knew his goodness was but filthy rags before a Holy God.  And because he trusted only in the goodness of the Risen and Reigning Lord Jesus.  Christ was his goodness.  Christ made him good.  To know Thurman was to know a man in whom Jesus lived.  I am so thankful God graced me to know him and to be family (physically and spiritually) with him.  I hope to be a “good” man like Thurman.

So help me God.  Be glorified in me, as You were in the life of Thurman.  And help my wife and her brother, Alan, and her sister, Marcia, to rejoice in the goodness of their Savior God who blessed them with such an humble, loving, joyful, funny Dad.  I praise You God for his legacy.  In Christ alone, amen.  

You do not grieve as the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).  

 

 

 

 

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Trans-Gendered Church

These days, it seems gender dysphoria (as it is still labeled in the DSM of psychiatry / psychology) is everywhere.

For the last 25 years, we in the western world have been subjected to one of the most comprehensive assaults on worldview in modern history, if not in all of human history.  The brainwashing and inculcation was undertaken by a vast media campaign involving TV, internet, radio, ipods, magazines, advertisements, mainline news organizations, public schools, institutions of higher education, the porn industry, Hollywood stars and the movies they produce, and local judges and mayors all across this land.  It began, initially, as a push to accept and/or celebrate a homosexual lifestyle, and the end result of that particular movement was the legalization of so-called Gay Marriage.

But Gay Marriage was never the end goal of that movement.  We were warned, and now we see the prophets were right.  The latest iteration is called the LGBTQ agenda (and this acrostic seems to get a new letter weekly).  It is not enough to destroy the fabric of all stable and moral societies – marriage between a man and woman resulting in children raised well – the LGBTQ movement wants a total eradication of any gender or sex designations.  In some nations of Europe and South America (Columbia) that are farther down this “progressive” line than we are in the US, people are now marrying multiple partners legally, and some are marrying their pets.  Governments are using tax money to pay for sex change surgeries and dangerous hormone treatments to try and suppress the natural hormonal development in children and adolescents.  This is our future, America, short of a revival of common sense and true compassion.  True compassion never coddles or condones attitudes or behaviors that are destructive.

And now, the Church of England, which ceased to be a true church years ago when it gave up its belief in the absolute authority of the inerrant Bible as God’s Word, is set to consider offering a special “re-christening” for those who have changed gender or who think themselves to be women when biologically they are men.  The newly proposed liturgy would celebrate the new gender identity and as one communicant put it, allow him “to reintroduce himself to God with his new name and gender identity.”  Read more here: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/church-of-england-official-transgenders-could-be-re-christened-after-sex-ch

This is church gone bad.  This is ministry that hurts, not heals.  The Church of England might as well start encouraging suicide and drug use and depression, since these thoughts and behaviors accompany those who suffer from gender dysphoria in far larger proportions than the general populace.  Even a raving feminist Bernie Sanders supporter knows better than this!  Camille Paglia recently rattled some cages with her remarks published in The Weekly Standard:

 “The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one’s birth gender for life . . . It is certainly ironic how liberals who posture as defenders of science when it comes to global warming flee all reference to biology when it comes to gender.”

Well, I confess I genuinely appreciate an openly gay, politically liberal, highly intelligent woman like Professor Paglia (she teaches at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia) speaking such truth!  She goes on in that same interview to condemn special rights and privileges for categories of eccentricity, even while upholding the right of everyone to be treated with respect and kindness.

It is a sad day when non-Christian people know better how to minister to and serve the broken and confused than the Church of England does.  The truth is, we all have a tendency to use science to our own advantage.  To advance our own preferences and ideals.  This is just how sinners think, speak and live.  Apart from the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ, we all sit on the thrones of our own lives and serve mostly ourselves.  I remember not so long ago the homosexual community trying to use science to prove they really cannot be expected to behave sexually in any other way other than they do.  We don’t hear much along those lines anymore.  They gave it up in favor of simply using personal anecdote to tug people’s heartstrings.  They told stories of mistreatment and discrimination that should indeed raise our ire.  And as moral and legal restraints were gradually removed, sin ran its course and consciences got seared and we all felt like we knew someone who was gay.  Next thing you know, polls now reveal even the majority of those calling themselves “evangelical” embrace gay marriage.

These same tactics are now being used to foist a fog of gender confusion on us and our children.  Even Sesame Street recently tweeted a gay pride message using muppets the color of the infamous “rainbow.”  Our pre-schoolers are being sexualized and gender-neutralized!  Christian parents be warned – the public school system is not your friend in this matter!  Just as they inculcated children with the view of homosexuality and bi-sexuality being something normal that must be accepted and celebrated, so they will not stop until your kids also think they have every right to think of themselves in any gender category they so desire.  Science be damned!  We will do what we want and answer to nobody.  One reason among many this pastor continues to strongly advocate for home-schooling!

But we, dear Church, must stand firm.  With love and respect and kindness for all people.  With God’s truth on our lips.  With a biblical worldview that says “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image.  He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation.  The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation” (The Baptist Faith & Message 2000).  We must love our children and our neighbors’ children and our community enough to remind them that God’s Law forbid men to dress as women (Deut 22:5).  The very desire to do so reveals an internal, heart rebellion against God’s good creational design.  We must teach as Jesus taught:

“He who created them in the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man [singular masculine] shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife [singular feminine] and the two [not three or more] shall become one flesh'” (Matthew 19:4-5).

We, Church, must call all sin what it is – sin.  We must say what all sin merits from God – physical and spiritual death (Ezek 18:1-4; Rom 6:23).  We must point all sinners, all people, to the only One who can wash their hearts clean and make them a new person from the inside out – Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:9-11).  We must never be mean-spirited or unkind to anyone (Luke 6:30-36).  But we must also never call evil good nor good evil, nor offer a bitter substitute for something sweet (Isa 5:20).  Sinners sin.  And sinners want to sin even more than they do and in ways which they may never even actually act upon (Matt 5:27-28).  This comes as no shock to Christians who know the truth of human nature (Eph 2:1-3).  But to celebrate sin (Eph 5:11) and “strengthen the hands of evildoers” (Jer 23:14) must be unthinkable for Christians.  

The Church of England is flirting with this very thing!  To offer and endorse a bitter pill (the devastating emotional, physical, mental and spiritual effects of gender dysphoria and hyper-sexuality) in the place of the sweet salvation and freedom from sin’s bondage through faith in the Risen Lord Christ Jesus.

God help us.  If the darkness among those calling themselves the Church is this dark, what hope have we to “walk as children of light?”

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Of Sin, Justice and Remorse

In the oft forgotten Bible Book of Numbers, God says to His people, “Be sure your sins will find you out.

As a Pastor, I have seen this truth play out time and again.  In my own life.  And in the life of those claiming to belong to Jesus.  A large part of God’s sanctification (making holy) of His redeemed people involves teaching us to just “come clean.”  Own our sin.  Confess it and then begin the process of repentance (renouncing it and turning away from it as you pursue Jesus Christ).  God’s initial questions to Adam after he fell into rebellion are aimed squarely at inviting Adam to “come clean.”  Adam failed that test miserably, by the way (see Genesis 3:8-12).

God takes this so seriously that He actually expects members of the Church redeemed by the blood of His Son and our Savior, the Lord Jesus, to “confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16).  Our Lord has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light and now expects us to “walk [live] in the light as He [God] is in the light” (1 John 1:7).  We should not hide our sins, Christians!  Jesus has paid the price for our sins and set us free from their bondage and guilt.  Hallelujah!  We can be transparent.  Nothing to fear in confessing and repenting of sins.  It’s the way of the Christian.  We have been given Divine grace, making us people of ongoing confession and repentance.  Keeping dirty little secrets is the way of the first Adam.  Walking in the light is the way of the Second Adam.  God gave justice to our sins in the body of His Son on the cross, so that we believers could walk in righteous freedom (1 Peter 2:24).  Knowing there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) rightly empowers us to “come clean” time and again with God and one another, with the humble acknowledgement that we are a community forged and refined by Sovereign Grace!  We are forgiven.  So forgiveness is in our DNA (Matthew 18:21-35; Ephesians 4:32).  No need to fear confession in the community of saints.  It is our joy and power and freedom bought by Christ.

The NCAA recently hammered the University of Louisville with penalties in response to their sex scandals revealed in a 2015 book by Katina Powell, Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen.  Initially, Ms. Powell was castigated and mocked.  But turns out her allegations were true.  Basketball recruits between the years of 2010 and 2014 were having the pot sweetened by UofL, with a high level coach hiring prostitutes for them!  Want to flood your athletic programs with the best of the best?  Just give them “free” sex.  All of it they want.

Now, the Head Coach, Rick Pitino has denied any knowledge.  Whether you believe that or not is not my bone to pick.  Coach Pitino and the UofL leadership self-imposed several penalties to show remorse.  They even removed themselves from post-season play in 2016-17 and reduced their number of scholarships for that same season.  But the NCAA did not think it was enough.  They wanted more blood and so socked them with numerous penalties, which may even mean Louisville has to essentially “erase” its National Championship season.  Coach Pitino and the Administration reacted with incredulity.  Shocked.  Outraged.  Crying “not fair.”  And “over the top.”  And “injustice.”

While the UofL is in no way the Church or a church, and while I obviously do not expect a secular university to joyfully submit to the commands of King Jesus, I do think there are lessons here for us as Christians in the Church.

  • Sometimes we as Christians demand “more blood” from one another too, even after a brother or sister has confessed and asked for forgiveness.  Per Matthew 18, this is a high crime against our forgiving God.
  • Sometimes we say we have forgiven one another, but give the relational cold shoulder for months or years thereafter.  No doubt UofL and the NCAA will have no love for each other in years ahead.  But we, dear Church, are not the UofL nor the NCAA.  We are the forgiven in Christ filled with His love and Spirit.  When we confess and repent to Jesus, does He give us the cold shoulder for months or years afterwards?  (See 1 John 1:9)
  • Sometimes we are shocked by justice.  If you think the NCAA is harsh, consider that God Almighty under the Old Covenant with Israel imposed the death penalty on the very behaviors of those sex-crazed athletes!  We so often try to make little of our sins against the Lord.  But God never sees sin as little. It’s so big to Him that He crushed His own Son on the cross so that those who trust in Christ alone for forgiveness will never have to endure the everlasting death penalty of God’s wrath against our sins (Isaiah 53).
  • We should be shocked by grace and mercy.  Justice is simply what we have earned and deserve (Romans 6:23). But our culture has imbued us with a sense of entitlement.  And it’s spiritually deadly to our souls.  May we resist in the power of God’s Spirit and sing with tears of joy, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound!”

Let’s not allow the University of Louisville and the NCAA to be our paradigm, dear Church!  Let’s walk in the Light. Let’s confess.  Let’s repent.  Let’s forgive.  Let’s live as a Community of “Come Cleaners” who stand in awe of our Savior’s love and mercy.  For Jesus is worthy of us living in just such ways!

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).      

 

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